As the history of modernism has repeatedly demonstrated, the greatest potential for transforming and re-energizing artistic practice is often realized precisely at those points where it’s established identity is most seriously at risk.
-Grant Kester in The One and The Many: Contemporary Collaborative Art in a Global Context
Regeneration strategies […] are shaped by economists, planners, infrastructure engineers, phasing and finance experts. Before the public is consulted, and before any creative practitioners are engaged, these experts have decided where the problem lies and what the likely solution should be. […] The result is too often the bland and bureaucratic, the well-meaning but unimaginative, and the cycle of renewal and degradation that is a product of short-term and reactive rather than pro-active thinking.
-From the essay, “Inclusive and Holistic” by Lucy Musgrave and Clare Cumberlidge
“…we know that politics is absolutely the heart and soul of what might seem like design projects because it’s about who makes decisions, who has more power and influence than others to shape cities. Designers typically either run away from or ignore politics and political structures, and that’s impossible if you want to have any impact. You need to understand it, and you need to, A), understand the political structures, why decisions are made in certain ways and not others, B), embrace it, not be afraid of it, and C), probably most importantly, challenge it.”
I suppose I find this most useful in framing the way that I approach thinking about our practice. I often try to discuss all supporting aspects of our collective activity as important as any projects we pull off, because I think that it’s in all the peripheral parts of actually getting things done that we rigourously invest in playing with the structures that prop up all of those peripheral parts, and maybe, eventually, slowly begin to change them to begin creating the types of structures that we want to see.
“…the specific openness or porosity of contemporary art for instance has functioned as a weird kind of hosting system: as a kind of asylum for various cultural forms and encounters apparently impossible elsewhere.”
— from Michael Hirsch’s Professional Amateurs, Outsiders, Intruders – On the Utopia of Transdisciplinary Work in the Cultural Field in “Waking up from the Nightmare of Participation”.
KN: One of the things you hope to explore in this project is what ‘use’ might be. But why should art be useful? Arguably, an important point of art is not to have a ‘use’, in a literal sense, but to be something else in our lives.
TB: All art is useful. But the Spanish word for useful, útil, also means ‘tool’. So we are talking about art as a social tool, as well, which has a long tradition that I want to re-evaluate.
–from “Useful Art” by Kathy Noble from Frieze Magazine, issue 144, emphasis mine
“…making art entails a permanent state of negotiation with many nodes of the circuit network — so that reaching the actual artwork is only possible after outrunning mediator after mediator; layer after layer; ultimately, what can be considered an artwork is a cluster of multiple explicit interests, including, fortunately, the artists’ proposals.”
–from the article, “Post-Participatory Participation” by Ricard Basbaum in the Autumn / Winter 2011 edition of Afterall