Posts with tag London

Irritated Material

Surrounded by many of the larger banks in the financial district in London, you find the new non-profit contemporary Art exhibition centre Raven Row. It’s quite anonymous; you easily walk by the low building with the white front, but finding it is rewarding. While the banks and financiers are busy dealing with the recession and building trust, the current exhibition at Raven Row is dealing with other processes in society; the disobedience, subversive cultural ideas, the Art that is often on the edge of what is accepted by society.

”A history of irritated material” is curated by Danish curator Lars Bang Larsen, who explains the title as referring to the relation between Art, and social and psychological reality. Video clips of protest marches, freedom fighters, witness stories, and trials are shown in a set of TVs, works of the New York based Group Material is exhibited together with Artists like Swedish Sture Johannesson. His famous poster from 1968 of the naked woman with a hash-pipe in her hand (Hash Girl) is significant for the exhibition. The poster was done for Lund Art Exhibition Hall (Southern Sweden), but the exhibition was never shown. It was accused of being drug romantic and Sture Johannesson himself stole his controversial posters that made politicians see red from the exhibition hall. The Director at the time, Folke Edwards, was accused of being sex and drug romantic just by showing this work of the well-known Artist. It all ended with the Director leaving his job just after a short time on the post.

Perhaps less subversive, but definitely not mainstream were two concerts at Union Chapel the previous night. Two Swedish bands played in the church, built in 1876 to 1877, from 1991 used as a venue for cultural events (combined with worship, baptism, weddings). The two-people-band The Tiny, and then First Aid Kit, two young women of 17 and 19 years old, inspired by the hippie and country movement of the 70s combined with new sound. Both wonderful bands that manage to form Artistic talent into their own music, their own thing. Funny we have to go to London to see them.

A walk by Tate Modern also leaves traces. The Polish contemporary Artist Miroslaw Balka and his piece ”How it is” is both overwhelming and scary. The work is a gigantic container placed in the big open hall at Tate. Walking around the container you feel small, yes, tiny, and in one short-end you enter at a large ramp and walk towards the darkness inside. A chill along the spine as scary film-clips of Holocaust where people in masses walked in to uncertainty come to mind, yet when we are walking we are safe. We know that, but still…What will we meet inside? The exhibition keeps itching and irritating the mind the rest of the day.

And among these visits, we do study visits to discuss social entrepreneurship with Ian Baker at School for Social Entrepreneurs, cultural leadership with Venu Dhupa and Nicola Turner, and the development of the workshop ”The Art of living of Art” together with Sian Prime.

Read this text by Lars Bang Larsen on social liability. Some links in relation to School for Social Entrepreneurs are found here, here and for reports and evaluations here. Most photos are taken by Helena Persson, a few with Iphone.

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7 mars, 2010

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The Legacy of Mourning

Venu Dhupa, Jane Wildgoose and the Memorial Library

Jane Wildgoose’s home is to the brim filled with collected things of different sorts. A horse cranium is placed on a shelf together with Indian statuettes, a prisma of glass, medical pots and a small replica of the coffin of Lord Nelson. Over it all, a stuffed raven enthrones together with a crocodile. All rooms in her typical English terraced house groan with memories.

”I have been thinking a lot about the history of mourning and in which way things can create support and comfort. Twenty years ago people didn’t want to speak about this, but now lots of people come here, some in mourning clothes.”

She started building her Mourning Library eight years ago, the collection is still growing. Starting point was that she wanted to use hair in her Artistic work, and she discovered how many memories the human material was carrying. Memory and death have since been her main theme. It’s very Victorian, which gives an extra dimension: The societal idea about death and sorrow that is now lost.

