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Introduction to the Features

By Art Practical Editors October 23, 2009

Welcome to the Features section for Art Practical! We are at a moment when familiar forms are rupturing, and the Features reflect how our contributors respond to and integrate new approaches in their own practices. Features include selections from Talking Cure quarterly, as well as commissioned serial writing from five individual contributors, who utilize the site as a creative and analytical platform.  These contributors make critical inquiry a core tenet of their practices as artists, curators, writers, and activists.  The site therefore becomes a public space for ongoing research and reflection that is often generated outside the context of an exhibition and reactive nature of a review. Below are descriptions for their projects.

Over the course of the coming year, these contributors will, in part, offer a multifaceted lens on how one constructs an individual practice in relation to place, as well as the myriad means by which place itself is defined. The intersections between the projects not only diagram significant social frameworks operating in the Bay Area visual culture, but also tease out how participation in, around, or outside of these frameworks creates a sense of community.

Amongst AP’s goals are to foreground these intersections—the idea that we can look laterally across these texts to build a broad perspective—as well as create the opportunity for a recurring, accumulative engagement with the individual projects.


Features for 2009-10 Issue Year

Christian L. Frock: Visible Alternatives

I am interested in alternative presentation formats for contemporary art, including site-specific projects, public interventions, avant-garde publications, and alternative spaces. My column for Art Practical will develop in tandem with my work and research through Invisible Venue, a curatorial enterprise that I founded in 2005 to collaborate with artists to present art in unexpected settings.  A selection of my current projects in development includes Visible Alternative, an online journal that creates a wider context for alternative presentation formats through my own writing and a compilation of free online media, and Sunday Series, a documented discussion series based on a neglected public sculpture in San Francisco.

Aimee Le Duc: How Things Work

I will divide four essays into sections, using each one to explore models of how things work from funding, organizations' relationships to boards and funders, exhibition and programming strategies, arts writing and community building. The first installment will explore the rise and fall of the non-profit model and where it currently stands now. How is the rise of alternative model organizations affecting this non-profit model? How are other alternative spaces affecting the non-profit model?

By examining these questions through funding sources, organizations' relationships to boards and funders, exhibition and programming strategies, arts writing and community building I think I can create a space for this conversation to come to the forefront in a critical and meaningful way. I want these essays to break down how these systems work and the resulting consequences. The subsequent essays will focus on government and institutional funders; the art schools and academia; and the media, arts writing, outreach and how these affect the legitimacy and longevity of organizations and artists.

Anthony Marcellini: Drifting and Navigating

Navigation is the process by which we steer a course through some medium, the sea, the air, or the land: it is how we get around, how we move. Navigation can be understood like a science as a kind of specialized knowledge that involves locating a navigator’s position by comparing it to other known locations or by looking for patterns within the given. It is a way of harnessing the unknown and controlling our finite position within an infinite one.

Drifting, the act of being carried slowly by a current, or aimlessly or passively wandering, could be considered the complete opposite of navigation. By drifting you are giving yourself over completely to another force, letting it carry you, letting circumstance direct you, or in a sense, navigate for you.

I think I learn and work through a combination of drifting and navigating. I often jump into situations without full knowledge of them, without a sense as to where they will lead me, or even the tools that I may need along the way. And at some point, when I find myself unmoored in a situation, I look for patterns that lead me back to familiar experiences and draw charts between these relationships.

Through a series of monthly posts I will recount different experiences of drifting and navigating my way through the Scandinavian and European art and cultural spheres.

Matthew David Rana

It seems to me that there's some level of anxiety surrounding much writing surrounding social practice in the art context. The general feeling that I get is that as much as a critical dialogue is necessary, that to write about it is to start establishing a kind of art-historical canon. To that end I thought that within the scope of projects and practices local to San Francisco I would cast a wide net and write about themes and modes of practice that I see artists here engaging with and developing. I tried to identify 4 major modes/themes: Social Documentary/Reportage/The Interview; Geography/Architecture/Cultural Research; Craft/DIY/Domestic Economies; Alternative Distribution Systems/DIY Spaces; Slow Food/Sustainable Agriculture/Urban Homesteading. In many ways, I see these categories as deeply connected and each piece building on the previous one.

In some ways it amounts to a survey both of work taking place within the Bay Area and of recent modes of socially engaged art practice.  In addition, I'd like to write a satirical piece about a fictional project, and one that's much more personal, dealing with the challenges of taking up social practice in a critical context.

Adrienne Skye Roberts

My work examines the intersections between public art and urban politics with an emphasis on community-based projects in the San Francisco Bay Area. I will develop the concept for my project during my residency at Elsewhere Artists Collaborative this fall in Greensboro, North Carolina.  Preliminary considerations include a potential focus on public art projects that occur in various neighborhoods in the city, or a broader examination of the overlap and disjuncture between my roles as an artist and activist.  My first submission will be the essay from my recent exhibition and film screening, Home is Something I Carry With Me, which transformed private residences into temporary public exhibition spaces and offered a form for resistance to the current housing crisis and threats to renters' stability in San Francisco.

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