Art Form

Emergence Presents: Doin’ Dirt Time at WSD2013

Emergence_DoinDirtTimeFri 13 Sept 13.30

Caird Studio

Doin’ Dirt Time by Suzi Gablik

Based on a transcript of an astonishing interview by internationally renowned arts commentator Suze Gablik, Doin’ Dirt Time raises questions about the traditional role of the arts in society, as two artists dedicate themselves to a radical new art form: living life as a sacred act.  An experiment in future-oriented, stripped-back theatre performanced by Fern Smith, Philip Ralph and guest artist.

“Seek not the ways of men of old, seek instead the ways they sought”

Open to all.

Price: £6

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Walking as Art

This post comes to you from Cultura21

walking-and-mappingMarch 2013, Walking and Mapping, Artists as cartographers, by Karen O’Rourke

Contemporary artists beginning with Guy Debord and Richard Long have returned again and again to the walking motif. Debord and his friends tracked the urban flows of Paris; Long trampled a path in the grass and snapped a picture of the result (A Line Made by Walking). Mapping is a way for us to locate ourselves in the world physically, culturally, or psychologically; Debord produced maps like collages that traced the “psychogeography” of Paris.

Today, the convergence of global networks, online databases, and new tools for location-based mapping coincides with a resurgence of interest in walking as an art form. In Walking and Mapping, Karen O’Rourke explores a series of walking/mapping projects by contemporary artists. Some chart “emotional GPS”; some use GPS for creating “datascapes” while others use their legs to do “speculative mapping.”

O’Rourke shows in this book, the link between all these projects and how they form a new entity and a new dynamic. Karen O’Rourke lives in Paris, she is a multimedia and communications artist whose work has been exhibited in Europe, the United States, and South America.

To read more about : http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/walking-and-mapping

Cultura21 is a transversal, translocal network, constituted of an international level grounded in several Cultura21 organizations around the world.

Cultura21′s international network, launched in April 2007, offers the online and offline platform for exchanges and mutual learning among its members.

The activities of Cultura21 at the international level are coordinated by a team representing the different Cultura21 organizations worldwide, and currently constituted of:

– Sacha Kagan (based in Lüneburg, Germany) and Rana Öztürk (based in Berlin, Germany)
– Oleg Koefoed and Kajsa Paludan (both based in Copenhagen, Denmark)
– Hans Dieleman (based in Mexico-City, Mexico)
– Francesca Cozzolino and David Knaute (both based in Paris, France)

Cultura21 is not only an informal network. Its strength and vitality relies upon the activities of several organizations around the world which are sharing the vision and mission of Cultura21

Go to Cultura21

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Green Acres: Artists Farming Fields, Greenhouses and Abandoned Lots

This post comes to you from Cultura21

September 22, 2012–January 20, 2013

Guest curated by Sue Spaid and opening September 22, 2012, Green Acres: Artists Farming Fields, Greenhouses and Abandoned Lots addresses farming as both activism and art form. Featuring a real working farm within the gallery, a farm stand in the museum lobby, sculptures used for farming, videos and other installations, as well as multiple satellite projects in the community, Green Acres presents farming as art through a wide variety of approaches.

The show is presented in five sections:

  • Farming Awareness explores how artists have alerted food consumers to the significance of food production.
  • Innovative Farming Strategies surveys artistic practices that have contributed to the development of inventive farming techniques.
  • Community Farming/Farming Communities juxtaposes “community farming”—farms organized by artists for constituents—with “farming communities”—farms implemented by artist-farmers with the public.
  • Biodiversity presents a cause important to the artist-farmer as artists have consistently considered their efforts in stark contrast to the industrial type of monoculture-farming.
  • Farming Mysticism shows artists offering blessings, rituals and other esoteric approaches that highlight emotional connections between people and the earth, as well as the historical pairing of spiritualism and farming.

Artists include: Kim Abeles, Agnes Denes, Dan Devine, Field Faring, Futurefarmers, Anya Gallaccio, Avital Geva, Lonnie Graham, Harrison Studio, Mei Ling Hom, Homeadow Song Farm, Patricia Johanson, Sakarin Krue-On, J. J. McCracken, Matthew Moore, N55, Permaganic Eco Garden, Mara Adamitz Scrupe, Mara Scrupe, Bonnie Ora Sherk, Åsa Sonjasdotter, Susan Leibovitz Steinman, Tatfoo Tan, Shannon Young

You can find more information at http://contemporaryartscenter.org/

Cultura21 is a transversal, translocal network, constituted of an international level grounded in several Cultura21 organizations around the world.