Jane Wildgoose has, Venu Dhupa says, in a very conscious way showed the power of pedagogic; on how you can work with existential issues with a planned working method. That’s why she five years ago could convince National Endowment of Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta) to put in project support in the Wildgoose Memorial Library. This is a difficult issue, Venu Dhupa says:

”You always need to create a structure, but it doesn’t have to be a scientific one. It might as well be a structure that is created as you go, by following your heart. We are not aiming for the results, but what is happening during the process.”

img_0074The Wildgoose Memorial Library was the start to continue the reflection of how you create creative environments that can handle risk and uncertainty. That is why Venu Dhupa, on the assignment of British Council, created a competence development course on issues like how you deal with risk and create an environment that can handle uncertainty. How do you deal with risk in a responsible way? How do you adjust to different – sometimes extremely difficult – circumstances?

”It is now, today, we are creating the inhabitants of tomorrow. And in the contemporary society you have to be able to deal with a duality, and not rarely also sorrow and sentimentality, and still, in the 21st century these are taboo issues in society.”

The secret, Venu Dhupa continues, behind creating a creative working climate and creative leadership is called ”mixed groups”. The people in India know this best! Why is someone in London telling what is best in China?

”I am working with small teams all around the world and send their results back home. In that way we have created a real global working method. I am working with six different groups in six countries. Each group consists of a large amount of different nationalities. I say it again: Think outside the box!”

After working with multicultural issues for over ten years, Venu Dhupa has a clear picture of what is needed to do to: From a bottom-up perspective achieve a heterogenic society that consists of many voices.

”We treat the ethnical groups like consumers, not like creators. The measurement is consumption! But what happens if we are serious with everyone’s possibility to create on equal terms?”

We don’t give our politicians time enough to reflect on these issues, she says, and therefore we get the response from politicians that we deserve.

”We don’t get intelligent answers from our political sausage machine! George Bush (who was) the busiest man of the world played golf 95 days out of his first year as president!”

The text is written by Ylva Gustafsson, secretary at Region Västra Götaland. The visit in London on March 3–6, 2009, was part of a study visit by politicians and civil servants from Region Västra Götaland. Nätverkstan was a connecting partner for the Region on this visit. Related blogpost is on Other Art and other practices and Bangalore.

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17 april, 2009

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Art and creative industries

Should every artist, dancer, musician, festival manager, poet and writer become entrepreneurs? What is the position of art? Will subsidies to art be taken away? Goodbye to fine arts and the artistic work that can’t survive on the market.  Many cultural organisations and institutions, journalists and artists in Sweden discuss the issue these days, among them the Swedish Union for Theatre, Artists and Media, who recently published a book on their views on cultural policy. Igniting the discussion is the work of The Committee of Inquiry on Cultural Policy that has the assignment to overlook and change the Swedish Cultural Policy, a work that during this year has been followed by problems and is being questioned for different reasons; one is for having an unclear distinction in what is art policy and what is cultural policy.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sports in UK, presented in 2007 a model that might be helpful in these discussions. The model explains the economic relation between art, staying-ahead.jpgcreative industries and the rest of the economy. It’s a fairly simple model, but useful in understanding why subsidies to art is necessary and effects the rest of the economy. The base, the core creative fields, is the poets, musicians, artists, dancers and choreographers; the producers of art that need public funding to get paid time to do their artistic work. Without them there will be no cultural industry. It’s only if you have the core, that publishers have anything to publish, or museums has anything to show. And without a cultural industry, there will be no creative industries. A publisher needs a bookstore to sell her books. This has a value for the rest of the economy, since for instance manufacturing and service sector benefit from the expressive outputs done by artists.

If values like ”Art for Art’s sake” feels a bit dusty and not enough as argument these days, perhaps this model can be of help.

To see the model above in bigger size, double-click on it. Download the UK’s ”Staying ahead:  the economic performance of the UK’s creative industries”. The study and report was done by the Work Foundation in UK.

The Staying ahead paper is also commented on the Swedish website www.kulturekonomi.se, they comment on the circle model here.

30 augusti, 2008

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Authors

Lotta Lekvall
Director of Nätverkstan, a Cultural Organisation in Sweden. Nätverkstan provides services …

Cultural and Social Entrepreneurship

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