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The Antennae Series is intended to pinpoint certain phenomena or new lines of thought in the arts and to explore them by means of essays bundled in books.

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Locating
the
Producers
Durational Approaches to Public Art
Paul O’Neill & Claire Doherty
Introduction
 Paul O’Neill
 & Claire Doherty

The Blue House
(Het Blauwe Huis)

 Paul O’Neill

Creative Egremont
 Paul O’Neill

Trekroner Art Plan
(Kunstplan Trekroner)

 Paul O’Neill

Edgware Road Project
 Paul O’Neill

Beyond
 Paul O’Neill

Curatorial Research
Methods & Conviviality

 Mick Wilson

The Ideology of Duration in
the Dematerialised Monument

 Dave Beech

Autonomous Education, New
Institutions and the Experimental
Economy of Network Cultures

 Ned Rossiter

Reflecting on Durational
Research in Relation to
Durational Practice

 A Discussion

Afterword
 Ian Biggs

Biographies

Acknowledgments

Colophon

Selected
Keyword:


Current
Section:
Introduction
Introduction

An End to the Beginning, the Beginning of the End

Paul O’Neill & Claire Doherty

The banal requirements of form necessitate what appears to be a beginning, but is purely incidental, or perhaps born of habit, repetition or trauma. We actually begin in a middle, in a muddle, perhaps a puddle, running across the street (…) the beginning and the end may very well represent the same location, a non place of (im)possibility, containing seeds for a radically alternative present, continually folding over itself and refracted through patterns, modulations and intensities: spasms and shifts divided by recurrences and undercurrent.1

Locating the Producers began as a curatorial dilemma which came gradually into focus during the first few years of Situations, a programme engaged in the production and critical analysis of artworks commissioned in response to specific local conditions since 2003. Our international lecture series and symposium on ‘Rethinking Context in Contemporary Art’ in the first two years of operation was conceived in recognition of the burgeoning field of context-specific curating and commissioning, as manifested in large-scale, international biennial exhibitions, public art regeneration initiatives and off-site gallery programmes; all of which were challenging the orthodoxy of site-specificity. If, historically, certain forms of permanent public art commissioning had been aligned to the production of genius loci or sense of place — as exemplified by Lucy Lippard’s response to the rootlessness of modern society in The Lure of the Local: Senses of Place in a Multicentered Society — we identified that emergent projects, such as Jeremy Deller’s Battle of Orgreave or Francis Alÿs’s When Faith Moves Mountains, exemplified a more dynamic understanding of place. We also found a parallel for this progressive sense of place in comparative disciplines such as human geography and contemporary archaeology.

There was clearly a disparity between the affirmation of place — as advocated in cultural policy documents, consultancy briefs for the commissioning of artworks within the context of regeneration, and, to some extent, in the curatorial rhetoric surrounding place-based exhibitions and projects — and the productive, contemporary, lived experience of place proposed by geographers such as Doreen Massey and Tim Cresswell and archaeologists such as Mike Pearson and Michael Shanks.2 In affirmative strategies and policies, place was being promoted as an existing, stable (perhaps historically embedded) entity to which artists were invited to respond, or as something which could be rebranded through commissioning whereby location (and consequently place-based artworks) would be aligned with cultural tourism. By contrast, in the academic sphere, place was increasingly being recognised as ‘a constellation of social relations, meeting and weaving together at a particular locus (...) which is extroverted, which includes a consciousness of its links with the wider world, which integrates in a positive way the global and the local’.3 And at the heart of this contradictory pull between a stable, knowable place and a state of flux, an event-in-process, was the curator-producer.

By 2006, the curator-producer had emerged as the linchpin in negotiations between artist and place. At the point at which this research project began,4 we could distinguish the twenty-first century curator-producer from the museum custodian by their active involvement in the production of the artwork; by their consideration of the need to. We identifiedwork from an informed, embedded position, and the responsibility to account for considerable expenditure of public funds on artworks that must be locally relevant but also internationally significant. We recognised that experienced curator-producers were keen to avoid the pitfalls of the pseudo-ethnographic commissioning process outlined in Miwon Kwon’s influential book, One Place After Another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity, while seeking the spark of the alchemical process through which a truly remarkable work or project might emerge that would resonate beyond the specifics of a given location.

Despite the importance of this creative role and the rise of postgraduate curatorial courses in the UK, we recognised that there was a considerable gap in methodological research on place-based commissioning. Until 2006, research had primarily been confined to the impact assessment of artistic projects and the nature of place specificity in socially-engaged practices. During the course of our preliminary research, we identified evidence of longer-term, durational and cumulative approaches being adopted by curator-producers, which might be considered as a corrective to the itinerant model of the curator/artist-nomad critiqued by Kwon.5 It was at this point that the consideration of time — and, more specifically, duration — became the focal point of the three-year research project which we hoped would lead to a provisional response to the disparity we had identified at the heart of context-specific, or place-bound, curatorial initiatives.

Duration

Writing in 1972, in his influential book What Time is this Place?, Kevin Lynch proposed the term ‘time-place’ as a substitute for place, implying a necessary shift beyond a primarily spatial coordinate and towards a temporal construct.6 Two decades later, Patricia C. Phillips argued that a more progressive public art must account for a reconsideration of time. She concluded her essay with the statement:

‘The temporary in public art is not about an absence of commitment or involvement, but about the intensification and enrichment of the conception of public. (…) A conceptualisation of the idea of time in public art is a prerequisite for a public life that enables inspired change’.7

As Henri Bergson acknowledged in The Creative Mind in 1946, duration is not only a psychological experience — a transitory state of becoming — it is also the concrete evolution of creativity, a state of being within time that surpasses itself in a manner that makes duration the very material of individual creative action. This idea of duration, and the transitory attribute of time as a means of structuring the fluctuating encounter with public space, has become a recurring motif in the search for a more profound understanding of place within public art — as that which is always hybrid and neither fixed nor clearly bounded to a location.

Locating the Producers: Durational Approaches to Public Art was itself devised as a durational research process, which would investigate how public art and its curation has begun to recognise the significance of engaging audiences and encouraging research-based outcomes that are responsive to their specific contexts, audiences and locations over time. We chose to focus specifically on five relevant European projects at different stages in their temporal development: The Blue House (Het Blauwe Huis), IJburg, The Netherlands (2004 — 2009); Beyond, Leidsche Rijn, The Netherlands (1999 — 2009); Trekroner Art Plan, Roskilde, Denmark (2001 — present); Creative Egremont, Cumbria, UK (ongoing since 1999) and Edgware Road, London, UK (2009 — 2011).

The projects were selected according to the following criteria:

  • each should demonstrate an individual commissioner’s investment in maintaining a committed, long-term, durational approach to commissioning contemporary art in a specific place, generating a public manifestation;
  • each should have taken place since 2000;
  • each should have had a commissioning process and outcome which lasts for more than 100 days (the standard time-span of an international large-scale exhibition);
  • each should involve the engagement of local residents.

Led by Paul O’Neill, this research project involved extensive site visits, archival research, focus groups, programmed public events and semi-structured interviews through which the procedures and intentionality of the curator-producers were to be assessed against the main outcomes as they were understood by the commissioner, curator, artist, resident, participants and lead researcher.8 In particular, we were interested in asking how social forms of artistic co-production were developed for a specific place, situation or environment, allowing the artistic and curatorial objectives to unfold over time through diverse modes of both local and dispersed forms of participation. Each case study would examine multiple accounts of the commissioning process, which, in turn, would be cross-referenced with other accounts from within and across all the case studies. By bringing these case studies together here, along with complementary texts by participant-observers/speakers in the research project, such as Mick Wilson and Dave Beech, we hope to contribute to a deeper understanding of what is at stake in commissioning place-based artworks, to test out a new vocabulary to qualify curatorial methods and, potentially, to propose a set of recommendations for changes to public and cultural policy.

By choosing to represent each of the projects through a single case study written by the lead researcher, we must acknowledge the partiality of presenting the multi-dimensional and durational nature of each project in a single, digestible form. In recognition of the need to offer up a point of response for the curator-producers, all five projects were invited to contribute a ‘future insert’ to the book. The Blue House has provided a timeline of all the invitees, projects and events that took place at IJburg over its four-year duration, as a means of mapping a trajectory of how the project developed; Grizedale Arts has written a manifesto for the future; Kunstplan Trekroner has compiled images of one of the future outcomes of the project, in which local inhabitants have begun to realise their own interventions into the built environment; Edgware Road’s curatorial team has invited artist, Susan Hefuna, to produce a series of postcards and Beyond has produced a CD Rom archiving ten years of activity. For the final chapter in this book, commissioners and curators were reunited to reflect on the impact of this process on their projects, speaking back to the research by way of a conclusion to this publication.

As the title of this research suggests, Locating the Producers intentionally problematises the question of how such projects were initiated and sustained and by whom. In their survey of sustainable collaborative projects dedicated to social and environmental change, Clare Cumberlidge and Lucy Musgrave draw out some key shared principles, to suggest that such projects: propose renewal as a continuous, open-ended process; take a holistic, multidimensional approach to their designated situations; maximise resources — material, human and economic; use local distinctiveness as a starting point for a vision of the future; engage professionals to work outside their normal sphere of practice and share an awareness of symbolic value.

In recognition of the fact that durational approaches in specific places are, as Cumberlidge and Musgrave’s study attests, not particularly unusual, we must emphasise that the purpose of this study was specifically to focus on the emergent aspects of commissioning that are common to projects which share a durational approach and, through a comparative study of each in-depth case study, determining whether aspects of these projects might help us to reconcile the contradictions of the place-based curatorial endeavour. We aim to show that a fundamental shift in thinking about the ‘time’, rather than simply the ‘space’ of public art commissioning is required to effect change at the level of policy.

Charismatic Agency

One of the most prevalent characteristics of commissioning practices that has emerged through our research is the significance to each project of charismatic agency, whereby a key element of an individual’s curatorial practice is the visionary means they use to engage participants and visitors and to secure funding. In this way, while authorship of specific facets of the project — such as particular architectural interventions, residencies or texts — might be clearly attributed, ownership of the project as a whole invariably becomes shared.

Another key aspect of all the projects under discussion is that they began with an individual’s commitment to resisting a problem-solving or instrumental approach. Instead, there appears to be a prevalent belief in the need for public art to engage with its most immediate public constituencies through hospitality and the development of relationships built on trust, before decisions are made as to how to proceed. However, there is also recognition on behalf of the individual host, or instigator, that such processes might not always be convivial and that the conflicts, failures and differences inherent to each project often contribute to their critical success. All of the curator-producers acknowledge the importance of having political will behind them, whether they have been supported by a specific policy, local council or individual with a vision for public art in their region. In many cases, there are multiple charismatic agents at work during the commissioning process — from curators to artists and residents, to planners, city administrators, developers and those responsible for the framing of art’s context or situation and its social and spatial reception.

Sociality and Participation

In his text for this book, on organised networks, Ned Rossiter offers a consideration of how commissioners employ their charismatic agency through ‘networked models of sociality’ to allow for co-habitational time. Here, the open-endedness of the process is employed as a means of resisting the instrumentalisation of art. Rossiter’s text provides an example of how the commissioners employ a working method that considers the dynamic formulation of place whilst also prioritising the discursive, the processual and the relational as media in their own right. By prioritising sociality, engagement and presence, inter-subjectivity also becomes a primary medium of artistic and curatorial investigation.9 While much relational art of the 1990s intended a more socialised and collective form of immersive experience, the taking part in art as a social event is largely regarded as contributing to a merely metaphorical form of art’s co-production, its meanings and its values. As Jacques Rancière writes of relational art, its intention is to create not only objects, but also situations and encounters that are not in opposition to the object but require the presence of the viewer.10 What the durational projects considered in this book suggest is that a consideration of sociality must surely extend to the nature of co-production in relation to time, as well as to space or place, if the nature of social engagement at the heart of the artistic or curatorial endeavour is truly to be understood.11

Given that the sustainability of such projects necessarily relies upon the circulation of social capital and in turn, on a form of gift economy, one potential criticism of this model of sociality is that it may be susceptible to cronyism. But, from the evidence in this publication, we might argue that these projects rely upon committed, informed and involved temporary constituencies which gather around a particular durational project, and that this evidence must be considered in relation to the funding imperatives of public art in order to extend opportunities for more people to ‘experience and shape the arts’.12 The concept of participation is constantly being formed and reformed out of extant social processes, political contestations and external forces, but, from the case studies outlined here, we could conceive of participation as a form of civic practice. We could move away from an abstracted idea of participation — as event-based and experienced en masse — towards something ongoing, experienced individually, sometimes discordantly, which is enacted by us as citizens. In this sense, durational commissioning processes that employ co-productive and socially-engaged modes of operation move away from the spectacularised mode of social relations, defined by Guy Debord, in which shared experience is atomised and consumption is undertaken without agency to create a false togetherness. The significant conclusion for commissioning practice is that a durational approach to events and projects seems to allow for the formation, dispersal and reformation of temporary, active communities so as to avoid the pseudo-ethnographic parachuting of the curator or artist to work with a passive target group deprived of agency.

Added to this, a durational approach encourages subsidiary audiences to form, beyond the initial participants or co-producers, permitting others to receive the project anecdotally through the dispersion of the narrative of the project by its participants and lead commissioner/producer over time. In this way, all of the projects discussed in this book transcend their immediate relations — between time, place and their temporary constituent publics — to consider that what has happened will live on not only in the memory of those who took part and experienced it. Projects are translated and extended into the future, whether that is through artists’ work or through residual resident initiatives that endure beyond the project lifetime or as something which is discussed in subsequent art discourses.

The Value of Duration

Duration has its own extrinsic values, such as temporality, mobility, agency, change or affect.13 Durational approaches to public art involve a process of being together for a period of time with some common objectives, to constitute a new mode of relational, conversational and participatory practice. There is a multiplicity of modes of interaction between people, which has a destabilising effect on the perception that there is an actual time and place in which to experience or participate in an event. This is most evident in the number of people contributing to these projects who are unaware exactly what they are taking part in and what the outcome is to be; their participation is not something that can be measured or evaluated in a clear way, especially when even the initiators of the projects are not fully aware of what has been done, who took part and what was achieved, because to do so in the process of the project’s development would be to curb the possible spaces in which the unexpected could happen.

This is not to say that duration as long-termism is the a priori solution, but rather that duration aims to problematise the time component of art’s engagement with publicness and civic responsibility. As Dave Beech indicates in his responsive essay in this book, ‘Duration is problematic because it is presented as a solution for art’s social contradictions, whereas the only viable political solution must be to problematise time for art’. Duration cannot, therefore, become the default that is employed as a solve-all solution.

Duration is not simply a corrective to short-termism, nor is a durational relationship to specific contexts particularly rare. We might conclude that there has been no great paradigm shift, no significant ‘durational turn’ as such. Rather, we can discern a shake-up of the temporal limits of extant models for curating public art, which must be conceived as part of a cumulative process. The significance of duration does not lie, therefore, in a single extended project, but rather in the relationship between projects in place across time. What is intriguing, however, is that, despite the fact that the value of the commissioned events and projects lies in their ability to cohere cumulatively, and therefore demand some kind of recognition, their potency for gathering temporary constituencies lies precisely in their ability to surprise and unsettle.

In considering the case studies outlined here, we might also conclude that a spatio-temporal constellation of artworks and projects over time might be the best possible solution to the exhaustion of the site-specific curatorial model.14 Durational projects accord to Edward Soja’s notion of ‘thirdspace’,

‘as Lived Space is portrayed as multi-sited and contradictory, oppressive and liberating, passionate and routine, knowable and unknowable. It is a space of radical openness, a site of resistance and struggle, a space of multiplicitous representations (...) It is a meeting ground, a site of hybridity.’15

These projects (as thirdspaces) clearly produce place as it is practised and lived; they provide a space of interrelations, always in the process of being made and remade, not only materially but also socially.

Beyond Spectacle and Counter-Spectacle

During a 2007 symposium at Tate Modern entitled ‘Rethinking Spectacle’, Claire Bishop considered the denigration of the term ‘spectacle’, particularly through the writings of Hal Foster and Benjamin Buchloh and the ways in which process-based, socially engaged artworks have been proffered on the basis of counter-spectacle, as a solution to the atomisation of communities. One could consider the five projects under scrutiny here as being aligned with the counter-spectacular, in the sense that the immediate impact of events, works and projects is localised and not easily disseminated through iconic images beyond their immediate participatory context. One can certainly discern new operational orthodoxies in these practices as a kind of simulacrum of everyday activity — including local festivities, screenings, discussions, communal cooking and eating, designs for new meeting points and gathering places — all of which seek to activate moments of communal publicness.

But, as Rancière has warned, ‘participation doesn’t guarantee critical legitimacy’,16 which has particular resonance within our event culture. Considering Bishop’s 2006 assertion that, ‘the best collaborative practices of the past ten years address the contradictory pull between autonomy and social intervention, and reflect on this antinomy both in the structure of the work and in the conditions of its reception’, one might discern varying degrees of antinomy within the projects under consideration here.17 But, interestingly, these projects may also be seen to embody the work of Bishop’s critical nemesis, Grant Kester, in that the commissioners work from a position of solidarity rather than simply as provocateurs. As many of the curator-producers have suggested in relation to their sense of responsibility to community, the effectiveness of this solidarity depends on the commissioner’s sensitivity to local political dynamics, histories and cultures and on the possibility of ongoing relationships.

These projects display an intentionally slowly-evolving discursive process that enables an exploration of the particularities of place in tune with the expressed needs of residents. This discovery is surely one of the primary outcomes of this research — that a participatory process does not necessarily mean consultation, but rather extended periods of time allow for a generative, rather than a fixed, outcome. Further consideration ought to be given to the issue of time as a method of de-spectacularisation, specifically how public time is more generally framed by these projects. In this way, a space of co-production could emerge out of an expectation for the unforeseen, the unexpected, the yet-to-come. If we are to think of participation as more than a closed, one-off relational or social interaction with art, duration must be considered as a temporal process of cohabitation, whereby time can contribute to something that is immeasurable, unquantifiable and unknowable from the outset. Therefore, participation can only be experienced durationally, as a lived difference that extends beyond a momentary engagement with art and with one another.

Endings

This book is not simply a call for longer-term projects or for the commissioning of temporary versus permanent artworks, but rather for the potential of short-term and durational projects to be realised as part of longer-term, cumulative engagements which recognise the process through which small-scale, limited constituencies gather for a finite period of time around particular projects. This would require the rejection of the itinerancy and over-production that has characterised public art commissioning over the past ten years, in favour of embedded, committed practice for emerging curators, artists and commissioners, alongside funding and commissioning opportunities committed to longer lead-in times and fewer predetermined outcomes.

While diverse in their objectives and outputs, all the projects discussed in this book have presented a longer-term view of the ways in which commissioners, artists and curators can respond to a specific situation by considering art as a co-operative production process that is neither autonomous nor over-regulated. By taking account of participation with art, and in art, as an unfolding and longer-term accumulation of multiple positions, engagements and moments registered in what we account for as the artwork, we may be able to move beyond the individual participatory encounter of an eventful exhibition moment. This leads us to understand participation not as a relation or social encounter with artistic production, but as a socialised process necessary for art’s production. Such a shift in the perception of participation must acknowledge the different duration-specific qualities of art as something driven by ideas of public time, rather than space, so that we can begin to understand the complexities of artistic co-production within the logic of succession, continuity and sustainability rather than discontinuity in a unitary time and place.

Durational projects could be considered as ‘discursive exhibitions’ that evolve over time, but, instead of prioritising the moment of display, or the event of exhibition, they allow for open-ended, accumulative processes of engagement.18 Such projects necessitate a shift in our consideration of the curator-producer from an individual focused on the unearthing or endorsement of an existing historical sense of place through the commissioning of autonomous, permanently sited artworks to a creative praxis characterised by complicit participation in the making of place through a series of cumulative and dispersed encounters over time.

Introduction
The Blue House (Het Blauwe Huis)










The Blue House
(Het Blauwe Huis)

IJburg, Amsterdam,
The Netherlands

Paul O’Neill

Facts and Figures


 Commissioner/artist:
Jeanne van Heeswijk in collaboration with
Dennis Kaspori and Hervé Paraponaris

 Project manager:
Irene den Hartoog

 Duration:
May 2005 — December 2009

 Websites:
www.blauwehuis.org and www.jeanneworks.net

 Location:
Villa in housing block thirty-five, IJburg, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 House owner:
de Alliantie Housing Corporation

 Architect:
Atelier Dutch (previously Teun Koolhaas Associates)

 Blue House members:
Ninety-one (all members + students)

 Visitors/participants:
46,000 (over four years)

 Number of events:
900

 Membership of The Blue House Housing Association of the Mind:
The Blue House Housing Association of the Mind was an ever-changing group of local and international practitioners that was established at the start of the project. Van Heeswijk and other members of the project invited practitioners to take up residence as associates, researchers and producers.1

 Range of Projects:
There were three main strands to the projects undertaken — histories, instant urbanism and hospitality — which will be described in more detail below. Research-based outputs determined the direction of projects in each case.

‘I realise on location, I work from within and not from without’.2

‘People always think that I am commissioned, which, in nine out of ten of my projects, is actually not the case. I am quite often sort of half commissioned or I commission myself’.3

‘New possibilities open the way to the transformation of public spaces and to innovative urban experimentation, preserving multiple identities. Here we are beginning to define new tools and methods to let these realities represent themselves, producing neither objects nor projects, only paths and relationships. The discipline becomes hybrid, moving on from architecture to public art, something we can start calling “civic art”’.4

Brief Introduction

The Blue House was a durational art project initiated in the Netherlands by artist Jeanne van Heeswijk in 2005. Van Heeswijk arranged for a large cobalt-blue-coloured villa in a housing block, designed by Teun Koolhaas Associates (TKA), to be taken off the private housing market and re-designated as a space for community research, artistic production and cultural activities. The housing block is situated in IJburg, a newly-built suburb of the city of Amsterdam, which is set for completion in 2012 and is expected to contain 18,000 homes for 45,000 residents. In collaboration with architect, Dennis Kaspori, and artist, Hervé Paraponaris, Van Heeswijk ran The Blue House project as a centre for research and artistic and cultural production, looking at what happens when such a radical approach to urban planning and community development is employed. Over a four-year period, artists, architects, thinkers, activists, writers and scholars of various nationalities were invited to live and work in the Blue House for periods of up to six months. Invitees conducted research, produced works of art, films and publications and were involved in discussions and related activities.5 This resulted in numerous research-led interventions being made by practitioners in and around the Blue House and IJburg, which responded to the specifics of a place undergoing construction as part of an extensive urban renewal plan.

This chapter is an analysis of material gathered during three site visits, a focus group session held at de Appel in Amsterdam and semi-structured interviews conducted with the artist and her collaborators including the city planners.6 It seeks to understand how Van Heeswijk and those involved conceived of The Blue House as both a curatorial project and a self-organised network of research-based practice.

Brief Commissioning Background

In 1996, the city council of Amsterdam decided to extend the city beyond its North-Eastern boundaries. Land was reclaimed from the surrounding water to create an artificial island with housing and amenities for 45,000 people. Twenty minutes by tram from Amsterdam’s central station, the island-town of IJburg had, by the end of 2009, completed its third year of the first phase of building. Each housing block has been built overlooking a central courtyard, with the ratio of privately owned to social sector housing set at 80:20. During the planning and pre-development stage of the project in 2003, artist-commissioner, Jeanne van Heeswijk, was invited by designer/architect, Dorine de Vos, to consider making more visible an entrance to block thirty-five of a new housing estate in IJburg. De Vos was working on behalf of the municipality in an advisory capacity with the architect, Teun Koolhaas, and Van Heeswijk had previously worked with her on a project in New York.7 Having rejected this invitation because of its limitations, the artist began to look at the projected plans for IJburg.

Around the same time, public art advisor, Tanja Karreman,8 in consultation with De Vos, asked Van Heeswijk if she could make a proposal that would reflect the future identity of IJburg, outlining the role of art in this newly created environment. Noting that little room had been left for the uncontrolled, the unexpected and the unplanned, the artist’s attention was drawn to a large villa in the central courtyard of block thirty-five, which would face privately owned dwellings on one side and social housing on the other. Van Heeswijk proposed to Amsterdam Funds for the Arts (AFK) that they help to take the villa off the market and, although the cost of buying the building (€600,000) seemed prohibitive, the artist pursued the idea. She spent the next eighteen months looking for a buyer who would be prepared to donate the house to the community as ‘a place for the unplanned, for the still to dream, for the yet to desire…’9

Example of Projects

A diverse range of projects was realised under the auspices of The Blue House. The ‘Histories’ series included one of the first projects by artist and designer, Joost Grootens, who designed the logo, graphic identity and wallpaper for The Blue House. Also within this series, art historian, Marianne Maasland, and sociologist, Marga Wijman’s archive project, From Pioneering to Living, contains interviews and publication of their findings based on social research conducted with IJburgers into the transformation of public spaces during the first phase of construction.10 At the same time, Blue Fiction — The Blue Block (An Anachronistic Centre), a collaborative research project by artist, Barbara Holub, and architect, Paul Rajakovics, examined the expectations of new IJburgers with the aim of integrating this research and that of other artists from the foundation into a design for a new ‘model’ housing block for IJburg. This residency resulted in the installation of a twelve metre high periscope on a roof terrace in IJburg for two months, through which the sea view gradually disappeared as building development progressed.11

Meanwhile, the ‘Instant Urbanism’ series included Rudy J. Luijters’ design for an edible public garden in the grounds of The Blue House, which would be accessible to inhabitants from block thirty-five as a communal harvesting space; the Chill Room, a temporary meeting and production studio housed at the Blue House, was developed by art student, Ingrid Meus, in close cooperation with local youths, while Parade of Urbanity, initiated by Van Heeswijk with architect, Dennis Kaspori, enabled small temporary interventions to be manifested in the public domain — such as a community restaurant, a library, a hotel and an outdoor cinema — each of which responded directly to the needs and difficulties of residents during the construction phase. Under the auspices of ‘Hospitality’, Igor Dobricic — programme director for the European Cultural Foundation (ECF) one of project’s financial supporters — visited The Blue House every Wednesday between November 2007 and August 2008. Under the title ALMOSTYOU, he swapped offices and jobs with Van Heeswijk as a means of questioning the funder-to-funded relationship within part of his larger project for ECF, ALMOSTREAL.12 Another member of the house, the artist, Daniela Paes Leão, was invited to document the experiences of both The Blue House and the ECF, which resulted in a short film, The freedom to question (sponsor and sponsored in conversation).13 Mauricio Corbalán and Pio Torroja, of architecture collective m7red, developed Chat Theatre as a series of conversations on public spaces on subjects ranging from citizenship, immigration and integrative politics to the role of new media in public space; the discussions, held at the Blue House and involving participants from all over the world, were linked to conversations at the Biennial of Porto Alegre through a blog using specifically developed communicational software.14 Also resident in the house until he found more permanent accommodation, was artist, Cheikh ‘Papa’ Sakho, who survived a fire at an immigrant detention centre at Schiphol airport in 2005. With media activist, Jo van der Spek, Sakho worked on an audio memorial to those who lost their lives in the fire, which was broadcast on M2M (Migrant to Migrant) — a local radio station based on the ground floor of the Blue House, and broadcasting live every Friday from seven to ten o’clock in the evening, with a programme of music, conversation and storytelling involving locals.15

The Blue House and its Precedents

For Van Heeswijk, historical precedents for The Blue House included The Yellow House in Arles, which Van Gogh wrote about as a potential place of hospitality for fellow artists to visit and live in, exchanging ideas under the one roof, and Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul, or Blue House, in Coyoacán, South Mexico, in which she was born, often worked, lived with Diego Rivera and later died; Casa Azul was a hub of activity that influenced the small town, as well as visitors including Leon Trotsky and served as inspiration for artists and thinkers. When describing the concept of The Blue House to planners and potential buyers, Van Heeswijk initially employed the idea of ‘a place where you could cook up everything that still had to come and actually follow along the growth of the island and force some kind of flexibility in the planning’.16 Hospitality underpins the ethos17 of The Blue House. It is employed as the link that binds participants together for a time, by devising ‘new models of care’ in collaborative praxis that employ a platform for exploring ‘hospitality that countermand the discourse of segregation’.18 This was never more evident than in a project called Frida, carried out as part of the Hospitality programme, which conducted research into the global mechanisms of hospitality, taking account of the often over-looked role of illegal cleaners. From March 2008 until the end of the project, a woman given the name of Frida was employed as the resident host of the Blue House and invited to carry out research on cultural hospitality — centred on questions such as: ‘what is hospitality?’, ‘how hospitable are we?’ and ‘how do we feel welcome?’, Frida welcomed guests/members of the Blue House and provided hospitality during its opening days; she also cooked for the guests and visitors of M2M. The aim of the project was to make visible much of the hospitality labour involved in maintaining social projects; it reversed roles, inviting the researched to become the researcher into how people accepted hospitality.19

Another, perhaps less obvious, analogy can be drawn between The Blue House and the Hull House Social Settlement of the late nineteenth/early twentieth century, established in Chicago by Jane Addams. Sharon Haar recently described this project in terms of ‘the work of those who lived and worked with (Addams), and the Hull House Settlement itself (encompassing) complexities of overlapping, ambiguous, and sometimes contradictory private and public interests and spaces (where) a diverse range of environments and projects transcended rigid categories of private and public space, domestic and civic concerns’.20 Hull House was not only a temporary residential space for women and recent immigrants, but it also operated as a sustainable and flexible institution that adapted to its immediate environment and the people who flowed through it. During its lifespan, it was a meeting place and a site of multiple cultural activities through a programme that went on in and around the house, also conducted by residents outside the house, bringing those associated with the house into contact with the city and local inhabitants.21 This resonates with Van Heeswijk’s establishment of an evolving associate membership for The Blue House Housing Association of the Mind.

Like The Blue House, Hull House was established by its founder and employed by its residents as a utopian ‘site for collective living and as a means of forming a community’ which ‘grew in response to the needs of its neighbours, the interests of its residents, and the concerns of its network of intellectual, political, and financial supporters’.22

Van Heeswijk describes the condition for those taking up residency at The Blue House as one of ‘actively entering into dialogue with one another, with their co-inhabitants in IJburg, and with the public. The aim is to establish links between the world within (their world) and outside (IJburg in development and the rest of the world), and thus to become co-authors of IJburg’s genesis and evolutionary history’.23

Self-commissioning as an Artistic Practice

Around 2004, Marinus Knulst from the private housing corporation, de Alliantie, agreed to buy the house at Van Heeswijk’s behest, with the artist paying the interest on the mortgage from funds raised for the following four years, in exchange for use of the house as the core site within a durational project. Instead of being used as a private dwelling, the house was established as a centre for cultural activities and socio-cultural research during the urban renewal process. From May 2005, Van Heeswijk spent six months living in the house, preparing it for habitation and making connections with local residents as they began to arrive in IJburg.

Van Heeswijk thus sidestepped the original brief to initiate a process of engagement with the commissioning context and to become a self-commissioned artist.24 In turn, The Blue House would become a commissioner, inviting other practitioners to develop their own research-based projects as part of a cumulative process of research, intervention and durational activity. The Blue House was set up as a foundation with Van Heeswijk as an advisor. It was not funded by the city planners, but by a combination of funding and in-kind support, including that from AFK, ECF, de Alliantie, Stichting DOEN, the Mondriaan Foundation, the Prince Bernhard Culture Fund and VSB Fonds. Commissioned participants also sourced their own funding for specific projects and applied for residential support from the foundation.

Van Heeswijk describes her role in The Blue House as that of a ‘participating embedded observer’ who, like other members, observed and steered the operational aspects of the project, with particular attention to public permission, civil legalities and other outside forces that form the house and its activities.25 This notion of being embedded, or present, implies a kind of empathic operation as described by Italian architecture-research group, Stalker, in which ‘to be present means to observe sympathetically, to suspend judgement, to pay attention to the processes’, whereby one’s participation might activate a unitary process that binds observation of place with a contribution to its transformation.26

The Blue House as an
Associated Organisational Model

Selected on the basis of affinity and an interest in experimental communities, invited participants to The Blue House Housing Association of the Mind undertook an unconditional engagement with the project. But members had to be willing to surrender, in some way, to the concept of the community as an evolving entity and to find their place within its changing organisational structure. The general criteria for membership were flexible: everyone had an equal right to make decisions and members could bring others on board. Involvement varied from one person to the next and evolved according to the development of projects, with the degree of active participation changing over time. The Blue House provided a physical and mental space for discussion, research and intervention in the public domain.

It was the associate members of The Blue House who collectively decided how, when and to what extent they wished to engage with the project. The only prerequisite was that they shared their thinking and what they produced with the other members of the house. Two apartments were available on request for up to six months if members wished to spend some dedicated time on location, and time slots were booked with concierge and social worker, Irene den Hartoog, with whom Van Heeswijk has often worked before, was employed by The Blue House to look after the everyday affairs of the house. Residents were allocated € 6,000 for six months (plus travel expenses) by the foundation. A flexible-use office and a semi-public meeting/office/exhibition space were open to the public on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Van Heeswijk maintained a high level of involvement within decision-making processes and was kept informed, by the project manager and the network of fellow members, of the decisions taken by other members in her absence. The organisational structure of the group and its dynamics were shaped by its membership and through discussion, conflict and disagreement; decision-making was undertaken democratically within the group rather than being explicitly hierarchical. Such a structure adheres to what Ned Rossiter calls an ‘organized network’, which operates horizontally rather than vertically, with communication functioning within the network via ‘relational processes’ rather than ‘representational procedures.’27

The self-organised logic of The Blue House was that of a networked model of sociality made possible by information and communication technologies, with responsibilities dispersed across the organisation. There was ‘a prevailing consensus that experiences of sharing, feedback, flexibility, and friendship’, which are ‘primary to the culture of networks’, compel decisions to be made so that the network remains constantly operational and open.28 As Rossiter has argued, organised networks are often precarious, decentralised, unstable and fragmented, with the contingency of time undermining the dimensions of experience, openness and togetherness. Instead, time demarcates experience; it restricts it to something quantifiable, having a beginning, middle and end point. The project was both limited and unlimited by its four-year duration. As a durational experiment, the project was always overshadowed by the certainty it would end; the ultimate temporariness of the project conferred an intensity of experience, ideas and discursivity, contributed to by those associated with the project and brought about by the a priori knowledge that the project would always have an end point.

As an organisational model, The Blue House also corresponds with what Bruno Latour refers to as the need for more ‘cohabitational time, the great Complicator’, with the durational contributing to new forms of public space by allowing certain differences to develop in dialogue with others. For Latour, an entirely new set of questions is needed when we think about how democratic discussion is ordered, and, for such discussion to be productive, contradictions must be allowed to emerge as part of a dialogical process. For Latour, to make something public must begin with two key questions: ‘Can we cohabitate (sic) with you?’ and ‘Is there a way for us all to survive together while none of our contradictory claims, interests and passions (are) eliminated?’29 In this sense, the time spent together in the context of the Blue House is productive because of its durational and discursive attributes, whereby a multiplicity of ideas and people interact with one another. These characteristics are central to the way in which the project acknowledges that to be together will always imply being in contradiction to one another, whereby antagonism, rather than consensus, is deemed a productive agency of public discourse, pertaining to being open, complicated and cohabited.

Both Latour’s and Rossiter’s ideas are mirrored in Van Heeswijk’s comments in an essay published in 2005. In this, she describes her practice as ‘a call for sociality’, in which relational processes can produce ‘nonhierarchical forms of distribution of resources’ within a self-organised community of interested subjects. She also articulates an interest in the maximisation of ‘potential within (these) communities for open dialogue, communication, and collective action’.30 The Blue House is representative of Van Heeswijk’s interest in producing models of social relationality rather than producing artwork with its own intrinsic values. This project offered itself as a model for fostering dialogue within an organisational structure that aspired to create certain conditions under which critical discourse could take place, information could be exchanged and social change encouraged.

Taking another approach to precedents, the project was characterised by a certain degree of ‘attentiveness’ to the outside world, in the sense that this term has been applied by art historian, Alois Riegl, to the dynamics of sixteenth century Dutch group portraiture. When applied to The Blue House as a contemporary Dutch group portrait, there is evidence of what Riegl identifies as an equal and simultaneous ‘attention’ being given to both the world and to one another, in which a cohesive inter-relationship is achieved between those within the group (being portrayed) and to the world outside the group. There is a relative reciprocity, through inter-relationships, that is both external and internal to the group. As Steven Hunt has indicated, Van Heeswijk’s practice resonates with its sixteenth century precursors, in which ‘attentiveness’ is often demonstrated through an ‘ability to strike a balance between the individual identity and the group identity’.31 This could be applied to the process through which a multiplicity of identities shifts between The Blue House Housing Association of the Mind, and how it presents a type of socialised group portrait as an expression of kinship, as much as it accounts as a semi-autonomous artwork that corresponds with its immediate local context.

The Blue House as the Accumulation of Actors and Actions

The work of an artist like Jeanne van Heeswijk provides a space of contact through the many interactions taking place in the processes of production, all of which contribute to the dispersed form of the resultant work through different modes of engagement.32 Frames of social interaction are put in place to enable the discursive and material production of art. Participants are regarded as actors, with their actions being part of a cumulative process of engagement which bears both imaginative and tangible potential.33 The Blue House appears to emphasise process over product, particularly through its interest in the evolution of a dense organisational model. But it also operated as an agency for artistic production, in which its understanding, as an artwork and an accumulation of artworks, is conflated with its identity as a cluster of participant-driven, social- and community-responsive interventions. Similar approaches can be found in Van Heeswijk’s other longer term public projects, such as De Strip (Vlaardingen, 2002-04), in which the artist occupied vacant shops in a run down area and converted them into venues for a diverse cultural programme of activities, engaging participants in the adaptation and production of their public environment;34 Valley Vibes (realised with Amy Plant in the Lee Valley area of East London, 1998-2003) enabled a multitude of narratives to be gathered by, and about, a constituency through their use of a Vibe Detector (a machine filled with sound equipment that could be used by inhabitants for everything from music events and conferences to radio broadcasts).35

Within the ‘motivation to turn the public into participants’ lies the knowledge that ‘transformation from a static spectator to an active participant is at stake’.36 This transformation is akin to what Deleuze called the ‘subjectivation processes’, during which users, participants or subjects are activated with some form of agency in order to engender, transform and constitute themselves as active-reactive subjects. Through communicative processes of subjectivisation, individuals might begin to have a greater understanding of how they can shape their environment, by assimilating new forms of knowledge that could not have been foreseen from the outset.37 The idea of the ‘encounter’ is central to the many facets of Van Heeswijk’s work, in which communication and exchange lead not only to improvements in the ways in which people live their lives, but also to their acquisition of political agency by contributing to socio-cultural life through their active participation within its everyday formation. In the specific case of The Blue House, there is a refusal of the ‘unitary conceptions of artwork and authorship’38 in which to be a spectator is to be equally part of the work and its temporal production. As Jeroen Boomgaard states of Van Heeswijk’s work, ‘the process and the organisation of what may come out of it, in the course of time, actually constitute the product of her artistic effort’.39 There is always a paradoxical inadequacy built into the extended temporality of the work, where even being the most embedded participant in the project is an experience of being unable to grasp its entirety as a durational event from either the perspective of those within or those outside the project. The Blue House illustrates this by demonstrating how non-representational processes of communication and exchange can form both the content and structure of the work of art.

The Blue House — Not Just Another Community Project

One of the severest critiques of Van Heeswijk’s practice is that it is akin to what artist-collective, BAVO, have called ‘NGO art’, in which art that subscribes to a neoliberal agenda is ‘redefined in terms of creative consultancy (with) the act of consulting presented as artwork’.40 From this simplified perspective, an artist arrives into a location, overly identifies with social difficulties and, through modest interventions attempts to improve life in specific situations, from the bottom up, without any lasting impact beyond impacting certain market values.41 This is an unjust and limited viewpoint. Considering that the internal logic of the project is to avoid being good for the community, such a narrow understanding of community-orientated social practice refuses to take account of the durational and the networked nature of Van Heeswijk work, which enables the projects to transcend their specific situated context. The external dynamics of The Blue House are constantly resisting such functionality both from within and beyond its immediate context. BAVO’s critique — in particular as to how such forms of socially-led practice centre on a rhetoric of social cohesion, with a pragmatic perspective and a capacity for problem-assessment leading to short-termist resolutions — is at odds with how The Blue House operated as an extendable, organised network that institutes socio-political possibilities that are not limited to the specific time and space of IJburg.

The project offered itself as a model for fostering as-yet-unknown knowledge, by encouraging dialogue within a flexible organisational structure, uniting diverse modes of participation, just as it was formed and informed by many individuals, members, residents and agencies. Meanwhile, central to any consideration of The Blue House are core questions relating to ways in which urban issues can be dealt with while retaining artistic freedom under often restrictive conditions, and ways in which both ethics and aesthetics can prevail without value being limited to considerations of either social effectiveness or artistic merit.

Let us begin with the issue of value and how it related to social effectiveness. Within recent discourse, it has been documented that a ‘social turn’ in art has prompted an ethical turn in art criticism.42 According to this rationale, heightened attention is paid to how (morally) ‘good’ a collaboration has been rather than how it is experienced as an aesthetic object. If we are to consider The Blue House in relation to this argument, it is clear that it side-stepped the brief and many of the pitfalls associated with the artist-as-do-gooder. Not only did The Blue House provide a framework that united multiple modes of participation and provided agency for those involved, but its value as an artwork also lay in its capacity to be experienced by participant-actors as part a collaborative process in which their multitude of experiences were also the end point of that process. While it is common for a work of art to provoke dialogue among viewers, this typically occurs in response to a finished object. In this project, on the other hand, conversation becomes an integral part of the work itself. Rather than being experienced as an aesthetic object, The Blue House functioned as a discursive tool gathering its form and content in the process of its production. Thus, The Blue House corresponded to the notion of ‘dialogical art’, proposed by theorist, Grant Kester, which permits a particular form of artistic practice that has as its core value the creative facilitation of dialogue and exchange.43 This envisages dialogue as an artistic medium, in a variety of its forms, including, but not limited to, speaking, writing and physical participation.

The Blue House operated from within the community, while retaining sufficient distance to enable things to happen there, but as Kaspori states, it was not there ‘to serve the community’.44 Because of its processual and exploratory nature, there was a different set of expectations than if it were a social or community project which intended to do something ‘for the good of the community’.45 As a curatorial model, it stressed certain functionality whilst resisting instrumentalisation, and retained a level of autonomy whilst being engaged.46

By this rationale, emphasis on the temporal processes of The Blue House takes precedence over art as product, thus bypassing traditional aesthetic considerations. The project also shifts this either/or dynamic, because of the multiple participants being involved as co-creators and its ambition to shape counter-public spaces. In the case of The Blue House, the function of the artwork was to create situations of potential agency for those willing to take part. An understanding of the artwork was offered as an accumulation of interactions, with the work of art configured as a cluster of participant-driven social- and community-responsive interventions gathered together over time and resulting in its eventual public manifestation in diverse forms. The outcome is often taken to be that which has been experienced and written about as the art, as the end of a process, rather than the durational and participatory process through which this outcome has been achieved. While the writing of this book is complicit in this, it has made clear just how difficult it is to assess such process-based projects.

As a whole, The Blue House can be considered as a project that employed tactics of dispersal, which refused adherence to a ‘single representation’ as the outcome of individual artistic agency.47 Instead, the project was collectively produced over time, whilst adhering to its relationship with a single place. The result was the culmination of a body of research that reflected upon the transformation of IJburg, its communities and the organised network of willing participants who collectively contributed to a reclamation of time and the re-attribution of the durational into ‘public time’, in which the distribution of what was discussed, produced and discovered whilst spending time together in a public space was made public throughout the process of the project.48

For Simon Bayly, when art operates from a critical perspective, it requires the constant reconfiguring and remaking of social relations, in order that art can engage with its publics as actively involved subjects. To make things public is, in his view, to remodel ‘localized forms and places of collective subjectivity’ through the use of theatrical means of association, gathering, meeting, encountering and congregation so as to overcome the separation of performers and audiences.49 This is evident in the ways in which the terms of encounter with The Blue House are transformed through theatrical means (performing, enacting, participating and gathering together) without theatrical divisions between the stage and audience.

For participation to be understood from the perspective of the co-producers, as participants in overlapping artistic processes, rather than being curtailed by receivership, we may begin to distinguish between different forms of participation. Thus we may move beyond the relational as just another social encounter with art, its exhibition or its objecthood. We might also understand participation not as a relation or social encounter with artistic production, but as a socialised process necessary for art’s co-production, in which negotiations with people and places are durationally specific, yet intentionally resistant to any prescribed outcomes, particularly within the context of urbanisation processes. This resists instrumentalisation through public art being employed as a social-engineering tool, a decorative add-on as a directive for socio-spatial designations. Instead, The Blue House can be judged on the breadth of research-led outcomes it has produced, and the ways in which these continue to activate debate across a whole range of projects, interventions and moments of encounter between members of the public and with art. Through the expanded network of those who came in contact with the project, this knowledge can also play an important role in future public art discourses, and temporary public art curating within broader urban renewal and planning strategies.

The Blue House as a Central Hub for Fields of Interaction and Local Engagement

Although Van Heeswijk carried the project forward through her commitment and a certain ‘charismatic agency’,50 which kept things mobilised without foreclosing possibilities, there were also many actors and actions necessary for the project as a whole to be sustained. The Blue House may be thought of as the product of, or an accumulation of, both short- and long-term engagements, with individual projects, research outputs and public manifestations forming elements in an evolving accumulation of energies, responses and individual moments of intensity within a larger field of interactions enabled by the structure of the project.

The Blue House building became the meeting point for ongoing interactions between members and residents. Playing the part of the ‘uninvited guest’51 as an organism on the island, The Blue House was also the host organisation for other guests who were, in turn, invited to engage with one another and to create new forms of density and interactions ‘as part of the community’.52 The Blue House was thought of as ‘a guest (who would) leave at a certain point’.53 As an uninvited guest, a ‘relative autonomy’54 was maintained in the relationship between The Blue House and the local community.

One of the key factors that informed Van Heeswijk’s original proposition for The Blue House was the notion of a ‘house for the arts’ which could connect to the community of IJburg while remaining autonomous from the master planning process. As such, the house was regularly open for local residents to drop by, to use the library and to have a chat, particularly at the beginning of the project as a means of entering into dialogue with the new IJburgers.

The Blue House did not begin with a pre-existing set of objectives; instead, it tried to operate and to sustain itself as an organisational ‘model under development’,55 encouraging diverse ways of working on location and with others. The Blue House functioned as a laboratory for ‘research into the development and the evolution of its history’ in parallel with the first phase of the building process and the development of IJburg as a community.56 It also enabled the production of numerous projects, events and propositions relevant to IJburg’s emergence as a lived place, whilst continuing to test out the potentiality of its cumulative structure and experimental organisational form as part of this process.

Many of the projects engage with IJburg. As member and co-developer of The Blue House, Dennis Kaspori states that ‘the community — those people who live in IJburg — is the driving force of The Blue House’.57 To employ the term ‘civic art’, as coined by the artist and urbanist group, Stalker, The Blue House operated as an organisation with an interest in ‘trying to involve the inhabitants’ creativity and inventiveness, to share areas emerging from their exchange as co-habitants in the same place, in which ‘one participates in establishing rules and shares the general aims’.58

Of the many public manifestations, Parade of Urbanity by Kaspori and Van Heeswijk is one of the more community-driven projects to emerge from the impetus to create ‘instant urbanism’ in IJburg. As part of the project, Nicoline Koek — a street trader from Zeeburg (the larger city borough of which IJburg is a part) — had wanted to start a flower stall and, when she asked for permission from the city council, it transpired that street trading regulations had not yet been established for the island. Under the title Bloemen voor IJburg (Flowers for IJburg), Koek was able to install a flower stall on the eight square metres of privately owned ground in front of The Blue House every Saturday.

As part of the initial master plan for the island, 2008 was set as the point at which a library would be available to IJburg residents, by which time planners expected there to be enough children to use it. Marthe van Eerdt, a librarian who lives on IJburg, thought this too late and collaborated with The Blue House to initiate a children’s library, which continued to operate every Wednesday. Later on, another resident, Johan Bakker, established an adult library in a glasshouse on the main square, based on the exchange of books between inhabitants.

Together with Usha Mahabiersing, who lives in block thirty-five, and member, Pluk de Nacht, an open-air ‘Blue House Cinema’ was organised. This included the screening of a film by Daniela Paes Leão, one of the first members to take up residence, which documented the migration history of the inhabitants of block thirty-five, based on recorded interviews about their past and their observations of new lives in IJburg.

The Blue House as a Response to Gaps in Planning

The Blue House addresses ways in which communities are formed through methods of planning that are ‘structured on the definition of a clear objective’ through a set timescale and with little planning for social spaces for new inhabitants.59 As an alternative to this approach, The Blue House proposed a space of reflection that builds on the notion of community as a temporary construct, founded on multiple desires, possibilities, intentions, promises, necessities, expectations and confrontations. It highlighted a certain gap with the planning system, which was constantly questioned and undermined by the presence of The Blue House.

Various interventions to have built upon this notion in and around the house include a temporary neighbourhood café and restaurant in the absence of alternatives on the island, a temporary supermarket stall, a chill room for children and Radio M2M. Pump up The Blue, instigated by Hervé Paraponaris, in 2007, proposed to re-scaffold the outside of the house, which was intended not only to reflect the continued building process in IJburg, but also to swell the building’s dimensions. Almost doubling its size, to create much-needed extra space, it became a focal-point for local events, concerts, meetings, exhibitions and performances for six months.

As an embedded four-year project, The Blue House is an example of a self-organised initiative with a durational approach to urban creative practice. Further examples to have emerged in Europe in recent years include Park Fiction in St Pauli, Hamburg, aaa architects’ Ecobox in La Chapelle, Paris, and some of the initiatives by the collective, City Mine(d), in Brussels since 1996.60 These projects correspond to their specific contexts by adopting long-term positions. While they support place-bound research — employing tactical intervention and strategic thinking that responds to the development of a place — the goal is not immediately clear from the outset. Through open-ended processes, actions and strategies developed in parallel with the development of new urban areas, they employ a methodology of ‘direct urbanism’ that ‘considers planning as a participatory principle and places emphasis on the complexity of the situation and the responsibility of all involved, including residents’.61

Sustaining a Durational Process While Resisting External Agendas

The Blue House was conceived as a fixed four-year project, during which time the artist-commissioner would remain actively engaged with IJburg and its residents. Van Heeswijk gives two primary reasons for choosing to work over four years. Firstly, this period allowed for a complex set of interactions and, secondly, four years coincided with the first phase of development at IJburg.62 Although there was never an intention to continue the project beyond four years, the project does have continuity in other forms, with members thinking about how elements could be carried forward or transposed onto other projects elsewhere, with the project being dispersed through individual projects emerging out of what was achieved during The Blue House.63

Although a four-year frame has been vital to the success of the project — allowing for a certain connectivity to develop between local inhabitants and The Blue House — the durational was proposed as a way of resisting the logic of functionality within an over-planned and pre-regulated environment.64 ‘Long-termism’ and the durational are strategies employed by The Blue House with a view to creating a sustainable engagement with a particular place that managed ‘in four years to accumulate a critical mass of research, without necessarily serving another agenda’ such as those of urban planners, developers, commissioners.65 As the project was not funded by the city planners, public art agencies or developers responsible for IJburg, it did not have to fulfil obligations for public outcomes, deadlines for exhibitions or a proposed programme of activities that met funders’ objectives.66

At the same time, Van Heeswijk and the Blue House members maintained regular contact with the city planners as part of their engagement with those involved in the development of IJburg. According to Igor Roovers, Director of Projectburo IJburg (the public planning agency responsible for IJburg), the timeframe allowed for a ‘connection with the people and they had a good connection with the project developments, a network’.67 Certain feedback loops were created between local residents, those involved in the project and the city planners, who were aware of activities and in regular correspondence with The Blue House. As Roovers states, ‘the impact of a long-term project is bigger’ and, by staying there for four years, The Blue House asked ‘people to review the (planning) process, to review the results, to talk with people’ and by ‘t’’trying to create more space’ for these kinds of temporary or small-scale activities within larger-scale developments.68 This suggests that the city planners learnt from the project, and that it played a role in the lives of the first inhabitants of IJburg. Although it remains to be seen whether the four-year commitment is sufficient to have any lasting affect on the future life and infrastructure of IJburg, it allowed enough time for results to emerge that could not have been foreseen at the outset. Most evidently, it effectively demonstrated many of the flaws in the planning system, and played an influential role in convincing the city planners of the necessity to establish a more permanent cultural centre in IJburg (scheduled for completion in 2011).

