On the morning of the second day of Caveat’s Artist Placement event at Argos, I presented two cases of the current research I develop under a practice-based PhD that looks to employ artists, as artists, inside the administrative side of art institutions, at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp and the University of Antwerp. These cases were: a situation in which I set-up and ran, with the help of colleagues, an informal kitchen inside my individual studio that was open to all participants at the Jan van Eyck Academie; and a book project where I edited my father’s photographic archive and had it published under his name by the Instituto Moreira Salles. While ending the presentation with some remarks on future ideas, such as a potential protocol — the artist and friend, Sofia Caesar, questioned the reasoning behind developing a model or a protocol as an outcome of the research. Sofia, who has known my practice for some years and understood it coming from an embedded experience within a specific environment, raised some doubts as to why would I now develop something in this manner. A model or protocol that could be applied to different situations. Establishing a framework, guideline, forms of conduct, as I understood it. Her doubt at that moment forced me to reflect on the initial intentions of the research and also to reassess the manner in which key figures have generously opened-up their practices, allowing mine alongside theirs.
For a couple years now, I have collaborated with Fernando Torres and his archive of over 300 live recorded shows that were held in an art space called Plano B, in the neighborhood of Lapa, Rio de Janeiro. Fernando, a vinyl trafficker as he likes to call his earlier profession, would scavenge rare and bizarre records in the city of Rio for collectors across Brazil during the 1980s and 90s. In 2003, he founded Plano B, a vinyl shop during the day and a cultural space of sorts over the weekend, where several artists from Brazil and abroad would have concerts, performances, talks, screenings, etc. Over the course of ten years Plano B housed and fomented an alternative music scene in Rio. Recently, Fernando mentioned that after the space closed its doors, when he would be invited to play in other venues, he would, more often that not, decline the invitation. His reasoning would be that he got used to the way Plano B functioned and couldn’t have it any other way afterwards. Plano B for him was not just a “concert venue”, but more of a lived installation where all corners of the shop and dynamics between the people who inhabited it were taken in to consideration, a collective effort in a small space that developed irrespectively of its lack of institutional or governmental support.
Late last year, I worked as an intern for the Iran and Latin America Geo Desk, at BOZAR. The intention behind this internship was to observe through a set of functions from a position inside the inner workings of the institution. There I was asked amongst other things, to help draft proposals for co-production projects between different countries of our focused regions, developing frameworks supporting and promoting the artists and local scenes through cultural exchange. While attempting to elaborate a few proposals, I kept running into similar troubles: a difficulty with the language of these types of proposals. I was not accustomed to the necessary generic quality of the language in order to design an adequate framework: capable of attaching and readapting to every new potential partner; selecting and sorting who and what will come to inhabit it through very broad artistic concepts; remaining undefined enough to accommodate a whole range of unforeseen events and their consequences through the length of the project, taking into account several issues such as eventual mishaps and the liability of each partner. As I attempted to write these proposals, I could not help to feel that just about any subject or content could go through these frames and to what extent this apparent indifferent flexibility shaped what was being sorted.
During the final conversation of the Artist Placement event, the artist [[participant: Agency | Kobe Matthys]], described the development of two new models of institutions from the performing arts scene in Belgium of the 1980’s, one a more project based approach, such as the Kaaitheater, and the other revolving around the figure of an individual artist. Expressing, how these two models are at turning point today as a result of the pressure placed by the funding bodies who at first enabled these models to develop and now through cut backs are forcing them to comply to different measures such as unwanted mergers, etc. Kobe ended his response to the conversation arguing for a new model, one that would be less standardized and idiosyncratic as the previous two models, which would have as its starting point the milieu of a practice. Suggesting further the idea of cohabitation, a symbiosis of sorts, between institutions outside the cultural field and this new type of model centered around artistic practices.
Vijai Patchineelam's practice-based research in the field of art focuses on questioning the configuration of the contemporary art field, with a particular focus on dialogue between the artist and the art institution. Placing the role of the artist as a worker in the foreground, allows Vijai to develop a research-driven artistic practice that can experiment with and argue for amore permanent role for an artist. An artist who becomes a constitutive part of the inner workings of an art institution. This displacement of roles is part of a larger trajectory that he follows in the research for his PhD, The Artist Job Description: A Practice Led Artistic Research for the Employment of the Artist, Artist, Inside the Art Institution.
Artist Placement. Caveat at Argos
Artist Placement is a two-day series of presentations and discussions on the Artist Placement Group (APG), its ongoing relevance, and current projects and initiatives that taking inspiration from it.
Caveat Reading Room #6, Translating Creleisure
Collective reading and translation of original texts by Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica in relation to stock images portraying a new model of worker, one who is both on vacation and at work. The texts and images were selected by Sofia Caesar, one of the artists at the core of Caveat’s collective research.