Glen Ogden is a British multi-disciplinary artist based in Leeds. He studied BA (Hons) Fine Art at Leeds Arts University. His work originates from the role of the working man in historic and contemporary society through a range of satire performances and material interactions. Glen completed his degree during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 and the experience had a lasting impact on his work, we caught up with Glen to find out more about his experience:
Could you tell us a little about your practice and what you were working on before the pandemic?
My practice prior to the pandemic explored the role of the working man in historic and contemporary society, through performance and film - imbued with a sculptural understanding of space, time and locality. I seek to emphasise the work, rest, work, rest mantra of our time, through repetitive and cyclical structures that evidence the physical manifestation of humans as tools.
I was exploring social and political theory whilst conducting an investigation into behavioural economics; to pose questions of whether money is, and should be, our only motivation in the workplace.
Image: Glen Ogden, Furloughed, 2020.
What was your initial reaction with the change to working at home as a result of the lockdown in March?
After lockdown was initiated and the university shut, I found myself rather lost as to what to do next, I had lost the access to a studio and people at university as a resource. At first, I was attempting to cling onto the repetitive essence of what I was doing prior to lockdown, which resulted in me feeling extremely unmotivated and out of touch with my work (nothing looks good in your kitchen).
How did you adapt with the limited facilities available to you?
I was able to download the adobe software on my laptop and set-up a workstation in my living room in Leighton Buzzard, my hometown. It was distracting with pets, games consoles and lots of people around the house but decided not to be so harsh on myself and aimed to achieve either a piece, an exploration or a section of writing each day, which all cumulatively added up to a body of work. My bursts of inspiration come during my daily exercise and trips to my local shop.
Image: Glen Ogden, Isolation clock, 2020.
Did your practice evolve and develop specifically because of the lockdown?
My practise prior to lockdown consisted of a variety of performances involving multiple people working in synchronicity to achieve pointless cyclical tasks (such as shifting sand, cleaning glass and packing boxes) set by myself; mimicking a factory work setting. This body of work was leading up to the final degree show and had been planned to be installed as a sculptural installation, using objects and projectors to display the finished outcome.
After Lockdown the body of work “Non-Essential Workers” (2020) was formed and utilised social observations of the climate to combine the three performances into a singular film with a Covid-19 Narrative; inspired by the introduction of key workers and thoughts around what was deemed as key work and what wasn’t.
Image: Glen Ogden, Mini Figs – Territory, 2020.
Following on from this I began to study the worker's new role in the home environment, allowing the current state of affairs to determine my direction. As a combination of artist and furloughed worker, I adapted to new circumstances existing in isolation, through a range of digital and material (object-based) interactions premised on themes of barriers, temporality and boredom, whilst documenting emergent phenomena of these unprecedented times.
Were there any big challenges?
Access to materials and space were huge issues for me but not as much as people – It required time to adjust my scope to the tasks of an individual worker and in turn the effects of the pandemic on the worker – along with the lifestyle shift of being confined to a domestic setting. I deemed it fundamental to use the resources of the home to truly capture the events and atmosphere of the present, opposed to using pre-existing artistically charged media such as: paint, plaster and clay.
Do you have any tips or advice for working with restricted materials and facilities?
Do not be precious. We feel a impulse to stick to our comfort zones and create work larger and grander than the last, but for me it was working small with limited household materials that helped me develop more so than my time in the University building, be playful, witty and enjoy your time creating.
Header Image: Glen Ogden, Queue, 2020.