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Thinking in Constellations

Between People, Practice & Research.

It’s been a strange time. We have had to navigate 2-3 attempts at opening during 2020 ~ and this is still on-going ~ but what this has given us is the space and time we needed to think through the form and structure of PINK and outwardly share the ideas and research that have emerged during this process.

Over this last year, we have launched our website with a dedicated online space for research resources, founded and created the artistic research journal OFF_CENTRE, brought together multiple artists in our monthly discussion group DIALOGUES, and most importantly secured a future for ourselves and our artists with a successful Arts Council Application…finally!

It’s all been an attempt to ground and build a project that oscillates between a space, an infrastructure and a resource. A space to unfold experimental practices in close collaboration with artists, curators, writers, poets and many more; crossing knowledge fields to practice a critical fascination.

PINK was established as a means of reflecting upon performative modes of exhibition-making and collective acts of thinking and making. As PINK develops, it enters into an experimental research-led position, weaving between artistic research and discursive curatorial approaches – initiating methods for the production of knowledge that engages with a particular set of questions and ideas.

Our task over the next year is to create space, so that things can happen rather than just be shown; be researched instead of represented ~ held within the space of a constructed constellation.


Constellation is defined as: ___ “a configuration of phenomena under specific spatial and temporal circumstances…”

The constellation is a starting point for an examination of the curatorial, adopting the definition of a constellation as a structural metaphor to frame the development of PINK’s research. We are using it to create a basic starting point that over time can become more complicated, as we build an understanding and interest in the constellation as a method for curatorial research.

Some questions to start with: ___How can we create a space whereby we can co-exist; within the space of each other's work and process? ___How do we cultivate a space of interconnectedness, whereby the constellation develops into a plethora of interventions spanning various lines of enquiry? ___How do we ferment a research process; using the resources that we have access to? ___How do we enter a place of research and ground it as an important space for thinking / learning; whilst considering research as an important extension of the curatorial process?

In order to explore this idea further, we have worked to devise a productive structure in the form of research residencies.

Departing from an understanding of the curatorial as an “event of knowledge unfolding”, these residencies take their form as dedicated space and time to develop a significant new body of research.

This will be done in proximity to PINK, it’s planned programme and on-going research, with the consequential research project(s) forming a solid basis of PINK’s public facing event(s) and endeavours to explore a notion of research-led programming that promotes longitudinal lines of enquiry.

Over the last few months, we have worked to write a programme that holds open a space for new interrelations, connections and collaborative processes of enquiry. One that activates structures of support; finding a sense of community and dialogue that is slow and attentive.

The research residencies represent an attempt at founding such slow and complex spaces; removing an attachment to production, exhibition and formal aesthetics as the measure of value, instead opting for an open space for thinking, listening and learning.

PINK wants to explore the residency as a site for indeterminacy, thinking-making and continued experimentation - filtered through a critical understanding of the research situation. To be in a situation, is to be enmeshed in a particular set of conditions and relations, both in time and in space. Within this situation, any and every gesture creates further situations to be considered; little temporal structures that create, and momentarily are, situations that are situated.

The research residencies therefore serve to enact situated enquiries that construct multi-layered moments for questioning. By ‘situated’, references are made to those artistic practices for which the situation or context is often the starting point, and this is a notion that is intrinsic to the performative and process-led residency framework(s) that we are presenting and allowing the chosen artists to operate in. Offering a space that is fluid, processual, active and performative within the space of PINK’s constellation.

The term, research residency, is productive in helping us to understand the positions and proximity of art and research; practice and theory. Beyond providing a space for considered, collaborative production – it also offers a platform for the consideration of methods to best support artistic knowledge production – contributing to an understanding of artistic research and its place within current contemporary art practice.

The research residencies will coalesce around a set of departing questions ~ working to ferment a process of research that evolves into a complex constellation of thoughts, ideas and productions. We will work to create a space to be used, worked upon, added to ~ exploring the parameters, the spaces in between, the interactions, and overlaps; staging a particular situation in which certain conditions and potential outcomes can occur.

The funding we received from Arts Council England will support the development of these residencies. We will be offering 4 research residencies over the next 12-months (pandemic permitting) ~ they will be:

1x Local Graduate Residency; 1x Local Residency; 1x National Residency and 1x International Residency each of which will be for a period of a month.

