City Breaks: Art and Culture in Times of Expediency (19-22 Oct, 2006)


Beatriz is chairing a session at Paul Domela's conference this morning. I thought I'd tag along, this is what I heard. Saturday 10am

Context Sensitivity, Regeneration, and Competence

Nina Edge

"Nothing is Fireproof" Can't find anyone to tour this piece anymore.

"Nothing is domestic" Surburban terraced house as obsolete

Degeneration and the curse of culture How they feel about the changes in Liverpool [rather than regeneration]

Regeneration around Welsh Streets in Liverpool.

"Nothing is Private" [net curtain embroidery] "Net curtain as consensual barrier...the person on the street is the audience"

"Regeneration and art...since they have no accurate measure...of recording their effect, may be regarded as superstition. The beliefs that people have about what each are doing is only a belief...I can't find evidence to say that it is not anything more than a superstition."

"residents in Bootle don't have a computer between them."

"being made visible via media outlets" which become "the museum for art work"

Manray Hsu

Society of the Spectacle by Debord, I am a fan, but"how far can we go with Debord?" "Even philosophising is impossible...because somehow related to what is happening on the street...background semiotic control."

"how cultural producers are aware of this big context of globalisation...and how we can interact with the institution or the system under the big envelope of expediency."

"How to avoid spectacle....for example you can make an art work that is very critial of society, but at the same time can exhibit in a context that is completely dislocating its political power"

"Spectacle logic...no matter how critical...always possibility of being coopted"

"Marcuse and others are aware of this possibility"

"For me, being a curator or cultural producer, I wanted to mention this important aspect of art...suggest that...we always focus on the issue of the political economy of the exhibition itself....How we can be critical of it...being aware of the institution, of its operation in the back"

"In this context, Liverpool Biennial is interesting...as an organisaiton itself it's trying to address these issues"

"Today my talk is about Liverpool Biennial - Liverpool Model"

Big Dig! Project "City council displays its own agenda...mediate itself through these boards displaying work"

"blockage in the energy flows of the city"

"top down regeneration"

"I see it more like an art work...some fake idea of the regeneration programme and display in the public space"

""Seeing is Believing""

"If we look at what art is being produced in Europe...we find...continuing universalism...very much spread out in art magazines"

"internal colonialism withinn Europe. There's only one city that is producing its main discourse....cultural capitals are the actors for this universalism...minor cities not really reflected....big problem addressed by many european artists....at the moment, many european artists are..focusing on their local context."

"Imagine if this piece is produced by a Hungarian or Chinese artists..would be about how desperate the city is. In the case of Liverpool it's a way to propose a kind of politics, which is to contest with the politics of globalisation based on big capital"

"Liverpool is...doing just by its own model..bringing artists...to the city...to address urgent issues...peoples lives here...important political choice."

Pierre Bourdieu...look into an exhibition and see how the artist produced the work..issue of acupuncture...health of the city...urban politics."

Beatriz Garcia: contrast between city centre and surburb in terms of visibility.

Nina Edge: "local authority...are in no way interested in [surburban].

Q: "locality and community...easy words to use and in need of qualifying....I work with local community

Jean-Francois Prost

"History of.... my education through architecture...environmental studies...sites and senstivity...Modernist architect...trying to become a postmodern architect...'Learning from Las Vegas'...something even more decontextualised...historical refrences that did not even belong to the context...a bit Disney...a bit fabricated."

"Deconstructivist architect...another process of learning...deconstructing symbols...Frank Gehry"

"Neomodernist architect...another point of view...how to go through a process of site and sensitivity...a form understanding of site and the city which would be abstracted within height."

"After all this, I really needed to expand to something else..to live a different process. Most of it was about postconception...living a space and a conception after it was built...living in the space I built."

"Often the site is never shown and the whole process of transformation...take pictures before any people arrive....notion of a loss."

[living in space he built]

"Project at the biennial...recently working on a project in Detroit about 'resilient city'...and in Northern Quebec..a lot of destructive generic development...producing vacant spaces...activists...ideas of urban farming...durable development....Very little city administration linked to this development...problem of general perception...negative image after so many years."