Curating in Search of a New Public Domain

Van Heeswijk refers to the project as a kind of ‘un-curated’ space,69 a ‘self-organising, self-growing mechanism’, akin to a found object as ‘gesamtkunstwerk — an artwork without a central figure’.70 Her desire to formulate a decentralised ‘curatorial’ approach establishes commissioning practice as the production of a space of potentiality in which the organisation and the framing of research, cultural activity and production are brought about through a more open-ended series of principles and possibilities.71 Here, place-bound curating is about initiating and providing an open structure, where ‘preparing an empty space and then allowing different things to enter it’ is essential.72 As a curatorial model The Blue House stresses the necessity for a space for the unplanned within urban developments, a space that enables both artists and local residents to engage with the development process, particularly within an overly determined environment. For Van Heeswijk and Kaspori, the ‘starting point here is not a predetermined identity, but an aesthetic sensitivity with regard to differences that are situated in space both physical and temporal’.73

This insistence on open-endedness is not to suggest that anything goes; in the case of The Blue House, the relatively flexible frame of its operational structure was oopen enough to support a multiplicity of research possibilities within the community formation. It also allowed variant practices to engage with the specific context of a place on different levels during its construction, while outcomes reflected on what was to become of communities under such conditions. This provides a key focus for the many exchanges, interactions, condensations and temporary interventions into the public domain. The ‘public domain’ is foregrounded as being an essentially creative and constituting practice in the future formation of ‘publicness’.

The construction of a social framework enables a multitude of variant practices to co-exist, which are ‘primarily called on for their capacity to create a space for the materialisation and development of a community, and for their ability to visualize this’ and to bring about its new social formation.74 In this sense, the ‘public domain’ departs from being understood as a given location or as a place of value and meaning that has already been historically formed.75 Instead it is re-designated, or reconfigured, as the space for the practice of civic possibilities, and for diversity, for social stimulation and for shared lived experiences to begin a re-imagining and an activation of a new domain of interaction, in which different social groups can mingle, co-habit and instigate a ‘(per)formative basis for a community in the making’.76 In the model of The Blue House, the ‘public domain’ is formed out of a common desire for a ‘living together’ which evolves through an exchange of ideas as part of an initiated process of potential transformation.

In this sense of a coming-together, time and space to engage with place and people has been left open long enough ‘to create a certain sense of existing outside’ the normative temporal limitations of deadlines, completions and necessary outputs.77 Four years is deemed long enough to allow one ‘to behave temporarily as there is no time involved’.78 Unlike shorter-term commissioning projects in the context of regeneration programmes, The Blue House aspires to create an ethos of patience, perseverance and attentiveness which is otherwise ‘very hard to have, if you are hopping from place to place, very quickly’.79

Although The Blue House is not an overt critique of shorter term, itinerant or nomadic approaches to place-bound commissioning in the context of urban regeneration, there is an implicit belief in a more cumulative research method and curatorial approach to place, based on relational and temporal processes. Van Heeswijk and many of those she is working with seem to understand duration as a long-term practice, as a means of keeping things moving, maintaining a flow of activity across time, hoping for the unexpected and resisting being overly instrumentalised in the process.

As Van Heeswijk has stated more generally of her practice, ‘my activities are primarily focused on constructing frameworks. Then I guide the processes happening inside that frame, although I don’t enforce anything. At most, I create conditions where moments could emerge which intervene with perception, so that new images or frameworks might come into being’.80

The Blue House could be understood as functioning somewhere between a cumulative curatorial project and a form of individualised artistic practice built on a belief in a networked organisational structure. Modelling the project on the civic art centre as a research machine for place-responsive cultural production, Van Heeswijk set in motion fields of interaction that resulted in activities stemming from these interactions. The result is the culmination of a body of research that reflects upon the transformation of IJburg, its communities and the organised network of participants. The key to its success lies in its status as a multi-dimensional artwork, with multiple projects being realised and encountered within its timeframe and beyond.

Moving Out: Out of The Blue and the Dispersion of Knowledge

Before the project came to an end, in December 2009, one of its final events in IJburg was to signal the departure of The Blue House as a local project. By way of bringing The Blue House to its close, a symposium was organised at the moment at which the first stage of IJburg was near completion. Out of The Blue was an international symposium, which focused on three navigational strands — instant urbanism, hospitality and accelerated histories — as a means of evaluating experimental notions of communities.81 The symposium delineated the research work of numerous inhabitants over the four years and contemplated future directions for dissemination of research. The symposium was a discursive forum during which a number of investigative questions were articulated via workshops, intense dialogues, in-conversations, study sessions, public plenaries, performances, screenings and discussions with a number of invited international speakers.

Like many of the projects to have taken place under The Blue House rubric, Out of The Blue reflected on its location, its participants and its future communities. It took place from 8 to 13 August 2009 at block eighteen, the site of the island’s future community centre while it was under construction. The project was made possible at this site through negotiation with the developers and the city, while the builders were on their annual Dutch workers’ summer holidays and there were no regulations in place to delimit how it could be used. In the absence of labourers, this became a temporal public facility, a fifty-room motel and an amphitheatre for the conference. The speakers and attendees lived in temporary accommodation, ate in the workers’ canteen and contributed to the event inside the incomplete building.82

The durational process that made this possible is only one way of considering the engaged form of co-production undertaken by all those who take part in The Blue House network of activities. By taking account of how the participation with art, and in art — as an unfolding and longer-term accumulation of multiple positions, engagements and moments that register for what accounts as the artwork — we may be able to move beyond the individual participatory encounter of an eventful exhibition moment.

Throughout the project, there was also a certain degree of sustainability at play, evidence of what Rossiter calls ‘the social practice of translation’.83 As individual agents, participants and members moved in and out of IJburg, in and out of the Blue House Housing Association of the Mind, and invariably communicated about The Blue House. This dispersed knowledge extended beyond the immediate spatio-temporal coordinates determining the borders of the intervention. It is the experiential and its extemporal dispersion that goes much further than a situated location in IJburg, an urban renewal context, and beyond its four-year duration, allowing for the diffused form of an organised network. At the centre of this perspective is a desire for the dispersion of much of what began in IJburg, what Van Heeswijk has called ‘little bits of blue’, which will be spread out from the specific duration of the project.84 This carries with it the intention for the project to remain alive in different forms, whereby members continue to disperse knowledge accumulated in IJburg, both during and after in various ways, such as the numerous websites, events, public discussions, publications and ongoing research projects.85 When released from the initialising social framework around which the network was organised, participants as individual agents both retain and disseminate that which has been shared across the network.

No matter how robust such experimental platforms may be, their imminent decline provokes questions of sustainability, which, for Ned Rossiter, is understood as ‘the translation of resonance across time and space’.86 The conjuncture of the ‘durational-experiential-experiment’ of The Blue House lends itself to a mode of sustainability, which is achieved through the social practice of its translation through storytelling, through re-distribution and through the many fragments that will be brought into future situations by the many involved.87 The project’s potential lies in the ways it reconsiders socialised models of ‘public’ art, not only in the context of urban regeneration projects and the need for leaving space open for the unexpected but also through the ways in which its many facets can be translated beyond the initial commissioning framework into other potentialities for future political agency.88

Locating the Producers
IJburg Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in April 2002
Source: http://www.arcam.nl/

Locating the Producers
The Blue House (2005-2009), IJburg, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Source: http://www.blauwehuis.org/

Locating the Producers
Jeanne van Heeswijk, Dennis Kaspori and Usha Mahabiersing, Blue House Cinema, The Blue House (2007), IJburg, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Initiated by IJburg resident Mahabiersing and organised by The Blue House and Pluk de Nacht.
Source: http://www.walkerart.org/

Locating the Producers
Rudy J. Luijters. Public vegetable garden in the grounds of The Blue House, IJburg, which was used by the residents of Block 35.
Source: http://ixia-info.com/

Locating the Producers
Nikoline Koek, 2, part of the Parade of Urbanity, The Blue House (2005), IJburg, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Source: http://www.blauwehuis.org/

Locating the Producers
Johan Bakker, Boekenkas, The Blue House (2007), IJburg, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Source: http://www.puntpixel.nl/

Locating the Producers
Inga Zimprich, Thinktank, The Blue House (2006), IJburg, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Source: http://theartistandhismodel.com/

Locating the Producers
Hervé Paraponaris with 2012 architecten, Pump up the Blue House, The Blue House (2007), IJburg, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Source: http://www.blauwehuis.org/

Locating the Producers
Jo van der Spek and Cheikh ‘Papa’ Sakho, M2M Radio Ruisriet, The Blue House (2008), IJburg, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Source: http://www.blauwehuis.org/

Locating the Producers
m7red, Chattheatre, The Blue House, (2007), IJburg, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Source: http://chatheater.blogspot.nl/

Locating the Producers
The Blue House, Out of The Blue Symposium, The Blue House (2009), IJburg, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Source: http://www.blauwehuis.org/

Locating the Producers
The Blue House, Out of The Blue Symposium, The Blue House (2009), IJburg, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. A dormitory set up in an unfinished building for the symposium participants
Source: http://www.dezeen.com/

Locating the Producers
Transparadiso with Timon Woongroep, Periscoop Uitzicht Op!, The Blue House (2009), IJburg, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Source: http://www.blauwehuis.org/

Locating the Producers
The Blue House, Out of The Blue Symposium, The Blue House (2009), IJburg, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Temporary dining terrace for the symposium participants
Source: http://www.blauwehuis.org/

The Blue House (Het Blauwe Huis)
Creative Egremont










Creative Egremont

A Public Art Strategy for Egremont, Cumbria, UK, Grizedale Arts

Paul O’Neill

Facts and Figures


 Commissioner/artist:
Grizedale Arts — Adam Sutherland (Director) and Alistair Hudson (Deputy Director)

 Curator:
Alistair Hudson

 Project manager:
Phase one: Artist, Karen Guthrie

 Duration:
Ongoing since 2005

 Websites:
www.grizedale.org and www.creative-egremont.org

 Main sponsors:
Egremont and Area Regeneration Partnership, Arts Council England, Northern Rock Foundation

 Location:
Egremont, Cumbria

 Main participants:
Artists, architects, local residents

 Commissioned artists to date include:
Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane, Juneau Projects, Public Works and architects Decosterd-Cotting

‘It is the promotion of that complexity that we stand for, as a valuable tool. In the local context, we are trying to change the situation here. Not just as an arts organisation, but as residents, as citizens’.1

‘Art needs people from outside of the art context’.2

‘The one thing that sticks is the inventiveness and eccentricity of the place’.3

Brief Introduction

Grizedale Arts is a research and development agency for artists and creative practitioners based in the Lake District National Park. Whilst its origins as a forest sculpture park date from the early 1970s, it has acquired a significant reputation for pioneering new approaches to artistic production and exhibition alongside artists’ residencies. This combined programme actively engages with the complexities of the rural situation in which Grizedale is located, permitting artists to consider their process and ideas over any requirement for a finished product. The priority for Grizedale Arts is to generate ideas and pilot schemes which can be taken up by others, thus giving it a constructive role in the development of culture and society.

Since 2007, the organisation has had its headquarters at Lawson Park, an historic Lakeland hill farm in a dramatic position overlooking the Crake Valley and Coniston Fells. From this location, a small team including director/curator, Adam Sutherland, and deputy director/curator, Alistair Hudson, runs an innovative residential programme, in which artists are invited to spend time in the area and work closely with the commissioners on developing suitable projects. At this site, Grizedale Arts is constructing a model for a new kind of art institution, which takes the form of a dispersed network of activity, by working beyond the established structures of the art world to rethink the ways in which culture can be useful.

This chapter considers how Grizedale Arts runs a processual programme of interconnected projects produced within a defined rural area of Cumbria. It takes as its focus a seven-year durational series, Creative Egremont (since 2005), which engages with its locality and with the regeneration of the town of Egremont. An analysis will be undertaken of material gathered during three site visits, including semi-structured interviews conducted with the artist-commissioners, participating artists and other collaborators. This seeks to understand how Grizedale, together with their collaborators, conceive of Creative Egremont as both a long-term project within their wider programme of activities and as a curatorial endeavour that emphasises the transfer of ownership for projects to local residents.

Grizedale Arts’ Brief History

Grizedale Arts is a commissioning agency and residency programme based in Grizedale Forest, a quiet and picturesque valley in the south of the English Lake District. The area is well known for its many cultural residents over the years, from John Ruskin to William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter to Kurt Schwitters.

The Grizedale Society’s Sculpture Project was founded in 1977, under the leadership of Peter Davies, the visual arts officer of Northern Arts, at a time when the terms ‘Environmental Art’ and ‘Land Art’ were widely being used to describe forms of artistic interventions into the fabric of the landscape.4 The organisation began life as a funded programme, with the aim of inviting artists to make sculptural works that would directly respond to the forestry environment.5 Artists such as Andy Goldsworthy, David Nash and Richard Harris each spent up to six months there, making sculptures primarily out of natural materials, to site within the forest or build into its surroundings; together, the works formed a sculpture trail.

In 1999, the current director, Adam Sutherland, took up his post and began a ten-year programme of curatorial projects and artists’ residencies that would rethink ways in which the strategies of Land Art could be re-energised. In the process, Sutherland considered how Grizedale could assume a creative role in analysing the immediate environmental context of the district, encouraging a new generation of artists to work amid the complexities of a specific rural location.6

Grizedale Arts as an Evolving Residential Commissioning Model Responding to its Rural Locale

Since 1999, Grizedale has maintained an artist-in-residence programme, conceived of as ‘a counter-commissioning model to metropolitan culture’7 in the wider context of a shift of cultural production away from urban centres towards the rural and peripheral. As Sutherland states, ‘There was a great opportunity to reinterpret the rural environment through arts projects, bring it back into play — into contemporary culture’.8

A cumulative residential model is central to how commissions are developed, with the Grizedale team working closely with a range of over two hundred international artists with diverse practices, some of which will be discussed in more detail below. The basic structure of commissions is through an annual call for residency applications — from which they receive between a hundred and a hundred and fifty applications — alongside about ten selected artists and invited others who are keen to experience the particularities of working in such a location-responsive manner. Residency proposals include documentation of artists’ work and a statement as to how they will employ their time in residence. Artists are generally adjudged according to how they understand Grizedale’s dialogical approach, how well they fit within Grizedale’s overall curatorial programme at a given moment and how the artist’s practice takes the rural context into consideration.

In this way, a rolling community of people, artists largely, comes back and forth as part of an extended residency. This growing number of associated artists, upon which Grizedale draws for its projects, has evolved into a community in itself, while contributing to a body of ideas in the broader community. Once selected, artists are given an initial grant to undertake research and development for about three weeks, during which they do not produce any concrete artworks at all. Instead, they are asked to think about what might be useful, how they might re-situate their practice and how they might develop a project without a prescribed limit. During this time, they get to know how Grizedale works and to understand something of the particularities of the context within which they are being invited to work as art-labourers. This is essentially an induction process, during which the artist is asked to be useful in some way and to contribute something productive to the situation which would be of value to local audiences and residents; through this initiation process, most of the commissioned projects develop in dialogue with the curators.9

The residencies are not production-led; instead, many of the artists are repeatedly invited to return to Cumbria, to spend time reflecting upon the situation there.10 This has necessitated a directive curatorial approach, which encourages artists to respond to the specific context, its publics and surroundings, in a way that fits with the ongoing programme of activities.11 Artists are provided with time for their ideas to evolve, through dialogue with the curators and with residents and through an established network of contacts within local communities. The emphasis is on a discursive process of engaging ‘locally, community-wise, about engendering confidence in people, like a 1980s idea of community art, empowerment and self-confidence’.12 Artists are thought of as playing a useful societal role, as a valuable component in the process of acculturation and a means of stimulating ideas through their presence in the area.13

Across projects and between artists, curators and residents, there has been an elongated process of communicative interactions, set forth as a precondition for participation in the public sphere. As Grant Kester has acknowledged, discourse, in this sense, is not simply a tool to be used ‘to communicate an a priori “content” with other already formed subjects but is itself intended to model subjectivity’.14 Grizedale Arts proposes an embedded model of Kester’s ‘Dialogical Aesthetics’ for both curatorial and artistic practice, in which notions of subjectivity are formed through intersubjective exchanges. In the process, the role of art is shifted from something that speaks of itself to an art which must speak with others throughout its production as well as at its moment of reception.15

Commissioned artist, Andreas Lang, has described the resident artist as an ‘accidental person’, who is brought into an unfamiliar context with which they have to negotiate, with artists being asked to embed themselves in this new situation, to find ways of understanding it so as to be able to respond appropriately.16 In Lang’s experience, artists are treated like guests who slowly become residents; when an artist becomes a resident, they are not an outsider any more, and ‘the process of becoming half-insider half-outsider is the interesting part’ of an embedding process that is not about importing artistic commissions into the area.17 Thus, Grizedale Arts brings in artists with an outsider perspective who become fellow-insiders. At the same time, an attempt is made to encourage artists to use Grizedale’s expansive local networks, with the curators assisting in embedding them into the community and their immediate environment.

As another commissioned artist, Kathrin Böhm of Public Works, states, Grizedale ‘would never act as an agency that merely commissions sculpture by someone from the outside. They do not do the classical thing of site-specific commissions. They want to do much more than just comment. It is about continuity and proper engagement’ within the community.18 Although not all residencies result in artistic production, the projects that do develop rely on directive correspondence with the curators, which emerges from an artist’s engagement with an unfamiliar context and a consideration of ways in which that artist might give confidence to the community to do things for itself.19

Lawson Park and Low Parkamoor Farms as Grizedale’s Hub of Activities

Two of Grizedale’s most ambitious recent infrastructural projects have been the redevelopment of long-derelict farms in the area — Lawson Park and Low Parkamoor. Lawson Park was refurbished and reopened in 2009, whereas Parkamoor currently operates as an isolated retreat for visiting artists. Until 2009, invited artists stayed in the local Summerhill bed and breakfast; now, Lawson Park functions as the headquarters of Grizedale Arts, housing the offices and the director and containing accommodation for artists, while acting as a hub for activities. As an organisation, Grizedale literally lives with the resident artists and within the local community.

Lawson Park is a resource space which holds an archive of Grizedale Arts’ activities and publications, relating to the cultural history of the local area, in a library room designed by artist duet, Guestroom. The building functions as a meta-museum, containing the expanding Lawson Park Collection; a survey of British design from 1800 to the present which includes contemporary artistic commissions, adapted furniture by Grizedale artists such as Adam Chodzko, domestic craft and design objects, humorous mugs, eating utensils, wallpaper and other local handicrafts and locally derived modernist furniture.

The idea of developing sustainable cultural models around agricultural production has become much clearer and sharper through the redevelopment of Lawson Park. This has seen a commitment to developing the land (the garden and farm) as ‘a practical commune model’ that runs alongside the responsive commissioning process.20 The maintenance of the ecological farm, its vegetable patches and produce, is overseen by the Grizedale team and visiting artists to provide much of the food eaten on site. There is also a complex ground source heating system as well as a microbiotic biodisc system for treating waste. Lawson Park has been described by Sutherland as a ‘combination of art and agriculture, ideas and practicalities’; farming forms the basis of a conceptual and practice-based approach to the agriculturalisation of culture and the acculturation of agriculture.21

The surrounding farm buildings also contain a number of commissions by artists, including a chicken shed designed by Pablo Bronstein. The farmhouse generates produce and other Grizedale materials — which have included mares’ milk soap, wild mushrooms, Japanese rice, home-grown vegetables, books and artist’ CDs — which passers-by may take, making a contribution to the honesty box if they wish.

Both Lawson Park and Low Parkamoor will offer accommodation for artists within self-sustainable agricultural farms. As Alistair Hudson states ‘Rather than being a monolithic institution, (Grizedale) will become a fragmented institution — a network of concepts and projects, both small scale and large-scale’.22 He continues,

‘You could interpret (what is being done) on a more agricultural level. At Lawson Park Farm, Grizedale is continuing something that started hundreds of years ago, which is quite extraordinary. Aware that agriculture and rural production are continuously changing, (Grizedale Arts) sees itself as a part of the tradition of continuously appropriating the farm and the landscape for different purposes’.23

Grizedale’s programme is community orientated while being engaged with the contemporary art world, through a roster of established and emerging international artists and through various web projects. Thus, Lawson Park operates very much as a local arts centre and artistic workstation, but it also becomes a central station in a constellation of activity, a remote place connected to other cultural networks elsewhere.

Grizedale Arts’ Approach to Bringing Art and Social Life Closer Together

For Sutherland, a persistent feature of the Grizedale Arts approach involves questioning the role of the curator while constantly posing ‘questions of what artists are for and why they are here — what do we expect of them in a residency situation?’24 Increasingly, a close local network — made up of residents, craftspeople, non-artists and those not involved in the creative or cultural sectors — has become vitally important in terms of sustaining a vested interest in the production process as well as being the primary audience for any work arising. This network also provides access and information about local initiatives, histories, connections.25 As commissioned artist, Kathrin Böhm from Public Works states, ‘It is about acknowledging that coexistence and its necessity, as well as being careful for one not to over-burden the other. It is a natural coexistence in any cultural context’.26

This is not merely about the artist or curator as service provider; the organisation also needs

‘to feed back (its activities) into the world of art, to make art itself better, move it on. Artists add something that you cannot just quantify in simple terms. That is to do with complexity (of relating art to…) a social system as ecology; what the artist is adding is a variance and diversity within that ecology, to make a better quality of life and a more fertile territory for development’.27

According to Sutherland, ‘Grizedale draws upon the porous and elastic nature of contemporary ideas and allows for a loss of control during the artistic process’.28 This is essential to an understanding of Grizedale’s overall approach, in which control is passed over to others — to local agencies, residents, collaborators — as part of a dialogical process. This relinquishing of the idea of the artistic process as free, individual and autonomous from life, is central to a way of working which ‘reintroduces the idea of a new version of community art as a complex, discordant, participatory experience underpinned by the crazy notion of being in pursuit of genuine social value’ for all those involved in its processual and durational development as much as its eventual public manifestation.29

For Hudson, the rationale behind the long-term and embedded approach taken by Grizedale is to ‘do something that makes sense in a place like this; doing one offs or dropping in autonomous projects does not work, it is not effective; people here in the country do not take enough interest in it’.30

Whether it is building an office, devising advertising, organising an event, or commissioning a residency programme, Grizedale Arts perceives itself as a cumulative social art project akin to a gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art). There is an emphasis on the role of the curator as the person who engages directly in the creative process, moving from a mentoring or facilitating role to that of being a co-producer, whilst constantly resisting the idea of being subservient to the artist’s agenda.31 The underlying belief in an artistic contribution to local cultural life brings art and social life more closely together. This is reminiscent of the ways in which the artists and curators of the 1960s and ’70s began to question the ‘artistic freedom and aesthetic autonomy accorded them by society — an autonomy that reached a certain culmination in high modernist aestheticism’.32 Grizedale’s aim is to bring about what Peter Bürger called the ‘abolition of autonomous art’ in order to facilitate its integration into the ‘praxis of life’.33 This is precipitated by Grizedale’s more recent model of working, which almost enforces more social and situational forms of co-productive curatorial and artistic practice, always linking them to their immediate lived situations. As Hudson states, ‘sometimes it is quite a cute, seventies style community art. It occupies quite a broad spectrum and has the privilege of being able to work with people over a long period of time, develop these relationships and do things that matter to people’ in the locale.34 In this context, the local ‘community’ — residents, artists and curators — is that which is loosely formed and constituted through art’s production and an interest in the area’s existing culture and histories.

Grizedale Arts’ Approach to Giving Ownership and Control to Communities

Of the many Cumbria-based events curated by Grizedale Arts, The Coniston Water Festival most evidently represents its embedded approach. An annual event that had being running since the nineteenth century in and around Coniston Water, the festival had died out in 1998 after becoming increasingly co-opted by the tourist industry. Grizedale Arts decided to resurrect it and made a proposal to Coniston Parish Council, offering its resources and fundraising skills for the first year. The idea was to run the festival as an initial partnership with the village committee, with the village using the resultant revenue to subsequently organise future incarnations using its own infrastructure.

The project formed part of the larger curated project of Cumbriana Proof, which had evolved out the previous year’s Romantic Detachment. Cumbriana Proof addressed the over dependence on tourism in the region. Accordingly, in 2005, Grizedale coordinated the festival, with curators Anna Colin and Sarah McCrory. It consisted of aquatic and land-based projects across a number of different strands involving both local and international artists. As part of one of the constituent strands of Cumbriana Proof instigated festival-like activities alongside a dedicated website, a radio station, a version of the local newspaper and a resurrection of a historical boat-dressing competition. Many of the projects resulted in what Stephen Wright has called ‘art-related’ rather than ‘art-specific’ approaches, in which the art and artists operate in contexts far removed from art worldly spaces, and instigate use-value practices, which have specific tools, means and manifestations that relate to their new contexts rather than result in the making of so-called art.35 Projects included: Olivia Plender’s Kibbo Kift Parade — a procession through Coniston with people wearing costumes from an esoteric youth movement that existed between the wars and walkers singing Kibbo Kift songs led by filmmaker, Ken Russell (local to the area); a version of It’s a Knock Out devised by artists, Karen Guthrie and Nina Pope; and Coniston Nite Live, for which artist, Ben Sadler, of Juneau Projects, hosted a comedy talent competition.36 All the projects attempted to use art as a means of instigating social gathering and inviting participation.

The festival was specifically aimed at local villagers with the intention of encouraging decision-making within the community and provoking debate about how to shape a cultural environment which was dominated by tourism. As planned, control of the festival passed to the villagers after the first year, and Sutherland states that it was important that Grizedale handed over the next festival to them, withdrawing from the steering committee.37 Hudson describes how Grizedale began by demonstrating to the community that ‘This is how you might do it’. The following year, the community took over and did virtually the opposite of what Grizedale had done, with the following year’s version being

‘unrecognisable as a contemporary art project in our terms, within that framework. But, in our terms, it was a great success, because it had become something else and they had taken the ownership of it and made it their own work’.38

For Hudson, ‘this relinquishment of control is far greater than is normally accepted within the realm of contemporary art practice. He states ‘In a way, you give away the project, someone takes it on and they run with it’.39

Grizedale Arts as an Expanding Network of Interrelated Projects Connecting the Local to the Global

Grizedale’s ten-year programme is holistic in the sense that local culture is continually acknowledged, researched and examined, which makes it akin to an anthropological study about the Lake District that happens to be carried out by artists.40 Grizedale has also developed projects beyond Cumbria, such as The Seven Samurai project for the remote Japanese village of Toge, in which artists such as Pope and Guthrie, Juneau Projects, Bethwyr Williams and Marcus Coates were invited to work as pairs to made work in response to resonances between Grizedale’s rural context and the aging agricultural community of Toge.

Another exemplary Grizedale project to take place in a rural context was Happy Stacking (2007), curated for the rural village of Nanling in China, in partnership with Vitamin Creative Space, which aims to become durational. For this, the basic premise was to send a group of seven artists and curators to the mountain village of Nanling in Guangdong Province, to look at how this remote settlement is reacting to global cultural change and to see how artists can help in this process of change. In Nanling, artist and architect, Bryan Davies, consulted with local residents and developed a series of proposals for ways in which the architecture of the area could be modernised, while retaining local attributes and making it more attractive for residents and tourists. Artist, Laura Davies, worked with local dressmakers to produce various workers’ and other garments in patterns derived from local iconography. Kai Oi Jay Yung produced crochet packaging for food while artist, Harold Offeh, conceived of a festival and parade, working closely with local children to find out their views of the village. The performance-event also included cooking demonstrations, singing, maypole dancing and a market stall. As a whole, the project aimed to visualise what was already in the village, by portraying a complex vision of the social ecology of Nanling, celebrating the reality of the situation rather than an idealised version of rural representation. Meanwhile, Maria Benjamin, from the artist duet Guestroom, spent her time investigating local forms of organic food production.41 She also made a series of short films, which conveyed the artisanal way in which village producers worked.

Whether taking place in Cumbria or elsewhere, locale-specificity and artists’ residencies are always at the forefront of Grizedale’s embedding of artistic research and production process through a direct engagement with a place and its communities. As Benjamin describes of her experience of being a commissioned artist who has taken part in Grizedale’s projects in Cumbria and China, the curatorial approach is always about conveying ‘an expectation that (the artist) would do something, but not necessarily make something’, which involves doing things ‘that are involved in the local community, but not necessarily doing things to please the locals — more of an acknowledgement that Grizedale is part of the area and its community’ wherever the locality is to which it is responding.42 Grizedale Arts’ ‘away’ projects are always conceived as part of the overall project feeding back into the development of the local socio-economic ecology of the Lake District. In this light, Toge and Nanling were chosen because they had issues and concerns very close to Coniston. Therefore the Grizedale Arts team are interested in engaging with similar contemporary rural situations as citizens with similar concerns. In each project, the relationship with the hosts was transformed from the typical cultural placement to a mutually beneficial exchange of ideas between villagers, albeit in a global scenario.

In spite of this, the ‘curators as outsiders’, or ‘curators-as-nomads’ approach sits in contrast to the more embedded model of working that Grizedale follows whilst in a location they know well in Cumbria. In Nanling and Toge, for example, the curators and invited artists jettison into an unfamiliar context and are expected to be able to engage with a community, a new language and an unfamiliar location, as well as to come up with a project in-situ. This transposition of Grizedale’s embedded approach to local engagement in Cumbria, a place they know well, onto an unfamiliar rural situation in China is at odds with the depth of investment they have demonstrated with the longer-term approach in Cumbria, where the curators have committed to a curatorial model that is premised on building relationships more slowly and allowing for an unhurried temporality in which artistic commissions can evolve through research and being-in-place over time. The rural settings in Japan and China are surely as complex as that of the Lake District. This is distinct from the shorter-term residential approach carried out elsewhere, which assumes a role for both curator and artist as cultural tourist, always attempting to overcome a certain distance between locals and visitors through momentary participation in art.

It is the inter-relational attributes of both culture and location that are the most obviously marketable aspects of global tourism upon which they depend. As for global markets, locality — embodied in the promotion of tourist spots, local specialities, sites, culture and produce — is the most reliable economic revenue for local communities. Travel has also become one of the determining conditions for the production of art, its circulation and its now-dominant experience. As critic, James Meyer, has also argued, the increased travel of artists and curators over the past twenty years, aligned with an ever-expanding global art market and a more globally connected art world, has pointed to

‘a globalized reception and an increasingly mobile audience; the aficionado of art (who) must travel (…) in a constant motion in order to “keep up.” And it is hardly surprising that this culture of itinerancy has influenced the terms of production itself’.43

Regardless of how well-meaning, dialogical and self-critical the curators intended the projects in Nanling and Toge to be, it is difficult for the curators to escape some of the pitfalls of global cultural tourism. This is always problematic because, as writer Dean MacCannell states, like all tourists, s/he may experience other cultures as a means of defining his/her own, ‘thinking itself unified, central, in control, universal’ while thinking there is a real connection with ‘otherness’ yet only re-affirming their own sense of uniqueness.44 This nomadic approach to public art commissioning contrasts significantly with Grizedale’s more durational projects within the familiar surroundings of Cumbria, where the elongation of time is deemed essential for any commissioning process committed to producing art which contributes to some form of social change in a place and for/with its residents.

The Creative Egremont Public Art Strategy: A Brief Commissioning Background45

One of the most locally orientated and durational projects developed by Grizedale is Creative Egremont, located in Egremont, a town positioned on the western side of Cumbria. Because of its location, it is not well served by the otherwise thriving Lakeland tourist industry and, as such, suffers from a degree of isolation and economic instability. The town is also close to the Sellafield nuclear processing site and has suffered from economic decline since the demise of mining and other traditional industries — a situation that provides the town with its close-knit working-class community attitude. It is known for its world famous ‘gurning’ (face pulling) championship and its historic annual harvest festival, the Crab Fair, which happens during the harvest of the crab apple.46

In 2005, as part of a regeneration programme for Egremont, Grizedale was invited to devise a public arts strategy that would consider and enhance the town’s ‘sense of self-worth’.47 The Egremont and Area Regeneration Partnership commissioned Grizedale Arts to create an evolving programme of temporary public art projects which would celebrate local culture by providing a durational platform for the future of cultural growth in the town.

Instead of being determined by familiar approaches to regeneration, such as importing existing artworks, the commissioners decided to focus on what was already distinctive to the town, electing to work with a diversity of artistic approaches in response to existing cultural activities there. The priority set out in the strategy was to lay the foundations for a longer-term ‘slow fix’ approach through which the region could develop and promote its own culture, born out of its own traditions and ‘grounded in both contemporary relational practices and more progressive forms of community art’.48 The core of the strategy was to establish a consistent level of activity that would showcase the town’s indigenous culture and establish a framework to build a sustainable community of interest on a scale appropriate to the town and its inhabitants. As described in the initial document,

‘The aim is to empower the community and to develop a culture of enterprise, using local skills, local talent and local business ventures which will focus on making products to go out, rather than relying on the economics of the short term visitor’.49

Creative Egremont as an Alternative Approach to Regeneration Initiatives

For Kathrin Böhm, Grizedale Arts became a proactive agent for the town of Egremont in order ‘to deliver a public art strategy within the regeneration context, the key element of which was based on the production of prototypes, instead of the production of feasibility studies or papers, which might or might not lead to action’. As part of its research, Grizedale Arts mapped and surveyed the local culture before drafting ‘ideas for pilot projects’, which artists were invited to respond to by taking account of local issues identified by the curators.50

The philosophy underlying Grizedale’s exposure of the vernacular was intended as part of an overall creative and democratic vision. The Egremont Crab Fair Archive would play a pivotal role in this, directing group projects around the town with a view to providing a framework that would promote a level of visibility for the town’s history and bring to the fore the diversity of it activities. The Egremont Crab Fair Archive Committee was set up in 2004 by a small group of locals with a particular enthusiasm for conserving unique artefacts and memorabilia relating to the Crab Fair (established in 1387). The archive includes material relating to the fair’s numerous events such as: fell racing, Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling, horse trials, the parade of the applecart, vegetable shows, wheelbarrow racing, a hunting song competition and the world gurning championships.51 Upon its inception in 2005, ten key strands were set for the project, which have included:

A Virtual Public Art Conference (June 2006) held in Egremont Market Hall, run by Grizedale Arts and facilitated by Cumbria Institute of the Arts. This small-scale conference involved critic, Claire Bishop, curator-critic, Will Bradley, commissioned artists, Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane, and Alistair Hudson. The conference was also webcast and broadcast to satellite venues in other regions. It focussed upon the critical discussion and evaluation of a number of art programmes, such as Deller and Kane’s Folk Archive project,52 Grizedale Arts’ Cumbriana Proof project (2005) and the development of a public art strategy for Egremont. The aim was to bypass the formality of traditional conferences in order to facilitate a complex discussion on the role of art in public life. Emphasis was on new ways of working, embracing a wider concept of the artist beyond the current canons of engaged/relational/site-specific practice.53

Town Gateways emerged as a direct response to the initial regeneration scheme’s plans to ‘enhance’ the town’s entrance gateways. Grizedale’s strategy proposed rethinking the role of the main roundabouts — which lead into both the north and south ends of town from the motorway — looking at how they could be a site of significant cultural interest as landmarks for the town. Local user groups were invited to participate in the redevelopment of the two sites, aspiring to indicate the uniqueness of the town whilst making a distinctive visual statement through a low cost but high impact initiative. Grizedale also enabled a community orchard to be planted on the fringes of the bypass which reinstated the crab apple varieties historically associated with the town.

The castle in Egremont was seen as an underused resource with enormous potential as a socio-cultural venue beyond its value to the town as a heritage site. This created an ambition to employ the grassy area within the castle walls as an arena for live events; as such, since 2006, two related projects have been underway:

The first of these is the RIBA Open Design Competition, which was established to find a design for a removable structure which enhanced the use of the bailey as a venue for concerts, events, theatre and performances. The new structure would provide a stage and year-round weather cover for a programme of events while not imposing upon the existing castle. The international competition was open to architects, designers, engineers and students of these disciplines, and collaboration between disciplines was actively encouraged. The commission was awarded to Swiss architects, Decosterd-Cotting, who proposed a stretched, parabolic membrane set onto hydraulic pillars, which could be raised and lowered.54 Having begun with a modest proposal, Decosterd-Cotting’s design will be Cumbria’s first truly contemporary architectural commission and represents a major achievement for Grizedale Arts. According to Hudson, the winning design ‘was an extremely technical and contemporary solution, yet it was the only entry which allowed the castle architecture to speak for itself. By using the existing walls, it was effectively putting the roof back on the castle and bringing it back into use’.55

A second competition was held for the castle lighting in January 2007, which invited local school pupils to design a lighting scheme for the castle to be interpreted by an appointed designer. Out of fifty-three submissions, the winning design, by Jason Hayton of Ehenside School, is currently being worked into a design by Sutton-Vane Associates.

Grizedale also set up Egremont FM, a local community radio station, as an outlet for creative projects, music, discussion, documentary, information and as a profile of the area and its community. The starting point for the project was an existing recording studio at the Cumbria Youth Centre, which was financed by the Egremont and Area Regeneration Partnership but had fallen into disuse. The radio station was initially run by a local girl, appointed by Grizedale/Creative Egremont, with the ambition of running a round the clock programme, but the expense of licensing a radio station meant that the project only lasted for one month, during which time a total of one hundred and twenty hours of broadcast time were filled by an active roster of fourteen DJs, all of which was archived on the website.56

To date, other projects have included a community-led orchard, a public lighting scheme for the town, and the renovation of Thornhill bus shelters by local residents. At the time of writing, the project is entering its next phase which will see the creation of a new cultural production centre at the now defunct Florence mine. Amongst the many activities in and around Egremont to date, two projects in particular represent a durational approach to their locality and are described below.

Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane’s Greasy Pole

Deller and Kane’s Folk Archive, begun in 1999, examines the inimitable diversity of British folk culture. As a result of its inclusion in the archive, the unique and vibrant folk culture of Egremont has appeared in exhibitions — including the first manifestation of the Folk Archive at Tate Britain as part of the exhibition Intelligence: New British Art in 2000 — and in a 2005 publication by Bookworks. Grizedale Arts became aware of the archive during Deller and Kane’s visits to Egremont while gathering information for their archive. In bringing to fore the folk histories of Egremont, Grizedale Arts and Deller and Kane have highlighted the town as a culturally distinct place worthy of preservation.57

The Greasy Pole is a permanent public sculpture by Deller and Kane, situated in the market place at the centre of town. The project acted as a catalyst that lead to the Creative Egremont strategy. It began in 2005 as a dialogue between some members of the local crab fair committee and the artists who were researching the spectacular folk culture of the town. As the idea progressed, Grizedale Arts were invited by the Egremont and Regeneration Partnership to extend their role from facilitators of the Pole project to create a public art strategy for the town. Knowing Grizedale Arts approach, they were keen to have a public art programme that was unlike any other.

Since the nineteenth century, the temporary erection of a greasy mutton pole had marked the beginning of the fair, launching a competition in which individuals would attempt to climb to the top of a tall wooden pole covered in lard with the first to the top originally winning a top hat. Given the safety considerations involved in the construction of the pole, the competition had been banned for a number of years, but there was a local desire to bring it back in some form.

Deller and Kane’s new permanently-sited pole stands at nine metres high and is made from carbon fibre. It took three years for the project to be realised in a process that involved securing planning permission for the spot of land and an engineered structure that would satisfy both health and safety and insurance requirements. It was completed in January 2008 and, on 19 September 2009, the competition returned as a central part of the Crab Fair.

This landmark project in Egremont epitomised the curatorial approach of Grizedale Arts, whereby the artist is not merely the author, but rather a facilitator in realising social benefit in response to local interest. There was a multitude of partners who all took an active role in making the project happen, from local government to individuals who volunteered a great deal of their time to planning and physically installing the sculpture; it was a co-operative community effort to save a valued asset, complemented by the realisation of a significant relational public sculpture. The Greasy Pole is a good example of Grizedale’s multi-dimensional and dialogical approach; on the one hand, the commissioned artists get to make a new work that would not have been possible without Grizedale’s impetus and local desire; on the other hand, the people of Egremont get their Greasy Pole back. The end-product, according to Hudson, is a ‘multi-level status historical artefact, an emblem of the town culture as well as a work of art’.58 With reference to the local community, he continues:

‘Quite knowingly, the townspeople got themselves a sculpture by famous artists, an iconic symbol that they can then use for their marketing. It is as close to a fifty-fifty deal as you can get, quite satisfying for everybody involved. At no point did anyone question whether there should be a sculpture, because it was always seen as a beneficial, useful thing’.59

Public Works’ Folk Float and the Folk Archive Centre60

Like many of Grizedale’s projects, Egremont began in a non-prescriptive manner, with the project radiating outwards from local desire rather than any artistic or curatorial proposal. When the initial strategy was devised, a new kind of arts centre was proposed for Egremont, which would build out of the Egremont Folk Archive, expanding its contents to include documentation, books, ephemera and personal objects relating to local history, industry, crafts and contemporary artefacts, representing the uniqueness of the town and its vibrant cultural histories. Grizedale wanted to maintain, promote and archive the extensive history of local activities, which would be managed and contributed to by local residents. The intention was for this to be a living archive rather than a museum exhibit, with the archive continually expanding and its eventual form being defined by its evolving contents.

For this purpose, Public Works were commissioned to develop Folk Float, a milk float converted into a mobile museum for the townspeople, which would contain a folk archive centred on the town’s history and contemporary cultural activities. The float toured Egremont and the surrounding area three times a week over three months. Public Works was commissioned to develop and realise a thought-provoking and accessible Mobile Folk Archive to tour the region throughout summer 2007, displaying artefacts, collecting additional contributions from local people and engaging the public in discussion about its vernacular cultural histories. Building upon the extant vernacular culture of the town, the float became a kind of archival production centre, made by people in the town and encouraging public debate during its travels as a means of finding out what type of building or museum would be appropriate for Egremont in the future.61 As Böhm states, her involvement with the Creative Egremont project came about because of its flexible but social curatorial framework, in which

‘the brief was very open, but there was a framework to work within. The brief for the local archive had elements that we at Public Works were very interested in at the time, this idea of a mobile structure, of a participatory archive. It was clear that the brief was to create a mobile archive, but how you would address that conceptually and physically was completely open’.62

As Andreas Lang states, Public Works’ interest is in a

‘strong element of informality and with the strong emphasis on being on site. The mobile archive has to literally travel the streets. Obviously, you use what is there, talk a lot to the people who have been running the local archive until then and develop the project further. We had the idea to design something that would be multi-programmed. It could be a form of display, informal accumulation of stuff, have elements of oral archive, be used for workshops or hanging out: elements we use in our practice anyway. We outlined them and how they can come together in an object, which is meant to be a prototype, almost like outlining an approach’.63

The Folk Float was a prototype aimed at rethinking a new typology for a more permanent cultural centre for the town which is being proposed for the now-defunct Florence mine and which is in the process of being developed over the coming year to become the venue for the archive holdings as part of the centre’s collection, exhibits and related events, which will be managed by the town authorities.

Creative Egremont as an Extension of Grizedale’s Already Embedded Long-Term Approach

According to Kathrin Böhm, with Creative Egremont, Grizedale Arts is ‘demonstrating a long-term commitment far beyond what they get paid or commissioned for’.64 With Creative Egremont, as in previous projects such as Cumbriana Proof (for the Coniston Water Festival), art is a ‘driver for social benefit’, a means to an end in which the ‘legacy and longevity of the project belongs to the participant’ who engages in the project and eventually takes it over as their own.65 As Sutherland states, ‘the communities have taken on the ambition and intention of the programme and devised their own delivery, in most instances far removed’ from Grizedale’s original intentions, aesthetics and motivation.66 Its overall ambition is ‘to be a constructive influence’, providing an extended period of time in which people can engage and take things in different directions through their own initiative.67

As with the Grizedale programme as a whole, there is a constant seeking of new ways in which art can ‘be more effective’, whilst building upon previous projects and how they link together.68 The curated projects produce moments of heightened activity in which there is a ‘cross fertilisation of ideas between the projects themselves as a network of projects, a dispersed organisation that has moments of carnival or coming together as a community’ evolving over time.69 As an organisation, Grizedale Arts operates quite informally, resulting in an identifiable, lo-fi aesthetic which is occasionally limited by the particular flavour of projects and artists they continue to work with on a regular basis. But, what the organisation aims to achieve is not a dominant type of public artwork, rather an everyday form of discursive practice, always allowing things, networks, relations and projects to be stretched out slowly over time, rather than working to pre-determined deadlines. This is never more evident than with Creative Egremont, in which importance is placed on periods of reflection, engagement and keeping an organic quality so that curatorial decisions can allow for projects to emerge, ‘taking longer to decide what the final incarnation of a collection of projects is (…) by listening to how it works and what pieces might work together’.70 As with all regeneration schemes in which art plays a part, there is often an expectation that a level of productive social impact will occur in a place, whilst also endeavouring to engage art in ‘the nurturing of specificities of locational difference’.71 Acknowledging the difficulties of engaging art in such circumstances, Miwon Kwon has articulated a greater urgency for artists and curators to distinguish ‘between the cultivation of art and places and their appropriation for the promotion of cities as cultural commodities’.72 In the case of Egremont, the Grizedale Arts approach has been to cultivate what is already there without it being completely absorbed into becoming another promotional tool for tourism.73 What Creative Egremont achieves is to avoid the over emphasis on promoting and cleaning up the town for outsiders/tourists as a short-term fix. Instead, as a slowly evolving discursive process, it enables an unravelling of essential needs to cultivate the particularities of the town in line with the expressed needs of residents. Community engagement with art is considered as something that might be generative rather than fixed, integrated rather than separate, dialogical rather than at a distance. As such, the community is perceived as being provisionally formed for each project. The curatorial framework for Egremont, as with all of Grizedale’s projects, proposes a primary notion of a ‘public’ as something which is temporarily formed by the coming together of a community of shared interest, which is gathered during the process of production and mediation of dialogical public art — an art that relates to a ‘public’ that is a constantly changing and flexible entity rather than a static collection of individual subjects.74

Locating the Producers
Grizedale Arts, Honesty Stall, Cumbria, UK.
Source: http://www.grizedale.org/

Locating the Producers
Grizedale Arts. Lawson Park Farm, Cumbria, UK.
Source: http://www.lawsonparkfarm.com/

Locating the Producers
Locating the Producers
Guestroom, Lawson Park library, Cumbria, UK.
Source: http://www.grizedale.org/

Locating the Producers
Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane, Greasy Pole (2005), for Creative Egremont. Egremont, Cumbria, UK.
Source: http://www.grizedale.org/

Locating the Producers
Creative Egremont, Egremont FM (2007), Egremont, Cumbria, UK.
Source: http://www.grizedale.org/

Locating the Producers
Juneau Projects recording jingles at Youthworks, Egremont, Cumbria, UK.
Source: http://www.grizedale.org/
Creative Egremont
Trekroner Art Plan
(Kunstplan Trekroner)










Trekroner Art Plan (Kunstplan Trekroner)

Trekroner, Roskilde, Denmark

Paul O’Neill

Facts and Figures


 Commissioner/artist:
Kerstin Bergendal

 Duration:
2001-2013

 Main sponsors/Initiator:
Municipality of Roskilde

 Location:
Trekroner, Roskilde, Denmark

 Main participants:
Artists, architects, landscape architects, urban planners, local residents

 Commissioned artists to date include:
Kerstin Bergendal, Freddy Fræk, Peter Holst Henckel, Nils Norman, Ane Mette Ruge, Frans Jacobi, Jakob Jakobsen, Marianne Jørgensen, Jørgen Carlo Larsen, Katya Sander, Sarkis and Jonas Maria Schül (two projects)

 Number of artistic commissions to date:
Thirteen semi-permanent interventions realised alongside an ongoing programme of temporary events and resident-based workshops.

‘How can art in public space emancipate itself from the expectations of architects and town planners who frequently see it only as a means of prettifying their designs, as pure decoration?’1

‘One core essence of the durational in the Trekroner Art Plan is that it is, in fact, realised as a planned long-term process, appearing within a larger planned long-term process.’2

‘Maybe I am just trying to mount a counter image. In this case, this counter image can only be developed through the extensive use of time.’3

Brief Introduction

Kunstplan Trekroner is a twelve-year project which aims to integrate public art commissions into a longer commissioning process that is impacting upon a new urban development in Roskilde, Denmark. Having written a three-track Kunstplan (art plan) that was authorised by Roskilde Municipality, artist-curator Kerstin Bergendal established an open brief to enable artists to work within the highly determined planning process for the region. Her aim was to facilitate critical discussion and create possibilities for the unplanned, allowing artistic interventions to be realised within a prescribed environment which simultaneously critiqued the planning process and gave local residents a chance to contribute to their built surroundings. This chapter is an analysis of material gathered during two site visits, including semi-structured interviews conducted with the artist-commissioner, participating artists and other collaborators.4 It seeks to understand how Bergendal and those involved in the project conceive of Kunstplan Trekroner as both a durational project and as a mode of participation counter to the strategic urban planning process.

Brief Commissioning Background

Trekroner is an urban residential development east of Roskilde city, near Copenhagen, initially scheduled for completion in 2015. By 1999, a new master plan had been drawn up for Trekroner; this plan was devised in cooperation with the technical department of Roskilde Municipality and landscape architect Ib Asger Olsen and primarily focused on the infrastructure, landscape, zoning and density. The backbone of the first part of the plan was an area called Lysalleen. The plan prioritised the development of new buildings and the physical connection between houses and an artificial lake next to the university(0). Here, a mixture of social and private housing developments is expected to create 3,000 new homes for 20,000 new residents, constructed in the open fields surrounding Roskilde University Centre (RUC), which is being expanded to take up to 20,000 students. There was also an emphasis upon modern architectural materials, design and schools in the area so as to attract the ‘right kind of inhabitants — the ones bringing with them different kinds of surplus.’5

What is most striking in the original visual map for the master plan of the area is that land has been subdivided with large lines of planted forestry to produce a grid which was intended to denote similarities and differences between population segments and types of architecture. The master plan was devised in such a way so as single plots of land could be sold in slices. This decision on behalf of the initial planners also meant that each and every development created its own separatedness. That each area would be bought up for isolated residential and building projects also determined a zone quality for much of the structural principles for denser parts of Trekroner. Most of what is to become Trekroner was already fixed as part of a timeline for the whole development before any thought was given to commissioning art.

