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OFF_CENTRE: Draft #1

[ 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. 

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