Published  26/04/2016

Martin Clark: interview, Art Sheffield 2016

Martin Clark: interview, Art Sheffield 2016

Martin Clark, the director of Bergen Kunsthall, Norway, has created Art Sheffield 2016: Up, Down, Top, Bottom, Strange and Charm, entirely around sound and video art.

His aim is for the three-week event to inspire and provoke a connection between different parts of the city – from derelict pubs and abandoned factories to veteran nightclubs and modern gallery spaces – and the musical, cultural, social and political events that have helped to shape this once prosperous industrial hub, as well as propel it into its modern day version, where former factories have transformed into galleries and student housing, and the knowledge economy is king.

Up, Down, Top, Bottom, Strange and Charm could be seen as Clark’s love letter to the city where he spent his formative years as an art student, embracing its vibrant music scene, and branching out into DJing in the city’s clubs and bars before he made the switch from sound decks to gallery specs.

Clark has drawn on his deep knowledge of the city’s musical and visual culture, as well as its social and political history, to animate key spaces around the city purely with sound and video art. He chose the title - it refers to the six “flavours” or types of quark, which make up the building blocks of the material world – to reference both the ephemerality of its physical landscapes and because, he says: “It seems to me that music and film have a physical presence, even if they are ephemeral.”

This is the first time either Clark or Art Sheffield have deployed singular works strategically in off-site spaces. And Clark describes it as “more like an exploded group show than a biennial, where you pick one overarching theme … The city is as implicated and as present as the works themselves … (It’s all about) the experience of being in that space and walking around and seeing other spaces.”

Working with the Art Sheffield team to cherry pick and then secure the sites he was interested in – incorporating the derelict, the iconic and the rehabilitated – Clark then chose the artists whose work resonated most intriguingly with those spaces. Although most of it is pre-existing work, there are new commissions from Hannah Sawtell, Steven Claydon, Mark Fell and Richard Sides.

Art Sheffield 2016
16 April – 8 May 2016


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