Updated: Jan 11, 2021

[Unfolding Thoughts for Season #1:]



[performative]

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.


PERFORMATIVITY AS CONCEPT:


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.


PERFORMATIVITY AS CURATORIAL STRATEGY:


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.


PERFORMATIVITY IN SEASON #1:


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.

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

~ An Attempt at Framing an Approach ~


At some point in 2020 (pandemic permitting), PINK will be taking up residence in the space of 86 Princess street, a unique and generous opportunity offered to us by the creative brains behind SEESAW.


This will be the chance for us to create, and nurture, a new space for the emergence of artistic and curatorial research; a space for things to collide in productive and generative ways. We will enter 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. In order to support this dynamic space of thinking and making, we needed to set a structure in place so as to be able to unfold lines of enquiry in what felt like a useful way - and came to the conclusion that a seasonal framework might be a way to begin this.


{Season by definition:- a time characterised by a particular circumstance or feature}


Understanding the season as a sort of framing device, this way of working serves as a self-imposed framework to think through our ideas, knowledge and creating a unique space for our research. It generates parameters to be thought through, worked in and leaned on; impacted with key questions, ideas and multiple points of enquiry; but with these initial parameters, comes multiple centres and peripheries - all of which we are excited to explore throughout the course of 'Season #1'.


The presentation of seasons enables us to build a context for a set of conversations to be conducted in the space over time. Each season will be framed by a theme relating to our collective lines of enquiry. This theme serves to hold open an idea for as long as possible so as to allow a number of artists, curators and other creatives in. The separate projects and presentations will exist in meaningful juxtaposition, and every explicit conversation developed in relation to the project will be accompanied by an infinite number of possible implicit conversations. Presenting our research as a seasonal framework, also is a way to buy ourselves more time to explore, with others. It has been designed as an expansive approach to how we instigate and ferment our research, triggering processes that can open up and contribute to the work that we do. Building a narrative around a programme, rather than solely within and around the space of a single exhibition.


It will help us to collaborate with different disciplines; thinking in an interdisciplinary way - navigating different audiences and welcoming new potentials for curatorial practice. It will enable us to connect various projects across multiple platforms around a different organising theme each time. It invites and instigates critical questions that are key to helping us move beyond our current expectations of curatorial practice. We started by asking {something like} how do you invite multiple people in to build knowledge? How do you create mechanisms for each exhibition, project or idea to capture knowledge that enters from unexpected people and places? How might we develop new models of collaboration through long-term, participatory curatorial projects?


{These questions will evolve with every twist and turn, with every interaction and encounter}


Our upcoming presentations and projects are about launching this concept; tentatively attempting to define the thematic framework and pose initial questions to be explored throughout the season. The Curating of Season #1 will be a process through which the problems arising from the project can be inhabited and grappled with; the problems actually are vehicles to access what lies beyond our own boundaries. From the exciting, open and experimental moments of encounter, to the suppressed, unacknowledged, uninvited and uncomfortable feelings that come with creative collaboration.


This season will bring together a wide variety of practices, research, resources and theories and recent discourses on curation in all performative disciplines to enrich, structure and collectively theorise possibilities of curating in these fields. It will begin as a space for our own thoughts, and slowly, as we begin to engage with others, become a space of multiple encounters with the works, thoughts and research of Manchester, beyond.


For Season #1 we will be drawing initial inspiration from J. L Austin’s use of the term performativity as a way in which to describe the action of language. We will be departing from the modes and methods of art that has the capacity to produce its own event; art that is performance, or has performance-like qualities in space and time. Exploring the transformative capacity of an act that constitutes or changes reality through a sense of {bodily} agency. We want to explore and emphasise a wider understanding of performance as a process: of making, thinking, acting; understanding it as a more than human activity. Illuminating the relationship between performativity as a process of research and practice.


With a focus on doing, and an extensive sense of performance as more than art, within the space of Season #1, we will situate ourselves within the intersection of curatorial and artistic research, opening up possibilities within this {productive} gap.





Updated: Sep 20, 2020

[ Written by Katy Morrison for an open call hosted by The School of Commons ]


The following words are the notes in my journal during the month of April, that serve as a space to think through PINK. I don’t have the ability to make sense of them at the moment,

nor do I think I need to make sense of them.

Right now.


This has been an intense moment of research.

I was tied up in a tense, blinding moment of launching a project space, only for it to be halted.

What has since followed, is a frank, but useful re-thinking.


