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The Process


23 Mar 2022

A brand new six-part podcast series, which takes listeners behind the scenes with some of today’s most exciting creatives on their journey to create new works. 

We’re used to experiencing the work of an artist in its final form – in the gallery, on the stage, or mixed on an album. But what has been the journey to get there? Somerset House is home to a community of over 70 artists and makers (and by extension, it is often the home for the artistic process too), with much of the work we present being conceived and made in the building, from start to finish. 

This podcast goes behind the scenes on that process with the artists themselves. Each episode explores one big idea emerging from a work in progress and follows the thread, from the artists’ initial inspiration, through the cross section of thinkers who helped them get there, to hear the form it might take next. 

Episode 1: Breaking the Rules 

‘The power of performance lies in it not really being there’

Andy Holden grew up with one foot in Bedford and one foot in Beanotown, the fictional town from the Beano, full of semi-detached houses and fractious families. As the curator of the exhibition Beano: The Art of Breaking the Rules at Somerset House, Andy became immersed in the comic’s world of childlike anarchy and rebellion. Now, as he shakes off his cartoon limbs and returns to being fully human, he wonders what can he take from the spirit of the Beano into his next endeavour? How can you keep bending the rules while avoiding being predictable? Is performance art the most effective way of inspiring change? Andy heads out to talk to performance artist Mark McGowan, aka The Artist Taxi Driver, about performance, politics and the power of persona, all from the back of a black cab.

Episode 2: What is Financial Astrology? 

Gary Zhexi Zhang is an artist interested in exploring the chimeric edges of global systems. Recently his research has taken him into the world of finance, where he’s been drawn to the sorts of speculative ways of thinking we might normally associate with the occult. Enter Financial Astrology, a way of forecasting the markets based on the positions of the cosmos. In this episode of The Process, Gary goes down the rabbit hole to try to understand this field and grasp why cryptocurrency in particular is so obsessed with the stars. He hears about some seismic events on the horizon from Christeen Skinner, a financial astrologist who has been working in the City of London for over 20 years and talks to social anthropologist and former equity fund manager, Philip Grant about how ideas of magic and finance overlap.

Episode 3: Language of Resistance 

How do you imagine yourself as anything other than what you are told you are?’  

Shiraz Bayjoo is a Mauritian artist living in London whose practice explores how language and identity in the Indian Ocean have been shaped by the legacy of European colonialism in the region. In a commission for We Are History, an exhibition at Somerset House, Shiraz explored different perspectives on the plantation system, and it’s structures of extraction and subjugation.  The We Are History exhibition traced the complex interrelations between today’s climate crisis and the legacies of colonialism. We joined Shiraz in his studio at the stage where he was putting the finishing touches to the installation, which brings together ceramics, textiles, sculpture and archive photos to re-dignify the people affected by the legacies of empire. He is joined by activist and theorist Françoise Verges, born in La Reunion, to discuss strategies of survival and resistance in the region.

Additional music in this episode is by Alain Peters, Menwar and Roger George.

We Are History is sponsored by Morgan Stanley

Episode 4: Taking Fun Seriously

Anna Meredith is a composer who takes writing playful music seriously. But her process is anything but reckless. Over the summer she set herself a challenge, to write a series of compositions for bumper cars which would be installed in the courtyard of Somerset House for Dodge. Tunes would be triggered when the bumper cars bumped. But this posed some tricky questions. How can you control the structure of the composition when the audience is in the driving seat? Who is the composer here, Anna or the drivers? Anna sits down with her Somerset House Studios neighbour Nick Ryan, who works at the forefront of interactive music, to hear about where this genre might be headed before talking to games designer Nick Moran to hear how to organise fun.

Episode 5: Reclaiming the Commons

Col Self grew up as a child playing on the sites of the new age traveller community in the 1990s. After the passing of the criminal justice bill and the crackdown on the travelling community that came with it, it started to become clear to her what a unique moment in British history she had lived through. Now, as a resident artist at Somerset House Studios, her practice continues to probe the boundaries of private and public space, searching for liminal domains which exist outside the grasp of late stage capitalism. But are there any common spaces left in the UK where we are truly outside of private ownership? Col sits down with writer and activist Nick Hayes to talk about the power of trespass, the last of the commons and why he thinks the river could be the ultimate liminal space.

Episode 6: Healing Through Skating

Roller skating is having a moment.  Instagram videos of roller skaters doing synchronised dances went viral over lockdown and inspired a new generation to get on four wheels. Somerset House Studios resident Tyreis Holder was one of them. She discovered skating during lockdown and in her words, it saved her life. In this episode of The Process Tyreis joins the dots between her art practice, poetry and her love of skating, tracing its history within the Black community in London. She heads out to Hyde Park to talk to artist and coach Marilyn Fontaine, part of an older generation of black skaters in London, who shares how skating has been transformative in her life and was integral to the development of underground music and fashion through the 80s. In a candid and personal conversation, Tyreis and Marilyn share how skating has helped them navigate intergenerational trauma and gain a sense of freedom, inspiring Tyreis to invite her own family to get on four wheels to begin a process of healing.

Credits

Producer: Alannah Chance 
Series Presenter: Laurent John
Exec Producer: Eleanor Scott
Theme music is by Ka Baird
Additional music by Harry Murdoch
Mastered by: Nick Ryan
Produced as part of the Creators-in-Residence Programme 2021
Supported by The Rothschild Foundation
 

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The Process - Somerset House Podcast