Multi-disciplinary conference, The Social Context of Death, Dying and Disposal covered all aspects of death, dying and bereavement, including a range of arts-related contributions.
ICIA was joint exhibition organiser with CDAS (Centre for Death & Society at the University of Bath)
Landed by Ana Bilankov
As part of our commitment to providing a platform to investigate contemporary critical issues, ICIA presented a one-day international event to explore art and lived histories. The Holocaust presented a momentous breach within representation, so unspeakable as to question the very possibility of making art after such devastating event. Sylvia Plath later wrote her poem Daddy drawing parallels between the role of the father and Nazism, for which she has been roundly criticised. Yet she reopened the question as to whether art can be made in the light of such sorrow.
9/11 re-ignited the debate. But in the light of media coverage (which has escalated since the war in Vietnam) the debate takes on a new perspective. The poet Paul Celan spoke of what compelled him to write - the urgency of addressal, the demand to articulate, however impossible it might be for himself and others. Is it possible for contemporary artists to work with the complexity of lived histories, rather than turning away and finding refuge in parody, pastiche and irony?
Co-directed by Dr Jane Calow, artist and writer, and Dr Daniel Hinchcliffe, Head of Visual Art, ICIA, in conjunction with the Centre for Death and Society, University of Bath.
Symposium was accompanied by Ana Bilankov's exhibition.
art of the interventionists trespasses into our everyday world to raise
awareness of injustice and other social problems. These artists don’t
preach or proselytize; they give us the tools to form our own opinions
and create our own political actions. Michael Rakowitz’s inflatable
homeless shelter - Biotic Baking Brigade’s political pie-throwing
- the shoplifting aesthetics of Yomango - anti-GMO projects of the Critical
Art Ensemble… the upsurge of interventionist art is only the most
recent wave of creative activism seeking to break down the walls between
art and life.
photographers, rural leaders, farmers and curators reviewed some of the
current documentary work, and related artists’ interventions, in
rural and agricultural contexts. The day addressed burning questions around
the documentation of FMD, and related epidemiology and animal welfare
issues, including ethical, aesthetic and social considerations.
Barb gave the background to her exhibition, and other work, including her interest in relationships between death, mourning, gender and recuperation.
Barb Hunt’s exhibition Transience
was organised in conjunction with this multi-disciplinary conference,
a collaboration between the University of Bath’s Department
of Social and Policy Sciences and ICIA.
In recent years much has been made of cultural diversity in Britain. Yet what precisely do we mean when we talk about cultural diversity? Is it the greater visibility of Black and Asian people in television programmes and commercials, or is it chicken tikka massala being described by Robin Cook as symbolising modern day British culture? Whilst it seems that such platitudes might typify a celebratory understanding of cultural diversity, could it be that the current promotion of cultural diversity not only masks but more worryingly, contradicts the harsher realities faced by Black and Asian people in Britain today? From confronting various forms of racial prejudice on a daily basis, be it in the work place or on the street, to the party political and media-driven demonising of British Asians as scapegoats for the ‘war on terror’; it seems that celebratory notions of difference and diversity which have become an integral part of our so-called inclusive society are in need of desperate and critical examination.
As part of its ongoing commitment to providing a platform for debate, ICIA hosted a special discussion, What is Cultural Diversity? Bringing together three curators Eddie Chambers, Richard Hylton and Daniel Hinchcliffe to provide candid and engaging perspectives on contemporary British society. What is Cultural Diversity? aimed to unravel the familiar but equally paradoxical concepts of inclusion, difference and belonging.
This event coincided with ICIA’s and Arts Council, London’s on-going support of research entitled The Nature of the Beast: Cultural Diversity and the Visual Arts Sector; a study of policies, initiatives, and attitudes, drawn together in an extensive report, researched and written by Richard Hylton.
What is Cultural Diversity? was organised in conjunction with the talks series This is How We Do It: Perspectives on Curating in Australia, India and Jamaica.
