Fiona Glen

writer & artist & writer & artist 


RCA MA portfolio <––––––––– click here to view

~work forthcoming with ~
Camden Art Centre, Blue House Journal,
IOU Theatre, Broken Sleep & ArtReview

fiona.glen@network.rca.ac.uk

Mark









~~~~~~~ page coming into existence soon ~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~ page coming into existence soon ~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~ page coming into existence soon ~~~~~~~
Image: Dark Mountain 20: ABYSS cover

(un)like death warmed up 


Prose piece written in summer 2021 for an open call by Dark Mountain for their 20th anthology – ABYSS – on the theme of plunder. (un)like death meditates on deep time, climate breakdown, econimic and geological instability, and the emotional fallout of 21st Century capitalism through the body of Dogor: a small puppy excavated from melting permafrost in Siberia, in 2018. Dogor may be the oldest dog specimen known to humankind so far, or he may be an animal somewhere between a wolf evolving into a modern dog. 

Extracts: 


The small creature lies very close to the camera. I see him at a three-quarter angle, his head made large and detailed. There are leathery wrinkles on a black nose, and tiny pale hairs that mark themselves out against the dark lines surrounding a closed eye. The slight fuzz above the creature’s nose is translucent, catching a glow. His whiskers oscillate between black and highlight, his claws shine, and his front paw is placed under a folded leg, as if, on waking, he could stand up. He seems like a stuffed animal in both senses: halfway between toy and taxidermy. An ear appears damaged, with curving, fuzzy lines like the gridded stuffing inside a teddy bear. One back leg folds out at a strange angle, betraying lifelessness. His brow is folded, as if furrowed in worrisome dreams.

This puppy is 18,000 years old and is, perhaps, the oldest dog ever found. Dug, unusually intact, from a lump of mud in Yakutsk, Siberia, he is an unlikely being who looks as small and tender as any sleeping dog. The deepest sleep is a burial in still, cold earth. The puppy was born and died at least 8.000 years before humans first selected and named a breed of dog – before any dog could, then, be considered ‘mixed’. With a face more like a baby bear, I don’t recognise him as dog-like until the day I see a low-slung, stocky mongrel sitting on a towpath looking left and right, ears pitching back and forth at small invisible sounds. She has a square jaw and strong paws, her fur dark and brindled all through.

...


I only found the puppy because I had googled the word ‘prehistoric’ to double check the definition – the written word marking the start of history as storytelling. If writing began somewhere, did it trigger the start of the whole world’s history? Had images and objects not already been made to capture stories, too? A slip of a key from web to image search. Rich tiles blossomed automatically, a mosaic of green, brown, red and yellow; whole high-oxygen eras are toned in camouflage.

Prehistory looks like giant ferns and enormous insects, dinosaur footprints and the ghosts of hands dusted ochre on cave walls. Hominids dressed irregularly in furs and crouched around fires. Snow-capped mountains marking scale and distance neatly in each scene. Blood and teeth and jaws and the chase, the eaters and the eaten, the lush and the harsh and the sharp and the seeping. New, in the terms of time, is the grass which covers the plains to a glacier, dripping or forming. Prehistory is a highly proficient coloured pencil drawing, or a 3D computer model of a great beast that can be turned 360 degrees in empty space. Prehistory is mostly bearded men with bare shoulders and yes, women did hunt and no, cave paintings aren’t crude.

...


The puppy, which must have died just before the freeze set in, was interred by a contraction of seasons. Now, he is disinterred by another contraction, caused not by a shift in the orbit and axis of the earth but by the gutting and glutting of its surface. In melting at all, even for a week before refreezing, permafrost ceases to exist. It passes away like – or as – an era.

As Siberia thaws, fast, the land and human livelihoods woven into it shift like the mudbanks on new rivers. The change is palpable, anxious, seen year on year. There is hollowing, wildfire, gashes torn in once-solid places. In summer, meltwater carves scars into the softening silt, once solid beneath the topsoil.

Sometimes the new channels cut into the preserved bodies of prehistoric creatures, opening them to breakdown, the stench of rotting flesh. Small motorboats scour the banks for clutches of fur and the yellow of bare skeletons and tusks. Yakutsk is not a wealthy place. Stability is pulled first from the coldest places, from under the feet of foresters and trappers. Now, men dig all summer in search of dead mammoths. Now, a life’s savings can be spent renting a firefighters’ hose, barely being able to pay the petrol for the water pump. Some find nothing. YouTube makes it seem slick, simple, an easy win. Some have become millionaires. Some barely scrape a living from hunting the dead. The puppy was found by these men, the mammoth hunters, who seek ‘ice ivory’ to be carved into collections and curiosities. Legally and illegally, mammoth tusk is sent to China, the USA, and a whole world of homes where long teeth become small, pale fragments sent – polished, etched, painted, varnished – to be eaten with, held and beheld. Dozens of tonnes of ancient tusks leave Siberia each year and become something pale, sculpted and gleaming. More cutting away, more carving through.

