PRESENTATION—Joseph Beuys—The Pack

The last day spent in College included our Lab session, in which we were asked to work in pairs producing a presentation on a work of art selected from the tate collection.

The partnerships were chosen randomly, by drawing names out of a hat, and I was paired with my colleague Ian Evans. There were four sets of two artworks, and one set was assigned to each pair of presenters (again, randomly). We received Joseph Beuys’ The Pack 0f 1969, and John Baldessari’s Hope (Blue) Supported by a Bed of Oranges (Life): Amid a Context of Allusions of 1991.

We were originally drawn to Baldessari’s work, but in a negative sense as he was an artist we each knew little about, but we soon reverted to Beuys – as much as we had distinct problems with his work, there just seemed to be more get your teeth into with him.

Baldessari’s work, on our (rather superficial) inspection, seemed to have little to say outside of its immediate context (which of course would probably be the point, and very typical of the art of his time). In itself the piece seems to deal with montage and collage, filmic references, the play of meaning of loose referents, it has some formal elements that could also be interpreted or connected to other works, as well as the piece’s own position within the development of Baldessari’s oeuvre.

Beuys, on the other hand, afforded a veritable cornucopia of material to work with.

The presentation itself was organized along our own particular areas of interest. Ian concentrated on the social and political aspects of the work, for which I have little interest, and I took the formal and museological direction.

The Pack by Joseph Beuys, on display at the tate Modern
Presentation by Ian Evans and Edward Sanderson
Goldsmiths College 14 December 2006
Recording – 20mins (Ogg Vorbis format – 15.7MB)


While working on the presentation, I was drawn to the presentation of the piece itself and started working through some analyses of the tate’s displays in relation to Beuys works from the Collection. Near the end of the recording there is a section on the positioning of The Pack and it’s relation to the audience and the audience’s relation back to the piece.

There was a lot that I looked into on this subject that wasn’t relevant to the presentation, given the time constraints, but I realised that this was something that really interested me and that I’d like to work up into a new post here, on the blog.


The major personal event of the past month is that I’ve fallen in love.

For a while I had been very close to one of the girls on my course – we had chatted a lot, met for coffees etc. – it was very natural. Without going into too much detail, it all blossomed a few weeks ago into something much more.

Her name is Shi, she’s from China and she’s very precious to me. I love her very much and I am very, very happy.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

COLLEGE—First term essays

I’ve been a bit quiet recently, apart from some exhibition notices, because I’ve had two essays to hand in, as well as a joint presentation to present.

The essays are the first pieces of writing I’ve had to do for the various courses which make up the diploma I’m on. They aren’t assessed, but they are marked, and they are designed to judge and give us feedback on our writing without destroying our grades. For this reason they’re called ‘diagnostic essays’.

This doesn’t stop them being very stressful to do, though. I’d rather not create a bad impression at this stage through a poor piece of writing. Although you could always say that it makes the final, assessed essay that much better looking if you are mediocre at this stage.

All but one of these essays have now been done and returned so I have a pretty good idea of how I’m doing and pointers to what to improve.

CORE Course essay (2,000 words)

For the Core course I wrote a piece on the Daniel Buren show at Modern Art Oxford, starting from the premise that I was disappointed with the show and how I felt that his work was now outdated with respect to current art practices in the arena of Institutional Critique. Picking up on a specific ‘conversation’ between Buren and the artist Olafur Eliasson, and looking back at some pieces by Buren that I considered to be successful, I tried to review my disappointment and come to some conclusions for the continued relevance of Buren’s work.

My tutor (Astrid Schmetterling) was generally positive about the piece, although she pointed out that I had omitted to mention the current ‘relational’ art practices as possibly superseding Buren’s work. The major complaint against my writing was that my discussion of Buren’s critique was not thorough enough, I never really explained what it was that the pieces I described were designed to do and hence how that related.

Download essay (PDF 3.4MB)

Score: 64/100*

Framing Art essay (1,000 words)

For this (very) short essay I chose from a selection of provided questions. These were really for the longer essay that we will do at the end of the course (8,000 words) but served as a convenient starting point for this shorter one. The piece I wrote dealt with the question:

Considering the importance of the fragment in John Soane’s Museum, can one say that his house is more about the use-value of art (its function as a collectible commodity) than its aesthetic value?

and swiftly discussed fragments as a concept, various examples of them, and how Soane, his contemporaries and a present day audience perceive and make use of them.

Overall the essay was well received by the tutor, John-Paul Martinon, with its clarity being particularly praised. However criticisms included the fact that no proper argument was proposed, mainly due to the fact that I had not concentrated on one or two sources, with which I could then participate in an argument, rather than present my own personal views along with a collection of opposing views with no form of engagement with them.

This is a new concept for me and it is taking me a while to understand the significance of it and it’s practical ramifications.

The other criticism was the speed with which I dealt with the topics, which led to generalisations raising more questions than they answered. It was suggested that concentrating on a couple of objects as exemplars would have served me better.

Download the essay (PDF 36KB)

Score: 66/100*


I was expecting much worse and bored my colleagues endlessly about how badly I was going to do, to the extent that I promised to buy them all coffee if I got less than 65 for the Framing Art essay.

So on the whole not bad, but not good either, and certainly not good enough if I wish to apply for funding for an MA next year – for that I would need a first. Much work to do over the next term.

The next essay deadline is for the remaining course, ‘Philosophy and…’, and which is due on the 17 of January and which I will be writing over the Christmas holiday. After that it’s time to start writing the extended, assessed essays due at the end of the Spring term.

  • * A score of 70 or more is a first.