Rajataide Association was formed to serve art and artists in 1996. It is not a trade union, but a forum for those interested in contributing to the contemporary art scene. It's members are mainly young professional artists, but there are also students and cultural workers from various fields. To keep its view fresh also in the future, the right to vote or take part in the board of directors has been reserved to those under 36 years. Older age, however, does not prevent participation to exhibitions and other activities of the association. Gallery Rajatila is an art gallery near Tampere city center maintained by Rajataide association since 1997. Gallery Rajatila concentrates to display contemporary art and artists. Gallery Rajatila is committed to offering opportunities to young emerging and recently established artists with interesting and fresh ideas. Our object is to enable versatile and experimental exhibitions.
\ Rajataide Association Gallery Rajatila Hämeenpuisto 10, 33210 Tampere, Finland
Front cover, left to right : Arttu Merimaa, Of Simulation and Dissimulation \ Maija Kovari, Sempervivum Soboliferum \ Sanni Seppä, I Love Animals, part 1: Nordic Birds \ Jenni Lahtinen, Dance \ Jussi Koitela, Study Circle
Publication by Rajataide Association \ with contributions from Pelin Tan and artist members of Rajataide Association \ page 3 \ Pelin Tan: The Question Autonomy in the Practice of Commons: Present and Future of Artist Run Practices \ page 14 \ In Dialogue with Members of Rajataide Association \ page 22 \ Featured Artists
\ Miina Hujalaâ€‰\
The Question of Autonomy in the Practice of Commons: Present and Future of Artist Run Practices
— An Essay by Pelin Tan —
“The creation of instituting society, as instituted society, is each time a common world – kosmos koinos: the positing of individuals, of their types, relations and activities; but also the positing of things, their types, relations and signification – all of which are caught up each time in receptacles and frames of reference instituted as common, which make them exist together.” — Cornelius Cotariadis ¹ —
In the last ten years, most artist run practices around the world reached to an edge to face governmental cultural policy, new public space regulation, spectacle institutional constellations and conditions of precarious labour. Although these recent and harsh conditions (or crisis) are squeezing the artist run practice or alternative collective space practices; at the other hand, it provides new potentialities to invest within such crisis. Thus, the potential future of these practices is inert in what degree that they deal or resist with the crisis. Moreover, new methods / models of dealing and resisting are necessary. How artist run practices will come over with this? Does the question of autonomy in terms of space, economy and art form is possible in perspective of institutional criticism?
The core causes for the establishment of artist run spaces are based on the need of self-organized exhibition spaces, the need of display non-object oriented of art forms or related relational art practices (which is generally neglected by the art market and gallery circle), to establish non-hierarchical selforganization among other networks and a flexible control of funding dissemination. According the problems that I introduced above, I certainly believe that artist run spaces have also abilities in flexible “network labour” that produces collective action, disseminate and control surplus value by introducing a minor parallel economy. Above that, these practices have the flexibility to evolve within the social – political urban everyday life that able them to trans-crossing other networks of assemblies other than contemporary art (like food, literature, design…). I can think and compare few artists run practices around the world that share maybe not the same conditions but same present and futures. For example, BASSO / Berlin, Arrow Factory / Beijing, Souzy Tros / Athens, IRA / Tokyo or Woofer Teen from Hong Kong and many others. All of them are involved in criticism of certain social – political problems in everyday life, urban space. Their spaces are hubs that people from different practices can converge and produce together temporarily. Different than a structured institution (art institution, museum, biennial…), these places
can instantly reply to urgent social – political issues. The flexibility of collective practices enables to take an instant positioning and a public response. Gift economy and flexible labour exchange are forms and base of such practices. The “instituent” practice is defined by the art theorist Gerald Raunig 2 as participating in processes of instituting and in political practices that traverse the structure and institution. As he analysis the relationship of the constituent power and participation in such selforganized practices: “The various arrangements of self-organization promote broad participation in instituting, because they newly compose themselves as a constituent power again and again, always tying into new local and global struggles…”; and he defines the insistent practice of instituting in artists run collectives: “…countless smaller and larger impulses for collective insurrection and for the emergence of constituent power, a series of events, in which desiring is learned, a permanent new beginning, an instituent practice that animates an astonishing amount and is incredibly persistent at the same time”. It is interesting so in his analysis the relation between authoritarian power and collective desire. Arrow Factory is situated in a local neighbourhood in Beijing run by basically three curators / artists with the help of the other artists. This artist run space, is a site-located space rather than a site-specific one; an ephemeral artistic practice that permeates everyday