...






Image: Open Culture: No Borders campaign, Pollination


Boundless + Transmission


Two poems written on the invitation of Pollination, a London-based music platform celebrating music as a tool for self-expression and positive change. Boundless and Transmission were both part of Pollination’s 2021 Open Culture: No Borders campaign, which aimed to share information about the Anti-Refugee Bill passing through Parliament, to express the vibrancy that represents the UK’s diverse culture at its best, and to make a statement of welcome in opposition to the Tory government’s hostile environment policies. The OC:NB campaign created an exchange between writing, visual art and music. Four illustrators responded to stanzas within Boundless, creating risograph prints which were sold online and at the fundraising event which launched the OC:NB compilation. All profits go to Kent Refugee Action Network, an organisation which helps young refugees build their lives in the UK.

Prints and the fundraising compilation can be bought here



    
Images: artworks by Nicolas Piergollini and Bugbwoi

Boundless: 

Seeds can carry across a sea on direction alone
landing with nothing to bloom as a bright
somewhere.

Pollen accents the hearts of flowers
trading the keys to colour on those same winds.

Any wilderness is simply a tangle of many
who put down roots in shared grounds.

We pass understanding strand to strand
like trees speaking a language of exchange
sung through threads spun out in darkness, light
with all the strength of a forest.



Transmission: 


We feel
how music moves through our bodies, humming
between muscle memory soul and bone, unbound
like the bass reverberating in our skin: rhythm, a kinship
of shared space and sound.

We taste
how we bake one another’s stories into our bread
passing histories across tables where words dissolve like salt
into tongues and new languages bloom
from the meeting of worlds.

We know
that neighbourhood really means a state of closeness
in a nation built on crossings, forever multiple, where we live
as a gorgeous cacophony of difference and refuse to be forced
to a single, false note.

We build
our culture as a home with open doors:
a place where peace is loud, outrageous, alive.
And we will keep on dancing here, welcoming everyone
to defend kindness with all our raw joy.


Image: DreamsTimeFree: Soft Tissue, TACO!

For Grinding, for Slicing, for Tearing


Three-part prose piece for the second edition of DreamsTimeFree, Soft Tissue, published by TACO! in 2021. Grinding / Slicing / Tearing obsesses over the dental, focussing in on major-minor events at the only locus in our bodies where we are normally able to see our bones. Insides meet the outside, soft flesh holds long-rooted prongs of hard enamel, and baby teeth wobble precariously on the  faultlines of growth.
DreamsTimeFree is an annual publication series of artists’ experimental writing, published by TACO! (Thamesmead Arts and Culture Office). You can read more about DreamsTimeFree and buy the limited-edition Soft Tissue publication here. This edition includes texts by Anias, Comer, Anneka French, Beth Kettel, Blaithin Mac Donnell, Donald Butler, Dunya Kalantery, Elisina De Zulueta, Esme Boggis, Fiona Glen, Gina Prat Lilly, Hannah-Dargavel-Leafe, Harriet Bowman, Holly Graham, Jessa Mockridge, Kaiya Waerea, Kyle Kruse, Laura Ní Fhlaibhín, Meara Sharma & Lucy Sparks, Ruby Reding, Sara O’Brien, and Theo Turpin.


















Image from This is Tomorrow’s livestream of Le Grand K at the Science Museum

Taken Lightly 


Ten-minute performative lecture for Le Grand K at London’s Science Museum. This second evening of performaces and artist experiments honoured the retiring Le Grand K at a Museum Late dedicated to Metrology. Written specifically for the event, Taken Lightly brings together eighteen differently-voiced perspectives on measurement, desire, and the idealised body/world, telling a non-linear narrative of the origin of the metre. 


Excerpts:


Tracing our perimeters in chalk on the concrete, or in pen, on a flying carpet cut from a thick roll of paper. We were little. Backs to the wall, flat hands holding a tideline above our heads, fiercely debating the fairness of shoes and the thickness of soles. Then we could attend to the world.

...

Somewhere in the modern family home, you would be likely to find a corner etched with pencil scratchings. From this data, repeatedly annotated with dates and a consistent selection of first names, it was clear that this was a record of household members – their rise and fall. Some extended annually while others gently compressed.