Eddie Chambers' career encompasses the roles of artist, curator, archivist, writer and lecturer. Based in Bristol, he is now Research Fellow in Curating at London Metropolitan University and runs The Edward Wilmot Blyden Project. He has recently curated a number of exhibitions by artists such as Denzil Forrester, Mildred Howard, Anthony Key, Eugene Palmer and Medina Hammad.
Richard Hylton is the curator of Unit 2 Gallery, London Metropolitan University and the forthcoming multi-site project, Assembly 05 in Bath. Over the past fourteen years he has curated a wide range of exhibitions featuring artists from across Britain and abroad. He has also edited a number of publications and contributed essays and articles to a variety of catalogues and journals, including Engage, Art Monthly and Third Text.
Daniel Hinchcliffe is Head of Visual Arts at ICIA where he has curated artists' residencies, site-specific projects and exhibitions. In the past he has collaborated with both Eddie Chambers and Richard Hylton.
The series was arranged in conjunction with the special discussion, What is Cultural Diversity?. Much animated debate continues about the activities of Black artists in Britain, both the practice itself and the ways in which it is – or is not – supported. Most recently this debate has arisen from the Arts Council’s decibel initiative. Each of these speakers aimed to bring fresh perspectives to our understanding of how these questions affect artists in Australia, India and Jamaica, and what sorts of curatorial initiatives have emerged as a result.
Within the UK, Aboriginal artists, and artists from countries such as
India and Jamaica have often been seen as occasionally and temporarily
bringing a splash of cultural diversity colour to a gallery’s programme.
But how do these artists fare within their respective home countries?
What debates dominate the visual arts within these countries? Do the major
artists within these countries aspire to show in the ‘centres’
of the artworld such as New York and London? To what extent do intra-national
debates dominate the visual arts in these countries?
From the exhibition Telling Tales
The Tomb of Begum Hazrat Mahal, 1997
From the exhibition Home and Away
Sister Long Tongue, 1991
Based in Kingston, Jamaica, she has curated many landmark exhibitions, including New World Imagery, shown at Arnolfini, Bristol, almost ten years ago.
From the exhibition True Colours
Brenda L Croft
Sue Ingram, Redfern 1992
Siobhan Davis Dance Co.
This symposium brought together a distinguished group of speakers to discuss these questions from their own perspectives.
This was part of Taking Risks, a biannual season programmed over the last decade by Swindon Dance, which throws the spotlight onto the process and product of dance creation.
It attracted an audience of choreographers, dancers, academics, arts administrators, teachers, students, dance audience members and artists, including those from other artforms interested in collaboration.
Acoustic Arts installation
A range of different interactive and participatory music activities take place in therapeutic, health and social care environments. These include music therapy, sound therapy, arts in health and community music-making. How do these activities benefit people in these settings? What do these different music practices have in common and how do they differ? How can examples of good practice be identified? What ethical and logistical considerations do professional music practitioners and their collaborators take into account to ensure such activities achieve outcomes in an effective and sensitive manner?
This event provided an opportunity to share knowledge and experience between professionals from music and other backgrounds involved in the different categories of music work in these settings. ICIA brought together musicians, healthcare professionals and academics to present their current research and practice in a variety of situations.
This was an interactive, lively and stimulating day that combined presentations of case studies, an interactive discussion panel and hands-on community music workshops aimed at producing a fruitful exchange of ideas and experience.
It attracted an audience of musicians, music therapists, play therapists, care workers, health workers and students of health, psychology and music.
At a time at which many arts practices may appear to have problematised engagement with social and ethical issues to such a degree that art can seem immobilised or just irrelevant, is there a need to think the possibility of coupling arts and ethics? Given the scepticism associated with Postmodernist practice, the collapse of Marxism and an emerging ‘New World Order’ how might new arts practices surface that engage with complex social and cultural concerns? Is it possible that alignments traversing disciplinary positions may offer new dialogical pathways for the future?