"Acroynms related to acctions....RCPS (removal ceilings for public storage)...part of knowing that we have an impact on the space."

"Transforming elements of waht they were initially...picnic table that became heated for the winter"

"placing picnic tables in different sites..suggesting to activate space in the present..not to have to wait for long term developments"

"public loitering area..loitering is a very important aspect about public space"

"other things that related to occupation rules: SWRO - sites without rules of occuptation"

"Reprogramme or Activate Function...derelict land...anti-use design...[bench sitting on boundary fence to break]."

Stephen Wright

[One of the conceptors of the Paris Bienniale]

1985 Paris Biennalle disappeared, but recovered as a moving festival, then secured permanently in Lyon...was discovered that name of 'Paris Biennalle' was not registered...so he...'and sbsequently I, became the owners of the Paris Biennale"

It is a 'Bienalle that does not involve an exhibition...and no artists...avoid spectatorship...but 100 projects. catalogue of 1800 pages...it was around this new form of a Biennale...art is now in an epistemological and axiological crisis....not faced since Renaissance...seems evident that art should manifest itself in the world...towards publics"

"Paris Biennalle...on the verge of a paradigm shift....this is an attempt...despite law suit from French minister...doing this with relatively modest means...Based less on the idea of contexts sensitivity than...framework sensitivity..frame cannot easily be associated with a context...art cannot take place anywhere...only within performative framework...where sufficient...sensitivity...everyday object transformed ontologically...into artwork."

"My view comes less from the Debord tradition than the analytical philosophical tradition...Arthur Danto....outside the performative framework of the artwork..that an object is reluctant to change its ontological status...can only take place within the artworld"

"The artworld is that reputational economy...aggregate of agents, in the middle of which is a reputational economy...that invests certain individuals...to engage in that performative speech-act...implicit of this...is the terrible admisssion that...is just art..not the real corrosive...real thing"

"Art always finds itself bracketed off from the real, which it is so eager to erode"

"skeptical [of link between community and artist]"

extract free labour from whom the artist works with, where 'only name we will see will be the artist"

"artist will suggest that the people were co-authors...but the consequence of that is the promotion of the artist standing within the reputational economy."

"understanding the contradictions the art world is facing"

"other contradictions as well..stop merely criticising...and put forward something else...work with those symbolic producers..."

"Last night in talk from Yvonne...'negation is wilful reason'...a lot of the conversations I have been having have been based on a 'desire for a critical art'...that says No...to the Law...to real estate speculation... Hegelian tradition...power of negative thinking...but something which is extremely limited."

"For you, which word has ontological priority...the word no or the word yes. No to the law or yes to desire? The world's probably quite divided"

"paris biennale also became informed by position as wilful reason. Yes to desire"

"Underlying ideas...art need not appear necessarily in the world in the form of art work...it began to appear in that from at the time of the renaissance...Chomsky 'generative grammar'...bw performance and competence...competence in linguistics is that latent ability which belongs to every speaker of a natural language a speech act as being meaningful and grammatically plausible, but need never be performed...similar to way art functions within performative framework."

"What might one understand by competence? not just from Chomsky, but opposition i did draw from him. In french, used in management circles...knowledge economy...cognitive capitalism...spreads out into events like today, which are a key component of all ars events...production of knowledge becomes a key component of every facet of life."

"Artistic competence have been systematcally ripped off and used by the strategic rationality of our society. But the artworld has been incapable of responding to that...contradictory forces...desire for greater visibility...impose itself within a society that would marginalise it...and to retreat from the world in the face of the omnipresence of culture"

"Paris Biennale is an attempt to think through that retreat..to the point where it is not conceived as art"

"what would we show of these artists who have decided to quit the artworld and yet to continue"

"amongst those competences that have been recuperated, ripped off...not resisted by art...amongst crtiique...autonomy, creativity"

"What sort of competence then could be mustered through art specific means without performing them into art works...heuristically injected into fields of activity other than art."