By 1999, the planning department of the Municipality of Roskilde decided to externally commission an Art Plan.6 The municipality successfully applied to the Danish Arts Foundation (DAF)7 through the latter’s department for Art in Public Space8 for initial support in formulating ideas as to how contemporary artworks could be integrated into this new area during the expansion period. As one of the authors of the initial application to the DAF, urban planner, Peter Schultz Jørgensen, states, the overall argument was for a ‘plan that would make it possible to work with arts in different ways in the whole area. At the same time, we didn’t want a traditional art thing, a monument or a beautification’.9 The idea of having an Art Plan was partly conceived by the municipality as a strategic way of softening the master plan and adding new facets and complexity to the physical plan for the urban development. The municipality solicited proposals for the Art Plan, which it expected would run in parallel to the building stages of the urban development.

In 2001, the DAF and the Municipality of Roskilde invited Copenhagen-based artist, Kerstin Bergendal, and landscape architect, Jeppe Aagaard Andersen to develop two separate proposals. They were each given eight months and an initial budget of 150,000 DKK (£ 18,200) to formulate their versions of an Art Plan.

Responding to an Initial Brief for an Art Plan

Building on the expectation that an outsider commissioner would take the lead on devising what Schultz Jørgensen called ‘a frame and a concept where a lot of activities could grow’, we shall see that Bergendal’s version of the plan fitted these aspirations.10

Bergendal’s initial brief was to come up with an ‘Operational Plan for integrating contemporary visual arts in new urban areas’ which would avoid more traditional public art forms, such as permanent public sculpture. In Bergendal’s words, her commission mainly involved a consideration of how art ‘could contribute a sense of local identity to a new urban area; we were asked to suggest contemporary expressions of art rather than appointing spaces for monumental artworks’.11

When Bergendal began her research in the region, the social and private housing areas had already been allocated, a few settlements had been completed and the main roads were half built. The fundamental idea underlying Bergendal’s proposal was to identify key locations for artistic intervention, both before and during the construction of certain areas in Trekroner, which would allow artists to have an equal level of engagement to that of the planners, architects and landscape designers.12

Although Bergendal’s Kunstplan did not propose any specific artists, it did suggest finding the right artists for specific situations, presenting proto-proposals which demanded a different role for visual art in new urban areas. By recommending certain types of artistic strategies and specifying when, where and how they would be implemented in response to the changing environment, Bergendal’s intention was to engage artists in the planning process and for the resultant artworks to be both semi-functional and socialising. From the outset, the Kunstplan also highlighted the need for artists’ professional knowledge to be applied to the production of buildings and spaces in a more integrated and involved form. It stressed the necessity of making different kinds of places as part of an identity formation for Trekroner and its inhabitants. It set out certain basic organisational preconditions so that each artist’s knowledge would be paramount to their participation, rather than setting forth an expectation for a final project.

In 2002, Bergendal’s Kunstplan was accepted by Roskilde Municipality, which conferred upon her an honorarium to act as the lead arts consultant/commissioner. Because Bergendal’s Kunstplan was accepted as a concept external to the urban master plan, its organisation and implementation is not officially part of normal procedure. Thus, the project operates within the municipality but with some degree of autonomy. Besides Bergendal’s honorarium, there is a limited budget from the municipality for its actual implementation and Bergendal and the Art Plan Group are expected to source external resources to fund each of the projects forming part of the Plan on a project-by-project basis.13

Artists as Contributors to Town Planning

Bergendal’s proposal highlighted the need for the involvement of artists in the planning process, with a view to altering perceptions, within the planning authorities and construction industry, as to how art could play a more integrated role in the formation of any new urban development. She argued for the pivotal role of art as a means of contesting pre-determined housing developments, where art would add complexity to the built environment while considering the involvement of local inhabitants. According to Schultz Jørgensen, this instated a role for artists ‘to make art that has to relate to the people in the area because it demands the site specific’.14 Bergendal’s Kunstplan Trekroner proposed devising, developing and implementing a series of artistic commissions which incorporated three distinct, but overlapping, durational strategies. Firstly, there had to be a clear link to Trekroner, which is integral to the commissioned artwork, irrespective of its form. The artist is expected to work in a way that is consistent with their established practice and, through their interaction with Trekroner, to bring an extra dimension to the place in which they have been commissioned to work. Secondly, the production of an artwork must be integrated into the master plan for the area, as a kind of parallel knowledge, during the overall planning process.

Schultz Jørgensen highlights that one of the main ambitions underlying the whole endeavour is ‘creating a new relation between artist and people, changing the practice and the bureaucratic systems and developing new concepts and practices. It’s about changing a process that usually starts with architects and town planners’.15 In practice, this meant that quite formal agreements were set up within the municipal infrastructure, to enable artists to take part in the processes of planning the new area at a very early stage. The artist who appears most positive about the timing of his commission was Nils Norman who — in spite of arguing that artists should be brought in before any plan is in place for new developments — was content with how his project developed. What also emerges is that, in many cases, this project provided a unique possibility for artists to acquire skills and to experience the ‘reality of how public space is designed’ as ‘a series of compromises, design compromises, primarily to do with economics and to do with a certain kind of entrenched culture of city planning’.16

In general, the experiences of participating artists tend to be dependent on the level of support they received from the municipality and how well they collaborated with their architects. Norman attributes the success of his project to a good working relationship with his collaborating architect and to Bergendal and Schultz Jørgensen’s desire for the project to be realised according to his proposal.17

However, according to the findings of an evaluation report conducted in 2005, the first three of four artists invited — Sander, Jørgensen and Henckel — argue that they could have been brought in earlier, as their involvement began when the architects had already started construction.18 In other projects — such as that of Ane Mette Ruge — artists were brought in too early, well before anyone had moved into the location, which prevented any dialogue with local residents. This is a particular problem for an art that is responsive to the specifics of a place, which seeks to catch the moment at which identity is being formed through urbanisation processes.19

Kunstplan Trekroner as a Counter Image to the Master Plan

As Schultz Jørgensen states, the master plan for the development of Trekroner is like any other:

‘What you normally see in town planning and architecture is a mechanical approach, a very technical approach — it doesn’t have a decisive process responding to the reality of the urban life, but to the selling of land, fulfilling the demands of law, land development.’20

In her Plan, Bergendal laid out a soft critique of the standardisation and homogeneity of master plans for new urban developments. It was a call for urbanity, whereby ‘Urbanity is defined (by its) complexity and, therefore, the processes and planning have to be complex too, and stimulate different structures’.21

Each commission emerges slowly, allowing for the unforeseen to unfold as part of an overall durational approach. Karen Atwell, a project leader employed by the Municipality of Roskilde to oversee the development of the more permanent works, attests that ‘there was the idea that you should learn from the projects and incorporate that knowledge in the future projects’.22 It is Atwell’s perception that Kunstplan Trekroner encourages artists ‘to work with a specific situation or place, and that (when the outcome) is not set (...) anything can happen’.23

In this sense, the durational is conceived of as an accumulation of interconnected artistic commissions which respond to a site with an identity under construction. Bergendal’s Kunstplan adheres to the master plan in as much as it appears to quietly cooperate with the city planners’ conception of long-term development in Trekroner. The Kunstplan’s stated aim, to provide a cluster of semi-functional artworks, could be easily explained to potential buyers and developers as it increased the number of amenities within the residential area. Whether or not this was Bergendal’s intention, the art may be regarded, by developers and potential investors, as an attractive add-on.

Kunstplan Trekroner as an Art Project Forming ‘Place’ through Social Praxis between the Gaps of a Planning Process

From the outset, Bergendal put forward an understanding of ‘place’ as a reiterated social praxis, ‘made and remade on a daily basis’,24 through the structures, actions and desires played out by inhabitants in their built environment. A new way of affecting and forming ‘place’ through socialised processes may be seen not only in Bergendal’s durational approach to commissioning, but also in her perception of ‘place’ as a series of socially formed spaces. Through its approach to producing identities for Trekroner, the Kunstplan evokes a notion of ‘place’ as open, mobile and changeable, which, as Tim Cresswell describes, ‘provides a template for practice — an unstable stage for performance’.25 For Cresswell, place is something which is performed and practised in everyday life as an evolving identity that emerges and re-emerges over time. It is ‘the raw material for a creative production of identity rather than an a priori label of identity. Place, as such, provides the conditions of possibility for creative social practice’.26 In this sense, it is people who define, inform and produce their own representative place. The Kunstplan contributes to an understanding of public space as experientially aligned to that of memory and collectivity, which is not only developed on a synchronic level, between the real and the imaginary, but ‘at the diachronic level through memories that are layered upon places and contribute to the construction of the specific identity of the place itself, its genius loci, by means of a cultural elaboration that is both intimate and collective’.27

Kunstplan Trekroner set out to rethink notions of place through three parallel, interweaving ‘tracks’, which would come to define and determine the place-specific artistic practice being undertaken:

 1. To give form to a ‘place’
and to insist upon particularity, by designing a distinctive physical reality into the new urban space. Artists would collaborate with architects, planners and landscape architects to produce an intervention that would be integrated into the physical environment. Singular, built artworks would function as social spaces to be employed as common areas for temporary, unplanned activities that would enhance interactivity whilst providing additional layers to the overall built environment that is Trekroner.

 2. To activate a ‘place’
and to insist upon new thinking and reflection that would contribute to the formation of an active, local dialogue about what Trekroner is and what it could become. Artists would be invited to devise temporary artworks in and around Trekroner that would ‘relate to, comment (upon) or critique the new urban area’.28 These temporarily-performed artworks would activate certain locations and initiate local public activities in which residents are encouraged to take part, to lead and to use the concept of the Kunstplan Trekroner as a tool in developing their own community formations through discussion and workshops led by Bergendal.

 3. To write the story of a ‘place’
and to gather, visualise and process common memories for the inhabitants of the new town. These historical fragments would create what Bergendal titled The Memory Box, with documentation and material assembled from, and relating to, temporary and permanent artworks, planners’ drawings, photographs of daily activities and events, and so on, that would eventually be installed in a public pavilion. As Bergendal states,

‘Over time, this collection would become something like a “book of life” — a mix of preserved fragments, describing basic conditions for a twenty-first century urban area, its life and inhabitants. Here, a passer-by could sense the local identity of the Trekroner valley, both in a physical and a mental way’.29

Integrated Artistic Commissions Realised to Date: Track One

Between 2002 and 2006, a number of Track One projects were realised as ‘additions’ to multi-storey housing settlements. These included:

Marianne Jørgensen’s Lykke, Lyt and Cirkel realised in 2003. In collaboration with a group of architects called Arkitema, Jørgensen worked upon realising an intervention into the landscape architecture of the Solparken Housing Project. At three locations in the mid-courtyard of this housing estate, the words ‘Lykke’ (Happiness), ‘Lyt’ (Listen) and ‘Cirkel’ (Circle) are spelt out in different materials in a handwritten style, to form a winding path.30 The path stretches between two opposing housing blocks31 to provide a walkway which winds its way towards a circular communal barbecue facility adjacent to residential buildings intended for youths.32

Katya Sander’s Balconies, in collaboration with architects Jenseen + Jørgensen + Wohlfeldt (JJW Arkitekter), is situated in the housing estate of Kløverparken in the south-western part of Roskilde. In 2004, residents took occupancy of a new 8,000m2 public housing estate.33 The estate features a communal facility with a function room, kitchen, laundry, guest-apartment and conference room. Working with the architects, Sander designed balcony extensions to every apartment, each with colourful components and integral moveable modules that can be used as more socialised spaces for interaction with other residents. The balconies are semi-detached from the façades of the buildings and supported by steel uprights. Each one has in-built seating, adjustable flaps and shutters, allowing residents to frame and adjust their view.34

Jakob Jakobsen’s Car Parks (realised between 2003 and 2004) focused on bringing an element of the fantastic into habitual meeting points for new arrivals. Researching the parking spaces assigned for the area on the original master plan, Jakobsen recognised that the planned parking spaces divided the settlement into two different parts, representing two social groups — those with private and those with social housing. The artist’s intervention was to provide three adjacent leaf-shaped parking spaces near to one another, which differ from the more linear, standardised design that had been realised in Trekroner for residents to park their cars. Integrated into the surrounding slope, Jakobsen’s parking spaces are expected to have further types of usage, perhaps acting as sites for an open marketplace during the summer or a skating rink during the winter months. In addition, he added a shelter for the exchange of domestic appliances, the so-called Bytte Skur, and suggested that a communal washing facility be set up in a prominent location in a community house situated in the central courtyard of the opposing housing blocks. This was intended as a basis for what he called ‘banal meetings’, opening up a greater interaction between inhabitants and a more sympathetic environment in which they could carry out their daily activities.

Jonas Maria Schül is both an artist and a landscape architect. His contribution to Kunstplan Trekroner combined these two disciplines through the production of social spaces surrounding two student housing blocks. In the centre of these blocks, he designed and built a sloping, elevated walkway that extended out between the buildings. Covered in grass and overlooking an artificial lake, this allowed residents to view the surrounding area. The overhang of the walkway created a covered area which is installed with benches. Schül also provided landscaping for the housing blocks, creating a sustainable garden of fast-growing wild flowers, herbs and edible plants which, over time, would cover the whole area. He also added a number of cubic wooden blocks as mobile ‘benches’ that could be moved from one area to another and used as outdoor seating. Schül also produced a second work in the form of a bench-like structure which followed the access route to a private housing area, with the aim of creating a social platform for inhabitants. His two projects were realised as a series of interrelated works that were completed in 2004.

In collaboration with an architect and a landscape architect, artist, Peter Holst Henckel, realised a lighting design in a housing estate called Kartoffelrækkerne.35 The artwork featured different kinds of ambient illumination in certain zones and public areas within the housing estate. The principal source of light was indirect, emanating from the rubbish containers at the entrance to each of the buildings; at night, these illuminated sheds are lit by fluorescent tubing in the ceilings. The shed doors are transparent, enabling nearby areas to be lit. There are also rows of LED lights embedded in the tarmac along the road from the housing project to indicate individual parking spaces. Additionally, a number of under-lit polished concrete benches are intended as visible markers in the recreational areas of the block; light under the benches alternates between different hues.36

Frans Jacobi’s collaboration with a landscape architect was realised in 2006.37 Together, they elaborated a lighting design for patios for the student housing area, combining a repeated sculptural object with a relational logic. A series of oversized light bulbs are spread out unevenly across the lawn, fulfilling a demand for lighting in the area, whilst the bulbs are sufficiently large to form seating in the garden — intervening in the common spaces of the student quarters to enhance the possibilities for get-togethers among the student inhabitants. In the evening, the light bulbs constantly change their colours lending a particularly poetic value to the otherwise rational and minimalist architecture.

Freddy Fraek worked under slightly different conditions to the rest of the artists for his work which was completed in 2005. Instead of being put forward by Bergendal, he was chosen by the architects, Vandkunsten, who had been commissioned to design a residential area and asked the artist to perform a specific assignment. He was to give shape to four outdoor areas for play and leisure of different kinds — a fireplace, a bowling area, a playground for small children and a climbing frame. Fraek chose to shape these areas by following the logic of minimalist sculpture, using only an angle of black stones to indicate a ‘cut’ in the otherwise sloping landscape.

Three further projects were realised between 2004 and 2008 as part of Track One, in which artists collaborated with planners and architects on interventions into public areas:

Nils Norman’s Bridge was realised with landscape architect, Ib Asger Olsen, as a system of footbridges spanning eighty metres that connects the new housing estates in Trekroner with Roskilde University Centre. The main bridge is five metres wide; elevated above ground level, it traverses a large artificial lake built as part of the initial master plan. Made of oak and larch wood, Norman intended the bridge to provide a public space that would encourage interaction between different users and offer a link between the Roskilde University campus and the surrounding developments. It was intended as a gathering point for local residents and students from the university centre. The footbridge stretches out to encompass two small islands as extensions of the bridge’s tributaries.38 Instead of proposing a shortlist of artists, Bergendal put forward Norman as the only commissioned artist.

Ane Mette Ruge’s work began in 2003 and is still in progress. The artist is now working in collaboration with lighting architect, Bjørn Schlaeger, whom she chose as a technical partner for her project because of his knowledge of the area and his technical experience. Schlaeger designed much of the lighting for the streets in Trekroner prior to the establishing of Bergendal’s Art Plan. Ruge’s work comprises a large underground network of installed pipes in a part of Trekroner that is under development. Five pipes are part of an underground matrix, emerging at different locations above ground, which can be employed by locals as playful communication tools to be shouted into, which have the capacity to enable information to flow across the network of pipes. They are intended to be employed for a range of communications between residents and passers-by.

Jørgen Carlo Larsen’s project consists of an overhead lighting rig in a central square in a commercial zone next to Trekroner train station, in between a shopping centre and a housing block. About six metres high, the lighting rig consists of eight metre-high brown tubular uprights, across and between which an irregular matrix of steel cable stretches to form a web-like structure. Tubular lights hang from the cables to create an ambient light over the square below. Three figurative wire sculptures with small red reflective mirrors also hang from the cables. This project was realised in collaboration with Torben Schønherr Landskab and Kim Utzon Architects. In addition, Larsen planted large pine trees in areas of high grass to form a protective overgrowth, creating ‘playgrounds’ for unregulated forms of social activity.

The following proposed projects are as yet unrealised:

In collaboration with architects, Bascon, Kerstin Bergendal designed a series of interlocking buildings that come together in the form of a single Juxtapositioned House. Bergendal designed a concept for a Trekroner prefab house, which was to be presented as one of eleven such houses in a building exhibition in 2007.39 The theme of the exhibition was ‘zero houses’, or private houses consuming a minimal amount of energy. Bergendal’s concept was based on the classical modular logic of a prefabricated house but in its un-standardised shape and layout attempted to challenge the notion of nuclear family by coming up with a more flexible house design. She introduced a simple distortion of traditional rectangular prefab shapes so as to challenge the type of family structure that was being encouraged to live in the area. The structure of Bergendal’s house as much as its potential family make-up could be adapted and shaped by its occupants. In addition, her choice of material was solid wood, which can be altered at any time. The concept was at first delayed then projected for realisation before being finally halted by the bankruptcy of Brainstones, the contracted builders, just before the building process was due to begin in 2008.

Claus Egemeose proposed the simple addition of a fluorescent facade to a multi-storey private housing complex designed by the architect, Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter. This solution was the result of a close, one-to-one collaboration between the architects and the artist. The buildings were constructed, but the production of the additional façade came to a halt due to bankruptcy of the building contractor in 2008.

The proposal to build a bell tower in Trekroner was part of the original Art Plan set out by Bergendal. In 2003, the French Armenian artist, Sarkis, was invited to design a fully-functioning bell tower in collaboration with church musician and professor, Peter Langberg. This building-as-instrument was to be created as a fusion between two rather different types of bell towers, thereby creating a unique instrument. The project was presented in 2003 but, due to the huge sum needed to build it, it has not yet been realised. In 2005, in a bid to raise awareness of the project, Bergendal organised a musical performance by Langberg from a mobile bell tower next to the lake in Trekroner.

Track Two and Track Three of the Kunstplan are still under development but have, to date, taken the form of temporary projects, workshops and the beginning of an archive project called The Memory Box:

The Memory Box is the title of a project, proposed by Kerstin Bergendal, which has not yet been realised in physical form. It proposes a new public institution, open twenty-four hours a day, placed at a point in Trekroner at which there is a natural view over the area. Bergendal elaborated a draft model in 2003, which was placed inside a building displaying a collection of digital memories. It was first shown as part of the exhibition Overblik in 2003 as a prototype for how this collection would operate.40 By implementing randomness as its basic condition on all levels, The Memory Box would constantly renew its story about an urban area from 2002 onwards.

Although Kunstplan Trekroner has only been partially realised to date, the long-term nature of the project allows for each of the three tracks, outlined above, to run simultaneously, allowing for things to emerge in such a way that their outcomes could not have been foreseen.

Organisational Structure of the Artistic Commissions

Bergendal’s role as the lead commissioner for Kunstplan Trekroner operates from both within and outside the Municipality of Roskilde. Part of the Plan involved establishing a steering committee for permanent public art which would include staff from the planning department, the public library, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Roskilde and members of the cultural administration and Roskilde University Centre (RUC). There is also a board, made up of a group of professionals from the different city departments, which acts as the Art Plan Group and initially consisted of five civil servants and the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Marianne Bech.41 In the first instance, the Art Plan Group functioned as a horizontal structure, meeting approximately every two months to give feedback on the implementation of the Plan and to discuss proposed projects. The urban planner from the planning department, Peter Schultz Jørgensen, played an important role, taking responsibility for administering the production process and for connecting the group to parallel planning and building projects happening in Roskilde.

For Bergendal, the Art Plan Group was important as a means of ‘translating’ how the administrative system works in the municipality and explaining the decision-making procedures to the artists involved in a way that would not have been possible without such insider information. The majority of the group was connected to the strategic planning department, which provided direct contact to the central administration. For Bergendal, this connection ‘was, on one hand, a major asset for the development of the project — we were, so to speak, smack in the middle of where all decisions were taken’.42 But, on another level, this ‘connection somewhat “blurred” our identity’.43 According to Bergendal, there was often a lack of communication across departments within the municipality whose central administration often misconceived the Art Plan as being related to the strategic planning department rather than being a municipal initiative to integrate art into Trekroner. As Bergendal states, ‘we were automatically drawn into existing conflicts between the different departments. And, with too many and too deep ongoing conflicts, which at the time characterised the Municipality of Roskilde, it was hard to open up to any mutual ground’.44

As an insider-outsider to the system and as an artist, Bergendal occupies ‘a kind of neutral ground’ from which she ‘can suggest the non-possible, can raise sensitive issues, ask questions’ that are not raised by the planners and ‘inject different perspectives into the decision-making’.45 Although decisions are made within the planning system, certain proposals can be put forward by Bergendal and by the commissioned artists as a means of opening up discussions that would not be possible without a sustained presence by the commissioner in Trekroner and a series of commissions that are realised alongside a changing inhabited space.

Artists involved in Trekroner are never asked for a proposal; instead, Bergendal carries out a close mapping of areas for which art is to be commissioned — its architecture, landscaping and economic constraints. With the exception of the targeted commissioning of Nils Norman, a list of three suitable artists is drawn up for each site, which takes into account the nature of their practice and their previous relationship with planning and public space. This shortlist is proposed to the architects of the relevant building project and, in consultation with Bergendal, it is then up to the architect to select an artist from the shortlist s/he believes would be the most appropriate person to work with as their ‘dialogue partner’.46 Bergendal is the lead commissioner, making proposals in discussion with the Art Plan Group and the artists, and her strategy has been to devise an appropriate list of artists. However, unlike the customary practice of allocating a selected artist to a project, she leaves the final decision to the architect. In allowing the architect to choose an artist, the onus is on the architects to align themselves with the artist they believe they could work with effectively. While this approach has been met with varying degrees of success, it has resulted in an emphasis on collaboration, with artists and architects having to respond to each other’s goals while ‘integrating social, visual or formal aspects’ from both disciplines so as to reinforce a site-responsive specificity and identity for each new housing settlement.47

Artists who are invited by Bergendal are made aware from the outset that, in accepting the invitation, they enter into a space of negotiation in which only an aspect of their ideas may be implemented and only ever as part of a constantly shifting process. In respect of these unstable working conditions, BBergendal highlights the necessity for good negotiation skills, which develop the longer the commissioner stays in place, aiding understanding of how to function within such a large municipal administrative structure. Bergendal’s integration of the commissioner’s role into urban planning is also defined by an awareness of the symbolic value aligned to a meaning in place as it emerges over time. This understanding underpins three different aspects of what Cumberlidge and Musgrave call the ‘shifting field’ of artistic practice in this context: the belief in ‘the effectiveness of the small action; the use of local distinctiveness and values as starting points within creative visions for the future; and the emergence of integrated programmes of identity within planning and implementation’.48 For these authors, this brings a ‘recognition that “regeneration” and “renewal” is not merely a task for city planners, economists, architects or politicians’.49

The Role of the Embedded Commissioner in Engaging Local Residents

One of the key attributes of Kunstplan is the way in which the commissioner insists on being an integral part of the planning process, its procedures and protocols. Bergendal has become accustomed to how things can be done within this system, which opens up ‘the actual possibility to (…) intervene, more specific than in the short-term strategy. You can become like the mouse within the computer system’.50 Being in the middle of such a system also has its drawbacks. As Jørgensen points out, ‘the Plan is dependent on individuals’ and the open nature of it makes it an ‘informal plan (that) doesn’t have the best chance of success in a bureaucratic system’.51 It can disappear, become invisible, because of its disproportionate relationship with the overall planning process and its systems of administration.

Throughout the project, Bergendal has also continued to organise events, discussion and debates as a means of opening up the process to local residents and those involved in the Art Plan and of looking at how a prolonged process of temporary public art interventions could enable Trekroner to reflect upon itself.52 One of the commissioned artists, Ane Mette Ruge, believes that the core of the project is a consideration of how art and the commissioning process form part of an ‘identity for the area’, in which the artworks become like a ‘playground’ of ideas and spaces that are both ‘integrated and flexible’ within the built environment.53

Kunstplan Trekroner also highlights how a strong understanding of locality and local inclusivity can be employed by the planning authorities to ‘inject identity into a new suburb’, which makes it possible for ‘space to be appropriated by the incomers’.54 As Jane Rendell suggests, the term ‘critical spatial practice’ applies within socially-determined public interventions, to describe socio-spatial constructs, interdisciplinary processes, practices and ‘work that transgresses the limits of art and architecture and engages with the social and the aesthetic, the public and the private’.55 In the case of Kunstplan Trekroner, there is a careful equilibrium between what is permitted by the gaps in the planning process and the extent to which various actors within the administrative and financial systems wish to enable the Art Plan to develop in relation to those people living out their lives in Trekroner. Bergendal makes sure that residents are kept informed through her ongoing and active presence in the region and through discussion and practical workshops with resident groups who are becoming aware of their active participation in artistic and planning processes.56

For example, in 2008, Bergendal hosted a three-part workshop inviting the local owners’ association to visualise and organise public spaces in the area.57 From this process, a concrete planning proposal was put forward to the municipality which has now been approved in principle, parts of which are beginning to be implemented.58 Proposals for benches and public gardening activities organised by citizens around the lakeside have been accepted by the municipality and include the realisation of plans for rest places with benches, fireplaces and tree planting as well as a park that will evolve over the years and a multi-use BMX track nearby Norman’s bridge.

Bergendal and her collaborators set things in motion in the hope that they will be activated by inhabitants, showing how necessary it is to set aside territories for these social spaces within any urban planning process. It is also clear that some of the works — such as Norman’s bridge, Jakobsen’s parking spaces and Sander’s balconies — have already enabled a level of social activity, and that all the works succeed in expressing a sense of being less homogenised than that being implemented through the designs of the master plan. They succeed as open-use social spaces, whilst reminding inhabitants that such spaces are lacking elsewhere in their built environment, whilst encouraging them to take ownership of those spaces that are in place for their own use. This has been achieved from within the central administrative system of the city, and has been able to do so by gathering support from individuals within the technical department — and planners working for the municipality — who have also continued to engage with local resident groups and agencies.59

One of the main outcomes of Kunstplan Trekroner as a productive model of local participation has been the way in which Bergendal has engaged local constituencies throughout the project, inviting residents for concrete proposals which Bergendal then presents to the municipality for selection, arguing for their input as a means of local inhabitants contributing to their immediate environment.

Questioning Notions of the Temporary

For Bergendal, the public art commissions — as physical interventions into the environment — should be understood as temporarily located at permanent localities that provide the ‘basic conditions for a multiple and changeable public life’.60

They are intended to host more temporary structures and events as lived spaces, with the understanding that such commissions oppose the monumental attributes of permanent public sculpture by ‘employing the concept of play for processes of space and planning in the city, as well as extending material spaces into spaces for action’.61 Or, as Atwell states, in relation to her view of built artworks as integral to (in)forming social activities in Trekroner, ‘most of the projects support the temporary, and (such) things that are integrated (into daily life)’.62

Bergendal’s understanding of the production of temporary spaces is akin to that of Andreas Spiegl and Christian Teckert, who propose that ‘temporality as a prototypical phenomenon tends to counteract temporality itself. The political expression of this negative conception of temporality takes the form of excluding the very desires that are justified “merely” as a passing phenomenon’.63 In this sense, the temporary is not confined to its actual short duration in a larger urban plan, but as a method of deriving alternative propositions, ideas and preparations for their own sake, regardless of how a location may be effectively adapted in the longer term. The temporary has its own internal attributes that are not limited to their contribution to long-term effects, but as another way of thinking about how the tactical use of space is a necessary part of any urban planning context which considers local inhabitants as the primary participants of their residential space as it evolves.

Impact of Kunstplan Trekroner and How it Approaches Commissioning for the Long-Term versus the Short-Term

Although Kunstplan Trekroner sets out to describe how a critical and discursive framework can contribute to effectively questioning the strict urban planning process by allowing spaces for the unplanned within them, the role of the commission is ultimately as much about realisation — getting things done and contributing to the production of a place that is informed by the commissioning process — as it is about how that process will survive in the memories and stories of residents for the future.

Bergendal acts as a kind of active agent within the mnemonic process, creating possibilities for a fragmented imaginative process to gather form. She makes things happen during a long-term process and, in spite of the many difficulties that certain projects have incurred, there is an investment — for the commissioner, the planners, the artists and residents alike — in a non-hierarchical and co-operative space of collaboration. Kunstplan Trekroner is as much about how to approach urban planning through commissioning as it is to do with the limitations that artists might place on their own abilities to participate within the urban planning processes in a manner that might be compromised through the production process.

Kunstplan Trekroner is ‘duration-specific’ in the sense that the long-term commissioning process asks how artists, curators and commissioners can contribute to sustaining a practice-in-place for a period of static, immobile time, with a view to leaving something behind that could not have been anticipated. For Bergendal, the long-term approach ‘is more of a listening position’, in which the commissioner sticks with a project even when they are not sure how much of it can be realised.64

As well as having led to thirteen commissions and a series of temporary projects and the facilitation of the workshops and propositions with local inhabitants, further evidence of Kunstplan Trekroner affecting municipal administrative routines is apparent in its current implementation. Since 2002, the municipality has changed its procedures for buying and developing land in the area. In sales material, it now informs interested parties about the special focus on contemporary art in the area, encouraging builders to integrate artists into their proposals when applying to buy land for developments. There has also been a change in contractual arrangements to make it clear that art must be included in any new building project from the outset.

This has had an indirect impact on subsequent planning for a new area called Musicon, in Roskilde, where, according to Peter Schultz Jørgensen, the Municipality of Roskilde has decided to reject the writing and implementation of a master plan for the area. Instead, the place will be developed in tandem with its emergent communities who will be actively consulted in the process. Musicon is a municipally supported initiative, which behaves as an experimental site and activity-rich laboratory for future utopian living with art and culture as its core value. It consists of a large, open area with several existing buildings, which will defy any master-planning process, functioning instead as a site for temporary events, art projects, festivals and cultural activities, out of which a certain urban developmental process may emerge slowly in the long-term. Any interested commercial investors, developers and businesses must prioritise their ability to contribute significantly to the cultural and infrastructural development of Musicon and its future inhabitants.65

Kunstplan Trekroner as a Productive Failure

Bergendal continually states that the Art Plan as a project in principle has ‘failed from the start’. Having initiated the Art Plan in 2001, only two years of significant funding were in place for her to realise proposals between 2002 and 2004. Since then, there has been a limited budget available to support aspects of the project. This funding is controlled by the top executives of the municipality, which means that the commissioner is often in the dark as to what is available and what is possible for continuity to bbe fully established. The planning department, with which the commissioner works most closely, is limited in how it can provide additional support to Bergendal, and communication between the different departments could be improved. There is a precarity in Bergendal’s own salaried position; her paid employment is constantly in flux and, although she is paid for her time — when involved in the realisation of a project, facilitating workshops etc. — this is predominantly at the will of the municipality. Because the Plan was initiated by the planning department and Bergendal’s proposal was accepted, it seems that elements of the project will continue to be realised through municipal funds even if in a trickle-down manner. Due to the Art Plan Group being established in 2001 and Bergendal’s insistent presence in the region, the overall project has so far been realised through a gradual process and continues to be take place in some reductive form. The limitations of often elongated periods of negotiation have been built into the commissioning process, during which much waiting for something to happen within an otherwise stagnant period adds to the steady formation of the project as a whole.

By choosing not to maintain full economic support on an ongoing basis, the Municipality of Roskilde continues to jeopardise its original aim, which was to realise the Art Plan as a long-term objective. On the whole, Kunstplan Trekroner may only ever offer a series of fragmentary propositions on what might have been, or what could become of Trekroner. The space for art and for artists to engage is a space of compromise within a complex system that is constantly under negotiation. It is from within this system, Bergendal proposes, that art can have some effect, but the process of art’s production will never have its own autonomous mode of participation within such contexts, and remains overly dependent on a system that might curtail it. This is a given from the outset, and the point from which the involvement of art departs.

By mid 2009, Kunstplan Trekroner appeared to have reached a certain level of saturation and there was an acknowledgment by Bergendal of a need to bring in external support and fresh ideas. There are aspirations to extend the commissioning process to involve more non-Danish artists and to work with external curators in generating more temporarily sited exhibitions that might push the project forward in new directions. Bergendal acknowledges there are certain limitations to the project and what she has called a necessary but ‘old-fashioned’ formalist approach to how public art functions as an additional physical element of an existing master plan.66 In spite of these restrictions, there is an insistence upon ‘place’ as lived social spaces, where history is formed in the public interest out of ‘open, variable, multi-functional and discursive spaces for action. They are temporary territories which only exist when they are socially acquired’ by citizens who adapt them as their own.67 Bergendal’s method of creating communicative structures for social interactions embeds both communication and mobile mediation into the duration of the project and enables certain ‘concepts, processes, actions, events and especially interactions (to) replace the conception of the closed work of art.’68 The project equally supports the realisation of ‘“art as social space” and as “open fields of action”’.69

Because of the manner in which these ‘temporary territories’ are realised through constant dialogue with artists, planners and inhabitants, they provide the building blocks upon which the social intersection of the project gathers its momentum, Kunstplan Trekroner retains a co-productive role for artistic practice and ‘user participation’ within the urbanisation process.70 In spite of its many constraints, as a durational model it continues to generate a wide range of challenging projects, public debate and evolutionary experiences for commissioner, artists, architects, residents and planners alike. More importantly, there is now real evidence that local groups, individuals and self-organised initiatives have been brought together by the process and that they are not only imagining their environment differently but have now taken the initiative in shaping it themselves with the support of relations with the city planners brokered by Bergendal.

Locating the Producers
Katya Sander in collaboration with Jensen + Jørgensen + Wohlfeldt (JJW Arkitekter), Balconies (2004), Kløverparken housing estate, Roskilde, Denmark.
Source: http://archive.katyasander.net/

Locating the Producers
Jakob Jakobsen, Car Parks, (2004), Trekroner, Roskilde, Denmark.
Source: http://www.kunsten.nu/

Locating the Producers
Nils Norman with Ib Asger Olsen, Bridge (2005), Trekroner, Roskilde, Denmark.
Source: http://www.metamute.org/

Locating the Producers
Nils Norman with Ib Asger Olsen, Bridge (2005), Trekroner, Roskilde, Denmark.
Source: http://www.futureperfectbristol.org/

Locating the Producers
Kerstin Bergendal, Stand in Your Door, Memory Box Project (2003), Trekroner, Roskilde, Denmark.
Source: http://kerstinbergendal.com/

Locating the Producers
Kunstplan Trekroner, Overview Memory Box Project (2003), Trekroner, Roskilde, Denmark.
Source: http://kerstinbergendal.com/
Trekroner Art Plan
(Kunstplan Trekroner)
Edgware Road Project










Edgware Road Project

London, UK

Paul O’Neill

Facts and Figures


 Lead commissioning institution:
Serpentine Gallery — Julia Peyton-Jones (Director), Hans Ulrich Obrist (Co-Director of Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects), Sally Tallant (Head of Programmes), Janna Graham (Projects Curator)

 Project initiator:
Sally Tallant

 Main project partners:
Serpentine Gallery, London; Ashkal Alwan: The Lebanese Association for Plastic Arts, Beirut1 and The Townhouse Gallery, Cairo.2

 Duration:
2009-2011

 Project curator:
Janna Graham

 Project assistant:
Amal Khalaf (Edgware Road Project Assistant)

 External advisory group:
Nav Haq (Curator, Arnolfini, Bristol), William Wells (Director, The Townhouse Gallery, Cairo), Christine Tohme (Director, Ashkal Alwan, Beirut)

 Location:
In and around Edgware Road, London

 Main participants:
Artists, curators, educators, local residents, researchers, shopkeepers, students

 Commissioned artists to date:
Åbäke, CAMP (Shaina Anand, Sanjay Bhangar and Ashok Sukumaran), Susan Hefuna, Lamia Joreige, Bahbak Hashemi-Nezhad, Hiwa K, no.w.here (Brad Butler, Karen Mirza and James Holcombe) with actors Khalid Abdalla and Cressida Trew, Marwan Rechmaoui, Wael Shawky, Rania Stephan, Ultra-red (Elizabeth Blaney, Manuela Bojadzijev, Pablo Garcia, Janna Graham, Taisha Paggett, Elliot Perkins, Dont Rhine, Robert Sember and Leonardo Vilchis) with Gill Clarke, Chris Jones and the School of Echoes 3

Brief Introduction

The Edgware Road Project is a multi-year programme of artists’ residencies, public events and research-led commissions responding to the contemporaneous conditions of a specific neighbourhood in London. This chapter is an analysis of material gathered during site visits that took place during an initial phase of the project, from 2009 to early 2010, including semi-structured interviews conducted with the commissioner, the project curator, participating artists and other collaborators.4 This investigation seeks to understand how Serpentine Gallery and its Director of Programmes — the project’s initiator, Sally Tallant — and those involved in the project regard The Edgware Road Project as both a durational process and a series of artists’ fellowships responding to a complex network of communities, histories and socio-cultural relations.

This chapter examines the intentions of those involved in the project and looks at how they conceive the temporal processes necessary to sustain a practice in place over a period of time without the restrictions normally associated with predetermined programmes of public manifestation. Focusing on the project during its first year, when little by way of art production had taken place, what emerges is an open-ended approach to curating-in-and-for-place which considers the ways in which an interrelated programme of mobile projects might allow time for embedded artistic research to be undertaken, for research processes to be developed and for audiences to activate them. Rather than focusing on procedure or production, this approach to commissioning encourages art to engage beyond the confines of the gallery whilst questioning the notion of local and global publics and a fixed idea of publicness.

Background Description of the Edgware Road Project and the Formation of the Centre for Possible Studies (CfPS)

The Edgware Road Project took four and a half years to get off the ground. Initiated by curator, Sally Tallant, it has become one of the key projects through which Serpentine commissions new artworks beyond the gallery by inviting artists to respond to immediate local contexts. On the one hand, it operates at a very grassroots level, working with small groups over a long period; on the other hand, it is an attempt to influence agendas, cultural policies and school curricula at a national level.

Rather than having a single curator-commissioner selecting artists, an advisory group (named above) contributes to decision-making processes. Each of the individual advisors puts forward recommendations for artists and residencies that build on their networks and connections. Through a process of meetings and in correspondence with commissioned artists and local constituencies, the group reflects upon possible directions that the project might take. This commissioning structure has been defined by Nav Haq as ‘a cluster to help facilitate the project in all its ambitions’.5

In 2009, Janna Graham was appointed to a core part of the Serpentine team as Education Projects Curator, which would involve taking a lead on the Edgware Road Project; Graham has come to play a major part in selecting artists, developing ideas and managing the content of the programme and its possible outcomes. She conceives of this as a pilot project which comes out of a series of relationships with people in the neighbourhood and a heightened sense of the possibilities of working there, from the perspective of artists, students, residents and the gallery.6 Graham began her curatorship by establishing the Centre for Possible Studies (CfPS) to provide pedagogical focus for the project while acting as a conceptual frame and as a temporary operational space. In September 2009, it opened to the public, initially in a disused shop unit in Porchester Place before moving to a larger building on Seymour Street (just off Edgware Road) in May 2010, when it became the working space for the Edgware Road Project team. The centre operates as the main public-facing outlet for the project and, during working hours, it houses and exhibits the project’s archive, research material and documentation of that which has been produced to date.

Part meeting room, part process space, part resource, the centre provides a publicly accessible site at which the organisers, artists, local residents, community groups and immediate audiences may meet to discuss the ways in which the project is developing. It also functions as a drop-in centre, focal hub, archival resource and workshop space. For Serpentine Gallery project assistant, Amal Khalaf, who manages the space on a daily basis, the less formal and more accessible nature of CfPS (being closer to Edgware Road than it is to the Serpentine Gallery) is important as it permits a level of interaction with residents from the neighbourhood, who can either pass by or become involved in the production of projects with artists, in which they have a greater sense of ownership than they do with those at the gallery across the park.7

The Centre for Possible Studies facilitates what Graham describes as a series of distinct ‘possible studies’, defined as research based projects which have not yet been constituted. Possible Studies emerge ‘only through relations formed between artists and transversal constituents’.8 This purports a notion of the study as being situated within a relational context across ‘the divisions of the creative class and its others’, whilst decentring the primacy of the individual artist-researcher as ‘author and propellant’.9 The possible study is the outcome of each artist’s commission, through which something is produced. However, processual, discursive and pedagogical forms of exchange are emphasised as much as art’s production.

Historically, the educational department of museums and galleries has been operating in a secondary role in relation to the display of art for public consumption. More recently, these discursive interventions and relays have become more central to contemporary practice; they have also become the main event and outcome of artistic and curatorial practice. They have become a discursive form of ‘exhibition’ in and of themselves.10 In constituting a para-educational institution as a key part of its core identity, the Edgware Road Project is thus part of a wider social and educational turn in art and curating, prompted by a consideration of the recurrent mobilisation of pedagogical models within various curatorial strategies and critical art projects, with many of these initiatives questioning how we might restructure, re-think and reform the ways in which we speak to one another in a group setting.11 Without over-simplifying and lumping all of these micro-educational projects together, they can generally be described as a critique of formal educational processes and traditional outreach programmes and the ways in which these processes form subjects and limit subjectivities. They also prioritise the importance of the durational in the evolution of more speculative knowledge as is outlined in the case of The Centre for Possible Studies below.

The Centre for Possible Studies: Four Terms of a Durational Process

The overall project as originally conceived was divided into four stages, or ‘terms’, which allow the project to evolve as follows:

 Term One: Possible Beginnings — the Research Phase (January — September 2009)
This involved information gathering, building the archive or what Graham calls a ‘cartography and mapping of desires’, during which people encountered one another and began to develop the studies.12 For Graham, this drove the historical and personal dimension of the project to allow a questioning of the politics and administration of historical exclusion — what has not to be included, what has been forgotten, what has yet to be inscribed? In assembling new archives through embedded research, the politics of archiving is re-considered; its use value is defined in terms of how its contents might ‘engage with people who are living and finding their existence in this neighbourhood but for whom “heritage” sits as an uneasy category’.13

 Term Two: Possible Archives (July 2009 — June 2010)
The Mumbai-based collective, CAMP, began their research during the first term, which resulted in an ongoing archive and a website (www. edgwareroad.org). This carried forward into the second, third and fourth terms, alongside the Free Cinema School, during which local constituencies and artists co-produced films to add to the archives.

 Term Three: Possible Exchanges — from Archive to Action (June 2010 — January 2011)
Activating/mobilising the archive — giving it agency — or what Graham calls ‘moving from archives into action’14 involves considering the archive not as a repository but as a living, contemporary entity mobilised through actions. Different kinds of experiments are enacted through an analysis of what has being gathered and produced, building upon ideas of participatory action-research and other collaborative research processes.

 Term Four: from ‘What If’ to ‘As If’15 — Studies on a Road (January 2011 — April 2011)
It is intended that the whole project will culminate in an exhibition to be held at the gallery and various sites along and around Edgware Road, together with a programme of screenings, events and debates, which will reflect back on the two years. There will also be a publication charting the development of the project through documentation and commissioned texts. The four terms have been interspersed with events as public manifestations of the research process, bringing together a broader arts community and local audiences, participants from the nearby school and their friends and families. For Graham, these are

‘moments of synthesis or aesthetic condensation of process, as yet another opportunity for reflection by and beyond participants, (…) not as the end or the aim but as a necessary moment in which people might celebrate, reflect and project upon to mobilise possible futures’.16

Serpentine-Initiated Precedent to the Edgware Road Project

The Edgware Road Project builds upon previous projects initiated by Serpentine Gallery, including, most significantly, Dis-assembly, which was established by Sally Tallant. Completed in 2006, this was the result of a four-year collaboration between Serpentine and North Westminster Community School (NWCS), London, which resulted in four distinct projects that responded to the site during a moment at which the school was about to be closed and replaced by a new city academy.17 Four residencies of varying lengths and natures were offered to artists Faisal Abdu’Allah, Christian Boltanski, Runa Islam and to architect, Yona Friedman, who realised a large-scale architectural project at the school, called Superstructure and Urban Wallpaper (2006) in collaboration with the students. The project was dependent upon relationships with pupils, teachers and employees, already established by Serpentine over a longer period, which paved the way for working in a collaborative context with the school. Initially, the three commissioned artists visited the school to begin a long process of engaging with this specific context.

Abdu’Allah attended the school for two days per week over a three-year period, collaborating closely with the pupils and facilitating a dialogical process through which a series of large-scale photographic works resulted. As Tallant acknowledges, it was this embeddedness in the local context that underpinned the whole process and provided a communicative foundation for the other artists.18 Boltanski’s work began in 1992, when the artist took on the role of school photographer to produce portraits of 144 pupils between the ages of eleven and twelve, which were originally exhibited in the school foyer and at the nearby Lisson Gallery. Boltanski’s work for Dis-assembly, entitled 14 Years in Between, developed this work further by attempting to track down the students he had photographed in order for them to be re-photographed by Abdu’Allah. Serving as a social memorial to the twenty-six-year history of the school, the work is still in progress and will be completed when each student has been found and re-photographed where possible. Islam’s Conditional Probability (2006) was a three-part film installation in documentary format which involved NWCS pupils aged between fourteen and fifteen. Working with scriptwriters and using students as actors, the work was developed through both scripted scenarios and improvised workshops, to draw on the different expectations, cultural perspectives and languages of students at the school.

The work of all three artists collaborated with specific constituencies within the school, and involved their active participation in producing the resultant work. The commissioning process of Dis-assembly and the local relationships emerging through it provided an important precedent to the subsequent development of the Edgware Road Project. This is particularly evident in the approach taken up by sound art collective Ultra-red, when working with students and teachers at St. Marylebone School on a project to be elaborated below, which builds most directly upon that earlier project. The artists commissioned for the Edgware Road Project would begin a period of artistic research through which a group of participants might be constituted within and through their particular interests, whereby constituent groups would be brought together through the artistic process.

Edgware Road as a Location from which a Model of Commissioning Evolves

Disparately known for both its Middle Eastern diasporic communities and being home to multi-million pound homes adjacent to Hyde Park, the Edgware Road neighbourhood provides the backdrop to a series of artists’ commissions. Like NWCS, Edgware Road is very close to Serpentine Gallery and provides an immediate context for the project. Unlike Dis-assembly, however, there is no given group or audience with which the artists are briefed to engage. As Sally Tallant states, ‘Rather than taking a specific community as a starting point, which I think a lot of this kind of work does, what I wanted to do was to take a geographic location’; this would allow artists to locate what they found interesting in that neighbourhood, such as a common constituency or architectural or historical trigger from which to begin a collaboration.19 While local residents, students and shop owners in the neighbourhood are key to establishing community engagement, artists are brought into the neighbourhood as reflective outsiders. The embedded role of the lead curators, working closely with external advisors less familiar with this context, adds an outsider-insider dimension to the project. The street acts as a fulcrum for thinking about what is possible, while the project manifests itself through its constituent parts, each of which employs the road as its starting point. In considering the project beyond its two-year cycle of activities, Hans Ulrich Obrist states:

What I find interesting about the Edgware Road Project is its origin, that it is a street. The artists interact with the street in projects that happen in and around Edgware Road (…) You find the whole of London in Edgware Road; there are so many communities and crossovers that you not only find London, but the whole world. (…) This is true for the incredibly trans-national condition that is Edgware Road — obviously a great territorial focus for artists to research in order to develop something that has to do with the longer term, a horizon that is not accelerated, but rather about sustainability and legacy.20

This multi-dimensional approach to the complexities of artists engaging with communities as part of an active, durational process of artistic co-production is put most succinctly by one of the commissioned artists, Brad Butler of no.w.here, when he describes how the curatorial approach provides a framework of possibilities for collaborative work that is ‘of the people, by the people, about the people, made in the context of the people’, where multiple communities are being constituted through the provision of agency.21 Participants are encouraged to be engaged co-producers, as well as their communities being the primary subject and context out of which the resultant works gather their form through a temporal open-ended artistic process of uncovering something that could not have been foreseen beforehand.22

The Edgware Road Project as a Counter Image to the Perceptions of the Road

Edgware Road neatly separates Marylebone from Bayswater and is one of the closest residential contexts to Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens. Aside from its significant Arab community, Edgware Road is also noted for being a very diverse and mixed neighbourhood — from its Lebanese restaurants, shisha cafés, Egyptian Reading rooms and Muslim youth centres to its working class Irish population alongside London’s earliest Jewish communities and more recent economic migrants from the former Eastern Bloc. As Tallant notes, ‘While the area is referred to locally as “downtown Beirut”, Edgware Road is in fact home to an extremely diverse range of communities’, where layers of 600 years of immigration means that ‘it is one of the most ethnically varied areas of the capital’.23 In Graham’s words, ‘It is an extremely significant corridor for migrants’ perceived by some as being a relatively run-down neighbourhood and others as a place of extreme wealth.24

It is also noted for its tight security and management of public space, with one of Tony Blair’s highly policed residences being just off the main road.

