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Interview with Sean Rennison Phillips


BM - RAW+ focuses on the ways in which a formal art eduction can enhance an artists career. Do you believe that art schools are inherently a bad thing?


SRP - I wouldn’t say that it’s inherently a bad thing but its definitely a rigid system in my eyes. For example; you produce artwork in a portfolio and show it to gain a place on a foundation BTEC in art, whilst on the foundation the tutors edit your work based on what universities want to see, this then gets you a place on a BA Art course at university. Once on the BA with the extremely narrow student demographic chosen by the tutors your work is then edited again based on prevailing theories, market trends and its context within art history. This is what I call “The self-fulfilling prophecy of art’. A process almost impossible to avoid but extremely necessary to go through in order to rebel enough to reinvigorate the art world and its discourses. Ironically this rebellion often confirms the institutions power to produce new art


BM - Some of the imagery for the show appears as if it has been made using MS Paint, is this a rejection of the more traditional mediums taught in art schools or simply an aesthetic choice?


SRP - The Microsortof Paint piece is influenced by both semiotics and the ubiquitous presence of technology in current art trends. New algorithms, printing methods and other technological forms can regularly be seen in the process of painting. I wanted to find a way of incorporating the relationship between technology and reality but in a very lo-fi way.


BM - A lot of the works in the show were created with the intention of allowing the viewers to participate in the creation of them. How did you feel once people started drawing all over them?


SRP - Really happy! To see the viewers enjoying themselves and being creative brought a brand new dynamic to the work. The participatory element was mainly as a reaction the the oldskool end game of painting, i.e.; Painter completes painting in the studio and the viewer must decipher it on the gallery wall. I also like the idea of relinquishing control of the final product and quantification of the art as a result. Especially with regards to the art dealer/buyer relationship established artists can find themselves in when signed to a big gallery, like Gagosian for example.

BM - Found objects also feature prominently, what relevance have the Canary Wharfe carpet, and the bookshelf to the concept of the show?


SRP -  Art making isn’t the only focus at art school, at an institution like Goldsmiths (I’m starting the BA Fine Art course there this month) you also get a world class education. Social Mobility Shelf represents the roll of education and cultural enrichment in social mobility. Warfism was a post installation addition looking at the potentiality for capital gain, the main force in social mobility. The title Warfism also hints at the banking and arms trades which fund many art collections and institutions.


BM - Paul Mason's Postcapitalism - A Guide To Our Future hangs in a prominent place on the wall. How has this book influenced he show?


SRP - It’s basically an advertisement for the book. I’d recommend it to anyone, it’s easy to read and fast becoming my bible. In the book Mason argues that we’ve reached a once-in-every-50-years point where capitalism usually provides incentive for entrepreneurs to innovate, solving problems resulting from the previous system; in this case, Neo-Liberalism’s rising inequality, debt based function, extreme financial deficits, monopolisation of industry and ownership of resources. However Mason argues that capitalism hasn’t driven innovation this time and that the technological boom has democratised information, undermining traditional modes of value. He then argues that artists will be amongst those playing a major roll in forming this new, not for profit, co-operative system by utilising their creativity and multifaceted skill sets. ITS A MUST READ!