When I heard about the ‘Message from Manchester’ exhibition, I knew I had to feature this on the blog. The issue I had was that the exhibition was in Berlin, not Manchester – rubbish! Then, I found out one of the featured artists was Ruby Tingle! That’s when I got excited.
We’ve been following Ruby since the launch of Cotton On MCR, so this was my chance to chat with her, find out more about her work and the upcoming exhibition. Check out the interview below with this fascinating artist, whose work toys with the idea of fantasy and the unnatural.
‘Message from Manchester’ is a group exhibition, part of the art festival “48 Stunden Neukölln” in Berlin. This exhibition ‘seeks to initiate a dialogue between the creative hubs of Berlin and Manchester. While working individually, the artists’ approach of taking apart and reconstructing the conventional idea of reality provides a common theme in their practice.’ It is a collaboration between Palis Advisory in Berlin, and PAPER Manchester, featuring artists from both studios. That’s where Ruby comes in:
Cotton On MCR: Tell us more about your work in ‘Message from Manchester’?
Ruby Tingle: ‘I have devised a new performance for the show called ‘In the Mirror with Me.’ I’ve wanted to explore reflections within an installation for a while now, to create a scene where the audience must appear in my vision alongside me in order to view the work. I recently started working on a new album of music, which is all about the rescue of oneself, and the processes of recovery. I’ve spent the last 7-8 years overcoming a certain period in my life that was extremely difficult, but instead of immortalising damage, I wanted to create work that speaks about the reinstatement of the self; when you help yourself through difficulties and talk yourself through a kind of restoration process, there must become two of you – it becomes like looking in a mirror.’
‘I will be performing 5 new songs, which deal lyrically with these themes – as with all my music, the songs are autobiographical, but embellished with symbols to create my own myths. My new album is about the ugly side of a metamorphosis – it’s full of hatching, splitting, the sticky residue of transformation. It is set amongst city rooftops, desert pylons and the peaks of construction cranes, to the sounds of electricity and smashing glass. So it’s a departure from the fantastical rural landscapes and romantic talking animals in my previous material. In this work I am my very own damsel in distress, but at one with the monstrous.’
The theme of “48 Stunden Neukölln” and therefore ‘Message from Manchester’ is New Authenticity. All the artists involved have taken this theme and producing work in a huge range of mediums including ‘painting, performance, sculpture, collage, ceramics, drawing, and a site-specific installation.’
CO: How did you approach the theme of ‘New Authenticity’?
RT: ‘My entire practice is all about presenting the unnatural or reimagined as authentic, so I immediately felt a strong connection to the theme and could have gone down a number of roads. I decided to present myself during the performances in monochrome, and make strong reference to early science fiction films, where often the narratives revolve around unbelievable experiences being validated; there’s also a link there to doubles and multiples emerging via unnatural or alien methods. I thought by using mirrors to manipulate a living black and white portrait, I could create these fleeting visual glimpses of a sort of otherness, and ask questions about how we authenticate visual imagery.’
‘I’m also showing a number of works on paper, where the reassembly of cut out imagery to make new forms is my way of ‘documenting’ an unnatural history, one that could be just as legitimate as the one we are so familiar with now. The evidencing of species in natural history books and other publishing media has formed our connections to a ‘true’ set of plants and animals, so I like to investigate where the line of wonderment is, when bringing the authenticity of invented creatures into question.’
CO: Did this overseas collaboration present new challenges for you?
RT: ‘Yes, and some won’t be solved until I actually arrive there at the venue. It’s difficult designing a performance for a space that you can’t immerse yourself in or respond to directly during the lead up to a show; I’ve had a few images of the venue and an outline of how the work will take place within the space, but I’ve had to imagine the rest. I don’t think this is a negative by any means as spontaneous decisions and experimenting within a short time frame can make for the best results. I’ve designed and developed as much as I possibly can over the last few months, so the performance is now at a point where it could be exhibited fully with a choreography – but now I have to take a step back and allow for changes to happen during the last part of the work’s development.’
‘I’m going to be accompanied during the Friday night performance by a musician called Winfried Mueller-Brandes, who will play my new songs on the organ which is installed within the church being used to host the event. This is challenging as we will have very limited time on my arrival in Berlin to meet, rehearse and begin working together. But all of these things are enhancing and make performing special; I enjoy making live work for these reasons, however much planning takes place, something extraordinary occurs in the moment and space which can’t be replicated.’
CO: Have you had a chance to work with the other Manchester artists featured in the exhibition?
RT: ‘We are all represented by PAPER, very familiar with one another’s work, and have exhibited together amongst group shows in the past. There are strong links between our practices, not just in the underlying collage processes that each of us use to one degree or another, but how our work relates to the idea of ‘New Authenticities’.’
One of these other artists is Lisa Denyer, who we interviewed a while back as one of our Manc of the Month’s. The exhibition also includes artists Tracey Eastham, Thaleia Kavvada, Peter Lewis, Hannah Wooll, Patricia Rissmann and Debora Harder.
CO: Tell us more about your connection with PAPER Gallery?
RT: ‘I’ve been involved with PAPER for a few years now. After initially undertaking a short-term residency in 2015 I’ve developed a strong relationship with the gallery and I’m now their permanent artist in residence. Being given the Exploring PAPER residency in 2016 was incredibly beneficial, as it gave me the chance to gain confidence expanding the paper works into installation pieces, and was the beginning of my moving music performances out of ‘gig’ venues and into gallery spaces. The specialising of works on paper has been the exact opposite of limiting for me; it’s allowed me to combine and improve all the areas of my practice with regard to scale, quality and more recently expanding into working with film. Having a platform to develop and sell your work whilst becoming immersed in an artistic community is invaluable; PAPER has and continues to open innumerable doors for me professionally, so I feel very lucky to have that connection.’
CO: What are your future projects/what will you be working on after Berlin?
RT: ‘I’ll be spending summer recording the rest of my new album, and I have a couple of music events coming up. I’ll be performing some material with electro artist Dirty Freud at Jimmy’s in the Northern Quarter on June 27th, which is exciting as we’ve been collaborating for years but never done anything live together before. I’ll also be at Sandbar on September 27th as part of Sonder Festival. Then in October I’ll be showing new work with PAPER as part of a joint show with LLE Gallery at Saatchi Gallery in London.’
‘I’ve also been one of the artists on PAPER’s Tracing Paper mentoring scheme, which has been on-going since last Autumn with 9 other artists. Our group show at PAPER opens on June 29th with a private view 6-9pm.’
We’re uber excited about Tracing Paper as our June’s Manc of the Month Tina Dempsey also features in that.
If you happen to be in Berlin this weekend, make sure you check out the exhibition. Message from Manchester will be held in the community hall of the Herrnhuter Congregation in Berlin Neukölln. Ruby will be performing Friday 22 June 8pm, a piece named ‘In the Mirror With Me,’ and Saturday 23 June 12.30pm/2.30pm/4.30pm.
Find out more about Ruby on the PAPER Gallery site.