The ‘nuclear family’ plotted themselves as graph-points on paintwork, sketching a skyline of their own growth and latter recession. This carefully charted constellation indicates a desire to document, and to seek differentials. Members of the clan aspired to see themselves relative to one another, marking their own measure of belonging.

...

Imagine a world where nations are united, where energy flows across borders, and objects housed in little boxes traverse each hemisphere, speaking a universal language of length and height and width. Imagine a plug slipping snug into a socket it has never met, yet they fit so right, so tightly. Imagine a world where these things are made to be.

...

The world, the whole world, would finally be FOR ALL MEN FOR ALL TIME. They said, ‘man the measures, de-man the measures, unhand the measures! Hands are not enough now, nor feet, nor any part that modifies its size per person. No enthroned body will be our baseline. We want equality, a precision spreading freedom across an earth that speaks its own shape!’

...

Keeping reality stable is a hard task, accommodating only the sturdiest representatives. Proudly anchoring a new reality, the prototype was a fine talisman. A shining example, warding off debate and disarray. Nobody would dareto overthrow an officiated kilo – Le Grand K reigned supreme.

Materials were stable; weighings were ceremonial; guards were loyal. Yet carelessness slipped in somewhere. Our chaste cylindrical touchstone lost an entire eyelash-worth of weight. As the officiator of reality, Le K could not change by changing. No – the world itself became heavier in mourning... An unacceptable tragedy. When the earth is not enough, one must look further.  

...

It is precise to say that a metre is the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of one two-hundred and ninety-nine million, seven hundred and ninety-two thousand, four-hundred and fifty-eighth of a second.

...

We once wanted a touchpoint you could touch.
But that was the precise problem.
Earthly things have other ideas about permanence.
Still, we cannot afford to stand still on constants.
There are clocks to set, drugs to dose, rockets to launch.
This is drama of the highest order – of the highest orderliness.

...

This is the Halley’s Comet of metrology. This is Odysseus shooting an arrow through the holes of a dozen axe heads. This is an ecstasy of metaphors, from metrologists on the brink of a blissful redefinition. This is a passion of belief.

...

This time, will it be enough?




Images courtesy of Jessica Wetherly

< > 


Artist’s text explores compression, combustion, and burning desire from the perspective of a fossil becoming fuel. Commissioned for Jessica Wetherly’s graduating MA Sculpture show – // Laboratory { – at the Royal College of Art, June 2019.  

Excerpt:

It was unbearable, born of closeness, paralysing. Like broken beasts we slumped over (tucked into folded into) one another breathlessly awaiting reanimation (please, breathe fire back into my to-be molten body). You would have done the same under the circumstances (and we never know who or when) change starts with each one of us. It starts with that opportune moment, a mass portrait in rock (one of those ported-in-locket profiles of the beloved) forever ever (yours). A pellet of selves, a palette-thin slice – here – it wasn’t given freely. Paid in pain, remembrance so painstakingly slow. Weight (like nothing you have ever known) for that one-off imprint, a death mask (maybe diagnosis). We all go down we all go down together! we are all a brick in the wall, in the world. This matter at hand, it matters so heavily, this matter is at the heart of what we hold Dear, to value is not necessarily to cherish – there’s no need to be precious about it why – some things are (seen to be) made to be destroyed. All transformation is violent. Assets are better liquid. Each eon leaks its black slick slither, wet waste.

It was burning. It was total blowout, end-of-the-line time to buy / to burn off some energy / to blow off some steam / to make the most / to the ends of the earth. Just been so stressed something had to go why not everything (just let go) burn this house to the ground. It was beyond all control. The control groups escaped their confines and the rest were stone still stunned. Petrifying.

It was rock bottom. But before, in the beginning, riverbed soft – a blink of silt wrapping a moment in its sentimental sediment testament to that time we had together at last. When you love that much that you want to (press yourself into) together. A new compound noun. For who or how many – how much?

Images: 

Jessica Wetherly’s 
// Laboratory {
Silicon, glass, wax, perspex, mirror, steel, Arduino, LCD, PVC, insulation foam, de-ionised water, fluorescene, plastic, glitter, koraform.
2019


Images courtesy of Jessica Wetherly








Image by Fiona Glen

Cephalopodomania


[seh-fah-low-pod-oh-mania]

A short, assemblage-format book exploring contemporary cultural and technological fascinations with the octopus. Cephalopodomania follows the octopus, imitating its mobility and metamorphic nature, as it navigates between encounters with the ‘real-world’ animal and its various representations and applications as a metaphor, a model, and a mythic being.