Griselda Pollock has written:
Gog & Magog
Shell Q1 2004 - The Burning
photograph: Sandy Spieler
Constituencies encountered in the process of the construction and reception of these diverse practices can range from interactive participatory groups to an initially more detached ‘audience’ encountering work for the first time.
Such groups are often defined by what their members are perceived to have in common, such as social positioning, cultural identifications, geographical location, place of work, profession, or academic discipline. Working with constituencies and individuals requires an awareness of difference and the sensitive negotiation of uneven power relations.
Spaces within and between disciplines, cultures, locations and professions can become contested ground. Are there ethical pathways to be found through complex terrain and into which spaces are we unable to venture?
This symposium was aimed at an audience of practitioners, academics and students from disciplines including visual art, music, theatre, dance, cultural studies, architecture, and the sciences.
The event was organised in conjunction with the installation, Degrees of Capture by the arts and social sciences group PLATFORM.
What is the relationship between the terms, processes and practices of collaboration and interdisciplinarity?
Like 'interdisciplinarity' the term 'collaboration' is frequently used in artistic, cultural and academic circles with little reflection or analysis, indeed the two are sometimes applied interchangeably. This symposium provides a space to consider the exchanges happening in real examples of collaborative and interdisciplinary projects and research.
Not all interdisciplinary arts practice has to involve collaboration and not all collaborations are interdisciplinary. Negotiating the dynamics of collaboration and interdisciplinarity offers the potential for new enriched creative ways of thinking and producing practices.
Collaboration and interdisciplinarity can also disclose relationships of authority, questions of fairness, law and economics that have to be engaged with and negotiated. Despite postmodern notions of the death of the author, complex issues of ownership and authority can surface in collaborative and interdisciplinary projects. The drive behind collaboration and interdisciplinarity is to engage in exchange, and in turn, to make and encounter difficult, robust, reflective and informed practice.
Photo: Mark Fleming at Static
artist: Becky Shaw
This symposium was aimed at an audience of practitioners, academics and students from disciplines including visual art, music, theatre, dance, cultural studies, architecture, and the sciences.
The number of artists working across disciplines, theoretical perspectives and artforms has increased in recent years. Interdisciplinary arts practice can explore and articulate ideas that go beyond what may be articulated within the confines of an individual discipline. The symposium set out to examine how strategies of interdisciplinary practice may generate fruitful dialogue and fresh perspectives but can also create anxieties. With the development of ideas around the postmodern condition, and notions of an expanded field of cultural production, contemporary enquiry through artistic practice no longer sits easily within discrete sets of skills or knowledges.
Developments in new technology and virtuality have also changed perceptions of audience and site-specificity while extending the contexts and media in which previously separate disciplines can meet. A range of speakers put forward their own projects and research as examples for discussion.
This symposium was aimed at an audience of practitioners, academics and students from disciplines including visual art, music, theatre, dance, cultural studies, architecture, the sciences, and psychology.
Bath Independent Architecture Students (BIAS) organised a series of events in collaboration with Creative Arts (now ICIA). The series of talks, by artists and architects, took place in the Arts Theatre followed by an informal discussion and projections.
Themes ranged from concerns for popular conceptions of architecture, to the relationships a work of art can generate between people and place.
Event organisers: James Payne and Robert Squibb BIAS
Martyn Simpson is an artist and curator who lives and works in London. His photographic installations and paintings have been exhibited widely in Britain and Europe. At the time, Martyn was showing paintings in Vivid at the Richard Salmon Gallery, London.
In September 2000 Martyn Simpson was involved in an 'intervention' at the monastery of La Tourette. The exhibition entitled Perfidy included the work of 20 contemporary artists. Simpson began by talking about the La Tourette project before going on to discuss his wider concerns with abstraction/modernism and the everyday.
Gerard Maccreanor and Richard Lavington are Bath graduates and founded Maccreanor Lavington Architects in 1991. The practice now works from studios in London and Rotterdam.
