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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  March 2009

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING March 2009

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Subject:

Re: February 09 Theme: Lab/Time-based residencies and Environmental Response

From:

Heather Corcoran <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Heather Corcoran <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 2 Mar 2009 15:55:38 +0000

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Hi all,

I've been meaning to reply to this thread for ages so I'm glad the topic 
is being renewed. Its absolutely serendipitous as I'm in the middle of 
preparing an exhibition/experiment here at FACT that deals with this 
topic - opening on 13 March, called Climate for Change.

The exhibition is one in a long line up of 
exhibitions/festivals/conferences lately discussing artists' responses 
to sustainability and climate change. I know you're primarily using the 
term 'environmental' in a geographically-specific context but a bit 
about the exhibition's environmental focus nonetheless: aware that 
environmentalist ideologies all too often exist in a narrow framework 
that pits naturalism against inexorable capitalist development, and 
strip people of agency over their own lives, we wanted to expand the 
concept of 'environmentalism' to include other topics that are just as 
relevant and pressing, and ultimately linked - housing crisis, food 
crisis, financial crisis (peak oil & peak credit), to name a few.

The focus is a space for collective discourse and action as a way of 
facilitating a number of perspectives on this complex and often 
oversimplified topic. The main gallery uses the ‘social centre’ as a 
model, inviting Liverpool groups to use FACT’s space and resources to 
host their own events and workshops. Many of these groups participate in 
what Simon Yuill calls 'distributive practices': “a ‘way of doing’ that 
seeks to propagate the knowledge and resources through which it is 
generated, and which itself also generates, so that others may adopt and 
adapt it“, and the exhibition posits that these self-organized groups, 
through practicing new governance systems, DIY strategies and 
alternative politics, have a key role to play in sustainability debates.

Essentially, we're turning the keys to the door over to local community 
groups - so hosting multiple residencies, labs, discussions, workshops. 
Underneath this will be a number of artist residencies, where the 
strategies we're taking relate to this discussion. In particular its 
worth highlighting our partnership with Eyebeam, where they are sending 
over three of their senior fellows - Steve Lambert, Jeff Crouse and 
Hans-Christoph Steiner – each in residence for a week to 10 days 
throughout the exhibition. We're calling their participation the 
Sustainability Road Show (after their Sustainability Research Group and 
the Road Show model their Eyebeam fellows have come up with, also 
relevant to this discussion but I'll let them elaborate if they like). 
This is a bit different from what has been discussed here already in 
that it’s an exchange supported by one organisation/institution 
(Eyebeam) to another (FACT), rather than the individual artists coming 
to work in residence with us themselves (though we’re doing some of that 
too in the show, with N55 and the Ghana Think Tank project) (...and have 
a few other artist projects as part of the show that aren’t necessarily 
residency-based - Melanie Gilligan, Stefan Szczelkun, Anthony Iles 
curating a screening/discussion series based on Mute’s 2007 green issue, 
AIDS 3D, etc).

Couple of points to your questions:

Sarah Cook wrote:
 > 1. "what are the necessary conditions for weaving people together 
(technological or otherwise)... [during] a time-limited residency in a 
specific environmental and geographic place?"

In early discussions with Eyebeam this was high on the list - how do we 
get the fellows working well in a Liverpool context? A large part of 
this we hope will be solved by the cross pollination local 
self-organized groups working in the gallery at the same time as 
out-of-town artist residents. Its a shared studio - they're using the 
same space and resources so will ideally share information almost 
accidentally. No doubt this shared space could also become a source of 
(potentially useful?) conflict. One of the projects they're proposing is 
a Liverpool city wiki, so will require lots of talking and socializing 
(the social aspect being another key strategy - one that The People 
Speak use a lot too, making conversation and sharing information enjoyable).

We're also ditching the hotel rooms and instead putting the artists up 
with staff, friends, friends of friends, and community groups - in spare 
rooms and couches where they'll naturally feel more a part of the city 
and hopefully offer an exchange.

To Simon's point about moderation/facilitation - part of our gallery 
space is a residency/office space for all the artists and community 
groups, and I've earmarked myself a desk space in there so I can spend 
as much time as possible doing this. I agree that many of the skills 
required to be a good facilitator are those of a good curator too.

 > 2. "how do you manage the successful delivery of projects if the 
artist can only be onsite 8 days before the project launch or has to 
leave the day after, or you only get access to the presenting venue two 
days before the opening? How do you bring people up to speed, both those 
local and those coming in from afar?"

Perhaps a minor point here but one of the strategies we've come up with 
is having, alongside the fellows coming into residence, also inviting 
Eyebeam's technician (Jamie O'Shea) to be in residence leading up to the 
show, helping to install - working with our technicians to set things 
up, where they share skills and knowledge between them that will 
hopefully help integrate the artist residents into our community. Its 
going to be interesting to have a different type of residency alongside 
the more typical artist-in-residence.

 > 3. "how can you respond to place when you are in a new place, with 
new people, seeking to work together in a limited time-period, mindful 
of existing relationships and histories and geographical constraints to 
create something meaningful and lasting?"
 >

We've got it good at FACT for a couple of reasons - Liverpool is an 
extremely friendly city, where we definitely feel the advantage of not 
being a 'large hub' as Mercedes notes (though still an important hub in 
the UK’s cultural landscape!), so things happen more quickly here. But 
also we've got a solid mechanism for integrating many people we work 
with into the local community with our tenantspin project. In its 10th 
year, the community broadcast project initiated by Superflex has been a 
huge success – extremely meaningful and lasting - and having them in 
residence here, in our building, so closely integrated into our 
activities and programme but led by Liverpool tenants themselves – means 
that we have an in-built mechanism for integrating new artists into our 
community. They act as these key ‘facilitators’, who are both inside and 
outside our organization.

I know many of these strategies are old hat for a lot of you on this 
list but it will be interesting to see how this kind of thing works for 
our own institutional context. We can feed back on how those things go 
and I'll read carefully this discussion for some more ideas and points 
of view.

Best,
Heather

-- 
Heather Corcoran

Curator
FACT
88 Wood Street
Liverpool, L1 4DQ

t: + 44 (0)151 707 4425
f: + 44 (0)151 707 4445

http://www.fact.co.uk
Bookings: +44 (0)8707 583217
Information: +44 (0)151 707 4450


FACT is proud to be in LIVERPOOL, EUROPEAN CAPITAL OF CULTURE 2008

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