Is It Really working? A Physical Symposium/Crash Course has recently taken place within the framework of my MA thesis project for the Master in Curatorial Studies at CCS Bard.
The symposium/crash course occurred between April 10th and 14th 2014 and comprised a series of closed and open conversations and workshops among artists and culture agents coming from different fields of artistic production. The idea was to gather around a discussion concerning the current conditions of culture production, with the current situation for artists, curators, and other art workers in the area of NYC as a starting point. The lenses through which we departed in our conversations is a sense of commitment to political positions informed by feminist and queer politics, with the constant problematization and questioning that such political affiliations entail.
The core group that was invited to participate in this experimental platform was formed by Vanessa Anspaugh, Malin Arnell, Amelia Bande, Gregg Bordowitz, Kajsa Dahlberg, Andrew Kachel and Alhena Katsof. Arnell and Dahlberg, despite not being directly invited with the allocated budget for my project, were able to participate since they were also part of my classmates shows, Carla Acevedo-Yates and Andrew Kachel. Through a form of informal collaboration between us, they all were able to take part in these conversations, informing with their thoughtful formulations of their experience, the scope of the problematics brought to the table.
This project wanted to propose a space of reflection that was also mobilized by the material sharing of the rituals that compose our labour practices. The intention was was not to only summon a space of debate, but also of workshop. In the morning (closed) sessions that completed the public ones visible in the above schedule, we had a dance and improvisation workshop, led by Malin Arnell and Vanessa Anspaugh. We also realized a writing workshop led by Amelia Bande and Gregg Bordowitz, who shared methods they used in their writing and exercises that wish to complicate the extended conception of writing as a solipsistic and solitary creative process. For the last open session Alhena Katsof, Andrew Kachel and myself shared our experiences and impressions about the possibility of coherence in working structures, the materialities of curatorial practice, and the importance of social relations in labour landscapes.
Apart from these formulated moments of encounter or events, framed as closed or public, depending on the limit of the participation, we also shared a house, meals, stories, inspirations, and time. We took the time to step out of New York City’s frantic rhythm and tried an exercise of conviviality. The result were deep and prolonged conversations, that stretch from one discursive framework to another, where ideas about the current conditions of production and the ideological bulk that comes with them were contested by investments in political content that permeates the form. A thorough thinking process around the notion of queer labor, or queering labor, occupied a lot of our conversations, approaching it as an attempt to willing complicate and expand our relationship to the concept of work and labour. We also talked about community, pleasure in labour, communism and commoning, necessity in community and the perils of exclusion, temporary solutions and the problematization of the individual creator as a measure.
We worked inside and outside the campus of Bard College for five intense and fruitful days.
This is just a taste of the opacity we were in.
Is It Really Working? webpage at CCS Bard
Carla Acevedo-Yate’s project for the MA thesis is Turn on the bright light
Andrew Kachel’s thesis exhibition project is We owe each other everything
Al also made a zine/publication for the project. The solid copies of this printed matter can be found in Andrew Kachel’s project gallery, We owe each other everything, in the CCS Galleries at CCS Bard, Bard College. A pdf copy of the zine can be downloaded IsItReallyWorking?Reader.
And here are some pictures from these days. These don’t pretend to be a full representation of what we did or how it looked like. It’s what I have so far. I’m in the process of compiling the material different participants have from the project. Apologies for the gaps and the actions I didn’t have the mind to document:
The house where we were staying, sleeping, cooking, cleaning, talking, joking, writing, outside, inside…
Movement workshop with Malin and Vanessa on Friday morning.
writing workshop with Amelia and Gregg
Last open session on Monday afternoon, led by Alhena, Andrew and me. This is before Vanessa’s advance dance students came and join us for the session. Thank all for coming!
A last contribution sent by Malin. It reminded her of something…