Reimagine the Art World
About Fair governance models and trans-post-national artistic practices
About Fair governance models and trans-post-national artistic practices
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It is with shock and great sadness that we announce the sudden death of Nevenka Koprivšek, director of Bunker Ljubljana, a partner in the RESHAPE project. With her passing, Slovenian, Balkan and European performing arts lost a wonderful person, author, teacher, advocate and friend... A sharp thinker, full of dedication, love and empathy for the arts and artists, Nevenka's input has inspired and shaped RESHAPE and a tremendous amount of other collaborations. We will miss her greatly! In these sad moments, we express our condolences to Nevenka's family and close ones.
Gathered around the storyboard of a comic book describing an Eastern European art worker, an uncanny, quirky cast of characters find themselves in a heated political debate. Revealing layer upon layer of unanswered questions, forgotten convictions, eternal doubts, ethical inconsistencies and abandoned dreams, Milikić depicts a world in which art workers navigate between cynicism and ideals. With strength, conviction and lots of humour, he advocates for keeping one’s course in the murky waters of compromise and concessions.
About twenty plus years of urban development and artistic research efforts initiated by artist Jeanne van Heeswijk in her native Rotterdam. The challenge of a neighbourhood culture that is organized through cooperative methods is to be exceedingly aware of how it changes and why. It must always be questioning what agendas are driving it forward and whether it is living up to its values.
How can one fathom the implications and values of smaller arts institutions within the greater art ecosystem? One key aspect is their ground-breaking approach to relations between art and society, education, and the formation of public spheres. Another is their important role in local communities whilst maintaining a constant dialogue within the international arts context. But how can we create dialogue around the values that are being built – beyond visitor numbers and media coverage? What cooperative processes can be adopted so that artists and culture, small and large institutions, municipalities, regions, states, and federal politics all cooperate to encourage art’s potential?
At a time when Arab countries are bleeding away their creative capital with the departure, emigration, or exiling of pioneering intellectuals and artists, one wonders about the future of their practices and legacies. HaRaKa’s performance theorist and artist Adham Hafez and anthropologist and urbanist Adam Kucharski pose the following question: can the institution of the ministry of culture be rehabilitated to serve this new diffuse community of art producers and serve as a locus of cultural production outside of the traditional boundaries of the nation? Can the institution evolve to meet the needs of an artistic and cultural community that is, at least temporarily, extra-territorial? And can it help to rebuild shattered national institutions on artists’ terms?
Katarina Pavić is a cultural worker and activist, who worked in the independent cultural scene in Croatia and the wider region of former Yugoslavia since 2005. Her work has combined advocacy and research at the intersection of civil society development, activism, and cultural critique. She has been the facilitator of the fair governance models trajectory of RESHAPE, which describes it as a ‘reflection-oriented process, where its focus – governance of artistic and cultural institutions and collectives – functions simultaneously as a form of critique and an open invitation to imagine and practice a different way of being-in-common’. In this conversation, she spoke from London where she pursued her MA in culture industry and to which she has just moved back.
Pedro Costa is professor at the Department of Political Economy at the ISCTE – Instituto Universitário de Lisboa and director of DINAMIA’CET-iscte (Research Center on Socioeconomic Change and Territory). An economist with a research specialization in urban and regional planning, Costa works on areas of territorial development and cultural economics. In the context of RESHAPE, he was the facilitator of the trajectory Value of Art in the Social Fabric, where the question of how to better understand the impact, tangible and intangible, of artists and their work on the local context was raised. In this conversation, we explore some of the processes and outputs of this trajectory.
Nike Jonah is a research fellow with the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama at University College London and is also the lead for the Pop Culture and Social Change initiative at Counterpoint Arts. She engages in questions of strategic development in the cultural sector and across creative industries. In the context of RESHAPE, she was the facilitator of the solidarity economies trajectory, where questions of how art and cultural projects can be supported for their potential and not for where they are coming from have been raised. In this conversation, we address how the concept of solidarity funding was unpacked, and how the different projects and prototypes potentially manifesting it emerged.
Marta Keil is a performing arts curator and researcher who co-runs the Performing Arts Institute in Warsaw, Poland. She has collaborated as a curator and dramaturge with a number of artists and works on a regular basis in a curatorial tandem with Grzegorz Reske (ResKeil). She is also the editor of several publications on performance and politics. She has been the facilitator of the Transnational/Postnational Artistic Practices trajectory in RESHAPE, which engaged with questions of imagining an artworld ‘after the national’, starting from the broader notion of the political map and how it affects cultural practices. In this interview, she spoke to us from Warsaw, about some of the processes and outputs of her trajectory within RESHAPE.
According to the author, art institutions mirror today’s dominant powers. Sarah Vanhee wants a plurality of institutions connected to different, heterogeneous forms of living and being. A longing for a feminization, decolonization and queering of the art institutions. Looking for art institutions that do politics instead of presenting art programmes about politics, that take care of the people who work there and engage with them, support them on the basis of equal dialogue and lend themselves as tools.
