Friday, March 23, 2007



B
Triumvirate: Rough for Publication (second draft*)
Early evening November 2005
A Alex Schady
E Edward Dorrian
M Marc Hulson
E My only question was about… If we take on this new space… How does… How does it run? What do we do? How do we organize it? How do we afford it? Is that your question? (to A) Well we should get home early then…
M I thought we didn’t have any questions - we agreed we were going to do this as an open discussiion… Ok that’s fair enough…
E Yeah… and I was just thinking… the three of us are poor… with no money and… scant ways of financing… It kind of calls for a wider… more inclusive… group than we’re involved in… How do we do that? And should there be any kind of… sorry I’m going to use this wording… word… Should there be… democratic accountability? I.e. if we’re asking to take people’s money… do we… represent them? And then in what kind of scheme does such a… kind of gallery exist… is it just an adjunct of a kind of a commercial… saying that… none of us are actually… what could we call it?
A Commercially represented?
E None of us are that… successful… all of us are… whatever… umm… but… god what am I trying to say… none of us have actually got an axe to grind…
A I think… there are two issues when it comes to the financing of it… the first one is how to set it up… How to initiate it how to finance that… which in a way is the hardest thing… because once its running… the thing should be able to finance itself really quite straight forwardly… So the only issue is if we need a lump of money at the beginning to set something up… How do we go about generating for that and is there something that we can do to generate funds for that… to set something up… and another thing I was thinking about on the way here is… whether we can contact someone and say that we’re happy to take over a space… happy to do something to improve the quality of the space… you know to… to be reliable in the space… but we can’t afford… can’t pay for the deposit… because that’s always a stumbling block… when they ask for six months deposit… that’s suddenly… lots of thousands of pounds… and if they don’t then its not… So if there is any way around that… then that would be a really… straightforward proposition to just… up and carry on… in a way not dissimilar to… Underwood Street. Having said that I do agree that it would be useful for us to have more…
E Yes but the thing with Underwood Street… was that it was a fairly happy accident you know… that we had the premises and that… kind of dictated… the kinds of shows that we had… because we had a rolling programme… and we were filling it as fast as we could…
M It wasn’t a happy accident. It was set up…
E Well it was a happy accident that we had something as large as that… as versatile as that space… I mean so for example if we were proposing a small subsection… like Accident… it kind of determines the kind of… scale of events…
A Except that in a sense all that we’re asking for… Five Years wouldn’t have been Five Years without it first being Accident, and without it first being Five Years in a smaller space… I mean if we found a tiny space now… within that block… and… because it was two years down the line… before we got the bigger space downstairs… or something like that…
M Yes
E Yes
A But once something is up and running and you have a bit of trust going with the… landlord… anything then… the possibility of expanding something is obviously more straightforward than it is to say right, we want something where we can do… gigs… film showing blah blah from the word go…
E Yes… I don’t mean really… that its just scale or whatever… I mean for example there was the whole thing about the studios… which sort of financed it…
M I think that’s what we would be proposing in this space… that it would be a similar set-up… and also I don’t think the issue of a huge deposit is really… is not going to occur in the space we’re talking about… the space where MOT is… because I think that’s a fairly easy…
E But what I’m thinking is… that… would it be a good idea to actually have more than the three of us running it… Or could we actually organize a slightly hierarchical situation? Where… Yes… there are people involved… I mean we used to talk about this thing called ‘associate membership’… or whatever fancy word we used for it… I mean I think that it would be useful… to have a series of different inputs… into it… other than just ourselves…
M Yes
E But just the simple pragmatic aspect of… scraping together… to get a space together… scraping the money I mean… Or do you not see that as an issue?
M I think its very difficult to… really answer until we know exactly what kind of money we’re dealing with… and what space we’re dealing with… I mean if it was… For example if we had a space in that building where MOT are… and it was cheaper… and judging from what Chris said… it was cheaper than the studios that Alex and me are paying for per square foot anyway… and me and Alex continue to pay as much as we’re paying for our studios… we’d already be…
