Non Stop Inertia: A stuck record ( Leeds Art Gallery 2014)

Excerpt from my dissertation Antimonies and Paradox: The Artist the Institution and Language. This post is intended to give further depth to the work John Ledger, Dave Jarvis and I have been under-taking. This text refers to a previous incarnation of Non Stop Inertia: A stuck record performed at the Leeds Art Gallery in 2014.

The work is titled Non-Stop Inertia: A Stuck Record, this title is important as it demonstrates the methodology at play.[1] One has fused together Ivor Southwood’s concept of the ideological state of uncertainty and 24/7 rolling news platforms and the concept of  ‘always on’ that dominates the state of affairs, with Morris’s quote ‘a stuck record’. This title has another layer of meaning and interconnectivity for the idea of a stuck record of iterability, constantly repeating the same action is echoed in Southwood’s work, ‘perpetual job seeking’ and ‘continual restless movement’ are the traits of this age of uncertainty. Southwood argues that this paradigm causes ‘deep paralysis of thought’ disguised as the constant ‘now’. [2]

The intervention, in question here, was carried out at Leeds Art Gallery on the 18th of July 2014. The event was comprised of a filmed philosophical discussion between both participants. The discussion revolved around the very discourses involved in this dissertation. The visitors to the gallery were encouraged to interrupt the discussion. A sign was erected outside the gallery space to give the audience some leading sentences or questions. The event lasted for 1 hour, the generally excepted unit of time on which employees pay is based. Both performers had their mobile phones switched on.

In Non-Stop Inertia: A Stuck Record one inhabits multiple positions as an academic for the performance is conceptualised through study at Leeds University. As a curator, in the sense that one is curating a performance and has instigated a dialogue with a gallery to curate a temporary event, an artwork, in the institution that involves collaboration with said institutions resident curatorial/educational staff. The artistic practice is the action/ event itself, an element of which as Morris, Lacan, Lyotard and Derrida suggest, moves beyond linguistic language. This dissertation therefore is both informed and becomes complicit with the artwork itself and it cannot be separated into different discourse. The role one occupies informs the work itself. The questions that one is forwarding, which are both evident within this dissertation and on the recording of the event, appendix [10], are directed at the nature of the ‘role’ itself thus one moves into a space between theory and practice that is neither fully one or the other, thus deconstructing the opposition. As a result one begins to glimpse a sense of the state of affairs.

Collaboration is highly influential in this movement, as has been situated in Morris’s practice. One collaborates, through this form of expanded practice, with many different entities (these entities are in themselves connected). Firstly, the artist John Ledger as the other collaborator within the performance brings his own practice, political realities, ideas and concepts to the overall narrative direction of the work. Ledger writes in a blog about the performance, ‘With this performance being in a gallery institution, the predicament of the gallery worker (out of all service industry workers) seemed most appropriate’.[3] Ledger also works as a gallery assistant at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP); it is this role that inspired the concept of the event. Through discussion (in a joint place of work at YSP) with Ledger, the premises would be that the convocation (philosophising) would be carried out in the guise of invigilators. There were some ethical problems with this so this element wasn’t completely realised, although still alluded to within the performance. Interestingly, as with Morris’s work, who was assigned to what task becomes impossible to separate in this project, thus questioning the traditional positioning of the author and effacing pure presence. Morris and Southwood are also implicated within this work, if not directly, as one has collaborated with their ideas and concepts to such a level that it informs the artwork’s concept and methodology.

One also collaborates with the Leeds Art Gallery and more peripheral institutions such as YSP and Leeds University. Evans writes that the different platforms act in particular ways to carry one element of a narrative more productively than another. To this end the platform itself can add its own bias onto a narrative.[4] The institutions suddenly become more than just a platform they infect the work with their own discourse. This element is rendered as narrative, as in Leeds Art Gallery it is both visually present in the performance, verbally in the discussion and dissertation. It writes itself into the artwork and into one’s own practice.

The event itself could have been more ‘successful’ in terms of repeated interruptions by visitors to the gallery. This wasn’t within the control of the intervention and is the element of uncertainty within the work. Further to this, the type of interruption must be questioned. Throughout the duration of the intervention there were a number of non-verbal indirect interruptions including, filming technicalities (camera over heating), and movement of visitors around the space which resulted in one shifting position or becoming momentarily distracted. Random phone calls or texts interjected into the philosophising, which is a constant reminder that the world beyond what is physically present in that space and time, is occurring parallel to the event. It is this realisation of the other, of absence within presence and presence through an increase in the integration of technology within daily life, which Southwood is proposing, breaks down the capacity for original thought.

[1] John, Ledger, ‘Non-Stop Inertia: A Stuck Record (performance)’ WordPress, (2014) < > [accessed 20/08/14], (para.6 of 6).

[2] Evans, ‘Transmedia Texts: defining Transmedia Storytelling’, pp. 19-40.

[3] John, Wright, and John, Ledger, Non-Stop Inertia: A Stuck Record (2014) Leeds Art Gallery.

[4] Southwood, p.5.


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