Cephalopodomania was submitted as a manuscript of 20,000 words as my graduating project for the MA Writing programme at the Royal College of Art in 2020. It is still growing new arms, branching out to become a full-length book, and seeking a publisher to give it a physical body in the world. 

Read an excerpt from the project in which I pay tribute to Disney’s Ursula as a queer cephalopod outsider (available via Still Point Journal online).  

Watch me reading an excerpt from the project in which we meet the octopus as a fantastical and entirely real being (available via RCA2020 Grad Show Vimeo).

Read an excerpt which investigates insecurity in the reckoning of monstrosity and otherness through the cephalopodic drawings and writings of three turn-of-the-century Great Literary Men (plus the occasional detour into Pink Floyd gigs and Pirates of the Caribbean). Published December 2021 by 3:AM Magazine. 

Full description: 

Through the salted waters they come, those loose-legged shapes with their unmistakable silhouettes forever changing. Through cyberspace they clamber, these spiders of the sea, these dream-like spooks who shift through every colour – underwater chameleons, with skin smoother than scales. Through literatures and caricatures, brand books and grassroots movements, they float and flicker in letters, pixels, ink, crystals. What is the trace – the lineage – of creatures like these? Are their meanings as unfixed as their form, their symbolisms as mysterious as their reaching minds? Where do these octopuses lead?

Cephalopodomania explores the contemporary cultural and scientific fascination with the octopus, with particular attention to the deeper significances of its familiar characterisations in popular culture. This short book follows the octopus, imitating its mobility and metamorphic nature, between ‘real-world’ encounters and myriad representations and interpretations of the animal as a model, myth, and symbol. Acknowledging that the octopus has diverse meanings across world cultures, Cephalopodomania addresses modern and contemporary Western conceptions of this animal. While some segments are fictional, the project is situated within a nonlinear account of a research journey.

Drawing inspiration from the octopus as a trickster, Cephalopodomania is playful, colourful, and curious. Fifteen semi-independent textual segments employ a range of registers. By allowing these to form in a non-uniform way, tied by open thematic paths, the project allows the reader to make their own tentacular links between diverse phenomena. Together, the fifteen patch-like segments form an assemblage. Mirroring the colour-changing nature of an octopus as it hunts, hides and communicates, each segment opens with a different colour-state, expressing mood and intention.

They pulse like the dozens of differently-coloured cells in an octopus’s epidermis: cerulean, coral, ochre. Each opening is a new whisper: here be krakens. Here be dreadful monsters and utopian spirit-guides. Here be witches and women, aliens and alter egos, mystical icons and mirror images. Here be hope and fear, appropriation and obsession, the familiar and the other.

Here we are, with our fellow beasts.
Images: Fiona Glen


Image: research screenshot from TED Ed (linked)

transient guardians, guarding transience


Four cyanotype prints created with handpainted negatives, and a 6-minute textural audio track of a poem. Made on invitation for KNOCKvologan Studies’ Magical Octopus Sequel Exhibition, first presented from 21-28th November 2021 in KNOCKvologan Barn. In this project, artists with connections to the West coast of Scotland were given sections of the award-winning Magical Octopus riso print book to ‘translate’ into new artworks.

I worked with the eight pages produced by London’s Hato Press, who had created organic, wave-like imagery on a scanner bed in response to Miek Zwamborn’s poem – part of an original pack of materials drawn from the landscape (and seascape) of Mull. These photographs, maps, writings, and drawings had been sent to riso printmakers around the world, eliciting divergent, wandering responses from the same initial resources. You can see the pages created by Hato and other studios at the exhibition documentation link here.


Response:

Wandering outwards from Hato Press’s exploration of repetition in erosion, printmaking and tide cycles, I considered the relationship between cosmic bodies such as the moon, stars and turning Earth, and the microscopic bodies suspended in our seas. Inspired by the question of ‘who is guarding who’ from Miek’s original poem, my contribution was created in praise of phytoplankton: the collective of photosynthesising microorganisms on which nearly all life in our oceans depends. As the first ever beings to translate sunlight into fuel for life, phytoplankton were the original oxygenators of our atmosphere. To them, we owe our breath – and in concert with the sun that feeds them and the moon that moves the tides, these unsung caretakers of our planetary ecosystem currently retrieve as much CO2 from the atmosphere as all other plants on Earth put together. My spoken poem and cyanotypes combine mythological, cosmological and scientific imagery in an attempt to express this vast yet delicate system of interconnection.

