AAU Summit and Coffee Table Mapping

On October 5th 2018 the Association of Arte Útil summit took place at Company Drinks in Croydon, Middlesex. The morning session was given over to discussions about the next steps and developments of the Association of Arte Útil and, in the afternoon, a series of open discussions and workshops took place around the ‘Redrawing Artistic Economies’ project initiated by Company Drinks. Information on the day itself, including an audio recording of the Association of Arte Útil’s ‘coffee table’ mapping tool presentation can be found at the Company Drinks post for the Artistic Economies Event.

Our Many Europes

From September 17th to 19th, 2018, the launch for the new L’Internationale project ‘Our Many Europes’ took place at the Reina Sofia in Madrid. This was an opportunity to celebrate the work done on the previous L’Internationale project ‘The Uses of Art: The Legacy of 1848 and 1989’ whilst, at the same time, to look forward to the next step of this incredible confederation. As the ‘Our Many Europes’ project is funded by the EU, it is with real sadness that LJMU, like The Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery, can no longer be direct European Partners in this project. However, The Whitworth and Manchester Gallery, under the Directorship of Alistair Hudson, will become Associate Members of the L’Internationale. Via collaborations and projects that I will participate in with The Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery, I hope to also contribute in some way to ongoing L’Internationale research. After five years of working with the L’Internationale consortium, I genuinely regard my colleagues within that network as a family. Working on the ‘Constituencies Project’ as manager and coordinator of that Research Strand, and having the opportunity to take the role, on behalf of LJMU, as Lead Editor in the production of ‘The Constituent Museum’ book, I can honestly say it has been a privilege which has fundamentally changed how I think, do and act. Suffice it to say that I see Brexit as little more than a short-sighted catastrophe based on nostalgic fictions of sovereignty and dangerous delusions of nationalist grandeur – both brought on by a lingering inability to deal with postcolonial loss. As individuals, families, communities, and countries we are stronger together, as constituents, in the struggle against conditions of neoliberal occupation.

The Uses of Art: The Legacy of 1848 and 1989: Final Project Meeting at Van Abbemsuseum

On Tuesday 24th May 2018 I travelled to Van Abbemuseum to conclude LJMU’s participation in the L’Internationale project ‘The Uses of Art: The Legacy of 1848 and 1989’ and to discuss further plans for, and possible participation in, future research projects with both Van Abbemuseum and L’Internationale. Whilst there, I was also able to see a copy of our book ‘The Constituent Museum’ for the first time and to participate in discussion between Van Abbemuseum and visiting delegates from The Scottish Contemporary Art Network.

From Translation as Erasure to Translation as Listening

On Friday 16th of February I attended the seminar ‘From Translation as Erasure to Translation as Listening’ which was given by Rolando Vazquez and hosted by Nottingham Contemporary as part of their ‘Politics of Translation’ Public Research Programme. Vazquez’s intention was to address three “different orientations of translation: modernity, coloniality and decoloniality”. According to Vazques:

“To raise the question of translation requires us to address issues of power across the colonial difference: who translates, what is translated and for what, who holds the space of translation? The question of translation takes a different shape according to the type of mediation. Translation as modernity functions to affirm the supremacy of the dominant locus of enunciation. Translation as coloniality is a movement of incorporation as erasure of other worlds of meaning, of other forms of relating to the real. Both, translation as modernity and as coloniality work in tandem to enforce modernity as the total horizon of intelligibility, as the monopoly of the real…. Conversely, translation as decoloniality expresses ways in which the modern/colonial divide can be overcome. Translation as decoloniality is engaged with the generation of intercultural encounters towards pluriversal forms of understanding, sensing and doing. A condition for intercultural translation is to recognize each-others positionality in relation to the intersecting axes of oppression that structure the colonial divide. To practice translation decoloniality is to practice a form of listening that enables us to become grounded and legible in relation to the plurality of each-other’s worlds.”

