As part of the group exhibition “Mutualisms” Erik Hagoort and Caroline Picard have organized a symposium to take place on Sunday 11th of September from 1-5 pm. That Sunday the artists participating in “Mutualisms” together with guests from Chicago (Kevin Kaempf, Jason Pallas, Anni Holm, Abigail Satinsky and Karsten Lund) and Holland (Philippine Hoegen, Marjolijn Dijkman, and Rune Peitersen) will gather at the CoProsperity Sphere to address the theme of Art & Reciprocity.
Anni Holm, is the Co-Founder, Director and Curator of People Made Visible, Inc. (PMV). PMV is a non-for-profit organization based in the city of West Chicago with a mission to facilitate community while fulfilling the artistic, social, educational and cultural needs of the community through an innovative physical and web based presence. Besides claiming to be a conceptual artist, she works as the Art Coordinator at Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove, IL, and has been a teaching artist with CAPE (Chicago Arts Partnership in Education) since 2009.
Abigail Satinsky is the director of programming at Threewalls where she amongst other things initiated Community-Supported Art Chicago, a yearly art subscription service of locally produced art and developed PHONEBOOK 3, a directory of independent art spaces, programming, and projects throughout the United States. She is furthermore a member of InCUBATE, a research group dedicated to exploring new approaches to arts administration and arts funding. Their activities have manifested in a series traveling exhibitions called Other Options, an artist residency program, and various other projects such as Sunday Soup.
Since moving to Chicago, Karsten Lund has worked as a curator and a writer, and pursued a variety of other creative pursuits. He is currently a curatorial assistant at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and from 2007 to 2009 he worked as a research fellow at the Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP). Karsten is currently organizing an experimental exhibition, with four artists, which will be staged at a former factory in West Humboldt Park next month and again at the Hyde Park Art Center in fall 2012.
Jason Thomas Pallas (USA) has worked on collaborative, community-based projects for the past 8 years. As an example, he founded an after-school and summer arts organization for at-risk Latino youth called “Art Y Más”. In his artistic practice, J. Thomas has teamed up with the late activist Beauty Turner for a series of Ghetto Bus Tours, where participants visit Chicago Housing Authority sites to interact with the residents for mutual understanding. In general, Pallas’ work occupies the intersection of the popular, the personal, and the political.
“People Powered”, formed by Kevin Kaempf (USA) and Lora Lode(USA), designs experimental pilot programs that integrate art, environmentalism, and communities. Examples are the re-use of bikes (“Shared: Chicago Blue Bikes”) and the recycling of excess latex paint (“Loop Limited”). By presenting these projects in exhibitions and public locations in the city, People Powered creates a platform for discussing how these practices may intersect.
Rune Peitersen (NL) is a visual artist, focusing on the retinal, but this doesn’t exclude taking position in society as an artist, when needed. Together with other artists Peitersen initiated Platform Re-set, an action group using the knowledge and tools that artists have, to react to alarming recent developments in the political climate in the Netherlands: “At the moment artists and the arts are being talked about, not addressed directly. We want to reaffirm our position in society. ”
Research, display, context, collaboration (often with Carolien Stikker) are some of the keynote concepts in the work and activities of Philippine Hoegen (NL). With other artists in 2010 Philippine Hoegen started Calcite Revolt: an initiative created to provide and research new models of interaction and collaboration between artists, curators and theorists. Critically regarding common structures and hierarchies, its aim is to develop productive, fluid and adventurous ways of contributing to each others development and practice.
Through her diverse work Marjolijn Dijkman (NL) often considers the foundations of how we perceive and experience our surroundings. Perception is for Dijkman always embedded, contextual, therefore her practice has concerned itself with for example futurology, public space, knowledge organisation, cartography, utopian architecture or environmentalism.
In 2005 together with Maarten Vanden Eynde she founded Enough Room for Space (ERforS). ERforS is an artist-run organization to create a platform where investigations by individual participants in projects can overlap and lead to new collaborations.
After Kevin and Kirsten came to visit us in Detroit and we talked about art I wrote this piece
that will be published in Proximity magazine and was published in LA too…
It is called
“My (The) Problem with community art…and why Williiam Burroughs eat Superflex any day of the week”
Check out this great blog by our writers Caroline Picard and Erik Hagoort:
see for some samples of their writings the posts below
Posted on July 17, Author: Caroline Picard
In greeting one another there is an expectation.