According to Tallant, the project is ‘not trying to form communities’ as totalising, cohesive and hermetic entities, nor does it attempt to foster social cohesion as a primary objective. 25 Instead, the Edgware Road Project operates as a curatorial space in which to explore how a diversity of temporarily aligned communities can be formed through a programme of engagement without pre-determining any particular community. But, as Graham also notes, the project takes account of its mixed neighbourhood and, on the whole, it ‘is more orientated toward the neighbourhood’ than toward cultural or ethnic identities.26 This is evident in the ways in which many of the artists have dealt with the invitation, and the constituencies with which they have chosen to work; the first artists were invited because of ‘their commitment to particular processes (rather) than their cultural background’, with the overall aim of the project being to ‘negotiate interchanges between people in the neighbourhood and artists’.27 Graham asks,

‘what does it mean to do research that actually feeds into the projects that are collectively articulated, that attempts to shift something profound at a level of how we respond to the restrictive regimes under which we are living and instead enable the objects and subjects of investigation to both participate within and to co-own their research as collaborators?28

For example, rather than investing in the road’s café culture or being culturally over-determined by the ethnicity of the neighbourhood, Ultra-red wanted to look at how London as a lived space ‘organises itself in terms of class and politics’.29 Whilst acknowledging that the project could be read as part of a trend for Middle Eastern art while securing a brand presence for the Serpentine in an ‘emerging market’, Graham is adamant that the project has clearly shifted its focus away from a limited Middle Eastern categorisation to take account of the multiple communities in and around the Edgware Road.30 Like many of the artists involved, Robert Sember from Ultra-red was keen to avoid a trans-cultural orientation:

From the very beginning, when I heard about that, it immediately kicked my anxieties about the cultural essentialism of the Middle East, or the Arab world, and the fact that the Edgware Road was the place they selected, and I think that has actually made me more sensitive to wanting to resist any attempt to ground the project that we are doing in a cultural investment, that it is about the restaurants of Edgware Road, or Arab presence on Edgware Road. I feel that potentially an important role I could play is to draw attention to how Edgware Road reveals things about the city of London and how the city of London organises itself in terms of class and politics. I’d like to be able to at least complicate any cultural over-determinism about Edgware Road by introducing those thematics into the overall project.31

The Edgware Road Project as the Formation of Temporary Un-sited Communities

Each artist may bring about a temporary formational group for their projects within the programme, but they are critically un-sited from any fixed or stable notion of community, especially given the preconceptions of the site of Edgware Road and its surrounding neighbourhood.32 According to Amal Khalaf, ‘almost all the artist projects have this idea of working with the community’ and work by ‘creating a community around their project, or working with people who are creating communities around their work, or having these platforms where people will collaborate’.33

Through the establishment of the Centre for Possible Studies, there is an expressed challenge to the stable notion of community as something representational as a unified group of individual subjects.34 A plurality of ‘constituencies’, as Graham prefers to call them, is brought together momentarily. The project reconsiders, redefines and questions the nature of the constituency and its intersection with the road and its contemporary socio-cultural and historical contexts, with any notion of community being constantly challenged, re-thought, re-proposed and re-imagined.35 As Graham states, ‘The artists and constituencies we are working with have capacities and interests related to many places, histories and contemporary problematics. The intersection between these interests and capacities and the Edgware Road become the sites of investigation’.36

Graham’s statements echo Miwon Kwon’s call for a further shift beyond horizontally co-ordinated community-based art of the late 1990s and early 2000s. According to Kwon, this period saw a shift in which context-driven artistic practice moved from being site-orientated (centred on space) to community-orientated (people-based), which was predicated on an equal footing between artist and community. In considering the horizontal model represented by the latter approach, Kwon warned against a fixed and totalising notion of community to advance a concept of collective artistic praxis as projective — rather than merely based on the ethics of collaborative inter-relations involving provisional groups ‘performing (their) own coming together and coming apart’.37 As Sember highlights, there are many difficulties in recent critiques of socially-engaged art and its limitations, but they often begin with the assumption that community art and all those responsible for its promotion always begin with an

‘incessant focus on those who are marginalised and under-served (which), in fact, reproduces the service economy of the state in some way. There have been very, very deep conversations within the art world, which have troubled over this contradiction. This attempt to try and do something longer term is a response, or a reaction to that contradiction. (…) I don’t expect the Edgware Road Project to resolve that contradiction. It is not necessarily that interesting to try and resolve the contradiction. We work in relation to that contradiction’.38

As is evident in the Edgware Road Project, groups are constituted, through social, political and economic processes brought to light by a commissioning context and orientated by the artists around a community of interest. With a focus on process rather than effect, there is an understanding of the communicative function of such practices, while at the same time allowing those who engage with the artistic process to assume some form of agency in the process of artistic production. Central to the Edgware Road Project is its circumnavigation of contradictory pitfalls — in particular those associated with what BAVO describe as art’s over-identification with assigned or defined communities as under-classes, or as an exotic other — and its avoidance of pragmatic, short-stop problem-solving impulses.39 Tallant, Graham and their collaborators seek to question what kinds of communities, groups and collective agencies are made possible through a continuous process of negotiation, which presupposes a conception of artistic research that looks out from the neighbourhood rather than ogling it from above.40

Working within such contradictions, the Edgware Road Project is part of a wider shift in thinking within artistic practice of recent years, away from autonomous material production as a notion of separation and/or subjective exceptionality and towards an understanding of autonomy as ‘a sensibility towards continued production of exchanges, commonalities and collective transformations, beyond any fixed notion of profession, field of specialisation or skill-set’.41 In such cases, there is a desire to construct new social knowledge out of a convergence of interests made possible through semi-autonomous modes of participation for both artist and the communities with which they work.

The Edgware Road Project and Education as an Integral Part of Serpentine Gallery Programmes

The four main strands of Serpentine Gallery activity are exhibitions, architecture, education and public programmes, with talks, discussions and educational events being a key mobiliser of public engagement through an ‘integrated programme’ across the institution. Sally Tallant describes her primary curatorial approach as being that of an initiator and member of a production team, in which she assists artists with the realisation of their projects, whilst articulating an interconnected programme by focusing upon the dissemination of inter-related components of a project.42 Tallant was keen to use the trans-cultural nature of the street as a way of moving Serpentine programming beyond the site of the gallery, enabling it to become ‘a site of production in relation to the changing landscape of the city’.43 To achieve this, it was important for Tallant and her team to identify key stakeholders in the Westminster Council catchment area, which involved meeting with individuals, community groups, youth organisations, primary, secondary and higher education students and teachers, local businesses, retailers, developers and landowners — such as the Church Commissions and Portman Estate. For Tallant, the building of relationships necessary to move the project beyond a one-off event takes time; this allows artists to understand the complexities of a new context and the significance of creating ‘a genuine sense of ownership and engagement’ so that their practice is challenged and grows.44

The ongoing developmental nature of artistic research within the Edgware Road Project is also punctuated by social events, and staff talks with artists at Serpentine, bringing the projects back into the institution. Public dissemination of the projects extends beyond the institution, with an emphasis upon an understanding of the possible educative role of art through modes of participation with constituencies beyond the art world. The transformative potential of engaging artists in a contextual process prioritises the linear mechanisms of artistic production in response to that context. De-centring product-orientated exhibition practice, in favour of a more research-based process of artist-involved possible studies, forms part of an attempt to resist the fault-lines associated with identity politics. Such an approach exposes the limits of representational forms, which claim to capture an essence of a community.

Two Types of Research Fellowship: Artistic Processes with Research-Based Outcomes

While it comprises many components, the Edgware Road Project focuses on ongoing residencies that are neither restricted to a single visit nor orientated towards scheduled public events. As Obrist states, ‘The whole idea of event culture has reached its questionable peak and we are at a moment where it is not necessarily so much about events, but a sustained, long term perspective’.45 As of May 2010, eight individual artists and artists’ groups have been invited to undertake residencies of varying lengths of time from a few weeks to several months; some coming back and forth from London rather than staying for one defined period. Artists are invited on the basis of their capacity to activate something investigative in the context, with the artist-as-researcher being an important departure from the artist-in-residence and, in the beginning, research time being prioritised rather over outputs. An open brief has been provided for developing research-based projects, with each project being treated according to its specific requirements.

For Graham, artists-as-co-researchers within possible studies are involved in struggling together with others in the production of knowledge and modes of alternative sociability.46 Outcomes are characterised by a combination of experience and commitment to participatory actions as both the main content and the eventual results of their studies as described below:

 The Longer-Term Fellows
The first type of research fellowships are for those artists who come to London for periods of up to two years, to identify, establish and develop constituencies relevant to their research in and around the Edgware Road.47 The longer-term fellows include Ultra-red, CAMP and Susan Hefuna, each of which were invited because of their participatory, co-productive praxis and their understanding of the complexities involved in such people-based work. For example, according to Graham, CAMP was selected because of an ‘ability to conduct research that involves people and the ownership of that research’.48

CAMP’s practice is noted for its ‘knowledge of setting up communication structures within a particular locale’.49 CAMP began a fellowship in the winter of 2009, with a study of a single neighbourhood, which will partly result in a collaboratively edited and annotated archive of histories in one block of Edgware Road, using material donated by and collated with residents. The group invited a local editorial team to produce a series of episodes that would eventually be broadcast online and presented in other forms. Bringing together contemporary zoning laws, future plans and the past lives of buildings, the study explores the relationships of residents to cinema and the role of Edgware Road in a broader cinematic imaginary. Following on from this first research visit, CAMP began to devise the website www.edgwareroad.org that organises their ongoing research and publishes quarterly sets of ‘documents’, contributed to and co-edited with local residents. The aim of this website is to enable people to contribute to the investigation by uploading material that could be added to the archive, Much of this research material is also distributed back onto the Road in different forms such as pamphlets, placemats and online TV. For future iterations of www.edgwareroad.org, CAMP is collecting stories and ‘evidence’ of deep changes the street has undergone over the past century.50 CAMP’s ongoing archive-gathering also provides ‘a framework to facilitate research activities and archive-building’51 for the whole of the Edgware Road Project, which will be built upon over the two years as an expanding depository of added material.52

The second longer-term fellows are Ultra-red, whose projects often extend over two or three years. The group’s method involves starting with a specific constituency and building relationships, followed by a six-month period of analysis and artistic action. Ultra-red continue to work with a school in the neighbourhood; after an intense three-month period of being embedded in that school, their work began with secondary level pupils and extended into migrant communities in the neighbourhood surrounding the school.53 Ultra-red members and students devised an opera, which also intervened into the school curriculum, focusing on the Edgware Road, its histories and geographies in the context of state and social definitions of citizenship. Ultra-red member, Robert Sember, was in residence at the school for a term; sitting in on classes, he also facilitated history and geography workshops for staff and pupils. After an initial investigation, he assembled a team of London-based activists, organisers and artists to work with the students, gathering audio recordings of sounds in and around Edgware Road. These were used as the basis for producing a lexicon of key words which became the script for an opera, entitled Re-assembly: Civis Sum connecting the Edgware Road Project back to Dis-assembly.

With an overture and three acts, Re-assembly is directed and performed by pupils and their teachers as a means of re-organising the normative dynamics of learning. In relation to the first phase of the overture, Sember talks of the participants as ‘soloists, as choirs, as ensembles’.54 A series of sound and language workshops involving pupils and staff resulted in a performance called The Reorganisation of the Space of Learning. In this, students performed movements and actions against a backdrop of sounds, voices and narrative excerpts recorded during the pupils’ workshops on social and state forms of citizenship. These sound investigations were conducted in the school and in the surrounding neighbourhood.55 The initial aim of the project was to ‘allow students to produce an analysis of the conditions of citizenship in the area and in the school, and to think this analysis through different disciplines’.56 These themes were then carried through to act one, with an installation in which two ensembles of performers interacted with one another. It is planned to continue act two with content gathered through further conversations, reflections and ‘participatory analysis’ with people in the neighbourhood such as the Migrant Resource Centre, an organisation that provides hundreds of asylum seekers with legal support.57 The final act, called Letters to Edgware Road, planned for 2011, hopes to draw upon this analysis and the collective work influenced by the thinking of the Guinea-Bissaunian political activist and writer, Amilcar Cabral, who has a block of flats in the neighbourhood named after him.58 Sember calls the opera a form of public ‘annunciation’ in which the work proposes possible futures for Edgware Road. As a durational investigation into the neighbourhood, Re-Assembly (2009-11) aspires to ‘reveal and produce, amongst those who participated for the duration’ an investigation into the neighbourhood by drawing out new narratives in the process.59

Susan Hefuna, whose residency is undertaken in collaboration with The Townhouse Gallery, Cairo, is another longer-term fellow brought in at the beginning of the project. The artist regards textile work as a tool for conversation, through which to

‘get connected to people without talking. By doing something together, you can get to know the other people, and they tell other people about it. It is also a tool to get involved in the community, because everybody understands this’.60

She uses stitching and sewing workshops as a means of engaging groups in the neighbourhood and as a strategy for talking to women, thus facilitating exchanges between students in Westminster, Cairo and Abu Dhabi. Beginning with this process, her work for the Edgware Road Project takes a number of forms: a series of publicly-distributed postcards, entitled Cairo Stories (2009), the first of which inscribed the word ‘edgware’ in three versions — English and Arabic script and a hybrid of the two languages — on a yellow background. Four video works by the artist have been made by the artist and will be shown in Cairo in winter, 2010, while Edgware Road Parade (working title), an event-as-artwork, is planned to be performed by students using architectural structures created by the artist in collaboration with an architect. The resulting structure is imagined to travel to other places to facilitate discussions and events.

 The Events Fellows
Artist and musician, Hiwa K, has spent two periods of time in London as part of his residency, and his project is specifically orientated towards the staging of events.61 He first visited the neighbourhood in the autumn of 2009 to develop a project idea from time spent on the Edgware Road, and in particular in the Kurdish Iraqi restaurants and cafes. He returned in winter, 2010 and initiated a study linking music from the 1970s in the Middle East to an analysis of the formation of neo-liberalism there and in other parts of the world. Stimulated by debates about the influence of the United States in Kurdistan, K created a 1970s revival band and neo-liberalism study group comprised of local and London-based musicians and thinkers, as well as an international team, including his mother, assembled on Skype. The band’s research began with an evening discussion conducted in a Kurdish café on the Edgware Road in which he and others shared their research and reflections about into the influence of popular 1970s Arabic music, the moment of the 70s in the Middle East and its intersection with contemporary neo-liberal politics. After a series of rehearsals and study sessions, the band, called, Chicago Boys: while we were singing, they were dreaming… was launched through a weekend of performances in April 2010 held at Shishawi, an Egyptian café on the Road. Musicians and scholars from around the world played songs from the Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Lebanon, resurrecting the spirit of the 1970s to both rethink the ossification of Arabic culture in the cafes, and to discuss to what extent the notion of ‘freedom’ within such popular songs underscore the acceptance of neo-liberal policies. Songs were interspersed with stories about the 70s and personal experiences of neo-liberalism as told by musicians and those planted in the audience. By way of a series of YouTube videos the audience was also introduced to the ideas of Milton Friedman and to critiques of neo-liberalism offered by Naomi Klein and David Harvey. By harkening back to an era during which neo-liberalisation began to emerge, and by employing musical references as diverse as Bendaly Family from Lebanon, the Iranian singer, Googoosh, and Ahmad Zahir, known as the ‘Elvis’ of Afghanistan, the project aspires to rethink the encoded perceptions of Arabic culture and the ways in which certain stereotypes and global economic processes were set out in the wake of the 1970s. The band, having intended to end at the conclusion of the project, now continues to play together in London and will travel to Poland in winter, 2010.

No.w.here lab is an East London-based collective — comprised of artists, Brad Butler and Karen Mirza, and film-maker James Holcombe — which undertakes moving-image based work. From a studio in East London, the group runs film classes and educational workshops and rents out its production and post-production facilities at reduced rates to artists and film-makers. The collective’s contribution to the project began as the first residents of the project’s Free Cinema School — which took the form of workshops, screenings and master-classes — initially over eight weeks during the summer of 2009, with further iterations in the summer and winter of 2010. The curatorial frame of the Free Cinema School was proposed by Sally Tallant and Janna Graham, who were aware of the group’s practice and their interest in the potential of the collaborative working that could be enabled through film-making but also due to the relatively unknown fact that one of the founders of the original 1950s Free Cinema movement was a radical social worker active in the neighbourhood in the 1960s.62

Taking the Free Cinema movement’s ‘belief in freedom, in the importance of people and in the significance of the everyday’, no.w.here work with local people and artists, exploring their experiences of regulation and openness in the neighbourhood, asking what can be understood as ‘free’ in the free cinema of today.63 Collaborating with actors Khalid Abdalla and Cressida Trew, no.w.here took up residence at the CfPS between 20 July and 20 September 2009, during which time they transformed the centre into a working space for collaborative film production, annotation, skills-sharing, workshops and archiving. Mirza talks of the first stage of the project in terms of ‘taking a camera to the street and drawing people to you with your presence’.64 This stage involved a range of around sixty artists, residents and young participants being brought together to co-write, direct and produce a multi-narrative collaborative film. For eight weeks, no.w.here invited participants and residents to the CfPS to view rushes, attend film screenings and hold discursive events as part of their approach to ‘activating the space(s) of the store and the street’ through a co-productive process.65 The first edit of what Mirza calls the ‘trailer’ to a feature film was screened at the end of this initial process at the Serpentine Pavilion on 11 September 2009.66

The eventual film (entitled Edgware Road) will be the result of what Brad Butler calls a ‘process of pre-production, production and post-production all at the same time (...) where the gap between thought and action’ is kept to a minimum.67 The film was continually formed and edited throughout their fellowship and reflects upon the road in cinematic form, in an attempt to produce a democratic and collective cinematic production. It is a montage of short films made by young participants, using a range of film stock and both new and old equipment.68 The product of exchanges, discussions, workshops and collaborative editing, the film depicts a number of narrative-driven scenes set in Edgware Road. Dealing with a range of local issues relating to migrant culture, personal memory, the everyday, merchant life, privatisation of the city and local histories, black and white imagery shot in and around the neighbourhood is overlaid with voiceovers and sounds. Individual narratives are combined with existing film excerpts relating to the history of Edgware Road to provide a palimpsest of stories, perspectives and filmic approaches — past, present, future — superimposed onto one another to combine as a convoluted and complex whole. The Free Cinema School has continued to mine issues of political, democratic and pedagogical film-making through monthly screening salons held in cafes in the neighbourhood and at the Centre for Possible Studies. No.w.here expand on these conversations through an iteration of the School in Cairo in November/December 2010.

At the time of writing, other event fellowships have also looked to the cinematic history of the neighbourhood including those by artists Lamia Joreige and Rania Stephan, whose residency in collaboration with Ashkal Alwan is centred on making a work about Egyptian film star, Suad Hosni, rumoured to have died in mysterious circumstances on Edgware Road.

The Importance of the Longer-Term Durational Process

As a durational investment in the local context, the Edgware Road Project provides a deeper sense of both the ‘validity and reliability’ of building upon closer relationships with local constituencies, which allows for meaningful and ‘transformative transaction’ to take place.69 As Graham states, ‘The better and the deeper the relationship that you have with constituencies, the more risks you are able to take aesthetically and politically’.70 In relation to a single place, the durational process creates room for ideas, issues and subjects to emerge through social relations, rather than having any ambition to represent these relationships as the ‘end-point of any process’.71

This idea of what might endure beyond the project and as a result of the longer-term relationships and the identification of fellow commitments and social struggles is notably distinct from a kind of endurance that relies on a stable infrastructure or a robust institution. The overall project is programmatically sustained by longer-term social and political alliances that are cultivated through relationships along the way, and energised by a series of ‘ruptures and punctuations over a multi-year period, so (the result is not only) an exhibition.72

The Serpentine’s commitment to longer-term engagement with the Edgware Road neighbourhood is the basis upon which projects of various lengths can be built. Because of the fractured nature of the resident fellowships, artists come back and forth to the project, which also allows time for reflection from a distance.73 For Khalaf, the Edgware Road Project functions as a critique of shorter-term projects because it offers a ‘psychological framework’ for invited artists and their collaborators.74 Keeping things organic, open to the accidental and serendipitous, also creates certain conditions for the consequential to add to the dynamics of engagement and for generative moments of criticality to be produced during the project.75

Similarly, for Nav Haq, the project is ‘trying to do something that somehow synchronises different speeds’ rather than imposing time limits, and hence brings in different rhythms of activity so as to sustain a level of momentum and continuity across the programme.76

The Importance of the Different Temporalities

Having multiple timeframes is essential to the durational structure of the programme. Early in the process, Serpentine Director, Julia Peyton-Jones, stated, ‘There will be times when it’s going to be very intense and close and proactive, and other times when it’s going to be less so — a sort of dormant period’.77 During the first year of the project, when ideas and relationships were being developed between artists and constituencies, publicity was localised and kept to a minimum; the project had no web presence and only those involved with it knew it had begun. This alleviated any pressure to perform or present at a moment in which curators, artists and residents were still getting to know each other;78 this is distinct from the shorter-term, which often has a ‘very strategic aim’ as its core value.79

The importance of holding public moments is essential in breaking up the time flow of the research process. This is evident in the first piece of literature published around the project — a poster for Hiwa K’s musical event Chicago Boys: While we were singing they were dreaming… — which doubled as a diary for part of the overall Edgware Road Project programme to be held between 25 March and 1 October 2010. This mapped out a timeline of residencies, events, discussions, workshops and so on, but with a local emphasis. In its less-than-detailed description of what was to come, the poster also highlighted how each event provided a layer that built upon the one before it to form a cohesive inter-relationship.80 As Graham states, ‘we need long-term projects without fixed outcomes (or at least those fixed by the state and other non-progressive forces)’.81

An argument can be made in favour of the liberating potential, for active participants, of shorter-term engagements but these shorter moments become more valuable when they are part of a longer process that establishes a sustainable infrastructure and aspires to leave something behind that is based on embedded relations. For Sember, these short-term encounters operate in stark contrast to the longer term, which he associates with entanglements and an ‘incredible messiness of relationships (in which) things become confused and chaotic very quickly, because they become very much a part of everyday, mundane processes of people’s lives. The complexities of an intervention are huge’ when a long-term embedded process takes over.82 The different temporalities built into the project’s curatorial structure represent an attempt ‘to do something a bit different, because obviously at the gallery they have this stop-start, stop-start dynamic to the programme with all their exhibition projects. (The organisers) wanted to do something that has a very different dynamic to it, and is completely unresolved’, which works itself out during the commissioning process.83 This places emphasis on the curatorial as a practice of leaving things open for longer periods of research from which certain unknown possibilities might emerge rather than situating research in relation to artistic processes as something set out in advance with a linear timeline for prescribed outcomes.

The Edgware Road Project as a Cumulative Process of Gathering Together Multiple Constituencies

Despite the collaborative and participatory nature of the project’s engagement with its local context, there is a relatively autonomous relationship between individual artistic processes and the overarching curatorial frames. This is not a consensual separation of the artist from these frames, nor a position of disinterestedness in the potentiality of the overlapping of artistic and curatorial intent, but it represents a certain independence from institutional pressures, outcomes and project deliverables. Having initiated and laid the groundwork for the project, Tallant and Graham maintain the momentum, energies and correspondence with key stakeholders in the area, but also operate at a certain distance from artistic processes. For Sember, this has the dual effect of conveying a lack of enforced guidance and providing a sense of artistic freedom:

‘I appreciate the autonomy I have been able to have, to be able to listen attentively to the partners that I am working with, the constituencies that I am working with, and to evolve a project in relationship with those constituencies and not feel overly determined by the Serpentine’.84

For him, there will always be a number of voices forming part of the conversation and, at the centre of collaboration, ideas will emerge and change all the time during this process, whereby

‘We are committed to each other; we need to respect each other’s autonomy, so that there is a certain freedom for us to work somewhat independently, to bring the results of our independence into the collective conversation or reflection in some way. Autonomy ensures that differences don’t get subsumed by common directions’.85

This is made possible by both Tallant and Graham who, in Sember’s view, are actively engaged in counteracting the capacity of the art institution to be the dominant partner; they ensure that the gallery is only one of the constituencies at the table.86

In this sense, durational practice is processual rather than procedural or instrumental. Rather than deploying a means end rationality, the processual mode entails both means and ends, however they may emerge in the flow of activity, ideas and exchanges. The place-orientated focus of the project also provides a depth of articulation through an overlapping series of location-responsive art projects. The processual methodology adopted for the project places an emphasis on speculative gestures, imaginative projection and actualised outcomes within the institutional structures provided, whilst also creating a para-institution so as to provide a degree of autonomy from this administrative structure.

In his critique of Nicolas Bourriaud’s Relational Aesthetics, Stewart Martin argues that much collaborative work disguises its own hierarchical modus operandi, often resulting in an aestheticisation of novel forms of ‘capitalist exploitation’, in which an abusive and appropriating structure is in place for market gain, usually at the expense of those participants who are adding to the value of the artwork, artist or commission, without a proportional level of recognition.87 What is apparent with many of the artists invited to participate in the Edgware Road Project is that another kind of identity is put forward for the collaborative artwork realised under this rubric, as the result of the accumulation of perspectives that have formed it.

There is distinct evidence, in considering the statements given by all those involved in the Edgware Road Project, of an overarching belief in people-based action research as a potentially emancipatory experience in which knowledge is produced through empowering processes of animated participation.88 In this context, the curator as ‘mediator’ within the mechanisms of artistic co-production is apparent, as much as the importance of working as part of a project team. The Edgware Road Project supports the idea of the curatorial as keeping things in flow, mobile, in-between, indeterminate, crossing over and between people, identities and things and encouraging others to take part in the emergent communicative process.89

What distinguishes the Edgware Road Project from many other gallery outreach projects is that it prioritises research over production or audience development, with artists selected because they are already invested in location-specific, research-led and/or people-orientated praxis. Commissioned projects are not overly constrained by a requirement to work with specific constituencies assigned by the institution in advance. The durational process of artistic research begins to define a constituency rather than vice versa, with Edgware Road as both the locus and the generative subject for these speculations. The role of the artist is restricted neither to being the overseer of workshop-led processes with learning-based outcomes nor to facilitating participation at some distance from their normative art practice. Instead, the curatorial structure allows artistic practice to remain significant, and semi-autonomous, whilst acknowledging the importance of its inter-relationships with residents in and around the neighbourhood. Given the intentionality inscribed at the outset, the project has been about keeping a durational process in place over time, so that the unforeseen can emerge. The next year of the project could prove more limiting in this respect. As the project enters a period of more heightened public dissemination (through the institution’s public relations systems), the pressures to advance and to accelerate the processual towards artistic production with more visible exhibition moments will be the real challenge to the original intentionality of the project. Retaining a speculative and durational approach to commissioning art for a single place might prove difficult for all those involved. However, in structuring the project around the four terms and in presenting the research process in a multitude of ways in and around the road throughout the two years, the distinctive nature of its development is made publicly evident. By highlighting the distinct characteristics of each of the four stages in the project, the curatorial team has publicised the necessity for artistic research to generate visible outcomes, whilst refusing to consider these as end points.

Locating the Producers
Centre for Possible Studies, opening of the Seymour Street (London, UK) premises, with Re-assembly (2009 to 2011) by Ultra-red on the screen. 90

Locating the Producers
Centre for Possible Studies, the first premises on Porchester Place, London, UK. 91

Locating the Producers
CAMP, Videostore, Placemats (2009). 92

Locating the Producers
CAMP, Placemats (2009). At Shishawi Restaurant on Edgware Road, London, UK. 93

Locating the Producers
Ultra-red, Re-assembly (2009 to 2011), performance in St. Marylebone School, London, UK. 94

Locating the Producers
Hiwa K, Chicago Boys: while we were singing, they were dreaming... (2010), performance in Shishawi restaurant, Edgware Road, London, UK. 95

Locating the Producers
Faisal Abdu’Allah and Students, Dis-assembly (2006), photographic montage. 96
Edgware Road Project
Beyond










Beyond

Leidsche Rijn, Utrecht, the Netherlands

Paul O’Neill

Facts and Figures


 Project:
Beyond

 Location:
Leidsche Rijn, Utrecht, Netherlands

 Websites:
www.beyondutrecht.nl and www.skor.nl

 Duration:
1999-2009

 Lead curator:
Tom van Gestel

 Current artistic advisory board:
Curators Tom van Gestel (chair), Nathalie Zonnenberg and Theo Tegelaers. Previous artistic advisors: Liesbeth Bik, Bernard Colenbrander, Mariette Dölle, Jan van Grunsven, Govert Grosveld (SKOR), Peter Kuenzli, Yvonne Wesselink, Martin Mulder and Hans Ophuis.

 Current project coordination:
Bureau Beyond, Utrecht: Programme coordinator, Monique Dirven; two part-time project managers, Carlijn Diesfeldt and Michiel Brouwer; Felix Janssens who is responsible for all aspects of Beyond’s design and accompanying publications, and programme manager Cor Wijn.

 Administration:
Beyond is an initiative of the Municipality of Utrecht, with the participation of SKOR, the Dutch Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment’s Innovation Programme for Urban Renewal (IPSV), K.F. Hein Foundation, Elise Mathilde Fund with the cooperation of Property Development Leidsche Rijn.

 Funding:
A mix of core and project funding. Beyond had a working budget of €7 million for its duration. Of this, around €3.5 million was provided by Utrecht City Council. The remaining amount was obtained through sponsorship and subsidies. The Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM) contributed €900,000 through the IPSV programme. SKOR contributed €550,000 (excluding its staff funding) and The K.F. Hein Foundation and the Elise Mathilde Fund also made financial contributions.

‘Situation is more than place; situation is everything, it has context, history, people around it’.1

‘Beyond is, in the first instance, an arts project. It’s about creating scenarios for adding art as an extra layer, over a longer period of time, to the design of Leidsche Rijn’.2

‘Beyond, I would say, is trying to create a community where it doesn’t yet exist’.3

Brief Introduction

Beyond was a ten-year programme of temporary public art commissions. Its main ambition was to initiate and promote forms of urban life in Leidsche Rijn — a suburban extension of the city of Utrecht, built almost entirely anew as part of the City of Utrecht’s major urban renewal programme, which began in 1997, a major part of which would be new housing. Having been invited by the city to propose a special public arts strategy for the region in 1999, curator Tom van Gestel from SKOR (Foundation for Art and Public Space) was one of the co-authors of a scenario that set out a temporary public art programme for the region that was accepted by the municipal council in 2001. Van Gestel was involved in the set up the organisation, Bureau Beyond, which subsequently developed numerous projects with artists, architects, urbanists and writers. As a series of commissions in Leidsche Rijn, completed in September 2009, Beyond aspired to create interventions into a cultural landscape in which the unexpected becomes a catalyst for how local inhabitants think about acting upon their new environment.

This chapter will focus on the role of lead-producer, Tom van Gestel, who as a representative of SKOR, maintained a curatorial practice in Leidsche Rijn throughout the project. Based on an analysis of data collected during five site visits — including archival documentation, a focus group session held at de Appel, Amsterdam, in May 2008 and semi-structured interviews conducted with Van Gestel and his artistic advisory team4 — it aims to understand how the commissioner and his collaborators conceive of Beyond as a durational project, a mobile commissioning organisation and a curatorial project developed in line with the completion of Leidsche Rijn’s construction.

Brief Commissioning Background

In 1993, the Dutch Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment addressed the housing shortage in the Netherlands by designating twenty-seven urban areas as the sites of large-scale housing programmes; these city extensions were called Vinex sites.5 Located near the city of Utrecht, Leidsche Rijn was to be the largest of these sites in the Netherlands, to be built over a ten-year period with over 40,000 houses, schools and a public infrastructure for around 70,000 inhabitants. Unlike most of the other Vinex sites, which are developed from scratch, Leidsche Rijn would retain some elements of its existing structure, such as the polar landscape and already-populated villages.

In 1995, a master plan for the region was completed which included Leidsche Rijn. During the planning stages, the Visual Arts Advisory Board for Utrecht advocated the need for a special arts plan that would develop alongside this expansion of the city. A study group was convened by Peter Kuenzli, former Director of Property Development in Leidsche Rijn, who proposed to set out a strategic plan for the area. In 1999, the City of Utrecht’s Department of Cultural Affairs accepted Kuenzli’s initial proposal to develop a plan and approached SKOR and Tom van Gestel to collaborate on the project’s development and future implementation. At this stage, the Art Plan came to be known as Beyond, but any longer term strategy had not been put in place.

Mandated by SKOR, Van Gestel accepted the main curatorial advisory role in the belief that a programme of temporary art projects could offer some alternative to the approach of project developers to a city plan of this scale which typically involves overlooking the provision of local amenities and cultural infrastructure. From the outset, Van Gestel had an interest in offering some challenge to the planners and in identifying gaps in the planning process, making them visible through an arts programme that would promote (rather than prescribe) urbanism and avoid trying to solve the problems of master planning.

In 2000, Kuenzli — together with artistic consultants, Van Gestel and Govert Grosveld (his colleague from SKOR); artist, Jan van Grunsven; architecture critic, Bernard Colenbrander, and a former representative from the Department of Cultural Affairs, Mariette Dölle — wrote the scenario ‘Beyond Leidsche Rijn: the Vinex assignment for art’, a strategic plan, the precise form of which would only ‘become definite during its implementation’.6 Its aims were to focus on the relationship between the urban development plan, the landscape, the construction schedule and the role of contemporary art commissioning during the period of Leidsche Rijn’s development and construction. But, rather than being fixed in time and space like a blueprint, the scenario laid flexible foundations for a series of temporary public art interventions in Leidsche Rijn. From the outset, this was described as a structure that would continue to evolve, through a series of curated ‘chapters’, akin to the acts of a film script.7 In 2001, the Beyond Scenario was accepted by the municipal council to become the strategic art project developed for Leidsche Rijn.

The Beyond Scenario

Beyond took its title from a quotation by Rem Koolhaas: ‘For each project there is a beyond, a domain where no jury will follow’.8 In the original scenario, the key objectives of the long-term commissioning project were framed as a series of questions: What are the social developments concerning the public domain, specifically that of Leidsche Rijn? How do these developments relate to tendencies in art? How might this bring about a shift of emphasis in the practice of visual art? How can art contribute, intrinsically and materially, to the discourse on the contents of the public domain?9

The scenario could be summarised as a three-part critical research assignment. Firstly, Beyond was premised on an evaluation of the characteristics of Leidsche Rijn, a new residential construction with a curatorial project being developed in tandem with the urbanisation process. Secondly, Beyond developed ideas for this location that demonstrated a critical reflection on the conventions of the building programme, in particular during a time when there were few amenities available for the first residents of Leidsche Rijn. And, thirdly, Beyond attempted to question the relationship between spatial development and contemporary art through the occupation of space, with a view to influencing the experience of living and working in Leidsche Rijn and, through its temporary public arts programme, to actively promote forms of communal social life.10

The aspiration within the Scenario was to highlight Leidsche Rijn’s variable landscape qualities, and for Beyond to reflect upon this through a diverse schedule of activities that would give equal consideration to old and new.11 As such, it set out a deliberately elastic and durational project which was intended to result in a series of temporary and experimental interventions; the overall project would have a research-based focus, one that would be responsive to history and to the social, ecological and community developments in and around Leidsche Rijn. Art projects would continually promote an attractive urban cultural atmosphere locally and nationally that would be communicated internationally whilst encouraging community formation through a variety of approaches. Beyond clearly advocated a level of communicability and interactivity throughout its implementation. It would correspond with the ‘outside world and, conversely, the outside world must be able to affect its contents’.12

Most significantly, the Beyond Scenario was proposed as an ‘open and transparent communication system for interaction with the public’ and its emergent communities, with Utrecht City Council as the lead commissioner responsible for the development and realisation of the project as well as its communications.13

The Scenario also set out a programme of six parallel categories:

 1. ‘Looping’
The public relations department of Beyond aims to involve, and to communicate with, Leidsche Rijn residents about Beyond’s activities and to stimulate a debate on its arts programmes through its website, news and publications.

 2. ‘Parasites’
Parasites is a collective term for light, mobile and experimental forms of architecture. During the urban development of Leidsche Rijn, these are commissioned or selected to be sited as flexible buildings with a social or participatory function.14

 3. ‘Artists’ Houses’
Artists are invited to respond to the urbanisation process, with a view to thinking about living in Leidsche Rijn, which has sometimes resulted in built houses being incorporated into the existing plans.

 4. ‘White Spots’
Sites/spaces have been bought and given to artists, with Beyond acting as land and property developers. These spaces are taken out of the master plan during the construction period and used for parallel and future temporary art projects.

 5. ‘Action Research’
A programme made up of temporary projects and artistic interventions created by artists during the development with a view to undertaking research-based interactions which induce participation, reflexive practice and observational responses to the evolution of Leidsche Rijn as an inhabited place.

 6. ‘Directing Artists’
Artists actively contribute their ideas in relation to the infrastructural design of Leidsche Rijn, as part of the design team for the extension, and contribute to a number of large-scale infrastructural projects.

Sample Realised Projects

Over the past ten years, there have been many manifestations of Beyond. Dennis Adams’ Stadium (2002) was the first realised commission, made up of park benches modelled on the original seats from the home side of the Galgenwaard football stadium in the old city of Utrecht. Orange plastic seating, embedded in concrete, is spread around the neighbourhoods of Langerak and Parkwijk as a symbolic reminder of how group gatherings are a form of community, often based upon shared interests and activities and collective expressions of support.

Later projects also dealt with the displacement encountered by Leidsche Rijn in relation to Utrecht. Realised within the ‘White Spots’ category of the Beyond Scenario, Manfred Pernice’s Sculpture Project Roulette (ongoing since May 2006) took as its source material the historical function of permanent public art. In this work, Pernice relocated existing public art from the old city onto a temporary roundabout at the main motorway entrance to the Leidsche Rijn. The roundabout, on the border between old and new Utrecht, showed a rotating selection of sculptures, temporarily removed from their more permanent locations. Every six months, the arrangement was replaced by other works selected from the old city’s collection. The artist curated these constellations by selecting, categorising and placing them together as arrangements of ‘families’ or ‘types’ of monumental public sculptures. He also designed a flexible system of plinths to display several works simultaneously. By 2009, there had been four rotations since the project began, ranging in form from figurative to abstract to commemorative sculptures. The work is a simple but effective spatio-temporal gesture, exposing the absurd and often random nature of public art and its commissioning history.

Pernice’s project was one of several to play on the durational aspect of a place undergoing its own construction. Also falling within the ‘White Spots’ category is the Land project, orchestrated by the Scandinavian artists’ group, N55, which began in 2003 when they laid claim to a 300m2 plot of land in Leidsche Rijn, consisting of a small pasture, enclosed by a moat with its own bridge. The artists specified that this area must not be built upon and, as such, that it remained unaffected by the development going on around it. Marked by a concrete sign with the word ‘LAND’, it was one of the few freely-accessible public spaces that would remain undeveloped in the area, fertile and freely available for residents to use as they wished.

The commissions by Pernice and N55 are ongoing, continuing in some form after the official 2009 end of Beyond. Having begun life as temporary interventions, some projects have been maintained in place and adapted by local agencies for various cultural activities and/or integrated into the physical and social spaces of Leidsche Rijn. These include Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster’s Sainte Bazeille (since 2006).15 This consists of two separate buildings close to each other in open fields near a residential area called Hoge Woerd; each is made up of two intersecting architectural forms: a horizontal silo and a shipping container. As a dual symbol of labour past and present, of farming and industry, these structures connote the disappearance of the countryside to make way for housing and business. Both buildings are employed for local research and pedagogical activity — one as a presentation space for natural and environmental education; the other to display artefacts from Leidsche Rijn’s rich Roman archaeological history. Shigeru Ban’s Paper Dome (since 2003), a large architectural structure made primarily from paper, cardboard and bamboo covered by a polyester cloth, is currently being used for cultural activities, performances and events programmed by local agencies; and an exhibition pavilion Het Gebouw (2005), designed by the Dutch artist, Stanley Brouwn, with architect, Bertus Mulder seems destined to become a more permanent location for the presentation of visual arts exhibitions in the epicentre of Leidsche Rijn.16

Beyond demonstrates how the commissioning of public art constitutes its primary viewing public as a non-art specialist audience. At the heart of the project, there is an investment in the potentialities of integrating temporary public art into the social and physical infrastructure with a view to promoting social life there.

Three key projects illustrate the diversity of the programme and Van Gestel’s interest in situating events particular to Leidsche Rijn, all of which have been large-scale scattered-site group exhibitions: Parasite Paradise (1 August — 28 September 2003) was staged as an open-air exhibition, dispersed across a large area. It has been described as the ‘hardware’ component of Beyond’s programme,17 consisting as it did of twenty-six flexible, mobile, utopian light architectural structures — designed by artists, architects and designers — which together formed a temporary village, or theme park, with a variety of functions in which activities and events took place throughout the summer.18 The outdoor project lasted for two months and was occupied twenty-four hours a day, during which time people could stay overnight in some of the mobile buildings, eat, drink, hang out or go to lectures, concerts and screenings as part of an events programme. The project was cited by the artistic team as ‘an exploration of alternative modes of living’.19

One of the important aspects of Parasite Paradise was that it introduced an events-based programme to a large area of Leidsche Rijn, making the intentions of Beyond visible to local inhabitants as well as to the international art scene. According to curator, Nathalie Zonnenberg, the temporary and often dispersed nature of the programme across a wide region made sure that

‘a lot of people from the area came to see it, and that it was very much about this mobile architecture and a lot of people could relate to that, could understand what it was about. So the exhibition (acted as) publicity for Beyond.’20

A number of the temporary buildings produced for Parasite Paradise had further manifestations beyond the duration of the event-exhibition. For example, The Parasol (April 2004 — April 2007) by German artists Milohnic & Paschke (in collaboration with Resonatorcoop) was temporarily re-sited within Leidsche Rijn as a meeting point for local residents. Made from industrial shipping containers with a wooden veranda covered by a roof of makeshift beach parasols, the structure came fully equipped with running water, electricity and sanitary facilities and was often used as a community centre by De Haar, a welfare association which managed the small building and held its meetings there. Another of the enduring ‘Action Research’ projects that emerged from the Parasite Paradise was waswBik Van der Pol’s Nomads in Residence.

Nomads in Residence — also called Number 19 by Bik Van der Pol (ongoing since 2003) — is a mobile architectural unit, begun as one of the ‘Parasites’, which remains in Leidsche Rijn at a new location in the Terwijde area.21 The design was executed in cooperation with architects, Rien Korteknie and Mechthild Stuhlmacher, to create a mobile research-based artist-in-residence workspace. The building is fully functional as a temporary living and working space to allow guest artists, architects, writers and designers to spend time on site and respond to the immediate surroundings, in some cases developing a project, event or artistic intervention that reflects their experience. The selection process is left open enough to accommodate those who wish to take up residence and dedicate some time to research in the area. Beyond, in consultation with Bik Van der Pol, also invites guests to use this spacious building as a base in Leidsche Rijn from which to observe, research and constructively comment on the rapidly-changing area.22

Invited ‘nomads in residence’ have included artists, Silke Wagner and Sebastian Stöhrer, who organised Cooperation Terwijde, a wide range of events, musical performances and conversational gatherings showcasing the talents, knowledge and skills-base of local residents during a two-week period under the motto ‘Everyone is an Expert’. During this time, a ‘Never Ending Soup’ was in progress, with visitors adding ingredients to a cauldron of soup they ate together; Tillman Meyer-Faje produced the first ‘postcard’ Greetings from Leidsche Rijn (July 2004), and Apolonija Šušteršič organised, amongst other activities, a weekly children’s cinema in the house; by contrast, Adam Kalkin came up with a Proposal for a house (October 2004) in collaboration with an international group of artists who would provide aspects of its design, function, interior and garden.

Most of the residents invited by Bik Van der Pol and the Beyond team employed the space for meetings, discussion, research and production, and many resulted in some locally engaged manifestation, whereas artists commissioned by Beyond, such as Sophie Hope, used Number 19 as a space to stay in during the research phase of her 2007 project, Het Reservaat (Open-air Museum), which proposed the re-imagining of present day Leidsche Rijn by residents looking back from the year 3007; a period of residency enabled Hope to meet with potential participants for what resulted in a tightly scheduled programme of fifteen ‘scenes’ in which performances, music, discussions and everyday activities, from tai chi classes to tea drinking, were acted out in an exaggerated procession of events carried out by visitors to the temporary museum.23

Perhaps most provocatively, Marjolein Dijkman and Wouter Osterholt’s Refuse Dump (May 2004) followed a period of research into the nightlife of Leidsche Rijn. During this time, the artists noticed the enormous amount of still-valuable consumer goods, appliances and furniture being thrown away by the newly arriving residents as they moved into their new homes. The artists retrieved a large repository of items and arranged the objects together in clusters to form domestic environments akin to familial settings such as a living room. Displayed like an outdoor furniture shop, the work invited visitors to experience and participate in the installation which was open for two days, after which time all items were donated to the local charity shop.

Pursuit of Happiness (3 September — 30 October 2005) was a scattered-site exhibition curated by Van Gestel and Zonnenberg, together with artist, Liesbeth Bik (of Bik Van der Pol) and curator Mariette Dölle. Focusing on people, their ideals, dreams and desires, this project has been described as the ‘software’ of Parasite Paradise.24 The event-exhibition consisted of various parts — permanent and temporary commissions and film and video presentations — which aimed to continue the arguments set out in Parasite Paradise, taking them ‘closer to the community’ as a means of reflecting on how utopian thinking and collective aspiration permeates the ways in which model cities are mediated by developers and new residents alike.25

Although there were a number of locations for this project, its heart was the exhibition pavilion designed by Stanley Brouwn in the vicinity of Parkwijk/Langerak, which is also the current site of the paper dome of Shigeru Ban. New commissions by artists were shown alongside films that engaged with ideas of utopia, place, family life and domesticity.26 For example, Barbara Visser made a slide project/sound installation about eighty-nine-year-old Mie van de Sleen-de Varies, who Visser interviewed about the interior of her home (in a suburb of South-East Amsterdam), which is full of modernist designs; Jacob Kolding made a series of sloganistic billboards about urban planning and the role of local residents; and Monica Bonvicini created an abandoned car park, dramatically lit with two crooked lampposts which appeared to have been damaged by a mysterious car accident.

How Beyond is Commissioned — the Artistic Advisory Board as a Curatorial Team

A team of artistic advisors (a.k.a. the A-Team) was solely, and collectively, responsible for the formulation of projects. The development of commissions was facilitated through regular meetings and correspondence with city planners, developers and artists. On the basis of their experience, suitability and appropriateness, artists were invited to respond to one of the six distinct strands of the scenario within the specific context of Leidsche Rijn, which is outlined below. The A-Team then assessed proposals for their artistic merit, their appeal to the local public and their feasibility within the overall plan for the region. The commissioning process seemed to function quite informally; there was an exchange of ideas until an artist’s commission reaches the point at which the rest of the team, employed by Bureau Beyond, began to work with the A-team on realising the project.

Curatorial flexibility was retained because the original scenario, upon which subsequent commissions were based, was accepted by the city as the core funder of the initiative. An agreement was in place to exempt the curatorial team from seeking permission for each individual proposal. The commissioned artists’ projects retained a dialogue with the six strands of the accepted scenario, which was open enough to permit a variety of responses to a constantly evolving situation.27 Beyond has resisted the prevailing tendency, arising from commissioning in urban renewal contexts, to restrict art to either short-term social impact or to problem solving.

As a diverse programme of activities, Beyond also acknowledged that multiple agents were at work within the commissioning process — from curators to artists to audience, to planners, city administrators, developers and all those responsible for the framing of art’s context or situation and its social and spatial reception. In their survey of more sustainable recent approaches to art and renewal, Claire Cumberlidge and Lucy Musgrave have discerned that a new form of urban creative practice has emerged in the past few years, which aims to establish a new way of affecting and forming a more co-productive built environment through partnerships, with art playing a major part in questioning the form that could take. In such projects, they argue, ‘there is a new openness to the value of partnership and collaboration within and between practitioners, community groups, agencies, and public and private sector organizations’.28

Bureau Beyond as a Ghost Organisation

Van Gestel has described Bureau Beyond as a ‘ghost organisation’, as it linked to different investors in Leidsche Rijn as well as networking with evolving organisations led by those who moved there during the construction period.29 The Bureau was divisively set up with the purpose of branding the project, giving it an official-sounding identity. It occupied a rented office in the same building as the Leidsche Rijn city planners, and was located in Utrecht rather than Leidsche Rijn so as to enable a connection with the administration responsible for Leidsche Rijn and its development; the office thus functioned as an administrative node within the city administration. The team that made up Bureau Beyond at any given time was responsible for coordinating Beyond. There were two part-time members of staff, each of whom worked in the office between two and three days per week, including a programme manager (currently Carlijn Diesfeldt) who oversaw the administrative and organisational operations in the office. The number of employees changed according to the level of activity at different stages of the commissioning process, often increasing when a project was nearing completion.

In the beginning, Van Gestel proposed establishing Beyond as a small foundation with a separate bank account — with the organisation investing a lot of money to buy land — but this was decided against for political reasons. It was felt that, if Beyond was a separate foundation with its own statutes and bank account, the city could easily decide to cut ties. Instead, the funding allocated to Beyond was linked to the director of the city of Utrecht’s cultural department, who was directly accountable for funding and the protection of the continuity of the Beyond programme. Bureau Beyond therefore had a direct line of communication with the municipality, to which it was responsible for the delivery of the temporary public art programme. While linked to the municipality and the cultural department, thereby profiting ‘from the connections and of the politics in Utrecht’, some independence was thereby maintained by the Bureau.30

There were many parties involved, and Van Gestel visited Leidsche Rijn once a week to maintain contact with developers and city planners. As a curator and artistic advisor with SKOR (a publicly funded organisation responsible for art in public space throughout the Netherlands), Van Gestel’s connection was important in establishing the artistic credentials of Beyond in the eyes of the city planners.

Brief Durational Commissioning Context in Europe and the Netherlands

Beyond is exemplary of a more generalised durational turn in public art commissioning to have taken place within the past ten years or so, aligned to regeneration and renewal programmes. These have included Nouveaux Commanditaires in Bourgogne (since 1997), which began as an innovative model, conceived by François Hers, to support the production of utilitarian public art, primarily for rural contexts, realised through a collaborative process and commissioned by citizens or by associations directly involved in the conception, production and ownership of the artwork; Breaking Ground (since 2002) was devised in partnership with developers, Ballymun Regeneration Committee,31 as a programme of art commissions initiated in parallel with a Dublin suburb undergoing regeneration; and the short-lived kunstprojekte_riem (2001-04), in Munich, for which art was realised in dialogue with new residential areas undergoing construction in dialogue with residents and developers. Led by curator, Claudia Büttner, this project was undertaken with a view to making art for a new suburb, Messestadt Riem, across a range of artforms — from objects to installations, actions, public discussion forums and participation projects — which focused on how art could shape the future of a residential space through ‘art in the public interest’.32 Like Beyond, this project was based on an overall concept accepted by city councils and permitting a level of flexibility within an agreed framework.33

To find Beyond’s most significant precedent, one has to go back a little further, to the legacy of environmental art in the Netherlands, as encouraged by the ‘Arnhem School’ in the 1970s, and to their central ideological agenda for new urban developments.34 The directors of the school, Berend Hendriks and Peter Struycken, advocated that architects, environmental designers and artists work together in an interdisciplinary way to provide public spaces with more complexity, variation and social orientation as part of an overall urban planning process. By integrating art and urban planning, artists were to be given an equal role on design teams so as to effectively introduce more sociable spaces within housing estates and new residential developments. Environmental art’s main objective was to counteract the experience of alienation experienced by residents in new built environments. By introducing more diverse sensory orientations into the building process, environmental art intended to encourage inhabitants to identify more with their immediate environment and to take part in forming its identity. Not far from Leidsche Rijn, the suburb of Lunetten represents one project influenced by this approach. Here, in the late 1970s, Wim Korvinus and Marcel van Vuuren co-ordinated artistic commissions on the outskirts of Utrecht. Their main objective was to facilitate more variable urban design so that socialised public spaces could be created, using art’s design role in the formation of more ‘authentic places’.35

The project’s problems were manifold, with six commissions bearing little relationship to each other being staggered over several years, which required too much of an improvisatory approach from those involved, leading to a mish-mash of projects primarily integrated into the new commercial centre of the urban development. As Camiel van Winkel has argued, it was believed at the time that the art would provide Lunetten with its identity, by using art to insert a level of spatial complexity into the newly built environment. This led to its most evident failure, with ‘authenticity’ and ‘identity’ being artificially imposed on a place, through urban planning and permanent interventions, over a short timeframe and with little consideration of how public space would be used and adapted over time.36 This is part of a wider concern within what Miwon Kwon has called the ‘contemporary lust for authentic histories and identities’.37 Through diverse modes of engagement and as a means of promoting urban life rather than prescribing it, Beyond has attempted to re-write these failures, to show how art can be part of the genesis of a place without being confined to the formation of authentic identity through art’s integration into the more permanent built environment.

