Neustart Kultur project funding awarded by Stiftung Kunstfonds to develop the next part of A to Z, or a related spin-off project, based on exploring the techniques of improvisational theatre as a means of visualising words and concepts.
The 487th “D”-word, “dystopia”, has now been drawn (with my eyes closed), thus completing the fourth instalment of the A to Z project, A to Z: The Ds (Blind Drawings), after an intermittent three-and-a-half years of work. An interview with Melanie Zagrean (see below) documents my thoughts as the project draws to a close.
A to Z: An Interview with Dave Ball is an extended interview with Melanie Zagrean of Galerie Art Claims Impulse about my A to Z project. Originally live streamed on 12 November 2021, a 30-minute edited version is now available to watch.
Showed new and in-progress work as part of open studio event at Atelierhaus Adlershof, Berlin.
Showed selected drawings from A to Z: The Ds (Blind Drawings) as part of Emotionally Confronted Through Distance, a group exhibition curated by Pierre Wolter and Melanie Zagrean from Galerie Art Claims Impulse at Feldfünf, Berlin.
New durational performative work Three Months (Bach, an Autodidact, and a Tree) completed. The resulting video charts my repeated visits to the same oak tree near my home for the time it took to learn to play a piano piece by Bach. A short preview of the full 25-minute video is available online.
After almost five years of work, my practice-based doctoral research project The Use of Tactical Absurdity in (Post‑)Conceptual Art Practice was approved by Winchester School of Art/University of Southampton, and I was awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. The PhD culminated in a solo exhibition of new work Tactically Absurd at Winchester Gallery in Feb-Mar 2020, supported by a written thesis.
Essay Doing Things Alphabetically: Sartre’s Autodidact and Tactically Absurd Practice published in peer-reviewed journal Writing Visual Culture, Volume 9, ‘Artists and the Philosophers We Love,’ edited by Alana Jelinek.
Works including A to Z, Referendum Night, I Did It for the Reasons I Said I Did It, How Flat is It Its Really Flat (Alice), and Searching for the Welsh Landscape shown in solo exhibition Dave Ball: Tactically Absurd at Winchester Gallery, Winchester, UK. Exhibition formed part of PhD research at Winchester School of Art.
Showed sound installation What We’ll be Doing is Talking about the Various Things that We’re Doing as part of exhibition Un-Cancelled at HilbertRaum, Berlin.
Essay Searching for the Perfect Welsh Mountain: A Performance of Tactical Absurdity published in peer-reviewed journal Performance Research, Volume 24, Issue 2, ‘On Mountains,’ guest edited by Jonathan Pitches and David Shearing.
Presented paper Doing Things Alphabetically: Sartre’s Autodidact and Tactically Absurd Practice as part of symposium Artists and the Philosophers We Love at University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK. The event, which sought to ‘explore the relationship of art to philosophy from the perspective of practising artists,’ was organised by the Theorising Visual Art and Design (TVAD) research group, led by Dr Alana Jelinek. It aimed to ‘examine how art can engage with, and contribute to the theoretical problems of philosophy, and offer a critical rethinking of philosophies re-imagined and interrogated through art practice.’
Showed new and in-progress work as part of open studio event at Atelierhaus Adlershof, Berlin.
Showed A to Z project as a solo exhibition A to Z: The First Seven Years at Gallery Oldham, Manchester, UK. The exhibition presented more than 1,700 drawings and photographs, representing the letters A, B and C of the dictionary.
Took part in Retreat, a week-long residential workshop in Northumberland, UK, described by organiser Michael Whitby as ‘an opportunity to enjoy communal living and intensely debate artistic practices’ with participants that include ‘a range of creative people, including artists, gallerists, choreographers, musicians and theatre practitioners.’
Artist’s talk and tour of solo exhibition A to Z: The First Seven Years at Gallery Oldham, Manchester, UK. The talk was structured through the use of an online random word generator, with the audience being led to the image corresponding to whichever word was thrown up.
Showed text-collage work Marley Was Dead as part of the Perennial Art / O Tannenbaum Christmas card exhibition at O Tannenbaum, Berlin. The exhibition was curated by Witte Wartena.
