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17th October - 21st November 2003
Emma Biggs/Matthew Collings, Matthew Higgs, Jon Thompson with texts by Jeremy Deller, Colin Lowe, Roddy Thomson, Mark Wallinger
Private View Friday 17th October 6 - 9

The carriage door opened and a well-manicured hand beckoned me to enter. I was handed a blindfold and told to put it on. We drove through the night for what seemed about an hour, the cold fragrant air giving no clue as to our destination. I was led from the carriage over a gravel driveway, up some steps and a heavy door was closed behind us. The blindfold was removed and I was confronted by a group of gentlemen sat around a large table.

MOT is interested in the big questions; the structures and systems that govern the art world and an artist's changing relationship to them. Over the years the boundaries between education, curation, criticism and an artist's personal practice have become consistently more blurred. Artists have become so involved in the mechanics of their own destiny, that it has become common to find artists who curate exhibitions, write reviews and lecture within art schools while continuing to make work. We are interested how these crossovers are changing the traditional roles and how this effects the type of work that artists make, what gets exhibited and how the art world is presented to a wider audience.

The proposal for Round Table was to invite three artists who have become widely recognised as facilitators, educators and commentators within the art world and to take a look at their personal practice. MOT then invited three more artists, who had benefited directly from the professional attention of the initial practitioners and asked these artists to write a short text in response to the work. All these elements will make up the exhibition.

Round Table has been curated around personality, rather than work and as such the artists were asked to choose which pieces of work they would exhibit. The three artists that we invited to show work are Matthew Collings, Matthew Higgs and Jon Thompson each for their major roles in the fields of comment, curation and education. Matthew Collings chose to show a collaborative piece that he is making with his wife Emma Biggs and so we invited both Colin Lowe and Roddy Thomson, who normally work together, to write two separate responses to the work. Jeremy Deller will write a response to the work of Matthew Higgs and Mark Wallinger to that of Jon Thompson. It was important that all the participants and their inter-connecting relationships were internationally recognised so that even though we were only presenting a slice, up for scrutiny, it would at least retain a high proportion of the icing. Also, we limited ourselves to British artists in order to keep some continuity, although many of the participants live and work abroad and all are widely known throughout the world for their work in the arts.

These crossovers have existed before now, but never have they been so prevalent as today and this trend seems to have emanated from Britain over the last decade. Previously our art scene was notorious for being stuffy, outdated and traditional in comparison to that of other countries and it was, as a reaction to this, that many of our artists decided to take more control. The artists in Round Table are just some of the key figures responsible for this turn around. They have become so successful within their fields that they are now an established part of the new mechanic and, as such, it is interesting to subject their work to the critique of other artists. It is a mark of the greater understanding of the need for constant reassessment that all these established figures have agreed to take part in this project at MOT and highlights the importance of supporting independent spaces such as our own.

I was asked to roll up my left trouser leg and repeat a number of words in a language that I did not recognise.




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