Beyond consistently promoted social and spatial practice via temporary art interventions, events and social sculptures, commissioned with the intention of enabling civic interactions, social gatherings and discussions. Mobile architecture, events and temporary built environments were central to these experiences, and the overall programme was orchestrated for a mixed public and permeated with a kind of festival spirit. As such, it may be considered as a series of short-term interactions within a longer term project, with the overall timeframe being long enough to allow real experimentation to occur and for a situationally informed practice to be realised within Leidsche Rijn during the time its fledgling communities emerged. Beyond facilitated multiple encounters between art, people and places, inducing and stimulating memories, debates and experiences. In doing so, it also consistently challenged what is defined as the permanence of public art.

Curatorial Mobility: Beyond as a Semi-Autonomous Art Project

To keep a space open for public art commissioning, without the kind of externally imposed limitations often associated with city development initiatives, requires a relatively autonomous relationship to the administrative infrastructures to allow the commissioning body relative autonomy in its creative decisions, whilst working within the city’s administrative infrastructure which provides it with support. While dealing with the dilemmas concerning the architectural and spatial programming of new urban environments, Beyond retained a semi-autonomous position within the overall planning and municipal process, being both within and outside the city’s central administrative structure. At the core of Beyond was the question of how to create a space for art within the development of a place in partnership with city planners. The solution was to carry out a curatorial process that was in line with the development of Leidsche Rijn. When Beyond started,

‘everything was continuously on the move, everything was moving around, disappearing, coming’ into being and this changeability meant that it was also very practical to be close to what the planners and developers were thinking about and doing, so that certain pieces of land could be found that were yet to be built upon’.38

It was this mobility and connectivity that allowed Van Gestel and the A-Team to think about how public art commissioning would add ‘meaning to the arts’ rather than focusing only on ‘a result in social terms or doing something for the neighbourhood or doing something for the city’.39 For curator Brigitte van der Sande, Beyond had a double role as both ‘autonomous art commissioning in the public space of the urban extension’ and as a project that relates ‘to the sociological and cultural context of the extension’.40

Leidsche Rijn was more than just a backdrop for commissioned art; instead it articulated a role for ‘art to be woven more into the fabric of Leidsche Rijn’.41 Key to the sustainability of the curatorial remit for Beyond was the ability to remain both embedded within these systems and ‘mobile, (to) take care to be as open and flexible as possible and know that everything that (is) planned with the artistic team might not be realised.’42

Rationale for the Durational Approach

The durational rationale for Beyond was three-fold. Firstly, as already outlined, it was developed in tandem with the urbanisation process, whilst following through on the scenario accepted by the city in 2001. Secondly, when Beyond began, Leidsche Rijn was under construction and lacked basic facilities for its first residents. So, for example, Shigeru Ban’s Paper Dome employed mobile architecture for cultural activities, performances and events programmed by local agencies, Stanley Brouwn’s Exhibition Pavilion acted as a local arts centre and exhibition space maintained under the auspices of Bureau Beyond and the city of Utrecht and Bik Van der Pol’s Nomads in Residence served as a mobile research-based artist-in-residence workspace. The third durational aspect of Beyond lay in a reflexive study of art in the public sphere, which asked how this model of commissioning public art contributes to thinking about how curators, commissioners and artists relate to the particularities of the area or react upon the specific situation.43

Beyond as a series of commissions offered a way of testing and trying, in which different kinds of successes and failures were measured by the degree to which commissions were adopted, or adapted, by local inhabitants. There was evidence that, as an evolving curatorial practice, Beyond actually incorporated failure into its evaluation process. Although most of the projects were temporary they still need to be maintained by the city in the longer-term. For example, the Brouwn and Ban buildings acquired a new cultural function after the commissions were completed, with interest being shown by the communities in employing the buildings for their own activities. In their new role, the commissions require additional money to sustain activities and the buildings need maintaining; many of these have been supported by the city, which is something that Beyond tried to encourage through its links with the city and the cultural department.44

Beyond was a series of short-term interactions within a longer term project, with the duration being long enough to create something fresh and to establish a firm base for public art commissioning in Leidsche Rijn. Ten years is seen as being substantial enough, even in a material sense, for the project to have had a considerable influence on the commissioning of public art in the region. According to Van Gestel, the city planners in Utrecht are already thinking about how Beyond could be adopted for a central city regeneration programme in the coming years.

For Van Gestel, any potential change that can occur in a place through public art commissioning must involve sufficient time spent engaging with local inhabitants, agencies and city planners who will be there long after the artistic team, and the Beyond office has left. Such time allows for real experimentation to take place, and an engaged practice to emerge so that ‘doing things that you can’t always expect to be successful, just trying things out, taking risks, giving chances to artists, figuring out different ways of doing your work’ is an attitude that is more important than any claims that Beyond has helped the people in Leidsche Rijn to be happy in their environment.45

Beyond represents a commitment to engaging art in, and for, a single place and its most immediate audiences. As a co-operative process, linking many actors and agencies, it involved the coming-together of a range of individuals with various divergent objectives for an extended period of time. In this way, durational praxis can make possible a mode of facilitating participation and, crucially, of allowing the commissions to be adapted for multiple and common use as part of a slowly unravelling narrative that encourages the involvement of residents in the process.

Beyond as an Open Cumulative Structure — an Event without an End

When artists, curators and commissioners contribute to sustaining a practice-in-place for a period of static, immobile time, with a view to leaving something behind that could not have been anticipated, there is a prevailing belief that a transitory and delimited duration matters.46 Van Gestel has stated his interest in the idea of artistic ‘events as a means rather than an end’.47 This idea of the art event that never ends carries on after the opening and closing of its public manifestation, and is key to how each commission is conceived of as part of a cumulative commissioning process.48 For Van Gestel, the medium of the event seemed to be an effective means of enabling an ‘intriguing list of topics’ that are open and varied enough to allow multiple artistic positions to be accommodated without their response to the invitation being reduced to a particular theme.49 On the whole, Beyond continued to evolve as a narrative that had only begun to unfold — an eventful story which refused to foreclose an ending, while responding to the changing conditions under which the project proceeded. Beyond conceived of a public role for art, its expression and its experience as a sequence of ongoing gestures, when what characterises ‘gesture is that, in it, nothing is being produced or acted, but rather something is endured and supported’.50 Longer moments of ‘gesture’ lead to shorter moments of activation with socialising potential.

As a long-term project, Beyond enabled a cumulative programme to advance, it promoted social and spatial practice without trying to enforce or reproduce it. Large-scale events such as Parasite Paradise or In Pursuit of Happiness were, in this case, employed as a means of activating moments of communal publicness. Diverse artistic positions and publics were brought together under a single rubric for a short period. The overall programme was orchestrated for a mixed audience, with mobile architecture and temporary built environments being central to the way in which public artworks were experienced, seeping into everyday urban life through their capacity to mobilise a temporary community around them. Although the individual works were scattered, they were connected across space and time, configured as part-components of a ‘constellation’. Jane Rendell recently stated the importance of a reassertion of time into critical spatial practice, where the temporal provides a durational dimension for practice to transcend the spatiality of much public art curating. As was the case with Beyond, the artworks were collectively part of a temporal as well as spatial ‘constellation’ of interconnections.51

Duration allowed such connections to relate to one another and to unfold within and across a designated space (Leidsche Rijn) and time (ten years).

Beyond as a Reflection on a Community under Development

As a cumulative process aligned to the evolution of a community, Beyond ‘insert(ed) little histories in an area which has no history at all’.52 Whereas the 1990s witnessed a growing perception that a coherent relationship between a single place and identity was possible, with art contributing to the valorisation of place as a locus for ‘authentic experience’,53 subsequent theories have shown ‘place’ to be a temporary, evasive and open construct. Any place is a constellation of co-habited spaces, full of contestation, negotiation and instability. Beyond purports Leidsche Rijn as an emergent place that is never fixed; it is always hybrid, differential and mobile, with multiple dimensions being brought to bear on the social, as much as being formed out of extant social processes and external forces.54

According to Liesbeth Bik, Beyond seemed to be about ‘trying to create a community where it doesn’t yet exist’ by ‘selecting, or thinking about, valuable or useful projects for Leidsche Rijn’.55 Similarly, according to Nathalie Zonnenberg, Beyond ‘comes out of some kind of ideology that you can add something to this area, to an environment where people live and that it really means something and that it effects a specific relation with the people there, and it improves their surroundings’ by engaging with a place in transition through artistic interventions.56

One of the ways in which the A-Team of Beyond facilitated links with locals was through the ‘Looping’ programme, which maintained a blog by a virtual journalist called Vicky Vinex, a fictional single female living in Leidsche Rijn who commented on the programme by constantly complaining about how it lacked an understanding of the local. This operated as a communicator between what Beyond was doing and what their local audiences expected.

So, the A-Team was trying to think of how ‘art (can) be part of urban development’.57 Although Van Gestel’s constant presence and energy throughout the project was significant in pushing forward the scenario, Beyond had an embedded role in the development process, which enabled the curatorial team to

‘sustain the long-term engagement because of (its) structure or organisation, so we have this foundation for a specific amount of time. We are linked to the development of Leidsche Rijn, linked to the developer’s office, so, when Leidsche Rijn is almost finished, our job is also finished, because we questioned the role of art in urban development, and, if Leidsche Rijn is finished, if it’s part of a city, then you can look back (at) whether Beyond fulfilled its task’.58

Almost the End — Leidsche Rijn Sculpture Park

On Friday 11 September 2009, after ten years of mainly temporary interventions into the infrastructure of Leidsche Rijn, the artistic advisory team brought Beyond to its close by curating a series of permanent public art commissions in Leidsche Rijn, to be dispersed throughout a large park area assigned for the purpose. Like many of Beyond’s projects, this was launched with the atmosphere of a local festival, with food for all, drinks, bus trips, an art walk, guided tours, a spectacular opening and an after-party. Visitors were supplied with a map of the park, outlining the sites of the works and a possible route around them.

The park itself — in which the existing polar landscape is greatly respected and responded to — was designed with future residents in mind by Adriaan Geuze of West 8 Landscape Architects. The core idea was to create a sculpture park for the twenty-first century based on Michel Houellebecq’s science fiction novel The Possibility of an Island — an account of a jaded, middle-aged man looking for love and meaning on a dystopian island of the future.59 The new-worldly aspect of this island of the future provided Beyond with an empty image upon which to project a future civilisation, one that is built upon the fragments of the past, such as the park in Leidsche Rijn.

Houellebecq’s book was distributed to artists with the aim of informing the kind of artworks that would be commissioned. Of the seven works arising, several employ the sci-fi novella as their starting point. For example, Rob Voerman’s Untitled, 2009, a tower designed as a futuristic ruin uses light and glass to illuminate itself at night. Another work which transforms at night is Zilvinas Landzbergas’s Untitled, 2009, a circular basin with a water fountain emanating from its centre placed near a lily pond. By day, it looks rather industrial; at night an illuminated water projection confers on it an ethereal space-age quality.

Even more directly, Daniel Roth’s Anonymous Monuments, 2009, makes reference to the novel’s main protagonist, Daniel 25, who goes in search of remnants of a lost world. Roth’s work spatially configures a constellation of rock-like black amorphous shapes, embedded in the earth like melted tombstones or fallen meteorites. The work is sited in an old pear orchard, giving it a further gothic quality. The objects appear mysteriously locked somewhere between the past and the future, as if they have either been there longer than the orchard or they have just arrived.

All of the works play in diverse ways with a temporal dichotomy, converging past and future times. William Speakman’s Wood Chapel, 2009, with its interior colourfully painted by Gijs Frieling, employs traditional methods of fabrication to construct a wooden church-like pavilion, open on three sides, with an overall aesthetic derived from folklore, nature and craft.

Fernando Sánchez Castillo’s Barricade, 2009, is a life-scale barrier across a pathway through the park. Made up of bronze flags, car parts, barrels, rocks and a central sculpture of an overturned Fiat 500 and a Citroen 2CV (symbols of the 1968 student riots in Turin and Paris respectively), the work functions as a monument to future democracy and protest.

Lucas Lenglet’s Observatorium, 2009, was the final work to be commissioned. It was selected by the residents of Leidsche Rijn from a shortlist of three designs for interactive sculptures in the playground area of the Binnenhof. Lenglet’s winning design is of a tall watchtower of interlinking circles producing a spiral staircase within the tower, which can be scaled by park visitors to offer a panoramic view across the park.60

While certain temporary projects have already become more permanent because they have found a socio-cultural function in the new city extension, the move towards permanent commissioning seems at odds with the original scenario and the interest in temporary events. For Van Gestel and the A-Team, this move was about creating a legacy in relation to the kind of public art already in place. With the first commissions being realised by Beyond in 2009, there is an expectation that these will be extended in the future, when the art commissions will fall under the Fonds Stadsverfraaiing (Urban Embellishment Fund) of the municipality of Utrecht.61

From the Temporary to the Permanent — the Question of Beyond’s Legacy

Parallel to Beyond, there are many other commissioning projects in Leidsche Rijn, from the occasional shorter term event-based projects realised by participants from de Appel Curatorial Training Programme, or nearby exhibition spaces such as Utrecht-based Casco and BAK and, most significantly, a Percent for Art scheme which has primarily resulted in permanent interventions and the integration of public art into new building projects.62

To some extent, the permanence of works under the Percent for Art scheme informs Beyond’s rationale for the commissioning of a contemporary sculpture park. As well as bringing a conclusion to ten years of temporary works, the shift in emphasis from temporary projects to permanently sited works stakes a claim for Beyond’s legacy as much as it seeks to leave behind artworks with an alternative approach to integrating art into the built environment. As Leidsche Rijn was premised on a notional utopian place for the future, this also appears to be the logic behind the final project. Nathalie Zonnenberg hopes that the commissions will reflect upon this temporal disjuncture, to ‘stimulate people to use (the sculpture park) and to give meaning to it as a starting point for something else’.63

Beyond has enabled Van Gestel to reflect upon, and evaluate, both his own curatorial practice and the position of SKOR as public art advisors, and his belief in the ideology of an event-based programme that would constitute a public for art. Having begun as a critique of short-term engagements with place and a belief in the formation of a collective memory that could be brought to bear by residents on a programme that would evolve as their community develops, Beyond’s intention of sustaining a temporary programme in parallel with the construction of Leidsche Rijn may have reached its natural conclusion with a more permanent intervention there.

Making a permanent final statement would seem to be an odd resolution of initial ideals, which suggests a certain amount of submission to local pressure and giving the planners what they really wanted. Taking into account the ways in which the temporary projects pro-actively engaged with a specific social situation, with many the artworks in dialogue with their elected location, the designation of an overly designed and attributed leisure park for sculptures also weakens the site-bound values of the commissions. As Bik suspected,

‘it is almost as if the rest was just foreplay for the real act (…) I feel like it’s almost like an attempt, let’s say, to come closer to this desire of the people of Leidsche Rijn or the critics who say, “Oh we want something permanent”’.64

Upon reflection, Bik later stated that the more permanent sculpture park seemed like a natural progression, in which the temporary projects had laid the groundwork to enable both a high quality of permanently sited public art to be commissioned.65 According to Bik and many of the commentators involved in the project, Van Gestel and his collaborators obtained experience over time, which enabled an understanding of some of the complexities of commissioning in the region that they were able to bring to bear on the flexible curatorial process. There was a background of established connections with local residents, planners and developers, as well as a history of producing works with a range of Dutch and international artists. They knew the area and were familiar with the public art situation so they were able to act ‘as intermediates between these two worlds’.66 The artistic team was, therefore, more than a selection committee, as the individuals involved were aware of what could work and what was possible within the parameters of the context.

Although the sculptural aspect of the permanently sited works contrasts significantly with the previously social aspect of the temporal programme, these works provide an evidential link to Beyond’s ten-year presence. By leaving something behind in Leidsche Rijn, there is a visible and physical reminder of what came before. But, this also contradicts the original premise of curating a public art programme during the moment at which a community was emerging. Instead of the community being perceived as an ever-changing and constantly forming constituency, as put forward in the original curatorial premise, what is ultimately deemed to have arrived is static and no longer projected as an evolving entity.

Beyond and Curating for the Long-Term versus the Short-Term

The initial Scenario set forth commissioning as a temporal process, akin to a ‘long stretched theatre play’, with individual projects and events being staged as momentary acts in a longer-term process.67 The Scenario also employed a range of formats for temporary art projects, utilising the scattered-sited inter-relationality of works familiar from large-scale perennial projects such as Sonsbeek (since 1971), Skulptur Projekte Münster (since 1977) or inSITE (since 1992). In these international comparators, a series of artworks are shown to relate to one another, to be experienced as components of a narrative structure, whilst acquiring an added temporal dimension through the curatorial logic of inter-connecting art with different sites in a given location at a given time. These projects have all contributed to an expanded field of public sculpture and exposed ways in which the spatio-temporal fabric of a single location has come to be regarded as an essential component of the engagement of art with the socio-historical dimension of places. What distinguishes Beyond from these projects is the way in which it can be read as an elongated narrative that unifies certain moments, whilst being dispersed across a longer time-span. Unlike the other perennial exhibitions mentioned above, Beyond lasted for ten years rather than the average of one hundred days, during which its longevity created a trajectory of connections between artworks, people and events as part of a slowly emergent, processual experience of art and of place. There was a stretched-out configuration of relationships between things — a constellation of interconnecting points — in which artworks related to one another across time. This diverges from the way in which links are created by associating artworks, across exhibitions or in-between locations, as spatial interconnections.

The initial idea of curating a durational event purports art and its emergent publics as dialogically entwined, where temporariness is sustained in parallel with (be)coming communities. As collective memory and ephemerality are notoriously unreliable, it is less likely that Beyond will be remembered for its open-ended duration and the temporary nature of its cumulative programme, than for its decision to deploy a more conventional approach to commissioning permanent public sculpture as part of a city extension. While its main ‘event as a means’ came to an end after ten years, it might be worth asking whether Beyond is still awaiting its expectant audience — a future public for its art park of the future — which has yet to recognise its full potential. As a commissioning approach, its legacy will not reside in any temporary or permanent artwork, but in its long-term efficacy and what it has left behind; not in art but in its usefulness as a prospective, open-ended curatorial model in years to come. The future is where its greatest impact will be felt, which will be measured by the extent to which it influences, and is adapted by, subsequent commissioning policies, in Leidsche Rijn and beyond.

Locating the Producers
Map of Leidsche Rijn, situation in 2000.
Source: http://www.deappel.nl/

Locating the Producers
Manfred Pernice, Roulette (2006-2009), Koehoornplein, Utrecht, the Netherlands.
Source: http://www.beyondutrecht.nl/

Locating the Producers
N55, Land (2003), Terwijde, Leidsche Rijn, the Netherlands.
Source: http://www.lucyindelucht.nl/

Locating the Producers
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster in collaboration with Martial Calfione, Sainte Bazeille (2006), Leidsche Rijn, Utrecht, the Netherlands.
Source: http://www.beyondutrecht.nl/

Locating the Producers
Shigeru Ban, Paper Dome (2003) , Leidsche Rijn, Utrecht, the Netherlands.
Source: http://www.ilovenoord.nl/

Locating the Producers
Stanley Brouwn with Bertus Mulder, Het Gebouw (2005), Leidsche Rijn, Utrecht, the Netherlands.
Source: http://www.moderndesign.org/

Locating the Producers
Vito Acconci, Mobile Linear City (ongoing since 1991) view from interior onto Inge Roseboom’s Bar Raketa (2005), installed at Parasite Paradise (2005), Leidsche Rijn, Utrecht, the Netherlands.
Source: http://www.parasiteparadise.nl/

Locating the Producers
Milohnic & Paschke in cooperation with Resonatorcoop, The Parasol (2004 to 2007), Leidsche Rijn, Utrecht, the Netherlands.
Source: http://aka.ip-technik.net/

Locating the Producers
Marjolijn Dijkman and Wouter Osterholt, Refuse Dump (2004), Nomads in Residence (2003 to 2009), Leidsche Rijn, Utrecht, the Netherlands.
Source: http://dwaalmachine.sjonges.nl/

Locating the Producers
Daniel Roth, Anonymous Monuments, Leidsche Rijn Beelden Park (2009), Leidsche Rijn Park, Leidsche Rijn, Utrecht, the Netherlands.
Source: http://www.beyondutrecht.nl/

Locating the Producers
Fernando Sánchez Castillo, Barricade, Leidsche Rijn Beelden Park (2009), Leidsche Rijn Park, Leidsche Rijn, Utrecht, the Netherlands.
Source: http://www.beyondutrecht.nl/

Locating the Producers
William Speakman’s Wood Chapel under construction in Leidsche Rijn Beelden Park (2009), Leidsche Rijn Park, Leidsche Rijn, Utrecht, the Netherlands.
Source: http://www.west8.nl/
Beyond
Curatorial Research Methods & Conviviality










Curatorial Research Methods & Conviviality

Mick Wilson

Locating the Producers is the outcome of a sustained investigation into durational commissioning in relation to place-based and audience/participant-activated art practices and curatorial strategies. In initiating this body of work, several basic research methods were employed by Paul O’Neill as the key means through which the emergence of durational commissioning, curatorial and production practices were to be investigated. These research tools were listed by the researcher as archival study, site visits, interviews with key informants, curatorial focus groups and semi-public discursive sessions.1 This set of practices was devised as the means through which to explore questions pertaining to: the conditions and motivations for commissioners, curators and artists to engage on a long-term basis with specific places, contexts and situations; the particular character of durational, place-based commissioning that has emerged in the first decade of the twenty-first century; and the strategies, operational concepts and techniques through which curators initiate and sustain a long-term practice that engages with each particular context, constituency or place.

In its construction, the research project drew upon two decades of curatorial discourse and upon traditions of case study within anthropology, the social sciences and other humanities disciplines. The case study is a surprisingly contested research practice given its relative ubiquity across a spectrum of disciplines as diverse as clinical medicine, management science and art history. Within the social sciences, there has been an ongoing debate around the epistemic nature of the case study and the problem of generalisation from particulars.2 This is arguably just another episode in a long series of contests over the question of method and epistemic legitimacy in the production of knowledge across different disciplines. The paradigm for these methodological conflicts is the relatively overlooked Methodenstreit of the late nineteenth century in which German and Austrian economists disputed the question of generalisability and mathematical modelling with respect to historically situated human actors and systems of valuation.3 However, some have traced the source of this kind of conflict over appropriate research methods to seventeenth century attempts to re-formulate critical historical method by writers such as Le Clerc and Pierre Bayle in the wake of the Cartesian, and later Newtonian, re-ordering of Natural Philosophy (Grafton, 2007). Others go back to classical antiquity and to Parmenides’s ‘proem’ with its discussion of competing ways of searching after the truth.4 This ambivalent history is but part of a greater ambivalence about the value of methods discourses in general, especially when methodological argument begins to creep into foundational epistemological territory and over-arching theories of knowledge.

There is a well-established expectation (arguably based on hard-won experience) that discussions of research method will be found somewhat tedious, unproductive in themselves and ultimately misleading because of their abstracted and fictive quality.5 This is normally contrasted with the richness of content and empirical detail present in the concrete instances of actual research contributions. This presumption on the dullness of discourses on method is validated by the proliferation, within higher education, of earnestly uninspired and mechanically servile research methods courses, which reproduce the tedium of overly abstracted methodological paradigms while disavowing any serious critical interrogation of institutionalised research enterprises. However, if we pause to consider the historical significance of various statements of method for the elaboration of knowledge formations — from Bacon’s Novum Organum to Gadamer’s Truth and Method; from Descartes’ Discourse on Method to Foucault’s Archaeology of Knowledge; from the ancient foundational treatment of method in Aristotle’s Analytics to Ramus’ late medieval (and much maligned)6 ‘methodising’ on the arts and onward to the more recent pronouncements Against Method of Paul Feyerabend — it is apparent that not all discourses on method are necessarily dull, nor indeed without critical intellectual ambition and transformative potential. However, the issue as to the accuracy or reliability of statements on method is attested to by the large body of literature that questions the various claims made by different methodologists to disclose their operational habits and their animating principles.7 Given this broader context, one necessarily approaches a discussion of research method with a certain degree of caution.

Each of the case studies selected for examination within the Locating the Producers research project, in turn contains within itself a significant and centrally important research moment; thus, the Beyond programme contains a sub-strand called ‘Action Research’; Kunstplan Trekroner is a sustained research action into the agonistic construction of ‘place’ and the attempt to re-imagine urbanist and planning practices; the Edgware Road project is in part described as a programme of ‘research-led commissions responding to the particular conditions of a (...) neighbourhood in London’; The Blue House project takes as its central orientation research into the ‘unplanned’ to become a locus for multiple research actions; Grizedale Arts as a curatorial model employs the lexicon of research in its funding structure and identifies research facilities as one of the key provisions it makes available to artists and curators. In each case study, then, there is a greater or lesser degree of research activity intrinsic to the commissioning programmes under review. In some cases, the research dimension is overarching and fundamental to the conception of the commissioning and curatorial programme as a whole, most notably perhaps in Kunstplan Trekroner, The Blue House and Edgware Road. This double moment of research addressing projects that in turn incorporate a research ethos, further complicates the discussion of method introduced above.

This use of research as a project framework is consistent with a larger re-orientation within contemporary cultural production whereby arts practices are deployed as research actions, and research paradigms and structures are deployed as platforms for cultural production. The embedding of research activity within curatorial programmes and artworks may be read in relation to a broader re-orientation, in post-conceptual contemporary art, in which cognitive agency and productivity are seen, by many, as an intrinsic potential of cultural practice and, by some, as an essential aspect of all cultural production. The currency of such terms as ‘knowledge production’ in the contested rhetoric of contemporary art is indicative of this broader re-orientation of the cultural field, which is, in part, informed by the development of research programmes and doctoral studies across arts education, but which also draws upon tendencies within the development of twentieth century modernist and avant-garde formations (e.g. constructivism, surrealism and situationism). This development of cultural practice as cognitive counter-culture has evolved in contexts that are often independent of formal educational structures, although often in their orbit (e.g. Charles Esche’s protoacademy) and sometimes through the self-institution of new educational practices (e.g. Beuys’s Free University models). However, this inherent tendency for practice to occur outside the formal educational apparatus has been partially obscured by the intensity of recent debate on the question of artistic research and creative practice research within the academy.

Both these observations — that the instances examined in the case studies constitute research actions in themselves, and that the field of contemporary culture is transected by research lexicons and models — render methodological questions both necessary and highly challenging (while, unfortunately, offering no guarantee of avoiding presumptive dullness). On the one hand, the recursive effect of discussing the research methods deployed within a project that investigates other projects (each with its own substantial research component) threatens to rebound upon itself in a contradictory and confusing manner. On the other hand, the consistent appeal, on the part of some arts practitioners and their critical champions, to rhetoric of radical alterity in describing the specificity of artistic research threatens to draw us into an unsavoury epistemic battle royale. The potential for epistemic quarrelling is already evident in the recurrent tendency to conflate research that entails art practice with the reduction of art to a sui generis research method. This art-is-already-its-own-research position is also enthusiastically presented in the reductive equation of art with an anti-methodical method of enquiry. Typically, such rhetorical productions pronounce upon a somewhat caricatured and occasionally phobic construction of ‘science’ and ‘scientific method’, as whole dimensions of cognition, from the affective to the embodied, are pre-eminently arrogated to the art system.8 Predictably enough, the affective dimension manifests itself as owned on all sides as tempers flare and insults fly.

These problems are elaborated here because they actually help to underline the importance of the methodological considerations that are operative within the Locating the Producers project as a whole, and, indeed, that are evident across the spectrum of live curatorial research produced within the orbit of the Situations platform.9 The Locating the Producers project, and the structure within which it was initiated, demonstrates a sophisticated negotiation of the intertwined conceptual and pragmatic problems posed by any enquiry that operates in, through and about the practices, conditions, contexts, contents and consequences of contemporary art. It is precisely by avoiding the blunt dichotomies of art and science, of affect and knowledge, of fact and value, of particular and universal, of meaning and materiality, that these enquiries manage to construct a way of working that employs multiple perspectives within a unified and thematically coherent, but nonetheless dialogically complex, study.

The ‘curatorial’ method that has been deployed in developing and implementing the Locating the Producers research project is a very interesting example of negotiating the specificity of a research domain (contemporary art curating and commissioning) while also producing a critically robust and productive operational model for research. It is not that this research process is completely unprecedented and unique, but rather that the process draws upon key precedents within curatorial practice and the turn to discursive platforms, while also drawing upon more familiar academic frameworks, such as hermeneutics, and activist paradigms, such as action research. It does this without protesting too much and without claiming an absolute particularity or purity for its curatorial methods, and, therefore, the risk is that the significance of these methods might be obscured by the attention paid to the substantive outcomes of the research project.

O’Neill has employed a curatorial process to construct a research bed that accommodates the intrinsic multiplicity of each of the complex ‘objects’ of study while implicating the different perspectives and agency of the research participants. The commissioners of the various projects are active agents of the research in conducting sustained interviews, closed and open discussions, workshops, site-visits and extended informal debates. They are consistently also brought into dialogue with each other and with other agents in the commissioning structures and in the broader arenas of cultural production and critique. The small collective of fellow travellers convened as a core focus group, who then built relationships over the several years of the research process, were brought into new alignments and contexts at each phase of the study — in this way, the ‘happy band’ were not left in the safety and comfort of their convivial encounters but were also drawn out into public exchanges, challenges and contests from divergent positions and disagreements with each other and with other interlocutors. The research brief permitted a careful plotting of a broadly-conceived trajectory of professional and social interaction, which generated a basis of familiarity and trust that enabled frank ‘warts-and-all’ dialogues, but it also entailed the constant interruption of this comfort zone by the admixture of new participants and different moments of public-ness, whereby the participants were drawn into new arenas of discussion and encounters with new critical opponents. The group thus convened from site to site, pursuing a series of multimodal interrogations of each case study. This group typically comprised the lead researcher, Paul O’Neill, the key commissioner, curator and/or artist from each project which included Tom van Gestel, Kerstin Bergendal, Jeanne van Heeswijk, Sally Tallant and Alistair Hudson, as well as other regularly invited participants such as Jonathan Banks, Barbara Holub, Claire Doherty, Sara Black and myself. The group, convened at each site and on each occasion, was always different as the core group fluctuated and specific participants were invited to each iteration of the dialogical process. This construction of collective encounters was a paradigmatic curatorial action that fostered a dynamic of interaction and dialogue, conditioned by the overarching research agenda of the Locating the Producers project, but which was generative of its own emergent questions, thematics and cognitive priorities which, in turn, informed and re-orientated aspects of the overarching research project.

Some of the most important moments in this dialogical exchange occurred when the rules of engagement of a particular conversation were undermined or challenged by the contribution of a newly arrived participant. Thus, on one memorable occasion, at The Blue House, early on in the process, a heated exchange developed as O’Neill was challenged on the legitimacy of the questions that were being proposed in relation to the project. The objection, made by one participant from The Blue House, was that the questions being asked were somehow inimical to the essential ethos and dynamic of the project under discussion. The immediate effect of this intervention was to cause a re-statement of working assumptions on the part of the lead researcher, but, more importantly it suddenly threw into relief the role of all participants in the focus group and their degree of agency and/or passivity within the process. The convivial and sociable dynamics of the conversations were suddenly problematised because of the potential for an emergent, if unwitting, consensus that might effectively blunt the critical elements of the conversation. During a site visit to Kunstplan Trekroner, the same effect of interrupting the comfortable path of business as usual was effected by the intervention of artist, Barbara Holub, newly arrived from Vienna and joining the group for the first time, whose astute first reading of the situation and dynamics of the focus group again provoked a re-consideration of the rules of engagement and the degrees of frankness in the dialogue around the work. This, combined with the re-location of the conversation from a public school building into the living room of a local resident and activist in Trekroner, re-orientated the dynamics, intimacy, formality and criticality of the enquiry. When the cultural planner active in the Roskilde municipality accompanied the group on a site visit, the integral and transformative nature of the dialogue, between the curator/commissioner Kerstin Bergendal’s formidably energetic vision for an agonistic urbanism and the cultural planner’s breadth of vision and innovative disposition became very evident in a way that would have been hard to recognise by other means. Recognising the central importance of this dialogue suddenly revealed a whole lived dimension of the project. This in turn enabled the focus group’s discussion to more properly apprehend the local particularities of urban governance and cultural politics, as well as to grasp the internal dynamics of the Kunstplan project. We began to understand the interpersonal dynamics and affective resources that made a sustained engagement in Trekroner possible in the face of substantial obstacles and institutional inertia and reserve. (Trekroner is situated directly adjacent to the famous Roskilde University.)

This question, of the lived, dialogical texture of individual projects, may, at first sight, seem like an example of Geertzian ‘thick description’, associated with a certain humanistic strand of recent ethnography. However, it might be understood better as the multimodal disclosure of a situation. This was produced through the concordance of different voices and the experiential texture of inter-subjective exchanges moving simultaneously across unfamiliar ground and home territories, as key participants alternated between (the often simultaneous or co-extensive) roles of host and guest, target and agent of study. Critical insights emerged and were exchanged within these dialogical situations, but they were not primarily consensus formations; rather, they were differentiated according to our levels of investment and histories of engagement, and subject to an ongoing revision and challenge as we negotiated different milieus and group configurations.

Another moment at which business as usual was critically challenged and revised was during a dialogue with Tom van Gestel, which took place within the frame of the de Appel curatorial programme with an audience made up, in part, of curators from the programme. In this situation, a number of prominent, but diverse, players from the Dutch art scene were folded into a conversation in which the programming decisions and commissioning strategies of Beyond were interrogated, as six inquisitors — Paul O’Neill, Liesbeth Bik, Jeanne van Heeswijk, Dennis Kaspori, Kerstin Bergendal and I — spent more than three hours asking questions that moved over a very wide ground, one moment asking about mediation, the next about consultation and the next about reputational status of artists selected and so on. The diverse, international group comprised of de Appel curatorial students was required to observe but to defer their questions. Their frustration at not being allowed to join in the question and answer exchange was immediately palpable. The simple presence of these observers, their questionable ban on input notwithstanding, was a curatorial contrivance that created a particular pressure on the panel and the commissioner, which fomented a greater intensity in the discussions as participants self-consciously joked with each other then gradually moved further into a more vulnerable dialogue as preliminary and necessary wariness gave way to more relaxed and direct frankness. What was particularly important here was that the curatorial students had realised a major programme of work through Van Gestel’s Beyond programme and they were due to be subjected to the same interview process the following day as part of another site visit to Leidsche Rijn, Utrecht, in which circumstances the tables would turn and they would have no choice but to speak. This kind of artificial construction mobilised the pleasure, anxiety and tensions in sociable and professional encounters in a way that destabilised established habits for negotiating these situations. The introduction of formality (the rigid regulation of turn-taking in the conversation) worked to interrupt the sophisticated, though routine, suasive strategies of ‘casual’ art world encounter and sociability. The extended duration of these conversations over several days was also an important factor in cutting through the comfort zone of habitual utterances.

Typically, conversations in the art world have come to function as arenas of reputational construction and contest. Numerous strategies are available to participants; there is the gambit of saying as little as possible so as to avoid foreclosing one’s options; there is the gambit of contesting every position so as to have the best possible (i.e., especially difficult to contest) position of being sceptical (without appearing cynical) and representing oneself as unwilling to be the dupe of any orthodoxy; there is the tactic of cynicism itself; there is the rhetorical position of the ostensibly learned and uncommitted observer who is deferring judgement but providing commentary nonetheless; there is the terminological adventurer (pace Žižek), who throws in a new terminological flourish to raise the tone or keep themselves in play;10 there is the impassioned rhetoric of the engagé who demands a cessation to all discussion in the name of immediate direct action; there is the endless proliferation of questions and the demand that the questions asked are changed to new, better questions and so on. In enumerating these rhetorical strategies, it is not proposed to present them as inevitably empty performances. (Indeed, presenting them in this way would simply be an integral moment of the rhetorics thus described.) The discursive operations described in this list are often salient and, in some sense, ‘authentic’ rehearsals of lived positions, but they can also become reflexes cut off at the spine from the ‘live’ cognitive processing, thinking and questioning that marks the urgencies of our cultural moment. The ongoing, uncontested, uncritical reproduction of these rhetorics is a real risk, one that cannot be fended off in a single utterance, but which might only be negotiated through various intersubjective exchanges that move between formal and informal exchange.

When the object of discussion is public culture and the stakes include critical questions about the use of public funds, there is a further constraint placed on many participants as they must necessarily be reluctant to talk about problems, failures, mistakes, mis-calculations, connivances and anything that might be construed as vaguely ‘negative’ or nebulously ‘undemocratic’. Such frank disclosures of the pragmatics of working in public culture might be seized upon by the enemies of both public and experimental culture (and there are many) or be used to undermine or jeopardise other aspects of a project, an artist’s reputation or an institution’s good name. The advocates of public culture and state support for the arts are always caught in an uneasy tension between the sanitising pull towards risk-averse bureaucratic compliance and positive spin, on the one hand, and the dynamic push of open-ended, contentious live culture and critical articulation, on the other. (It is very significant that, in the selection of case studies for Locating the Producers, a broad spectrum of programmes was presented, including various intersections between the state-subsidised and the self-organised in multiple and shifting configurations.)

The primary medium of enquiry for this research project was discursive, utilising conversation and dialogue of many sorts, from formal to informal, from closed to open and from monologue to polylogue. The conversational situations were orchestrated in a considered but not totalising or ultimately prescriptive way, so as to occasion a diversity of discursive exchanges and reflections (the discussions are predicated upon briefing documents and relayed in different textual redactions and reports back to the participants for further feedback and input). In order for this process to generate live, cognitive working-through, thinking and questioning, the habitual aspects of art world discursivity and the typical constraints on ‘warts-and-all’ frankness among artists, curators, commissioners and researchers, have to be acknowledged and navigated. It is not possible to put a moratorium on the kind of ‘bullshit’ that permeates our professional lives and worlds — it may not even be desirable to do so, in as much as a certain amount of ‘bullshit’ may be the necessary condition and cushioning that makes our professional lives liveable at all.11 But it is possible to curate conversations which draw upon the thin conviviality that bullshit can enable, in order to move conversations into deeper and more treacherous waters where anxieties lurk and a ‘thousand thousand’ critical doubts infest us with their giddy swarming vigour.

The curatorial devices of somewhat arbitrary rules and constraints on who talks when, and on who is present where, at what point in a process etc., introduce a modest degree of artifice that de-naturalises or alienates the participants just enough to summon forth, at first, their standard reflex responses but then to quickly overcome these reflexes. One of O’Neill’s preferred tactics in this regard is the invitation to the insider-outsider, the liminal figure who is invited to stand at the threshold of this temporary discursive community and incited to mutter or shout things through the door that echo through the house, threatening to blow it down or set it on fire with emotional charge, but ultimately forcing a self-consciousness about the moment of the group’s conception of a temporary discursive community. This is not to say that all possible viewpoints have been enacted and that there is no excluded moment or no ‘unsaid’ remainder. This is a more modest claim. It is the claim that the orchestration of multiple formats of multiply constituted groupings, with the alternating agency of the subjects/objects of research, generates and promotes a more complex, nuanced, and multidimensional understanding of these projects and these commissioning frameworks. This framework of emergent, inter-subjective exchange enriches the commissioning structures themselves as they are investigated and explored, just as the focus group participants and the orientation of the research project itself is enriched, re-orientated and critically contested. The research method is multiply transformative (with a small ‘t’), as any process of knowing which warrants the designation ‘critical knowledge’ must necessarily be. This is not to claim infallibility, far from it, but rather this is to assert that there is a way of working here that can be further evolved and developed, which is much more open to ‘new knowledge’ than endless defensive and self-enclosing rehearsals of the unique specificity of the artist and the artistic in matters of research.

The method of this project must also be articulated in terms of its temporalities, its quicknesses and its slownesses, its slow lead-ins and its (occasionally) quick exits. Locating the Producers operated many temporalities: the temporality of repeatedly coming together and departing; of building friendships and of encountering new people for the first time in the context of people who have long been known well; the temporality of several days immersed in dialogue, in intense listening, in speaking across second languages, in eating-and-drinking conversation and in travelling conversation; the temporality of a finite research project with a beginning and an end as it intersects other projects, with other temporalities, with other beginnings and other endings; the temporality of different people’s busy-ness and the intense investment in our own work that we never quite leave behind and can never quite return to; and the temporality of travelling to places to attend to the particularities of place while all the while trying to be alert to the potential erasure of place precisely through the rampant, non-place production of contemporary travel and the cultural pilgrimage regime that claims us as its own. All these time-plays were important features of the thinking and talking that unfolded over the two or so years of the research and they are intrinsic to the curatorial method of enquiry that Paul O’Neill has developed in this project.

In choosing to fix upon questions of method here, I have avoided any fortright epistemic claim for this process of curatorial discursivity, and rather cast things in terms of some well-worn metaphors. It is another day’s work to address the epistemic quarrels we might wish to have with each other about these matters. But today, rather than the dullness of research method and convention that were darkly alluded to at the start of this chapter, it seems more appropriate to attend to the brighter things in play here, and to foreground the contribution that the practitioners in these various projects have made in co-evolving an intersubjective critical research practice through the duration of their listening to each other and other others. In the next moment of these conversations, someone will, rightly of course, make trouble for the comfortable legitimation that a text like this seeks to produce. This is one reason why there needs to be a little more time taken, not so a single point of view can endure, but so that something happens to change minds and to mind change.

Curatorial Research Methods & Conviviality
The Ideology of Duration in the Dematerialised Monument










The Ideology of Duration in the Dematerialised Monument

Art, Sites, Publics and Time

Dave Beech

In order for the implications of art’s social relations to be played out in full, many contemporary projects find that they must live, adapt and persevere with any given situation (and all its tensions). Duration is required to allow the artwork to test its own hypothesis, but duration is also its ethic, its mode of address and its commitment to the process of a culture coming into being. In recent years, durational work has become exemplary of a certain strain of discourse which calls for an ethical foundation for the relationships developed between an artist and a community. I will begin by examining these claims in detail, spelling out the ideology of duration that is found not only in contemporary thinking on public art but also in contemporary ‘public relations’ practices and big business. I will go on to contrast this ideology of duration with a politics of what Thomas Crow calls ‘a strong version of site-specific art’, in which the very possibility of duration is a sign of the failure to engage seriously with the contradictions of social space. I will conclude, however, that it is a mistake to take sides, on principle, with duration or against it. Duration may not be a cure for social ills, but this does not mean that it is to be avoided at all costs. What we need to develop is a conjunctural analysis of art’s relationship to specific sites, publics and flows of time.

Consultation, participation and collaboration have become key concerns within and around art practices that come into contact with, engage or serve communities. By the late 1980s, a new ethic had crystallised regarding art’s relationship to its local publics. As Miwon Kwon explains, community involvement

meant the expanded inclusion of nonart community representatives in the selection panels and review committees of public art commissions. More significantly, it suggested a dialogue between the artist and his/her immediate audience, with the possibility of community participation, even collaboration, in the making of the art work. For many artists and administrators with long-standing commitments to community-based practices since the 1960s (…) an intensive engagement with the people of the site, involving direct communication and interaction over an extended period of time, had been a well-established tenet of socially responsible and ethically sound public art.1

Kwon’s affirmation of ‘intensive engagement’ is symptomatic of the ideology of duration. I am aware that the accusation of speaking ideologically is commonly misunderstood today, so, in order to proceed, I want to explain precisely why I think the current trend to speak of ‘intensive engagement’, ‘long-standing commitments’, and so forth, corresponds to the Marxist concept of ideology.

In the Marxist tradition, ideology is never reduced to falsity. The key to ideology is the way it separates ideas — true and false alike — from over-determined social reality. This is why it is ideological to say that ‘Prince Charles is a decent bloke’ even if it is true. If ideological ideas were simply false, then it should be relatively easy to dispense with them. But ideological ideas, like the existence of God and the good character of members of the Royal Family, persist regardless of their truth or falsity. We need a different tack. In The German Ideology, Marx and Engels argue that ‘morality, religion, metaphysics, all the rest of ideology (…) have no history’ except the history of material production and material intercourse. ‘Viewed apart from real history’, Marx and Engels say, ‘these abstractions have in themselves no value whatsoever’.2 We can add, though, that specifically, when ‘viewed apart from real history’, these abstractions appear to have a value all of their own.

What Marx and Engels argue is that if you want to know the essence of an ideological idea, then you should look neither to the abstract concept nor to the particular circumstance to which it refers (neither to good-bloke-ishness, nor to Prince Charles himself), but to the ensemble of particulars to which the particular belongs (i.e. to what it means for someone today to say that a prince is a good bloke, as opposed to saying that Ken Livingstone is a good bloke or Stephen Fry is a good bloke). Countering the ideological statement that ‘Prince Charles is a decent bloke’ with the ‘truth’ that Prince Charles is, in fact, a super-rich obnoxious git entirely misses the point (it focuses on the particular against the abstract without referring to the ensemble of particulars). The statement ‘Prince Charles is a decent bloke’ is ideological because the ostensive fact that Prince Charles is a good bloke is ideologically separated from two key material conditions. The first separates the fact from material conditions of his privilege, wealth and influence as a prince and the second separates the statement from the complex circumstances of the speech act (to say that the statement is true is to separate it from the motivations of saying it as well as its consequences). The ensemble of particulars, then, is material intercourse embedded in material production, or, to put it another way, the politics of speech acts as they are played out in real historical circumstances. Hence, a critique of ideology involves tracing the social life of ideas in which the most abstract thought derives its content and value from the world in which it circulates.

In the 1960s, the French philosopher, Louis Althusser, fleshed out the Marxist theory of ideology by examining in detail what was meant by material intercourse embedded in material production, deepening our understanding of the politics of speech acts and insisting on conjunctural analysis (i.e. thought as always embedded in material conditions to which it must respond) as opposed to speculative thought (i.e. thought abstracted from material conditions from which it remains aloof). Althusser expands the concept of material intercourse through an analysis of what he calls interpellation, the process by which individuals are formed as subjects within specific social institutions. He argues that ‘an ideology always exists in an apparatus, and its practice, or practices’.3 As such, ideology and subjectivity are not mental but practical, existing not in consciousness but in rituals, practices and institutions. When ideology interpellates us as good citizens, it systematically confuses complicity with pride, joy and pleasure. Ideology is necessarily linked to these kinds of affirmations of the subject; rather than coercing individuals to do what is required of them, ideology offers exemplary ideas to which individuals can aspire. All of our supposedly highest ideals, therefore, are necessarily ideological. Ideology separates ideas from social life, whereas politics reconnects ideas with social life. Ideology is both pleasurably affirmative and opposed to politics. Let us revisit the affirmation of duration in light of this short discussion of the Marxist concept of ideology.

In contemporary thinking around art’s relationship with its publics, duration is ideological because it is isolated and abstracted as something valuable in itself. It is only by first separating duration from actual cultural practices that duration then returns to normatively shape cultural practice. What’s more, duration interpellates individuals — artists, curators, participants, funders etc. — as the proper subjects of art’s socially responsible institutions. It acts simultaneously as an injunction to perform competently and as a measure of that competence. It links these individuals to the universal social body. It also assigns legitimacy and privilege. In other words, it is ideological currency. When we speak of the ethics of duration, participation, and so forth, we must take this seriously as the ideological threat that it is; duration is ideological in the way that sexism is ideological (it has real consequences, causes real harm and its affirmation is always simultaneously an assault on that which it negates).

The affirmation of duration in contemporary art is ideological even if duration can be shown to have all kinds of social, artistic and ethical benefits. A critique of the ideology of duration does not have to invert its values or show it to be harmful. We could counter the ideology of duration, then, neither by opposing it on principle (i.e. in abstraction) nor by referring only to what specific forms of duration achieve under certain specific circumstances (i.e. in particularity), but by reconnecting the affirmation of duration to the ensemble of particulars — the discourses, practices, rituals and institutions — from which it derives (i.e. the conjunctural). It is ideological to say that duration in art is good, but it is political to say that the affirmation of duration is ideological. This means not only linking the affirmation of duration in art with the affirmation of duration in business and public relations, but also linking the affirmation of duration in art to the conditions imposed by funders and institutions on those artists and curators charged with having pastoral care over their publics. It also means reconnecting the affirmation of duration to practices and discourses that disaffirm duration, opening up a whole field in which art questions its relationship to site, publics and temporality. What’s more, if we are not to be carried away by the ideology of duration in art, we will need to combat the pleasures that it interpellates, which means combating our own desires, our willingness to be ‘good’ artists and citizens.

I will not be able to address all these approaches in this short essay. Instead, I will focus on the way in which the ideology of duration in art has been justified in terms immanent to art since the 1960s, seeming, therefore, to provide an historical, rather than ideological, case for the affirmation of duration. It is by placing the ideology of duration within the context of post-minimalist art practices that it is found to be critical rather than complicit. One of the results of making this link, however, is that it opens up the possibility of alternative readings of post-minimalism that do not support the ideology of duration.

The ideology of duration dovetails with a reading of the post-minimalist legacy of contemporary art, linked to the ontology of endurance in performance, installation, video art, Land Art and so on. This provides the ideology of duration with an artistic pedigree that recommends it in the highest terms. Suzanne Lacy made this case in 1995, through her introduction of the concept of ‘new genre public art’:

The term ‘new genre’ has been used since the late sixties to describe art that departs from traditional boundaries of media. Not specifically painting, sculpture, or film, for example, new genre art might include combinations of different media. Installation, performances, conceptual art, and mixed-media art, for example, fall into the new genre category, a catchall term for experimentation in both form and content. Attacking boundaries, new genre public artists draw on ideas from vanguard forms, but they add a developed sensibility about audience, social strategy, and effectiveness that is unique to visual art as we know it today.4

One way of understanding this shift in new genre public art is to see it applying the ontology of dematerialisation to the public context in which ‘community arts’ came to replace what we might call ‘old genre public art’, namely monumental sculpture. Grant Kester also advocates the ‘movement away from the artwork as self-contained entity and toward a more dialogical relationship to the viewer’,5 by linking the new dialogical art with the legacy of dematerialisation. Below I will re-describe the shared position of Lacy and Kester in terms of what I call the ‘dematerialised monument’.

Having rejected the monumental object of public art, new genre public art does not sacrifice monumentality altogether but converts it from being a quality of the object into a quality of the temporal experience of community arts projects. Duration asserts itself in the ‘monumental time’ of the dematerialised public work. The dematerialised monument is a monument to the community built out of the social relations of the community itself. Time becomes monumentalised within an ethic of the artist’s prolonged engagement with the public. In emphasising the value of social process over aesthetic product, dematerialised monuments are often judged according to the conduct of the artist, not least by the artists themselves. Among such judgements, artists are often praised for their early involvement of the community in substantive decision making and the amount of time spent with the community. Claire Bishop argues this point cogently in her critique of relational art,6 rightly arguing that relational art from the 1990s onwards trades in ethics rather than politics. In my terms, she demonstrates that the new art is ideological.

It is possible to imagine that there has been a fortunate convergence between the rhetoric of vanguardism (as found in the critically loaded commitment to endurance in the first generation of performance art) and the demands of funders. There is considerable consensus that the artist or curator should spend as much time as possible with the work’s audience, community or site. The ideology of duration allows artists, curators, funders and participants to affirm the monumentalisation of time in community projects as having a value in itself. We recognise this ethic from other fields, particularly from public relations, market research, the community investments of big business and the rise of consultancy within professional politics. The ideology of duration is not only a key normative element within contemporary realisations of the dematerialised monument; it is also deeply embedded in contemporary practices of business management and social control.