"response of many artists has been 'enhanced visibilty'"

"Aesthetics of decision making...decisionary...important"

"crossing those boundaries...collective autonomy and indivudalistic..can lead to extremely interesting results"

"there is a sort of incompetence within the art world"

"incompetence not merely incapacity...in a world premised on expert...culture of experts...of expression, that we call aritsts.. Paris Biennale challenge this by foregrounding what Manray..foregounding local incompetence is a way of challenging expert culture'

"what is creativity if not merely the raising of poorly posed questions?..ifquestion incorrectly posed then there is a fissure within which creativity can emerge"

Questions and Answers

Q: Many of us working with art, extremely concerned about how elitist art is these days, but I was thinking that if you proposition is not paradoxical way taking artists of the art world in order to avoid cooptation...to an even more elitist situation..aristocracy of silence. Isn't that the problem."

Stephen: "I was not making a democractic proposition....There is no decent place to stand - Lennard Cohen meant 'in a massacre'. My position..probably appeared very prescriptive and normative...and I have a great deal of sympathy for artists...but my position is much more descriptive. I am attempting to theorise it and carry that process as far as possible. It's not that I'm suggesting that artists do this or not, but the art world...has to do something radical...reduce its claims or give them teeth"

Manray: Didnt mention quitting art, but artworld. Concept of the artworld you are using is a very integrated concept...in the political culture....In european situation, more obvious...but in Asia where art productions are increasingly coopted into creative industries...more possibilities of being used in the way you describe...but also in a situation where government are interested in using art, but they dont know how.

Stephen: the way I use the word art and the way is used in world today makes so sense outside of performative framework of artworld. Taxi driver yesterday..making sarcastic remarks about the bienniel...outside of the performative artworld, just doesnt make sense. Art as I use that word only exists within the artworld...Outside of that you might have exactly the same thing, but it wouldnt be art. ..Quitting art world might sound like art world."

George Yudice: Looking at some movements that use art but not in the sense of visual arts...favelas in Rio de Janiero...certain competencies that were previously excluded from the sphere of art...became included...has opened up spaces for interesting work to be done by these people...multitask..art is one part...of other things they do...Their practice doesnot correspond to a philosophical purity of...artworld versus non artworld...but across spheres. For Chomsky..had used an impoverished notion of competence..an ideal hearer speaker...performative side of it...much more muddied...something in the practie of people who multitask...fall into category of 'real world'....[police brutality]...there is no opposition for them...alliances between social movements...artists, celebrities..."

Beatriz Garcia: locality and community. How distinguish both terms?

Nina Edge: community as a contested zone. people who do want their houses pulled down and those who don't...I am not part of the community...I do not belong there. Newsletters have been circulated in the community...asking who is the community. Given status of community member..depends on their ability to subscribe to the regeneration they are being offered...people part of the communityare those who have agreed to have their houses pulled down...I dislike...social inclsion agenda as if it is doing good....and yet our regeneration company have hired an artist....even as a member of artistic community,there was no attempt to decsribe me as adequately being part of that community...The defnition of communities for me is a fraud...used when completely disempowered."

Jean-Francois: Question to Stephen, how does it apply to curators?

Stephen: Often when I speak about these things...we're faced yet another performative contradiction. If artists have chosen to impair their coefficient of visibility..then monstrous portrayal to repatriate them into artworld....If they dont' produce artworkds, what would a curator be able to show?...performative documentation...whereas perofmrance became increasingly documentary and docmentation and documentary has become a more important part of exhbiitions...new part of documentation...It is important if art is not to dissolve completely into the world..that competence find a means for renewal...avoid citing names, not just to avoid tedious debates about the particular...but problem of 'outing' a secret agent...discursive accompaniment, where is not an exterior evaluation...but part and parcel of the process itself"

Jean-Francois: not sure it makes a difference to be anonymous or not. Individuals arestill there, whatever the name. having the signature or not.

Stephen: It makes a big difference from a sociological perspective on how the art world functions. For me, your work is emblematic of a certain hesitation on the threshold of a local efficient of identification...acronym or picnic table works...brought back into artworld through performative documentation...seems to hesitate to pull its other foot out of the artworld; which is evident from your presence today."