Artist as Citizen Group

Executive Summary Report

The Artist-as-Citizen: European Publics and the European City 2009-2010

Members of EARN worked together as part of the “Artist as Citizen” policy grouping which brought cultural leaders together to consider the links between art, research and the public sphere. Participants included artists, researchers, educators, curators, research-leaders, cultural providers, policy-makers, art academies and higher education institutions and informal artist networks from Europe and beyond.

This policy grouping addressed the ways in which the growth of artistic research across Europe could be enriched, and achieve enhanced public relevance, through promoting greater interaction and exchange across both formal and informal networks of cultural producers/providers and institutions of higher education across Europe.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This conference and exhibition programme and associated publications and communications reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which maybe made of the information contained herein. This project has been realized with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union.

Summary of Work Programme

Exhibitionary Platforms for Artistic Research

Critique of Archival Reason, Feb-Mar 2010, RHA Gallery Dublin
Re : Public, Jan-Mar 2010, Temple Bar Gallery Dublin
Tables of Thought, April 2010, Finnish Academy of Fine Art Gallery, Helsinki
The Academy Strikes Back, June 2010, Sint-Lukasgalerie, Paleizenstraat, Brussels
Centrigfugal@Zagreb, June 2010, Kino Mosor, Zagreb

Conferences and Workshops

Arts Research: Publics and Purposes, 15-19/2/2010, GradCAM, Dublin
Tables of Thought,28-29/4/2010, Finnish Academy of Fine Art, Helsinki
The Academy Strikes Back, 4-5/6/2010, Sint Lukas, Brussels
Centrifugal Pre-Production Sequence, 17-21/6/2010, Kino Mosor, Zagreb

Artistic Research and the Public Sphere

The development of artistic research and the development of a sophisticated critical culture of the public sphere are particularly prominent features of contemporary experimental culture across Europe. The policy grouping conducted a practical and theoretical enquiry into how best to ensure that these two strands of contemporary culture are approached integrally. We therefore sought to understand how new policy thinking and practical experimental cultural initiatives might best bridge these two key strands of contemporary culture – artistic research and the critical culture of the public sphere.

Methodology

In order to explore the interface between artistic research and the problematic of the public sphere in Europe, we posited three scenarios: 1. that there was a need to activate ideas and practices of engaged citizenship on the part of artist/researchers; 2. that there was a need to foster alternative strategies of coordinated international and inter-sectoral dialogue for artistic research and to move beyond the established resource intensive ‘network’ models; and 3. that there was a need to cross activate developments in curatorial discourse, experiments in exhibitionary practice and the “public” presentation of artistic research.

We conducted this work – examing our three scenarios – by implementing a programme for dialogue, exchange, and exhibition. In this way we examined and compared the methods and approaches of artist/researchers and cultural theorists working in contemporary culture both within and outside the art academies. This programme of work served both to advance public and specialist understanding of artistic research internationally; and also to develop new critical models and strategies for linking artistic research and the contested concept of “the public”.

The basic methodology adopted was to create opportunities for transnational mobility of artist/researchers and artworks, employing multiple formats (workshops, multi-stranded conferences, exhibitions, and performance), and thereby fostering a sustained dialogue. In each event we sought to intersect the work of the Artist as Citizen group with other work programmes.

Interactions with Existing Projects

For example we had an opportunity to share and exchange ideas and experiences with Centrifugal based on their ongoing investigation of the construction of “European” identities through a consideration of three European cities: Helsinki, Zagreb, and Belfast. Each of these cities is positioned in close relation to the borders of Europe, particularly as defined in terms of the European Union. Focusing on the smaller centres, or “off-centres”, of artistic practice in Europe, Centrifugal draws attention away from the cosmopolitan cities such as London, and questions the persisting dichotomies such as centre-margin and global-local. Through dialogues with members of Centrifugal at events in Dublin, Helsinki, Brussels, and Zagreb, we gained insight with respect to artistic research practices that demonstrate a sustained engagement with questions of the public sphere, the public realm and the contested meanings of “public-ness”. Importantly, Centrifugal provided models of artistic research from “outside” the academy as well as from “inside” the academy.

In Brussels we had an opportunity to engage with the ongoing dialogues on the nature of the academy as a site for artistic research and the ongoing transformations of European art education. Jan Cools (Sint-Lukas, Brussels) and Henk Slager (maHKU, Utrecht) have been developing an enquiry into the importance of artistic research for formulating competencies, leaning outcomes and didactic strategies in art education. (Previous events within their project have included ‘A Certain Ma-Ness’, (Amsterdam in March 2008) with a.o. Simon Sheikh, Jan Verwoert, Clementine Deliss, Bart Verschaffel, and ‘Becoming Bologna’, (IUAV, June 2009) with a keynote by Daniel Birnbaum, that took place within the framework of the 53rd Venice Biennale.)

