This is the entry point…

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Uninvited Outsider Opens for Business

Arms and Discus could fall…. disaster could ensue….

I have now set up a new blog. Uninvited Outsider is dedicated entirely to my personal curatorial projects. The blog acts as a site to promote the projects but also a place to critique all the activities involved through writing and discussion. Anyone can post a response or ask a question. Please come and visit.

Consequently posts here may slow down for the time being. Normal service will resume shortly meanwhile here is a picture of a man with a broken penis an a crumbly arm….

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The Network Will Eat Itself.

Networking at Networked the Triangle Network Networking Conference.

It is quite easy to see how important the making and using of networks is to any artist. Art isn’t art without the communication and confirmation provided by a community of peers. Art is communication, made in isolation it fails to fulfill its objects.

The Triangle Network began, as carefully pointed out by Anthony Caro in his opening statement at the conference, before the notion of artists networks become explicit and publicly iterated. But the Triangle Network (or Triangle as it began) was the vanguard of that trend and as such could be considered responsible for the plethora of other networks whose representatives populated the conference floor.

A network is a social state, and in its proper and purest form must be without hierarchy, top down instigation or management and have a flexible if not totally lose financial structure. All these points and definitions were raised at the conference many times. What happens to a network when it becomes a charity, membership organisation, collective, business, or gains some other institutional structure? When a network becomes anything more than a lose association at what point does its function as a network disintegrate and its purpose become lost?

Unfortunately for the conference organisers there was much talking around these ideas but, as ever with large conference events, few conclusions or truly interrogatory discussions emerged. The best that could be brought away from the event – and this only from continuous mentions of the fact from the floor – was the following;

  • Networks arise from a perceived need by a group of individuals.
  • Networks lose their vitality when that organisation is taken away from members and ends up being controlled by an organising committee.
  • The organisation and running of these networks tends to fall on one or two individuals within the network.
  • Networks that remain in their original form continue inevitably to be poor.
  • Where they don’t provide funds what they do provide is mutual support and peer contact.
  • When the perceived need disappears the network may well disintegrate, but this is OK as the need has also gone.
  • Artificial preservation of networks is therefore quite futile.

All this is very well but ignores one of the oddest attributes of the conference. Located within the Bloomberg conference space in central London it was taking place at the time when the occupy protests were in situ in the square directly outside the building. Where Bloomberg is as far away from a participatory Network as an organisation can be the Occupy movement seemed to embody, for the course of the weekend, a perfect example of a Network created on a non hierarchical footing at the point of a perceived need. It is understandable therefore that many conference delegates talked with great discomfort about their situation as creating a voice for the individuals that formed the networks they represented, and appeared to feel deeply out of place in their environment.

In the end few networks stood out as being of particular interest, those mostly being…. The Hub, ArtsAdmin (is it really a network?) Arts Rights Justice (again not really a network but uses them to great effect) Independent Curators International and WeFund.

But for the rest of the party the conference acted as an odd uber-networking event; organisations and representatives of small, localised networks from around the world networked with each other about the networks they were part of, further expanding their reach into the network. In amongst all this inter-communication what might be too easily lost is the purpose for which the networks began in the first place. To know there are other tiny groups of artists scattered around the world all battling the same demons is reassuring; yet the conversations in the Bloomberg space seemed too far abstracted from their day to day reality to achieve anything significant. More interesting is the blog, which continues before after and beyond the conference walls, now linked to from this page.

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Beginnings of “The Privacy Tactic”…

Looking closely into the nature of privacy within art and curatorial practice has made me consider the domestic as an alternative site for art practice and curation. Two such projects were presented recently at Collective’s Artists’ DIY Soapbox. J A Sinclair and Project Wakaka were both created out of necessity and are based in the flats and houses of their initiators and curators. Thought both projects have different emphases and aims they are linked by their domestic situation. Project Wakaka was developed by artist and mother Jennie Temple in her house as a way of developing projects along side the responsibilities of motherhood. In this sense it is very like a much larger, more established project Enemies of Good Art. Both could be read within a feminist framework, though looking at these projects solely through this lens would do them both a real disservice as neither has been created from an overt feminist standpoint. This is where these two projects benefit by comparison to J. A. Sinclair, which also has a domestic setting but for reasons of economy and control, as well as an element of non-conformism, not out of a domestic or familial need. The talk at Collective by project curators Susan Gladwin and Andrew Gannon brought out many interesting issues namely their aims as curators when their gallery is such an overtly private and selective affair. Although this might create possible problems for the project as something of value; criticism leveled at the project included that it was simply a way for the pair to be the collectors of art projects (as opposed to objects) and that their work might not be properly framed as curatorial at all. I object to this criticism as an audience is created for the works in the activities of J A Sinclair, though the curators take on the role of a special kind of audience with a deeper involvement in the work than many, this does not stop their practice from being a project of curation.