////

PINK is built on a complex constellation of ideas, knowledge, processes, and people. An assemblage created, over a year ago now, in a bid to make space for the critical conversations brought forward by the curatorial as a method of research.


We hadn’t begun.

We were in the process of becoming,

we were actually meant to launch in Dec 2019,

but everything keeps blocking our path, like some sort of infinite system of rehearsal.

Maybe we shouldn’t actually do this?


In this transition we thought that we had stopped,

but in fact, it is more productive to say we had paused,

not succumbing to a false sense of productivity,

in a moment that demands a slow reflection.


We are pausing to explore the articulation between research and material work.

During a moment that has forced us to sever our physical connections, positions and relations

within our collective constellation, we have found ourselves isolated and alone.

Rehearsing our own curatorial reality.

Rehearsing complicated sites of the curatorial,

practising a new language, a new lexicon of gestures, actions and rhythms.

Re-imagining the parameters of the curatorial,

a re-situating of the centres, the peripheries and the decisions made in positioning ourselves.


This moment has altered the space-time form of the exhibition,

the apparatus through which most art is seen;

drastically shifting the relationship with our artists and audiences.

It has called for a new system of production,

but also this moment has also offered us an opportunity to recalibrate rhythms

in work, and in life.


It brings with it multiple spaces with multiple contexts,

all of which are producing their own gestures and action.

An opportunity to explore new curatorial boundaries,

expanding the project beyond the walls of its physical space.


What is your opportunity here?


We have taken some time to breathe.

But we can still hear the voices,

the pressure to take control of the shaping and reshaping of the conditions we once had,

the circumstance and the structures.

How do we reorder the material we already had to fit into this obscure space?

What awareness do we have in these new spaces?

What gestures of movements do we use?

What do we call these?

Assembling, experimenting, abstracting.


Working collaboratively to pass something back and forth,

in the hope that it makes some sort of sense of the gaps, the interruptions, the overlaps.

The opportunity to participate, to create a community.

What is this community?

And who is welcome?

We have taken time to contemplate.

Thinking through the actions and gestures produced, as individuals; as a collective.

How we might offer these self-reflexive moments as departure points,

for the creation of a new way of thinking with new forms of expression and presentation, together.


Working towards the slow construction of a new identity that is as in flux as the present moment.

What are the starting points of the new projects

that are operating outside of the usual exhibitionary model?

Offering alternate models of exchange.

A performative model of production, to what end?

Thinking of ways to create a discursive public sphere.


Understanding the ways we arrange ourselves and others, in time and space.

Questioning the ways in which the curatorial will be navigated and staged during this time.

How do we ground this moment, planting the seeds of something that might be radical.

What language are we using?

What do we know of this language?

Understanding the curatorial as a space to share information,

but let’s see if we can enjoy more of the process,

embracing the methods, no matter how messy.


What does it mean to stabilise,

why do we need to ground this in certainty?

It isn’t certain, and it shouldn’t be stable.

This is a physical departure from one state to another.

Bringing forward new moments of solidarity,

creating new ways of thinking,

approaching a crisis as a new way of being in the world.


What will keep us going?


Goodwill, flexibility and the knowledge we possess of the precarities we already know.

Do you feel supported?

We don’t expect to be supported.

We already feel a distance.

Fighting to adapt ourselves to a system that was already failing us.

Glaring issues of structure and support.

Maybe we must use this moment as a theme; as a lens to look back at our work.


A valuable platform for discussion as we work to create material together.

We will take this moment to engage,

working to connect, and in some instances, re-connect.

Curating is not about reaching conclusions or representation,

but about organizing rehearsals.


As long as a rehearsal is going on,

the theatre of exhibition will remain open to the future.


///


>> THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK LINK { for reference} <<


*** Thank you to The School of Commons for their continued support and for allowing us to think through within the space of this open call. ***


[ The School of Commons is: ]


A community-based initiative dedicated to the study and development of decentered knowledge, located at the Zurich University of the Arts. Promoting a broad, integrative understanding of knowledge, we focus on matters of organization surrounding the production and mediation of knowledge. Founded in 2017 as a student-run space for self-organized education, our aim is to build an open environment that enables participants to collaboratively innovate, scrutinize, and discuss knowledge practices under their own direction. For this purpose, we invite public, collectives, and individuals of all disciplinary backgrounds to share their curiosity and become members of our epistemic community. Apart from opportunities to contribute to events and publications, we specifically offer temporary positions in three different ‘research labs’.


https://schoolofcommons.org/