We will also be working to expand and explore our proximity to the research and practice of others through an extended Associate Curator role. This creative curatorial role will operate in the same way as the research residencies - taking up space and place within the framework and structure of PINK - but will explore what might happen if we give someone the space of a year to unfold their ideas in proximity to a project space. Using time and space as the supporting structure. The Associate Curator will work to produce a research-led project over the space of the year. This will depart from initial research questions and will grow organically as it comes into contact with PINK, its structure, concept(s) and programme - but more on this soon.

Each residency will be an intensive sharing of ideas; aiming to capture discussions but also working to ferment and publicise a process of working together. This is an experimental approach that will see us work with artists to develop new lines of enquiry that will hopefully go on to produce meaningful research, and lasting relationships.

Updated: Nov 15, 2020

[ Unfolding Thoughts within a Collective Space ]

A journal is defined as a magazine or newspaper that deals with a particular subject or activity. It acts as a record of events; a recording of a process.

Using this definition as a structure upon which to hang our concepts, we worked to position this structure within the space of the curatorial; the programming, the producing, the exhibition - that which we deem central to the curatorial complex. Within this space of thinking through, we found ourselves on the periphery; isolated both by the COVID crisis and my fractured, exhausted thoughts as we worked to navigate the crisis and stay mentally and financially afloat.

I found myself always not quite in the centre, always slightly off; never fully there - but instead of continuing the battle with this mental position; I worked over lockdown to explore the thoughts, process and outputs that I encountered on these peripheries and wondered what might happen here if payed more attention to this kind of space and positioning.

I quickly realised that I wanted to use this time to create a flexible, discursive space for thinking whilst promoting conversations, cross dialogue and supporting our artists and networks.

Asking ourselves (something like):

How can we build temporary models or methods of working together?

We have always wanted to do a research journal; in fact it was going to be something we did at the end of the first year of PINK as a way of bringing all our thoughts together ~ but as timelines and dates become ever more uncertain, we figured it might be time to explore this right now.

Enter . . . OFF_CENTRE

If the exhibition takes a central position in the curatorial complex,

then what might we find if we go slightly off-centre?

This is a working title, a concept and a structure to be explored. A productive space for the thinking through of research. Research has always been a central element to PINK but as I work to build something that has multiple entry points and spaces for thinking, it’s become more important than ever. Research to me is the unfolding of a living idea; something to occupy, to embody and it’s exciting that I can begin to be ambitious with this and the ways in which we include others in the process.

As such, we wanted OFF_CENTRE to become a space to consider the discursive, the written, the textual and other forms as a way of researching, archiving, resourcing, documenting but also allowing the interconnections of theory and practice to collide; an active investigation; a living archive.

The aim of the journal is to develop an interdisciplinary dialogue on a chosen subject to understand how multiple perspectives on a local, national and international scale might be productively combined to explore the potential for future discussions and collaborations.

The journal has become an apparatus; creating a collaborative and generative approach, with the aim of opening up processes of thinking through a theme. We wanted to collect material to use, react to and interfere with; seeing this as a performing format. Investigating a subject through the process of gathering material; providing multiple entry points into a subject; inspiring collective discussion, whilst informing the individual research process.

A space to share, accept, process, and respond abstractly to the fermentation of research. What we seek is a multiplicity of viewpoints, thoughts and approaches on the theme of performativity; with its multiple contexts and references. Creating a collection of different voices, intended to facilitate informal exchange of ideas between PINK and its collaborators, as we use this time to develop our connections and research.

Using performativty as a lens, we are interested in opening up new ways of knowing, communicating and understanding artistic research in its many forms. We want to explore an expansive approach to collaboration that might help us to find new ways of thinking, acting, relating, and writing as we try and come to terms with the notion of performativity - as the thematic framework of PINK’s first year of activity.

So, it all began with a curiosity to consider:

A journal as a meeting point, a space to think and as an instrument for research and discussion.

We hoped to trigger this by asking our contributors:

What is your relationship and/or understanding of performativity as a practice, method or concept?

There were no limitations to what their response/contribution could be, or what form it could take, what language it would be in etc. All we required was for it to be worked into a PDF document.