This essay is the programme document of a research project Porozumienie (Agreement) at the Powszechny Theatre in Warsaw, about the participatory transformation of the public theatre ‘Powszechny Theatre’ in Warsaw into a feminist cultural institution. A year of research and interviews with employees resulted in texts and practical steps, such as the establishment of an arts and programme board. The authors of the project were Agata Adamiecka-Sitek, Marta Keil, and Igor Stokfiszewski.
Under the title ‘Lockdown Theater’ Schauspielhaus Zürich gathered theoretical thought experiments on theatre and performance during the Covid-19 pandemic. ‘How do a virus, a pandemic disease, and theatre affect each other? The texts do not address the crisis head-on, but touch it tangentially, without submitting to the information and opinion regime that it entails.’
McGonagle argues that a similar solution like that to the Covid-19 virus, to the other virus – the virus of the small state agenda which has infected societal provision and expectations – lies in a cultural turn towards reciprocal social relations, which can be articulated in a total art process that is not limited to rhetorical modes of production and consumption. The stakes could not be higher for individuals and communities right now in this immediate crisis but questions about what principles will inform the future are also necessary and important, to see hope through the fog.
In a crisis of survival in the aftershock of the novel Covid-19 pandemic, everything that we have taken for granted is questioned: is it considered ‘essential’ or ‘non-essential’? Museums are by no means a sacred institution any more than newspapers, educational systems, the music industry, the norms of governance and checks and balances in a democracy, the secular pillars of science, truth seeking and rational discourse, the preservation of the commons, public lands and spaces, good manners, common human decency and decorous behaviour, and so on. All these things hang in the balance right now along with our treasured museums. All of them turn out to be things we have to decide to fight for if we are to keep them, or that must be reinvented to find new relevancy and life.
In her empirical study of alternative theatres in Istanbul, Zeynep Uğur focuses on artistic micro-practices that reshape public life. Alternative theatres are making the narratives of minorities visible, they reorganize the relationship to space by creating new ways of working and being in society, and they become autonomous spaces where people can socialize differently. In authoritarian political contexts, autonomous physical places become sites of resistance against the closure of public space and against the political system.
Rébecca Chaillon is a performance artist, author, and director. Her article is a deeply personal account on the processes of racialisation and an artist’s pursuit to unpack, interrogate and confront them in the context of her art. In this powerful plea for artistic and personal emancipation, Chaillon deconstructs assumptions, mixes and overlaps identities, shares questions and personal victories intertwined with society’s reluctant transformations.
In July 2019, something snapped in the Kenyan performance artist Ogutu Muraya, who was living in Amsterdam at the time. He decided to stop applying for European visas and return to Nairobi. His decision was motivated by a desire to ‘go beyond Europe’, to free his imagination, to transcend internal limits rather than merely trying to cross physical borders. In this text, he tells us how he intends to continue his artistic practice and maintain his presence – but strictly on his own terms.
Feminism seems to be gaining momentum in many countries, but most organisations and groups are still working on the basis of patriarchal standards. The ‘feminisation of politics’ includes different elements, which all aim to change the way activism and politics (in a broad sense) are done. A feminist way of organising includes considerations such as gender balance, building power through cooperation, collective leadership, democratic decision-making, care (for peers, for dependent beings and for oneself), intersectional understanding of issues, and non-violence.
This article was published in an issue (1/2020) of the Polish Magazine Dialog that deals with artistic labour. Overproduction results from the penetration of market mechanisms to all areas of our lives, fields of creativity, and institutions in which we work. It is an element of the system preying on our activity, because it is primarily this mobility – not content and sense – that generates profits. When we stop, get tired or stand aside – we become redundant to the system.
Everyone seems to agree that the Covid-19 pandemic has a huge impact on the economy, social relations, politics, and culture. We’re nowhere near through this crisis yet, and alternative futures are already being promoted, others wait to ‘get back to normal’, while most people are too busy coping with the emergency. In this ferment of events and contestation, it’s valuable to be reminded of the bigger picture. This essay by Professor Justin O’Connor (University of South Australia) places the current situation of cultural organisations and workers in a historical context, reminding us of their developing relationship with the political economy of recent decades. It is also challenging because it asks what compromises have been made by cultural actors in pursuit of recognition and at what costs.
Shelagh Wright and Peter Jenkinson, both based in London, have been supporting creative and cultural work for progressive social and political goals throughout the world for many years. Their current projects include ODD, an action research ad/venture exploring positive deviance within socially-engaged cultural practice and creative activism. They are also involved with the pan-European Laboratories of Care programme and with investigating the contribution of cultural and creative activists to the new global Municipalist movement. In the context of RESHAPE, they have been the facilitators of the Art and Citizenship trajectory, asking the question: How can art radically reimagine new forms of citizenship and empower us to act? Here, active citizenship is a central connecting point, on which we expound in this conversation.
This text is a first attempt to join the dots between the proposals, to draft the initial contours of a framework for understanding them. To understand the proposals, it can be useful to first have a brief look at the origins and the promise of RESHAPE, and how the project itself was redesigned and reshaped during an intensive process within the RESHAPE community. Secondly, we begin a reflection on how these proposals might contribute to responding to the current needs within the arts field. In very different ways, these proposals respond to increasing pressures concerning how the arts are organized, governed, and supported (or not).