Andrew Gannon and Susan Gladwin at Artists' DIY Soapbox

Of course what is needed here is a definition of curation; still an ever-fluctuating field of activity and a question too large to go into in detail here. Yet what links these domestic galleries, perhaps better termed “sites for curation” for the sake of this argument, is that they take on the characteristics of tactical activities, as framed by Michel De Certeau  in The Practice of Everyday Life.  The conjunction of privacy, curation and tactical activity in these projects make domesticity a pivotal starting point for looking at privacy as a possible tactic within wider curatorial practice.

Interestingly, tactical curation is something that Boris Groys in his e-flux essay Politics of Installation implies to be impossible. However, the state of affairs that he has assumed to be the case in a very simplistic picture of what curatorial activity can involve. My future research project, which now has it’s own page on this blog, will look closely at the private as a locus for an experiment in tactical curation with the aim of creating a framework in which Groys’ assumption can be thoroughly probed, questioned and hopefully reconsidered.

This posts marks the beginning of the investigative project “The Privacy Tactic – link at the top of this page…follow 09. The Privacy Tactic for further elaboration on these ideas…

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A deviation…before The Hardcore & The Gentle

The creation of the CO2 space exhibition The Hardcore and The Gentle has provided many interesting avenues for thought and discussion during its creation. Some of which will be, at best, only tangentially evident in the final work. One worth noting here is a brief discussion on abstract animation and experiential cinema. Tracing a very VERY simple line of development it is possible to see the ongoing influence of early abstract animators Len Lye (a cult figure and early pioneer) and Mary E. Bute (the animator whose work was “lovingly riped off” by Walt Disney and chums for The bit of Fantasia that doesn’t have micky mouse, broomsticks or dancing hippos).

The combination of music and animated abstraction perhaps more easily meshes when digital synthesised animation and music can be created together.

When considering works like this being shown in a gallery space the link from animated abstraction (evident in the work of Oskar Fischinger as well as Lye and Bute) through immersive experiences (as created by the Boyle Family and Gustav Metzger in the 1960s)  to the embodied experience of the 1990s/2000s video installation can be easily identified.

How the altering light from a screen impacts a room, and heightens the experience within it, is now so common place to anyone watching a scary movie on their home cinema as to be perhaps beyond the realm of art experience.

Nevertheless there is a history of experiences to acknowledge in creating a space that, whilst not using film directly, is as indebted to cinematic experience as it is to architectural and religious ones.

The Hardcore and The Gentle will OPEN in the Co2 Project Space at ECA On Friday 28th October 2011 16:30 – 18:30

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Public and Private – Post 1.

The nature of the gallery space as either public or private was a topic brought up for debate yet again this week. This time in the context of the Variant organised workshop on Creative Scotland funding changes which happened this past Saturday. Our small group break out sessions veered off for a while into a discussion of how public a small artist-led gallery space actually is? Who is it’s public? And what constitutes a public space in general? These issues keep raising their head – particularly whenever the subject of public funding is at issue. There is also a metaphysical element to any discussion of the public nature of a space [Exemplified in Boris Groys’ essay Politics of Installation] and an ongoing debate that impinges into essays where Public Space is not the primary subject – read from page 7 of this months Art Monthly. Such is the wide ranging nature of this issue that it is a subject I continue to return to and will be focusing on more and more through the development of my final MFA project. Expect further posts on the subject and perhaps a dedicated website…more news soon.


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The Best Gallery Bench in The World

Nick and Gerhard model the latest in bespoke designer seating solutions – for all your elite international world-class contemporary gallery needs. Our benches have been designed to the highest spec by our in house design team – Herzog and de Meuron – and allow for full appreciation of the seated experience whilst maintaining a stripped back Scandinavian aesthetic so it wont clash with your minimal white cube interior. (painting sold separately).

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