Inspirer Series – AL and AL

Words: VEM Chance

Part of Unit X’s first week of Inspirer talks, British filmmakers AL and AL recounted their journey from graduation to internationally exhibiting their award winning work.

They opened their talk from the same position many of the students participating in Unit X are facing – leaving Higher Education and grappling with the world as an artist. From the onset, AL and AL were grounded and honest about their experiences; they noted how much of their time was spent filling out paperwork and applications, working day jobs, sharing spaces and collaborating with friends.

After building a body of work over five years, the duo finally met curators and discovered opportunities that would set them in the direction to bigger exhibitions. Behind this first part of their gruelling journey after graduation was a simple ethos shared with the audience:

“You’ve just got to try and make your way and make it happen.”

AL and AL’s journey also covered the value in collaborations and learning to work with people, where they described to students how their varied projects prompted them to become more versatile and work in different contexts, allowing them to broaden the scope of the opportunities they could pursue.

As with any typical adventure, AL and AL’s successful beginning was met with disaster. The theft of all their equipment at one point led them to undertake spontaneous trips and rethink themselves, their methodology and their ideas about ‘poor artists’.

It was at that point they collaborated with Philip Glass and Brian Greene on Icarus at the Edge of Time, which added another perspective to their work; they began to see the best of both worlds, from the poor artist protecting and labouring for their space to the practice of a successful artist.

The overarching theme of their talk was the importance of finding new ways of working and funding, to enable yourself to be a great artist. Find people who can support you and materialise your own work into the world; the journey starts from University and carries on as a difficult, but worthwhile, adventure.

I think AL and AL, however, sum up the most important message beautifully in their closing lines:

“Stay curious and cultivate friendships.”

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