E Right…
M But, so I think it’s a separate… to me the thing about the financial question is just difficult to answer until… But the question… whether it would be valuable to have a large group of people is almost… worth dealing with separately… And to me the question of having a large group of people is… I think it would be interesting to have more people involved but the question would really be how it was structured… and whether we could agree on a way on how that’s structured… whether it should be hierarchical or whether it should in some way simply…
A Whether that group of people… I mean if it ends up being like a… stable of people… How we happen to… you know…
E What our stable!?
A Our stable… who’s work we really like and who’s… and then it doesn’t feel that you’re doing… It feels like a bunch of people who… who you’re interested in and think… would do interesting things… and that’s fine… its not like you’re grabbing any old person just for the sake of a tenner a month… so that they can all take part in a big group show at the end…
E Well I’m not sure about the stable kind of metaphor… because that’s just us by extension…and I think if you’re going to talk about structure… which is fair enough… but then there is the possibility that you can open it out to whoever’s using it quite widely… but…couch the terms in which they do it…so that there is… and we’ve used this word before… well I used it… the kind of responsibility to the… to the space…
A But in what… in the sense that they become… so it becomes like an… open submission show once a year รก la Eddy style thing?
E No… Not really… but… no. There needs to be… Yes there’s a mixture… What we were good at was mixing the types of shows we had… where we had highly curated individual shows which could exist anywhere and were lovely showcases for the artist involved… and made exciting and interesting work, which is… no bad thing… And then we also… things which…not so much were more risk-taking… either made more work which…not saying ‘academic’ but… hopefully would… provide the same kind of debate… near enough function…I guess its how you… how you describe the form and function of a gallery… that comes into this academic aspect where… there’s this supposed educational… form to it or… the commercial aspect which you know… a lot of the curated shows become springboards for… what are they called? Up and coming…
M I don’t get that at all… I don’t understand…
A No. I don’t understand the issue
M In what sense is there this distinction? Can you give an example of a show that was more ‘academic’… or more ‘educational’…?
E Yeah… No there wasn’t any!
M Well…
E Well things which we were…
M I’m not… saying that they’re all one or the other…
E No… well its either… its something… its something we’ve filled in forms for… for council funding… is this educational remit… or like shows which exist in university galleries which are seen as part of a ‘research’… resource…
M Give me an example of a show that we did at Five Years which couldn’t possibly have been done in a university gallery?
E Couldn’t have been?
M Yeah… Or could have fulfilled a…
E None… I’m not saying we didn’t… I’m just drawing a distinction between the types…
A I can see that there are two types that you’re describing… but I’m not sure if the way to distinguish between them is… academic and commercial… It doesn’t entirely make sense to me… I think it’s just more straightforward than that… I think there is one… you know… there was a whole series of shows which deliberately played games with who was being shown and who wasn’t…
E I’m not talking about us specifically… but it is a…
M But it is about us specifically!
E Well… it’s kind of engendered in the kinds of debates that are going on… I mean universities are employing ‘professional’ artists for their research profiles…
A …but they’re not interested in an idea of democracy…
E Well no… but they’re supposed to be interested in an idea of education… and they’re government funded etc
M But do you mean how research is determined within those institutions is… just as far as I understand it… artists showing and making their own work… that’s the definition of research… credits for institutions within Fine Art Education… and I don’t see personally… I don’t see how you can…
E It’s an interesting problem that universities or educational institutions… art schools… are now universities… you know…so therefore they have to abide by the same notions… the same criteria that… science… research… so therefore there have to be certain degrees of… publishing… work