Image: transient guardians, 4 x cyanotype prints, Fiona Glen, 2021

Excerpts from guarding transience text:


here, the sun and moon preside over equal palaces of time

and the sun warms kind through every house

and the sun has cycles swimming in its skin

equal light: equal dark: equal light

...

more than the instant, its ebb and flow

on a thick waft of seaweed, the wellspring of love

...

*prismatic* these chosen mysteries

split crystal children

into six days of light life

pure sheer pellucid, they bask all through the photic zone

and burst:

bioluminescing swarming gorgeous eyeless glitter

teeming       microscopic mirrorworld

of ribbons.fans.zigzags and stars

a gravitas of spun glass

blind to its beauty

gods under micrograph clarity

an abundance, giving and giving

the unstill moment, again and again

...

in expansive suspense

we are tended by spirits as light as belief

....

constellations float in infinity pools and fortuna flies blindfolded

on our sphere of tumbling plenty

...

under oceans of oceans of stars

the coast advances and retreats like a cautious hunter or a suitor

speaking in silted gifts

courting the sea whose abrasive tongue is a

fizz of white noise and magnesium promises

....

hear the stones across the bay crackle

with the slow desire of a mountain’s pull

...

You can listen to the full textural poem recording in the Magical Octopus Sequel exhibition, here.

Magical Octopus Riso was initiated by Jo Frenken, a Maastricht-based risograph printing expert and long-term collaborator of Miek Zwamborn and KNOCKvologan Studies. Participating creators and studios were: Bananafish (Shanghai, CH), Calipso Press (Cali, CO), Corners Studio (Seoul, KR), Endless Editions (New York, USA), Gato Negro Ediciones (Mexico City, MX), Hand Saw Press (Tokyo, JP), Hato Press (London, UK), Issue Press (Grand Rapids, USA), kabinet.studio (Antwerp, BE), Knust (Nijmegen, NL), Quintal Éditions (Paris, FR), Raum Press (Salamanca, SE), Risolve (Lancaster, USA), Sigrid Calon (Tilburg, NL), Wobby.club (Tilburg, NL) and the Jan van Eyck Academie (Maastricht, NL).

Contributing artists to Magical Octopus Sequel were: Filip Andel, Andy Crabb, Derek Crook, Seth Crook, Elaine Dempsey, Rufus Isabel Elliot, David Faithfull, Fiona Glen, Katie Harris-MacLeod, Monica Haddock, Mhairi Killin, Naoko Mabon, Sue Murdoch, Julia Parks, Giles Perring, Christina Riley, Brodie Sim, Jan Sutch Pickard, and Brian Thomas.


Image: section of Meat Dreaming zine

Meat Dreaming


Micro-zine produced in response to an open call by Sticky Fingers Publishing, combining metamorphic drawings with four short prose pieces. Meat Dreaming explores four dreams of living meat and becoming meat through a series of short, experimental prose pieces, and surreal, often fluid drawings. Uneasy yet tender, strange yet touching, the zine is an open-ended collection of responses to scenes which dissolve the boundaries between a human dreamer and other creatures. Meat Dreaming was produced in one week in August 2021 and was printed by Piggy Bank Shoe.

The zine is a risograph print which folds to 8 small pages, with a foldout A3 poster on one side. It can be bought for £2 from Sticky Fingers here. If sold out, a few copies are available direct from me.








Still from video essay by Fiona Glen, source footage by Yo Yo 

Slimy, Sticky, Sweet 


Multimedia essay on cute slime, originally commissioned by Aww-Struck: Creative and Critical Approaches to Cuteness, a day-long seminar co-organised by Caroline Harris (Royal Holloway University) and Isabel Galleymore (University of Bristol). Slimy, Sticky, Sweet combines a wandering, mantra-like essay-script with a video essay that brings together found footage of slime making in looped, glitchy, ultra-saturated slow motion. It was presented online in May 2021 as part of Aww-Struck’s panel on Gender and Society. An Aww-Struck publication including another of my texts – an experimental poem called ‘As Syrup’ – was released by Poem Atlas and the University of Birmingham to accompany the seminar. 

After having been presented and discussed at Aww-Struck, Slimy, Sticky, Sweet was published in July 2021 by SPAM Plaza as their first video essay, accompanied by an expanded essay. The piece delves into the sanitised and hyperfeminised new paradigm of slime, proliferating through platforms such as TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. In the essay-script, I consider cuteslime through the abject, the excessive, the idealised, the marketised, and the ecologically monstrous. Read, watch and listen to the full piece here


Excerpt: 

[...]