Cultura21′s international network, launched in April 2007, offers the online and offline platform for exchanges and mutual learning among its members.

The activities of Cultura21 at the international level are coordinated by a team representing the different Cultura21 organizations worldwide, and currently constituted of:

– Sacha Kagan (based in Lüneburg, Germany) and Rana Öztürk (based in Berlin, Germany)
– Oleg Koefoed and Kajsa Paludan (both based in Copenhagen, Denmark)
– Hans Dieleman (based in Mexico-City, Mexico)
– Francesca Cozzolino and David Knaute (both based in Paris, France)

Cultura21 is not only an informal network. Its strength and vitality relies upon the activities of several organizations around the world which are sharing the vision and mission of Cultura21

Go to Cultura21

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TenduTV mainstreams and monetizes dance film – Time Out Chicago

TenduTV just got a big write up in TimeOut Chicago (online and print). The article can be found by clicking this link:http://chicago.timeout.com/articles/dance/90546/tendutv-mainstreams-and-monetizes-dance-film

We have a truly exciting upcoming release schedule and look forward to bringing dance to new and existing audiences through the highest quality and most user friendly digital network in existence today.

YouTube radically changed the landscape for dancers and fans, as personal video collections and archival rarities made their way online. But the scenery didn’t change for the famously cash-starved field of dance itself. Enter Marc Kirschner, 36, founder and general manager of media-distribution label TenduTV. As the company’s site puts it, “No other art form has as much of an imbalance between popularity and revenue capability [as] dance, and we believe the time has come for a change.”

A graduate of Northwestern University and Columbia Business School, Kirschner worked in digital-media strategy consulting; the United States Tennis Association and producers for Discovery and National Geographic were among clients of his prior venture Sumaki. He shrewdly shifted his focus to the dance world. Companies and choreographers couldn’t control their content as it showed up online; many weren’t even aware that snippets from discontinued and slow-selling videos to which they owned rights were suddenly pulling in millions of views. (Just as young tennis pros pore over clips of Roger Federer’s forehand, aspiring ballerinas obsessively re-watch superstars perform tricky solos and pas de deux in which they hope to be cast some day.)

via TenduTV mainstreams and monetizes dance film – Time Out Chicago.

Arts, Culture and Creative Economy: The Greatest Sacrifice Arts Workers Make for the Arts

An excerpt from a post on Gary Steuer’s blog:

With all the financial challenges arts workers are facing these days – struggling to balance the budgets of their organizations, or dealing with salary and benefit cuts on compensation that was modest to begin with – it is easy to view the sacrifices people make to work in this field as being entirely financial.

Not to minimize the financial sacrifices – they ARE significant – but I would argue they are probably no more significant than a wide array of professions where people choose to devote themselves to the pursuit of “making the world a better place”. This includes early childhood workers, teachers, social workers, the whole world of NGOsworking in challenged communities, both domestically and abroad. And the sacrifices all these workers make are also not just financial. We all work long hours, and often under trying and unglamorous circumstances (though to outsiders arts work can seem glamorous).

No, I think the more significant – and unique – sacrifice arts workers make is that we lose the capacity for full, innocent and glorious enjoyment of the very art that our passion for drove us to make our life’s work in the first place.  What do I mean by this?  Think about your earliest experiences with the arts, your first encounter with Matisse, or Chuck Close; your first time in the audience for Sondheim, or Verdi; that time you first saw Baryshnikov on stage, or Judith Jamison. Remember that childlike joy – even if you were not a child – that total immersion in the art where the whole world disappeared and you were unaware of time, of the person chewing gum next to you? Now tell, me when was the last time you felt that?  Sure, you are still passionate about the art form or all art forms, you still go to museums, or opera, or theatre, but something has been lost. Admit it.

Read the full article here:  Arts, Culture and Creative Economy: The Greatest Sacrifice Arts Workers Make for the Arts.

Ian McEwan: Can UK literary fiction ever “do” climate?

There is a sense of anticipation about Ian McEwan’s new novel, Solar, out in a few weeks. Well… maybe we better not get our hopes up.

Of course I hope to be proved wrong. As a young novelist, McEwan was extraordinarily radical; The Cement Garden was scary, edgy and transgressive. He remains, without doubt, a brilliant talent. However as with Martin Amis, he’s been part of the literary establishment’s drift towards neo-conservativism, most visibly with his anti-Islamic pronouncements.

