Confessions of a Recovering Data Collector


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  • Β£10.00 (signed by the artist, including FREE postage in UK)
  • 140 × 210 × 5 mm (portrait)
  • Softcover, 40 pages (24 pages in full colour)
  • Published in April 2009 by Plymouth College of Art
    (ISBN 978-0955749131)
  • Designed by Fraser Muggeridge studio
  • Printed in Belgium by Die Keure

Confessions of a Recovering Data Collector is the first book to be published about Harrison’s work.

Ellie Harrison was a ‘data collector‘. For over five years she documented and recorded information about nearly every aspect of her daily routine, amassing reams of data in the process. She photographed and catalogued 1,640 meals and snacks for her project Eat 22, and calculated the total distance of a year’s worth of travel on public transport for Gold Card Adventures. But these laborious, demanding and introverted processes took their toll. Something had to give. Ellie had to quit!

This book documents the process of rehabilitation that followed Harrison’s decision, as she set about coming to terms with her ‘data collecting‘ past and beginning to reinvent her role as artist. In a specially commissioned text, Sally O’Reilly turns ‘therapist’; devising and administering our patient with a harsh but eye-opening treatment known as Hysterical-Historical Praxis Therapy. By exploring the social, political and historical context of this condition, she outlines possible root causes in the target-driven worlds of Thatcherism and New Labour. She provides successful ‘case studies’ of alternative critical practices and offers ‘motivational slogans’ to help carry our patient onwards to success and happiness…

As a result of the book and her process of rehabilitation Harrison’s work has changed dramatically. Rather than an introspective approach, she now looks to the world around her for inspiration, as she questions and challenges dominant power systems. This transformation is evidenced in her new installation for the Viewpoint Gallery. Vending Machine forms part of a trilogy of works which respond instantaneously to news headlines reported on the BBC RSS feed. An old vending machine installed in the gallery space is reprogrammed to only release snacks when news relating to the recession makes the headlines. Harrison’s interest in the economic crisis is complemented by the yet unrealised proposal Monument (Maggie), in which a full-blown 1979 disco lies dormant in a gallery space, activated only when news of Margaret Thatcher’s death reaches the headlines.

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