Reflections on workshop 1 from project 41 collaborators

studio 41 has held two workshops with collaborators of project 41 which aims to develop a framework for curatorial resources, on 16 Feb and 2 Mar 2011.

The outlines of the workshops can be found on the contemporary curating page.

From the discussions and reflections, some of the key words regarding the objective of project 41 which surfaced were “practice-led”, “dialogue”, “experimental” and “collaboration”. After the first workshop, we posed ourselves three questions to reflect on, in relation to the most important rationale for project 41, interesting ideas for the format and content of project 41, and outcomes from the collaborative process of the three workshops. Reproduced below are the reflections, verbatim, from studio 41 and project 41 collaborators.

Do email or post any questions and thoughts you might have, on project 41!

1. Your view on the most important rationale and objective for project 41, based on our discussion.

“To develop some kind of platform for discussion and collaboration around curating, with a flexible, experimental approach and not rigidly structured. The rationale seems quite simple – there seems to be an absence in the region of any kind of inclusive space for discussion and practice-based examination of curating.”

~

“The most relevant objective for me is captured in the phrase “think and try”, where project 41 aims to be a platform for curators to think critically on an issue and to obtain the resources to experiment. While we had spoken of “think and do”, on reflection, I understand the idea of “do” as experimentation, and thought of rephrasing it to “think and try”. I see the objective of “platform for think and try” as responding to two issues we spoke of, the lack of critical discussion and a gap in resources specifically for those in the path between emergent to established curators, for whom residencies currently appear to be the dominant form of learning.”

~

“I propose the most important rationale for project 41, should cover the following points;

  • Be a fluid and critical response to current curatorial and artist practice
  • Establish and maintain a visual and theoretical dialogue
  • Collaboration to share, propose and develop alternative modes of engagement with art and the curating process
  • Creating knowledge though active practice

Establish, develop and maintain a dialogue, and critically engage with current curator and artist situations and contexts, in Scotland, UK and Europe. Selecting our common ground of interest with one example type of project could be a starting point. From this I think it would be pertinent to develop new strategies for engagement with art and the curator/artist relationship/process, and for the engagement to be both critical, thinking and then active, practical doing to test theories and concepts developed in a project 41 outcome.

Collaboration, with a focus on the process of curating, with a practical testing out of concepts and fostering of dialogue in visual form is key from my point of view, which aim to explore and develop new strategies for engagement.”

2. From what arose during the discussions, what is the most interesting idea for content and/or format?

“A space for groups to meet regularly and discuss issues around contemporary curating, with a focus on practice; also, the opportunity for people to curate projects, either within or outside Studio 41. Although there’s a perceived need in Glasgow for information on resources etc, I feel this is something that individuals can research themselves (whereas discussion can’t happen on one’s own), and also, from our discussion at the workshop it seems as though we are all more interested in pursuing something experimental – a “laboratory” model, rather than a “business” model. This also seems to me what would be most appropriate to practitioners and the nature of practice in Glasgow.

If there were to be a practical curating component to it, I would suggest this could dictate or provide a focus for the content of the discussions – practice-led as opposed to theory-led.”

~

“My main takeaway from just the 1st workshop was that the project 41 could follow a flexible format which allows for (1) thinking and trying, and (2) is based on our individual interests. The second part about basing project 41 on our individual interests arose from the question we posed ourselves, regarding what curators want, and the understanding that while we will not be able to cater to all the needs of curators, we can use our curatorial interests as starting points. In a sense, it could be explored through the question “what would enable me to think critically about x, and how should I test it out?” Turning this question into project 41 (or one aspect of project 41) would then require that each step is open to public access (or at least access beyond myself), in order for other practitioners to also benefit from it.

Through our discussions, I realised that our interests centered on curating as a process, and was frequently mentioned in relation to and within other disciplines. Some of our interests involved education as curating, art as curating / curating as art, curatorial models and methods, and practice of and issues with collaboration, exposing of curatorial decisions, etc.

While learning from experienced curators would be beneficial, there was some consensus that the model we envisioned was less of a teacher-student format or one where we were being taught by experts.

An interesting point I wanted to note down was that rather than seeing curators and artists in their individual capacities, it could be more relevant to see curating as a competency or function (eg, “someone who curates”, instead of “a curator”), given that an individual today often takes on different roles in different situations. Related to this was a point regarding the performative nature of curating, manifested in situations where one has to take one the curatorial role in projects.”

~

“The space for support for curators and resources I think could be satisfied partly with the material produced from our discussions. Additionally however I think a practical example test project would be really valuable as a focal point or framework to investigate our proposals and to act as a basis or forum for further interest and the fostering of meetings and discussions to happen between practitioners and curators.

A project I propose is for the current group members to collaboratively propose a set of questions or one question which aims to be addressed through a dialogue between practitioners in the form of an exhibition / installation. The group could participate with artworks or invite artists to participate in a collaborative dialogue with the artworks with the aim to create new artwork over a set period of time. The outcome would be a closing event where the documentation in the form of visual work, writing and photographs are displayed or disseminated. The closing event would also perhaps have a forum for discussion with the audience who we have built interest with in the process of the exhibition dialogue and development.”

3. Any output you would like from these three workshops, apart from project 41.

“All the reflections etc to be archived on the blog, possibly with edited transcriptions of the workshop discussions. It seems as though there is limited time to produce any additional outcome, but I would be very interested to get involved with the programme beyond the workshops if there is the opportunity.”

~

“I hope that a blog which shares our discussions and reflections, and is able to obtain online responses from other practitioners would be an immediate output from the 3 workshops. A longer-term output I am interested in is the creation of collaborations amongst ourselves, and / or with other art spaces or creative practitioners to develop project 41.”

~

“An output which I think would be a valuable resource for curators and practitioners interested in this project would be a collection of the edited transcripts or sound recording / video of the dialogues we have in the three workshops, along with documentation of our meetings, the reading list and links to the essays we have been referring to in our discussions. Given the timescale I think this would be the most simplest published on the current Studio 41 website. I would be very interested to participate in producing other outcomes after the workshops and beyond the project 41.”

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