Keynotes Announced for Homework!

We are very pleased to announce our Keynote Speakers for Homework: Infrastructures & Collaboration in Social Practices!

Gregory Sholette, Marisa Jahn, and Temporary Services (represented by Salem Collo-Julin) will join us on October 21 and 22, 2011 to deliver a keynote panel and round-table discussions.

There’s still time to register — and it’s free!

HOMEWORK: Infrastructures & Collaboration in Social Practices is four-day residency, two-day conference, and collaboratively-written publication aimed at generating conversation around the following:

  • alternative infrastructures,
  • radical collaboration,
  • social practice,
  • art implicated in social change,
  • neighbourhood-level activities,
  • city-wide imaginations,
  • site-specific curiosities,
  • tactical resistance,
  • new models for art education and research.

Facilitated by Broken City LabHOMEWORK calls on artists, scholars, writers, thinkers, and doers interested in any of the above to join us in Windsor, Ontario on October 21 and October 22, 2011.

Gregory Sholette is a New York-based artist, writer, and founding member of Political Art Documentation/Distribution (PAD/D: 1980-1988), and REPOhistory (1989-2000). A graduate of The Cooper Union (BFA 1979), The University of California, San Diego (MFA 1995), and the Whitney Independent Studies Program in Critical Theory, his recent publications include Dark Matter: Art and Politics in an Age of Enterprise Culture (Pluto Press, 2011); Collectivism After Modernism: The Art of Social Imagination after 1945 (with Blake Stimson for University of Minnesota, 2007); and The Interventionists: A Users Manual for the Creative Disruption of Everyday Life (with Nato Thompson for MassMoCA/MIT Press, 2004, 2006, 2008), as well as a special issue of the journal Third Text co-edited with theorist Gene Ray on the theme “Whither Tactical Media.” Sholette recently completed the installation “Mole Light: God is Truth, Light his Shadow” for Plato’s Cave, Brooklyn, New York, and the collaborative project Imaginary Archive at Enjoy Public Art Gallery in Wellington New Zealand, and is currently working on an installation for the Queens Museum of Art, and the Tulca Arts Festival in Galway, Ireland. He is an Assistant Professor of Sculpture at Queens College: City University of New York (CUNY), has taught classes at Harvard, The Cooper Union, and Colgate University, and teaches an annual seminar in theory and social practice for the CCC post-graduate research program at Geneva University of Art and Design.

The editor of “Byproduct: On the Excess of Embedded Art Practices,”, Marisa Jahn is an artist, writer, and community organizer embedded in various social and economic justice groups since 2008. Her work has been presented at venues such as the MIT Museum, The Power Plant (Toronto), ICA Philadelphia, The National Fine Art Museum of Taiwan, New Museum (NYC), ISEA, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Boston Museum of Science, and more. A graduate of MIT and an artist in residence at MIT’s Media Lab, Jahn has been recognized as a leading educator by UNESCO and has been a CEC Artslink cultural fellow in Tajikistan, Estonia, and Russia. Her work has been written about in media such as The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Clamor, Punk Planet, Art in America, and Discovery Channel. In 2009, she co-founded REV-, an organization dedicated to socially-engaged art, design, and pedagogy; she is currently the Deputy Director at People’s Production House, a journalism training and production institute that works with low-wage workers, immigrants, and teens to produce groundbreaking news that has been seen and heard on BBC, ABC, PBS Newshour, Mother Jones, The Nation Magazine, The New York Times, and more.

Temporary Services is a group of three people: Brett Bloom (based in Copenhagen), Marc Fischer (based in Chicago), and Salem Collo-Julin (based in Philadelphia). They collaborate on producing projects, publications, events, and exhibitions. Making a distinction between art practice and other creative human endeavors is irrelevant to Temporary Services.

The group started as a storefront arts and events space in a working class neighborhood in Chicago in 1998. Since then, Temporary Services has been responsible for the publication of over 91 books and booklets (including 2003’s Prisoners’ Inventions and 2008’s Public Phenomena), and have created many projects in public and shared spaces, in spaces often dedicated to art and spaces often used for other things, and on the internet. Most recently, they participated in an exhibition on the Lower East Side organized by Creative Time. The members of Temporary Services founded Half Letter Press in 2008 as a experimental web store and publishing imprint in order to help support themselves and champion the work of others.

Salem Collo-Julin is a Chicago native. In addition to her work with Temporary Services, she writes, edits, and performs. She is a co-founder of The Free Store Chicago.

Homework: Infrastructures & Collaboration in Social Practices is generously supported by the Ontario Arts Council, the University of Windsor’s School of Visual Arts, and our community partner the Art Gallery of Windsor.

