Meta PARSE

In the course of 2018 the Faculty of Fine, Applied, and Performing Arts at the University of Gothenburg has shifted its publishing approach. Rather than publishing PARSE Journal via distinct issues in both print and online, as it had done since its inception, it has gone entirely digital. As the new website states: ‘PARSE does not undertake or conduct research projects, but exists as a publishing, dialogue and conference platform for high quality international research that links the fields within the Faculty’. In practice that means that instead of thematic issues, longer-term research arcs explore specific themes that are announced and made manifest somehow on the website.

Coming up on the new platform will be essays related to three research arcs: ‘art and work‘, ‘art and migration‘ and ‘intersectional engagements in politics and art’. Where the open calls for contributions ‘encourages experimental forms of research publication including artistic research and practice led research’ the platform ‘invite[s] academic research articles (6000 – 8000 words), essays, creative writing, all forms of graphic visualization, photography, audio work, videos, interactive work, and other creative works. All contributions will pass through an open peer review process.’ The fact that the research topics are engaged with over a longer of time and through different modes of interrogation means that the themes are engaged with in great depth.

Over the summer and in autumn I have been proofing (and copy-editing) essays mainly in relation to the first arc – led by Dave Beech, Valand Academy, with editors Marina Vishmidt and Benjamin Fallon and Kirsteen Macdonald – of which the last event took place on 5 December, titled ‘Never (Off) Work!‘ Watch this new metaparse space!

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The Lie of The Land

Throughout 2018 I’ve been involved as with a catalogue for MK Gallery in Milton Keynes. Following an expansion project by 6a architects, in close collaboration with artists Gareth Jones and Nils Norman, MK Gallery will reopen in March 2019. The opening show, titled The Lie of the Land, explores how the British landscape was radically transformed by changes in free time and leisure activities. Tracing a line between Capability Brown’s aristocratic gardens at Stowe and the social, urban experiment at neighbouring New Town Milton Keynes, the exhibition teases out the aspirations that underpin our built environments.

The catalogue includes essays by Anthony Spira, MK Gallery’s director, Jane Rendell, Jes Fernie, Owen Hatherley, Tom Emerson, and Cora Gilroy-Ware and Paul Gilroy, which explore aspects of landscape design and urban development, land ownership and access, housing, and how these are all interwoven in Milton Keynes’s history. It contains shorter texts by Claire Louise Staunton, Sam Jacob and Fay Blanchard. The book is designed by Mark El-kathib.

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The book is also a ‘proper’ catalogue, with many images of works in the show, accompanied by extended captions. Artists and designers whose work is part of the project include: Edward Alcock, David Alesworth, Archigram, Edwin Beard Budding, John Berger, James Boswell, Boyd & Evans, Thalia Campbell, Canaletto, Philip Castle, Ithell Colquhoun, John Csaky, Jeremy Deller, Sarah Ann Drake, Malcolm Drummond, Susanna Duncombe, Peter Dunn, Tracey Emin, Rose English, Rose Finn-Kelcey, Norman Foster, Elizabeth Frink, William Powell Frith, Buckminster Fuller, Thomas Gainsborough, Walter Goodall, Walter Greaves, Richard Hamilton, Emma Hart, Ebenezer Howard, Julius Caesar Ibbetson, Evelyn Grace Ince, Helmut Jacoby, Bob Jardine, Gertrude Jekyll, Gareth Jones, Michael Kirkham, Laura Knight, Mabel Francis Layng, Ann Lee, Loraine Leeson, Lawrence Lek, Linder, Joan Littlewood, Errol Lloyd, Jane Loudon, John Loudon, Laurence Stephen Lowry,  Edwin Lutyens, Andrew Mahaddie, Robert Medley, Brian Milne, Henry Moore, William Morris, Marlow Moss, Joseph Nash, Paul Nash, Balthazar Nebot, Nils Norman, Marianne North, Eduardo Paolozzi, Joseph Paxton, Olivia Plender, Ingrid Pollard, Cedric Price, Project Art Works, Jacques Rigaud, Bridget Riley, John Robertson Reid, William Patrick Roberts, John Ruskin, Benton Seeley, Yinka Shonibare MBE, David Shrigley, Alison and Peter Smithson, Jo Spence, Thomas Struth, Superstudio, James Tissot, James Walker Tucker, Joseph Mallord William Turner, John A. Walker, Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward, Ed Webb-Ingall, Carel Weight, Stuart Whipps, Rachel Whiteread, Althea Willoughby, Audrey Weber, Stephen Willats, Harold Williamson, John Wootton, James Wyld, John Yeadon.

Gems

In the course of the last decade I have on and off worked on publications with writing by artist/jeweller Leonor Hipólito, designed by Arne Kaiser. I knew Arne through publications I’d worked on with curator Jürgen Bock, so via this string of connections I was invited to work on Leonor’s texts. The first one, überstein, published in 2009, was followed by Beyond Emotions (2012), 22 Reflections on the Dissolution of the Self (2015), Looking at Us (2017) and the next one, titled Writing Pad, is about to be published in January 2019, making it five in total. Where the first few showed the writing alongside single examples of material work, in the more recent ones they are interspersed with photographic imagery and installation shots.

Similar to her material work, which I see as a poetic spatial practice, Leonor’s writing is a kind of spatial poetics, with a strong philosophical undercurrent. Each publication takes shape at its own pace, with the writing evolving alongside Leonor’s material practice, following by often months of slow tinkering and toing and froing between us over choice of words, sentence orders, commas, semi-colons, etc. It is a delicate and collaborative process, but one that is suffused with strong decisions, and clear thinking. Working on Leonor’s texts offers an interesting change of scenery from the often long, much more academically inclined texts I tend to work on and with, although they may engage with similar topics.