Acrtually, that’s less the problem; it’s as much that his books have become more conservative in their scope. Atonement, say, may have been a brilliantly constructed piece of work, but it was about polishing the form. The grand British novel is an old art form; despite a few post-modern pieces of trickery, it has settled down at the start of the 21st century as a form that tells stories in very conventional start-to-finish ways. The truth is, though Atonement appeared to encounter ideas of cognitive psychology, of how we can deceive ourselves, it was hardly a novel of ideas. The ideas were a device around which a novel hung. Whether McEwan has the will to encounter ideas about climate in a novel remains to be seen.

I thought my views on McEwan being able to write about climate were pessimistic until I came across Paul Kingsnorth of The Dark Mountain Project writing about him:

McEwan, over the last few years, seems to have been nominated by the guardians of our high culture (the broadsheets, Radio Four and the kind of people who hang around at Soho literary parties) as the Grand Old Man of contemporary letters. Every new novel is pored over and dissected in the TLS by professors of literature. McEwan is interviewed glowingly in broadsheet culture sections, and given thousands of words to muse ponderously on weighty subjects like September 11th or climate change. His utterances are quoted reverently by the kind of people who think that  straight-bat banalities become profundities when uttered by novelists rather than cabbies.

And the whole thing is a fraud. That someone as dull and weightless as McEwan can be christened as some kind of literary godhead just shows how callow and flaccid the English novel is at this moment in history. McEwan is a man with nothing to say, who says it at great length, and is admired for it by people who have nothing to say either and enjoy reading about others like themselves. His style is as conservative as his worldview, which is narrrow, secular and bourgeois to a tee.

The trouble with McEwan’s conservatism of form is that it leaves the novelist increasingly hamstrung when it comes to tackling something big and real like climate change. How do you tackle new ideas when you’re still tinkering with an old machine? Ian McEwan has been on one of the Cape Farewell expeditions. He remains involved with the organisation and has written passionately in the newspapers about the need for us to tackle climate.

But when it was announced that he was writing a book about the subject, McEwan himself back-pedalled, to say it wasn’t “about” climate change; that climate change science was the milieu it was set in, it was “the background hum“.

Reasonably, this may be seen as an artists’ natural inclination not to be boxed in by assumptions about what his work is about. But it’s also the product of the kind of formalistic conservatism McEwan and his peers have embraced.  Great British novels usually aren’t “about” very much. Maybe they shouldn’t have to be. Maybe to have climate as “the background hum” is enough.

Interestingly, though, while the grand names of British literary fiction have become increasingly strait-jacketed by the form, it’s the ungainlily-named genre Young Adult that has become the radical one in the last decade. Keen to keep up with the rampant imaginings of teenagers, novelists like Mark Haddon and Philip Pullman appeared far less constrained by a sense of what novels should be like. As a consequence, it’s in Young Adult fiction, rather than literary fiction, that you currently find the novels of ideas – especially when it comes to climate change.

Saci Lloyd’s The Carbon Diaries tackled the idea of how teenagers personal carbon budgets in the near future of 2015 (clue: not very well) head on. Kate Thompson’s new book The White Horse Trick also takes on climate with no sense that it’s a “difficult” subject. In fact, Young Adult fiction allows itself to use all the tricks that literary fiction deems gauche, but which are actually extremely useful when deailng with subjects as big as the environment and our future.

Kate Thompson’s rambunctious children’s book is set in two separate existences, one of which is an apocalyptic future in which Ireland’s topsoil is washed away by storms and its inhabitants struggle to survive in a Burren-like future in which trees are cut down too quickly to replace themselves. Characters cross from there to the Celtic mythic landscape of the West Coast, of Tir na n’Og, the land of eternal youth. As the Independent’s critic Nicola Baird notes approvingly, Thompson pulls off  “the impossible”:

Despite the heavy theme, this is a positive tale that helps readers envision different ways of living. It does so without once lecturing about energy efficiency or using the bus.

It’s a matter of some pride that the book owes its life partly to a residency oragnised by the RSA Arts & Ecology Centre and Situations in Bristol. Kate Thompson kindly opens the book with a dedication which underscores the importance of that residency.

I’m sure Kate Thompson would not want her work compared to that of Ian McEwan’s any more than McEwan would relish having his work discussed in the context of Young Adult fiction. All the same, it’s continually interesting how different art forms feel empowered, or unempowered, to tackle the weighty subject of climate. If McEwan’s novel really does fail to get to grips with a subject he himself has harrangued politicians to take more seriously, then does it leave British literary fiction looking increasingly irrelevant; the fodder of genteel book groups rather than the real and urgent world?