Through these kinds of fruitful interchange with existing longer term projects, the Artist as Citizen group was able to explore ideas and practices in a multi-perspectival and contextually rich way.

Development of the Programme

At the first conference in Dublin we began to establish the different concepts of “public-ness” and the competing models of artistic research operative for the different participants according to their different language, cultural, educational and disciplinary backgrounds. (Art Research: Publics and Problems, Dublin) Building upon this we then fostered focussed work sessions on specific sub-themes: the urban public realm (Centrifugal, Zagreb); the exhibition (Tables of Thought, Helsinki); the future of the academy as a locus for artistic-research (The Academy Strikes Back, Brussels) so as to establish a common framework for future dialogue and exchange.

During the 12 month period Oct ‘09-Sept ‘10 this policy grouping undertook a series of international conferences, workshops (11 days in total of public dialogues) and a series of experimental exhibitionary platforms and touring exhibitions in Dublin, Helsinki, Brussels and Zagreb (more than 3 months of public exhibitions). These exhibition platforms entailed significant mobility of artists and artworks (40 artists and 33 different artworks and performances travelled internationally through these exhibitions: while more than 100 educators, researchers, and policy specialists travelled internationally in the context of the associated workshops and conferences.)

Building Upon “Artist as Citizen” for the Future

The work of the EARN members who participated in the Artist as Citizen group has given rise to an expanded range of partnerships, collaborations and public sphere oriented activities and interventions by artist researchers, educators and cultural providers across Europe. Among the new developments following on from this one year programme of work has been EARN’s engagement with the Manifesta biennale as a means to further promote the public dissemination and public awareness of artistic research. The work of this group has informed other developments also, including the establishment of the SHARE network (Step-change for Higher Art Research and Education 2010-13).

Contributors and Participants

The “Artist-as-Citizen” policy grouping comprised members of EARN (European Art Research Network) including Finnish Academy of Fine Art Helsinki, MaHKU, Utrecht, GradCAM, Dublin, and Hogeschool Sint-Lukas, Brussels responsible for hosting events and with Gothenburg, Malmo, Vienna, Venice, London, and Leeds providing exhibitors, speakers, expert advice and artist-researcher contributions to the programme. Other contributions were also provided by Centrifugal artist’s network.

Among the exhibiting artists, curators, participants, contributors and content leaders for the conferences, workshops and exhibitions were (incomplete as the list is still being compiled):

Aidan MacElwaine, Aisling O’Beirn, Amanda Ralph, Andrew Selby, Anna-Kaisa Liedes, Anton Vidokle, Björn Frankem, Cearbhall E. O’Meadhra, Cecilia Gronberg, Centrifugal, Claire Warnier, Clodagh Emoe, Conor McGarrigle, Dan Shipsides, Daniel Jewesbury, Declan McGonagle, Dennis McNulty, Dieter Lesage, Eames Demetrios, Ed Carroll, Elaine Sisson, Francis Halsall, Francis Lowe, Frank Lyons Gearóid O’Conchubhair, Georgina Jackson, Gertrud Sandqvist, Hans de Wolf, Helen Phelan, Henk Slager, Henri Wegelius, Herman Asselberghs, Irene Kopelman, Ide Connole, Irit Rogoff, Jan Cools, Jan Kaila, Jan Lothe Eriksen, Jeremiah Day, Joan Fowler, Johan Thom, John Aiken, John Mulloy, Joshua Dickson, Kalle Hamm, Katrin von Maltzahn, Kristina Ilmonen, Kruno Levaich, Lars Wallsten, Lauren O’Neal, Leigh French, Linda Doyle, Lisa Godson, Maria Finn, Mark Hackett, Mark Orange, Martin Cloonan, Martin McCabe, Michael Schwab, Michael Stevenson, Michelle Brown, Mick Wilson, Minna Henriksson, Miranda Veljačić, Neil Gray, Nicole Hewitt, Nina Power, Nina Temporaer, Nollaig Ó Fiongháile, Nuno Sacramento, Ole Reitov, Owen Hatherleym Paul 0’Neill, Paul Landon, Peter Liversidge, Phillip Napier, Platforma 9,81, Prof Suzanne Buchan, Rachel O’Dwyer, Ré Dubhthaigh, Renee Green, Robert Anderson, Robert Porter, Sandra Johnston, Sean Snyder, Sezgin Boynik, Shoji Kato, Susan Kelly, Susan Pui San Lok, Susanne Rosenberg, Sylvia Loeffler, Taru Elfving, Terri Bird, Tim Stott, Timo Väänänen, Tina Carlsson, Tom Holert, Ute Meta Bauer, Willie White, Yves Knockaert.

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