A glimmering trail follows embodiment. Slime in sex and birth and death, hatching and rotting. It is defensive and exposing. Mucus protects – and yet mucus membranes are soft sites of intense transmission. We all ooze. The slimes our own bodies release enter another in-between: the uneasy state between self and not-self.

I want cuteslime to be some kind of reclamation of the feminised abject and the stickiness of being in any body. I want this to be some statement of proud, pink fleshliness — a high-camp assertion that all humans do live with slime, close to ourselves and material things, forever changing, slippery and free. But maybe that’s just what I want to see.

Cuteslime is a fantasy: sanitised, strawberry-scented and shameless. It bubbles up from entrepreneurs, algorithms and influencers, a craze that just won’t calm, signalled by canned giggles and swelling web shops.

Cuteslime is deeply capitalist and deeply clean. It is has left bodies far behind. No chunks, no lumps. This is not secretion. Cuteslime does not seep thin in parts or leave wet marks. It is not organic.

It is synthetic evenness, even when it is pulled out into bubbled ribbons that rip a honeycomb of curves. Pure consistent colour or clarity. It does not have the jellied dangles of raw egg white, or the mottled bands of biofilm in our saliva.

Cuteslime is hyper-aesthetic. Visually delicious. Perfectly suited to the channels which amplify, refine and intensify it. A fragment among a million other images, it is, in itself, fascinating. It needs no context; it is its total meaning.

Endlessly various, cuteslime visibility entices more looking, making, buying, playing. Companies with names like Slimeowy and Kawaii Slime sell it under complex taxonomies: galaxy, glossy, bubble, float, crunchy, clay, unicorn, smoothie, velvet.

Having been a child under contemporary capitalism, I remember what it’s like to uncritically want all the slight, bright mutations of a product — the whole collectible catalogue. Cuteslime oozes forth — creatively, hungrily — from wealth. An encounter between the weird and the market.

Perhaps synthetic slimes can only be cute because we already live among them. Freddie Mason calls ‘gooeyness’ a distinctly ‘modern phase of matter’ in his book, The Viscous. [4] Since the mass extraction of petroleum began, slippery derivatives have proliferated. Slime that is not animal or vegetal but emerges from minerals and industry has become ever-more fashioned to our needs. Lube, LCD screens, lip gloss. Since Sartre wrote on it in 1943, slime has become a far dearer friend. It brings us pleasure, speed and beauty.

Maybe the digital feels less like a cloud and more like slime. Flows gather, bits stick, polluted pools at the sites of extraction grow a rich layer of scum. Slime is a mode of life, a medium of healthy lifeforms. But it is also a signal of ecological stress and distress: the sea snot clogging the Mediterranean, the blue algae choking out lakes, the green drench on a canal flooded with fertilisers. Industrial production is filled with sludges poured into moulds, molten slurries at the bottom of tanks, by-products and leftovers. Slime is the texture of inflow and outflow, of the invisibilised waste from the industrial production of our clean bright devices. Slime moves into and out of our things.

Like capitalism’s, cuteslime’s dirt is displaced from the site of its enjoyment. It is often made of plastics: glue, glitter, polystyrene, and microbeads. In the rare case that somebody wants to recycle synthetic slime, it can be dissolved in lemon juice and vinegar to produce a thin, grey, acid soup that can then be taken to a liquid waste treatment facility. But most of the time, cuteslime is simply binned.

Cuteslime is waste, masquerading as an escape from dirt. A plaything that you believe will never excrete.

Cuteslime could be your friend. It is calming, held in your hand like a pet. It has nearly learned to sit still. It is nearly obedient. 

[...]

Stills: 








Research sketch of a 1600s leather drinking bottel by Fiona Glen

Gently as our days bite


The vernacular antiques of the Robert Young collection tell their tales in this series of eleven stories. Released online between November 2020 and January 2021 as multimedia clusters of texts, videos, images, and GIFs, Gently as our days bite is a  commission by Contemporary Collaborations (@contemporary_collaborations) at Robert Young Antiques, curated by Erin Hughes

You can see the project in full here on the Contemporary Collaborations web page, or discover the media stories on Instagram. 

Curatorial text: 

We inscribe things with memory. A simple stone or vase or chair can become a symbol of a person, or a portal to another time in our lives. We can re-enter the world of our childhood when we hold its things again; we can feel the presence of a lost loved one through the things they cherished. Together, our things form an extended self, arriving and leaving throughout our lifetimes as our needs and desires and traits shift. They absorb us and express us, and often survive us, going on to gather the touches of other lives.