A But where as in science or… you can quite clearly define a set of criteria by which you would describe whether it was worthwhile… How do you describe… By what criteria do you describe whether a show is educational…or what is it?
E OK… Well we brought up the whole thing about having… discussion… and about ‘seminars’… or the whole thing about documenting… conversation around the work… using the work as a way of… initiating a kind of discourse… so what I’m saying is that… that’s part of… I mean it runs in parallel… you’re right it’s entwined with all these things which are… you know…’professional’ …’professionalism’ …Professional profile of somebody who shows in X commercial gallery is… points… I just wonder where we fit in… that kind of industry…I mean there was that… and there is the sort of…there is the political aspect to it as well… you know are we some kind of entrepreneurial exercise? Like a small business? Like what we’re doing is creating an industry for a certain amount of artists…?
A I quite like that idea… that we should… that we could explore both these avenues… either…
E Well its all part of it…
A Yes, but that we define it quite clearly as these two distinct areas… that area we’re interested in exploiting… but I don’t think that the shows we’ve done… because I think both those things would fit around any of the shows we’ve done or would be compliments to any of the shows we’ve done… the shows themselves aren’t…can a show be educational in the sense that we were describing?
M Well most galleries justify their educational remits simply on the basis that they’re exposing work to the public… and that has apriori an educational function
E I’m not sure if you can get away with that anymore…
M Well you probably have to… oh no that’s charities…
E No, I think its…
M I’m not saying its… you know…
E Its an interesting problem… I’m not saying one thing or the other… its something that seems… unavoidable… its part and parcel… of organizing not just this… space… but you know… a function… I’m using these as examples…
A And I think the educational worth of looking at a show is… slightly tenuous really…
E Do you think so?
A Well I think it’s setting it up to fail… that you would go to a show to educate yourself…
E Well obviously not this lilly-livered liberalism or whatever… but these are part of the argument…
A But the whole point of the… linking funding to education is to… get… firm definite outcomes… so they want… a group…
E Yes
A of kids to have done a spangly collage or they want local communities to…
E But that’s our critical inroad… isn’t it? Its exactly on those issues… these points… these spurious points… however spurious or well intentioned or however actually good those…
A But I think the reverse is as spurious… that you just open your doors and the same fifty middle class… buyers or artists… walk through your door and you are somehow performing some sort of educational role… is…
E Crap…
A Isn’t realistic…
M I actually disagree…
A In what sense?
E Not apriori I’m sorry to say… not goes without saying
M I would argue that… I don’t know… I would say that I’ve learned more about… art… by going to galleries and museums… than any other activity… I learned more about painting by going to look at the paintings… than reading the captions next to it…
A But that’s… artists learn more about art by going to see… shows… the general public don’t go and see those shows…
E Ah well… artists!
M And I would say I learn more about literature by reading books…
A Yeah well I would agree with that…
E What the objects ‘in themselves’?
M Sorry?
E The objects. The museum?
M No we’re talking about books now… I mean I don’t write novels… but I think I know more about novels… by reading novels… than I do by attending seminars about novels…
E mmm?
M And depends how you define education… you know I mean what does an autodidact do?
E Well, what does ‘he’ do?
M They teach themselves by looking… searching out what they’re interested in…
E Is the big advantage that ‘art education’ has over… whatever… that the great emphasis is on independent learning? That almost by definition… it’s what people are supposed to do… but I still think that there is a critical debate there… I’m not saying that that’s the work of art… of course not… but there is a context to the work and that’s what we’re talking about here… or providing… or not so much providing as… if you’re a shopkeeper… but that’s what we’re engaging with… and its not this one thing or another… you’re right in what you’re saying but… it’s making this… I can’t use the word… venture… something which is active in the way that making a piece of work is active… and vital… and that’s what makes the difference between us doing this… and… than… than… curator school… Does it? I don’t know… is there a distinct difference in what we’re proposing here?.. to what exists… or is it just a model along with other models?
