Last month I went to Bristol, to Knowle West Media Centre as part of Whose Data? an intensive residency week where 8 artists worked with the community to find ways of sharing live data. The artists; Jules Rochielle, Julie Myers, Paul Hurley, Susanne Stahl, Richard Layzell, Steven Paige, Chris Chapman came from backgrounds in performance, design, fine art as well as digital media.
Knowle is a large housing estate just outside the centre of Bristol and though it is classified in some areas as a “deprived urban area” it has a strong community and sense of place. It was built along the lines of the Garden City Movement and has lots of green space and gardens. There is an interesting mix of urban and rural and many people have a close relationship to the land;- they keep horses, sometimes in their gardens, chickens even pigs are not unknown.
The idea was to come up with locally relevant ideas for using live data that could be useful to people who want to know more about energy use, weather, growing food on their allotments and so on. During the week the artists created and presented ideas to KWMC and local residents four of these will be awarded a residency to develop their ideas further. Whose Data? is being led by Dane Watkins, who has been artist in residence at KWMC since 2009 (initially supported by Science City Bristol) working on the Electric Footprint project. The week long event was open submission and KWMC offered a small fee that was enough to make it possible for people to take time out and explore ideas. Its not something that happens often as a way to research a proposal but its a great model becuase whatever the outcome of the final selection it is a rare chance to intensely experience a situation as part of developing new ideas and dialogues. I liked the intensity, the time to get immersed in the place and the ‘open door’ approach KWMC has to the community.
Way back in 2007 we went to Sydney for a residency in Campbletown for Dlux Media Art’s project Coding Cultures project which “explored how a range of media technologies can enable communities to express and share their stories in innovative and imaginative ways”. Before that began I was lucky to be taken for a few short days to Broken Hill to visit the new I.C. Media Lab run by Broken Hill Art Exchange, and to share ideas and knowledge with them, local artists and the local school. The Art Exchange took me to see the gigantic Perilya zinc and lead mine and its mix of ancient and industrial technologies, human experience and high tech digital processes. This week they uploaded this film of the visit which really brought back to me the great hospitality they showed me and also the unique outback mining town of Broken Hill. It sits on one of the worlds richest zinc lead ore deposit and evidence of the mining is all around.
In June Alice Angus joined our partners Dodolab in Rijeka Croatia to join in the lab’s activities and public events and to research a new video installation and series of works on paper about Rijeka City Market, its place in the community and its many traders.
Dodolab have been working in Rijeka in 2009 and 2010 with the city authorities and local groups to explore perceptions of Rijeka, collaboratively examining ideas about the city and its future, thinking about resilience and sustainability. Alice worked with Lea Perinic to speak with market traders traders about the market and some of the issues facing it and observe the flows and uses of the market space through the day and at night. The market is contained in three large art nouveau halls and the streets between them, the fish market building features reliefs by Venetian sculptor Urbano Bottasso. There are buildings dedicated to fish and meat with traders selling all kinds of produce including fruit, vegetables, dairy, bread, nuts, dried fruit, honey, flowers and clothes. The resulting work will be a series of works on paper, some publications and an installation that will be shown in Rijeka City Market, as well as in the UK, to spark new discussions on the value and future of traditional markets.
DodoLab were working with a number of people and organisations in the community including Hartera Music Festival, Rijeka City Puppet Theatre and artist Tomislav Brajnovic on a number of site and locally specific projects including surveys, poster campaigns and performances.
Dodolab is a dynamic and experimental project exploring issues of resilience in places undergoing change and urban regeneration. The lab creates performances, artworks, interventions, events and education projects through an engagement with sites and communities.
Pictures of the market and Dodolabs activities in Rijeka can be seen here.
You can see images of Dodolabs work in Rijeka here.
There are no fences here … when you go out of town there are no fences, but I wouldn’t call this a wilderness because peoples homes are here, people live here.
This week I’ve been packing up a set of drawings to send out to the Canadian arctic town of Inuvik for the first leg of a touring show during the the 25 year anniversary of Ivvavik National Park in Canada which was created by a historic Aboriginal land claim settlement The Inuvialuit Final Agreement, signed in 1984. In it the Inuvialuit agreed to give up exclusive use of their ancestral lands in exchange for guaranteed rights from the Government of Canada. The rights came in three forms: land, wildlife management and money. (read more on the Inuvaliuit Regional Corporation). As a result Parks Canada and the Inuvialuit co-operatively manage Ivvavik National Park with the Inuvaluit Wisdom that the “The land will protect the people who support the protect the land“. Parks Canada has organised a touring exhibition of work from their Artist in The Park programme which I was invited to be part of by artist Joyce Majiski, in 2003 with whom Ive been working with since them on projects such as Topographies and Tales.
