As contemporary artistic practice has become ever more polymorphous and multispatial, large scale exhibitions have accommodated a wider array of emerging nonmodern epistemologies, materialities, and temporalities ‘in the middle’ (Latour, 1993, 47). As a critical means of considering contemporary art’s homologous non-modern, this paper refracts two influential global exhibitions of contemporary art – dOCUMENTA (13) and Il Palazzo Encyclopedia – through the lens of Medievalisms Studies. Medievalisms Studies’ challenge to the ‘simplified binarization of premodernacts and modern identities’ (Fradenburg, 1997, 213) invites deeper scrutiny of contemporary art’s knowledges, materialities, and chronopolitics. Developing the medievalist analogies of the compendium and the relic, I focus on specific exempla presented within the curatorial frameworks of two key biennale that offer a macro-cosmic discourse on contemporary art’s developing relations with knowledges, materials, and time. In unfolding anachronic materialist narratives, a nonmodern sensibility promised to liberate emerging art from the social constructivist paradigms that still dominate contemporary art. As a corollary of their nonmodern materialist epistemologies, the biennale that form my exempla also attempted to (dis)place the practices they curated through a polytemporality in which now-and-then and here-and-there areintertwined.
The Scottish Society for Art History’s Study Day for 2018 is on the theme of Art Organisations and Institutions in Scotland. The event is hosted in association with Fine Art Critical Studies, The Glasgow School of Art, and will take place in the Reid Auditorium, GSA , on Saturday 10 February.
The study day will share current research and scholarship on art institutions, galleries, societies, collectives and support organisations in Scotland. The event will feature a selection of papers from a variety of different speakers, from academics and independent researchers, to curators and practising artists.
Tickets for the study day can be purchased online via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/art-organisations-and-institutions-in-scotland-ssah-study-day-tickets-39874340225
Neil Mulholland – The Unlearning Organisation: Cultural Devolution and Scotland’s Visual Arts 1967-2017
Building on primary research in CCA/GSA’s Third Eye Centre archive and interviews with key stakeholders, this paper elaborates the ways in which visual artists based in Scotland developed their own civic infrastructure in tandem with the devolution of state arts patronage from London to Edinburgh from 1967 onwards. It demonstrates how the Keynesian arms-length principal inherited by the Scottish Arts Council (SAC) generated a productive tension with nascent Artist Run Initiatives (ARIs) in Scotland. With limited state support, artists successfully developed and ran their own platforms while the Scottish Arts Council founded and led more generously funded (competing) national and civic arts organisations.
Realising Tom Nairn and Bob Tait’s vision of a Scottish International, Scotland’s nascent ARIs bypassed official Scottish and British arts bodies, finding a blueprint and network for their activities in ARIs such as SPACE (London) and PS1 (New York City).
As a means of mapping means of production and systems of distribution over the past half century, the paper presents snapshots of organisational change at pivotal moments in the devolution of the arts in Scotland: 1971, 1979, 1992 and 1999.
Shift/Work : ISSOTL17, Calgary, Alberta, 🇨🇦
Directed by Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop (Dan Brown) and Edinburgh College of Art (Prof Neil Mulholland), Shift/Work is a collective that composes workshops that cause participants to reflect upon and recalibrate processes of artistic learning. Key to this is an open engagement with practice (work) as a means of both generating and transferring new knowledge (shift). Our workshops enact new practices and collectively compose open educational resources for artists, art professionals, curators and art educators to adapt and implement. ‘Shift/Work’ is an iterative process, a rolling workshop that can be continually re-performed like a musical score. Given that SoTL generally does not feature in contemporary artistic practice or pedagogy, Shift/Work is distinctive and significant in its engagements with, and innovative contributions, to SoTL.
We will briefly outline the genesis and aims of Shift/Work in relation to SoTL and ‘educationally-turned’ contemporary artistic research, before focusing on Speculations, a participatory workshop composed at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop then play-tested as part of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in India (March 2017) and at the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway (Sept 2017). In Speculations participants develop, learn and apply speculative methods, processes and practices that cannot be held, observed or enacted without taking risks or experiencing their consequences. Rather than simply reflect upon speculation and artistic research, the workshop actually generates new speculative-artistic methods through participatory action research.
