CATLIN ART PRIZE 2014 SHORTLIST Q & A: Jakob Rowlinson (The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art) #2

Jakob Rowlinson 'Facial Poetics Appendix puppeteering Adrien & Virginia' …ance HD video
Jakob Rowlinson ‘Facial Poetics Appendix puppeteering Adrien & Virginia’ …ance HD video

Over the next few weeks we will be featuring interviews and Q & A’s with the shortlisted artists from the prestigious Catlin Art Prize 2014 up second is: Jakob Rowlinson from The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art.

How do you feel about being shortlisted for the Catlin Prize?
When Justin Hammond told me that I was in the exhibition I was obviously very excited and pleased, but that was shortly replaced by feeling a little nervous. This prize is such a great opportunity for me to show new work, and consequently I’m taking a few risks rather than relying on a familiar formula, which makes the whole thing a bit nerve wracking, if enjoyable at the same time.

What work will you be producing over the next year?
I am planning on creating a series of performance pieces in the coming months, but I am currently working on my project for the Catlin Art Prize. This project is centred around superstitions and astrology, as I’m interested in how we try and find meaning from abstracted occurrences and movements within everyday life.

How would you describe your work?
Most of my work is about facial expressions and body language; these are a method of communicating that we are clearly all familiar with, but I like to play on these expectations and create abstract work which is quite open to individual interpretation. I try to remove control of my actors’ actions and emotions, by writing very clear instructions for how they move and behave. As such they become sort of instruments, and as their facial expressions come from my instructions and not from their own feelings, they are devoid of their usual emotional content; instead they become movements that seem disembodied and are open to the interpretation of the viewer.

What materials do you work with and why?
My work is predominantly performance and video based, but the video/film pieces are usually in some way theatrical or involve actors and friends that I rope in to help me make them. Each performance or video work though is based upon a drawing or script, and so I also deal a lot with graphic media (be it hand drawn illustrations, digital scores or written text pieces). These act as directions for a performance and indicate the duration, complexity, or feel of the piece, but also allow the performance a great deal of improvisation because of the complex and impractical nature of the notation. So although there are sometimes discrepancies between the scripted ideas and the actual performance, I consider these very much a part of the same piece of work.

What inspires you?
I look quite closely at scientific analysis of facial movements and expressions to see how this knowledge has been employed at different periods of time. I’m very interested in recent studies into behavioural analysis and lie detection, but also into the medical experiments of the early twentieth century conducted by neurologists such as Guillaume Duchenne and Jean-Martin Charcot. The photographs from these early investigations into expressions – often produced by shocking the patient with electricity – have a visual similarity to my work, even though they are coming from quite a different background with different ideas in tow.

Who inspires you?
I have been highly influenced by Bas Jan Ader’s film pieces which, despite having no narrative, I find to be hugely suggestive and captivating to watch. I am also interested in the work of the experimental composer Cornelius Cardew; his elegant musical compositions allow for a huge amount of individual interpretation, which is surprising and very liberating. I have also gained a lot from looking at his graphic scores such as Treatise (1963-67) and The Great Learning (1971). These helped me to find a method to visually describe what I wanted from each part of the performance without me having to rely entirely upon diagrams or written descriptions.

Can you describe your studio space?
I currently don’t have a studio space, but I find that my practice doesn’t really require one for every day use (though I’d love to be able to afford one). A lot of the time I hire a space to use for performances, or I film incidental moments and then borrow an edit suite off a friend to compile material.

What were the most important things you learnt at Art school?
One of the most important things was learning to work by your own incentive not necessarily being pushed to make new work, but wanting to do it for yourself. Once leaving art school it’s very easy to be too concerned with other things, and so you have to be disciplined to make new stuff. Aside from this, I think it was learning how to self analyse

How do you define success?
I’m not entirely sure how I define success, but for a piece of my work to feel successful it really has to be hitting all my buttons. I’m happy for my work to be freely interpreted by an audience, so long as the whole concept of it doesn’t feel too neat; I like there to be an element of mystery about the work, which is a vestige of my interest in magic and the occult I think. I would hate for a viewer to be looking at the text and drawings and then at the film and to ‘understand’ exactly what is happening.

About The Catlin Art Prize
The Catlin Art Prize gives talented young artists who have recently graduated from UK art schools the opportunity to showcase their work professionally and win a significant monetary award towards their future development.

Graduating artists from around the UK are visited and assessed by Art Catlin curator, Justin Hammond, and 40 are invited to feature in The Catlin Guide, an exclusive publication showcasing the most promising new artists in the country.

From the Guide, a small number of artists are selected as finalists for the Prize and are invited to demonstrate their progress by presenting a new body of work at the Catlin Art Prize exhibition, held 12 months on from graduation.

Finalist selection is based on the standard of their work and their potential to make a significant mark in the art world over the course of their early careers.

During the exhibition an independent panel of judges including Turner Prize winner Mark Wallinger will select a winner who will receive the £5,000 prize. A visitor vote is also held, allowing the general public to vote for their favourite artist via the website and at the exhibition. The winner of which will receive £2,000.

From the 2014 Guide seven artists have been invited to demonstrate their progress by presenting a new body of work at the Catlin Art Prize exhibition, held 2nd -24th May 2014 More Details: www.artcatlin.com

About Mark Westall

Mark Westall is the founder and editor of FAD magazine, a curation of the world’s most interesting culture, and Creative Director of FAD Agency, a digital creative agency: www.fad.agency

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