1 October 2011
Dazed & Confused (p.122-125)

Dazed and Converse proudly announce the five shortlisted artists chosen for the second annual Converse/Dazed Emerging Artists Award. From an overwhelming number of entries vying for a first prize of £6,000 and the opportunity to be exhibited in the group show at an exclusive venue near the Whitechapel Gallery in October, Kirsty Ogg, curator of the Whitechapel Gallery, artist Eva Rothschild, gallerist Sadie Coles, gallery director Darren Flook, curator Paul Pieroni and Dazed & Confused’s visual arts editor, Francesca Gavin came to their decisions at a final judging session at the Whitechapel Gallery.

The five artists who all receive £1,000 and will feature in the upcoming group exhibition are: Gabriele Beveridge, Ellie Harrison, Bruce Ingram, Levack Lewandowski and Richard Parry. This week we’re talking with Ellie Harrison, the Glasgow-based Goldsmiths graduate who has been working with the Internet as a central component of her art since 2000 and explores, illuminates and comments on the massive global, invisible systems that rule the day-to-day aspects of our lives.

Dazed Digital: Can you introduce the use of the Internet and the collaborative nature of your work?

Ellie Harrison: I was initially drawn to the instantaneousness of the medium and to its apparent freedom. But collaboration for me is all the more important. It is an essential way of attempting to counteract the atomisation of advance capitalist societies; of creating communities. The desire to connect with like-minded individuals comes a lot from my own experience of being a single, self-employed artist and therefore spending a lot of time on my own.

DD: What are your themes you are working with in your current pieces?

Ellie Harrison: I’m interested in exploring the impact that free-market capitalism has on each different aspect of our lives. The way we work, our belief systems, ethics and values, the impact it has on our mental health and so on. The things that we couldn’t even imagine could or should be are privatised, are being surrendered to the profit motive. This is evident in the NHS. As an artist, it seems important to address and challenge this, precisely because it is continually getting worse and we are constantly having to adapt our lives as a result.

DD: How is it to be part of the upcoming London group exhibition?

Ellie Harrison: I’m naturally excited about it. Artists are strange and very needy creatures. I run a support group for artists (like a group therapy session), which happens every three weeks at the CCA in Glasgow, where we talk openly about the stresses and anxieties of our professional lives. One of the questions we’ve often returned to is whether it is naturally needy people (wanting of attention) who gravitate towards being artists, or whether we become this way because of the element of ‘exhibition’ involved in being an artist?

The winner of the first prize will be announced on Saturday October 15, 2011 at the Whitechapel Gallery.

Terrence Teh