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Discussion of Reports, Summary and Farewells

> transcript  

Speakers:>  Benjamin Weil & Beryl Graham & Godfrey Worsdale & Graham Harwood & Laura Sillars & Lisa Panting & Lois Keidan & Lucy Byatt & Lucy Bayley & Sarah Cook

Discussion of reports and Summary video available at BALTIC Archive

Sarah Cook’s notes from Discussion of Reports, Summary and Farewells:

Laura Sillars recap:

The answer is yes! Dialogue with artists, find time for the creative space.

Commissioning and collecting the contemporary fairy tale? Tell the stories which are the disasters too. Are we coming out of a golden age where there was money and opportunities, what now? Next 100 years.

BW: Share info, create guidelines that solve problems, database of contracts. It’s a constant evolution. We now know we’re dealing with an ephemeral form which are by nature instable. The nature of what we are collecting is no longer the same as when we started and knew its form, knew it was contained. We learn by experience. A database at international level!

LS: CAS / CRUMB can champion such initiatives.

Changing paradigm of a collection in relation to variable/live media

LK: If there is a model contract then there would be a boring problematic model way of doing things. Case studies are more useful? Possibilities but not prescriptions.

The right to fail –

Words that get used but are meaning-lacking




GH: The role of the artist, not protected enough? Curators who are commissioning feel like they are offering patronage but what is going on is that art orgs need a certain number of outcomes, strategic aims to meet. They don’t really want to risk, but in a way that will enhance their reputation. GH is not representing anyone other than himself, but… arts council asking for more participation into their project and then ask the artist and then a negotiation happens. The negotiation is so important, more than the idea of just being given patronage.

Working with Sandy Nairne, NATO art collection for Tate’s National Collection. Do a work which would test the collection. Rather than address the problem of where art came from instead contest the collection all the time,

Negotiation, protect the space for risk. Different kinds of commissioning relationships - what works for the institutions with more historic collections and longer remits.

Laing… Literal connections with the collection, i.e around media such as watercolours. But also the context of the building which contains the collection. The atmosphere. Difficult to work literally in this way, to raise the funds, to get to the point where contestation is possible. Commission around practice which has been lost or is in a collection but forgotten. Curatorial role to look into what happened then and what is happening now – not contesting but looking critically.

V&A… commission separately from the collection. Act as producers – the line is blurry. What is appropriate? In scale? In relation to the building? It’s variable.

Resources / capacity / location.

Question to Lisa about protecting a space for risk:

LP: contingent on the curatorial and directorial vision of the individuals in those institutions.

Lightness of touch – this has been formalised through partnership working, but maybe it has to be broken down a bit again, work in a less resourced way now, so perhaps we can be more flexible and open – offer a certain budget with a shorter turnaround for instance. The idea of the large exhibition can change, think about dissemination in other formats, i.e. the web. As that could be less expensive (?). Take one’s cue from artists.

Lucy Byatt: previous scheme re money for museums to purchase work through research. It was mostly product orientated. It was trying to record a local scene. But the networks could be more broadly shared. Museums could benefit enormously from partnership working. Shine a light into what the roles of curators could be, and policies to acquire work into the future, and provide access to artists.

GH: have been asked by curators to look at media ecologies and institutions within a regional area, look at media infrastructure, and find places for artists to work and show. Thinking about what the city wanted with the architecture afterwards – how creative industries could develop. This is an increasing role artists are asked to fulfil.

LS: this is about investment – scoping out role for artists as not just producers of product, but this means that they can critique back to an institution about what role these institutions should play in their cities.

Know your field, listen talk gather smell out what is going on rather than operating in isolation.

LK: artist as researcher – it does morph into a curatorial role. Importance of this work where output is ideas. Unpicking the institution. What isn’t represented in the collection. I.e. andrea fraser and the generali foundation. Tate archive in performance – best way to understand what is has and doesn’t is through its practitioners.

LS: discussion not just about curatorial vision but institutional leadership and role artists have in that.

BW: it’s not just curatorial work, it is the sum of the people who are involved in the production and installation of the work in institutional space. The resolving of the matters related to particular examples – turn to a network of people and sketch solutions with those people. Craft something which makes sense for the artist. Through out this process go back to the technicians, team effort! Put expertise together. Surround the artist with support so that they can focus on what they should be focussed on.

LS: Collection care as more inclusive concept – create a different kind of transaction, understand our own temporary guardianship.

Key statements:

Research – employing artists prior to commissioning

Keep the space for negotiation and discussion

Keep conversations transparent

Employ critical friends

Collect artists and help them preserve themselves as well as creating larger collections

Use and share technical networks

Develop shared knowledge banks including a contracts database and the contract of care rather than ownership

Amazing that today we didn’t talk about why we should or shouldn’t be in contemporary art / museum collections (the usual resistance from media art? media artists? Who work around established systems).



  media art


  Sarah Cook
  Beryl Graham
  Benjamin Weil
  Graham Harwood
  Godfrey Worsdale
  Lucy Byatt
  Lisa Panting
  Lois Keidan
  Laura Sillars
  Lucy Bayley