Friday, December 30, 2011

The antithesis of Brazilia?

Very close to Brasilia, a woman truck driver created this alternative to the capital.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Community without Propinquity Closing Event - 26 November, MK Gallery, Milton Keynes

Community without Propinquity* is a project exploring the role of contemporary art and understandings of community in New Towns across the globe. It includes an exhibition with work from Paulo Catrica, Nathan Coley, Jesal Kapadia, Wayne Lloyd, Vincent Meessen, Ishmael Randall Weeks, Pia Rönicke, Stuart Whipps, Bai Xiaoci and video programme including Amanda Beech, Cyprien Gaillard, Dominique Gonzalez Foerster, Pierre Huyghe, Minouk Lim, Corey McCorkle, Vincent Meessen, Pia Rönicke and Huang Xiaopeng.

For October and November, the The Project Space at has been an active Research Laboratory and forum for public events and new artist commissions. The focus of the research has been on the meaning of "community" in New Towns. The closing event will frame this work and research within a panel discussion, the launch of a publication published by ANDPublic and And Endless Supply and the first chance to see new work by the six commissioned artists including Caroline Devine, Patrick Staff, Emma Smith, Kelly Large and Mark Aerial Waller.

14.00-15.00 FILM SCREENING (Video Space) Looped
Pierre Huyghe, Streamside Day Follies (2003)

15.00-17.00 PANEL DISCUSSION (Events Room)
Guest Panelists: David Lock, Anthony Iles, Roman Vasseur
Chair: Claire Louise Staunton

David Lock CBE has been an urban planner in MK since 1977, is a founder member of the MK Urban Studies Centre and, in 1987, became President of Milton Keynes City Discovery Centre.

Anthony Iles is a cultural engineer and writer researching and making experiments in the disappearing public sphere. He is Assistant Editor of Mute magazine.

Roman Vasseur is an artist and curator. In 2008 he was appointed ‘Lead Artist’ to Harlow, a post-war New Town in Essex, in the build up to the town’s second phase of regeneration.

Kelly Large, Emma Hedditch and Emma Smith

17:45 SCREENING & Q&A (Events Room)
Carry Gorney introduced by Mark Aerial Waller, followed by a screening of her work at MK Channel 40, Sweet Sixteen and Things that mother never told us.

Carry Gorney is a Systemic Psychotherapist and writer. She has worked with Inter-Action in London and Milton Keynes, developing the use of video for community participation. This became the basis for a series of television programmes broadcast on MK Channel 40 from 1977 to 1979. Mark Aerial Waller is an artist and has been commissioned to make a new work for the Research Lab, to be presented at the event.

19:00 PERFORMANCE (Events Room)
Patrick Staff, Performance, Growth, Forecasts (2011)

A video and performance work by artist Patrick Staff with Milton Keynes' Madcap Performers. The work has developed out of a period of research at the archive of the Milton Keynes Discovery Centre, involving a number of interviews with key planners and academic researchers and participatory workshops. The project explores urban design, growth developments, the history of the garden city and New Town movements with a particular focus on the role of the irrational, mystic and holistic in these plans and cities and how such knowledge is produced, circulated and understood by a community.

All Day EXHIBITION (Project Space)

Generously supported by Arts Council England, Vision Forum, Milton Keynes Community Foundation with assistance from the MK City Discovery Centre

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Community without Propinquity in Milton Keynes

Community without Propinquity is a project exploring the roles of contemporary art and communities in New Towns across the globe. The project includes an exhibition, a video programme, six new artist’s commissions, a research laboratory, publication and symposium.
The exhibition, in the Project Space, includes work related to Shenzhen (China), Chandigarh (India), Brasilia (Brazil) and UK New Towns, such as Harlow, Thamesmead, Runcorn and Stevenage, providing a context for cities built on land with no previous significant population.
The video programme, in the Events Room, explores the utopian social and architectural plans of New Towns, from Chinese replicas of a British seaside town to a German modernist estate, via a new city that exists entirely online.