In her article, Katja Praznik deconstructs the idea of artistic work as an expression of individual creativity independent from the economy and its processes. She demonstrates that this persistent ideology of autonomy of the arts contributes to the precarious position of artists and the exploitative working relations in the arts sector. Instead, she suggests to look at artistic work as labour, embedded in economy and subject to the economic relations. Taking inspiration from the arguments for the recognition of invisible labour put forward by Marxist feminists, Praznik calls for a demystification of creativity and supports the imperative of artistic remuneration, as a necessary step towards a broader goal of redefining value and labour in our society.
Professor Pascal Gielen (Antwerp University) did research on the biotope around artistic careers, on the role of institutions, and how the transnational creative industries and the longing for a monotopic European identity put pressure on this biotope. Gielen formulates a number of suggestions on how a healthy artistic biotope may be maintained in the future, and how artists can offer us a more complex heterotopic understanding of Europe in a globalising world.
Pirate Care is a transnational project connecting activists, scholars, and practitioners working on the collective practices of care that are emerging in response to the current ‘crisis of care’: welfare cuts, rollback of reproductive rights, austerity, and criminalisation of migration and solidarity. These initiatives are experimenting with forms of self-organisation, alternative approaches to social reproduction, and the commoning of tools. They share a willingness to openly disobey laws and executive orders, whenever these stand in the way of safety and solidarity, and politicise that disobedience to contest the status quo.
The remote work within the RESHAPE group continues, this time in remote Lisbon. The group Value of Art in Social Fabric will work from 26 to 29 May on shaping their prototypes that will offer new approaches to this topic.
The last week of April was supposed to be the time for a meeting of the trajectory Transnational/Postnational Artistic Practices in Marseille, but the lockdown that is in power in many countries due to the Corona virus outbreak conditioned us to deeply reshape our project that is largely based on travelling and physical meetings.
Unfortunately, we are canceling the public programme of the Reshape Intensive Zagreb that includes lectures by Renata Salecl, Vincent Liegey, Juliette Hennequin and Pascal Gielen, as well as announced walks and talks. The programme of the Intensive was primarily aimed to the participants of the Reshape project that are coming from various countries across the EuroMed region. Due to the current situation of the spreading of Corona virus across Europ, travelling and larger meetings represent an additional threat of the spreading of the virus. Although we wish not to contribute to the panic presented in some media, we are convinced that we should take the responsibility for the prevention of the further spreading of the infection. We apologise to all of those who planned to attend the Reshape Intensive Zagreb programme and announce that the lectures will be held as a part of other Reshape activities. The working part of the Intensive will be held online.
The workshop in Ghent will continue with the discussion about the value of art in social fabric: How is society shaped (and reshaped) with art and how is wider community benefiting from it.
The second workshop in trajectory Transnational / postnational artistic practices is held in Istanbul from 29 to 31 January 2020.
The second workshop on the topic of Solidarity Funding will be held in Potsdam from 15 to 18 January 2020 and organized by Arts and Theatre Institute (Prague).
Under Power. Care. Municipalism. Creativity. Feminisation. Conviviality. Commoning. Activism. Ethics. Solidarity. Empathy. Internationalism. Citizenship. Generosity. Decolonisation. Collaboration. Storytelling. Agency. Systemic Change. Hope. Non-violence. Learning. Humour. Sociality. Invention. Listening. Diversity. Humility. Resistance. Horizontality. Poetry. Cooperation. Discovery. Artivism. Migration. Rebellion. Vulnerability. Courage. Justice. Sharing. Struggle. Civil Imagination. Lived Experience. Joy...
The second workshop of the group Fair Governance Models will be held in Sofia from 4 to 6 December 2019 and will be organised by ACT Association.
The workshop 24-28 September will be held in Hammana and Beirut and organised by ACT association in collaboration with Hammana Artist House.
The fourth Reshape workshop will take place in Prague from 18 to 20 September 2019 and it will deal with the question of the value of art in the social fabric.
The first workshop in the Fair governance models trajectory will take place in Tangier, Morocco, 4-6 September 2019, and it will be organised and hosted by Goethe-Institut Barcelona in collaboration with Tabadoul and Atelier Kissaria.
A university created and run by refugees > Social enterprises forged through vulnerable street children creating a circus > Historic injustices and everyday niggles aired and shared through joining a complaints choir > An energy cooperative developed from street parties > A nation-wide exchange economy fuelled through independent music festivals > Urban transport nightmares tackled through graffiti vigilantism > An inclusive cross-generational school fashioned collaboratively inside a recently re-opened nuclear exclusion zone ...
The notion of transnationality/postnationality offers a tempting perspective. It inspires to change the mindset for a while; to get rid of currently dominating patterns of thinking and operating, that most often represent the dominant structure of national states. However promising it may sound, to most of art workers it would be a misleading fantasy: for the actual political map does influence our professional and private lives on the every day basis, shaping our ways of thinking and enabling or interrupting relations.