We gathered people together through invitation to local, national and international creatives. Some of whom we had worked with before, others were those we have admired from afar and wanted to be in proximity to. The invitation they received was an enticement to think through the same question together. Generating a relational approach that offered new opportunities for a collective thinking; spanning different disciplines and inviting dialogue that works across and between to explore an inclusive curatorial approach.

The contributions are filtered through an understanding of constellation and assemblage, as presented in the works of Deleuze and Guattari. Understanding the contributions as a myriad of elements productively combined; OFF_CENTRE works to frame and present these new relations and the artistic complexities that might emerge from such activity. This becomes a space for the connection of people, practices and ideas; organised and presented within the aforementioned definition and framework of a journal.

Drawing on the constellation as a metaphor, we are questioning how we might present new constellations and connections; expanding modes of engagement with our ideas but also expanding the amount of people that we can be in proximity to at any given moment. As we enter into this constellation, we bear witness to multiple positions, voices and perspectives. A polyphonic experience; creating new, productive links between artists, curators and researchers.

We are stepping into a living idea and watching it unfold.

This finished version of draft #1 of OFF_CENTRE has provided us with several overlapping sites of thinking and production that go some way to exploring the recursivity of the curatorial. Considering the journal as an on-going structure to explore these questions, ideas and issues.

As OFF_CENTRE develops, we hope to continue our approach to research as a phenomena; working to explore possible connections and relations between different disciplines and practices.

What remains important, at least for now, is the continual questioning of how we bring together and configure these practices, positions and perspectives, whilst exploring the impact of these practices on artistic research.

A commitment to creating space to support the different positions and voices of others. Fostering spaces of conversation, whilst asking who do these conversations need to happen with.

OFF_CENTRE will exist as a space of shared reflexivity; a way of allowing multiple artists to be together, forming relevant and meaningful research procedures and an open space to wonder what sorts of frameworks might engage with, and extend, the practices of curation.

For now, draft #1 serves to purposefully broaden our understanding of performativity as a theme, as a concept and as a framework for thinking through our approach to curatorial research and practice.

~ How might it contribute to our understanding of artistic research and its practice?

~ What sorts of critical engagement with the spaces of artistic research and production might this kind of work generate?

~ What lessons can be learnt about the possibilities that such works generate for creatives?

~ How do we record processes of thinking and engaging with ideas?

~ What resource material can we generate to engage people in our ideas more?

~ How do we create useful links between creatives?

~ How can we expand the curatorial to include more opportunities for connection and collaboration?

~ How can we accommodate multiple people and practices so as to not close off potential dialogue and collaboration?

We are looking forward to being able to begin plans for draft #2, but for now please download, share and enjoy draft #1.

Contributors for Draft #1: Jordan Hayward, Jas Lucas, Joshua Leon, Rafal Zajko, Rosana Antoli, Lorenzo Sandoval, Kara Chin, Amba Sayal Bennett, Mel Galley, James Schofield, Matthew De Kersaint Giraudeau, Andrea Kerstens, Maisie Pritchard, Harriet Morley, Ella Mottram, John Carney, Emily Tilzey, Publib, Evelina Tracuma, Bryony Dawson. ​Design by bruï studio OFF_CENTRE: Draft #1 is supported by Arts Council England, but we want to be able to continue growing this project, as a resource and a space for on-going opportunities to think through ideas together.  To achieve this, all proceeds from the sales of Draft #1 will go back into the project ensuring we can deliver the aims and ambitions of OFF_CENTRE as best we can. 

Updated: Jan 11

[Unfolding Thoughts for Season #1:]


a. adj. Of or pertaining to performance; spec. designating or pertaining to an utterance that effects an action by being spoken or written or by means of which the speaker performs a particular act.

Within the space of Season #1, we will be taking on the theme of performativity as a frame through which to explore several strands of research and practice. Starting with our launch in late 2020, we will set questions to be explored through multiple artists, curators and collectives - working to understand what this kind of thinking and doing might encourage.