The Project Space also serves as a research laboratory and forum for public events and artists commissioned to make new work, exploring the social and cultural policies of early Milton Keynes with organisations such as The Open University, MK’s Channel 40 TV station from the 1970s and the communal housing communities. This evolving project will culminate in a final weekend of events, a public symposium where research is presented and a publication.

The project is organised by independent curator Claire Louise Staunton with curatorial group Inheritance Projects, while the research lab and publication have been commissioned from An Endless Supply.

Artists in the exhibition include:
Paulo Catrica, Nathan Coley, Cao Fei, Jesal Kapadia, Wayne Lloyd, Vincent Meessen, Paul Noble, Ishmael Randall Weeks, Pia Rönicke and Stuart Whipps.

More info here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Proposal: Community without Propinquity

Proposal & Aims:

'Community without Propinquity' is a form of public research lab and mini-exhibition to take place at the MKArt Gallery from 7 October - 4 December 2011. The title, a 1963 quote from urban planner Melvin Webber, suggests that future communities (specifically MK) would be formed through self directed, rational economic and social networks rather than proximity. This will act as a broad theme, to investigate the existence and formation of community for public activities.

1. Research Project

- This project is ongoing research-led project and the public programme is determined by the research. The first month will be spent on site, open to the public, building and displaying the archive, to plan the Public Programme and gather public histories. This will continue throughout.

- Archiving New Towns: researching and collating artwork made specifically about New Towns in an attempt to narrate, or propose a methodology for narrating an appropriate art history. The archive, and the video work will be on public display e.g. The Otolith Group, Dominique Gonzales Forester, Christian Jankowski and many more UK and international artists.

- Public Histories: working with the MKAG education team (video or audio recording) we will work with visitors to document their personal histories and experiences of MK, its unique art history. Stories gathered will provide direction for other activities.

2. Public Programme

- Film/Screenings: presenting art work made in/on Milton Keynes and other new towns. In discussion with the cinema next to the gallery to reach a broader audience.

- Symposium & Workshops: appropriate speakers (urbanists, philosophers, architects, writers) who deal with such themes

- Twinning/Networking: To actively network the other cities, through their art institutions

- Artists Projects: small scale commissioned works/performances in the public realm and project space.

- Publication/Newspaper/Zine: working with the artists and writers above, edited by Inheritance Project designed by Jon-Ross Le Haye distributed free at MKAG, other New Town institutions, beyond.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Field Trip to Milton Keynes

The Starting Point

It is late morning when our small community draws into Milton Keynes (MK); the day is grey, the location is at once familiar and absurd. C hands out copies of Olaf Stapledon’s ‘Star Maker’. The cover of the book draws us into its miniature galaxy giving out starting point as Stapleson’s protagonist emerges into a world of pavements, streetlamps, damp foliage and brightly lit windows shut out by curtains. It is from this non-place suburbia that the linear narrative is blown open, and a connection made.

Observations on a flattened grid

Driving through the city we fill up on boulevards and arcades, big grey sky, flat buildings (in planning--not one higher than the tallest tree), pedestrianised walkways and demarcated public space, routes for buses, for cars and for bikes. We’ve been researching the town for a few months now, pulling out those things we find to be of interest and trying to gather a comprehensive view of its early development. MK was built to accommodate vast overspill from London of the 1950s with its location deliberately equidistant to other major cities including Birmingham and Leicester so that it could maintain independence as a town in its own right. The town planning signalled a return to the ideals of the Garden City Movement. The movement, which was founded by Sir Ebenezer Howard, aimed to create planned communities surrounded by greenbelts. Each community was to be self-contained, consisting a balance of residences, industry, and agriculture. Garden cities would act as satellites surrounding larger cities, with easy access by train and road. Towns were promoted for healthy living and represent ambitions of social welfare, creating space for a whole measure of social life. Representative of this model are the tree-lined boulevards of MK and its even spread extending from a central malls. Yet as we navigate MK we develop an unease seemingly derived from a sense of placelessness, for there seems to be no middle to MK, rather a set of unravelling strips always running parallel.