Speculations offers a unique insight into Shift/Work’s ludic approach to workshops as reciprocal and enmeshed game-rules governing how actants interact. Playing the ‘game’ – Speculations – leads to the rules being revised and updated, offering fresh game-theoretic insights. Speculations is, thus, a paragogy, a ludic and ‘meta’ practice of peer-to-peer learning that is central to artistic learning. It is a heuristic to improve our understanding of how parameters calibrate and enable adventurous, creative play. In turn, it demonstrates that play does not just make learning fun, it is constitutive of learning. Speculations unravels and clarifies Shift/Work’s commitment to codifying playful paragogy in order to publish and distribute it as an open educational and artistic resource. This has invaluable implications for SoTL as an experimental paragogy that can transform the whole field of education.
A multidisciplinary conference on medievalism in the post-Middle Ages. MAMO 3 will take place at the University of Manchester between 28 June and 1 July, 2017.
SATURDAY 1 JULY
MAIN LECTURE THEATRE, SAMUEL ALEXANDER BUILDING, THE UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER, Lime Grove, Manchester M13 9PP 🐝
10:00-11.30am Panel session 10
A. Neomedieval Fictioning before and after Contemporary Art
(Org. The Confraternity of Neoflagellants; mod. Neil Mulholland)
Plastique Fantastique, ‘Mumming in the Post-Truth Era’
The Confraternity of Neoflagellants, ‘Trial by Future Dead’
David Steans, ‘Saint Good Works’
This panel consists of commissioned art works that take the form of three little neomedieval theory-fictions (c.20mins each).
In its attempt to disrupt postmedieval anthropocentrism, art is currently gripped by intense speculation on all things nonmodern. This often takes the form of nonmodern world-building, the practice of constructing theory-fictions. Fictioning as a world-building technology combines with mythopoesis: how previous modes of existence might be utilised against the impasses of the present. By using the term ‘fiction’ as a verb we refer to the writing, imaging, performance or other material embodiment of alternate worlds.
Broadly speaking, while the pre-modern bestiary has long formed the sine qua non of small scale curating, the pre-modern university – a hybrid, transtemporal fictioning of social relationships, tools and things – is fictioned as the true modus operandi of today’s artists. The medieval Wandergesellen is fictioned as a permanent supranational state, one in which artisans, scholars, cultural pilgrims, artefacts and many other things drift endlessly betwixt compagon and biennale.
In these brief examples, cultural production is periodically fictioned after contemporary art. The timeframe of artistic practice has shifted from the finite ‘just-now’, bound by human finitude, to a ‘long-now’ that outlives and eludes us, in which the people of the middle ages are our exact contemporaries. Fictioning today, thus, is both before and after contemporary art.
Trial by Future Dead
The Confraternity of Neoflagellants
Following their book-length neomedieval theory fiction thN Lng folk 2go (a preview of which was presented at MAMO 2013) the Confraternity have continued their project of non-modern ‘world building’ through a series of speculative hagiographies, avatar bestiaries, mall-rat pilgrim confessions, technocratic relic translations, liturgical corporate strategizing and scholastic summae of conflict management.
In attunement with neo-animist configurations of the non-human turn, this fictioning will precis two parts of the trial of a rooster-redeemed $50 Amazon Gift Voucher. The cock-a-rooster will undergo Trial by Compurgation and Trial by Ordeal:
“Great Moderator: Nevertheless, The Great Moderator asks this of its Defence Council: If we were to forcefully decouple said Voucher organ from said Polyresinal Rooster organ, do you propose that the Cock is culpable but the Coupon not? How is The Swarm to discern and apportion the faulty or culpable portions of this thing without recourse to the butcher’s arts of cutting out the back bits to imprison in a humble pie?”
Similar to a medieval body-part relic, the Polyresinal Rooster organ-redeemedvoucher is part corporeal, part transaction and part commodity. As a person-object, subject to continuous translation, the Amazon $50 Redeemed Gift Rooster, inhabits and embodies a cosmology in which aesthetics is not limited to the sensual relations between human self and world, but, instead, describes a synaesthetic hyper-economy through which all ‘selves’ inscribed or enfleshed, animal, vegetable or mineral, represent, translate and co-construct common-oddities that probe the otherwise separate realities they inhabit. Will the Amazon $50 Redeemed Gift Rooster be proven innocent or guilty? Let the swarm decree….
The presentation will be performed in the Confraternity’s own ludic sub lingua franca comprising post-literate netspeak, emojinal gylphs, product spin, inter-species pidgin, object noise-chatter, and middle American mall talk. Dialogue includes Electronic Voice Phenomena recordings of the medieval dead.
