Art as consumption vs artists engaging in real life collective processes

This is (part of) my speech at the seminar The Role of Culture in a Sustainable Society – Sustainability in Art and Cultural Projects, Helsinki, Finland, 2015-09-23
Artistic workshop about sustainable collectives through sound and movement

( I start by reciting my blogpost What Makes us a Collective? explaining the model above, and then continue … )

” … This model stresses the circular relationship between producing and consuming, and it suggests to regard these two processes as if they are unfolding in a space of their own. It also suggests that this producing-consuming space is embedded in a space of playing, and that there is a circular relationship between these two spaces.

Finally, I would like to add that the model will sharpen the focus on the synchronicity of the elements. It will open our eyes for the everyday life muddy human activities, where people are producing something, consuming something, and playing with the elements around them, creating new connections between things and activities.

Where do artistic processes fit in this model? The way our art world is working in general, right now, I would say that art is something people consume. Maybe the artist him-/herself is engaged in a process where he or she, according to this model, would be entering the “playing space”/ third space. But the people benefitting from this playful process are not part of it.

Still, people do engage in playful activities in their everyday lives, and as I am trying to say with this model, these are very important elements of building and sustaining sound collectives.

This is why I am saying: What happens if an artist opens up a common “playing space” with people in an actually lived, more or less culturally sustainable, collective?

What happens if artists engage real life collectives in activities that are based on the artist’s knowledge and tools? These tools that the artist has developed and used for playing with elements from the immediate surroundings, and that can now be used to play with the everyday life elements of a given collective. Not in the form of artistic products to be consumed by the collective, but in the form of a collective process, including non-artists in the artistic process.

What we are going to try in the other room, is to enter this modality of playing, while drawing on elements from our everyday activities. The same way we would be doing, if we were working with any kind of collective, as artists.”

Read about the workshop here: What are you doing with your hands?

Help I’m a bike. Curate me !

So it’s official. I’ve often wondered what I should call what I’m doing. Well. It’s art.

I’ve found out that my participation in a sound art project at the Knippels Bridge (a bridge connecting main Copenhagen with the island of Amager), is in fact part of Copenhagen art festival 2012.

Being a part of a part of something to do with art, I’ve been given the possibility to use the “national workshops for art”. So now I’m chopping up old bikes in the official national workshops for art, and therefore I’m making ….. art!

Art art art art art.

In the outset I was planning on doing what whomever could do, namely take parts of old bikes and set them up in the street, and in this particular case a bridge.

It was supposed to be a sort of ignition fuelling a trend where people start putting up things in public space that can serve as  “streetstruments”, inspiring to engage in collective activities around sound.

The need to hang things in public space is strong, judging from the padlocks that people put everywhere, inadvertently enhancing the omnipresent focus in public space on reproduction. Well instead of (biological and other) reproduction, streetstruments should inspire people to engage in productive action beyond the twosomeness of the nuclear family and co.

And now I do art. Which is the same as saying I’m a name and a nationality. As in “John Cage (USA)”. Although I have been invited to participate in the festival, I’m not in the programme, for some reason,  – as opposed to John Cage. Looking forward to meet him.

I haven’t even been curated. The so-called curator, curating the sound art events at the Knippels Bridge hasn’t contacted me. So I have not had the chance to adhere to some sort of ‘overall concept’, which is generally the way these things work.

So I’m only halfway participating in the festival. Which makes me a halfway artist. And what I’m doing is consequently halfway art.

Which in the end might save my project.

Since it is not really art after all, then it is not really mostly an individualistic project promoting its creator, who is in the programme with a name and nationality (dead or alive), and who has been curated according to the overall so-called concept of the festival, which in the case of Copenhagen Art Festival 2012 is “Art in community”, a concept which is put into play through a large number of individual artists’ individual artworks in (mostly) solo exhibitions.

Since I’m not really an artist after all, I’m not really an expert producer of works of art, that the consumers-recipients-of-works-of-art will consume, after appropriately being guided by an expert knower-of-art or curator. Therefore there is a smaller risk that what I’m doing could not be done by anyone, and that it will actually be done by someone, that there will be people using the street as an instrument, without being curated, without having their name and nationality in a programme.