This document is the turning point of the collaborative project undertaking by the Speculative Society coordinated by myself Steve Maher. At a certain point in the project the research undertaken by myself as the starting point of my work in MA Social Practice and the Creative Environment at Limerick School of Art and Design.
The bellow list defines not what I see as objective truths for a socially engaged practice but its difficulties which I have encountered through my studies of the genre and my own contemplated conclusions on many of the issues which this line of work presents.
1. A community that is interested and not a community of interested, putting a group into the position as an objectified community of interest by definition is problematic. This term use is to outline the artists interest with a group for instance a church choir or the staff of a parking complex. Although identifying a group is not problematic putting there background/situation/position onto the pedestal of critical examination for an audience is exploitive in my opinion. A community under the graceful will of the artist becomes nothing more than tokenised, this isn’t to say that an artist can not help a community but they have to either want you to help or be interested in your position. My preference instead is to communicate with a broader demographic, to invite collaboration on something which is already running.
2. Seeking funding and negotiating money is not art, too many times discussions amongst peers and visiting established practitioners decay into questions of money. Although the issue of sustainability is essential I am not fond of how much sway it has at the creative level. Resources should not determine the scale of a project, aspirations should set and then this aspect should be dealt with. There is always a way as I see to realise a project and money does not necessarily lend it legitimacy. When projects gather momentum that is when things start to get really interesting.
3. Leading by example as opposed to convincing people via covert means, transparency as I see it is key to a successful project. There are too many things in everyday life where people are being lead by the so-called powers that be (i.e. local/national/international government, institutions, the workplace and social groups). In order for a collaborative project to be truly collaborative, there can not be parts of the process that are hidden from fellow collaborator as much as possible. Now, every detail can not be explained due to practical reasons but it can’t be the case as I see that when asked for information about the project a false or embellished reason or explanation is given. I am not tricking people into making my art for me, this is not a role reversal where the audience is now the art (as in objectified element of the creative process). Being the artist in the project does not as I see it entitle me to be the ringleader or head of the project. In approaching a group I am asking for a collaborated input where everyone is the shareholder and benefactor and a hierarchy is not the aim. Of course different people will take on different roles and coordination is necessary in order for the project to reach the goals as decided by the group. Coordinator is the role I will take but this role has to be answerable to all who collaborate on the project.
4. Over analysing could stop a project in its track, although research and critical reflection are important aspects of any project they can not be paramount over actual action. A project which is centred around dialogue is all about consenting to an action made by the group collaborating, a critical response has have its place. If in the process of realising an aspect of the project too much doubt is placed on the action the group is in the process of collaborating on essential things such as excitement and stability are at risk. An assessment of whether the project was successful can only come after that aspect of the project is realised. After that aspect of the realized the collaborators as a group can reflect upon the actions taken an assess there legitimacy/success and these reflection can enhanced further actions within the project and beyond. Its not how you start its where you finish.
5. The role the artists or artist takes is not something that can be determined before the project is initialised. Although I am approaching the project I have outlined as am artist it essential to me that I am not the only potential “artist” in this collaboration. I have approached a group with the starting point for a collaborative open forum for discussion and a series of creative projects. The interaction the group has is not predetermined. The initial situation in which they meet will be a informal gathering but it is hoped that further communication methods will be determined by the group. After the point of completion all participants who had an equal stake in the project will have equal due stake on the acclaim. The only difference will be the experience they gain due to the roles they appointed to them selves.
What follows is a Power Point presentation presented at the end of the year to Sean Miller. Which included these principals and methodologies. Just click the link bellow to see how I got to where I am!!!
This is my Project proposal outlining where I wanted to take in my research before the start of the summer, it outlines a lot of reasons for developing the project in the manner I did.
The Curious Territory Project Was undertaken with Paul Tarpey as part of Module , the following is the Power Point presentation presented at the end of the module which outlines the proposal based on the project lead by Paul.
The Project I was working on was Called “A Strange Arrangement” which is a title of an Arthur Russell album which is sort of like a Bric and Brac of songs.
and my original project proposal is as follows
Curious Territory – Steve Maher – A Strange Arrangement
Over the course of these past months via the curious territory project, directed by Paul Tarpey as part of MA Space I have initiated the begining of a project . Through conversations with my classmates and through reference from our shared research I have developed a proposed project which in my researched opinion would be an effective socially engaged project . My essential plan is to approach all of the respective charitable organizations with second hand shops based in Limerick with a FREE offer to curate their window display in a manner which will communicate with their target audience more effectively. The primary fieldwork will involve me making my presence known in these shops by approaching the individual managers and establishing a dialogue with them, I will inquire through these conversations there primary interest in the project and then establish if the project is viable considering the organizations concerns. The second stage will involve a friendly pamphlet with carefully considered visual communicative elements which are needed to have an encouraging project clearly laid out clearly for the organisation. The pamphlet will use elements familiar to the organisations within there own day to day visual language and will be collaborated with a designer who I have worked with previously on other projects. It is my aim through this pamphlet to emphasize on particular words such as FREE and SERVICE, to gently persuade the organistation of my clear and honest intentions. I am seeking to enhance a pre-existing relationship between all of the contributors to these organisations beyond an idealized situation .
The next power point is a Pecha Kucha, a Pecha Kucha is a presentation methodology in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each (six minutes and 40 seconds in total). This particular Pecha Kucha outlines my favourite socially engaged artists from the past century. There is no text as my descriptions of each artist is improvised and recited from memory.