M Yes it’s a model alongside other models… without any doubt… but its… you know… very much dependant on what you do with it… and how the audience interacts with it… I mean that’s certainly… and to me that’s a more interesting question than to talk about audience… than necessarily couch it in terms of education or commercialism simply…
E I wasn’t trying to say it was one thing or another…
M No… No, but you’re still introducing those terms as kind of poles within it… which you would consider activity…
E Not poles…
M Well you’re kind of setting them up as…
E Yes, yes…
M Certainly if we are going to set up another space, you’re proposing something in a… I don’t know… I don’t really want to use the word, tradition but…
E I don’t want to use the word venture, and you don’t want to use the word tradition… what words do you not want to use?
M It’s a well-rehearsed situation…
E Yes…
M And you have to decide for yourself whether you think its interesting… whether you think you can do anything interesting… or not… or whether its… It’s determined by whether you’re excited by the things that are going on or whether you’re bored by them… both things are spurs towards doing it… Bored or frustrated… or being excited by them… the motivation to do it…
E Any last words…? I think we’ve still got ten minutes…
A I think we should keep it going… I think there is something interesting in there about what Eddy was saying… even though…
E It was muddled.
A No I wasn’t going to say that actually…
E Well it is… It’s always muddled…
A That we define the space in terms of… these potential poles… though I’m not interested in… this show is ‘that’ and this show is ‘that’… but if we can give ourselves these poles as almost sort of points of contact with every show… so that… because in a sense every show can ‘educate’ just by existing and every show every show can be commercial just by… every show can be everything, but if we give ourselves some strict rules… so for every show we have to have that talk… or to do that…
E But that’s something that we’ve spoken about endlessly… this providing of a… whether it’s an archive… or whether it’s an opportunity for discussion… for something to actually happen… and also an opportunity for work to be shown… and to be made available…to be seen… to be understood etc, etc… all those kinds of… worthy descriptions of… what we’re presenting…
A And there’s a danger that it gets seen as almost a worthy… attempt… to ‘give the world something’…
E But what do people want? What do they keep saying? We miss you… is that not right?
A They want a fucking show…
E Exactly… Nobody else is doing it… and that’s the beauty of entrepreneurial worthiness… Trying to think of a…
A We are good! We are worthy!
E We are poor… so …ok… we are distinct?
Nothing we put on… was something we all agreed upon… Is that not true? We could never come up with something we could ideally agree upon… the three of us would actually… solely… not so much endorse… but authorize… well author…
M To co-author you mean?
A Yes that’s true actually…
M Wasn’t ‘A Promise of Happiness’ co-authored?
E Almost… because it was… anyway if I remember rightly it used to be well… lets have a slot… so it’s the slots…
A I don’t mind slots
E I don’t…
A But actually what I found interesting was that… Eddy, you and Marc were the ones who… have the biggest disagreements about approaches to things… but actually I would say that you found it easier to…
E Slot ourselves in there…
A To combine your ideas and projects than possibly I could with either of you…
E Well the slot thing is what? What is it? It’s curating by another means…
M Well I don’t know…
A It’s giving you some freedom… It’s saying you don’t have to… to be shackled to each other…
M Yes it’s about freedom, really…
A Some kind of committee agreement…
E Well the things that you were talking about… just at the end… say…people proposing work… people proposing shows… and we facilitating that… well discussing it… How does that work?
M I’m not sure what you’re talking about… When were we discussing this…?
E Ah… I seem to remember us saying… you know… alright Fergal you go away and come up with an idea… and we’ll see how feasible it is… and see if we can somehow… together… try and get either funding or… you know, work with the idea…but just broadening it out so that it was not just the three of us… or four of us… but it was… well not an open membership… but…there’s a…
M Yeah, I don’t know… I think that… that on reflection… for us to adopt that position is probably… going to be a real millstone around our necks… for us to be the people who facilitate… funding for proposals… agreeing on other people’s proposals and setting up the infra-structure for people… I think that’s…
E What’s the word? You know in Julius Caesar… the point about Caesar being assassinated… of the tri… what was it? The dictatorship of the three…?
A Infamy! Infamy!
E That’s it…