MK Gallery

Our first activity is a trip to MK Gallery where Black Dogs have facilitated the project MK2 Survival Kit. The MK2 Survival Kit proposes skills of, and activities for, ‘survival’, to help us get by, once we have left earth and landed on the planet ‘MK2’. The accumulated information has been gathered through participatory methods creating a body of knowledge that takes as its centre point the town of Milton Keynes. The work presents 21st century ‘techniques’ that have allowed humans to entertain themselves and cites a wide encyclopaedia of activities including finger puppets, the internet, fancy dress costumes and modern art. The exhibition aims to question whether such life-skills will prove indispensable to the future generations of the new planet. Within the exhibition the here and now becomes somehow ruptured from its future, which remains light-years away, and simultaneously a bizarre accumulation of senseless activity, a place of recycled meanings and ideas.

…as is shopping centre as is hospital as is school as is business…

We enter a hospital-like shopping centre, an enclosed street area with shrubs and glass. A small Christmas town has been set up in the centre, hyperreal, a fantasy place enclosed within another. Over lunch we hold a quick seminar. The conversation focuses on progress through a model of enplotment. A question is posed: ‘is progress ideological?’ And following this: ‘Have we stopped being able to imagine the future?’ The discussion is informed by the previous exhibition and our research prior to the visit. C poses two final questions: ‘how do we approach this place? What is our method?’

Signs that stand

We are interested in the relationship between the urban planning, architecture and use of public art in the development of new towns. Public artworks provide certain cultural signage as to social and economic conditions in a geographic area and embed certain historical meanings into the fabric of a place. At the same time public artworks can come to stand as though totemic signs, fulfilling iconographic and monumental functions that are no longer representative of a specific place but as though signs for any place. R hands out map that delineates a circular route, a public art track through the town that allows us to take in some of the many public artworks of Milton Keynes. So certain works act to as signage of public spaces, demarcating leisure time through various iconographies of a satisfactory shared experience. These are mapped out across a city that is without a centre for example in Andre Wallace’s ‘The Whisper’, Nicola Moreton’s ‘The Conversation’ and ‘The Meeting’ by Nicolas Moreton. Other works deal with a kind of collapsed time or perhaps a slippage between different times that eschews in some way continuity as in Boyd and Evans’ ‘Fiction, Non-Fiction and Reference’, a painting taken solely from other references and so full of signs that it becomes hollow, or Wendy Taylor’s Octo which forms a snaking mobius strip in the centre of a pool of water--the absolute zero sign that conversely represents affinity. Then there are those incidental sculptures that are integrated into the place as though punctuating the town through a linguistic iconography of ‘church’, ‘street’ ‘bank’ and ‘shops’. These integrated works include Alan Evan’s ‘Church Cross’ and Tim Minett and Peter Sis’s ‘Bollards’. Then there are those sculptures that work to give over time to Milton Keynes, a veritable archaeology of sculptures with an ancient time of their own including Tim Ward’s ‘Acorns and Leaves’ and Bill Woodrow’s ‘Sitting on History’.

Observations Upon the Late National Embarrassment

Our tour ends, well nearly, with the concrete cows of MK. The cows, made by artist-in-residence Liz Leyh, became something of an unwanted icon for the town. The meaning was derived from a commonly shared misapprehension that the New Town would be built of concrete with minimal green spaces. In fact green space was integral to planning and developing the town. We briefly discuss how a mass experience of embarrassment creates a shared experience, creating through the negative a point where one can enter into a community?

‘A city in scale’

Alike to certain sculptures we experience in MK a slippage between times. A place that strangely eschews, through a lack of history and yet a combined mass of signifiers, chorological ‘order’ or forms of enplotment (as with another book from our reading list, Woolf’s ‘Orlando’). Here we are - referencing MK against our research, reading MK against itself, reading our method through the city, trying to find our way. As a planned whole MK was projected to true scale from models and as speed away from MK, the place as though in miniature as it falls away behind us; electric lights sparkling like so many distant stars in the darkening sky.

LEG Dec 2010