With this in mind, I want to raise some questions about the ideology of duration in the dematerialised monument by exploring two opposed, but indispensable, lines of enquiry — the first, by Thomas Crow, in his book, Modern Art in the Common Culture, in which he distinguishes between ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ versions of site-specific art; the second, by Miwon Kwon, in her book, One Place After Another, in which she develops a ‘deterritorialization of site’7 on the basis of ‘the impossibility of community’.8

In the chapter ‘Site-Specific Art: The Strong and the Weak’, first delivered as a paper at the Association of Art Historians’ conference in 1992, Crow carefully unpicks the factors differentiating the site-specific works of Richard Serra and Maya Lin, on one side, and Michael Asher and Gordon Matta-Clark, on the other. Crow makes a compelling case for separating them in terms of what we might call a politics of place. Each artist seeks ‘to defeat the effect of ornamenting a space’,9 but the different strategies they adopt to do this are telling. Serra’s approach suggests that public sculpture should ‘cause its surrounding space to “be understood primarily as a function of the sculpture”, and not the other way around’.10 For Crow, this is a ‘weak’ version of site-specificity. By contrast, Matta-Clark’s Window Blowout exemplifies a ‘strong’ version of site specificity:

Matta-Clark was invited in 1976 to contribute to an exhibition at a New York architectural think-tank, the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies (…) But late in the process of installing the show, he arrived armed — literally — with another conception, one which put in the foreground his own activist concerns with housing conditions for the city’s poor (…) he secured the worried permission of the organizer to break a few windows that were already cracked. But in the event he shot out every single one with a borrowed air rifle. The destruction took place at 3 a.m.11

This work is site-specific, not in the sense of adapting to a space or the space somehow adapting to the sculpture, but by engaging with the space performatively or, as Crow reminds us, as an ‘activist’. Crow goes on to explain that ‘Matta-Clark would have known that the imprint of his action would be extremely short-lived’, and this is the key to its politics of space, to its being an example of strong site-specific work.12 Crow advises us not to

consider the piece only in the sudden violence of its inception. The eradication of the piece, which amounted to an instantaneous summoning of resources to repair the damage, actually completed it. The critical point was neatly made, with greater power than any polemic, because its immediate object was made to act it out in a state of unreasoning panic: if the deterioration was intolerable for even a moment at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, why was it tolerable day in and day out in the Bronx?13

Crow draws the vital conclusion that ‘the duration of the strong work is limited because its presence is in terminal contradiction to the nature of the space it occupies. Contradiction is the source of its articulateness’.14

If we take Crow’s recommendations seriously, then it is not only the half measures of monumental Minimalist sculpture that ought to be regarded as having a weak politics of space. The current spate of place-making monumental sculptures — which, in the wake of The Angel of the North, are thematically rooted in a place — must be included too. But we also have to extend our critique beyond permanent physical sculpture. In doing so, we cannot avoid Crow’s distinction between weak and strong site-specificity simply by shifting our conception of space and place to the social. If endurance is a sign of failure to seriously engage in the contradictions of a space, then ought we not to radically question the ideology of duration that runs through dematerialised monumental practice today?

Let us turn to Kwon’s account of site specificity and her support of durational practices. Kwon is critical of the kind of physical conception of site that is at the heart of Crow’s analysis. The starting point for her book is the expansion of the concept of site specificity, brought on by institutional critique, which goes some way towards ‘complicating the site of art as not only a physical arena but one constituted through social, economic, and political processes’.15 But if the early generation of artists undertaking institutional critique unearthed these social processes within galleries and museums, a later generation sited itself outside the art institution in order to engage with ‘much broader cultural, social, and discursive fields’.16 And so Kwon follows developments in site-specific practice from the physical to the institutional and from the institutional to the discursive. ‘Current efforts to redefine the art-site relationship’, she says, are inspired by

a recognition that if site-specific art seems no longer viable — because its critical edges have dulled, its pressures been absorbed — this is partly due to the conceptual limitations of existing models of site specificity itself. In response, many artists, critics, historians, and curators, whose practices are engaged in problematizing received notions of site specificity, have offered alternative formulations, such as context-specific, debate-specific, audience-specific, community-specific, project-based.17

As the title of her fourth chapter suggests, Kwon describes the shift ‘from site to community in new genre public art’. Central to the new forms of site specificity is that they are ‘structured as community collaborations’18 which encourage ‘community coalition-building in pursuit of social justice and attempts to garner greater institutional empowerment for artists to act as social agents’.19 So,

The new formulation of community-based public art proposes a new partnership in place of the partnership between artist and architect valorized in the design team collaborations of the 1980s. The dialogue is now to occur between an artist and a community or audience group.20

Kwon has her reservations about how these projects understand the communities that they serve — commenting, for instance, that community is itself ‘a highly charged and extremely elastic political term’21 — and she carefully distinguishes between ‘sited communities’, ‘temporary invented communities’ and ‘ongoing invented communities’. Finally, she adopts Iris Marion Young’s suggestion ‘that it may be politically expedient to drop the term community altogether in favor of a politics of difference’22 in order to unpack ‘some of the hidden premises of community-based art’.23

Like Crow’s politics of space, then, which he shows to be weakened by the exclusion or neglect of contradiction, Kwon shows that the politics of new genre public art is weaker if it fails fully to register the differences, oppositions, antagonisms and difficulties within any given community.

Kwon’s emphasis on the social sheds new light on Crow’s analysis. It renders the latter’s conception of space as too physical, too positivistic, perhaps we might even say too formalist. His analysis of site-specificity is stuck in a kind of modernist self-referentiality. Anticipating institutional critique while holding on to key conceptual components of high modernism, Matta-Clark’s Windows Blowout might be seen, amongst other things, as an extrapolation of a Greenbergian interrogation of the relationship between the ‘mark’ and its ‘support’ — expanding the support from the surface of the painting to the supporting institution.

Kwon’s critique of site-specific sculpture is predicated on the very limitations of this kind of account. However, her discursive conception of community lacks the bite that Crow demands. What gives ‘ongoing invented communities’ their ‘sustainability’, according to Kwon, is ‘the artists’ intimate and direct knowledge of their respective neighborhoods’.24 In other words, instead of contradiction being, as it is for Crow, the source of the work’s articulateness (which seals its fate as necessarily short-lived), it is the work’s complex articulation of the contradictions in society that allows the community-specific work to persist. All that Kwon asks is that the artist is sensitive to the tensions within the community, while Crow insists that the work itself takes on the tensions of the contradictory site by sacrificing its permanence.

Do Crow and Kwon cancel each other out, or is there a way of combining them? Can we discard the weaknesses in each and keep their relative strengths? Certainly, each develops compelling arguments that shed light on specific practices. We may prefer Kwon’s social ontology of site to Crow’s physical and formalist account, but at the same time regard Crow’s politics of place to be superior to Kwon’s de-territorialisation. What we can’t do is retain Crow’s commitment to the short-lived as well as Kwon’s ethics of duration. A decision will have to be made. But, rather than choosing one or the other — the ideology or the opposition to it — we would be well advised to follow the process of ideology critique, which is Marx’s injunction to reconnect the abstract ideological idea to material intercourse embedded in material production. If we do so, we will find ourselves among the ensemble of particulars rather than opting for one particular or another. Theoretically, this means avoiding a speculative solution to our practical problems. In terms of art practice, it means resisting the ideology of duration without being seduced by its simple negation, adopting neither a fetishism of time spent nor a fetishism of the short-lived.

Time should not be managed and deployed by artists according to a single ahistorical principle that is meant to be true no matter what the circumstances. Different conjunctures will call for different qualities as well as different quantities of time. Pace must be adjusted not fixed according to ideological imperatives. There is something dreadfully wrong about the way in which the ideology of duration has been keeping tabs on time. We need to free time from this ideology. Duration may have its virtues but it cannot be affirmed today while the ideology of duration feels like the right thing to do. Duration is problematic because it is presented as a solution for art’s social contradictions, whereas the only viable political solution must be to problematise time for art. If we are going to think politically about art, site, publics and time, we need to put the ideology of duration behind us. We have to stop keeping tabs on our own use of time. Let’s think instead about delay, interruption, stages, flows, of instantaneous performances and lingering documents, of temporary objects and permanent mementos, of repetition, echo and seriality and break with this binary opposition altogether.

The Ideology of Duration in the Dematerialised Monument
Autonomous Education, New Institutions and the Experimental Economy of Network Cultures










Autonomous Education, New Institutions and the Experimental Economy of Network Cultures

Ned Rossiter

What is an Institution?

Sociality is always immanent to institutional arrangements. This was the analysis of Althusser and later Foucault. The state, family, school, prison, hospital, madhouse. During the time of Western modernity as it is commonly understood, we can add the corporation, the union, the university. Foucault’s tendency was to see this institutional field in terms of the technologies of discipline. My interest in this essay is to consider technologies of invention as they centre on the question of durational projects. What institutional form might such technologies assemble? What are the conditions of their emergence? What are the technics of governance that distinguish them? How do they connect to other institutions and what is their economy? What is the relationship between the construction of the common — understood as processes of translation constituted through struggles of labour — and its differential potential or multiplying affects?1 And how might this relation constitute a new institutional form?

Over the past five or so years, I have been co-developing the political concept of ‘organised networks’ in an effort to think the possibility of new institutional forms immanent to the culture of networks.2 My curiosity was, and remains, how social-political organisation within networked settings might be understood in terms of the invention of new institutional forms. Along with the influence here of the work of Antonio Negri and Paolo Virno and insights gained from the history of operaismo more broadly, there is also a debt to medium theory, particularly the work of Canadian political economist and communications theorist Harold A. Innis.

Collaborative practices within network cultures can be understood in terms of formation and form. Formation corresponds with the processual relations through which expression emerges. Form, on the other hand, furnishes the contours of expression as it subsists within the social-technical dynamics of digital media. How these relations coalesce as distinct networks, situated within and against broader geopolitical forces, becomes a primary challenge for networks desiring scalar transformation — a movement that also consists of trans-institutional, disciplinary, subjective and corporeal relations whose antagonisms define ‘the political’.

The problem of translation across and within a network of networks becomes one of the key difficulties for transnational collaboration. Translation is inherent to the logic of the common. This is the differential potential of the common. Trans-institutional practices are practices in translation. As processes of movement, translation is comprised of transversal orientations. An organised network is one that instantiates ‘the political’ in the moment of transversal engagement with seemingly antithetical institutional forms: the state, the corporation, the NGO, the union, the university. It is through such confrontations that the temporal rhythms and spatial co-ordinates of a network are made most clear. The tensions that ensue in this transversal encounter constitute new subjectivities.

As an assemblage, the spatial and temporal coordinates of which undergo constant transformation, the relation between inside and outside is subject to processes of translation. The process of invention is a practice of translation. Translation is the common from which iterations of method emerge. We are always in translation. Taiwan-based cultural theorist, Jon Solomon, defines translation ‘as a mode of social praxis rather than a mode of epistemological mapping’.3 Rather than being simply a technical procedure of establishing co-figuration or linguistic equivalence through communication,4 the technics of translation foreground the relational encounter between entities, affective modulations, the visible and invisible, perceptions and imperceptions, communication and the non-communicable. The emphasis is not on one or the other, but rather the movement and adaptation between coordinates, agents, institutions. Variables such as these acquire their form and habitus through connections made possible by movement (kinesis). The certainties by which institutions, for instance, might normally be understood as stable identities become substantively more uncertain and insecure when movement is accorded a determining force. Parameters become porous.

Within the porosity of institutional borders subsists a potential for new economic interventions. The question of economic autonomy is a key issue for organised networks, and is a matter that has to be taken seriously. The social-technical endeavours underlying institutional formation might operate as what Fabian Muniesa and Michel Callon term ‘economic experiments’, which shape the construction of markets.5 The communication of relations between emergent institutional forms and their invention of markets is underscored by the technics of mediation. Mediation, in turn, is registered in the following key ways: systems of governance, rituals and materialities of practice, discourses with uncertain borders and technologies of collaborative constitution. The arrangement of these elements produces new territories for potential exploitation by capital. The political and economic challenge is to produce interventions into markets that enable economic resources for experiments in organising networks and living wages for participants. How, for instance, might resources created within any particular network be adapted and recombined by another? Not only are there distinct linguistic-cultural differences that delimit one network from another, but there is also, to recast Virno, the grammar of networks to consider: socialities of communication, formats of code, techniques of governance, materialities of investigation, etc.

Spatial distributions and temporal rhythms further complicate the capacity for networks to undergo scalar shifts. The network-institution nexus is not one that corresponds with what Mary Kaldor and Chantal Mouffe loosely term ‘global civil society’ networks.6 The singular qualities of network cultures underpin my contestation of political theorists invested in reinvigorating democracy as we know it. I have serious doubts about persisting with models of democracy, especially when they are simplistically grafted onto the Internet. E-democracy? No thanks. Given that representative models of democracy frequently correspond with modern institutions of the nation state — institutions that, in many instances, are in crisis — I continue to wonder how appropriate the burden of democratic theory is to describe the political culture of embryonic institutional forms within networked settings. My preference is for a non-representational politics, constituted through relations rather than procedures. This poses significant challenges for the governance of networks, and the way these are played out on a case-by-case basis.

The structural arrangement of the neoliberal university, coupled with the experience of immaterial labour, operates as a constituent force in the creation of autonomous educational initiatives, which I consider vital examples of organised networks. Such initiatives have blossomed across Europe in recent years, often connected with social movements organised around the precarious experience of post-Fordist labour. Elsewhere, the massive alternative schooling movement in South Korea and the self-organisation of domestic workers in Hong Kong centres on the logic of networks that address a specific field of forces.7 In the US, Trebor Scholz’s guiding work on the Institute for Distributed Creativity (iDC) comes to mind.8 Other examples include the Sarai media lab in Delhi and the edu-factory initiative on transnational autonomous education.9 At the level of concrete planning and theoretical analysis, the project on Transit Labour: Circuits, Regions, Borders is one with which I have been more directly associated.10

The period of network cultures as new institutional forms is still very much under construction. The speed and intensity of their development is best understood, in my view, from anthropological perspectives. I tend to think that organised networks (new institutions) are more likely to emerge when relatively small numbers of participants (certainly not millions), situated within local problematics, combine with the Internet’s transnational capacities, along with practices of adaptation (the ‘remix’) that define digital culture. A key thematic of organised networks concerns the way in which the sociality and communicative relations within networks are frequently underscored by instantiations of ‘the political’. Such antagonisms define the borders of networks and the limits of collaboration. At one level, such tensions come about through the encounter between the hierarchical or vertical dimensions of networks and the horizontal, distributive layer of communication that is frequently, and mistakenly, ascribed ontological status within new media research. And then there are the contingencies of life.

Experimental Economics and Evidence Machines

Collaborative practices within the creative industries and network cultures are now well established as the primary mode of production and communication. The business models which sustain the combination of service labour and innovation as they are located on the margins of industry are less well understood. Primarily comprising ‘informal economies’ (symbolic, voluntary, word-of-mouth) and sustained economically by various forms of financial support (parental, small government funds such as the ‘citizen wage’ or grants, associations with universities) and wealth generation (e.g. the ‘long tail’11), there is great scope for further development and understanding of new business models.12

Notwithstanding the commercialisation of the Net, the hierarchical systems embedded in social-technical infrastructures and dynamics and the impact of national and supranational government policy on network cultures, to what extent can we really speak of a political economy of peer-to-peer network practices? If political economy is traditionally understood in terms of the role that institutions and their concomitant interests play in the structuring and regulation of economic life, then what might it mean to transpose this axiom to the culture of networks? How, in other words, might organised networks, as nascent institutional forms, provide new insights into the political economy of peer production?

It is now clear that the social production of value conditions the possibility of a political economy of network cultures.13 Without the social production of value or the valorisation of labour, there is no political economy. Indeed, the social production of value coupled with a politics of refusal within peer-to-peer networks may potentially marginalise or displace the operative force of political economy. Open publishing and bit torrents of pirate cinema, software and music are obvious examples that come to mind. However, even in these instances of ostensibly ‘free culture’ there lurks a political economy, one that is closely connected to infrastructure and info-governance. In a recent dialogue with Paul Hartzog, Trebor Scholz frames this tension as follows: ‘the means of production are available to networked publics; these tools and platforms are, however, owned by corporations’.14 Aside from the ever-present potential of unruly workers, the trouble so often faced by the owners of infrastructure is that they suffer from limited imagination. Without a few tinkerers in the shop, capital is left without the invention of difference necessary for its renewal. Thus, a mutually parasitic relationship exists between owners and users of the means of production. As we know, historically this relation is one of constant oscillation that constitutes the force of hegemony.

The field of experimental economics in its contemporary form emerged out of game theory from the late 1940s and early 1950s. Francesco Guala notes two distinct approaches within experimental economics — theory-testing and institution-building; the former tends toward experiments in decision-making, the latter toward experiments in market performativity.15 Orthodox game theory combines, or traverses, these two approaches and plays the market as an institution, the problematics of which are ‘solved’ by rational agents within controlled laboratory settings.16 But what happens in instances of ‘irrational exuberance’ that define bubble economies, as seen in real-estate speculation, dotcom mania or the caffeine-induced palpitations of day traders?

There is undoubtedly the logic at work in such instances, but it is not one that conforms to rational intent. The logic of irrational economics is one in which the particularities are immanent to the contingencies of the event. The experimental economics of game theory attempt to overcome, or at least minimise, contingency, by designing markets in which the desired results come to fruition. The world is their laboratory. The structural adjustment programmes of the World Bank and IMF are prime examples of experimental economics in operation. However, the desire to see the world in their own image is the primary catalyst of failure within such models. Certainly, this point is disputable; arguably structural adjustment programmes have succeeded insofar as the World Bank and IMF agenda for countries in Africa and South America to ‘leapfrog modernity’ has proven financially beneficial to foreign investors. But such a view is limited in scope, to say the least. Not only do such programmes assume to bypass European models of state formation in order to institute a neoliberal paradigm of governmental dependency on outsourcing to private providers, and thus reproduce a structure of neocolonialism. More alarmingly, the production of global poverty and massive disparities in wealth can hardly be rated a success.

My proposal, then, is to see the work of organising networks as a form of experimental economics that is open to the contingencies of the event and the social-technical and disciplinary dynamics of conflictual constitution. Contingencies necessitate factoring in the elusive dimension of experience. My interest is not to exploit economic or social vulnerabilities, but rather to enhance capacities and address trans-institutional economic realities and disciplinary foreclosure brought about by intellectual property regimes, internal competition and limits placed on research by the avalanche of administration.

As research constellations, Muniesa and Callon give preference to platforms, as distinct from laboratories and in situ experiments: ‘the platform is an intermediate configuration, more open to compromises with several kinds of actors than the laboratory’ which, in turn, refers to ‘flexible organizational forms in (sic) where surprise is more a resource than a problem’ for ‘strategic innovation’. Some of these features of platforms — that of flexibility, most obviously — can be applied to organised networks. Where organised networks correspond with surprise is perhaps clearest at the point at which they are brought in relation with established institutions of education and research, namely the universities which are characterised by a transdisciplinary deficiency and have a limited capacity for invention. A genealogy of organised networks would establish the connection with tactical media, renowned for its hit-and-run approach to semiotic warfare.17

The concept and practice of organised networks places an emphasis on the strategic dimension of instituting new social-technical forms immanent to the media of communication. This is not to dispense with the tactical dimension, but in a very particular way it recognises that tactical media interventions have tended toward short-termism and therefore suffer from a lack of organisational and social-political sustainability. Needless to say, tactics serve as a source of renewal and situated action for organisations that can often suffer from crippling bureaucracy and an incapacity to transform when they are overly focussed on the strategic dimension. This is particularly the case for modern institutions such as the university, government, union and corporation.

A prime example of how such ideas are put into practice can be seen in research projects I have co-organised on the creative industries.18 At a strategic level, it was clear that the creative industries were rapidly becoming a dominant discourse across universities and government policy on culture and the arts. And, at a political and analytical level, it was abundantly clear how circumscribed and short-sighted such discourses and key actors were in Europe, Asia and Australia. In other words, to avoid engaging with creative industries was, in my view, a strategic mistake and there was much to contribute to that discourse by focusing on the tactical level of organisation and research practice. To put it simply: there was great potential to introduce new vectors of research and practice into the creative industries debate by turning attention to questions of conditions of creative labour, organisational and business sustainability, and the complex circuits of economy and sociality that make possible the high-skilled labour of the creative industries.

The trick with durational projects — be they involved in public art, political activism, open education, and so forth — is to treat them as a symbiotic device that both facilitates the generation of concepts and affects the allocation of economic resources. The latter may take the form of direct funding, commissions, participant fees for summer schools or in-kind support from institutional partners — e.g. office space, use of equipment, personnel, etc. Of course, any proposal to play the neoliberal game of outsourcing education is going to elicit the wrath of anti-market leftists and activists, but it is hypocritical to dish out critique without offering alternatives for economic subsistence.

It would be too crude to say that neoliberalism generates new institutional forms. But, if precarious labour and life are the norm, and not the exception, then it follows that the institutional spaces of precarity subsist as the common within a neoliberal or post-Fordist condition. So, how do we explain the social impulse to invent new institutional forms at the current conjuncture? In other words, why now? In many ways, the types of institutions I am speaking of are internal to the logic of capital. Certainly, it would seem that they cannot exist outside of neoliberalism. By way of conclusion, I wonder whether the incessant peer-to-peer drive to collaborative production — exemplified most starkly by the advent of web 2.0 and social networking sites — is not symptomatic of capital’s quest for new economies of scale that minimise the cost of labour. Perhaps the invention of new institutional forms needs to be accompanied by a reassertion of wage labour and modes of collectivisation. Maybe that will be the spectre that comes to haunt neoliberalism and its Will to Outsourcing.

Autonomous Education, New Institutions and the Experimental Economy of Network Cultures
Reflecting on Durational Research in Relation to Durational Practice










Reflecting on Durational Research in Relation to Durational Practice

A Discussion

Participants

Paul O’Neill,
Claire Doherty,
Jeanne van Heeswijk (The Blue House),
Janna Graham (Edgware Road),
Sally Tallant (Edgware Road),
Kerstin Bergendal (Kunstplan Trekroner),
Tom van Gestel (Beyond),
Alistair Hudson (Creative Egremont, Grizedale Arts),
Aldo Rinaldi (Senior Public Art Officer, Bristol City Council),
Jonathan Banks (Executive Director, ixia),
Mick Wilson (Dean of GradCam, Dublin).

Chaired by:

Professor Antonia Payne (Head of Institute of Humanities and Creative Arts, University of Worcester)

Reflecting on Durational Research in Relation to Durational Practice — Edited Transcription of a Discussion Between Locating the Producers Participants Held at Situations Office, Spike Island, Bristol on 11th June 2010


 Claire Doherty
It means a great deal to bring you all together at the end of this research project. Situations has moderated a series of reunions in the past and we value here the opportunity to take the long view on Locating the Producers (LTP) with you all here at our base in Bristol. Paul’s work with you over the past three years has engendered the emergence of a new network which I hope will be sustained, and importantly, the development of new ideas and terminologies for the issues that we face as commissioners and producers.

I hope that today will provide an opportunity to capture some of the common questions and provisional ideas that emerged through the duration of this project. In drawing together the case studies within a publication, LTP has already had a considerable affect on our methods of commissioning at Situations. It is vital that we continue to produce work as brave and as ambitious as this research project, and to return to these ideas and questions as prompts to our own experimental commissioning practice over the coming years. Antonia, over to you...

 Antonia Payne
Paul has given me the possibly unenviable task of making sure that this conversation can contribute to the book which is the outcome of the research he has undertaken. He initially separated you into the project initiators and respondents. We have kept that format for this discussion, with project initiators leading the conversation and respondents chipping in, followed by a much more general discussion.

It seems interesting to start by asking you to reflect on the impact and ramifications of Paul being inquisitive about what you are doing and developing a programme of academic research out of his engagement with your project. Do you think that working with Locating the Producers (LTP) in the way that you have done, and engaging with the kind of discussions that Paul has generated, has influenced your thinking? So maybe the first question is about the relationship between praxis and academic research. How has this brought all of those modes of operation together and what it has meant for your own working practices?

 Tom van Gestel
I have experienced people asking me why I do certain projects, but what I very much like about the way in which Paul poses his questions is that sometimes it is more of an enquiry. His questions raised questions for me. Was the origin of the project the beginning of the project, for example, or was it farther back in time? Sometimes I had a real problem because he left me with many questions.

Another point is the matter of truth. We all adopt some bourgeois conventions from time to time and tend to talk about the projects we organised as always having been successful, or, if not successful, as not being our fault. The way Paul undertook his investigation also caused me to rethink the real value of something. Perhaps not exactly since then, but what I am trying to do nowadays is tell the truth.

 Sally Tallant
Our project, Edgware Road was at a very difficult stage for someone to be looking at it. It is partly the nature of this kind of work. Paul was very keen to find out what we were doing and when we were doing it, but I could never really tell him.

The way that we work is very research-based, so in a way our project operated in parallel to Paul’s research process. What became really apparent, particularly when I read the draft of the Edgware Road Project chapter for this book, was that the complexities of the projects that we are constructing, whilst very clear to us, are nuanced and difficult to see for others. Even at Paul’s level of insight, it was very difficult to fully extract what I felt was obvious about the process we were developing. It was useful to have academic research as part our project. It would be interesting for us to think collectively about what that might produce, in terms of knowledge or learning.

If I were to do the whole thing again, I would ask Paul to be much more embedded in the project and, in an ideal world, we would want him to come and be a part of the project for its duration.

We are not really ready for this to end; we have just started. For us, it is quite strange, it feels abrupt. Since I read the chapter, some of our projects have become much more resolved, and I would want that to be considered within any final write up.

 Janna Graham
Yes. For me, it is difficult even to answer. We are not there yet, and it has to do with the temporality of the book. It is very interesting to have a snapshot, but the real work actually starts now for us. We need to look at the multiple voices that have articulated themselves in our project and start asking what is going on. It would be very useful to circulate the chapter to all the interviewees and begin our discussions of what we have heard and what we have seen and what some of the concepts and contradictions and excitements are.

I can see the potential in it, but how can this be the end point? This is just starting to tease out the reflective process. One thing we share in the approach Paul has taken with our own project is a participatory research framework, so reflection is part of what everyone does, not just the commissioner or the researcher, not just the students working with us, who are thirteen years old and have to reflect as well as the people over fifty. We are really dedicated to this as a strategy and as a process. Moments at which things are synthesised are really the moments at which you think you are really going to produce something. Maybe it is not the end for us; we might use the chapter as a starting point.

 Antonia Payne
Everybody was at different stages in their projects; for some people, it was possible to look back a long way into the past and for other people that was not the case. Could it actually be unhelpful for some questions to be asked at certain points? Could it undermine what is developing?

 Sally Tallant
It is never unhelpful to be asked questions. One of the horrible things about the work that we do is that we are in a constant frenzied state of production. The space for critical expression is sorely lacking. Any opportunity to have a conversation with somebody outside of that process is useful. Sometimes it would throw me and sometimes I would be annoyed, but it is always useful because you have to stop what you are doing and look and think about how you might address a question.

I welcome a project like this because it not only allows us to have a conversation with Paul, and anyone else he brings to the table, but also with each other.

 Kerstin Bergendal
I was first invited by Paul to comment on The Blue House project, to scrutinise the choices that Jeanne made during a focus group held at de Appel in Amsterdam called Interrogating the Curator. We had a really good discussion during, before and after that session in Amsterdam; these talks set the standard for a focus that is typical of Paul’s research. Paul has a very intense focus on the mechanical side of making choices and on their implementation. I went back with this information and, when the time came for you guys to look at my project, I was thinking about that moment. This was fantastic as it gave me a vocabulary for something that had been more or less intuitive. It also affected the aims of the project and the criteria for success because some things have been legitimised around this long process.

One of the aims of my project Kunstplan Trekroner is to make physical changes to the urban planning of the area. I realised I had mixed feelings about it so the method of bringing opponents into the research has allowed a certain level of critique and the sharing of ideas.

 Jeanne van Heeswijk
For The Blue House, it was very important that Paul emerged halfway through our project. Given the nature of the project, we decided that he should become a member. We suddenly had an embedded researcher on board, who started to ask all those questions that we were thinking about.

Just before Paul first arrived, we had visited most of our members in Hong Kong. I remember thinking that we would have to start articulating what we were doing together, or what we were not trying to do, as well as issues about who would push and formulate the identity of The Blue House. We were not very clear about what we wanted it to become, and Paul had arrived to meet us for the first time and started asking all these questions relating to durational practice. As it turned out, for me personally as well as for The Blue House, it was very interesting to be scrutinised throughout the process of developing the project, and with so much trust, by such a group of precise thinkers that Paul brought along with him, and to be asked the same question over and over again built a certain intensity of enquiry. This is the first time I had such a close reflective narrative run in the project and I found it very productive.

The visit by all of you stirred some internal problematics about whether The Blue House needed to be the subject of that kind of research. Some members thought it would be counter-beneficial for The Blue House to have this permanent critical eye for the past two years; some members were really happy about it.

Normally you do that later; people reflect and talk things through. To have that while you are producing, or while you are in the midst of figuring out, is definitely very helpful. There is a risk that the project might turn away from what we were hoping for. Perhaps, in two years’ time, I will be able to say that this is what Locating the Producers research brought to The Blue House.

The house operated as the house for the unplanned, allowing members to steer it in the way they felt like. Paul and Mick started to write and think about it, to ask questions. You cannot ask questions without implementing meaning. That meant that the issue of duration was becoming an issue in the house. Suddenly the house was infected with the ‘durational’. Some guests completely disagreed with the idea of the durational as a concept for The Blue House, thinking it was a non-issue.

 Alistair Hudson
In terms of the documentation of the Egremont project, it could be said that Paul’s research was actually part of the process. Much of the project was about making this remote place participate more in the world. The act of recording it, providing a platform for the ideas that were coming out of it, is a pretty vital part of the work. For Egremont to be seen through the lens of academic research, as a model for other places, was very valuable.

 Tom van Gestel
It is one of the good things that you jumped in while these projects were under development. Usually this happens afterwards, but being in it while it was going on is of huge importance.

 Sally Tallant
This round table ‘catch up’ is an opportunity to talk about working in a specific context or situation, or neighbourhoods in our case, but there is one thing that niggles me a little bit. It is to do with the duration of research. Funnily enough, LTP is quite a short research period, given the duration and complexity of the projects that we are all involved in.

We want this research to come back into our project, to be presented to our stakeholders in a conversation, to be taken further. We started this conversational relationship that should not stop now, just because you have done a book.

 Claire Doherty
Perhaps one answer is to be found in thinking back to our rationale for undertaking the project in the first place. We did not want to undertake a project that resulted in guidelines for best practice. Paul’s research resulted in an exercise in the importance of reflexive thinking embedded within these projects because of their cumulative nature.

 Antonia Payne
Paul, can we bring you in at this stage. Do you want to share or reflect from your perspective as an insider/outsider?

 Paul O’Neill
My response may connect back to Tom’s idea of the truth, as well as bringing in a narrative that was not within the already mediated thinking of each project at the time. I wanted to provide a retrospective account of each project which had some degree of accuracy. I was always very interested, in general, in the idea of research and the notion of what the early 20th century English literature critics, Wimsatt and Beardsley, called ‘intentional fallacy’, where the critic would demonstrate some degree of objectivity by denouncing the intention of the writer or producer or the effects on the reader and come up with their own analysis and evaluation.

I also learned an awful lot from Jeanne’s use of the term ‘uninvited guest’, and how the researcher could occupy a role of insider-outsider, a kind of benevolent double agent. There is always the tension around how narratives are produced and how they are interpreted and translated. What one thinks one is saying is one thing, but one always runs the risk of being understood otherwise. That is ultimately the nature of interpretative research. Perhaps the tension around formalising a particular type of narrative, or truth, or even a language for these projects, might define what one is doing once amidst a process. There is this necessity for some critical distance as a researcher, and even though my role may have been semi-embedded in the projects, there was always a need to have that a level of objectivity and some form of critical detachment from what I was hearing about the projects by those more directly involved.

In general, everyone’s response was to invite me to become more embedded in their own curatorial process; this was also consistent with my process, and it made the projects even more fascinating. That first came up with The Blue House. Jeanne and the members asked me to stay over, to my surprise, and then you asked me to become a member. There was always that tension of being outside on the inside trying to create certain truths that override other people’s truths. This is why I always think about this notion of intentional fallacy and the limitations of objective research.

Perhaps it is also about the overlapping of two temporal processes. There is always a certain tension particularly within the Edgware Road Project, most significantly when I became aware how embedded I had become in this project even before it had begun to evolve for the curators, and the institution. There is also an apprehension between the seeking of one’s own truth and rejecting someone else’s interpretative truths. It’s a question of proximity and how far one can be within and how far one remains outside the project so as to arrive with a narrative than is close enough to the intentions if the project whilst retaining some critical detachment or what Fredric Jameson calls ‘critical distance’.

 Tom van Gestel
I suddenly realised that I never asked you how you made the selection.

 Paul O’Neill
The project began as a comparative study of commissioning models across five different sectors: Large-scale scattered-site/biennial exhibitions; commissioning agencies; gallery off-site programmes; temporary public art programmes within the context of regeneration and artist-curated initiatives. Having begun that process, it was difficult even to define the parameters of these individual sectors, such as regenerational projects or artist-curatorial projects. In defining those parameters I discovered that The Blue House somehow brought together different elements of those sectors, whilst resisting being any one of them.

It became impossible to study even one of the sectors, let alone compare them to one another. There was also a logistical issue around the ability to understand the cultural context of particular projects and whether that would be possible outside Europe.

Some additional criteria needed to be introduced in the selection process. Duration, or long-termist approaches to public art commissioning was introduced rather than taking a comparative study across different art sectors. The case studies were selected for their relative contribution to the durational process of commissioning, their place-bound nature and their interest in engaging with the locality and its residents.

 Claire Doherty
There was also a very important shift in the focus of the partnershps. The project officially began as a three-way South West England partnership, between the Dartington College of Arts, Projectbase and Situations at UWE. It was funded as a visual arts commissioning research partnership between those three organisations; whereas what actually transpired was an inter-institutional collaboration between us and all of you.

Certainly, what we will be feeding back to the Great Western Research Initiative, who funded the fellowship, is that there was a transitional moment at which we deduced that the most relevant and timely issue was specifically about duration. I remember that meeting between Paul, Antonia and I. We were trying to wrestle with what was the most urgent of issues in commissioning. We knew we could have examined commonalities and divergent characteristics between new models of arts organisations and commissioning, but it was vital that we asked what is the most urgent issue that is bubbling under the surface in terms of commissioning.

 Antonia Payne
Can I just ask the responders, before you start to reflect on your involvement in the project, is there anything you would want to raise with the initiators based on what they have said?

I noticed that Paul’s brief did not include that apparatus for commissioning, and I am talking about the planning system and commissioning through these systems.

 Aldo Rinaldi
I was wondering why you did not choose to look at that too. It could be because you thought that this situation was too fraught, with bureaucracy and all, but I don’t know. That struck me, because it automatically ruled out production in that particular field. There are people here whose work is interrelated in that area to an extent.

 Jonathan Banks
The very exclusion of that section is where the interest lies. That is the dominant practice. In the short-term, we are interested in the interaction between the built environment and architecture. The key issue for me is the autonomy of organisations versus public policy and often restrictive regeneration contexts. It was important to me that the public art sector in the UK begins to rethink more broadly and to examine alternatives to its short-term commissioning, which is done by most offices and commissioning agencies in the UK.

 Claire Doherty
The practice has changed fundamentally too. The brief was formulated in early 2006. It was initiated through Situations, and we have also been through a huge learning curve. We are now taking on consultancies with local authority partners, as a fundamental part of what we do, because we believe it is possible to work in a pioneering, experimental way within those parameters. I would never have imagined that in the early days.

 Sally Tallant
That is quite hierarchical. It is interesting that you say you would not have imagined that. Notions of what constitutes a public include those mechanisms that also have a stake in them. You cannot work in public space without negotiating all of those things. This is not about one model bad, one model good. There are series of conversations that need to be handled quite carefully. What you are involved in is a political endeavour. Whenever you do anything, it is so, but particularly when you are juggling funding and local desires and issues raised immediately around regeneration, as well as your own desires and questions — that may provoke a surprising set of things to happen.

 Mick Wilson
What happens in academic research that engages with commissioning is that part of it is only possible because the project initiator has agreed to sustained interrogation. Even that idea of Paul going to a staff meeting inside an organisation, or the idea that there was a conversation happening in The Blue House project about his research asking whether or not his angle was consistent with the ethos of The Blue House shows the degree to which the research process was confronting the projects under discussion.

The research methodology was willing to entertain an interrogation that was open-ended and could potentially bring up warts and all. That must have been a part of your selection criteria — that the initiators were actually interested in that kind of conversation. This means that the research had to include the dynamics of inter-personal interaction, especially as they were built over time, going from one project to another, so an initiator becomes an interrogator in another situation.

I would not describe this type of research as academic, as the word conjures something that is remote, uncaring. What makes this academic research, though not typical, is to do with it coming out of Situations. There is a very different ethos of research that prioritises art production and the cultural sphere, rather than the academic sphere, which is fundamental to the richness of the conversation.

I asked Paul to talk at a conference in Dublin, specifically about the question of his durational curatorial methodology, precisely because I think his approach stands in stark contrast to the sterility of methods within visual arts research. Just hearing something rich, meaningful, salient to the actual practice, in no sense is it intellectually arid. It is a really robust enquiry and it really is transformative. There is no way of getting into it without being transformed by it.

 Claire Doherty
Everyone sitting around this table has a familiarity with the language we are using. Is there a danger that, because it went through the participant/observer mode of research and then a certain set of projects were selected in which most of the people around this table engaged with one another, that there may be a certain amount of preaching to the choir here?

 Mick Wilson
I would like to talk about the methodological process, and how each time during the focus group session, or semi-public event, there was always a number of outsider figures, who were not related to the projects under research. For example, when we were in Trekroner, Barbara Holub from Vienna was there, and that was the first time she has been involved in the discussions about the projects. That meant that the whole process was under question.

There was a multiplicity of players, other than just those around this table, who had a part to play. When we had the presentation in Dublin, there was a robust challenge from the floor about why certain projects were excluded. I did think that was interesting. The process is public, in many ways. There are closed moments, but a lot of it is happening in the public domain. Even if there are only twenty people in the room, there is another set of constituencies aware that it is happening.

 Antonia Payne
Mick, you are working with researchers all of the time, you are very much involved in the development of the so-called academic research within the visual arts. What has your involvement in this project meant in terms of your own thinking? What has it caused you to reflect on?

 Mick Wilson
Two things: the exposure to Locating the Producers, but also to Situations. The other project that is on the table here, One Day Sculpture, which is another example, another paradigm of research, has demonstrated that research that is based in the academy can actually happen in the real world. And it can happen by direct engagement with cultural practitioners who do not have a really big stake or interest in academic research. I do still think it is possible for research to come out of that space and matter, and happen and engage, in the sense that it shapes a discourse for cultural practice.

There is also the idea of a research practice that is curatorial research in the sense that the very process of the enquiry is curated. Going back to the idea that the initiators are curated within this project, they are not simply processed through some random sampling. There is a curatorial exercise at work. The research itself could become a creative practice at all levels, not just at the level of conception of how a question could be asked. What are the terms of the question? It forces me to reconsider the entire model as a platform for multicultural research. I don’t think that Locating the Producers could have happened without the previous history of work within Situations. I also think it is enriched by this other strand of activities.

There is a radically different operating culture between the different projects. But one thing that is consistent across all of them is that none of this work would have happened without a massive over-investment above and beyond the terms of the situation. That is over-investment on the part of the authors, commissioners and agencies. I was really surprised by the scale of investment and agency.

 Antonia Payne
I would be really interested to hear what the initiators think about this. I wonder how you feel about being curated in the context of research, being part of a curated process, because that is what you are proposing — curators are being curated.

 Mick Wilson
I must emphasise, curated not for the purposes of a show, but in the sense that there is a constellation, stuff is set up and something will emerge. What emerges is not predetermined.

 Antonia Payne
Maybe this comes back to how narratives are being constructed through the research.

 Jeanne van Heeswijk
I definitely had the sense of being curated, maybe more so than being researched. Some of the questions about ‘methodology as a curatorial project’ relates back to my own questions about curating as the dominant paradigm, a counterpoint to the staleness of academia and its deadness; its inability to cope with life is answered by the curatorial process. Curatorial processes also have their forms of deadening and restricting spaces. The question I have about the process, in general, has to do with accountabilities and who is being constituted as curated. There is a group of professionals who are coming together and being constituted in that gesture.

Many of constituencies who we work with, and are occasionally in conflict with through The Blue House, are not necessarily present in the questioning of the research process. That pertains to a very particular idea about research and how it constituted its subjects and objects of study as part of the curatorial or research process. I understand the reasons for limiting who and what was researched, as well as the reasons for a taking distance on the constituencies we work with sometimes, but I also think there is a real danger in that. It constitutes this field as a curatorial field and not as a field that emerges as a conjunction between social agents of various kinds, which is where we work with each other in these kinds of processes.

There are voices missing and there are methodologies for dealing with those voices that are in dire need of being produced through this narrative generation process. Those voices have been dominated by frameworks within cultural production. We ask them to be participants, to speak as authentic people from particular identity positions, to fulfil particular criteria. We are in a dire need of new narrative formations for describing what we do in these projects and the dynamics between them.

 Kerstin Bergendal
I’m not sure that I was able to recognise a curatorial strategy. Through the process of looking back together into the process, it was good to get to know the other projects, but I also got to know my own project, through a new lens. Something happened. We started having discussions, talking about problems with our own work. Paul was just one party to discuss with, then the others emerged, and, over time, I have recognised some challenges that we, as artists, face in the society in which we work.

There are also some weak areas in this way of working, or at least areas that we need to discuss. We spoke about instrumentalisation, this Jesus effect, trying to change everything. At the beginning, Tom spoke so nicely about the truth. The truth is, there are many problems. The primary part of this curatorial aspect is that your serious focus on putting us together also makes it possible to be as candid as we have been, because there is a situation of trust.

 Paul O’Neill
In terms of the curatorial process, in putting people together, socialising the practice of curating, part of the methodology of this, through interrogating the individual curator, was also about recognising the limitations of my own knowledge and of what I could hope to learn over the three year period whilst questioning the limitations of what I could even begin to understand as part of the research process, which I hoped the participant-based methodology would enable me to request a bit of help along the way from those who were more familiar with certain fields of enquiry than I was.

 Kerstin Bergendal
You created a distance, so you could see it from the distance.

 Mick Wilson
It has been interesting to see how the theme of hospitality, which is so central to The Blue House project, gradually became central to all the attractions and all the different sites: hospitality as a problem, rather than a mutual, nice thing; hospitality as a complex negotiation and a troubled unstable space.

 Sally Tallant
Whilst Paul claimed to maintain some distance, he asked for a huge amount of feedback, so it has been a conversation. That question about truth and trust counts both ways. That is probably more difficult for Paul as he is very close to the projects. And, whilst Paul may not have wanted to be part of them, the process we were going through meant that this was not possible, in my view, because if someone coming to write about our project interviews us and then leaves, I don’t care what they write. But asking us to read, to comment on and discuss it with other people is a very different process.

 Jeanne van Heeswijk
Part of it is that it was curated, and we were asked to talk so much that I felt like a Smurf. I spoke about The Blue House so much, for so many different audiences, that I was starting to feel they must have heard it a thousand times. Then I received the text from Paul. I had a conversation with the woman who is the chair of our board who was involved in the initial commissioning and the commissioning that went wrong. We started having an argument about the interview that Paul conducted about the original commissioning context for The Blue House, and I had to go back to the original files to make sure which letter they sent me and how much money they offered me. To tell a story so many times can make it a self-fulfilling prophecy. It can make one feel vulnerable that you may end up being in danger of polishing the narrative.

 Claire Doherty
What is interesting about this is how Paul’s very particular focus as a curator becomes about intentionality. I wonder if another researcher would have been asking about intentionality or more about what has been produced, and by involving others as research companions. It is important that Paul chose to focus on the producers.

 Janna Graham
That begs the question of who are the producers, because curators are just one aspect of production. If you take that (Henri) Lefebvre idea of the production of space, it is not just produced by the architects, but also by the users, the publics and activists who help shape it. There is a broad constituency who produce, so it depends on your ideology.

 Kerstin Bergendal
Perhaps it is more about the initiators than producers.

 Claire Doherty
What about your intentionality as a commissioner?

 Tom van Gestel
You have the same problem with locating the initiators, as with locating the producers. You always have the same problem of trying to find out where it started, what was most important. It is difficult.

 Aldo Rinaldi
But is this what you had in mind? It is the idiosyncrasies of what someone brings to the situation; it is to do with Paul and his subjectivity. It happens with anyone who comes into the project, they bring something to it.

 Claire Doherty
That is why we were asking these questions of the commissioners as opposed to the broader public.

 Antonia Payne
Can I bring in Jonathan and Aldo to get your perspective of how your engagement with this project and your knowledge of some of the practices by people around the table has made you reflect on your own?

 Jonathan Banks
This comes back to why we were originally interested in the project and decided to be part of it. We were interested in shining a light on projects that might reflect on commissioning in general, and look at the world of regeneration, and public policy in a critical way.

ixia was always interested in investigating this idea of a long-term programme, maybe punctuated by short-term artworks as a general field, and I was also interested in the idea of a research project being an evaluation tool, really capturing what goes on within these projects, how they shift, seem very fluid, constantly learning from themselves and external stakeholders. Crucially, we were interested in the impact of the projects on the people who receive them, in terms of stakeholders in Coniston, or those who occupy the structures within Beyond. What actually happened in The Blue House in terms of the legacy? Perhaps it is still too soon and this is something we need to carry on in the future.

 Aldo Rinaldi
On a personal level, there is also the fact that Situations is an organisation leading on this; there is a group of people here and a wish to be associated with that as well. I’m not completely comfortable with the word ‘evaluation’. Being associated with these projects and going to The Blue House, made me aware of new organisational models. The work we are doing here has definitely influenced this. We are working with Paul and Situations on a long-term public art strategy for Knowle West in Bristol with General Public Agency, and it has definitely influenced the way we pursue that piece of work, which is much more about building upon the characteristic that is already there, working with people on the basis of a much more socially-based, project-based approach. It has been really interesting for us to see how the planning system has thrown up all sorts of problems in terms of implementing that.

 Mick Wilson
One of the things that is very important about this research project is the disconnection between the operational culture of making something happen — the policy discourse, on one hand, and the critical discourse on the other. These two things seem to inhabit radically separate universes. What struck me in this process was that I felt that these divergent discourses were scratching up against each other, showing the weaknesses of each.

Sally spoke about the frenzy of production, which happens when you simply have to get something done, and there is something that happens when you have to persuade urban authorities to alter their approach to thinking about how to disburse funds or when you get into a conversation about the nature of publicness.

Perhaps a different field discourse might emerge whereby the operational, the strategic policy and the critical may actually come in contact, without dissolving the differences between these moments.

 Claire Doherty
Is there a way of asking about this particular role in which you embody a position in which those three discourses meet? Unlike a policy maker or a commissioned artist, you have to negotiate those all the time, moving between these spheres. Is there a way of trying to capture what a commissioner or producer is, what is it that you are doing?

 Kerstin Bergendal
Trekroner operates both outside and inside the planning system, and it infiltrates this very system that defines its borders.

 Aldo Rinaldi
Which you could describe as a friction or a rub. You rub where these things collide and something happens. I think this runs through all the selected projects. They are slightly different models. This is what interests me about LTP, as well as how people have adapted to it. I think we are seeing a kind of evolution, a Darwinian change in how people work.

 Sally Tallant
I disagree with you because I think it is too simplistic. What we are talking about are conditions of production. Everybody around this table has been making work for twenty years or perhaps less. These practices evolve and if the question you are asking is about what notions of value we are producing and what responsibilities we have, that is a much bigger question. It is a much more political question.

That is where good projects are judged, be they situated projects, exhibitions or books. If this publication can be of any use, it can reveal the shifting, fluctuating complexities that are necessary components of any given situation. They will always be different in any given situation. It is the way in which you propose to ask the question that is important. I really worry that people are going to start evolving models of practice.

 Aldo Rinaldi
Kerstin said that we need to develop a vocabulary for something that had been intuitive to her. All I am saying is that we learn something from others.

 Paul O’Neill
I would like to reflect on the concept of the producer. In a lot of my other writing, I am very much denouncing this notion of the individual, autonomous producer: one of the things that all the LTP projects do, in spite of my occasional inability to represent that, is to take a multi-dimensional approach. They are very collaborative, involve multiple agencies and are very complex in that sense. The question of Locating the Producers is almost as much a rhetorical question as it is a title. When that discussion began, there was an assumption that not all the producers were artists. But Jeanne and Kerstin are artists: two of the five case studies were initiated by artists.

I would describe Janna’s practice as being curatorial as much as it is research-led, from an art activist’s perspective. At least three of the LTP projects are very heavily invested in the notion of critiquing the idea of individual producer as commissioner — as much as denouncing the idea that what is produced as art comes out of an ulterior place. All of the projects also test the parameters of what and who is being produced and the unique contexts that enable each durational approach to have emerged.

 Alistair Hudson
What often gets missed in these things is how important the way you do something is. It is very easy to think one can do an engaged project, but you need the attitude; you need to do it with a particular style and approach. This is fundamental to all of the projects. We were talking about the over-investment of groups, which is very true. Inherently, that makes them creative projects. It is not always the template that is important, but the philosophy and the approach.

 Mick Wilson
This idea of models of best practice is obviously of no use in this domain at all, but it does seem to me that there is something hugely valuable about key examples, which are subject to multi-perspective considerations that we can almost talk to death. The Blue House is a very good example. You do not want people to repeat it, but that work was so taut, so engaged that it enables another sort of practice to emerge, other orders of practice.

In Mary Jane Jacob’s curatorial practice in the early 1990s, there was critique that culminated in One Place after Another. That set of arguments enabled a new generation of practice, which did not start from the same premise but it could not have happened before. That may be what we are looking for — not a general set of principles, but an understanding of what is already happening that might somehow catalyse the possibility of other things happening. We do not have to keep reinventing the wheel.

 Claire Doherty
When the durational aspect of this project emerged, partly in response to our research into One Place After Another and Miwon Kwon’s body of writing, the change of direction was due to the fact that we felt there was something more than a question of embeddedness versus the nomadic curator. As LTP has shown us, it is far more complex than saying that the antidote to nomadic curating is merely durational, embedded practice.

What I was trying to draw out, when asking about intentionality, was about personal commitment, whether we are talking about authorial practice or not, or work within a network of people? What characterises the commitment of these people and makes these types of projects happen and sustains them?

 Jonathan Banks
I think it something to do with the fundamental belief that art should be useful. Perhaps this is the wrong term, but I think there is a shared belief in some sort of usefulness, whether it is functional or dysfunctional. In terms of the value we put in, it has got to have some sort of purpose or prescribed effect.

 Sally Tallant
Focusing on how we might do something, with a philosophy or ethos of why we would do something, is the most important thing. That would come to debating the value that art produces, or maybe the use value or a particular relationship to the wider art market. I think it is important to look at the wider context and not just at these projects.

 Alistair Hudson
It comes back to embeddedness, which is quite crucial. I always say that I do what I do as a citizen, if I can use that word. I live in that community and have a responsibility within that community. With my faculties and skills, I do my best to make that place better and, by extension, everything else as well, however ludicrously ambitious that might be. That is where the useful thing comes from. It is about moving away from this idea that the producer is somehow separate from everything else, this romantic idea of being up on the cloud somewhere. You are mixed in with it, part of the mess and you have to help clean it up.

