For the September/October issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet, I’m focusing on forms of participation and collaboration. This concern stems from a continued insistence in my own practice as a curator in a local authority on interrogating the work of artists working in social, participatory contexts. We are thinking of participation as progressive – as preferable to elitism, exclusion and bureaucracy, for instance – but we need to think of the value of participation as completely dependent upon the value of the project in which one participates. It tells us a lot about how art and artists are being routinely interrogated. And I think this is extremely flawed. In order to delve deeper into the conundrum of participatory practice, I sent the following text to each of the invited contributors as a provocation: “People in the art world seem to have subscribed wholesale to the idea that participation or collaboration is an athletic sport in which artists must compete for their form of participation to be deeper, stronger, faster, longer and purer. The ideal form of participation or collaboration then hangs over every project that even hints at participation. This is not true of the experience of the spectator, who remains outside the work.
RHONA BYRNE AND YVONNE McGUINNESS SPEAK ABOUT THEIR COLLABORATIVE PUBLIC ART COMMISSION ‘MOBILE MONUMENTS’.
Commissioned by Fingal County Council Arts office for their 1916 Commemorative Public Art Commission, ‘Mobile Monuments’ was produced as part of the 1916 Centenary Programme over a six-month period. The project involved three trikes with mobile sculptures, which turned into performance platforms becoming ‘forms in action’. The budget for the project was €35,000 and our proposal was selected through an open call submission with two rounds.
LINDA SHEVLIN DISCUSSES M12’S (USA) WORK WITH ITS FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR, RICHARD SAXTON.
Linda Shevlin: Richard, since spending some time in September 2015 at M12’s base, The Feed Store, in Byers, Colorado, I’ve been curious about your relationship as a collective, not just to your surrounding community, but to the wider rural art community. Has this fixed, rural base intrinsically influenced the projects you undertake or do you harbour more nomadic tendencies in your methodology?