The 829th, 830th and 831st “C”-words, “cynic”, “cypress” and “cyst”, have now been photographed, thus completing the third instalment of the A to Z project, A to Z: All the Cs (Through the Lens of My Camera) after four long years. All 831 photographs were shown as part of a solo exhibition at Gallery Oldham, UK from Nov 2018 to Mar 2019 (see above).
Showed new and in-progress work as part of an open studio event at Atelierhaus Adlershof, Berlin.
Presented Searching for the Welsh Mountains project as part of symposium Performing Mountains at the University of Leeds. Aiming to ‘debate and trouble the boundaries of mountain culture,’ the event was ‘dedicated to understanding some of the complexities of this new field of research, extending its interest with a focus on the live and performed.’ The project was organised by Jonathan Pitches, David Shearing, and Linda Watson, and was funded by the AHRC.
Showed series of drawings as part of Silent Art Auction, a fundraising exhibition curated by Jan-Philipp Fruesorge at The Drawing Hub, Berlin. The show included the work of over 100 artists including Marcel van Eeden, Bettina Krieg, Nadine Fecht, Franziska Furter, Eric Giriat, Pierre Granoux, Astrid Köppe, Valentin Lubberger, Karin Ströbel, Nadja Schöllhammer, and Martin Skauen.
Presented Absurdity, Absurdity, and Absurdity as part of Conversas #26 alongside Jenny Fadranski and Joab Nist. Conversas is a series of events organised by Sabrina Basten and Sarie Nijboer, aiming to ‘to create a conversation, a discussion, a dialogue.’ Aspects of my PhD research into absurdity were discussed, alongside a screening of my performance for video, Hill Walking.
Installation Pink Wafer Equivalent VIII shown as part of exhibition Point Quartz: Flower of Kent at Villa Arson, Nice, France. Curated by Frédéric Bauchet, the show was ‘an in situ installation occupying the 300 square metres of the Villa Arson’s Galerie Carrée, conceived as a garden with flowerbeds that have turned into a landscape,’ and featured the work of, amongst others, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Jules-Aimé Dalou, Cameron Jamie, Bertrand Lavier, and Sterling Ruby.
Newly-written text I Did It My Way featured as part of performance event Punctuation Marks in an Eternal Sentence: The Show, inspired by a video by Ynin Shillo.
Searching for the Welsh Landscape was a solo exhibition at Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Wales, consisting of a body of new work exploring the connection between landscape and national identity, centred on an absurd search for the perfect Welsh hill. The show was supported through an Arts Council of Wales production grant, and was opened by travel writer and broadcaster Mike Parker.
Fabriquer l’improbable / To Make the Improbable catalogue published in Montreal in conjunction with the 2013 residency and exhibition at Est-Nord-Est in Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, Quebec, Canada. Features documentation of The Museum of Uninteresting Experience, along with essays by Dominique Allard and Véronique Leblanc.
Showed video I Think That’s Best for Both of Us (Lance and Oprah) at AVI Festival 2016 at Cinema City, Jerusalem.
Showed installation Pink Wafer Equivalent VIII as part of conference Minimalism: Location Aspect Moment at Winchester School of Art. The event was organised by Paul Hegarty, Sarah Hayden and Ryan Bishop, in conjunction with the John Hansard Gallery.
Showed installation I’ve Always Wanted to Drive Across America as part of exhibition Travelogue at Cantine di Vincenzo, Palazzo Ducale, Mantua, Italy. Curated by Matteo Bittanti, the group show focused on the car as ‘a rhetorical device functioning as a mode of representation,’ and included artists working with digital media who ‘use driving and simulated movement as a critical lens through which to experience the world.’ The exhibition formed part of Festivaletteratura 2016.
Showed one of a new series of drawings Road Signs (Proposal for a Hypothetical Intervention) at Farbvision, Berlin as part of fundraising exhibition A Blind Auction.
