From May 5th to June 6th I will be doing a research/curatorial residency at Residency Unlimited in Brooklyn. While there, I will be starting work on a new research project entitled How To Shut Down An Artist-run Centre // Comment fermer un centre d’artiste autogéré. Merci beaucoup à Clark et au Conseil des arts de Montréal pour leur soutien de cette résidence.
(le français suit)
I have been involved in Canadian artist-run culture for almost ten years now – as an employee, board member, and artist. The spaces and working methods of these centres have provided innumerable forms of community support and inspiration. But they are also operating in an increasingly precarious position – one that often echos and even reproduces precarious conditions for artists and cultural workers.
Recently, I have been thinking about ways that an artist-run centre might not only react to this position, but how it might prepare for the worst. Given the current political climate and the increasing pressure to generate their own revenues, it seems inevitable that centres will either need to radically rethink how they operate…or risk shutting down altogether. There are a few centres that have moved away from the traditional “white cube” models or that have started to shift their operations or revenue streams, but many continue to rely on and reproduce a model that is at best redundant, and at worst, unsustainable. For those working in the milieu it seems unspeakable, but what would it mean to close an artist-run centre on purpose? What if we gave ourselves 5 more years, knowing that at the end we would close? What kinds of things would we do differently, what kind of risks would we take? How would we change to best serve our memberships? What new models might emerge? What patterns might disappear? What if we responded to funding cuts not by doing yet another fundraiser, but by using up the last of our dwindling supply of public funding to “go out with a bang?”
The Ladies Invitational Deadbeat Society (LIDS) and friends will be converging in Toronto at the end of May for a performance by Wednesday L AND an official BBQ book launch with our feminist pals! Join us on Sunday May 26th at 3pm at the Feminist Art Gallery for the launch of our new publication.
The publication documents our 2012 residency, the Incredisensual Panty Raid Laff Along and is now available through local LIDS distributors near you! This handy volume gathers together materials produced during the residency: photographs, texts, recollections, and ephemera. Designed by Olya Zarapina, this publication also features 3 new texts by feminist scholars Jennifer Kennedy, Mireille Perron, and Amy Fung.
Sixty of the books are covered in limited edition dust jackets/posters that we printed at the Alberta Printmakers’ Society in June 2012. The slogan on the posters: “Do More With More, Do Less With Less,” was inspired by a discussion about how non-profit arts organizations negotiate the increasing pressure to participate in business-based models and the “cultural industry.” A PDF excerpt of the publication, with an edited transcript of one of our Sunday Tea n’ Chats discussions, The Value Of Our (Collective) Work is available as a free sneak preview.
UNIDENTIFIED…ENIGMATIC, PERHAPS EVEN ROMANTIC
(with the Ladies Invitational Deadbeat Society)
This informal exhibition offers up a small selection of documents, photographs, texts, publications, correspondence, and art works chosen by the members of the Ladies Invitational Deadbeat Society during our summer 2012 residency at the John Snow House. Spanning the years of 1974 to 2010, these selections are the result of our collective meanderings through The New Gallery’s archives and library. The title of our exhibition is drawn from a note left in a binder of slides in 1988 by then-administrator Nelson Henricks that reads: “The following slide are unidentified, which is kund of enigmatic, perhaps even Romantic. Nevertheless, I have identified them as Clouds ‘N’ Water because of the remarkable amount of wood paneling…They are coalated into groups that are from the same film, so please don’t mix them up, not that anyone will ever look at them, or even read this.”
“In Craft Hard Die Free: Radical Curatorial Strategies for Craftivism, Anthea Black and Nicole Burisch provide a brief international survey of activities which seek to deploy craft for the purposes of protest. Knitting, and other textile arts traditionally associated with communal crafting, plays the leading role. The concept of the ‘revolutionary knitting circle’ recalls the 1970s feminist use of a similar group exchange as a form of consciousness raising. Black and Burisch also cite the AIDS Quilt project of the 1980s as an important precursor for the present moment. So much for precedents, what about the future? Clearly, efficacy and identity are interwoven in this essay, which takes for granted another 70s concept–that the personal is political–and offers real-world strategies for [maintaining] the efficacy of symbolic craft. It is too early to say whether craftivism will have staying power in the cultural imagination, like the Arts and Crafts, studio and countercultural craft movements before it. But there is little doubt that Black, Burisch and their peers have breathed new life into this old set of ideas.”
-Glenn Adamson, The Craft Reader
Extra/ordinary: Craft and Contemporary Art has been reviewed in BUST Magazine, Bad at Sports, American Craft, Liminalities and will go to its second printing at Duke soon.
For a copy: https://www.dukeupress.edu/Extra-Ordinary/
A month of bicycle-based artworks by Kelly Andres, Marc Dulude, Jessica Thompson, and the Tender Mountain Clan. Organised for the M:ST 4.5 summer season, and presented in venues throughout Calgary.
Image credit: Jessica Thompson, Soundbike