recorded November 2005
transcribed 2007 Edward Dorrian
© Edward Dorrian, Marc Hulson, Alex Schady

*
Fri 16 Feb 10:12:53 GMT 2007
From Marc Hulson
attached with very minimal amendments...
I haven’t come up with anything much for the wording of the ‘introductory’ part - i was just thinking of a line or two saying something like
‘this is a transcript of a discussion staged by Edward Dorrian as material for a possible piece of work’
or something to that effect see you later

4 comments:

Mike.R. Watson said...

Cool, I like the dialogue. Am working on a similar dialogue format with Paul Sakoilsky at the moment. The first of our dialogues, will appear in the next edition of 'slash seconds' e-zine, but I'll mail it if you like.
Your dialogue raises some good points, and I often feel aggrieved at the culture the artist is expected to operate within. The policy of pairing up artists in state/charity sponsored projects aimed at children, minority groups, and people who don't generally like art ('working classes')is patronising to all parties involved.
I feel that government and arts council sponsored cultural schemes, which generally emphasise the role of the community, or the group, serve (perhaps inadvertently) to dampen the role of the individual within the arts. The cultural sphere is heading towards becoming a homogenised mass of what may well be second rate artists, whilst individuals possessing a real talent for innovation become increasingly marginalised (and perhaps forced into the position of having to become community artists)! This is reflective of 'third way' politics as a whole, which by its definition is intolerant of extremes. This, to be sure, belies a personal distaste I have for community arts, but it is something that presented itself to me when reading your dialogue.
But there is something very real happening, a stirring, and a whiff of an alternative way of producing/receiving art, and I think artists have been all too cosy with the state and large corporations/business interests for too long now - something will give. But it must be done in a way that does not hideously mimic the bombastic tone of extreme leftist politics. We need, basically, a new word for comrade - a community of individuals, doing much as they wish and producing positive outcomes. And I always have liked Five Years (from what I have known of your work/s) for slogging it out and continuing to believe all this time.
To a new Bohemia, and some art along the way!
Mike R. Watson
www.collecteast.org

tender prey said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
tender prey said...

Hi Mike (this is Marc btw) - thanks for the feedback. While I can't speak for Five Years collectively (but then the space for disagreement is in my mind integral to what Five Years is about) I certainly share your unease with regard to most of the currently established models of activity... and by established I simply mean those that determine public funding, media coverage etc. etc... thus effectively coralling some artists into the types of roles and positions you're speaking of.
I guess it's inevitable that the current status quo mirrors third-way politics. So you essentially have big business (for the arts read hyped-up commercialism) in a queasy co-alliance with an overly beaurocratised and authoritarian model of the 'non-commercial' (educational?) based on spurious notions of what's 'acceptable', 'valid', 'legitimate', 'useful' etc etc.. Which means you get exploitative, conservative criteria masked as the 'anything goes' on the one hand and repressive, censorial criteria masked as the 'tolerant / inclusive' on the other. From either point of view this represents a triumph of concensus, received ideas and so on - an impersonal environment in which genuine individual creativity, thought, research etc has very little currency (let alone purchase) other than in terms of 'entrepeneurship' or, within academia, as a reiteration of romanticism, which is in any case invalidated a-priori in that context except as a historical facet.
I've felt for a long time that the only way around this is through embracing a marginal position to some extent - but in a broader sense I do think this may be a very productive moment for experimenting with new models and terms etc, as I think you're also suggesting. I think you're right on the mark when you say we need a new term for comrade (maybe also for individual?)... but maybe the only way of doing this is to avoid terms, insofar as they constitute determinations, limitations... though I do enjoy the playful and apparently optimistic way you're using them (on your blog too)! 
btw - good to hear you're doing something with Paul for slash-seconds. Five Years is also going to be in that issue... looking forward to it.

Edward Dorrian said...

Can we have some clue as to why comments have been removed?