 Janna Graham
But that also then changes the genealogy of the histories of our work. It cannot be exclusively related to Miwon Kwon and Mary Jane Jacob. It means that the history and the antecedents of our work come from these questions of participatory citizenship, people taking action in their lives. Those histories and discussions need to enter into these kinds of projects, which they very much do, if it is possible to list them. Many of the dominant formats we have for public art or for critical art come out of the art itself, which is strange because the practitioners draw their own histories from very different places, art being only one trajectory. These histories may be formative to me, but so is the American revolutionary movement.

 Mick Wilson
But that is part of the genealogy of Mary Jane Jacob. This is a renegotiation of it, but this is not the first time that the question of citizenship has entered into this. Every practice constitutes itself by an imagining of a genealogy. We are re-imagining genealogy. Those earlier strands were multiple, and they never just come unto themselves with nothing to do with an art discourse.

 Sally Tallant
But how they are then disseminated is different.

 Mick Wilson
Which is maybe also what happens here; part of the dissemination opportunity is to do with the art apparatus.

 Antonia Payne
Returning to the word ‘useful’. The question for me would then be: to what extent did the process of this research ever raise the question of usefulness, to what extent did being involved in the process of research ever cause you to reflect on the usefulness of what you were doing, given that you were all signing up to the notion of being useful?

 Sally Tallant
I do not have that black and white view either. We work in a gallery with the notion of the audience as the consumer and as a producer we are connected to the art market. Rather than looking at how art objects represent value, we ask questions of what it is that art does in very complex ways. No one can, well I could not, get away from the questions of value and use value in art.

 Jonathan Banks
Jeanne, could you talk about civic art?

 Jeanne van Heeswijk
I used it in an interview which is now nine years old, to talk about this relationship between citizenship and art and the fact that I am first a citizen and then an artist. I have, for a long time, used this and have been thinking about the genealogy of my practice through all these different strands, emancipation movements, activist movements. Because the term ‘public art’ has been a little worn out, we seem to have difficulties in defining the idea of public in relation to art. I used the term ‘civic art’ in thinking about public art as trying to find new forms of citizenship, to define new ways of dealing with the notion of citizenship in relation to art and publicness.

 Kerstin Bergendal
The difficulty for all of us is that there are skills and knowledge; the hands-on experience from our practice can be relevant in society when planning urban areas or whatever else.

 Claire Doherty
Paul and I asked ourselves many times whether the problem with this research project is whether it operated on the basis of an ethical guiding principle; that somehow we were advocating durational embeddedness as an ethical alternative to nomadic curating. In a lot of our comments, there is an underlying moral tone. Can I play devil’s advocate? In some of my recent thinking I wondered whether there is, forgive the Blairite connotations, a third way.

One Day Sculpture ran in parallel to LTP. This is a commissioning series that was not particularly embedded and certainly did not emerge through a long-term durational commissioning process, though in some respects the operational and research-based aspects did emerge through a nationwide collaborative model in New Zealand. All the projects occurred in their own twenty-four hour period, appearing briefly and then disappearing. There was a supportive engagement process, but I was interested in the possibility for transformation through a parachuted project. I just wondered how everybody felt about that. Have you been aware, through your discussions, of the potential danger of this moralising tone within durational practice?

 Alistair Hudson
Certainly, some of our projects are embedded because we work locally, but equally we do biennales, we drop into places and do things. It is important that they are embedded within a system, a way of thinking, not just within a community, but within a discussion. Each project relates and feeds into the other, informs and changes and transcribes. There are concentric connections, but I would never rule out the idea of doing standalone sculpture. That can be useful in many ways as it has been throughout the history of art. It is totally open and I think you are right; there is this danger that it becomes the only answer, in this moralising tone.

 Kerstin Bergendal
The long-term presence of a counter position is important. My reaction towards One Day Sculpture is that, the day after it is gone, it initiates a long durational effect. It has durational consequences in the minds of the people who have experienced it. It is about looking for strategies that do not repeat the behaviour of art as a commodity.

 Jeanne van Heeswijk
I do not mind the word morality so much. I would never shy away from wanting to make heard and felt what art could be in society, so I do not mind the moral attitude sometimes. I am a little scared of making this into a problematic issue when speaking of the durational project.

 Mick Wilson
The possible problem is not so much that there is a moral value espoused, but that it becomes simply installed and it disables critique. There is another issue, which is how much critical cultural practice gets sucked into the practice of production of the good subject. A really disabling thing happens when we start to get into a production of self, attached to values. On the other hand, there may be something important in the idea that we are in a contest about the production of values.

 Paul O’Neill
I would like to propose a final question about ‘the end’ and how it structures time in a particular way. All of your projects have created a certain lexicon of terms, which could fall under the subject heading of duration such as the idea of the open-ended, the processual, the unexpected, the unplanned, events as a means rather than an end, and so forth. Within all of these projects, there is a very considered approach to how time is spatialised and demarcated through the projects, but there is still a desire to present and map out time in a programmatic way, to formulise a logical progression, which suggests there might be an ending in sight. Edgware Road is already thinking about what happens at the end of the project and going back into the gallery, and doing a publication mapping the history of the project; Jeanne brought her project to an end with a reflexive conference called Out of the Blue and a publication is in production already; Beyond ended with a permanent sculpture park. Even these longer-term projects, if one can call them that, are all considering the appropriate ending to a durational process.

So, what is an appropriate ending to your projects? Why the need for an end? Why the need to demarcate it in a particular way? Also, why the need to demarcate and to spatialise the distinct temporal stages of the project, whilst under the rhetoric of duration and open-ended timeframes?

 Sally Tallant
When we think of the research in relation to the project that we are working on, it is not as if it remains the same. There are phases within the rationale of it. We have been looking at the situation and mapping, then we had the research and we want to make something as well. That has always been interesting. This project grew out of a previous project that was four years long and something may grow out of this.

We do not see it as ending, but as a bouncing ball. It is nice to touch down and have a local operation that is manifesting something that can take it beyond the phase that we are currently in. We want for us, and the artists and everyone, to be able to step back and see what we have been doing.

 Janna Graham
There is a difference between synthesis, representation, celebration and a marking of time, which is not exactly an end. This is a moment when the process is externalised, a process that has become incredibly intricate, affective and relational. It allows a look at it, and maybe it is not you who looks at it. Maybe it is you and a whole other constituency that takes it on.

 Jeanne van Heeswijk
You brought it up yourself at the beginning. There is no such a thing as open-endedness. In the sense in which open-endedness means responsibility things have to agglutinate or collide, or unfold, become visible, because otherwise there is no discourse.

 Alistair Hudson
The ideal ending for me is when it carries on. What we are always striving for with a project is that somebody else takes it on and runs with it. Creative Egremont will eventually be run by the people of Egremont and then Grizedale will take a step back. Similarly, with the other projects, the ideal is that you set them free into the world. They may die later on or become something else, like the original sculpture park that started in ’68 and is now run by the Forestry Commission. That is how it should work.

 Claire Doherty
Maybe some things should finish. Maybe endings are good. That is the thing about permanence. You staged a remarkable project, it was materially, physically manifested, celebrated and experienced, and it is retained culturally.

 Kerstin Bergendal
But arranging an ending, at least in Trekroner, would be really strange, because the project is defined by meaning; what is the project, what is not the project? Not everybody in this area participated in the activities that were undertaken in this time. If I initiated an ending, it would be curated, self-promotional in a way. I agree with you that it would be the best possible ending for the people to use it for something we did not think about. Otherwise you are writing the story for them. So many times I had thought it ended, died. Then something pops up again.

Reflecting on Durational Research in Relation to Durational Practice
Afterword










Afterword

Ian Biggs

This book marks the conclusion of an intensive participant-observer research process which saw our Research Fellow immersed within the commissioning processes of each project, our programmes and research environments enriched by the exchanges between project participants and partners. Locating the Producers formed a part of the Situations programme, which was initiated in 2003 as a programme dedicated to the production of commissioned artworks in response to specific local conditions underpinned by the rigour of an academic programme. Led by Claire Doherty and a small dedicated team of curators and researchers, Situations forms a significant part of the visual arts ecology in Bristol and internationally. Academically Situations sits within PLaCE, a creative, practice led, research centre that addresses professional and practical issues of engagement with place, location, context and environment at the intersection of a multiplicity of disciplines and practices.

Locating the Producers demonstrates one of the ways in which a university Research Centre that is closely engaged with the creative industries and both the private and public sector can facilitate the interactions between the numerous publics and artists that have clearly benefitted from considerable investment in public art in recent years. Yet, in the UK at least, it remains the case that the economic downturn will impact on the public art sector through a decrease in regeneration schemes and because of the inevitability of public sector cuts across capital programmes in the next five years. One possible move to protect the sophistication of our current public art sector would be a fundamental shift in thinking about the ‘time’, rather than simply the ‘space’, of public art. This book goes some way towards supporting a progressive notion of place, not a site onto which public art is grafted; but rather an event in progress. PLaCE and Situations remain committed to developing just such approaches as part of the university’s commitment to the efficacy of research and education in the wider context of national and international cultural life.

Dr. Iain Biggs
Director, PLaCE Research Centre, University of the West of England, Bristol

Afterword
Biographies










Biographies

Paul O’Neill

is a curator, artist and writer based in Bristol. He is Great Western Research Alliance (GWR) Research Fellow in Commissioning Contemporary Art with Situations at the University of the West of England, Bristol. Paul has curated or co-curated more than fifty exhibition projects including: Coalesce: happenstance, SMART, Amsterdam (2009); D.B, Four Gallery, Dublin (2008); Tape Runs Out, Text and Work Gallery, Bournemouth (2007); Intermittent, Gallery for One, Dublin (2007); Making Do, The Lab, Dublin (2007); Our Day Will Come, Zoo Art Fair, London (2006); General Idea: Selected Retrospective, Project, Dublin (2006); Mingle-Mangled, as part of Cork Caucus, Cork (2005); La La Land, Project, Dublin (2005); Coalesce: The Remix, Redux, London (2005); Tonight, Studio Voltaire, London, (2004); Coalesce: With All Due Intent at Model and Niland Art Gallery, Sligo (2004); Are We There Yet? Glassbox, Paris (2000) and Passports, Zaçheta Gallery of Contemporary Art, Warsaw (1998). He is an associate visiting lecturer on the de Appel Curatorial Programme and on the MFA Curating, Goldsmiths, London. His writing has been published in many books, catalogues, journals and magazines and he is a regular contributor to Art Monthly. He is reviews editor for Art and the Public Sphere Journal and on the editorial board of The Exhibitionist and The Journal of Curatorial Studies. He is editor of the curatorial anthology, Curating Subjects (2007), and co-editor of Curating and the Educational Turn with Mick Wilson (2010), both published by de Appel and Open Editions (Amsterdam and London). He is currently working on an authored book with MIT Press, entitled The Culture of Curating, Curating Culture(s), (2011).

Ned Rossiter

is an Australian media theorist and Associate Professor of Network Cultures, University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China and Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney, Australia. He is author ofOrganized Networks: Media Theory, Creative Labour, New Institutions (2006). He is co-editor of numerous volumes, includingRefashioning Pop Music in Asia: Cosmopolitan Flows, Political Tempos, and Aesthetic Industries with Allen Chun and Brian Shoesmith (2004), MyCreativity Reader: A Critique of Creative Industries with Geert Lovink (2007) and ‘Creative China: Counter-Mapping Creative Industries’, (Special Issue) Urban China with Mónica Carriço and Bert de Muynck (2008). Rossiter has co-organised many international conferences, research platforms and events, including, most recently (with Brett Neilson), ‘Transit Labour: Circuits, Regions, Borders’, http://transitlabour.asia. His essays on network politics, media and design theory, informational economies, global logistics industries and labour have been published in a range of journals and books, including Fibreculture Journal, Borderlands, Cultural Politics, Theory, Culture & Society, International Review of Information Ethics and ephemera: theory & politics in organization.

Dave Beech

is an artist in the collective, Freee (www.freee.org.uk). He teaches at Chelsea College of Art and writes regularly for Art Monthly. He is the editor of the recent MIT/Whitechapel Book entitled Beauty and co-author of The Philistine Controversy published by Verso. Recent exhibitions include the Liverpool Biennial (2010), Spin(Freee)oza at SMART Project Space, Amsterdam; V22 Presents: The Sculpture Show, London; and the work ‘Article 31’ for Land of Human Rights, at Rotor, Bucharest.

Claire Doherty

is Founding Director of Situations, a commissioning and research programme based at the University of the West of England in Bristol (www.situations.org.uk). Situations commissions artists’ projects, outside conventional gallery or museum settings, with an emphasis on new forms of public engagement. Doherty has worked with a broad range of artists, such as Phil Collins, Nathan Coley, Susan Hiller, Joao Penalva, Jeppe Hein, Roman Ondák, Hew Locke, Lara Favaretto, Tim Etchells, Ruth Claxton, raumlaborberlin and Ivan and Heather Morison, often creating opportunities for them to work in surprising contexts. In 2009, she was awarded a prestigious Paul Hamlyn Breakthrough Award as an outstanding cultural entrepreneur.
In 2008-9, Doherty and David Cross directed ONE DAY SCULPTURE, a year-long collaborative series of twenty commissioned, 24-hour public artworks across New Zealand. In 2010, she was Co-Curatorial Director of Wonders of Weston for Weston-super-Mare, and forthcoming projects include a groundbreaking series of individual projects over a ten-year period for Oslo Harbour and the migration of Alex Hartley’s Nowhereisland from the High Arctic to South-West England for the Cultural Olympiad in 2012. She is editor of Contemporary Art: From Studio to Situation (Black Dog Publishing, 2004); Documents of Contemporary Art: Situation (Whitechapel/MIT Press, 2009) and co-editor with David Cross of One Day Sculpture (Kerber, 2009) and Ivan and Heather Morison: Falling into Place (Book Works, 2009). She is currently an external advisory member of the Olympic Park Public Realm Advisory Committee and a Fellow of the RSA.

Mick Wilson

is Dean of the Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media (Gradcam), Dublin (www.gradcam.ie). Mick is an artist, writer and educator who has exhibited and published his work widely. Recent published work includes ‘Curatorial Moments and Discursive Turns’ in Paul O’Neill, ed., Curating Subjects (London and Amsterdam, Open Editions and de Appel, 2007); the edited anthology Curating and the Educational Turn, co-edited with Paul O’Neill (London and Amsterdam, Open Editions and de Appel, 2010); ‘Emergence’ (with Paul O’Neill) in Nought to Sixty, (London, ICA, 2008); ‘Invasion of the Kiddyfiddlers’ in Censoring Culture: Contemporary Threats to Free Expression (The New Press, 2006) and ‘Tricks of Trade and Terms of Art’ in Third Text, Vol. 19, No. 5 (2005).

Biographies
Acknowledgments










Acknowledgments

We would like to thank to all the authors and participants in this publication for their invaluable contributions, and for persevering with us throughout the research and editorial process. We are especially grateful to Jonathan Banks, Kerstin Bergendal, Janna Graham, Alistair Hudson, Adam Sutherland, Sally Tallant, Tom van Gestel, Jeanne van Heeswijk, and Mick Wilson for their incredible commitment, trust, and invaluable knowledge without which this publication would not have been possible.

We would like to acknowledge the considerable support offered to this project by the lead organisation, the University of the West of England, Bristol and in particular, the help and advice throughout the three-year research programme of Brian Allen, Paul Blatchford, Iain Biggs, Anthony Everitt, Paul Gough, Verity Lewis, Rachel Mylrea, Deanna Poolman, Gill Sandford and the Situations team 2007-10: Katie Daley-Yates, Charles Farina, Kate Gordon, Frances Loeffler, Danae Mossman, Carolina Rito, Michael Prior and Vanessa Vasic-Janekovics) as well as the support and involvement of our partner organisations ProjectBase and the University College Falmouth incorporating Dartington College of Art (with particular thanks to Sara Black and Antonia Payne, Virginia Button and Rob Gawthrop).

We would like to thank all the following for their kindness, support, partnership, generosity, advice, suggestions, exchange of ideas and insightful discussions at critical moments in the project: Alice and Tess from 100% Proof, Alessio Antoniolli, Arnolfini, Lucy Badrocke, Adelaide Bannerman, David A. Bailey, Kenneth Balfert, BAVO, Dave Beech, Bik Van der Pol, Bureau Beyond, David Blamey, The Blue House Housing Association of the Mind, Kathrin Böhm, Yane Calovski, Aileen Corkery, Geoff Cox, David Cross, Curatorial.net, Neil Cummings, Hilde de Bruijn, Ann Demeester, Carlijn Diesfeldt, de Appel, Paul Domela, The European Biennial Network, Annie Fletcher, Eva Fotiadi, Freee, Maria Fusco, Liam Gillick, Grizedale Arts, Nav Haq, Barbara Holub, Sophie Hope, Paul Hudson, Lindsay Hughes, Mark Hutchinson, ixia, Peter Schultz Jørgensen, Dennis Kaspori, Amal Khalaf, Susan Kelly, Joasia Krysa, Axel Lapp, Liverpool Biennial, Frances Loeffler, Liesbeth Melis, Metahaven, Suzanne Mooney, Chantal Mouffe, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Tone O. Nielson, OPEN, Melissa Page, Sarah Pierce, Plan 9, Paul Rajakovics, Aldo Rinaldi, Renee Ridgway, Municipality of Roskilde, Ned Rossiter, Brigitte van der Sande, Jorinde Seijdel, Serpentine Gallery, Becky Shaw, Simon Sheikh, Spike Island, SKOR, Karolin Tampere, Astrid Vorstermans, Cai-Ulrich von Platen, Markus von Platen, Vanessa Vasic-Janekovics, Jan Verwoert, Jeni Walwin, Mark Waugh, What, How and for Whom (WHW), and to all those many participants and interviewees who kindly gave of their time to be part of the three-year research process.

For their generous funding support of the GWR Research Fellowship which led to this project, publication and related events we especially wish to thank the Great Western Research Initiative (www.greatwesternresearch.ac.uk) and the PLaCE Research Centre at the University of the West of England, Bristol (www.placeresearch.co.uk). In addition, we acknowledge the invaluable support of Arts Council England; Bristol City Council (www.bristol.gov.uk and www.aprb.co.uk); ixia (www.ixia-info.com); Kerstin Bergendal, Kunstplan Trekroner; the Blue House (www.blauwehuis.org); Migratory Blue Points — part of The Art of Urban Intervention funded by the Culture Programme of the European Union; SKOR (www.skor.nl); GradCam, Dublin (www.gradcam.ie); International Curators Forum (www.internationalcuratorsforum.org.uk).

Paul O’Neill and Claire Doherty, Situations at University of the West of England, Bristol.

Acknowledgments
Colophon










Colophon

Locating the Producers:
Durational Approaches to Public Art
Edited by Paul O’Neill and Claire Doherty

Antennae Series n° 4 by Valiz, Amsterdam

 Authors
Paul O´Neill, Dave Beech, Claire Doherty, Paul Gough, Ned Rossiter, Mick Wilson Research Assistant Vanessa Vasic-Janekovics
 Research Assistant
Vanessa Vasic-Janekovics
 Designed by
Pleun Gremmen and Stan de Natris
 Programmed by
Vincent Bons, Pleun Gremmen and Stan de Natris
 Typeface
LeMonde, Helvetica
 Publisher
Valiz, Amsterdam, www.valiz.nl

© Valiz, Amsterdam and authors, artists, photographers and designer.

