Monday, 20 April 2009

tbc (working title)

“Andre Malraux liked playing cards on the floor with photos of the works he had selected for his ‘imaginary museum’. He would gather them in packs, which he shuffled, mixed, cut, and cut time and again, before laying them out in tight rows on the carpet”

(From Hubert Damisch, ‘Moves’, 1997, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam)

This project is about exploring the unseen hierarchies, the self-appointed and readily assumed roles at the junctures of artist, curator, viewer and ‘participant’ in the social event we recognise as an exhibition. In the tradition of projects like 'I am a curator' (Chisenhale Gallery, 2004) it aims to question all parties’ notions of their own agency within the unspoken contract.

Who is the ‘Participant’ in participatory art events? S/he seems to occupy a strange indistinct area, not a collaborator, but more active than a viewer; not generally as dynamic as a catalyst, but necessary to the process, like a kind of carrier or raising agent. The participant generally operates, consciously or otherwise, within a limited structure like a mouse in a laboratory maze. I sometimes think the Participant is the agent for destabilising the traditional exhibition structure, except they don’t know it yet, and neither does anyone else.

I plan to work with artists to develop one or a series of games exploring exhibition-making. Whether they take the form of board games, dice, cards, lists of prompts or instructions or some other format will be up to the artists. We will all be playing by the same rules but the aim of the game is to find our own ways to subvert them. The notion of a ‘game’ is interesting because it insinuates entertainment, restriction, fierce competition, apparent uselessness, chance, strategy and psychological maneouvring, all at the same time.

For Vision Forum, I’d like to invite members to be Product Testers – to test run the very first drafts of the game(s) using their own work, collections, colleagues and friends and discuss what, if anything, the process uncovers. The processes and any outcomes and recommendations will be used to challenge, refine and if need be, throw out the project. Along the way I hope that it will provide an opportunity for members to get a different angle on their own work or practices.

I would like to organise an event in London where the members attending do some game-playing and discuss how it works and what the implications are of the given rules. I would also like to invite people to contribute to a blog with their subsequent thoughts and comments, particularly accounts of their own ‘matches / contests’ played back home. All feedback will be taken into account in the development of the project and all Participants will receive a credit in the final product and a copy, if physically produced, of the game(s). All the details of what, when, where and who are yet to be confirmed - more to follow soon!

I'm currently living in London and studying at Goldsmiths university for a MFA in Curating. In the long gap between my first degree and this, I've spent several years doing arts admin and development work whilst dabbling in putting together exhibitions and events in spare time; and several more doing a random selection of unrelated work.

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