Posts Tagged ‘localism’


January 20, 2012

'listening to zea maize' from mid west radical culture corridor website

ANDANDAND made the following announcement through the dOCUMENTA (13) newsletter (who, it should be noted, added “dOCUMENTA (13) is not responsible for the views or factual claims expressed by the artists and artworks it presents.”.

“Our focus is on Monsanto’s role in transforming and damaging the ecologies, economies, and social relations of this region. Proceedings will unfold in several stages, and as the deliberation process builds, it will add to the accumulating record of harms perpetrated by this corporation against human and non-human bodies, food, biological processes, weeds, neighborhoods, farmers, alternative forms of knowledge, and finally the environment from which all these entities emerge.

Through this project, we challenge rigid categories of legal protection, and seek an ethics that protects life itself from coercion. We invoke the form of a trial to produce a comprehensive public understanding of harms, and to determine responsibility for those harms. Existing judiciary frameworks are inadequate to the scale and nature of the ongoing damages perpetrated by Monsanto, which, under current law, is granted the rights of a legitimate “person,” while human non-citizens and non-human agents in our biosphere are not recognized. Existing law produces exclusive notions of legitimacy and harm that ignore and damage entities that do not favor a reductive calculus of profit.

Our proposition is to consider all living things as potential plaintiffs in an accounting of Monsanto’s crimes. We submit to public review impacts that are experienced materially and culturally, in the past, the present and extending into our shared future. By expanding notions of legal standing and of legitimate harm, we assert our interdependence. The urgent question is: what will it take to safeguard the interlocked nature of the world against criminally reckless corporate priority?”

The first hearing will take place at:

Time: Saturday, January 28, 2012, 11 am
City: Carbondale IL; Chicago IL; Iowa City IA; others TBA
Country: USA
Location: 37° 43′ 35.11″ N, 89° 13′ 12.97″ W
Address: Lesar Law Building Courtroom, Carbondale

Midwest Radical Culture Corridor has undertaken a number of drifts with the likes of Temporary Services and Brian Holmes.  Their Call to Farms project and publication is inspirational.

COAL PRIZE 2012 – rural issues and farming

January 3, 2012

From the Project Coal website:


Application deadline: February 12th, 2012
The Coal Prize will be awarded on March 15th, 2012

The Coal Prize Art & Environment rewards each year a project by a contemporary artist involved in environmental issues. Its goals are to promote and support the vital role which art and creation play in raising awareness, supporting concrete solutions and encouraging a culture of ecology. The winner is selected out of ten short-listed by a jury of well-known specialists in art, research, ecology and sustainable development

The 2012 Coal Prize will reward entries that focus on rural issues and farming. It gathers a wide range of stakes, such as: landscape changes, loss of biodiversity, intensive agriculture, heritage, access to land etc. Coal invites artists to reinvest and rethink these crucial topics, for a new approach considering complexity and complementarities of ecosystems.

The award of the 2012 Coal Prize will take place on March 15th, 2012 at Le Laboratoire, a private art center specializing in the blending of art and science.

The prize carries an award of 10 000 euros. Launched in 2010 by the French organization Coal, the coalition for art and sustainable development, the Coal Prize is supported by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, the French Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development, the National Centre of Fine Arts (CNAP), Le Laboratoire, PwC and a private benefactor.

Jane’s Walk USA

December 27, 2011

Jane Jacobs

Jane’s Walk USA is a project celebrating 50 years since the publication of Jane Jacobs’ book The Death and Life of Great American Cities.  The project encourages the exploration of where you live and provides some ideas for things to do.

How do you illustrate complexity?

December 14, 2011

Declaration of the Occupation of New York, 2011, Rachel Schragis (links to interview)

Artist Rachel Schragis created the Flow Chart of the Declaration of the Occupation.  The media keep criticising the occupation movement for not having a clear message.  That’s the media’s problem (always wanting to simplify everything, one message).  What Schragis has done is capture the complexity of issues underpinning questions of social and environmental justice.  She has succeeded in representing unintended consequences.  She has mapped the externalities associated with corporate greed.  The work below addresses the personal version of these challenges.

My Attempts at Being Green, Rachel Schragis

Heath Bunting explores issues of identity and also uses flow charts and diagrams in his STATUS project.

US town to turn drainage basin into public art

December 10, 2011

Minnesota Public Radio recently reported that Jackie Brookner is advising and supporting the inhabitants of the City of Fargo in North Dakota on a major ecological art project funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.  The focus of the project is making use of a drainage basin, built to deal with heavy summer rains, as year round facilities for the community.

image from Jackie Brookner's page on the Women Environmental Artists Directory

There’s an interview with Brookner on the NEA blog and if you prefer listening to reading, you can hear her on the Social Practices Art Network.