life and artistic production, rather than an institutional urban practice; an everyday practice in which the audience and artist are dissolved in each other, representing more than a collaborative, socially engaged art practiceâ€Ś These are the operative aspirations of this artist-run-space, situated in an area of the city currently under pressure, revealing the multiple stratifications of recent urban conditions. How can such artistic initiatives resist the proliferation of neoliberal urban production, while simultaneously remaining independent? This is one of the main issues when reflecting on the emancipatory role of such spaces. Arrow Factory signals the creation of a new community, not only inside their neighbourhood circle but also in a trans-local circle. Local people, artists, international visiting artists, other artist-run spaces from different parts of the world have found in Arrow Factory perspective and ideas. Similar to Woofer Teen in Hong Kong; an artist run space in lower middle class neighbourhood in Kowloon surrounded with urgent
\ Maija Kovariâ€‰â€‰\
urban issues of homeless, migration, neoliberal urban gentrification and over-regulation of public space. Woofer Ten artists are involved with problems of urban space in Hong Kong such as homeless, control of public spaces, community engagement and craftminded practices. By being involved locally in Kowloon and everyday reality, this non-profit art space has also a well working artists residency that hosts artists around the world. Woofer Ten organizes talks, exhibitions, public engagements and site-specific projects and the basic maintenance supported by governmental fund â€œHong Kong Arts Development Councilâ€?. They admit that as the activists do not have a space for gather and self-organization; they provide collective support and the space in order to act collectively. This artist run space is networking with designers, political activists and other artists around the world. Like IRA in the heart of Tokyo, which has a similar structure, though they do not prefer to be governmentally funded, and so create their own exchange economy. IRA (Irregular System A.)
is run by mainly 10–15 activists, artists, designers and others. IRA shares their space as with networks such as activists and food collective and musicians. They present several difference research based or relational art practices such as sewing workshops or research done by artist on urgent urban / ecological issues. In summary, these examples although they are in the different geographical and cultural realities they do present common practices as part of alternative social and cultural production. I would like focus more on the model of a factory, a working space as an exhibition, which is a format of a social production that in my opinion refers to an indefinable “surplus value” in the framework of community economy. What do I mean here as a social production? Is it in a discursive context or economical context? Do artists produce such work, which has a certain economical value or is this whole collective intersubjectivity based on the distributed social surplus value that makes possible of such a format? What is the relation between collective art practices between “the existing flows of surplus value”?3. In trying to construct a local ethics of distribution of social production and building a community economy Gibson - Graham asks: “How might non-producers of social surplus have a say in how surplus is generated, appropriated, distributed, and those to which it will not?”4. Before reaching to this question, the social surplus value here (in this exhibition) has been produced not only as an
outcome of production of the artist who establishes and creates the events, seminars, archive, library based on certain discursive statements but also by the contribution of participants, who actually might have diverse practices in their own studios. According to this, generally, the model needs a “community” in order not only to create the environment, discursive space but also the surplus value that is a redundant production in several forms that takes place in the a free working art space or such an process based multiple model. The value created during the events, workshops and socially engaged exhibitions that also stems from the discursive relation of the site, city, institution that contains an open-ended risk. Examples of artist run spaces such as BASSO / Berlin or Souzy Tros / Athens present such alternative instant “communities”. BASSO initiated by Yusuf Etiman who also produces a magazine with artists, designers and other groups. As well as Souzy Trost initiated by artist Maria Papadimitrou with artists, designers and people from an immigrant NGOs. Both places are run by self-minor economy that stems from its own co-existing communities. In the past BASSO organized film, performance screening, exhibitions and public talks. It also rents out few artists office / studios in order to cover the general rent. However, with Suzy Trost the space is in a neglected area of the city periphery of Athens. It is a small former warehouse/factory that is family
property and which the artist have transformed into a common space for sewing, cooking and gathering together. As other spaces, this space organizes food exchange and sewing practices as a socially art engaged practices in order to deal with the current economical crisis. The question of autonomy in such spaces and practices push forward and creates the practices of Commons. In conclusion, it is sure that according to a trans-local review of such artist run spaces signifies a future alternative institution and a counter-culture social production (against the general mainstream institutional production). As we experience in such practices, there is a transparence becoming with / within everyday life realities, collective curating, a locally engaged rhizomatic network and a possible “instituent” practice against institutionalism.