Participated in two-week Summer Lodge residency at Nottingham Trent University. Summer Lodge is a research event taking the form of ‘a collective space in which to undertake experiments, pursue new ideas and allow unexpected leaps of imagination,’ which aims to ‘initiate new dialogues and critical exchange through engaging together in a period of sustained studio/workshop practice.’ Works initiated during the residency include the installation Arms Reaching, Smiling Sweetly.
Showed installation I’ve Always Wanted to Drive Across America as part of exhibition Travelling/Reisen at Group Global 3000 project space in Kreuzberg, Berlin. The show took a critical look at our desire to travel, examining its environmental impact, and exploring possible alternatives.
Participatory work Dinner Party featured as part of Polyphonies, an exhibition curated by Véronique Leblanc at Optica, Montreal. The show brought together works constructed along ‘polyphonic lines,’ seeking to highlight ‘issues raised by art practices based on participatory and performative processes and involving a plurality of voices.’ The inclusion of Dinner Party – a collaboration with Oliver Walker – was supported by the British Council Canada.
Showed Being Somewhere as part of Slowness/Langsamkeit, a group exhibition at Group Global 3000 project space, Berlin. The exhibition took a critical look at our increasingly fast-paced world, and asked how a culture of slowness could look, socially and individually.
Showed 100 drawings from A to Z: From Aardvark to Axle at Picaresque at Ha Gamle Prestegard, Naerbo, Norway. The group exhibition, curated by Debbie Lawson, explored themes of meandering journeys and the picaresque, and also featured the work of Guy Allott, Colin Guillemet, Emma Hart, Dai Jenkins, Peter Jones, Debbie Lawson and Helen Nodding.
Three-month residency at Aberystwyth Arts Centre in Aberystwyth, Wales, at one of the venue’s Thomas Heatherwick-designed studios. Research and development undertaken during the residency led to the Searching for the Welsh Landscape series of projects, which culminated in a solo show at Aberystwyth Arts Centre in 2016/17.
Performed A Curiously Unremarkable Journey at Centrum in Berlin as part of Sense and Non-Sense: A Festival of Absurdism by Matthew Crookes. The performance was a reworking of the Quebec residency project The Museum of Uninteresting Experience, which originally took the form of a site-specific installation.
Presented Dinner Party project with Oliver Walker as part of conference Lifting the Curtain: On Audience and Authorship at ICA, London. The event explored the “indispensible input” of the audience in contemporary art practices, and was co-facilitated by performance company Accidental Collective, Chris Johnston (Argument Room/Rideout) and Duska Radosavljevic (University of Kent).
Showed The Museum of Uninteresting Experience as part of exhibition To Make the Improbable, curated by Dominique Allard and Véronique Leblanc. The project was developed during a seven-week residency at Est-Nord-Est, Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, Quebec, Canada, and was jointly funded by Est-Nord-Est and Wales Arts International.
Complete series of 461 drawings from A to Z: From Aardvark to Axle shown in a solo exhibition at Galerie Art Claims Impulse, Berlin. The drawings form the opening part of the ongoing A to Z series of projects, consisting of a drawing for every “A” word in the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, produced in alphabetical order. The slide projection work The Supremacy of Thought (The Ineffectiveness of Action) was also shown.
Showed new video work The Collected Gertrude Stein Tender Buttons Jokes as part of Kantine Chapters at Galerie Futura (Alpha Nova-Kulturwerkstatt), Berlin. The event accompanied the Getrude Stein-themed exhibition Suppose an Eyes featuring Lady Lucy, Jacqueline Utley and Flora Whiteley.
Slide projection work The Supremacy of Thought (The Ineffectiveness of Action) shown as part of The Alumni Show at the University of Derby’s Markeaton Street gallery, Derby. Curated by Robert Clarke and Caroline Locke, the exhibition featured work by ex-University of Derby students who have ‘achieved a notable level of professional and creative success within the national and international art world.’
Showed sculptural work Rubber Duck as part of exhibition We Were Trying to Make Sense at 1Shantiroad, Bangalore, India, curated by Matthew Krishanu.
Showed video Being Somewhere, followed by a discussion of the work with curator James Harper, as part of exhibition Blows to the Temple at Atelierhof Kreuzberg, Berlin. The project was curated by residents at Node Center for Curatorial Studies.