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Normal Space developed out of several concerns.

these concerns will be raised here shortly. publishing this site and this page will force me to update the content rather than ‘think’ about it for too long.


When I moved into my ‘studio’ it was a rectangular box with green and blue walls, a blue floor, good windows with plenty of light and a drop ceiling with two box fluorescent fixtures.

Working over time in this space, it became clear the way I work demanded more space, somehow. I had to create space.

Recognizing that the rest of our building had expansive ceilings, and mine with a drop ceiling that I could reach to simply by standing on a small chair (which has its advantages), and as no one else in our ‘studio complex’ had their ceiling removed in the way I wanted, I set out to remove my drop ceiling, to see what the space ‘above’ looked like.

I penned in my calendar to remove my drop ceiling on a weekend. I was already well moved into my space by the time I made this decision, with sensitive electronics about, clothing, books, materials, etc., and knowing that there was fiberglass insulation above the drop ceiling, I had to make sure to protect my existing environment while allowing me to remove my insulation: I made a cavity as it were using plastic to get up through one panel of the drop ceiling without disturbing the rest of my space, or spreading dust and dirt about too terribly.

I also acquired a full-body cloth suit (with hood and face protector) to protect myself from the fiberglass insulation.

Thankfully I decided to remove my insulation and my drop-ceiling on what then turned out to be the second hottest day of 2005. Those cotton and nylon hazmatty suits only feel comfortable when they’re sticking to you like cling-film.

After first filling a couple of trash bags with insulation, and then around 4 contractor bags with drop ceiling panels, broken up, I was left with my drop ceiling grid and fluorescent fixtures to deal with. But at least now I could see the space beyond, and start thinking, planning.

In one corner of the room was my drafting table and all of my immediate studio materials. My working space was getting cramped so I decided to build a mezzanine structure in the catty-corner (I could do this now since I had just removed my drop ceiling!). After several months of deliberation, carting materials home slowly on the bus, planning, hesitating, I built my mezzanine and was able to shift my drafting table and all of my immediate supplies onto the mezzanine proper and the supporting structural shelving units. This cleared off one entire wall completely, whose original intention it was to give me a white wall ‘cube’ space upon which I could place my work and consider its context in such a space. Of course, it was still painted green!

It took several, as in many, layers of primer to really cover up the green. Even as I write this I haven’t finished the spackling & painting job and there is still quite a bit of work to do before the wall is trimmed up and ready for exhibition (the green still shows through in patches).

But this wall, this lone space, started to make me think. What would I do with it? How would it operate? Do I own this space? What is the significance, or potential, of such a wall?

I thought of Vladimir Tatlin’s Monument to the Third Internationaltatlin monument, a grand proposal of modernist architecture to pay homage to and house the Third International, the collective body of the Communist Parties from around the world. What intrigued me about the Monument was that it was built inside Tatlin’s studio. I have never seen photos of his door, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was impossible to remove after being built (click the image to see the Monument in relation to human scale, that is Vladimir Tatlin standing facing the camera). As such, the only way to exhibit the work was to open his studio to the public, to have an exhibition in the studio.

So I decided to have an inaugural exhibition of some sort. The obvious approach would have been to have an exhibition of my own work, but I am very unkind to this thought. I can always use this space for my own work during other times, for durations of my own choosing, but space should be about sharing, and exchanging.

Stepping back a bit, shortly after the time in which I removed my insulation and drop-ceiling, I also started collecting art. I had been ‘collecting’ loosely for some time, years even, acquiring works through trade, or just given works by fellow artists and friends, etc. But around this time I really started thinking about wanting to collect artworks. To me the act of collecting is a question: what does one choose to collect? How is a collection constituted, what is included and excluded? How does one know when to stop, or where to stop, with regards to what to include and what to collect?

Since this time, the time in which I set out to start collecting work, I have through various means acquired about one work a month, which is a good baseline to be operating at: 12 artworks a year is actually a very daunting volume. Where do you put it all? How do you store it? How do you protect it?

At the moment the majority of works in the collection are 2D, and store flat. These are conveniently the types of works I am most interested in at the moment, specifically drawing. (I am well aware that there is a current market hype around drawing and works on paper but, as an artist, I’m also aware of the potential of drawing: drawing is something everybody can do. No matter how poor you are, there is always pencil (tool) and paper (surface) available, and there’s no reason not to draw.) However 3D works are being added, and I find myself largely concerned with building specific storage units to house these works. As for other types of works, well we’ll just have to see.

Since space should be about sharing, I settled on a convergence of two concerns: an exhibition of all the work I own by other artists.

Immediately after this decision…

Nick Normal