\ Kaisa Luukkonen \
— References — 1
Cornelius Cotariadis, The Imaginary Institution of Society,
Trans. by K.Blamey, The MIT Press Cambridge, Massachusetts (Original book 1975). 2
Gerald Raunig, Instituent Practices, No.2: Institutional
Critique, Constituent Power, and the Persistence of Instituting, Discourse, Muhtelif Contemporary Art Magazine, Spring 2008, No.3 (co-editor Pelin Tan). 3
In their article, Özçelik and Madra define surplus value
and its distribution that at the end of their argument they question the who and how reclaiming it could be a counter-hegemonic nodal: “For us, a relation to class is enacted whenever there is an effect stemming from the extent to or the form in which surplus-labor is produced, appropriated, and distributed. Hence, there are continuous attempts to institute class relations at sites as diverse as households, universities, neighbourhoods, highways, and unions, as well as within transnational corporations. Similarly, class relations are shaped by a variety of discourses ( gender, political, legal, religious, ecological, as well as economic) that interrupt and re-channel the existing flows of surplus-labour or attend the production of qualitatively new ones. In turn, relations to class processes sustain certain political identifications and cultural claims at the expense of others, which are restricted from or completely deprived of accessing the flows of surplus labour…”, p.82, Özçelik/Madra. Further: “…In the absence of a counter hegemonic nodal point, these disparate ‘‘acts of reclaiming’’ could indeed easily be co-opted by the capitalist-all. We believe that the axiom of communism could serve as a useful counter-hegemonic nodal point that would impart a ‘‘surplus’’ meaning to each and every act of reclaiming…”.p.94 4
Gibson - Graham
In Dialogue with Members of Rajataide Association
— Interview by Pelin Tan —
What are the differences between Rajataide and gallery? What makes Rajataide an artist run space? Rajataide organization works according to the common Finnish association model. The board of 8 persons is selected in the meeting of the members for a one-year span at a
time. The activity of the association is organized by its active members: part of the members run the gallery, part are taking care of the association and economy of the both. In addition, there are varying working groups producing alternative projects under the umbrella of the association. Rajataide (which in Finnish means “border art”) is association, which manages Gallery Rajatila (“border space”). Many of the members
are and have been visual artists but there are also people interested in other fields for example comics or experimental music. For Rajataide artist-run has meant offering exhibition space and possibilities to participate in versatile projects for young artists who have not so much exhibition opportunities. There is a need of addressing the question of what is the relationship between the gallery and the association since most of the artists exhibiting are not members nor are the exhibitions curated by the members solely. The space is therefore more an opportunity to exhibit - organized by Rajataide association. That is logical related to the local situation of a small town of Tampere where spaces to exhibit contemporary art are scarce. Is artist-run activity just that â€“ creating possibilities to present artworks and projects? From the outlook it seems that the gallery program is at the very essence of the associationâ€™s practice but with a closer observation the involvement of the members of Rajataide is also
connected in maintaining the local art scene, sustaining the grass-rootlevel activity and keeping alive the community of artists.
Is economically Rajataide dependent on membership fees? Do you generate this network in a productive artistic form? Are you planning that or is it already happening? Rajataide association is not reliant on membership fees. Rajataide is funded through grants (main funders being the estate and the city) as well as the rents collected from artists exhibiting in Rajatila gallery. Rajataide association works as a platform that enables the working groups (consisting of the members) to apply funding for projects and happenings. In this sense the activity can be fruitful and sensible for the more active members. The problem in running the
\ Arttu Merimaa \
\ Timo Bredenberg \
\ Saara Vallineva \
\ Jaana Laakkonen \
\ Karoliina Paappa \
\ Jussi Koitela \
\ Sanni Seppä \
\ Johanna Havimäki \
\ Jenni Lahtinen \
\ Hanna-Mari Matikainen \
\ Antti Pussinen \
\ Juhani Tuomi \
\ Laura Rytkönen \
organization, and the gallery, is that the association does not have a hired employee. This creates a problem concerning long-term development and sustaining the gathered knowhow since part-time working staff and volunteers have to learn things anew every year. When thinking about the Rajatila Gallery and as a more general issue a question rises; do artist-run galleries benefit the livelihood and practice of artists that exhibit there? In Finland the artist-run galleries aren’t actively selling the works of the artists exhibited. In addition to that, some artists want to keep the prices of the works “under the counter”. It seems that in Finland there is a twofold attitude towards selling. On one hand artists want to sell, and on the other hand it is considered shameful to market one’s own art. One would assume that it would be in the realm of interest of the artist-run gallery associations to consider the livelihood of artists. What is causing this distortion? In the current situation, the gain for an artist paying to present
his /hers art is left to minimum. One could ask if galleries run by volunteers have the time or the will to really think what is the benefit for the exhibitor. Then again what does it mean if the artist-run galleries are turning from organizations offering alternative spaces more towards imitations of the commercial galleries? It seems that the relatively passive gallery spaces paid by the exhibiting artists have become somewhat of a conventional model in Finland. It is possible that at least for some of the artist-run galleries the exhibiting itself has become some kind of a secondary activity, and that people are more interested in different kinds of projects and other activities, which the gallery program and the association can enable.