In the UK Chris Drury’s Heart of Reeds in Lewes, West Sussex, is probably a comparable project.  This constructed environment remediates industrial pollution whilst providing recreational space and managing rain water.

image from Heart of Reeds website

Wasteland Twinning

October 4, 2011

Glengarnock on a road trip, 2004

Wasteland and stalled spaces are important.  This new project connects wasteland in different places as well as offering some suggestions for ways to explore those on your doorstep – join in and be twinned with places in Indonesia, Australia, England, Germany, the Netherlands, Malaysia, India (interestingly there are no US or Canadian partners).

Glengarnock (all that's left) 2004

Most of the ideas suggested involve spending time with your own wasteland, making sound recordings, putting up signs, doing surveys, finding sit spots, discovering what’s edible, and then inventing your own responses.

Glengarnock (variations) 2004

Beyond Planning

June 29, 2011

Nine Mile Run Greenway Project (1996-2000), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Image courtesy Reiko Goto, Tim Collins, Robert Bingham, John Stephen. published a ‘Thoughts and Responses’ piece entitled Beyond Planning by two long time colleagues from Pittsburgh, Denys Candy and Reiko Goto. Candy was in Scotland to consult on the Helix project in Falkirk and Goto has been doing her PhD with On The Edge at Gray’s School of Art. Both represent long term grassroots, localist and pedagogically radical approaches to working with communities. Neither flit between public art projects telling stories of how their work transforms communities, nor do they place primary value on ambiguity.

Denys Candy paints an idyllic picture of Vermont in the snow, whilst at the same time contextualising it within a longer term understanding of the likely impacts of global warming on one local industry – the production of maple syrup. For anyone who enjoys that epitome of North American cuisine, pancakes, bacon and maple syrup, the loss will seem one of personal luxury, but as Candy points out others will lose jobs, income and cultural identity.

He then shifts focus, bringing us back to Pittsburgh, to the history of a steel town. The key juxtaposition in this movement from Vermont to Pittsburgh is the ability to ‘touch nature.’ From a location where that is easy, to one where it has been much harder, he’s not concerned with theoretical questions about what nature is, or what wildness is, but rather the simple pleasure and documented benefits to health and well-being of access to nature.

Denys drills down into the specific history of ‘urban renewal’ in Pittsburgh, of de-population, freeways creating isolation, ‘white flight’ and suburban sprawl. His position is that,

“…we need to embellish, improve upon conventional or apparently rational planning methods by adopting attitudes and practices that I call creative regeneration, predicated on asking deep questions and addressing them in practice, collaboratively and collectively.”

His methodology is grounded in two questions framed by Terri Baltimore, who co-founded Find the Rivers! with him,

“How do we heal post industrial cities rent by the trauma of demolition, discrimination and displacement,” and, “What strategies and methods bring more well-being, defined as improvements in economic, ecological, physiological and cultural health?”

He characterises three stages of “unfolding action,” involving “Re-experiencing, Re-imagining, Re-making,” and he touches on the application of this process in an area called “the Hill” in Pittsburgh. His process is exemplary and bears much deeper reading to really understand.

Reiko connects Denys’ project on “the Hill” to her and her partner Tim Collins’ work in Pittsburgh where, over a similar ten year period, they undertook two related projects, Nine Mile Run and 3 Rivers 2nd Nature. She connects by describing the experience of being invited to participate in Denys processes, and reciprocating by inviting him to participate in her and Tim’s processes.

Reiko and Tim’s methodology, like Denys’, is rooted in ecological and cultural understanding. All are intimately familiar with the history of the place and people they are working with. All place the highest value on working within communities, All have strong aesthetic understanding driving their work. Reiko highlights the work of Suzanne Lacy, artist and teacher, and Grant Kester, art historian and theorist, who provide a framework for understanding the conversational as an aesthetic mode, and the convivial as a form rather than a method or intention.

When artists such as Lacy, Goto and Collins, Candy and others specify conversation as an aesthetic, they are not primarily focusing on the instance of the conversation, the immanent experience of it at any one point, but rather the conversation as a durational performance.

For these artists, the conversation is the 10 year conversation in a place, with many, many people through formal and informal processes. Within the conversation there will be formal public meetings; there will be intentional activities such as trips to see and experience places and all the associated experiences; there will also be the informal and chance encounters. Some elements of the conversation will be about the artists learning both from the locals and specialists. Other elements of the conversation will be about the community learning from itself, sometimes reflected through the artists. There will be tough moments and convivial moments, but the convivial will be what is remembered.

The idea that conversation is an aesthetic is informed by performance art more than visual art. The cues are in Allan Kaprow’s scores for Happenings, intentionally purposeless activities that engage participants in a negotiation of shared experience. By way of an aside, the researchers of On The Edge, at the instigation of Anne Douglas, took Kaprow’s score Calendar (1971) as focus for work over the last year. The way that Kaprow’s scores function as a boundary and orientation point around which a number of people with disparate interests negotiate creative action and creative relationship became sharply clear.