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Humans of the Institution

CaptureHaving been a freelancer for the last thirty odd years – starting out as such by choice, rather than influenced by more recent notion associated with ‘the gig economy’ – I would have loved to have attended and participated in the Humans of the Institution events, which took place in Amsterdam in November 2017. Organised by Anne Szefer Karlsen (Head of Curatorial Practice, Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design at the University of Bergen) and Vivian Ziherl (founder of Frontier Imaginaries), it promised to be a thought-provoking couple of days, with talks and workshops. Luckily there will be an e-publication, co-produced with L’Internationale Online. And even better, I am proofing it.

The workshops in Amsterdam tackled subjects ranging from  Archives & Individuals, to Biennials and Guest Work, Boycott and Mobilisation, Censorship & Strategy, Critical Regionalism, Fees & Conditions, while affiliated events engaged with Art Education & Romance of the Studio, Curating & Ethics, Institutional Negotiations and Practices & Infrastructure. It will be a pleasure to read the statements, advice, suggestions, manifestos and other pieces of writing that have been generated collectively, or distilled from discussions, or written by individuals.

Once the publication is online, I will post the link.

Curating After the Global

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Following on from How Institutions Think (2017), and The Curatorial Conundrum, What to Study? What to Research? What to Practice? (2016), I will shortly start work on Curating after the Global. Following a conference at the Luma Foundation in Arles in September 2017, the book aims to address curating with respect to questions of locality, geopolitical change, the reassertion of nation states, and violent diminishing of citizen and denizen rights across the globe.

It has become commonplace to talk of a globalised art world, with specific circulations of discourses, commodities, and individuals, and even to speak of contemporary art as a driver of globalisation. This universalisation of what art is, or can be, is often presumed to be claimed at the cost of local traditions and any sense of locality and embeddedness. But what exactly does it mean to be global, or to be local in the context of artistic, curatorial, and theoretical knowledge and practice?

The book will approach these questions in four sections, which include diagnoses of current conjuctures, exhibition histories, institutional repositioning and roadmaps for the future. The editors are Paul O’Neill, Simon Sheikh, Lucy Steeds and Mick Wilson. Among the contributors are: Marwa Arsanios, Athena Athanasiou, María Berríos and Jakob Jakobsen, Qalander Bux Memon, Ntone Edjabe, Liam Gillick, Alison Greene, Prem Krishnamurthy & Emily Smith, franck leibovici, Nkule Mabaso, Morad Montazami, Paul-Emmanuel Odin, Vijay Prasad, Kristin Ross, Rasha Salti, Grace Samboh, Sumesh Sharma, Joshua Simon, Hajnalka Somogyi and Françoise Vergès. The book will be designed by Julia and is due out in 2019, published by The MIT Press.

Min(d)ing the Gaps

A couple of years ago artist Anthony Shrag and I walked and talked for an entire day (see a previous post). The upshot of that extended conversation was a collaboration around a text, which is now a blog.

The text reflects on an artist-in-residence project that Anthony did, and that, despite all best intentions from everyone involved, for him was a ‘failure’. While failure is something we’d rather ignore or not talk about, doing the kind of in-depth soul-searching about why the project failed that Anthony does here ended up being very productive. It is, as he underlines, not a matter of pointing a blaming finger to individual people or organisations, but trying to really put a finger on how systemic underlying factors and mechanisms, or lack thereof, contribute to projects actually never standing a chance of reaching their potential. Rather than writing a manual on how to do it better, he ends with a series of ‘questions to ask yourself’.

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The text that sits on the blog is written by Anthony but it is one that evolved through shifting ideas of what the text could or should (not) contain and how they could be written up as they emerged and solidified over time. In addition, questions as to who the text was for and how it could be disseminated, and of course what the ultimate aim was weighed in too. The essay as you can now read it was also strongly influenced by our close collaboration through ongoing conversations and editing rounds, the introduction of metaphors, which led to drawings, which in turn pushed the text in new directions. In its final form it is also very much the blog as medium, with its range of mechanisms of interaction and display, that has allowed the different narrative strands to be accessible in multiple ways.

Another PARSE issue online

Meanwhile PARSE issue 7 on Speculation has also gone online.

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This issue explores how and why speculative thinking and speculative activity have obtained a new topicality, especially in philosophy, culture and politics, in a condition marked by the absence of certainty, the crisis of the crisis of metaphysics, the dominance of finance capital and the re-emergence of utopianism in the absence of revolution. Philosophically the reassertion of speculation coincides with the exploration of different practices of knowledge in the development of critical, conceptual and pragmatic tools by which the contested past, present and future can be navigated. Economically and politically, speculation represents both the incontrovertible structuring principle of neoliberal capitalism and the imaginative force that must be deployed against it.

With contributions by Didies Debaise and Isabelle Stengers, an interview by Dave Beech with Costas Lapavitsas, a reflection on one of his own works by Krzysztof Wodiczko, an extensive exploration of the notion of speculation in musical composition by Ming Tsao, and a conversation about speculation as an educational apporach between Valerie Pihet, Katrin Solhdju, Didies Debaise and Fabrizio Terranova. With an introduction by Dave Beech, Katrin Soldhju and Valerie Pihet.

You can find a link to all essays and the full PDF here.