Human beings are creatures defined by making – by our use of tools and objects, by our creation of changing worlds to live in and with. And, as much as we are marked by the objects which form the landscape of our lives, our touch marks them. We leave our trace everywhere: in craftwork and patch-ups and notches and scratches. We are witnessed by our places and things in this way. Antiques survive us, witness us, and express us. Their stories are ours, too.

‘Gently as our days bite’ is an act of listening to eleven objects – of hearing what memories might be murmuring in their material, of following the tangled threads of their possible stories, and of reading their characters, forged between the tenderness and brutality of human time and touch.



3. Cowhand and Cow, 19th November 2020:











Image: Honeysuckle Collective, ‘Omnibus’, ICA, November 2019, Fiona Glen.


You Enter into a White Room...


Three-day art writing workshop aimed at practice-based students at London’s Royal College of Art, co-led with Harriet Welch and Lucy Holt. You Enter into a White Room... was part of the November 2019 edition of AcrossRCA, the RCA’s annual cross-college programme of student- and alumni-led events and workshops.

Taking its title from Ghislaine Leung’s artist text for Constitution, her solo show at the Chisenhale Gallery in Spring 2019, the workshop encouraged Masters students with a diverse range of arts backgrounds (from sustainable textile development to painting to archival design research) to open their writing into more experimental forms.

Over the three days, all participants collaboratively close-read contrasting texts, wrote from unfamiliar images and from ‘Omnibus’ (the ICA’s Honeysuckle Collective retrospective), co-edited their texts, and collated them into three flash publications. 

 




Images: Lucy Holt, Fiona Glen.



Image: design by Alec McWilliam of Boon Studio

Playing Houses 


Full-day multi-venue arts event hosted by first-year MA Writing students at London’s Royal College of Art, project managed by Fiona Glen. As part of a collaborative project with Flat Time House, we considered issues of domesticity, hospitality, and welcome as we programmed and facilitated artist demonstrations, writers' seminars, performances, talks, and a 'pub quiz’ full of the unexpected.


What happens on the threshold where the home and the public meet?

What kind of face does a place need to put on to become public-facing – and how can it express welcomeness and be welcomed?

When a house tries to make itself hospitable, what happens to us inside?



Playing Houses spanned three neighbouring cultural venues in Peckham, London: Artist Run, Peckham Liberal Club, and Flat Time House (the foundation and former home of John Latham). Collaborating artists included Sally O'Reilly, Megan Rooney, Audrey Reynolds, David Raymond Conroy, Lucy Vann, and Daisy Hildyard.



Images: Ludovica Colacino & George Lynch

Flat Time House TV

Reception Room, Audrey Reynolds

Curdled, Esme Boggis 

TAP TAP inside the body, Megan Rooney



Full programme:
 
Flat Time House

Reception Room: A reading and writing seminar with Audrey Reynolds
Through the interleaving of texts and experiences this seminar will be used to produce new experiences and texts. Participants will engage with a selection of texts and audio that address some matters relating to dominions and domains, will and welcome, and public and private thresholds. Artist and writer Audrey Reynolds will present her own writing and audio work interspersed with a selection of poetry and prose extracts by other writers. This will lead on to writing exercises focusing on, but not limited to, vignettes, prose poetry and interior monologues that examine the participants’ experiences as potential guests, ghosts or imagined selves in Flat Time House.

Curdling: a performance with Esme Boggis
Join artist and MA Writing student, Esme Boggis, for a buttery performance in the kitchen of Flat Time House, which will attempt to interpret 1970’s German-written cookbook – Buffets and Receptions in International Cuisine. The performance will enter a space of greasy re-enactment, slippery methodologies and muddied mistranslation to explore the inefficacies of effect and representation.

Flat Time House TV
Daytime TV for the curious: a specially selected afternoon of programming responding to the theme of ‘Playing Houses’. Broadcasting contemporary short film, moving image and music videos from artists and filmmakers, plus footage from the Flat Time House archive. Drop-in-and-drop-out all afternoon, grab a copy of the TV listings, help yourself to free tea and coffee. Featuring John Latham, Laure Prouvost, Sam Wiehl, Pathé Film, and many more.

Radio 
Architectural Association’s Independent Radio hosts the Royal College of Art’s MA Writing programme for an evening meal. This show is a pilot of a series that will discuss how cultural institutions operate domestic spaces as their functional ‘homes’. Governed by the implicit rules of politeness, table manners and decorum, but keeping within the expectations of their new institutional formations, the first broadcast dinner will ‘air’ on 30th March, during the Playing Houses event and will be available for listening at Flat Time House during the day.

