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Reports from Breakout Groups

> transcript   > images  

Speakers:>  Axel Lapp & Beryl Graham & Lucy Byatt & Lucy Bayley

Reports from breakout groups video available at BALTIC Archive

Sarah Cook’s notes from breakout groups reports:

1. Breakout group one: Commissioning for Collection

Reporter: Beryl Graham (CRUMB)

Risk – artist’s right to fail. Process v product. Risk is glamourous, Danger Is Our Trade!

Different models – kinds of institutions which allow greater or lesser risk – scientists’ experiments are allowed to fail. Research can be speculative, and learn from process. Lab model: artists plus equip plus ideas plus facilities (i.e. LABoral); art commissioning, and art collection at most risk adverse position.

What would help with dealing with risk is artists working in small or local authority galleries would be commissioning guidelines (i.e. Media Matters at the Tate). Sample contracts.

Even within a museum the scale between commissions and collections are in different departments and not enough joined-up-ness. Proviso: always points at which the relationship can be broken because of the risk involved in commissioning.

Hybrid and flexible means of collection: if you’re not ready for the full monty (expensive object) then ‘commission-ish’ projects or ‘collection-ish’ projects – Benjamin’s model of artist donating a copy or edition of the work for the archive. In terms of conservation – conserve for as long as you can? So long as it is present and historicized, don’t need to start with the whole hog

Relationship between the stages of process/documentation and collecting the object. Flexible hybrid ways of working: collect documentation (into archives or into formal collections).

Art collection/media collection/archive/net-art donated to be reused (Rick Rinehart, Berkeley Art Museum). Self-documentation (Caitlin Jones) – not the same as museum documentation but just as valuable (i.e. audience taken videos on Youtube).

Partnerships between institutions – New Museum, MCA and Hammer pooled resources – financial and people. More common for collections team to be a group of people but commissioning curators are often solo? Example of Imperial War Museum: have a stage process from proposal to exhibition to possible acquisition. National Collections Scheme of Scotland is another useful model.

2. Breakout group two: Residency / Product / Collectors

Reporter: Lucy Bayley (CAS)

Failure! Not being scared of it in terms of artists commissions but also institutional failure. International institutions and models from there vs. UK, i.e. VanAbbe – how they collect, not just the object but records, drawings for installation, everything that makes the collecting process visible to the public. Also the model of Le Consortium, built up and will be given to a museum in France.

Recoupment – very complicated. Comes down to individuals. Down to institutions to have recoupment clauses but comes down to relationships with galleries.

Need to have more knowledge around variable media, how to share that knowledge across the museum network

Arts Council strategy around accessioning variable media, difference between distribution of moving image work and collecting: “we live in a world that is networked like never before!”

Residencies – if outcomes are built in at the start how that can limit the scope of the residency.

Creating a collection of contracts - examples, database of contracts and how they have changed, something CAS could work on?

3. Breakout group three: Collections / Community / Process

Organiser reporter: Axel Lapp (CRUMB)

Institutions– it is their responsibility to make relationship with artist and are clear about how they want the process to go and what they want out of it. All institutions have different attitudes, through commissioning as through collecting. Manifesta worked to get collectors in the area together so that afterwards works might find their ways into collections.

Important for museum people to be open and how the work will differentiate itself between the space of the museum and how it lives outside and beyond the institution.

How the work might change while it is in a collection – the artist should be clear about how they want it to exist – record the artist talking about the intent, make a film.

Relationships – between the artist and institution – example of the AV festival, important to have local involvement, do something for audiences, that leads to further dialogue, the piece develops from there. Curators often don’t talk to artists enough and in fact put the blame back on the artists! i.e. Rebecca at AV was very clear about where she wanted the festival to go and where this commission fits into that agenda, have an open and clear dialogue about it.

Communication / transparency. Community and process: a piece of work is a many headed hydra, in a collection it looks like one thing, in a museum it looks like another, to the participants who (made it?) it appears as something else. The work can appear in all these contexts at the same time, but isn’t necessarily the thing that is connected.

Artists as curators – not a passive or resistant relationship – people might move in and out of orgs in different roles.

4. Breakout group four: Live Art / Documentation / Archive / Public Space

Organiser reporter: Lucy Byatt (CAS)

The role of the collection – its hard to talk about what goes in a collection without thinking about its role. Scrutiny about how collections are used. Ways in which collections are animated, used, researched and made more accessible to the future is important to consider in terms of what we collect now.

Collections reflect unreliable history. Open to whims? Of that institution. Be clear about that. Commissioning where promise that work would be acquired – is that limiting? As long as the artist knows conditions/context from outset then artist can deal with it rather that collecting retrospectively and trying to work out what the work is at the latter stages. A good commissioning process shouldn’t reduce the good parts of risk.

Participatory, no fixed authorship works – rather than there being a document made of that work, but that there should be documentary. Difference between document and documentary – social and cultural narrative. Is this a preferred form, a more crafted outcome than taking the component parts?

Strong feelings about some types of works which shouldn’t be collected and should remain in memory and okay if it filters away.

Abramovic commission at the Whitworth – the trust that was at the early stages which made the relationship valuable and resulted in audience experience of the work. Many hours of footage of that process sits on a shelf – should it be accessioned and in what format? It’s okay not to know… yet.

We don’t know what technology will be in the future and the conditions of the work but we have to carry on with our work and develop social and cultural narratives and work with artists to draw work into collections and do it with confidence not knowing yet….





  Sarah Cook
  Beryl Graham
  Caitlin Jones
  Axel Lapp
  Lucy Byatt
  Lucy Bayley