Re-thinking art practice in new social, economic, environmental and political spheres. Four day symposium for artists, curators, academics and arts organisations

Fri. 31st Oct. – Sat. 1st Nov. 2014 Salford University (core symposium dates).

In September 1994 many leading arts groups, curators and critics (Suzanne Lacy, Grant Kester, Bruce Barber, Wochenklausur, Platform, TEA, Synapse, Locus+, Mary Jane Jacob, Helen and Newton Harrison, Projects Environment, OVA, Hirsch Farm, Shedhalle Zurich, etc.) involved in the early manifestations of socially engaged art practice, gathered in Salford UK for a two day international conference.
The Salford conference organised by a DIY group of art students and visual artists also helped to surface some of key theoretical, pedagogical and aesthetic coordinates of what later became recognised as a new critical art movement.

University of Salford Art School and Castlefield Gallery, in collaboration with Littoral Arts Trust are planning to host a second international gathering for artists, curators and critics, etc. Including workshops, seminars and practitioner clinics on Thurs. 30th Oct., and Sunday 2nd Nov, including proposals for an alternative arts policy agenda, post the 2014 Culture Media and Sport MPs Government Committee of Inquiry into Arts Council England.

Re-grounding the principles of critical engagement

The event aims to provide an opportunity to reflect on some of the key historical moments and arguments and a recounting of current questions and future agendas, etc., for artists, curators and thinkers. Many new art groups, research agencies and practitioner issues and agendas have emerged since in recent years which would also benefit from a platform. Also at a time of economic austerity, political uncertainty and yet more difficult times ahead for artists, etc., we think that the UK and wider international art community might welcome such a gathering.

Ethics, Spectacle and Participation and other key questions

Grant Kester and others writing and publishing in this area continue to up open up new insights and critical questions in the field: ‘The Game is Up: Programmers, Patronage and the Neo-liberal State’ (2012), ‘Galatea’s Gaze: Ethics, Spectacle and Participation’ (2013), ‘The Pedagogical (Re)turn in Contemporary Art’ (2011). More recently Bruce Barber’s book ‘Littoral Art & Communicative Action’ (edited by Marc James Leger) Common Ground Press, Art and Society Series, Illinois (2013) also raises other interesting questions which need addressing. Grant Kester, Bruce Barber, Suzanne Lacy, Mary Jane Jacob, Andrea Phillips, Malcolm Miles, Maria Fusco, etc., have also agreed to return to Salford and lead workshops and give papers.

“The 1994 Salford conference helped change the direction of critical art practice internationally.. I am very keen to return and join with artist colleagues from Europe, Asia, and elsewhere to explore the new critical narratives and agendas for the 21st century..”
(Suzanne Lacy, Dean of Otis Art Institute, San Francisco)

Parallel programme – DIY events and exhibitions

The organisers are also inviting input and proposals from other colleagues (artists, curators, critics, etc.) and organisations interested in programming satellite events, seminars, exhibitions, etc. as part of the Symposium parallel programme. Thus 30th Oct & Sun 2nd Nov .

Contact: Ian Hunter Littoral Arts Trust e. t. 00 44 (0) 153943730

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