Creative Time Summit: Some Reflection with 4 Days of Distance

There’s a lot to say about the Creative Time Summit: Revolutions in Public Practice 2, though I’m not really sure where to start. You should start by visiting the Creative Time Summit site and watching the presentations for yourself, then you should read the excellent recap essay by Gregory Sholette and the somewhat brief, but engaged, corresponding conversation that includes some powerful ideas by Stephen Wright (whose presentation we unfortunately missed).

And, perhaps Sholette’s essay is the best starting place to articulate how I felt about the Summit, as it offers a level of complication that seemed to be missing from the Summit’s presentations and panel discussions. For all the effort to create a dynamic structure, something seemed to stall the questions and discussion that I had hoped to hear. 8-minutes presentations have the potential to create a rapid fire overview and starting place for dialogue, but it didn’t often work out that way. Some ideas and arguments needed more time to unfold, but the types of frustrations (productive or not) that came out of last year’s summit were provoked under similar circumstances, and yet Danielle and I left with no more questions than what we arrived with — and that was dissapointing.

We looked at this as an occasion to disrupt the things that we’ve come to take for granted in the type of practice in which we’re engaged, we wanted to hear tough questions that would make us fundamentally take stock in how we think about things like social practice.  It could be though that we are just frustrated with the foundational location of these discussions that revolve around an art world — one that we haven’t really experience nor do we have any interest in experiencing in the sense of an art market or even really gallery exhibitions that really admit to being in a gallery.

I suppose we were hoping to have a conversation that could start with something like,

Ok, let’s assume that there is something possible in art beyond being either inside or outside of a gallery context, and let’s assume that there are models of production that can understand capitalism but at the same time leave the critiques thereof at the door; now about this whole social practice thing…”

That is to say, certainly there is value in those discussions, but if we could just reorient these conversations about social practice and public practice and political art and art made politically to occur around different types of contexts and complications (even just briefly), what might come out of that?

Maybe, though, everyone is just at that same mental point — exhaustion and insatiability at the same time. Certainly, we didn’t help the situation; we went looking for questions that we didn’t know how to ask ourselves, and maybe everyone else in the audience did the same thing. Maybe we were all there, having been the choir that’s been preached to for so long that we’re more confused that ever in wondering about what’s at stake in all of this socially-engaged art.

This isn’t to say, of course, that there weren’t questions asked. To the contrary, compelling dialogue cropped up around a number of the session, and in particular, those on on Schools and on Geographies, but at other times old arguments were rehashed and panel members danced around questions or quietly refused to answer at all.

The highlights were — and I mean to say this with as little cynicism as possible — the opening remarks and curatorial statement by Nato Thompson and the closing essay by Sholette. The concerns articulated in both instances got very close to the issues I had hoped to hear about for two days straight. Questions about ethics, efficacy, and aesthetics start to complicate this way of working in a very useful way for me.

Perhaps it was because we went to Open Engagement and heard some of the same conversations there that we felt a level of rigour was missing or maybe I’m just overestimating what is possible in an 8-minute presentation * 4 + 30-minute discussion format, but I really, really wanted the summit to inspire and challenge me more than it did.

So, all of that aside, I can safely say that we walked away with at least two things: We can’t wait for an opportunity to see Nato Thompson speak again, and we anxiously anticipate Gregory Sholette’s new book, Dark Matter. And, we’ll be excited to see what comes up Creative Time Summit 3.

Pop-Up Book Academy


In an amazingly good interview, Daniel Fuller over at Art21‘s blog discusses projects, ideas, and philosophies of social / dialogical / relational art practice with Sam Gould of Red76.

Red76 has been organizing workshops, lectures and public dialogues in “non-hierarchical” settings since 2000, most recently working on the Pop-Up Book Academy, a school which materializes behind the mask of a temporary used book store. The school utilizes the printed form as a means of investigating social politics and its histories past and present. Much of their work has been involved in working with art spaces focused on alterative pedagogy.

Gould charts a brief history of this type of art practice, attributing the social practice and relational aesthetics trajectories that emerged in late 90s and into the 2000s to difficult economic times and political conditions (that is, the transition into Bush’s presidency). He also tackles the big question, “How is this art?” by attributing the classification of this type of practice as art in the art world (and that art world being defined by museums and galleries) to a kind of laziness by the artists working within it, which is to say that while some of the work presented in this context of social practice isn’t necessarily best suited for presentation in a gallery, it becomes a type of necessity to allow it to do just that.

In reflecting on the nature of this practice, often enacted through discussions, lectures, workshops, artist talks, seminars, Gould notes that critiques and arguments of their practice often fall into two categories: efficacy (activists), or sincerity (artists). These in particular seem to be somewhat familiar questions.

And, I had to include my favourite line of the whole interview: “You don’t need an object to make it [art]. Art is the space which we define for questioning. Objects, or the lack thereof, are placeholders for ideas and propositions.”

Again, it’s a great interview and I’ve only barely skimmed the surface in my quick recap here. It’s definitely worth reading if you’re even remotely interested in the intersection of art and activism.

[via Art21]