The third final project by a student in Jeanne Finley’s class on failure is by Erik Madsen. In the original project proposal, the artist intended to document “my successes and failures in my attempts to make contact with certain galleries or organizations as well as send work to a juried competition.”
Erik Madsen’s Failure class statement:
As a part of the Graduate Seminar “Failure” at CCA we were to propose a public presentation of our work as well as exhibit at a some point during the semester. I proposed three different venues where I believed I could have the opportunity to exhibit work. My first FAILURE came when I had failed to read the fine print for the Musee Hamaguchi competition, which stated that March 16th, 2009 was the due date of a mail in registration form — even though in very large text it had read July 22, 2009 as the due date to receive the materials for the jurying process. My second proposal was to exhibit one of my large film scrolls at Artist Television Access, second FAILURE came when I decided to wait and submit a short video/film for their 4th Annual Film Festival due May 29, 2009 which is a failure because it will take place outside the context of the assignment. Much of my energy has been in wrestling with digital technology (namely Final Cut Pro) after telecining my 35mm experimental film to mini dv. My third FAILURE comes from basically bitting off more that I could chew — I have not yet submitted work to the Donna Seager Gallery as of yet ( itʼs been a busy semester with Reviews and all), and still need to document the work I will be submitting- and this will also happen after the course has ended.
My initial impetus in proposing these three potential exhibition was to stretch myself and to make this class more challenging — as I already was going to have two exhibitions during the span of the course as well as one other exhibition that I had entered after the term began. So my methodology was to flirt with FAILURE and to challenge myself to think (critically) about where I could show- as well as where I would like to show in a practical sense.
Despite all this FAILURE there has been some successes during the semester. I successfully have exhibited in three shows this year- Painterly Prints at the Santa Clara University Department of Art and Art History Gallery, Illusion Helps at Orange Alley Project, San Francisco, CA, and ArtRead at the Oliver Art Center, CCA campus Oakland, CA.
This class called FAILURE was indeed not a FAILURE, but an amazing journey that all six of us undertook against all odds and at one point there was speculation of the course being cancelled. In fact it was an email about its potential cancellation that alerted me towards this class and I’m grateful because there was no doubt that I would have seen some FAILURE if I would have remained in what would have been my second theory class. Some would have thought that I being the only male in the class would have been a FAILURE, or that none of us is a media student or that two of us were second year grads with their thesis and thesis shows hovering above them. I thought maybe going on our field trip to Mont Tamalpais with Gregory Gavin with less than a week before my review was courting FAILURE and in fact I was contemplating not participating. The trip was great and I believe that it was a major part of my SUCCESS in my review as well as getting me to relax and being more open to taking risks and not worrying about the FAILURE of not passing my review or all the baggage I associate with FAILURE or being a FAILURE. This class (all six of us) I believe has benefited from the process of discussing,acknowledging, as well as facing and overcoming FAILURE. And it is through that process that has made this class about FAILURE a SUCCESS.
Exhibitions of Erik Madsen’s work:
A print exhibition focusing upon the painterly print (monotype, monoprint, hand manipulated print..) Overall a very nice show where three different attitudes towards print are displayed fairly successfully and was probably a great complement to Kathryn Kain’s beginning printmaking class at SCU. I think the intention to exhibit work that incorporates both painterly and printmaking concerns was successful, I believe that the only failure in this whole process was that the postcards were not printed until the day of the opening, which may have hampered the opening reception a tad bit, but other than that I felt that the students, faculty and the public responded quite positively to the exhibition. We also got a small write up in the online art publication ARTSHIFT San
Illusion Helps was an exhibition that was part of the graduate seminar Painting Focus with James Gobel. The idea was to have an exhibit that used some of our material that we used both for our class catalog as well as our marginal poetics presentations (ideas and concerns that are on the periphery of our studio practices). So the concept for the how was to plaster (what I thought was floor to ceiling) the walls with xeroxes of some of our source materials which I guess was supposed to serve as a type of unifier between so many different styles of work. Overall the experience was great but I think the failure in the exhibition was that the idea of the xeroxes being “pasted” was undermined and the overall aesthetic came across a little under realised and fragmented. The response the the exhibit was fairly positive and was a productive avenue for creating positive camaraderie amongst the CCA grads as well as an interesting venue to get my feet wet in terms of exhibition spaces in San Francisco.
ArtRead was an exhibition I entered as a means to promote the printmaking department as well as to create a dialog with some of the Print Faculty as well as the undergrads. I had two books Paper Knife (an accordion style) and Present Tense (a case bound style) accepted, both were comprised of lithographic images accompanied by text of some sort. I volunteered with helping to prepare the exhibition space during which I had the honor to converse with fellow print students and faculty as well as having the honor of meeting Betsy Davids, who is in my mind one of the most knowledgeable people in the area of bookbinding and book arts today. So overall this exhibition was a success in that had the opportunity to engage with people I haven’t met or rarely see due to the schizophrenic nature of the school and I took part as a grad student in promoting print and bookbinding.