The seminar itself was excellent. Vazquez acted as a generous host by initially outlining some key terms and conditions of inquiry before encouraging us to share our thoughts with each other as a means to map out our own territories of inquiry and question that he could then help us to examine. The seminar itself, and especially the notions of pluriversal forms of understanding, sensing and doing, are clearly providing new tools which, for me, will help us to critically re-think the relationships of art to use and constituency.

Here’s a You Tube link to the talk ‘decolonising, demodernising and decentralising’ that Rolando gave at the L’internationale event ‘Collecting in Transitions’ that I attended in September 2017


Constituencies at The Museums Association Conference

Tinkering Pic

On 16th of November 2017 I took part in a public conversation/debate about Constituencies and ‘The Constituent Museum’, with colleagues Steven ten Thije, Aida Sanchez and Elinor Morgan, at the Museums Association Conference in Manchester. Photo courtesy of Alistair Hudson. Personally I got a lot out of the discussion, as well as the opportunity to spend some good time talking about future plans and next steps for 2018 and beyond.


Collections in Transition

From 22nd to 24th September 2017 I visited Van Abbemuseum to attended and participated in the ‘Collections in Transition’ series of talks, debates and workshop/seminars. On Friday 22nd Kuba Szreder, Meg Down and Sebastian Cichocki discussed their on going project for the ‘Deviant Practice‘ research strand at Van Abbemuseum. Also the two Keynote presentations by Rolando Vazquez (on re-thinking the necessity of ‘Decoloniality’ in his paper ‘The Museum, Decoloniality and the End of the Contemporary’) and Geeta Kapur (who reconsidered the paramaters of a Western Modernist cannon via the de-centrist model of politics – as proposed by Ghandi – in her paper ‘Demodern:Why?’) were incredible. Whilst at Van Abbemuseum we also had the opportunity to look around and discuss their two key current exhibitions ‘The Way Beyond Art‘ and ‘The Making of Modern Art‘. I was also able to spend some time making a cool Lego car with Maarten, Steven and Doreen ten Thije.

YBCA/Escuela de Arte Útil Talk

On June 29th 2017 I participated, via Skype in the Association of Arte Útil ‘Escuela de Arte Útil’ Project which at the Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts in San Francisco. The Escuela de Arte Útil, which is itself part of a collaboration/exhibition with Tania Bruguera at the Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts called ‘Talking to Power / Hablándole al Poder’ takes the form of a 3 month Arte Útil School. The full Escuela de Arte Util syllabus can be found at: https://admin.ybca.org/app/uploads/2017/06/Tania-Bruguera_Escuela-Syllabus_6-20-17.pdf


L’Internationale Istanbul/SALT Galata Meeting

On June 5th and 6th 2017 the L’Internationale group of museums and galleries held a group meeting at SALT Galata/Istanbul to begin thinking through what the next EU bid after ‘The Uses of Art: The Legacies of 1848 and 1989’ might look like. Of particular interest was the developing Office of Useful Art at Salt  and how we might begin to tie in links and constituent practice across the Association of Arte Util network (arte-util.org) between Salt and the developing The Uses of Art Lab and The Florrie.

The Florrie and the Uses of Art Lab

During March and April 2016 a series of meetings took place between ‘The Uses of Art Lab‘, LJMU, mima (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art), The Association of Arte Útil www.arte-util.org and ‘The Florrie’ in Toxteth, Liverpool. The purpose of these meetings was to begin an on-going conversation about developing the work of the Uses of Art Lab in direct partnership with the Florrie. A strong link already exists between the Florrie and LJMU/L’internationale – in March 2016 delegates of the Glossary of Common Knowledge ‘Constituencies’ seminar visited the Florrie as part of their discussions. The relationship between ‘The Uses of Art Lab’ and the ‘Florrie’, and their broader relationships within the context of mima, The Association of Arte Útil and L’internationale, mark a significant platform for the development of local, national and international research into constituencies and the development of ground-up and open-access educational resources for the Uses of Art.