Now this ain’t gonna be no academic piece of writing, or any kind of article. It’s just me moaning/celebrating and documenting a fleeting moment.
I just bought Collectivism After Modernism (got it imported from US as it’s now out of print in UK – typical) edited by B. Stimson and G. Sholette. It’s one of those books that I’ve been meaning to get my hands on for months and months but never had £25 to spare. So when I got my birthday money I thought yeahh it’sabout time I bought that book.
I have this artist group – I did create it but now I feel that it’s more of a co-founder thing with Bwizzle. We’re called Contemporary Art as Dialogue – [CAaD] and we were founded last year, Jan 2008. On my birthday (9th jan) to be exact. It is on that day that something special was concieved.
The first couple of sessions was hard to move, the first being depressingly bad ( we thought that we could be social and met up after Transmission in The Rutland) Big mistake. Those who weren’t put off straight away came back to us after we regigged it abot – and vowed never to do it in the pub again. Thinking about it then, the people that did turn up still never wanted huge stake in our group.
At the time we had little knowledge of the rich history that stood before us, we knew of Art & Language (ny) and was trying to be abit like them when we created the grup – obvious we have different ideas, different workings and we are working in a different time than the 70’s (where anything seemed possible in hindsight!).It wasn’t until about March, April time that I had stumbled across PAD/D, REPOhistory, Group Material, Artists Meeting for Cultural Change AMCC, ABC No Rio and Collab to name a very very few! I couldn’t believe this important element of art histiry and how kind of secret it was in the grand scheme of things. Like the ‘Dark Matter’ of the art world (Gregory Sholette term).
As time moved on we went from gossipy discussions 2 critical debates on curation and institution and the current climate of sheffield and the outter artworld. Some members were also involved in The StreetForm project that I also set up (again with big help from Brendan and our team) , so we were also involved with changing education. We also kept a blog which still runs: http://artdialogue.wordpress.com
We started to get rigerous and wanted to put our thoughts into action and thats when we came up with a selection of proposals that never got accepted – maybe because it was badly written… maybe because it was too advanced for the art school institution of 2000’s.
With our never failing attitudes we spoke heavily on Sheffield 08 art biennial YES NO & OTHER OPTIONS. we discussed oour disrepencies with this to thepoint that we could do a better festival.
Summer came around and all of us went our seperate ways ; writing dissertations, I worked in NYC at Postmasters gallery, some members went travelling throughout Europe whilst others just had fulltime summer jobs. When we came back to University – most members were concerned with the importance of a dissertation. We looked for other new members to help carry the load and the duties that were 2 be expected of organising an art festival in 5 months with art school assessments and individual studio practices 2 maintain alongside keeping part time jobs.
This was even more problematic. New members pointed out flaws withinour group – and said that it wouldnt work/ won’t last. Knowing that the core members of CAD were all passionate about what we have/do – I didnt want us to fail – not after lasting 10 months. SO keen to make us work – we tried 100’s of institutional organisational stratgies. breaking the group up, discussing things, giving individals specific roles.
After writing about 7 texts, all of which changed – giving the group readings to help contribute and help write the text to be the festival we wanted to created to be – only about 4 members out of 15 at the time did this.
After 2 months of changing times, stratgies, ideas, proposals etc – the group started to feel the stress and strain – it no longer was impassioned. But tired of beauracy. a few members stopped turning up whilst one member openly left. There were discrepancies within the group – espeically an issue with branding – when we had specifically said within the text that “branding of artworld alienates the artist and the making alongside criticality”.
After pondering around, We came together and re-wrote our mission statement and it suddenly became clearer who we were. We wrote a simple text for the group, not one for the public. Decided to stick to what we know best – space, architecture, institutional critique and dialogue with collectivism in the year 2008/9.
Today we had a 3 hour meeting sharing proposal ideas and discussions and debates and organising trips like we use to. We got so much done, and it felt refreshing. It was a new feeling of hope, and the ideas were not like the ideas of the past 3 months – these ones actually feel like we WILL DO THEM.
The art open/festival/fete/event/celebration etc will be happening, and it will be happening near an institution near you!
I just wanted to note the moment I felt like Old CAaD was back. It just goes to prove that the mainstream art world workings and structures and ideals such as biennials, branding etc do alienate both the creator and audience. They are stagnant and full of banal directives. Why does it seem so easy to be prepared to accept and see art referencing poltical/social change (relational asethetics etc) and not see it within ones workplace/communities / schools etc??
CAaD a mean lead artist collective idea[l]s machine!