It all begins with an understanding of J.L Austin’s Speech Acts introduced in his 1955 lectures on ‘How to do things with words’. As a precursor to the idea of performativity, it described verbal utterances that exercised the transformative capacity of speech acts that constitutes or changes reality. While definitions of performativity are now numerous, and often contradictory, most are connected to a belief that there are no fixed concepts of objectivity, reality and truth and that everything is constructed and influenced by individual context, encounter and interaction. Although different, concepts of the performative all, as Shannon Jackson puts it, “emphasise its reality-making capacity”, the term performative is more often used to describe art works and practices that are “theatre-like but not theatre”; providing an understanding of recent cross-disciplinary works that embrace critical and relational encounters with time, space and bodies.

We have been exploring performativity across our collective practice(s) for a while now; but within the last year and within the space of PINK, the aim of our research has been to form and explore what Shannon Jackson calls the "intermedial use of performative language" – which foregrounds the productive relation between the performing and visual arts.

This opens up whole range of possibilities when applied to the processes and products of contemporary curatorial practice - and the main aim of this season and its subsequent research is to investigate how such performative language and situations may expand our knowledge of what curatorial practice is and can do.


By introducing the concept of the performative into our curatorial practice, we can test out the possibilities for its application in relation to our activities. Operating as a space that seeks to be open to new methods and modes of becoming a multifunctional forum; seeking to interrogate the meaning of curatorial practice itself. By calling performative production procedures into question, we focus on changes and dynamics. We break-up existing structures, and create new ones. We present the curatorial as a staging ground on which to develop an idea. Staging the artistic processes that lead to new potentialities in the performing of the curatorial. Defining a curatorial praxis that develops together with artistic practices and reacts to its urgencies.

The performative potential of the curatorial lies in its thinking of the various strands it presents as different aspects of the same approach. In this case, the curatorial becomes a temporal, dynamic field of liveliness and transformation; and maybe it is through the aligned methods of the performative, or even the choreographic, and the curatorial that we can begin to understand and bring forward the tensions and relations that emphasise the ‘aliveness’ or ‘present-ness’ in a performative ensemble. The understanding of the curatorial as performative means putting focus on the here and now; an intensive moment of being, the creation of a temporary reality; a space to think through. Through the merging of theatrical and curatorial concepts, we can create spheres of open exchange; setting in motion open questions around the role artistic strategies might play in these situations; working towards the potential of a curatorial approach that uses performativity as a tool to create such discursive spheres.


Our first season of activity focuses on the performative conditions of contemporary artistic production, and makes connections to current practices of performing, staging and acting within the exhibition space. We are interested in what will emerge across the presentations and works in relation to the thematic framework of performativity; exploring over the space of our first year how we might open up the theme and its processes, to be shown in all their complexity and chaos.

We aim to question how useful the concept of the performative is to curatorial discourse, and how it can contribute to a meaningful discussion of curatorial practice, as we bring performativity into the heart of the exhibition and test it in different ways. With our departing question being: How can performativity in, its varied approaches, open spaces for inquiry and become method(s) for knowledge production?

Performativity provides a way for us to explore relations and positions within a staged constellation. Through an understanding of the performative as a procedural phenomenon, PINK will use the term as a thematic framework to reflect on what an exhibition practice that considers itself performative has in mind. Working towards an understanding of performative curating and its ability to create active spaces to think through knowledge. A self-imposed structure that enables us to hold an idea open long enough to create a conversation with multiple entry points.

We will situate performativity within the space of the curatorial; amass an array of its objects, its metaphors, its movements. Exploring the shift between the staged and the enacted to test new curatorial conditions and boundaries.

It is through this focus on the notion of performativity, that we can begin to explore a series of structures and methods that allow us to examine the relations, objects, positions and conditions of a performative situation for research. Asking {something along the lines of} how do we think about research, perform it and report it? How can the creation of temporary communities, the impact of time and space, the tactics and strategies of theatre, dance and performance contextualise artistic work? And: how does performative curating work in relation to the spatial, social, environmental, and political reality?

>> For more information on our seasonal approach ~> SEASON #1: A Framing Function <<

{ Performativity Reading List ~ Coming Soon }

We are always interested in hearing from people who share the same lines of enquiry and this post is a mere overview of the work and research we have done on this subject. If you would like to get in touch, please contact us directly via pinkmanchester@gmail.com.

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