You put your hand out with the expectation it will be received in a reciprocal clasp. Some kind of up-down-shake is expected.
They say you can learn everything about a person based on the way in which he or she shakes a hand. Is it a limp grasp? Is the grip premature? Does one’s partner, like a politician, grasp both your hand and your elbow? Yet, in order to measure someone’s shake, one must participate in the action of shaking and therefore allow oneself to be measured.
With this in mind, an artist and friend, A.E. Simns developed a handshake game. He created an index of handshakes, along with accompanying diagrams. One handshake can lead to another, for instance that same politician just mentioned can be countered with “The Dirty” (where you wiggle your middle finger in the palm of your opponents palm as it clasps yours), which can then lead to subsequent responses.
I have included some examples from his index below. The first video included above is another example of a handshake (unfortunately the volume is low, so please be sure to turn up your headphones).
“The Bitch Smack” where you are to take your partner’s hand and smack it, very quickly and very hard. The icons surrounding the figured are indicate the appropriate “feelings/sensations” inspired by this shake.
18. The Comrade
A shake for friends and enemies both, this handshake to be used in such instances where you desire a firm intimacy. The Benefactor puts out a hand, eyes bright and hard and smiling. The Beneficiary takes said hand, and with rhythmic precision both Benefactor and Beneficiary use their remaining and respective hand to reach in and grasp the other’s elbow. In deceptive times a special knife (known as a knuckleswitch) has been worn which, when set off by a pressure pad on the palm, flicks out and shivs the opponent. Thus, just as this is a celebratory shake for friendship and loyalty, it can also stir up the panic of death.
19. The Rifle
Like The Comrade with a little more play, upon grasping The Benefactor’s elbow, pull the whole arm of your opponent up to your line of sight and cock it, as though it is a rifle and you are aiming to shoot something behind your opponent’s back. The Rifle is an excellent anti-asasination solution toThe Comrade, when assassination is suspected. The Rifledeflects any knuckleswitch without acknowledging suspicion for the other. It sends a message of protection and has been used as a secret handshake to demonstrate loyalty in darker times. To that end bother Benefactor and Beneficiary can execute The Rifle on one another simultaneously, thereby creating a metaphorical fortress of defense.
20. The Cold War
In which no hands are shaken, but both individuals stand across from one another, staring with unrelenting gazes.
Identity in Action – Posted on July 10, 2011, Author: Caroline Picard
When I think of reciprocity, I visualize a call-and-response scenario: a give and take, or the meeting of a positive action with a subsequent positive action. In order to understand reciprocity one must therefore define boundaries: to attribute one action with its source, thereby attributing the subsequent action with its subsequent source. There is a cause/effect relationship embedded in the course of movement and, at first, it seems like separate identities are necessarily contained—because one must be able to hold a single body responsible. In thinking though, about how a shared action in common can generate a greater return, I started wondering after those boundaries. For instance, what does it mean for several people to enact an airport? Who is the author of such an action? At a certain point, the boundaries of authorship get murky.
In his book, The Ecological Thought (Harvard UP, 2010) Timothy Morton reassesses the individual’s relationship to nature, encouraging us to recognize a fundamental and interstitiary “mesh” of which we are all a part. He is not examining art communities. Instead he studies scientific allocations of species and how its distinctions frame humanity’s specific relationship to nature. Over the course of his book, he continues to break down the most basic categorical distinctions—pointing out the blurry line between plant and animal by examining species that occupy abutting biological kingdoms. There is such a minimal difference between an anemone, say, and a fungus that assigning one the attributes of plant and the other those of an animal becomes arbitrary. Only via farther-out consequences—for instance when comparing a palm tree and a lion—does the difference seem apparent. Each member of the “mesh” is distinct, “The mesh is…the entanglement of strangers” (p. 47). We are not so categorically different, but rather necessarily contingent. This approach disrupts ideas of hierarchical thinking. “Thinking interdependence involves dissolving the barrier between ‘over there’ and ‘over here,’ and more fundamentally, the metaphysical illusion of rigid narrow boundaries between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’”(39). Morton focuses on the idea of cooperation, arguing that the mesh consists of countless, various bodies acting independently but in congress. Its members gain from being a part of a group so that there is a built-in reciprocity. He emphasizes “cooperation,” because those individual parts are serving their own interest—what is compromised and enhanced by the additional purposes working with, against and around it. Rather than focusing on a local effort, Morton suggests we inhabit an inclusive mind-space that accounts for the whole mesh. By expanding our awareness beyond an immediate vicinity, he argues, we expand our consciousness to reflect not only other humans in other parts of the world, but also animals and—he would argue—stars. The specialness of community, therefore, lies in an apprehension of the entire, massively intricate system. Which is where the idea starts pressing into something mystical even without the personal connection that mystical experience often boasts. In tandem with this view is kind of death of self-as-center. Can our ideas of community survive such a non-center?
