Divine Drudgery is an artist book with collages and artworks by James Richards and Leslie Thornton, and contributions by artists, writers and poets centred around liminality and the aesthetics and politics of the invisible. These dialogues and strands are anchored in and loop back to three exhibitions developed by the editors: Speed (Künstlerhaus Stuttgart), Speed II (Malmö Konsthall), and The Holding Environment (Bonner Kunstverein), and radiate outwards.
In the making of Divine Drudgery, there has been an ongoing concern with specific psychic and temporal states, rushes of systemic and embodied interconnectedness and wonder, as well as a sense of porousness and paranoia. The oscillation between an ordering impulse and the relinquishing of control is a central feature, one that returns in Divine Drudgery's different modes: in the poetry and writing; collages, visual essays and specifically conceived work. There is an impulse of collaboration that brought about this project, one that renders the monologue of anxious speculation into a dialogic practice. The disparate elements have been generated from the third mind of collaboration, a channelling of and at times conscious unsettling of each other's sensitivities, a process which in the words of artist and contributor to the publication Adelhyd van Bender could be understood as the "divine drudgery."
Works and contributions by Horst Ademeit, Rae Armantrout, Tolia Astakhishvili, Ed Atkins, Kirsty Bell, Adelhyd van Bender, Bruce Conner, Fatima Hellberg, Mason Leaver-Yap, Veit Loers, Terence McCormack, James Richards, Jens Thornton, Leslie Thornton, Thomas Zummer.
James Richards (born 1983 in Cardiff, lives and works in London) graduated from Chelsea School of Art in 2006 where he made videos with sampled video and sound material.
Known for his provocative and visually seductive moving-image works that collage together a wide range of source material, James Richards's work, taking the form of curated video programmes, sculptures or live events, carves out a space where personal politics and digital materiality might meet.
Since the mid-1970s, American avant-garde filmmaker and artist Leslie Thornton (born 1951) has produced an influential body of work in film and video.
Thornton's early encounters with experimental, structuralist, and cinéma vérité traditions fueled her iconoclastic take on the moving image and gave shape to her practice of weaving together her own footage and voice with archival film and audio. In part through her forceful and dynamic use of sound, Thornton exposes the limits of language and vision in her works, while acknowledging the ways that language and vision nevertheless remain central to scientific discourse and narrative in general. Her work consistently interrogates modes of representation and the violence of looking, pushing beyond critiques of the gaze to consider biases in perception, or the way voice and sound can undermine an otherwise dominant visual narrative.