What is Rajataide’s opinion on cultural policy in Finland? The Rajataide association is a fragmented entity of opinions. Rajataide has over 80 members, and various different working groups. It aims to be democratic in decisionmaking. A formulated opinion is a paradox in this kind of a situation. In the association there is a will to become a more substantive actor at least in the local art scene. One of the associations working groups is the 1/2 Art magazine, which already is a prominent agent as a voice for opinions for both people involved in Rajataide and as well as to others. One of the reasons Rajataide association hasn’t formed a mediated and discussed opinion on cultural policy in Finland is because the group of active members in Rajataide change pretty often and there hasn’t been a system formed that would carry a formulated common opinion through this changing. But it does not mean Rajataide association doesn’t have
opinions. There are many big changes going on in cultural politics: shift to creative economy and the reorganization of the Arts Council of Finland. Like many artist-run associations and groups Rajataide is aspiring to comment on these developments and figure out new ways of operating.
Timo Bredenberg, still from Sparta, 2011.
Arttu Merimaa, Of Simulation and Dissimulation,
Digital video; 9.08 minutes
Johanna Havimäki, Mr. Red, 2012.
Karoliina Paappa, Series: Die-Cut, Young Girl in
the Children’s Room, 2011. Digital photograph
Miina Hujala, Replaced Acts, 2010. HD Video
Antti Pussinen, My First Killer Laser Robot, 2012.
Aluminium, electronics, hunting scope, wireless security camera, laser pointer, wood, acrylic,
Jussi Koitela, Safe Play, 2011. Installation view,
Controller unit: joystick, television, electronics,
Safe Play Event, Korjaamo Gallery, Helsinki
110 × 110 × 130 cm
Maija Kovari, Bench, 2011. Wall painting
Laura Rytkönen, The Cold Bloods, 2012.
Video; 11 minutes www.laurarytkonen.com
Jaana Laakkonen, Drapes, 2012. Acrylic and water-soluble oil on MDF, 94,2 × 87 cm
Sanni Seppä, I Love Animals, part 2: Gezeichnet in
Finland, 2011. Coloured pencil on paper and kapa board, 2,3 × 3,2 m
Jenni Lahtinen, Ojaneva, 2010.
Photograph by Jyri Pitkänen.
Watercolour on paper, 18 × 26 cm
www.jennilahtinen.blogspot.fi Juhani Tuomi, A Dead Poet, 2008. Kaisa Luukkonen, Keep on Dreaming, 2012.
Oil on canvas, 70 × 50 cm
500 balloons, 500 needles, helium, tent, 24 days. Photograph by Karoliina Paappa.
Saara Vallineva, Trash Plants, 2012.
Grocery net bags, iron wire Photograph by Brittany Mahood.
Hanna-Mari Matikainen, Black Animal, 2010. Digital print, 78 × 110 cm sites.google.com/site/hannamarim
Publisher: Rajataide ry, Tampere, 2012 Editorial work: Karoliina Paappa Essay: Pelin Tan Writers, Rajataide ry : Johanna Havimäki, Miina Hujala, Jussi Koitela, Arttu Merimaa, Karoliina Paappa English corrections: Kaisa Luukkonen Graphic design: Marion Robinson Paper: Edixion offset 140 g, Cover: Edixion offset 300 g Printed by: Aldus Ltd., Lahti, 2012
This publication has generously been supported by: Arts Council of Finland FRAME Foundation
Pelin Tan is an academic, writer, and curator based in Istanbul involved in research-based artistic and architectural projects that focus on urban conflict and territorial politics, gift economy, the condition of labour, and mixed methods in research. She was a researchâ€‰/â€‰curatorial resident at IASPIS (Stockholm) and GeoAir (Tbilisi) and has worked as a guest curator at Witte de With (Rotterdam). Tan has curated Knut Asdam and Radical Aesthetics at DEPO (Istanbul), Innocent Act, and StudyoKAHEM, an architectural research project at the 10th Istanbul Biennial. She was also a co-curator of 1st Istanbul Design Biennale. After receiving her PhD in Art History, Tan worked on her postdoc on the methodology of artistic research with Ute Meta Bauer at the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology. She has contributed to and edited numerous publications and is Editor of Muhtelif magazine and Advisory Editor of ArtMargin (MIT Press) and NOON, the Journal of Contemporary Art and Visual Culture of the Gwangju Biennial Foundation. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the New Media department at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, and The Japan Foundation Fellow, researching artist run practices in Japan.