The other question that comes to mind for me: can we admit a degree of categorical poresness, while still being inspired to respond through action? If we are, all us, responsible for participating in the whole mesh, then where does one’s own responsibility stop? And where does this leave us with regard to “ownership?”
Beyond reciprocity -Posted on July 18, 2011, Author: Erik Hagoort
Invitation The New Conversations 1: La chaîne est belle (The Chain is Beautiful), front side
Joseph Beuys: “If I take care of you, others will take care of me.”
Stanislav Menshikov: “If I take less, others have more.”
These two quotations still resonate in my mind since I attended “La chaîne est belle”; the New Conversations 1, a two and a half day workshop, held at the Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp last June, on the initiative of artist Nico Dockx, in collaboration with Louwrien Wijers.
The front side of the invitation for the workshop showed these two quotations, printed as if written in white chalk on blackboard, just like Joseph Beuys used to make his statements. Beuys’s statement was written down by Louwrien Wijers, while she was attending one of his sessions at the end of 1970s. The second quote is by someone less known in the art world: Russian economist Stanislav Menshikov. While preparing the workshop Nico Dockx and Louwrien Wijers combined both quotations, as guidelines for this workshop on art and economy.
The phrase of Beuys speaks of chain-reciprocity. This is not a dualistic interplay between isolated subjected. It is not “if I take care of you, you will take care of me”, but: “others will take care of me”. The self is not isolated, it is a connected self. This self forms part of a community. The person who cares may reckon on some sort of chain effect, a transposition of care, a solidarity which goes over from one person to the other, as if from one bead in a chain or necklace, to the other. So in the end you may trust that you, being part of this chain, will be cared for too. Here, at first, I started to feel a little bit uneasy with the saying of Beuys. This chain reaction, if I’m right, seems to work as a boomerang. A positive boomerang, a caring boomerang, for sure, but still a boomerang. This reciprocity is about returning to the self. It starts with the self (“If I…”) and it ends with the self (“…of me”). Menshikov’s phrase seemed to me more extreme, more radical: generous. By taking less, he says, others have more. That’s it. No return of favors, no reciprocal expectations, no chain reaction, no boomerang, no possibility of counting on others to be helpful in return. Just stepping back, so there’s more space for somebody else.
Later on, my thoughts were changing. In Menshikov’s statement, one can still discern the language of ranking and banking. Taking less. Having more. As in a debet-credit balance. This doesn’t erase the generosity, but the terms remain within the framework of the stockmarket. On the other hand, underlying Menshikov’s phrase is his concept of compassionate economy. Menshikov advocates an economy based on compassion, enhancing generosity. Compassion goes beyond the stockmarket. Compassion can’t be counted, can’t be balanced, can’t be returned, it goes beyond reciprocity.
Care, used in Beuys’s phrase, also goes beyond reciprocity. A person who cares, doesn’t ‘care’ about reciprocity at all. Care doesn’t limit itself to a chain reaction. Care can’t be calculated. Care doens’t come back. Care is about love, comfort, friendship. By using a word such as care in his lectures on the Erweiterte Kunstbegriff (=Expanded Art Concept) Beuys lets his own way of thinking, which according to his quote seems to be still bound by the reciprocal ‘returning a favor’, expand beyond reciprocity.
Both Beuys and Menshikov use strong words, even catching phrases, which help them to go beyond their (and our?) own way of thinking.
This post: by invitation of Nico Dockx.
Invitation The New Conversations 1: La chaîne est belle (The Chain is Beautiful), back side
More about Compassionate Economy by Stanislav Menshikov: http://www.louwrienwijers.nl/compassionateeconomy.html