Middle of Nowhere?
Bordered on the north by the Beaufort Sea and Alaska on the West, Ivvavik sits at the north western tip of Canada. A highly biodiverse region of the Western Arctic, its Inuvaluktun name ‘Ivvavik’ means nursery or place of giving birth. It is a portion of the calving grounds and migration route of the Porcupine caribou herd and forms a part of the Beringia Refugium; an area untouched by the last glaciation where an ice-free bridge allowed humans and animals to migrate from Asia into North America over twenty thousand years ago.
In summer 2003 I met up with artists Joyce Majiski Ron Felix, Audrea Wulf and James Ruben, guide Mervyn Joe and elder Sarah Dillon and flew out of Inuvik, across the Mackenzie Delta towards Sheep Creek. From the air (and in the imaginations of the temperate zone) the arctic taiga and tundra, is a frozen desert. But landing at the junction of Sheep Creek and the Firth River we saw tussocks of wild flowers, embroidered cushions with succulent jewel like plants, luminescent mosses and ferns; miniature gardens of Babylon. Out on the land there were larger traces of life and stories of trappers, miners, hunters and travelers. The language of the north I grew up with paints an image of bleakness, but there the myths of desolation fell away.
“Have good time miles from nowhere!” someone had said before I set off. In the world’s ‘wildernesses’ like Ivvavik it is easy for a visitor to be lost in such a reverie of wonder at landscape that you miss the lives and culture that are part of it. There is a disjuncture between the notion of wilderness as barren, by definition disconnected from the social, and the view of land as homeland, a social place of culture, food and everyday life. To many outside the north the Arctic is still shrouded in an aura of romanticism portrayed, as it has been through the history of polar exploration, as a landscape of sublime desolation. To some, I expect, it’s not a place but an imaginary landscape far away from their everyday lives. I wonder what is the global consequence of this enduring vision of the land?
One day we see five caribou. Pregnant cows lead the herd from Ivvavik into the calving grounds in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR); an area rich in oil reserves. So important are the grounds the Gwitchin people refer to them as the “sacred place where life begins”. If the ANWR is opened for drilling many people believe it will result in untold damage to the herd and the people whose lives and traditions depend on it.
A film by Alice Angus and Joyce Majiski using music, oral recordings, drawing, animation and storytelling to playfully unearth local and personal stories, memories and myths against a picture of how concepts of space and environment are shaped by ideas of belonging and home. A personal exploration of the intimate way people form relationships with their environments, Topographies and Tales takes a journey through the myths and perceptions the filmmakers encountered on their travels in the west of Scotland and the Yukon.
Topographies and Tales is part of Alice’s long term collaboration with Canadian artist Joyce Majiski. They began a collaboration in 2003 which took them to Ivvavik National Park in the Canadian Arctic, Glenmore Lodge in the Cairngorm Mountains, Scotland, the Klondike Institute for Art and Culture in Dawson City, Canada, Joyce’s Tuktu Studio in Whitehorse and the Proboscis Studio in London.
Writer and academic Marie-Anne Mancio is one of our Spring 2009 Diffusion Residents. She will be creating an ‘encyclopedia’ of eBooks about the 1970s performance group, The Theatre of Mistakes.
Follow Marie-Anne’s publications in the Residencies Series.
Artist and writer Stewart Home will be in residence at Proboscis in December and January 2008 creating a series of eBooks using the Diffusion Generator.
Read more here.
Alex Murdoch, founder and director of Cartoon de Salvo, one of the UK’s most dynamic improvised theatre company’s, is in residency at Proboscis in Autumn 2008. Alex is creating a series of eBooks inspired by the stories Cartoon de Salvo created during their UK tour of Hard Hearted Hannah in Spring 2008. The show was a ground-breaking long-form inprovisation where, each night, the audience provided the cast with the title of the night’s show which was then improvised. Over 50 shows and stories were created, which are being collated and illustrated by Alex as part of her Diffusion Residency.
Follow Alex’s publications in the Residencies Series.
Comic artist and illustrator Matt Huynh from Sydney Australia was resident at Proboscis studio in August 2008, playing with the Diffusion formats and creating several eBooks. Matt won the inaugural Design NSW Travelling Scholarship in 2008.
Read more about Matt’s Residency here.
Curator Lisa Hunter of Dundas Museum and Archive spent a week at Proboscis studio in July 2008 exploring uses of the Diffusion eBooks and StoryCubes in a museum context.
Read Lisa’s comments on her residency here.