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Notes



1  Stevphen Shukaitis, Imagined Machines: Autonomy and Self-Organization in the Revolutions of Everyday Life (New York, Autonomedia, 2010), p. 9.
2  Mike Pearson and Michael Shanks, Theatre/Archaeology (London and New York, Routledge/Taylor & Francis, 2001).
3  Doreen Massey, ‘A Global Sense of Place’, Reading Human Geography, eds. Trevor Barnes and Derek Gregory (London, Arnold, 1997), pp. 315-23.
4  This research project was initiated in response to a call for cross- collaborations between industry and education partners. The Great Western Research initiative provided funding for a three-year research fellowship led by Situations at the University of the West of England, Bristol, in partnership with Dartington College of Arts (which subsequently consolidated with University College Falmouth) and ProjectBase in Cornwall.
5  This development of the research began in 2007 on the appointment of Paul O’Neill as GWR Research Fellow at UWE and through discussion with Antonia Payne and Claire Doherty, the focus shifted from research across visual arts sectors to the specific concerns of durational commissioning.
6  Kevin Lynch, What Time Is This Place? (Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, 1972), p. 1.
7  Patricia C. Phillips, ‘Temporality and public Art’, Critical Issues in Public Art: Content, Context, and Controversy, eds. Harriet F. Senie and Sally Webster (Washington and London, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992), p. 304.
8  The full archive of Locating the Producers may be accessed at the Situations office in Bristol, UK.
9  See Claire Bishop, ‘The Social Turn: Collaborations and its Discontents’, Artforum (February, 2006), pp. 178-79.
10  Jacques Rancière, ‘Problems and Transformations in Critical Art’, Participation, ed. Claire Bishop (Cambridge, MA, and London, MIT Press and Whitechapel, 2006), p. 90.
11  See Paul O’Neill, ‘Three Stages in the Art of Public Participation: The Relational, Social and Durational’, Dérive, (May-September, 2010), pp. 11-16.
12  Arts Council of England, Great Art for Everyone, November 2010.
13  For an introductory analysis on Bergsonisms, see Suzanne Guerlac, Thinking in Time: An Introduction to Henri Bergson (New York, Cornell University, 2006), pp. 1-13.
14  Elsewhere, Claire Doherty has suggested that exhibitions such as Skulptur Projekte Münster and the Folkestone Triennial can no longer be experienced as cohesive exhibitions of art in public space due to the multiple temporal and discursive modes in which artists are now working. There is room, however, for a model of curating in place over time which allows for a cumulative engagement between artists and specific places, which raises questions about the promotion and analysis of curatorial projects within the context of global cultural tourism. See Claire Doherty, ‘Curating Wrong Places… or Where Have all the Penguins Gone?’ Curating Subjects, ed. Paul O’Neill (Amsterdam and London, De Appel and Open Editions, 2007), pp. 100-108, and Jane Rendell, ‘Constellations (or The Reassertion of Time into Critical Spatial Practice)’, One Day Sculpture, eds. David Cross and Claire Doherty (Bielefeld, Kerber Verlag, 2009), pp. 19-22. For an overview of issues linked to the emergence of curatorial discourses during a period of proliferation of large-scale international exhibitions, see Paul O’Neill, ‘The Curatorial Turn: From Practice to Discourse’, Issues in Curating Contemporary Art and Performance, eds. Michèle Sedgwick (Bristol and Chicago, Intellect Books, 2007), pp. 13-28.
15  Edward Soja, ‘Thirdspace: Expanding the Scope of the Geographical Imagination’, Human Geography Today, eds. Doreen Massey, John Allen and Phil Sarre (Cambridge, Polity, 1999), p. 276.
16  Jacques Rancière, On the Shores of Politics (London, Verso, 2007), p. 61.
17  Claire Bishop, February 2006, op cit.
18  See Bruce W. Ferguson and Milena M. Hoegsberg, ‘Talking and Thinking about Biennials: The Potential of Discursivity’, The Biennial Reader, eds. Jelena Filipovic et al. (Ostfildern, Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2010), pp. 361-375.
1  Members ranged widely from international invitees to local residents, from frequent collaborators with the artist to individuals Van Heeswijk had never met. Members included: cleaners, Andreia and Angelica; IJburg inhabitants, Johan Bakker and Marthe van Eerdt; artists, Sonia Boyce, Yane Calovski, Roé Cerpac, Ferdous Lovely, Rudy J. Luijters, Hervé Paraponaris, Cesare Pietroiusti, Tere Recarens, Silvia Russel, Cheikh ‘Papa’ Sakho, Sarah van Sonsbeeck, Jeanne van Heeswijk and Inga Zimprich; curator, Howard Chan; Igor Dobricic; designer, Maartje Dros; IJburg TV station; designer, Joost Grootens; activist, Wilfried Hou Je Bek; art student, Floris van Heijnsbergen; art student, Bart Janssen; architect, Dennis Kaspori; scientist, Siu King Chung; IJburg inhabitant, Peter van Keulen; IJburg shopkeeper, Nicoline Koek; cultural theorist/curator, Elke Krasny; designer, François Lombarts; architecture collective, m7red; art historian, Marianne Maasland; IJburg inhabitant, Usha Mahabiersing; art student, Ingrid Meus; writer, Marcel Möring; art student, Evelien de Munck Mortier; artist/curator Paul O’Neill; artist collective, Orgacom; film-maker, Daniela Paes Leão; Pilot Publishing (artist, Ella Gibbs, and curator, Amy Plant); programme manager Projectburo IJburg, Igor Roovers; shadow curator, Nuno Sacramento; philosopher, Johan Siebers; Soundtrackcity; architect buro, STEALTH.unlimited; Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; Alderman Zeeburg Dennis Straat; architecture collective, transparadiso; media activist, Jo van der Spek; theorist and architect, Carel Weeber; writer, Dirk van Weelden.(0)
Led by Henk Slager, Jeanne van Heeswijk and Dennis Kaspori, the following students from MaHKU, Utrecht, were involved in projects as part of their studies: Christina Papakyriakou, Esra Sakir, Eun Hyung Kim, GeeHyun Lee, Hester Israel, Ivo Hulskamp, Julia Rice, Kai-Hsing Huang, Lei Wu, Marah Blom, Natalia Calderon, Paul Buchanan, Tyler Sures and Zeynep Kayan (all 2009); Abdul Azis Rasjid, Anouk Mulders, Ellen Blom, Christine Bruckmeier, Judith Gor, Ivo Tanis, Lobke Alkemade, Kristy van Veen, Paul Portheine and Ji Tang (all 2008); Annelies Bloemendaal, Bokyoung Ju, Caroline Pompe, Chantana Reemst, Gabriela Hernandez, Ilse Beumer, Jaap Zanelli, Linda Hogeweg, Miao Xiaoqiu, Mike van Buiten, Nanou Jacobs and Nathalie Engel (all 2007).
2  Jeanne van Heeswijk cited in Paul O’Neill, ‘Interview with Jeanne van Heeswijk’, The Blue House, IJburg, 1 December 2007, available at www.situations.org.uk/_uploaded_pdfs/JeannevanHeeswijk.pdf (throughout this book, all citations from primary interviews with the author have been taken from unpublished audio transcripts).
3  Loc cit.
4  Stalker, ‘Stalker and the big game of Campo Boario’, Architecture and Participation, eds. Peter Blundell Jones, Doina Petrescu and Jeremy Till (London and New York, Spon Press, 2005), p. 232.
5  For resultant publications see, for example, Thinktank by Inga Zimprich in cooperation with Elske Rosenfeld, which is a research and development project about the potential for strengthening community work through virtual structures: http://www.think-tank.nl
6  The interviewees were Igor Roovers, Director of Project Bureau IJburg (the city planners); Marinus Knulst, Director of de Alliante (the company that owns the house); Astrid Bonder (resident of block thirty-five, IJburg); Irene den Hartoog (social worker and concierge of the house); Daniela Paes Leão (filmmaker); Marianne Maasland (sociologist); Igor Dobricic (a dramaturge, theatre-designer and arts programme officer with European Cultural Foundation — ECF) and Dennis Kaspori (architect) — all of whom were members of The Blue House Housing Association of the Mind. The focus group, held at de Appel on 15 May 2008, was entitled ‘Locating the Producers: Interrogating the Curator — The Blue House Focus Group Session’ and centred on The Blue House. Van Heeswijk was invited to respond to questions by the following group of invitees: Mick Wilson (artist and Dean of Gradcam, Dublin), Kerstin Bergendal (artist and commissioner of the Trekroner Art Plan, Denmark), Liesbeth Bik (artist), Dennis Kaspori (architect), Tom van Gestel (commissioner, SKOR — Office for Art and Public Space, Amsterdam), Jonathan Banks (Director of ixia — the UK national public art think-tank); the discussion was moderated by Paul O’Neill with Sara Black (Director of ProjectBase, Cornwall), Renee Ridgway (curator), Ann Demeester (Director of de Appel), Yulia Aksenova, Jesse Birch, Sarah Farrar, Inti Guerrero and Virginija Januskeviciuté (the 2008 de Appel Curatorial Training programme graduates) present as respondent observers.
7  See Jeanne van Heeswijk, ‘Hotel New York PS1’, Jeanne van Heeswijk Systems, ed. Axel Lapp (Berlin, Green Box, 2007), pp. 197-217.
8  Karreman was employed by Amsterdam Fonds voor de Kunsten (AFK) — Amsterdam Funds for the Arts — at the time, which was commissioning artists as one part of the renewal scheme(0).
9  Jeanne van Heeswijk, cited in O’Neill, op cit.
10  See www.blauwehuis.org/blauwehuisv2/?project_id=235
11  The periscope was the result of a collaboration with Anjo and Aline Terpstra of the Timon Woongroep and was positioned at Maria Austriastraat, open to the public at weekends.
12  Here, ECF initiated a project which supports and researches art and the practice of collaboration between different cultural contexts throughout Europe, where organisations exchange resources and knowledge. ALMOSTREAL attempts to engage with the practice of art and collaboration — not only between artists but also between the ‘culture’ of artists and the ‘culture’ of funders. See www.almostreal.org
13  The experience of both parties is documented in a publication and short film by Daniela Paes Leão. See www.almostreal.org
14  See www.blauwehuis.org/blauwehuisv2/?project_id=17
15  See www.m2m.streamtime.org
16  Jeanne van Heeswijk, cited in O’Neill, op cit.
17  This refers to ethos in the sense that Derrida describes it as ‘the residence, one’s home, the familiar place of dwelling, inasmuch as it is a manner of being there, the manner in which we relate to ourselves and to others, to others as our own or as foreigners, ethics is hospitality; ethics is so thoroughly coextensive with the experience of hospitality’(0). See Jacques Derrida, On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness, trans. Mark Dooley and Michael Hughes (London and New York, Routledge, 2001), pp. 16-17. See also Jeanne van Heeswijk and Dennis Kaspori, ‘Hospitality for What is to Come’, Open No.12 — Guest ≠ Welcome (Rotterdam, NAi, 2007), pp. 116-121.
18  Van Heeswijk and Kaspori, op cit., p. 120.
19  Artist, Daniela Paes Leão, made video interviews with numerous migrant cleaners from Brazil and Bangladesh which have been collated in a final presentation.
20  Sharon Haar, ‘At Home in Public: The Hull House Settlement and the Study of the City’, Embodied Utopias: Gender, Social Change and the Modern Metropolis, eds. Amy Bingaman, Lise Sanders and Rebecca Zorach (London and New York, Routledge, 2002), p. 99.
21  Ibid., p. 107.
22  Ibid., p. 102.
23  Jeanne van Heeswijk, cited in ‘Aims and Objectives’ at www.blauwehuis.org
24  ‘Side Stepping the Brief — Creating an Open-Field’ is the title of a case study report written by Kathrin Böhm on Van Heeswijk’s project De Strip, Westwijk, Vlaardingen, 2002-2004. See Kathrin Böhm, 5 Case Studies (London, publicworks, 2007), pp. 5-10.
25  Jeanne van Heeswijk, cited in ‘Locating the Producers: Interrogating the Curator’, op cit.
26  Stalker 2005, op cit., p. 233.
27  See Ned Rossiter, Organized Networks: Media Theory, Creative Labour, New Institutions (Rotterdam, NAi Publishers, 2006), p. 13. The project was less interested in referring to something outside of itself as representational procedures do. It was also anti-biographical in the way it considered non-representational processes as a means of enacting (bringing forth) or performing a world, in which experience and inter-relationality precede individual thinking and intentionality, thus preceding representation. The performing, or acting out, in relation to others is part of an actualising process, in which keeping the flow of discussion, movement and praxis moving forward in present time is the primary aim of the organisation. For a more in-depth analysis of non-representational theories, see Nigel Thrift, Non-Representational Theory: Space/Politics/Affect (London and New York, Routledge, 2008).
28  Rossiter 2006, op cit., pp. 14-15.
29  Bruno Latour, ‘From Realpolitik to Dingpolitik’, Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy, eds. Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel (Cambridge, MA, and London, MIT Press, 2005), p. 40.
30  Jeanne van Heeswijk, ‘A Call for Sociality’, What We Want is Free: Generosity and Exchange in Recent Art, ed. Ted Purves (Albany, NY, State University of New York Press, 2005), pp. 95-98.
31  See Steven Hunt, ‘Group Portraits’, Face Your World, ed. Carlos Basualdo (Amsterdam and Ohio, Artimo and Wexner Centre for the Arts, 2002), pp. 58-59, and Margaret Iversen’s excellent essay ‘Dutch Group Portraits and the Art of Attention’, Alois Riegl: Art History and Theory (Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, 1993), pp. 93-123.
32  See Jeanne van Heeswijk, ‘Fleeting Images of Community’, Exploding Aesthetics, Lier en Boog, Series of Philosophy of Art and Art Theory, Vol. 16, eds. Annette W. Balkema and Henk Slager (Amsterdam and Atlanta, Rodopi, 2001), p. 178.
33  For example, see Bishop 2006.
34  For a more detailed description of the project alongside its documentation, see De Strip 2002-2004 Westwijk, Vlaardingen, ed. Maartje Berendsen and Jeanne van Heeswijk (Amsterdam, Artimo, 2004).
35  See Jeanne van Heeswijk, ‘Valley Vibes: The Vibe Detector’, Lapp 2007, op cit., pp. 301-316.
36  See Jeanne van Heeswijk, 2001, op cit., p. 175.
37  See Gilles Deleuze, ‘Control and Becoming’, Negotiations (New York, Columbia University Press, 1995). Similarly, sociologist Scott Lash maintains that ‘by actively creating meaning through dialogue and inter-subjective communication, we may be able to find a way out of the productivist system which makes us passive receivers rather than active producers of meaning’. By focusing on non-representative forms of communication, where no singular subject is represented through the mediation process, Lash proposes that the economies of experience can begin to be activated and understood as indirect, changing and pluralist rather than singular and immediate. Communicative action occurs at the level of the other rather than the ‘I’, with communication functioning within a socially networked organisation via relational processes rather than representational procedures. Scott Lash, ‘Difference or Sociality’, Towards Theory of the Image (Maastricht, Jan van Eyck Academy, 1996), pp. 112-129.
38  Loc cit.
39  Jeroen Boomgaard, ‘The Platform of Commitment’, Reflect #1 New Commitment — In Architecture, Art and Design, eds NAi Publishers (Rotterdam, NAi, 2003), pp. 96-105.
40  See BAVO, ‘Always Choose the Worst Option. Artistic Resistance and the Strategy of Over-Identification’, Cultural Activism Today: The Art of Over-Identification, eds. BAVO (Rotterdam, Episode Publishers, 2007), p. 24.
41  Loc cit. See also BAVO, ‘The Dutch Neoliberal City and the Cultural Activist as the Last of the Idealists’, Highrise — Common Ground, ed. Jeroen Boomgaard (Amsterdam, Valiz, 2009), pp. 222-251, and BAVO 2008, op cit., pp. 108-117.
42  See Claire Bishop, ‘The Social Turn: Collaboration and its Discontents’, Artforum (February, 2006), pp. 178-183.
43  See Grant H. Kester, Conversation Pieces: Community and Communication in Modern Art (Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press, 2004). The concept of a dialogical art practice is derived from the Russian literary theorist, Mikhail Bakhtin, who argued that the work of art could be viewed as a kind of conversation, a locus of differing meanings, interpretations and points of view. See Mikhail Bakhtin, ‘Author and Hero in Aesthetic Activity’ and ‘Art and Answerability’ in Art and Answerability: Early Philosophical Essays by M.M. Bakhtin, eds. Michael Holquist and Vadim Liapunov (Austin, University of Texas Press, 1990). Suzi Gablik also develops the concept of a ‘dialogical’ approach to art-making in her book, The Reenchantment of Art (New York, Thames and Hudson, 1991).
44  Dennis Kaspori, cited in Paul O’Neill, ‘Interview with Dennis Kaspori’, The Blue House, IJburg, 12 March 2008.
45  Loc cit.
46  Loc cit.
47  Jeanne van Heeswijk, cited in O’Neill, op cit.
48  For a discussion about the dispossession of ‘public time’, where time has been taken away from the individual experience and translated by the mass public media into an ameliorated space of image consumption, as a ‘time that is structured according to the logic of the media which tends to frame an event with an intense but temporary attention and distances it consequently from our immediate experience and from its locality’, see in particular Public Time: A Symposium, ed. Suzanne Cotter (Manchester and Oxford, Cornerhouse and Modern Art Oxford, 2006), pp. 15-16.
49  See Simon Bayly, ‘Theatre and the Public: Badiou, Rancière, Virno’, Radical Philosophy (Sept/Oct, 2009), Vol. 157, p. 21. Theatre as a separating device, argues Bayly, is one of power relations, ‘one that is essentially allied to encysted and reactionary forms of social organisation’.
50  ‘Charismatic’ was a term employed by Mick Wilson in an attempt to define a mode of agency at work in The Blue House that might resist the pitfalls of talk of artistic genius, single authorship or individual agency when discussing such projects in an art context. (Mick Wilson, cited in ‘Locating the Producers: Interrogating the Curator’, op cit.
51  Dennis Kaspori, cited in Paul O’Neill, op cit.
52  Loc cit.
53  Loc cit.
54  Dennis Kaspori, cited in ‘Locating the Producers: Interrogating the Curator’, op cit.
55  Loc cit.
56  See Lapp 2007, op cit., p. 391.
57  Dennis Kaspori, cited in ‘Locating the Producers: Interrogating the Curator’, op. cit.
58  See Stalker 2005, op cit.
59  Ibid., p. 233.
60  For information about these projects, see aaa’s edited publication Urban Act: A Handbook for Alternative Practices (Paris, aaa, 2007). This book is available at www.peprav.net and www.urbantactics.org.
61  Barbara Holub, Paul Rajakovics and Bernd Vlay cited in ‘On Direct Urbanism and the Art of Parallel Strategies’, Open 12 (Rotterdam, NAi publishers and SKOR, 2007), pp. 120-121. For further case studies of long-term renewal projects employing interdisciplinary methods and supporting sustainable developments, see Design and Landscape for People: New Approaches to Renewal, eds. Claire Cumberlidge and Lucy Musgrave (London, Thames and Hudson, 2007).
62  Jeanne van Heeswijk, cited in ‘Locating the Producers: Interrogating the Curator’, op cit.
63  Loc cit.
64  Described as being ‘Dense in the sense of regulation; dense in a sense of being packed with content and being totally designed in every detail’. (Igor Dobricic, ‘Interview with Paul O’Neill’, The Blue House, IJburg, 12 March 2008, pp. 4-5.)
65  Jeanne van Heeswijk, cited in O’Neill, op cit.
66  Loc cit.
67  Igor Roovers, cited in Paul O’Neill, ‘Interview with Igor Roovers’, Amsterdam, 7 March 2008.
68  Loc cit.
69  Jeanne van Heeswijk, cited in ‘Locating the Producers: Interrogating the Curator’, op cit.
70  Jeanne van Heeswijk, cited in Marinus de Ruiter, ‘A Home for non-conformity’, Amsterdam Weekly, 16-22 June 2005.
71  See Irit Rogoff, ‘Smuggling — A Curatorial Model’, Under Construction: Perspectives on Institutional Practice (Cologne, Walther König, 2006), p. 132. For Rogoff, ‘In the realm of “the curatorial” we see various principles that might not be associated with displaying works of art; principles of the production of knowledge, of activism, of cultural circulations and translations that begin to shape and determine other forms by which arts can engage’.
72  Igor Dobricic, cited in O’Neill, op cit.
73  Van Heeswijk and Kaspori 2007, op cit.
74  Van Heeswijk and Kaspori 2007, op cit., p. 120.
75 See Maarten Hajer and Arnold Reijndorp, In Search of New Public Domain (Rotterdam, NAi, 2001), pp. 36-37. See also Simon Sheikh, ‘Publics and Post-Publics: The Production of the Social’, Open 14 — Arts as a Public Issue (Rotterdam, NAi, 2008), pp. 28-37.
76  Van Heeswijk and Kaspori 2007, op cit.
77  Igor Dobricic, cited in O’Neill, op cit.
78  Loc cit.
79  Loc cit.
80  Van Heeswijk, cited in Reinaldo Laddago, ‘Networks, Faces, Membranes’, Basualdo 2002, op cit., pp. 35-36.
81  Respectively, the three strands were organised as All for the love of Instant Urbanism by STEALTH (Ana Dzokic and Mark Neelen), Hospitality, Privacy, Place (by Dr. Johan Siebers, Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London), and Accelerated History: Is Time Enough? Duration, Location and Accelerated Histories (organised by Paul O’Neill, Situations, University of the West of England). The symposium was supported by Moes Bouwgroep, De Key — De Principaal, with funding from AFK, Mondriaan Stichting, Stichting DOEN and SNS REAAL Fonds. The Blue House was also supported by de Alliantie, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Digitale Pioniers, Fonds BKVB, ECF, SKOR, Stadsdeel Zeeburg, Stimuleringsfonds voor Architectuur, VSB Fonds and Waterstad 3.
82  The Motel employed a design by architects, Maartje Dros and François Lombarts, and was curated by Yane Calovski, extending out of Van Heeswijk and Kaspori’s Parade of Urbanism in collaboration with Floris van Heynsbergen(0).
83  Ned Rossiter, ‘Organized Networks: Questions of Politics, Translation and Time’, delivered as part of ‘Duration, Location and Accelerated Histories’, one of the three sessions held as part of the symposium: Out of the Blue: Instant Urbanism, Hospitality and History.
84  Most recently, Van Heeswijk used the expression in her presentation at the conference Deschooling Society, held at the Hayward Gallery, London, 29-30 April, 2010. See http://haywardgallery.southbankcentre.co.uk/2010/06/11/deschooling-society-podcasts
85  These so called ‘Migratory Blue Points’ are part of the on-going project ‘The Art of Urban Intervention’ and have continued after The Blue House was completed and are supported by the Culture Programme of the European Union.
86  Ned Rossiter, loosely cited from ‘Organized Networks: Questions of Politics, Translation and Time’, op cit.
87  Loc cit.
88  Loc cit.
1  Alistair Hudson cited from his lecture ‘Creative Egremont’ at Public Art Needs Outsiders, seminar organised by Situations and ixia, Lawson Park, Grizedale, 7 October 2009. See www.ixia-info.com/training/public-art-needs-outsiders
2  Loc cit.
3  Loc cit.
4  Artists such as Robert Smithson, Michael Heizer or Richard Long. (0)For a survey of ‘Land and Environmental Art’, see Land and Environmental Art, eds. Jeffrey Kastner and Brian Wallis (London and New York, Phaidon, 1998).
5  Initially, the organisation was supported by Northern Arts, the local arts board and the Forestry Commission(0). For a history of Grizedale Society’s Sculpture Project, see The Grizedale Experience: Sculpture, Arts & Theatre in a Lakeland Forest, eds. Bill Grant and Paul Harris (Edinburgh, Canongate Press, 1991) and Natural Order: The Grizedale Society: Visual Arts & Crafts in Grizedale Forest Park, eds. Bill Grant and Paul Harris (Cumbria, The Grizedale Society, 1996).
6  See Grizedale Arts: Adding Complexity to Confusion, ed. Jonathan Griffin (Cumbria, Grizedale Books, 2009).
7  Alistair Hudson, 7 October 2009, op cit.
8  Adam Sutherland cited in Paul O’Neill, ‘Interview with Adam Sutherland’, Grizedale, 6 February 2009.
9  Alistair Hudson cited in Paul O’Neill, ‘Interview with Alistair Hudson’, Grizedale, 6 February 2009.
10  To indicate this diversity, both Sutherland and Hudson have expressed in conversation how they have intentionally been working with a wide range of very different artists from Juneau Projects, myvillages and Wapke Feenstra to Jonathan Meese, Harold Offeh, Erik van Lieshout and Olaf Bruening. (0)
11  Adam Sutherland cited in O’Neill, op cit.
12  Loc cit.
13  Loc cit.
14  See Grant Kester’s ‘Dialogical Aesthetics’, in Grant Kester, Conversation Pieces: Community and Communication in Modern Art (Berkeley, Los Angeles and London, University of California Press, 2004), pp. 111-114.
15  Loc cit.
16  Andreas Lang, op cit.
17  Loc cit.
18  Kathrin Böhm cited in Paul O’Neill, ‘Interview with Kathrin Böhm’, London, 21 May 2009.
19  Alistair Hudson, 7 October 2009, op cit.
20  Adam Sutherland cited in ‘A Conversation on the Future of Grizedale, November, 2006, Lawson Park’, Grizedale Arts: Adding Complexity to Confusion, ed. Jonathan Griffin (Cumbria, Grizedale Books, 2009), p. 184.
21  See Adam Sutherland, ‘Grizedale Arts — From Agriculture to Culture Culture’, Art and Architecture Journal: New Icons of the North, Number 66/67, Autumn 2008, pp. 56-57.
22  Alistair Hudson cited in Griffin, op cit., pp. 184-186.
23  Alistair Hudson cited in O’Neill, op cit.
24  Adam Sutherland cited in Griffin, op cit., pp. 184-186.
25  Karen Guthrie cited in Paul O’Neill, ‘Interview with Karen Guthrie’, Grizedale, 13 July 2009.
26  Kathrin Böhm cited in O’Neill, op cit.
27  Alistair Hudson cited in O’Neill, op cit.
28  Adam Sutherland, ‘Grizedale Arts — From Agriculture to Culture Culture’, op cit.
29  Loc cit.
30  Alistair Hudson cited in O’Neill, op cit.
31  Loc cit.
32  Artist Andrea Fraser quoted in Stuart Comer, ‘Art Must Hang: An Interview with Andrea Fraser about the Whitney Independent Study Program’, Afterthought: New Writing on Conceptual Art, ed. Mike Sperlinger (London, Rachmaninoff, 2005), p. 32.
33  Peter Bürger, The Theory of the Avant-Garde, trans. Michael Shaw (Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1984), pp. 52-54.
34  Alistair Hudson cited in O’Neill, op cit.
35  See Stephen Wright, ‘The Future of the Reciprocal Readymade: An Essay on Use-Value and Art-Related Practice’, at http://www.turbulence.org/blog/archives/000906.html (accessed May 2010). See also Karl Marx, Capital, volume 1, trans. Ben Fowkes (London, Penguin, 1976). Marx begins Capital with an analysis of the idea of commodity production, where a commodity is defined as a utility object that is external to us and produced for exchange on a market. Marx suggests that all commodities have both ‘use-value’ and ‘exchange-value’ where use value is understood according to how useful an object is to its user, with Marx insisting that exchange value is less easily quantified and changes according to its time and place, necessitating further examination. Marx argues that changes in the exchange value of an object can be understood in terms of the amount of labour input required to produce the commodity or, rather, the socially necessary labour, that is labour exerted at the average level of intensity and productivity for that branch of activity within the economy. Marx’s theory of the value of labour asserts that the exchange value of a commodity is determined by the quantity of necessary labour time required to produce the commodity.
36  See also http://www.grizedale.org/projects/roadshow for an influential project with an equally festive spirit from 2003.
37  Adam Sutherland cited in O’Neill, op cit.
38  Alistair Hudson, 7 October 2009, op cit.
39  Loc cit.
40  Karen Guthrie cited in O’Neill, op cit.
41  Ruth Hoflich is the other member, see http://www.guest-room.net
42  Maria Benjamin cited in Paul O’Neill, ‘Interview with Maria Benjamin’, Grizedale, 13 July 2009.
43  See James Meyer, ‘Nomadic Figures of Travel in Contemporary Art’, Site-Specificity: The Ethnographic Turn, ed. Alex Coles (London, Black Dog Publishing, 2000), pp. 10-11.
44  Dean MacCannell, The Tourist: A New Theory of the Leisure Class (Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1999), p. x-xxi. For a detailed discussion on the figure of the tourist and the relationship between leisure, mobile spectatorship and the formation of the modernist mobile subject, see also John Urry, The Tourist Gaze: Leisure and Travel in Contemporary Society (London, Sage, 1990).
45  http://www.grizedale.org/projects/creative.egremont.a.public.art.strategy.for.egremont, and http://www.creative-egremont.org/ — a new website set up by Grizedale dedicated to showcasing the town’s art strategy, its activities and the range of creativity and opportunity in the town, including artists’ projects, events, features, music, gardening, wildlife, audio archive, radio, history and profiled links to the Crab Fair Archive and related sites.(0)
46  Alistair Hudson, 7 October 2009, op cit.
47  See Jonathan Griffin, op cit., p. 187.
48  Cited from Grizedale’s CREATIVE EGREMONT: A Public Art Strategy for Egremont — Activity Report, 2006, unpublished. See also www.creative-egremont.org
49  Cited from Grizedale’s Grizedale Arts: A Public Art Strategy for Egremont, 2005, unpublished. See also www.creative-egremont.org
50  Kathrin Böhm cited in O’Neill, op cit.
51  The scope of the archive has since been broadened to include artefacts relating to other aspects of local industrial and social history. This commission has the opportunity to significantly inform the Archive’s future collection and curatorial policy, and to guide its engagement with contemporary practice in the arts. Artists, Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane, have included documentation of the Crab Fair in their acclaimed Folk Archive.. A feasibility study looking at the Archive building project was undertaken in 2008 by consultants on behalf of Egremont and Area Regeneration Partnership, West Lakes Renaissance and the Egremont Folk Archive Steering Group. This has led to the phase two of Creative Egremont and the creation of an ad hoc form of arts and production centre at the dis-used Florence Mine.
52  See Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane, Folk Archive: Contemporary Popular Art from the UK (London, Bookworks, 2005).
53  See http://www.creative-egremont.org/index.php/egremont_zerosix/more/view_the_webcast_archive_online_here
54  The project was given additional funding by West Lakes Renaissance Regeneration Scheme so as to realise the design and will be completed in 2010. (0)
55  See http://www.virtualegremont.co.uk/page/visit/attractions/castle+pavilion/
56  For more information and full archive of the project, go to http://www.creativeegremont.org/index.php/egremontFM
57  See Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane, op cit., pp. 5-11.
58  Alistair Hudson, 7 October 2009, op cit.
59  Alistair Hudson cited in O’Neill, op cit.
60  See www.folkfloat.org
61  Andreas Lang, op cit.
62  Kathrin Böhm cited in O’Neill, op cit.
63  Andreas Lang, op cit.
64  Kathrin Böhm cited in O’Neill, op cit.
65  Adam Sutherland, ‘An Audience with …’, Searching for Art’s New Publics, ed. Jeni Walwin (Bristol and Chicago, Intellect and University of Chicago Press, 2010), pp. 179-185.
66  Loc cit.
67  Adam Sutherland cited in O’Neill, op cit.
68  Alistair Hudson cited in O’Neill, op cit.
69  Alistair Hudson cited in O’Neill, op cit.
70  Karen Guthrie cited in O’Neill, op cit.
71  See Miwon Kwon’s essay, ‘Public Art and Urban Identities’ at http://eipcp.net/transversal/0102/kwon/en (accessed 4 July 2010).
72  Loc cit.
73  Loc cit.
74  For more detailed analysis of notions of ‘public’ as always under provisional and mobile constitutive construction, see Doreen Massey’s For Space (London, Sage Publications, 2005), pp. 150-152; Jorge Ribalta’s ‘Meditation and Construction of Publics’ at http://www.republicart.net/disc/institution/ribalta01_en.htm (accessed June 2010) and Michael Warner’s extensive publication, Publics and Counterpublic (New York, Zone Books, 2002).
1   Lydia Andrea Hartl, ‘How Much Art Can Public Space Tolerate?’ Kunstprojekte_Riem: Public Art for a Munich District, eds. Claudia Büttner et al. (Vienna and New York, Springer Verlag, 2004), pp. 26-27.
2  Kerstin Bergendal cited in Paul O’Neill, ‘Interview with Kerstin Bergendal’, Copenhagen, 14 December 2008.
3  Loc cit.
4  The interviewees were Kerstin Bergendal and urban planner, Peter Schultz Jørgensen (Municipality of Roskilde between 1999 and 2007), project leader, Karen Atwell (Municipality of Roskilde since 2004), artists Nils Norman (commissioned in 2001) and Ane Mette Ruge and architect, Bjørn Schlaeger (collaborators on a commission in Trekroner). A two-day focus group, held in Trekroner in April 2009, supported by the Roskilde Municipality, centred on Bergendal’s commissioning approach to Kunstplan Trekroner. Bergendal was invited to respond to questions from the following group of invitees: Mick Wilson (artist and Dean of Gradcam, Dublin), Barbara Holub (artist-curator, Transparadiso, Vienna), Peter Shultz Jørgensen (urban planner), Marianne Jørgensen (commissioned artist, Trekroner), Ane Mette Ruge (commissioned artist, Trekroner), Frans Jacobi (commissioned artist, Trekroner), Tom van Gestel (commissioner, SKOR — Foundation for Art and Public Space, Amsterdam), Tone O. Nielsen (independent curator, Copenhagen), Kenneth Balfert (artist, Copenhagen) and Jonathan Banks (Executive Director of ixia — the UK national public art think-tank). The discussion was moderated by Paul O’Neill.
5  Kerstin Bergendal cited in O’Neill, op cit.
6  At the time, the Municipality of Roskilde included a central department in which the Planning Department was key to any strategic project development. This central department also controlled Town Planning and was close to the decision-making administration of the mayor’s office and a part of the technical department which also included the cultural, social and economic sections.
7  The Danish Art Foundation (DAF) is a national ministerial organisation set up to support the arts, comprised of numerous departments including a section for Art in Public Space, which has three appointed representatives that form an ad-hoc advisory committee. By 2001, it consisted of one architect, Torben Schønherr, and two artists, Mogens Møller and Frithioff Johansen(0).
8  In 2001, the representatives from the Municipality of Roskilde making this application were Martin Holgaard (the Director of the Planning Department), Ole Møller (director of the technical department), Stig VS Hansen (director of the cultural department), Peter Schultz Jørgensen (planner in the Planning Department) and Marianne Bech (Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Roskilde). This was the committee that formulated the final commission — given to Bergendal — after it had been awarded the grant by the Danish Arts Foundation (DAF).
9  Peter Schultz Jørgensen, cited in Paul O’Neill, ‘Interview with Peter Schultz Jørgensen’, Roskilde, 20 November 2008.
10  Loc cit.
11  Kerstin Bergendal cited in O’Neill, op cit.
12  The first part of the conference was held at the University of Roskilde on 6 May 2002, with speakers including Bergendal; artist, Katya Sander; art historian, Vibeke Petersen; artist, Bjørn Nørgaard; architectural historian, Carsten Thau; and historian, Søren Kjørup (all from Denmark) and Sweden’s director of Statens Kunstråd, Päivi Ernkvist, and the German artist, Claudia Büttner, who was the director of kunstprojekte-riem in Munich at the time. The second part of the conference was held at the Danish Art Academy the following day with lectures by Bergendal; art historian, Gertrud Sandqvist; artist and co-founder of Copenhagen Free University, Jakob Jakobsen; and Yvette Brackman, Professor of Walls and Space at the Danish Art Academy. According to Bergendal, the focus of the conference and series of lectures was on how different strategies could be employed to extract contemporary art from its institutional context and to look at ways in which artists could establish their own operational platforms by realising a nomadic self-institutionalised praxis in public space. Kunstplan Trekroner was also published as a book by Forlaget Politisk Revy in May 2002, as New Art, New Urban Areas: Art in Trekroner.
13  This is often difficult when, in the view of external funders, the plan is tied to the municipal infrastructure. To date, external grant aid has been offered to the municipality for Nils Norman’s footbridge and towards an exhibition held at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Roskilde in 2003, in partnership with the Historic Museum of Roskilde, called Overblik (Overview –Tales of a City), which presented documentation of most of the projects and proposals for the area to date.
14  Peter Schultz Jørgensen, cited in O’Neill, op .cit.
15  Loc cit.
16  Nils Norman, cited in Paul O’Neill, ‘Interview with Nils Norman’, London, 13 January 2009.
17  Nils Norman, cited in O’Neill, op cit. He stated, ‘I think we should have been brought in at the very beginning. I think it’s the same problem with all these projects. If they are going to employ an artist whom they want to be somehow embedded within the whole interdisciplinary design procedure, they have to be there from the beginning’.
18  According to Claus Bech-Danielsen and Lars Brinkgaard, ‘Evaluation of the Public Art Plan for Trekroner’, conducted for the Danish Building Research Institute in 2005. See http://vbn.aau.dk/research/evalueringafkunstplanenfortrekroner(16466301), accessed 1 February 2009.
19  Ruge, op cit.
20  Schultz Jørgensen, op cit.
21  Loc cit.
22  Karen Atwell, cited in Paul O’Neill, ‘Interview with Karen Atwell’, Roskilde, 20 November 2008.
23  Loc cit.
24  Tim Cresswell, ‘The Genealogy of Place’, Place: A Short Introduction (London, Blackwell Publishing, 2004), p. 39.
25  Loc cit.
26  Loc cit.
27  See Bartolomeo Pietromarchi, ‘The (Un)Common Place: Art, Public Space and Urban Aesthetics in Europe’, The (Un)Common Place: Art, Public Space and Urban Aesthetics in Europe, ed. Bartolomeo Pietromarchi (Barcelona and Rome, Actar D and Fondazione Adriano Olivetti, 2005), pp. 13-14. As with the Beyond Scenario and The Blue House, Kunstplan Trekroner proposed to have a direct and dynamic relationship between the temporality of the public art curatorial process and its local audiences during the period that a public constituency emerged in a new residential area. In the case of Trekroner, these dynamics are too often limited to the production of integrated and permanently sited public art, but, like the two aforementioned projects, the Kunstplan employs these interventions as a means of establishing dialogue with residents. In contrast to other projects, the Kunstplan proposes the real possibility that residents can play a proactive role in the longer-term development of the new built place. Just as Van Gestel and Van Heeswijk have done, Bergendal employs the durational project as a means not only of highlighting the deficiencies in the master-planning process but also as a vehicle through which a discursive space can, through a dialogical process, provide residents with agency by enabling them to come up with their own concrete proposals for how their immediate environment could be developed and produced as part of the future planning and building procedures and environmental designs.
28  Loc cit.
29  Loc cit.
30  The words ‘Lykke’ and ‘Cirkel’ are made from small cobblestones embedded into the grass, whereas three granite blocks are shaped into benches and engraved with the word ‘Lyt’(0).
31  Namely Solparken and Maneparken(0).
32  According to Bech-Danielsen and Brinkgaard, op cit, Jørgensen’s project was initiated after the Municipality of Roskilde and Roskilde Boligselskab (Housing Association) began negotiations on the site and the contract between the housing association and the architectural firm had been signed. As with almost all the commissions, the artist’s production costs were funded within the existing budget of 1% of construction costs for the housing estate — DKK 400,000 (£48,400) of which an artist’s fee of DKK 140,000 (£17,000) and the rest went on production costs. The architects were granted DKK 20,000 (£2,500) for the extra time spent by the landscape architect adapting the art project to existing plans.
33  The housing block is to be made up of two-storey buildings comprising 106 apartments each consisting of two, three or four bedrooms(0).
34  According to Bech-Danielsen and Brinkgaard, op cit, this project was commissioned at a time when the Municipality of Roskilde and Roskilde Boligselskab (Roskilde Housing Association) had already started negotiations with the architects for building the housing estate. The housing association and JJW Arkitekter had already entered a contractual agreement, which meant that the terms had to be renegotiated. There was no extra funding for the overall project, so the contribution for the art project had to come from the existing budget. Approximately 1% of construction costs, or the equivalent of DKK 1.1 million (£133,100), was allocated to the art project. Katya Sander’s fee was DKK 250,000 (£30,300) and the remaining amount was allocated to cover the additional costs relating to her artistic contribution. According to the housing association, the architectural firm received DKK 25,000 (£3,100) in compensation for extra time spent on working with the artist.
35  The artist worked in collaboration with architect, Entasis Arkitekter A/S, and landscape architects, Tegnestue Peter Juhl,
36  According to Bech-Danielsen and Brinkgaard, op cit, the artwork was financed by 1% of the construction costs to the developer — DKK 1.5 million (£181,600) in total as a budget. The artist was granted a fee of DKK 200,000 (£25,200) and the rest of the budget covered the costs of the project.
37  Peter Juhl was the architect and the lighting installation was produced with Yossi Maman, Ligro Light and Paul Klingsey(0).
38  According to the evaluation report cited above, the Planning Department granted the artist a fee of DKK 180,000 (£21,800), and a budget of DKK 500,000 (£60,500). After Norman submitted his draft proposal for a DKK 3 million (£363,000) bridge, the municipality applied for funding and eventually received grant aid from both the Danish Foundation for Culture and Sports Facilities and the Danish Arts Agency, who each granted DKK 1 million towards the bridge; the final DKK 1 million was given by the municipality of Roskilde.
39  The ten other houses were designed by the architects Dorte Mandrup, Todd Saunders, Vandkunsten, BIG and Michael Christiansen.
40  The exhibition Overblik also began a process of engaging new inhabitants in the area and the setting up of a temporary local council to formulate visions for future activities in Trekroner. Through workshops, discussions and ongoing dialogues, Bergendal has maintained an exchange with stakeholders and interested participants in Trekroner. In 2002, she co-organised a five-day workshop with the planners, Jan Bille and Henrik Valeur, called ‘a network of sites and connections’. See http://uid.dk/files/3krW.pdf and http://coma.uid.dk/files/5_dages_debat.pdf Two temporary exhibitions also took place in 2002; one was held at the Museum of Contemporary Art and the other in and around public spaces in Trekroner as a means of making public the planning process as part of the activity of memory gathering and archiving the development of the project. Both exhibitions were sponsored by AB 1899, Banestyrelsen, Blikgruppen A/S, Center for Dansk Billedkunst, De Uddannelsessøgendes Almennyttige Boligselskab DUAB, Billedkunstråd Roskilde Amt, Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi, Fonden Real DaniaGrønager Grafisk Produktion, HUR, Kuben, Ledreborg Tømmerhandel A/S, MT Højgaard a/s, Roskilde Boligselskab, Roskilde Amtsmuseumsråd and Roskilde Kommune. The museum exhibition aimed to visualise the process of the Art Plan and show documentation of the first aspects of the planning stage of Trekroner alongside what had been realised within the context of the Art Plan. Almost all individuals and agencies that had taken part in the development of the new urban area were invited and represented in this exhibition — through models, photographs, drawings, souvenirs, debate articles, documentary films and artworks. In addition, there was a five-day planning workshop. The exhibition introduced the work of architects, artists, planners, builders and new citizens to each other. This exhibition also offered the first concrete example of the proposed Memory Box project in which Bergendal called for the building of a new kind of long-term institution for memories of the new semi-public space. This exhibition was curated by Bergendal and arranged in collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of History in Roskilde.
41  Peter Krarup, Lisbeth Østrup, Holger Vilbøl and Peter Schultz Jørgensen. (0)
42  Kerstin Bergendal cited in O’Neill, op cit.
43  Loc cit.
44  Loc cit.
45  Loc cit.
46  Loc cit.
47  English translation of Kerstin Bergendal, ‘Kunstplan Trekroner’, Ny Kunst Ny By Kunst i Trekroner (New Art, New city: Art in Trekroner) (Roskilde, Politisk Revy Forlagene, 2002).
48  Cumberlidge and Musgrave, op cit., p. 15.
49  Loc cit.
50  Loc cit.
51  Schultz Jørgensen, op cit.
52  In 2003, together with civil servant, Marianne Fruergaard, Bergendal initiated a six-month series of discussions with representatives from the major property owners in Trekroner. Through continuous meetings and consultations, they formulated a list of wishes for how artists and artworks could appear temporarily in Trekroner. Subsequently, Bergendal invited a diverse group of artists to formulate specified projects in relation to ideas about locality as a self-reflection on public space in Trekroner. A detailed application for a process of several years was finally elaborated with representatives from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Roskilde, from Solparken and Måneparken/Roskilde Boligselskab, Isafjordhusene, Munksøgård, Ældreboligerne, Filosofparken and from the Trekroner School. Also, in September 2005, the conference ‘Ethical Approaches to Town Planning’ took place in Trekroner, organised by Bergendal, the Museum of Contemporary Art Roskilde and General Public Agency (GPA), London. This was an international symposium about multi-disciplinary approaches to town planning, chaired by GPA and conceived of as a platform for open and critical discussions, based in the new suburban development at Trekroner. The seminar was intended as a basic common ground for individual contributions to a book of the same title which presented Kunstplan Trekroner as a case study. All participants were subsequently invited to contribute to the publication. Due to changes within city administration and to a period of illness for Kerstin Bergendal, this book has not yet been published. The participants are Irena Bauman, Marianne Bech, Jan Bille, Claudia Büttner, Claire Cumberlidge, Claudia Eipeldauer, Dick Gleeson, Dorthe Harbroe, Jeanne van Heeswijk, Martin Holgaard, Alberto Iacovoni, Frans Jacobi, Dorte Mandrup-Poulsen, Lucy Musgrave, Søren Nagbøl, Lene Roed Olesen, Ib Asger Olsen, Zoe Ryan, Peter Schultz Jørgensen, Simon Sheikh, Gavin Wade, Axel John Wieder and WochenKlausur.
53  Ane Mette Ruge, cited in Paul O’Neill, ‘Interview with Ane Mette Ruge and Bjorn’, Copenhagen, 21 Novemebr 2008.
54  Cumberlidge and Musgrave, op cit., p. 151.
55  Jane Rendell, ‘Introduction: A Place Between’, Art and Architecture: A Place Between (London, I.B Tauris, 2008), p. 6.
56  Here, the individual practitioner is only one part of a cumulative totality of sedimented cultural and personal experiences that are brought to bear on public space(s) — that are at once produced and constructed through social relations and in relation to the power structures that also shape such places. See also Lorraine Code, Ecological Thinking: The Politics of Epistemic Location (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2006), p. 28. As Bourdieu acknowledged, for practice to be effective it must be generative, constituted and organised in such a way that practice does not presuppose a conscious ‘aiming at ends or an express mastery of the operations necessary’ so as to attain them. See Pierre Bourdieu, Logic of Practice (Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1990), pp. 53-56.
57  The workshop was realised in collaboration with Jørgen Carlo Larsen, Marianne Levinsen and Åse Eg.
58  The works took the following process: part one of the workshop asked local residents to take part in an Open Planning process, initiated by planner, Jan Bille, discussing how the public area of Trekroner could be organised. Forty persons participated in elaborating proposals for the area. The second part of the workshop took place when all the proposals were presented as 3D models shown in an open-access public one-day exhibition in Trekroner. More than sixty people came to vote for their favourite proposals. The proposals appeared in two versions, as models of the specific proposal, and juxtaposed to form a single proposal for a different plan for the area. The third and final part of the workshop involved presenting the winning proposals to the group of planners responsible for the specific public areas outlined in the proposals. The open plan was largely approved by them, some of the more idealistic, fantastical and ambitious proposals will be processed by relevant professionals who will ascertain whether or not it is possible for them to be realised in actuality.
59  Bille has also initiated workshops and sustained ongoing local discussions in parallel to the Art Plan, and is actively involved in encouraging residents to consider the future planning of their own environment.
60  Bergendal, op cit.
61  See Florian Haydn and Robert Temel, ‘Glossary’, Temporary Urban Spaces — Concepts for the Use of City Spaces, eds. Florian Haydn and Robert Temel (Basel, Birkhäuser, 2006), p. 14.
62  Karen Atwell cited in O’Neill, op cit.
63  Andreas Siegl and Christian Teckert cited in Haydn and Temel, op cit. p. 14.
64  Bergendal, op cit.
65  See http://www.musicon.dk/webtop/site.aspx?p=10839. Being the first large-scale integration of artists into urban planning in Denmark, there is also evidence in the interviews, conducted there, that Trekroner has subsequently affected the ways in which artists are invited to participate in planning processes in Denmark. Cities such as Odense, Helsingør and Køge have all implemented their own strategies for involving artists in the overall planning process, while referring to Kunstplan Trekroner as a resource for the future involvement of artists in new urban plans. Bergendal has also been invited to be part of a team of professionals, which also includes Erik Brandt Dam, Torben Shønherr Landskab and Jan Gehl Architects, to propose a district plan for the area of Toppen, near Trekroner, a distorted version of which was realised and is now being implemented. Toppen District Plan is seen as an extension of Kunstplan Trekroner. See http://www.planvis.dk/pdf/roskilde/lokplan.pdf/430.pdf
66  Bergendal cited in Trekroner Focus Group, Roskilde, 2009.
67  Claudia Büttner, ‘About Kerstin Bergendal’s Temporary Territories’, Temporary Territories: Works by Kerstin Bergendal, ed. Kerstin Bergendal et al. (Copenhagen, Nikolaj, Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center, 2006), pp. 108-122.
68  Ibid, p. 108.
69  Nina Möntmann cited in ibid, p. 108.
70  Büttner, ibid, p. 116.
1  For further information about Ashkal Alwan, see http://www.ashkalalwan.org/about.aspx
2  There are many other collaborators involved in the project, such as local organisations, restaurants, arts organisations and galleries which assist with artists’ residencies, research and the programme. These include: Al Arez Lebanese Cuisine, The Arts Catalyst, Church Street Neighbourhood Centre, The Cockpit Theatre, Delfina Foundation, Donya Restaurant, Gasworks, Raven Row, St. Marylebone School, The Showroom, Tyburn Convent, Westminster Academy, Westminster Arts and others.
3  Ultra-red is a sound art collective, founded in 1994 by two AIDS activists, which has expanded to include artists, researchers and organisers from different social movements including struggles around migration, racism, participatory community development and the politics of HIV/AIDS. The group has collectively produced radio broadcasts, performances, recordings, installations, texts and public space actions that directly engage with the organising and analyses of political struggles. See http://www.ultrared.org/mission.html
4  The interviewees were Sally Tallant, Janna Graham, Julia Peyton-Jones, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Amal Khalaf (Edgware Road Project assistant), Nav Haq (artistic advisor) and commissioned artists Robert Sember (Ultra-red), Hiwa K, Brad Butler and Karen Mirza (no.w.here) and Susan Hefuna.
5  Nav Haq cited in Paul O’Neill, ‘Interview with Nav Haq’, Bristol, 16 June 2009.
6  Janna Graham cited in Paul O’Neill, ‘Interview with Janna Graham’, London, 21 May 2009.
7  Amal Khalaf cited in Paul O’Neill, ‘Interview with Amal Khalaf’, London, 26 July 2009.
8  Graham 2010, pp. 129.
9  Loc cit.
10  See Paul O’Neill and Mick Wilson, ‘Introduction’, Curating and the Educational Turn, eds. Paul O’Neill and Mick Wilson (Amsterdam and London, de Appel and Open Editions, 2010) for more details on the vast number of projects that manifest this engagement with educational and pedagogical formats and motifs, all of which diverge in terms of scale, purpose, modus operandi, value, visibility, reputation and degree of actualisation. The term ‘educational turn’ merely denotes the propensity of this work and the general desire to foreground collective action and collaborative discursive praxis.
11  See Annie Fletcher and Sarah Pierce, ‘Introduction to The Paraeducational Department’, in O’Neill and Wilson 2010, op cit., pp. 195-200. It is worth noting that Kristina Lee Podesva proposed that ‘education as a form of art making constitutes a relatively new medium. It is distinct from projects that take education and its institution, the academy, as a subject or facilitator of production’. Drawing on research in the Copenhagen Free University and elsewhere, Podesva itemises ten characteristics and concerns across a spectrum of education-as-medium projects. These include ‘A school structure that operates as a social medium’, ‘A tendency toward process (versus object) based production’, ‘An aleatory or open nature’, ‘A post-hierarchical learning environment where there are no teachers, just co-participants’, ‘A preference for exploratory, experimental, and multi-disciplinary approaches to knowledge production’ and ‘An awareness of the instrumentalisation of the academy’. See Kristina Lee Podesva, ‘A Pedagogical Turn: Brief Notes on Education as Art’, Fillip, 6 (2007), available at http://fillip.ca/content/a-pedagogical-turn
See also Anton Vidokle’s ‘Incomplete Chronology of Experimental Art Schools’, Notes for an Art School (International Foundation Manifesta, 2006), p. 19.
12  Janna Graham cited in O’Neill, op cit.
13  Loc cit.
14  Loc cit.
15  The difference between the ‘what if’ and the ‘as if’ was developed through Hiwa’s K residency at the Centre For Possible Studies in which he and curator Janna Graham discussed this as the difference between projecting a future and occupying the present as if it were that future already.
16  Loc cit.
17  For a more detailed description of each of the projects, see Dis-assembly, eds. Louise Coysh and Sally Tallant (London, Serpentine Gallery, 2006), in particular Sally Tallant’s ‘School of Thought’, pp. 9-13. This publication accompanied three exhibitions: School of Thought (Serpentine Gallery, 21 — 30 April, 2006), Dis-assembly (NWCS, 14 — 29 July, 2006) and Runa Islam’s Conditional Probability (Serpentine Gallery, 25 October — 5 November, 2006). For Tallant’s perspective on public programming, see Sally Tallant, ‘Experiments in Integrated Programming’, in O’Neill and Wilson 2010, op cit., pp. 186-94. See also Janna Graham, ‘Between a Pedagogical Turn and a Hard Place: Thinking with Conditions’, in O’Neill and Wilson 2010, op cit., pp. 124-39.
18  Sally Tallant acknowledged this point in Paul O’Neill, ‘Interview with Sally Tallant’, Serpentine Gallery, London, 6 May 2008.
19  Loc cit.
20  Hans Ulrich Obrist cited in Paul O’Neill, ‘Interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist’, London, 6 July 2009.
21  Brad Butler cited in Paul O’Neill, ‘Interview with no.w.here (Brad Butler and Karen Mirza)’, London, 28 February 2010.
22  Loc cit.
23  Sally Tallant quoted from ‘Edgware Road takes a trip down memory lane’, BBC website, 14 November 2008. Available at www.bbc.co.uk/london/content/articles/2008/11/14/edgware_road_feature.shtml
24  Janna Graham cited in O’Neill, op cit.
25  Sally Tallant cited in O’Neill, op cit.
26  Janna Graham cited in O’Neill, op cit.
27  Loc cit.
28  Loc cit.
29  Robert Sember cited in Paul O’Neill, ‘Interview with Robert Sember’, London, 22 May 2009.
30  Janna Graham, cited in O’Neill, op cit.
31  Robert Sember cited in O’Neill, op cit.
32  See Miwon Kwon, One Place After Another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity (Cambridge, MA, and London, MIT Press, 2004), pp. 138-155.
33  Amal Khalaf cited in O’Neill, op cit.
34  See Kwon 2004, op cit., p. 151.
35  Karen Mirza cited in O’Neill, op cit.
36  Janna Graham cited in O’Neill, op cit.
37  See Kwon 2004, op cit., p. 154.
38  Robert Sember cited in O’Neill, op cit.
39  Where the primacy of individual change or societal transformation is a measurement of a project’s success or failure, as both Grant Kester and BAVO have pointed to in their respective analyses of art premised either upon an activist potentiality for major societal change or for its modest social intervention from the ground up. BAVO’s labelling of ‘NGO Art’ as a sort of ‘home-coming’ for art as temporary solutions to social problems, operating free from any ideological agenda, and where engaging with society, and its problems, through art is akin to the neo-liberal tendencies for NGO’s action-based problem-solving to enact short term solutions. See BAVO’s ‘Always Choose the Worst Option. Artistic Resistance and the Strategy of Over-Identification’, Cultural Activism Today. The Art of Over-Identification, ed. BAVO (Rotterdam, Episode Books, 2007), pp. 25-26.
40  In recognising the impossibility of any sited community grouping becoming easily defined as a unified representative constituency, Edgware Road, as Serpentine Director, Julia Peyton-Jones, suggests, rejects the common use of the term ‘community’ as a segregated and marginalised idea for participant-groups in favour of ‘the public’ due to its wide-reaching and inclusive scope. (Julia Peyton-Jones cited in Paul O’Neill, ‘Interview with Julia Peyton-Jones’, London, 2 April 2010.)
41  For a more detailed analysis of this distinction, see Janna Graham, ‘Between a Pedagogical Turn and a Hard Place: Thinking with Conditions’, in O’Neill and Wilson 2010, op cit., pp. 124-39.
42  Sally Tallant cited in O’Neill, op cit.
43  Loc cit.
44  Loc cit.
45  Hans Ulrich Obrist cited in O’Neill, op cit.
46  Janna Graham, ‘Between a Pedagogical Turn and a Hard Place: Thinking with Conditions’, in O’Neill and Wilson 2010, op cit., pp. 130-31.
47  Loc cit.
48  Loc cit.
49  Nav Haq cited in O’Neill, op cit. For example, in a previous project called Kiosk (2007), the group set up an outdoor, touch-screen, open source computer kiosk on a promenade in Mumbai, which broadcast streams of data about the local area and could be used by passers-by as a means of encouraging neighbourly connections. A combination of recorded video, live audio and live electrical connections tested the ways in which the kiosk and its location would be interpreted by locals as a means of aiding people’s understanding of their own street.
50  For example, the Old English Gentleman was, for a century, known as the King’s Head and is now Lebanese-owned, 132 Edgware Road, and the Shishawy restaurant (51-53 Edgware Road, which was formerly the Gala Royal cinema, then became the Arabic Centre, Arrimal nightclub, Hilal House and then Miramar before its current status as a restaurant). For further information see www.camputer.org/event.php?id=90
51  Amal Khalaf cited in O’Neill, op cit.
52  See www.edgwareroad.org
53  Janna Graham cited in O’Neill, op cit.
54  Robert Sember cited in O’Neill, op cit.
55  Loc cit.
56  Janna Graham cited in O’Neill, op cit.
57  Robert Sember cited in O’Neill, op cit.
58  See Amilcar Cabral, Unity and Struggle: Speeches and Writings of Amilcar (New York and London, Monthly Review Press, 1979).
59  Robert Sember cited in O’Neill, op cit.
60  Susan Hefuna cited in Paul O’Neill, ‘Interview with Susan Hefuna’, London, 6 July 2009.
61  Hiwa K’s Edgware Road project was undertaken in partnership with The Showroom gallery in London, where he also co-curated an exhibition Estrangement in May 2010.
62  Karen Mirza cited in O’Neill, op cit.
63  http://www.serpentinegallery.org/2009/09/edgware_roadyoung_peoples_cour_1.html
64  Karen Mirza cited in O’Neill, op cit.
65  Loc cit.
66  Loc cit.
67  Brad Butler cited in O’Neill, op cit.
68  See excerpts at http://vimeo.com/9547668
69  Robert Sember cited in O’Neill, op cit.
70  Janna Graham cited in O’Neill, op cit.
71  Loc cit.
72  Sally Tallant cited in O’Neill, op cit.
73  Janna Graham cited in O’Neill, op cit.
74  Amal Khalaf cited in O’Neill, op cit.
75  Susan Hefuna cited in O’Neill, op cit.
76  Nav Haq cited in O’Neill, op cit.
77  Julia Peyton-Jones cited in O’Neill, op cit.
78  Janna Graham cited in O’Neill, op cit.
79  Robert Sember cited in O’Neill, op cit.
80  Janna Graham cited in O’Neill, op cit.
81  Loc cit.
82  Robert Sember cited in O’Neill, op cit.
83  Nav Haq cited in O’Neill, op cit.
84  Robert Sember cited in O’Neill, op cit.
85  Loc cit.
86  Loc cit.
87  Stewart Martin, ‘Critique of Relational Aesthetics’, Third Text 21, no. 4 (2007), p. 371.
88  See Action and Knowledge: Breaking the Monopoly with Participatory Action-Research, eds. Fals-Borda, Orlanda and Muhammad Anisur Rahman (London and New York, The Apex Press and Intermediate Technology Publications, 1991).
89  For an excellent theorisation of the curator as mediator, see Søren Adreasen and Lars Bang Larsen’s ‘The Middleman: Beginning to Think About Mediation’, in O’Neill 2007, op cit., pp. 20-30.
1  Tom van Gestel cited in Paul O’Neill, ‘Interview with Tom van Gestel’, Amsterdam, 26 March 2008.
2  Peter Kuenzli cited in Olaf Koekebakker, ‘An Interview with Peter Kuenzli’, Parasite Paradise, ed. Liesbeth Melis (Amsterdam and Rotterdam, SKOR and NAi Uitgevers, 2003), pp. 33-34. Kuenzli was the chairman of the task force that framed Beyond, the strategic arts plan for Leidsche Rijn housing development near Utrecht, of which Tom van Gestel acted as chair and lead curator of the artistic advisory team.
3  Liesbeth Bik cited in Paul O’Neill, ‘Interview with Liesbeth Bik’, Leidsche Rijn, 25 March 2008.
4  The interviewees were: Bik Van der Pol (artist collaborative of Liesbeth Bik and Jos van der Pol, who were commissioned as part of the programme); Liesbeth Bik (artist-curator, member of artistic advisory team from 2001 to 2007); Nathalie Zonnenberg, (curator and member of artistic advisory team since 2001); Carlijn Diesfelt (project manager of Bureau Beyond since 2007). The focus group, held at de Appel on 15 May 2008, was entitled ‘Locating the Producers: Interrogating the Curator — The Beyond Focus Group Session’ and centred on Beyond. Van Gestel was invited to respond to questions from the following group of invitees: Mick Wilson (artist and Dean of Gradcam, Dublin), Kerstin Bergendal (artist and commissioner of the Kunstplan Trekroner, Denmark), Liesbeth Bik (artist), Dennis Kaspori (urbanist), Jeanne van Heeswijk (artist and commissioner of The Blue House, IJburg), Jonathan Banks (Director of ixia — the UK national public art think-tank). The discussion was moderated by Paul O’Neill with Sara Black (Director of ProjectBase, Cornwall), Renée Ridgway (curator) and Ann Demeester (Director of de Appel), with Yulia Aksenova, Jesse Birch, Sarah Farrar, Inti Guerrero, Virginija Januskeviciuté (2008 de Appel Curatorial Training programme graduates) present as respondent observers.
5  The term ‘Vinex’ first appeared in 1993 as an acronym of Vierde Nota over de Ruimtelijke Ordening Extra (a supplement to the Fourth National Policy Document on Spatial Planning), which was the product of at least eight years’ work involving many consultations. One of the main ambitions of this document was to increase housing developments, concentrated on the city regions in order to fortify the urban economic base, economising on the consumption of land and enabling a public transport and bicycle infrastructure as an alternative to car traffic. In a Dutch urban planning context, Vinex has come to be applied to the process whereby a large area of land is designated by the government for urban development.(0) Concrete agreements pertaining to all Vinex development areas and all city regions were signed by national, provincial and local authorities in December 1993. The agreements came with a timetable spanning a period of ten years (1995–2005); as with Leidsche Rijn, the implementation is ongoing.
6  See page 9 of ‘BEYOND — Leidsche Rijn: The Vinex assignment for art’. The Beyond Scenario is downloadable at http://www.beyondutrecht.nl/index2.php?sub=3 The Beyond Scenario can also be found in Tom van Gestel, Henriëtte Heezen and Nathalie Zonnenberg, eds., Art as Urban Strategy: Beyond Leidsche Rijn, (Rotterdam, NAi, 2009), pp. 84-95. This book also provides a brief history of the commissions and the overall timeline of the project.
7  See Tom van Gestel’s comments in O’Neill, op cit.
8  See Beyond Scenario op cit.
9  Loc cit.
10  Loc cit.
11  Loc cit.
12  Loc cit.
13  Loc cit.
14  See images at www.parasiteparadise.nl
15  Gonzalez-Foerster’s work is comprised of two sited buildings realised in cooperation with architect Martial Galfione.
16  The pavilion consists of two white, rectangular volumes that lie across each other. The design is based on the Brouwn-foot system of measures, and is the first of Brouwn’s buildings to actually be realised.
17  See Henriëtte Heezen et al., ‘Parasite Paradise’, BEYOND Brochure (Utrecht, Bureau Beyond and Municipality of Utrecht, 2005), p. 2 (original unpaginated). For details about some of these commissions, see Liesbeth Melis, ed., Parasite Paradise, (Amsterdam and Rotterdam, SKOR and NAi Uitgevers, 2003), and Tom van Gestel’s ‘Parasite Paradise’ in Out of the Studio! A Symposium on Art and Public Space, eds. Jan Debbaut et al. (Hasselt, Z33, Art Centre Hasselt, 2008), pp. 64-71.
18  The exhibition attracted more than 8,000 visitors from home and abroad and included: 2012 Architects, Vito Acconci, Maxime Ansiau, Atelier van Lieshout, André van Bergen, Bik Van der Pol, Böhm/Saffer/Lang, Eduard Böthlingk, Kevin van Braak, Luc Deleu, Exilhäuser Architects, Atelier Kempe Thill, Fishkin & Leiderman, HAP, Ed Joosting, Karen Lancel, Maurer United, Milohnic & Paschke, Kas Oosterhuis/Ilona Lénárd/Menno Rubbens, Inge Roseboom/Mark Weemen, Stefanos Tsivopoulos, Rob Vrijen, Dré Wapenaar, Winter & Hörbelt(0) and others.
19  See Pursuit of Happiness, eds. Tom van Gestel et al. (Utrecht, Bureau Beyond, 2005), p. 71.
20  Nathalie Zonnenberg’s comments in Paul O’Neill, ‘Interview with Nathalie Zonnenberg’, Amsterdam, 25 March 2008.
21  For information about ‘Parasite Paradise’ see Liesbeth Melis, ed., op cit.
22  See www.bikvanderpol.net
23  For Hope’s description of this project, see Sophie Hope, ‘Who Speaks? Who Listens? Het Reservaat and Critical Friends’, Searching for Art’s New Publics, ed. Jeni Walwin (Bristol and Chicago, Intellect and The University of Chicago Press, 2010), pp. 67-78.
24  See Henriëtte Heezen et al., op cit., p. 27. A magazine publication was produced to coincide with the show with a map of venues and locations. See Van Gestel et al., eds., op cit.
25  See Van Gestel et al., eds., op cit., p. 71.
26  The commissioned artists were: Monica Bonvicini, Esra Essen, Jacob Kolding, Guillaume Leblon, Eric van Lieshout, Claudia and Julia Müller, Libya Pérez de Siles de Castro and Ólafur Arno Larsson, Tomas Sarraceno, and Barbara Visser. Films were by Sol Aramendi, John Bock, Persian Broersen & Margit Lukas, Loulou Cherinet, Dagmar Keller and Martin Witter, Aernout Mik, Quinine Racké and Helena Muskets, Anri Sala, Corinne Schnitt, Santiago Sierra and Marijke van Warmerdam.
27  See Beyond Scenario op cit.
28  Clare Cumberlidge and Lucy Musgrave, ‘Introduction’, Design and Landscape for People, eds. Clare Cumberlidge and Lucy Musgrave (London, Thames and Hudson, 2007), p. 15.
29  Tom Van Gestel cited in O’Neill, op cit.
30  Nathalie Zonnenberg cited in O’Neill, op cit.
31  See www.breakingground.ie (accessed 27 March 2009)
32  See Claudia Büttner, ‘kunstprojekte_riem: Ideas and Progression’, Kunstprojekte_Riem: Public Art for a Munich District, eds. Claudia Büttner et al. (Vienna and New York, Springer-Verlag, 2004), pp. 33-34. Four different thematics provided a focal point for artists, beginning with ‘city markers’ in 2000 which dealt with the topolography of the site. Subsequently, ‘residential worlds’ engaged art directly with new citizens moving into the area, then ‘social spaces’ focused on art intervening in public spaces as they were built, and ‘periphery and centre’ explored how connections could be drawn between Messestadt Riem and the city centre of Munich in 2004. Each emphasised the necessity for on-site research and illustrated how an arts project could adapt to the changing situation of an area under construction while regarding new residents as the main client.
33  In the case of Kunstprojekte_Riem: Public Art for a Munich District, the project ended prematurely in 2004, partly due to economic pressures, power structures within the district, insufficient time to allow complex projects to develop, difficulties in communication between the various stakeholders, problems in getting architects to see art not only as an accessory to their buildings, the unpredictability of how residents would respond to art and, most significantly, the limitations of working within an existing urban plan where decisions had been set out in advance of the Art Plan. For a more detailed description of these limitations, see Büttner’s comments in Büttner et al., eds., op cit., pp. 44-56. According to Prof. Christinane Thalgott (Head of Urban Planning Department, City of Munich), ‘on site there is no freedom to make changes’ to these predetermined plans. (Thalgott cited in Büttner et al., eds., op cit., pp. 16-17.)
34  Arnhem School is an epithet of the Monumental Arts Department of the Academy in Arnhem, under the direction of Berend Hendriks and Peter Struycken.
35  See Camiel van Winkel, ‘Authentic places. Lunetten and the demise of environmental art’, Archis, no. 8 (1999).
36  Realised between 1974 and 1984, the artists-as-designers were Cornelius Rogge, Kees Wevers, Marian Van Lookeren-Campagne and Henk Lampe, Bas Maters, Koos Flinterman and Jan van Wijk. See Camiel van Winkel, op cit.
37  See Miwon Kwon, One Place After Another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity (Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, 2004), pp. 138-139.
38  Liesbeth Bik cited in O’Neill, op cit.
39  Tom van Gestel cited in O’Neill, op cit.
40  Brigitte van der Sande cited in Paul O’Neill, ‘Interview with Brigitte van der Sande, Amsterdam, 8 February 2010.
41  Loc cit.
42  Tom van Gestel, ‘Events as a means rather than an end’, EVENTS: SKOR ARTPROJECTS PART 4 (Amsterdam, SKOR, 2007), English translation pamphlet in volume, unpaginated.
43  Nathalie Zonnenberg cited in O’Neill, op cit.
44  Liesbeth Bik cited in O’Neill, op cit.
45  Loc cit.
46  For Henri Bergson, duration is not only a psychological experience — a transitory state of becoming — it is also the concrete evolution of creativity, as a state of being within time that succeeds itself in a manner which makes duration the very material of individual creative action. For Bergson, duration is always evolving through our actions ‘in time’, allowing for the unknown to be brought to the fore in a manner that does not foresee its own formation during or within the course of action. For Bergson, duration is something that endures because change is the substance of duration, materialised through a transitional process that is taking place in time through a capacity to move from one state to another. For an introductory analysis on ‘duration’ according to Bergson, see Suzanne Guerlac, Thinking in Time: An Introduction to Henri Bergson (New York, Cornell University, 2006), pp. 1-13.
47  Tom van Gestel cited in O’Neill, op cit.
48  Van Gestel, ‘Events as a means rather than an end’, op cit.
49  Loc cit.
50  Giorgio Agamben, Means Without End: Notes on Politics (Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2000), p. 57.
51  Jane Rendell, ‘Constellations (or the reassertion of time into critical spatial practice’, in David Cross and Claire Doherty, eds., One Day Sculpture, (Bielefeld, Kerber Verlag, 2009), p. 21.
52  Liesbeth Bik cited in O’Neill, op cit.
53  See Kwon 2004, op cit., p. 6.
54  See Claire Doherty’s introduction to Claire Doherty, ed., Situation, (London and Cambridge, Mass., Whitechapel and MIT Press, 2009), and for a brief selection of key texts relating to notions of place see the section ‘Place and Locality’, pp. 150-189. For recent close readings of the theorisation of space and place see Doreen Massey, For Space (London and New Delhi, Thousand Oaklands and Sage, 2005) and Tim Cresswell, Place: A Short Introduction (London, Blackwell Publishing, 2004). See also Phil Hubbard, Rob Kitchin and Gill Valentine, eds., Key Thinkers on Space and Place, (London, Los Angeles, New Delhi and Singapore, SAGE Publications, 2004).
55  Liesbeth Bik cited in O’Neill, op cit.
56  Nathalie Zonnenberg cited in O’Neill, op cit.
57  Loc cit.
58  Loc cit.
59  See Michel Houellebecq, The Possibility of an Island (London, Phoenix, 2006).
60  The other artists invited by Beyond to submit proposals were Darko Fritz and Patrick Tuttofuocco. (0)
61  See Tom van Gestel, Henriëtte Heezen and Nathalie Zonnenberg, eds., Art as Urban Strategy: Beyond Leidsche Rijn, (Rotterdam, NAi, 2009), p. 59.
62  Independent curator, Brigitte van der Sande, was responsible for working on many of the commissions realised over the past ten years and was largely in charge of the delivery of Percent for Art programme since 2002. Within this scheme, each new public building has to give up to one and a half percent of the initial building costs for an artwork produced in the context of the building or its immediate surrounding normally with an artist working with the architect. (0)To date there have been eight in total realised under the scheme. Of the five works produced by Van der Sande, a range of approaches has been demonstrated, the most ambitious of which is a bell tower in the central courtyard of a cultural campus by glass artist and architect Bernard Heesen. This tall cone-like structure contains both blue and orange glass bells which have been individually blown so as to correspond with a musical note, each one tuned to be played, so the tower functions as both a social sculpture and occasional musical instrument. Van der Sande’s other realised projects include Pearl Fire by Marcel Wanders, an oversized sculpture of a rather funny white ‘snot’ contained within the ‘smokers’ room’ on the top floor of a local fire station, next to a spacious meeting room with telescopic viewing facilities offering a panorama over the region; a six by eight metre light box, installed in the common area of the sports campus of a college, contains what appears to be a still waterscape photograph (by Marijke van Warmerdam) but, upon careful viewing, the water seems to shimmer ever so slightly; and a simple video interactive projection piece by Spinhoven which is a live, but slowed down, image of people recorded passing through the central hallway of an educational building containing a library, a kindergarten and a number of schools. (0)
63  Nathalie Zonnenberg cited in O’Neill, op cit.
64  Liesbeth Bik cited in O’Neill, op cit.
65  Liesbeth Bik comments during a public lecture she gave about Nomads in Residence as part of a seminar ‘Public Art Needs Continuity’ at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 13 October 2009.
66  Liesbeth Bik cited in O’Neill, op cit.
67  Loc cit.
1  The term ‘semi-public’, used in the initial framing of the Locating the Producers research project, serves to denote variable degrees of openness to a general and invited audience of some focus group discussions in the context of individual case studies of durational commissioning and curating programmes.
2  For an introduction to the epistemological and methodological issues presented by the use of case study, see Charles C. Ragin and Howard S. Becker, What is a Case? Exploring the Foundations of Social Enquiry (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1992).
3  The Methodenstreit (which translates approximately as ‘method war’) refers in the first instance specifically to a dispute that emerged between Austrian and German economists in the second half of the nineteenth century, but which implicated all historical studies in some degree, and gave initial impetus to the still continuing debates on the relationship between the human and natural sciences.
4  Popper in an essay on the pre-Socratic Eleatic philosopher Parmenides argues that ‘(w)ithin methodology proper, he invented the first deductive system and he introduced the method of multiple competing theories and also the method of evaluating competing theories by critical discussion’ (Karl Popper, The World of Parmenides: Essays on the Presocratic Enlightenment (London, Routledge, 1998), p. 160). Popper elaborates the significance of this innovation as follows: ‘Thus there started a tradition of epistemological prefaces that is still alive; most probably owing to its having been reinforced by Plato’s epistemological preface to the Timaeus, in which he is heavily indebted to Parmenides’ (p. 159). Interestingly, while, for Popper, Parmenides is read as the progenitor of epistemology, Heidegger provides a divergent reading of Parmenides as the bearer of an alternate counter-epistemological tradition (Martin Heidegger, Parmenides, trans. Andre Schuwer and Richard Rojcewicz (Bloomington, IN, Indiana University Press, (1998) (orig. 1982), p. 59).
5  One commentator has been prompted to argue that ‘Descartes, Bacon, Galileo, Harvey, Huygens and Newton were singularly successful in persuading posterity, historians of science included, that they contributed to the invention of a single, transferable, and efficacious scientific method’ (John A. Schuster, ‘Whatever Should We Do with Cartesian Method? Reclaiming Descartes for the History of Science’, Essays on the Philosophy and Science of Rene Descartes, ed. Stephen Voss (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1993), p. 195). He has further suggested that we need to ‘free’ our historical accounts of scientific practice ‘from overriding fairy tales about the literal efficacy of scientific method. Certainly no progress can be made in understanding the natural philosophic career of Descartes and his place in the Scientific Revolution unless we learn to explicate his science independently of his fable of method’ (Schuster 1993, op cit., pp. 201-202). In this way method discourses are presented as fictive in character as post-facto rationalisations rather than systematic disclosures of process.
6  For a discussion of Ramus and the question of method, see Walter J. Ong, Ramus, Method and the Decay of Dialogue (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2004 (orig. 1953)).
7  See note 5 above.
8  These are the kinds of claim that most often surface in seminars with artist researchers but, for an example of such overarching claims about art research in print, see Mika Hannula, Juha Supranta and Tere Vadén, Artistic Research — theories, methods and practices (University of Gothenburg, ArtMonitor, 2005).
9One Day Sculpture, the major curatorial research project in New Zealand (2008-2009) undertaken by Claire Doherty and David Cross is another key example of a highly considered approach to cultural practice within a research paradigm.
10  Žižek famously rehearsed his elaborate bluff with the introduction of a self-important term, ‘between-the-two-frames’, in his The Fright of Real Tears (2001) and again in his essay ‘With Defenders Like These Who Needs Attackers?’ The Truth of Žižek, eds. Paul Bowman and Richard Stamp (London, Continuum, 2007), pp. 197-255. His citation of this rhetorical game play coincides with a warning against the assumption that we vacate the positions that we mock. He notes that: ‘When we make fun of an attitude, the truth is often in this attitude, not in our distance towards it: I make fun of it to conceal from myself the fact that this attitude effectively determines my activity’ (p. 197).
11  The term ‘bullshit’ here is used simply to name the phatic and the posturing rhetorics that we produce when we are doing business and working the room or building the network. The term itself has been given renewed vigour by the re-publishing of Harry G. Frankfurt’s (2005) On Bullshit. Frankfurt cites the key distinction between lying and bullshitting in that the latter is unconcerned with truth or falsehood and simply focussed on suasive ends. The suggestion here is that it is precisely in order to allow us to avoid breaching faith with the pervasive everyday untruths that condition our professional existences that we foster and maintain a certain degree of necessary bullshit.
1  Miwon Kwon, One Place After Another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity (Cambridge, MA, and London, MIT Press, 2004), pp. 81-2.
2  Karl Marx, The German Ideology (London, Lawrence and Wishart, 1974, CJ Arthur ed.), p. 48.
3  Louis Althusser, On Ideology (London, Verso, 2008 (1971)), p. 40.
4  Suzanne Lacy, Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art (Seattle, Bay Press, 1995), p. 21.
5  Grant H. Kester, Conversation Pieces: Community & Communication in Modern Art (Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press, 2004), p. 60.
6  Claire Bishop, ‘Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics’, October 110, Fall 2004.
7  Kwon, op cit., p. 165.
8  Ibid, p. 155.
9  Thomas Crow, Modern Art in the Common Culture (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1996) p.131.
10  Ibid, p. 146.
11  Ibid, pp. 133-134.
12  Ibid, p. 134.
13  Ibid, pp. 134-135.
14  Ibid, p. 135.
15  Kwon, op cit., p. 3.
16  Loc cit.
17  Ibid, p. 2.
18  Ibid, p. 100.
19  Ibid, p. 105.
20  Ibid, p. 111.
21  Ibid, p. 112.
22  Ibid, p. 150.
23  Loc cit.
24  Ibid, p. 134.
1  This definition of the common draws on Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson, ‘Border as Method, or, the Multiplication of Labor’, transversal, 2008, http://eipcp.net/transversal/0608/mezzadraneilson/en
2  Geert Lovink, Brett Neilson and Soenke Zehle have been primary collaborators in developing the concept and practice of organised networks. See, for example, the Winter Camp ’09 report, From Weak Ties to Organized Networks, http://networkcultures.org/wpmu/wintercamp/. See also the OrgNets research site, http://orgnets.net and co-authored texts archived at http://nedrossiter.org. The concept of organised networks has been further developed by a range of cultural and new media organisations, along with students undertaking PhD and MA dissertations. See, for example, Organized Networks: Training Programme in Cultural Network Management, RIXC, Riga, 3-5 December, 2009, http://orgnet.rixc.lv/
3  Jon Solomon, ‘Re: A Hierarchy of Networks?, or, Geo-Culturally Differentiated Networks and the Limits of Collaboration’, posting to edu-factory mailing list, 23 January, 2008, http://listcultures.org/pipermail/edufactory_listcultures.org/2008-January/000129.html
4  See Rada Ivekovi’s, ‘Transborder Translating’, eurozine, 2005, http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2005-01-14-ivekovic-en.html and Naoki Sakai, ‘Translation’, Theory, Culture & Society, 23, 2-3, 2006, pp. 71-86.
5  Fabian Muniesa and Michel Callon, ‘Economic Experiments and the Construction of Markets’, Do Economists Make Markets? On the Performativity of Markets, eds. Donald MacKenzie, Fabian Muniesa and Lucia Siu (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2007), pp. 163-189.
6  Mary Kaldor, Global Civil Society: An Answer to War (Cambridge, Polity, 2003) and Chantal Mouffe, On the Political (London and New York, Routledge, 2005).
7  See Brett Neilson and Ned Rossiter, ‘Precarity as a Political Concept, or, Fordism as Exception’, Theory, Culture & Society, 25, 7/8, 2008, pp. 51-72.
8  http://distributedcreativity.org
9  http://www.sarai.net and http://www.edu-factory.org
10  http://transitlabour.asia. Co-organised with Brett Neilson, Anja Kanngieser and Soenke Zehle.
11  Chris Anderson, ‘The Long Tail’, Wired, 12.10, 2004. http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html
12  For a study of working conditions and experiences of new media workers in Amsterdam, see Rosalind Gill, Technobohemians or the New Cybertariat? New Media Work in Amsterdam a Decade after the Web, Network Notebooks no. 1 (Amsterdam, Institute of Network Cultures, 2007): http://www.networkcultures.org/_uploads/17.pdf.
13  See, for example, Tiziana Terranova, ‘Another Life: The Nature of Political Economy in Foucault’s Genealogy of Biopolitics’, Theory, Culture & Society, 2009, pp. 234-262.
14  http://www.re-public.gr/en/?p=201
15  See Francesco Guala, ‘How to Do Things with Experimental Economics’, in MacKenzie, Muniesa and Siu, op cit., p. 131.
16  Ibid., p. 145.
17  For an excellent resource on tactical media, founded by Eric Kluitenberg and David Garcia, see the Tactical Media Files, http://www.tacticalmediafiles.net/.
18  Examples, here, include MyCreativity: Convention of International Creative Industries Researchers, (co-convened with Geert Lovink), Centre for Media Research, University of Ulster and the Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam, 16-18 November 2006, http://www.networkcultures.org/mycreativity/. And Transdisciplinary Research on Creative Industries in Beijing (co-organised with Bert de Muynck and Mónica Carriço), May-July 2007, http://orgnets.net