Oliver Knight and Rory McGrath founded London-based studio OK-RM in 2008. Combing conceptual focus with typographic rigour, the pair have, in a relatively short amount of time, amassed a body of predominantly cultural-sector work that epitomises an emerging new wave of language-based contemporary design. And they’ve recently completed an absolute tome of a book – Footnote to a Project – which documents and celebrates contemporary art in the Middle East. We asked Rory to tell us a little more…
You’ve just completed a project for ArtDubai. Could you tell us a little bit about it?
Footnote to a Project is a collection of images, citations and references that support and inform the creation of the five artworks for the 2011 Abraaj Capital Art Prize.
How did it come about?
Long-term collaborator Sharmini Pereira was approached to become the curator of the prize for 2011, and she approached us to discuss the potential of creating a project that would enrich the communication of the commissioned artworks to a broader audience. The result of this collaboration was Footnotes to a Project.
What’s the state of art in Dubai at the moment? And how do you think it differs from the scene in England?
Dubai and the rest of the Middle East is still a relatively new territory for contemporary art and its context within the international scene is still being moulded. There’s been a lot of focus on the region in recent years with announcements that the Guggenheim and the Louvre are to open new spaces in Abu Dhabi, and with Art Dubai and Sharjah Biennial, art activity is growing in scale and stature with every year. This is a refreshing contrast to the heavily established and potentially saturated art scene here in the UK. Because of this we felt that Footnotes to a Project was able to make a real impact by contributing to a developing and critical contemporary vocabulary.
Can you tell us a little more about your practice in general?
This is something we have devoted much thought to recently, and the answer can be found here. In order to add to this within this more informal context: our practice is new and constantly re-arranging itself and its priorities. Each new opportunity is a chance to head in a direction that can challenge us and enrich our practice. So perhaps it would be interesting to discuss our practice in more un-defined terms – anamorphic, empirical and speculative.
So how important is language in your work?