Recent projects include Langerak 2 housing in Utrecht Holland and The Lux Centre, London.
The work of the office combines a response to place and landscape that seeks to draw on shared memories grounding the projects both physically and mentally. The architectural artefact is understood as a structure allowing appropriation and enabling adaptation in a rapidly changing social context.
Liza Fior founded Muf in 1994 with artist Katherine Clarke & architect Juliet Bidgood and has since been joined by a number of other members.
Muf have been involved in the Shared Ground regeneration of Southwark Street, London and have also recently published a book entitled This is what we do - a Muf manual.
Muf is a collaborative practice of art and architecture committed to public realm projects which embed enduring and unexpected interventions in the physical and social fabric of the urban environment. Their book describes their work and experiences so far and the importance of process in their work that questions the role of the architect and artist.
Andrew Houlton co-founded Houlton Taylor Architects in 1994 who now have a London-based practice. He also runs a 'unit' at the Architectural Association in London with Stephen Taylor.
Recent projects include Riverside School, Cumbria and Derwent Medical Centre, London.
The work of Houlton Taylor is fuelled by the awkwardness of things, the location and dislocation of the imagery of place and artefact. The temperament of the work places emphasis upon interacting with what is inherently present, sensing when to be consensual but as a latent force alert to conditions that provide the opportunity to shift visual conventions.
This international transdisciplinary conference was hosted by The Research Centre for Contextual, Public and Commemorative Art (CPCA), Faculty of Art, Media and Design, University of the West of England.
The conference explored relationships between ritual and function of memorial and arts practices that engage with the place and role of commemoration within the public and the private sphere. How does memorial to 'The Unknown Prisoner' or 'The Unknown Soldier' function within the public and private sphere? Can memorial provide a focus for grieving, a place of remembrance? What is the relationship between memorial, remembrance, forgetting and absence? What is the function of memorials that attempt to explore the history of slavery or the Holocaust?
What means of representation can address the conditions found within repressive societies - is it possible to give public representation to the 'Disappeared' within Argentina or Colombia, for example? And what are the ethics involved when the private becomes public through the display of personal objects, as in the filming of the wreck of the Titanic, or the display of the shoes, spectacles and other belongings of the victims of the Holocaust?
One Day Symposium
The purpose of the Symposium, followed by the opening of Goto's show, was to reconsider two main themes: the reinvention of history painting, or how artists construct critical narratives today; and landscapes of a post-industrial urban society.
A range of speakers presented positions from their own work and research, rather than offering direct criticism of Goto's exhibition; some shared perspectives from history and theory, others from art practice. The morning looked largely at the first theme - reinventing history - and the afternoon included a dialogue from two practitioners on the restoration of brownfield sites as art followed by a panel discussion, and a talk by Goto on the sources for his work.
Co-ordinator: Dr Daniel Hinchcliffe (Bath)
What is the conjunction between mental and physical space? How does architecture both reflect conditions of the psyche and play upon and shape our ideas of ourselves? Organised in conjunction with a site-specific exhibition entitled Dead Sea: The Salt Documents by artist Jane Calow, this transdisciplinary symposium explored the relationships between space, architecture and psyche.
Malcolm Miles discussed how city views (eg postcards) normalise selective perceptions of the city and the relation between representation of cities and globalisation.
Thom Gorst and Sally Daniels looked at ways of working in collaboration with practising artists. They gave a paper co-presented with architecture students about a recent public exhibition which involved those students as curators responding to the urban environment. This was placed in the context of current theories within and beyond architectural education.
Dr Jane Rendell discussed feminist utopian philosophy and what it has to say about new architectural spaces related to the feminine body and psyche.
Jane Calow touched on issues around the public unconscious and architecture as metaphor, through consideration of architecture and modernity, the notion of subsumed spaces, shared cultural experiences and representation. In exploring the relationship between public and private space she drew upon art practice as well as architecture.