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

350.org’s International Day of Climate Action at ecoartspace NYC

On October 24th in conjunction with 350.org’s International Day of Climate Action, ecoartspace NYC will screen 3 films on a rotating schedule between 12 – 6pm.

Eva Bakkeslett‘s Alchemy: The Poetry of Bread
A poetic evocation on the alchemy of b
read brings the act of baking the most basic of staples, into a high art form.

Jacinto Astiazaran & Fritz Haeg

The Sto
ry of Mannahatta and the Lenape Edible Estate: Manhattan
As told by Eric San
derson of the Mannahatta Project.
Ever wondered what New York looked like before it was a city? Welcome to Mannahatta, 1609. Now, after nearly a decade of research, the Mannahatta Project at the Wildlife Conservation Society has un-covered the original ecology of Manhattan.

Lenore Malen & The New Society for Universal Harmony
I Am The Animal That I Am
Narrates the grave threat to the bee population including “colony collapse disorder” from the perspective of 6 Hudson Valley Beekeepers.

Go to EcoArtSpace

California Map Project

{California Map Project, 1969, by John Baldessari}

Somehow I missed learning about this piece until just recently, but it’s my new favorite work of “land art.” In 1969, John Baldessari took the map of California (lower right) and then went to each place on the map where the map letters spelling ‘California’ would be located. At these sites, he spelled out the letter in rocks or some other way, or maybe he found them. I don’t know exactly how he mad the piece, but it’s a pretty hilarious work and definitely in line with my other favorite piece of land art, Bruce Nauman’s untitled text piece which states, “Leave the Land Alone.” (A whole issue of Mammut was devoted to this text piece.)

Unfortunately, the online images of Baldessari’s piece aren’t that great. I’ll keep my eyes open for a better version, maybe in a book image that can be scanned. I also just read an excellent Dave Hickey piece on land art from the September-October 1971 issue of Art in America. In it, Hickey examines the perceived notion that land or earth artists were challenging the status of object production or the space of the museum. This is a viewpoint that still seems to be thrown around today. Hickey points out that the work was marketable and that many museums commissioned land art projects. He goes on to write that

It is not the Earth artists who are challenging the market and the museums, but the magazines themselves. Earth art and its unpackageable peers cannot hurt the market, but extensive magazine coverage can, since not as much object art will get exposure. The magazines have found in this unpackageable art a vehicle through which they can declare their independence from art dealers who invented the critical press, nurtured it, and have tended to treat it like a wholly own subsidiary. Now there is an art form ideally suited to presentation via magazine. Work consisting of photographs and documentation is not presented by journalism, but as journalism—a higher form—needless to say.

The people on the magazines must believe (and I think rightly) that these indefinite art forms might do for the magazines what Pop Art did for the dealers—lend a certain institutional luster,, and with it a modicum of arbitrary power.

It’s a great read of Earth Art and it makes sense to me. And works like Baldessari’s map project or Nauman’s text piece point to movements spawned by Earth Art, such as environmental art, where it’s not about bulldozers and diesel or creating monuments, but instead a use of land in a way that is less invasive. And artists have come up with a variety of strategies to turn that kind of art into careers—whether that means founding their own non-profits, existing on museum commissions or yes, making things for galleries. It’s hard to be a rebel these days, but there are still interesting things to do.

Go to Eco Art Blog

Sci-fi: speculation as art form

Much of the art around climate is about imagining new futures. Rubbing up against visions of the future is a good way to reconsider the present. Sci-fi is the daddy of that concept, so it’s interesting to see EcoGeek doing a series of really excellent in-depth interviews with US sci-fi authors.

No 1 is with Tobias Buckell.

No 2 is with Karl Shroeder.

No 3 is with Paolo Bicigalupi.

I can’t claim to be the greatest science fiction fan, but a) its prophetic role seems ideally suited to a time in which we have to face up to change, and b) the interview with Bicigalupi is a lot of fun:

I’m not interested in PV cells, or solar paint, or zero emissions cars, or any of a zillion other objects that companies want to sell us so that we can feel good about ourselves while we roar off the cliff. If I had to think of […] technologies that I greatly admire, I would say… wool sweaters and long underwear are fabulous.

Photo of TH.2058 by Dominique Gonzales-Foerster, 2008, by abrinsky.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology