Choosing how to feel

by Shags and Caren Florance

Shags is an artist who’s a fan of kindness, asking questions and spruiking empathy.

Caren is one of those people who believes knowledge is for sharing rather than holding out of reach.

An invitation to respond opens us up and we only have a few hours. We came in cold, wanting no expectations to pre-wrap our curiosity, and found ourselves staring at shrouded trees, wondering if they represented more than they were meant to. We worked our way, scribbling, through the unboxed/reboxed archive, mostly sticking together after Caren wandered off and had a small childhood-memoried panic attack from once losing parents temporarily in a strange overseas art museum. Each walled room held traces of trying to reach people, but which people? Our mutual love of text, and an awareness of the historical ‘look of information’ in contemporary art kept us coming back to the chaotic warmth and continual growth of Landy’s Post-it notes: democratic notes to self and to others breaking up into shards of words through the insect-like clusters. The other walls we were attracted to held hand-drawn lines of plans and ideas and sharp areas of bright colour. Sometimes we were transfixed by sound and music. We liked lists that told us what to do, even though the moment to do it had passed. We asked ourselves: if we had a room, what would we do with it? Then we realised that we did have a room: we had a double spread of a room. We wanted to help people feel things about art, about making, about saving, about each other. The arts are precarious, never more so than now. All we can do is suggest instructions for a way forward, through egos and attitudes. Everything about that day seems easier with hindsight. 

Shags & Caren Florance

For the full PDF version of Caren and Shags lift-out, click here

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