Artist Run

TAP TAP: inside the body with Megan Rooney
My mother had a sign above the stove which read, “A tidy home is a sign of a misplaced life.” Out of isolation or perhaps out of pure boredom, she included me in all her domestic activities. We were taking care of the “nest” but it wasn’t our cage. The house provided us with a certain kind of freedom and we took liberties with it. In this performance lecture and making demonstration, Megan Rooney, an enigmatic storyteller whose work expands across painting, performance, written and spoken word, sculpture and installation, will engage with materiality and the human subject. Her work is deeply invested in the present moment: the festering chaos of politics with its myriad cruelties and the laden violence of our society, so resident in the home, in the female, in the body.

Artists' and writers' talks & performances
Three invited artists and writers give readings and performances on communication, habitation and the ‘public’ space - with subjects as diverse as the artist’s archive, Tinder and the inside of a nuclear reactor.

Daisy Hildyard is a novelist and academic. She has a PhD on early-modern scientific writing. Her first novel Hunters in the Snow received the Somerset Maugham Award and a ‘5 under 35’ honorarium at the USA National Book Awards. She currently runs a research project on animals and fiction at Northumbria University, and is working on a novel about nonhuman life forms. Her latest book, The Second Body, is an essay on the Anthropocene. She will host a reading of a series of short texts and extracts which consider how humans and other animals make habitat, from Kafka’s The Burrow to the microbes who live inside nuclear reactors at Chernobyl and Fukushima. There will be time for response and discussion after the reading.


Lucy Vann studied at the Manchester School of Art before completing an MA at the Royal College of Art. She is an artist and part time lecturer on Graphic Design at manchester School of Art, and holds a studio at S1 Artspace. I’ve Come Here To Talk To People’ is a monologue inspired by language used on dating apps such as Tinder, picking out tropes, one liners and moments of uncertainty used in biographies and conversation. The performance explores the presentation of the self and communication both on digital platforms and in public spaces.


David Raymond Conroy is an artist. His compositional works investigate the performance and construction of subjectivity, power and value within shared social space. He often assembles structures using objects, texts and images in order to investigate the relationships between desire and proposals of fidelity.
He will be exploring John Latham's archive, looking at the artist's extensive correspondence with the (art)world and his efforts to support and publicise his work without compromising his vision.


Peckham Liberal Club

Playing Houses Pub Quiz
In the evening, guests are invited into Peckham Liberal Club to digest the daytime’s thoughts, events and conversations at Playing Houses, and participate in a 'pub quiz'. Guests can write, discuss and relive the day’s activities in a quiz format. But unlike most quizzes, you may be asked to craft materials in your team or to write responses to esoteric, unanswerable questions – not necessarily answer, but to respond. Playfully, and with special guest hosts, the quiz will activate responses in the third and final venue of the day, asking questions of encounters in space and the unpredictability of what occurs in these situations.








Image: Fiona Glen, taken at Al Ma’amal.


*immersions


Short series of film screening evenings, curated and organised by Fiona Glen as part of a Programming Internship at Al Ma’amal, a Palestinian contemporary art foundation based in an historic ceramics factory in the Old City of Jerusalem, June-August 2016. *immersions included a feature-length screening of Jessica Habie’s Mars at Sunrise, and a rooftop screening evening of seven short films produced by artists from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine.



Curatorial text: 

Immersion: a state of escape, a state of suffocation.
Citizens (or not) of states which engulf and bind, how do Levantine artists portray political claustrophobia and demonstrate the relieving power of the imaginative and innovative? The conditions of life 'submerged' in troubled political environments are explored by filmmakers from Palestine, Lebanon and beyond. While each depiction of contemporary history is unique, this collection reveals a common language of emotive motifs, a shared experience of disillusionment and suppression. Together, these artists' work speaks of the interrelated abnormalities of national experiences in the bilaad ash-shaam: disruption, displacement and diaspora, alongside satire, strength of resolve and survival.



Works included in shorts screening (all artist liaison by Fiona Glen):

Sea Level, Khaled Jarrar. Palestine.
Rounds, Khalil Joreige & Joana Hadjithomas. Lebanon.
Journey of a Sofa, Idioms Film, Alaa Al Ali. Lebanon/Palestine.
Condom Lead, Arab & Tarzan Nasser. Palestine.
Pink Bullet, Idioms Film, Ramzi Hazboun. Palestine.
The Diver, Jumana Emil Abboud. Palestine.
Off the Coast, Mahmoud Safadi. Lebanon/Canada.