Another cue is in the radical/critical pedagogies of in particular Paolo Friere. Friere’s concern that learning needs to acknowledge power relations, and through developing an understanding of the historical context (which of course in his context was colonialism and in these artists’ capital, industry and racism) enable and empower individuals and communities to shape their own futures. This had a significant influence on late 60s and 70s feminist methods such as consciousness raising, and more recently Ranciere’s text The Ignorant Schoolmaster revisited these ideas.

The role of the artist and teacher is critical in these processes, and both Reiko and Denys are at pains to avoid constructing this in any heroic or charismatic mode.

Reiko articulates Denys’ role in a way that is normally framed in terms of glue or connecting,

“His work is like the essential but tiny knots between the pearls in the necklace. He keeps many different stakeholders and interests from rubbing against each other. It also keeps the whole project secure by maintaining each activity as a connected but separate entity. Denys helps to hold the integrity of a community that consists of many kinds of people.”

Her nuanced analogy of a string of pearls, being both the string that connects and also the knots that keep elements from rubbing together, is very effective.

Another relevant aspect of understanding the aesthetic of conversation comes from the work of Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison. They describe learning from their project Atempause Für Den Sava-Fluss that something they have come to call ‘conversational drift’ is a beneficial outcome. The project developed a discursive approach to the riparian landscape which increased the amount of clean water in the river Sava. Although interrupted by the Yugoslav war, their proposals were implemented with EU funding. Their assistant on the project went on to employ, iterate and evolve the approach developed by the artists on another nearby river, the Drava. The Harrisons’ concept of ‘conversational drift’ articulates the way that a conversation (in this larger sense) can move away from you, but carry on, and then come back into your life having developed in its own way. This throws into sharp relief the values and characteristics of a conversational aesthetic.

This short thought and reflection, written by two masters, barely touches the surface of the knowledge, wisdom and experience of the writers.

Advocacy advice

June 15, 2011

The advice in this column although designed for the arts in the US, applies equally to environment and ecology, suggesting the best tactics to influence politicians, policy-makers and public sector decision-makers.  It highlights the importance of starting the meeting by establishing:

  • the fact that you are a constituent, and that the people you represent are constituents,
  • that you are aware of the political and policy priorities,
  • the benefits that your organisation or service delivers.

The article goes on to focus on the benefits that matter to public bodies:

  • Both arts and ecologies are sources of jobs and economic activity,
  • Arts and ecologies represent resources that improve learning and school systems,
  • Cutting arts and ecologies will not solve public sector budget problems: they represent tiny fractions of overall budgets.

Finally it recommends a team approach to maximise the impact.  This enables the first person to introduce the subject, the second person presents the fact-based evidence.  The third person then contributes a human story of the transforming experience that the arts or environments can have.

Volunteers and Gardeners needed. Get your hands dirty!

June 14, 2011

images links to Flickr CCA Westhorn Allotments stream

CCA Summer Volunteer Days at Westthorn Allotments

Help us develop land at Westthorn Allotments into a fun and workable garden site as part of the CCA education and outreach programme which supports the wider Glasgow growing network and specific local communities.

Each day will involve a workshop from an artist or gardener on a particular topic, as well as a variety of activities to be involved in including planting and harvesting food and flowers, digging and weeding, and other fun and practical projects.

Saturday June 25th INVASIVE SPECIES
weed workshop and introduction to project
Please note: there is Japanese Giant Hogweed on site. If you plan on digging, strong boots are required – protective suits can be provided.

workshop with artists Alex Wilde and James McLardy

Saturday August 20th BIODIVERSITY
gardener workshop/discussion with a permaculture expert

12-4 pm
Meet at CCA at 11:15 to take the city bus together

Open to all!
tea and refreshments provided
Gloves and tools provided
Bring your own boots!

Email for more information

Westthorn Allotments (G31 4QA) are located in Parkhead off of London Road next to Celtics Supporter’s Club, accessible via the Clyde Cycleway or by bus.

Conflict Resolution on Highland Estates

June 6, 2011

The Aberdeen Centre for Environmental Sustainability is currently hosting four artists’ residencies leading up to a major conference on Conservation Conflicts: strategies for coping with a changing world which takes place at the end of August.

Dalziel + Scullion are undertaking one of the residencies, and Matthew Dalziel described the project,

You might be interested in the residency we are currently involved in which is at ACES at Aberdeen University. We are working with Steve Redpath and his Conflict Resolution Unit who have a long term project in Langholm looking at how to reconcile Raptors with Grouse moors and estate owners. You may have seen the programme on BBC on Tuesday night which was very much on the same topic.

We have spent time observing Hen Harriers, Goshhawks, Buzzards, etc., and met with activists, conservationists and game keepers. There is a big conference coming up in the Autumn focusing on Conflict Management and Resolution, all interesting stuff.

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