Exhibition Essays

Number Nine

December 2002

I AM Individual Artefacts Musuem

Clem Devine, Louise Tulett

The Individual Artefacts Museum was a three week investigation of the personal possessions of Clem Devine; Artist, Owner and Curator of the objects that were catalogued and displayed during the three week Installation. Functioning rather like a performative archival project, I AM also constituted a body of work submitted as Devine’s major project as required under the programme of study for graduate year Design students. A school project playing itself out in a Public Art Gallery and running within a series on Curation, I AM stirred up issues of representation, constructions of social identit(ies) and the politics of art spaces such as Enjoy. What follows are the juicier bits of a retrospective Interview between Louise Tulett and Clem Devine, 20/05/03

L. When any artist makes work and exhibits, it is inherently about a process of putting themselves on display, but it’s almost like you took the fundamental notion of that and took it to this place that not many people are comfortable with, being the place where we embody this in our everyday lives. So I think it some ways–

C. It was a bit too close to the ordinary?

L. Yes... and that some of the criticisms were in fact people projecting their own insecurities about the brands they supported on to your embodiment of that, but–

C. It may also be the way in which the project was presented, some of these problems were a result of production and display issues.

L. And really this was what the series was about. If we take this back to Number Nine, this was a show within a series about Curatorship. So essentially you were curating your own identity is that correct?

C. Yeah, but that’s problematic, what identity is. It’s such a fluid word and it’s not even appropriate. I never really got any closer to what my identity was, I think what I got closer to was what these objects are and how you relate to them, what the value of them is you know? What you project on to them and how much other people see they are worth.

L. Do you think that your show kind of enabled you to question your possessions in a way you hadn’t been able to before?

C. Well it destroyed a lot of them for me, I figured out what they were all about, god that’s a bit shallow isn’t?! And I’ve also been burgled a couple of times and I’ve realised that stuff is just stuff. I’ve actually found it really hard in the last few months since the show finished. I’ve thrown a lot of it out... But you get to this stage maybe with what I am doing, with design, were you get so critical, and you kind of get into this state where you can’t buy anything. I haven’t bought any new clothes for a long, long time. I haven’t seen anything I’ve wanted to buy. My rooms really barren, I don’t put anything on the walls, I haven’t made any art for a while. I’m kind of stepping back for a bit, and this was the aim of the show. I was just sitting at school learning about a visual culture, about consumer culture, how we buy stuff and all that shit. You know, and looking around my room after four years of amassed spending on clothes and books and shit, I remember just going whoa! What is this? Where is me out of all of this you know? And so that made me want to do the show. The individual Artefacts museum was the kind of vehicle needed to squeeze it out.

[The greater part of this interview resulted in an on ongoing and possibly over prolonged discussion on the nature of cool. Pushed to answer the question “do you think you represented cool in your show?”, Devine’s sly reply reads “Well cool is like an interest now, It’s a sport. Like if you’re interested in cars, or riding ponies.” On answering his own questions “what’s new you know? How can you reinvent yourself?” Devine does not really offer any answers, other than This is who I am, this is who I associate with, this is who I want to be]