Green Screen Mumming in the Modern Age
Members of the group producing the performance fiction Plastique Fantastique will present a new collaboration with the artist group Orphan Drift. This collaboration involves and a common interest in mumming and animism. Plastique Fantastique have used mumming – the tradition of presenting masked plays – as mode for delivering communiqués from the extreme past and future in a number of performance works, most recently in the flag-ship Apple shop in London. The talk will present the group’s films and discuss their interest in animism and human and non-human agents explored in relation to mass-media. They will also talk about the concept of myth-science and performance in relation to what has been referred to as the post-truth or past-fact era.
Saint Good Works
Saint Good Works is a short fable that manifests in the form of a talking pebble: “When SGW reached the age of one hundred, he conclude d that his life was coming to an end, and that he was no longer able to usefully serve God on this earth. After attending to what little worldly affairs he had, he walked into the mountains, with neither provisions nor intent of return. After a day of walking he sought rest within a cave. Grown thin and weary, he sat down in the cave and contemplated his death. In the cave he held a stone, shiny and grey underneath its coat of moss. He contemplated the stone….” The pebble will narrate its magnificent story.
Presenters’ Biographies and Contact Details:
1. The Confraternity of Neoflagellants (Hogg and Mulholland) are lay peoples dedicated to the ludic, ascetic, aesthetic and athletic treatment and application of neomedievalism in the hypereconomus of contemporary non-modern cultures. They are an equal opportunities confraternity bound by chirograph.
2. Plastique Fantastique (Burrows and O’Sullivan) is a mythopoetic fiction – an investigation of aesthetics, the sacred, popular culture and politics – produced through comics, performances, text, installations and shrines and assemblages.
3. Saint Good Works is a talking pebble made by David Steans an artist and curator based in Leeds. Steans co-founded the Medieval Helpdesk at the 2015 Leeds International Medieval Congress www.medievalhelpdesk.co.uk. He teaches fine art at Leeds College of Art and is a practice-based PhD student at The University of Leeds.
The Porous University – A critical exploration of openness, space and place in Higher Education | 8th and 9th May, An Lòchran, Inverness Campus
Prof Neil Mulholland
“Der Fachidiot”: The Paratechnic in the Monotechnic
(slide cast of provocation paper):
Paratechnic Principals … paraphrasing: ‘5 Principals’ in Corneli & Dandoff, (2011) Synergising individual organisational learning, Wikiversity
1. Diverse methods, diverse communities of practice
2. Externally-facing ’University of Dissensus’ [Readings: 1997]
3. Immediation, 1:1, live
4. Fluid, adaptive co-learning
5. Cooperative and collegiate
See ‘Additional info’ for details of sessions which can be viewed online – this includes sessions to be broadcast live via Twitter, and also a parallel session which will run as a webinar on Day 2.
The hashtag for the event is #porousuni
More specifically, in attunement with neo-animist configurations of the ‘non-human turn’, this paper evokes a cosmology in which aesthetics is not limited to the sensual relations between human self and world but instead describes a synesthetic hyper-economy through which all selves inscribed or enfleshed, animal, vegetable or mineral, represent, translate and interact across the otherwise separate realities they inhabit. As anthropologist Eduardo Kohn argues, a subject, self or mind does not produce signs but is in fact an emergent product of semiosis, of the way it represents the world and is represented by others in the world. In other words a self is a “loci of enchantment”—the non-anthropological outcome of aesthetic processes. Thinking aesthetics in this way intervenes provocatively with the notion of ‘visual literacy’ since it requires a non-symbolic conception of representation as a “open whole” that cannot be confined within human linguistic frameworks.
The Confraternity pursues their speculative cosmology through their ongoing fascination with the enchanted iconicity of medieval sacramental practices such as body part relic-ing. The ritual elevation, translation and sometimes humiliation of ‘person-objects’ epitomizes the dynamic interrelations between corpus and textus, likeness and presence and confounds the hierarchical segregation of ‘representing subject’ from ‘represented thing’.
The A/V presentation takes the form of an alt-future parable, following the synesthetic adventures of an independent broker of sensual exchange. Part corporeal, part corporate and part commodity, Muller Ltd. is a journeying apprentice, or ‘Junior Solution Aligner’, who is pursuing the ultimate ambassadorial title of ‘Universal Travel Adaptor’ by immersing itself in increasingly ‘alien’ centers of experience. As the parable unfolds Muller Ltd’s ‘powers of feeling’ increase dramatically, but only at the terrifying cost of dissolving its own corporeal branding (its iconic ‘equity’) into the synesthetic matrix. The parable thus takes a speculative look at the precarious integrity of visual literacy as it expands its territory into the non-cognitive or ‘illiterate’ realm of the non-human sensorium.