Making the Invisible Visible

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Making the Invisible Visible

Cathy Busby in c onver sation with ARTISTS nic ol as flo c’h heiko hansen anthony he y wood julie morel shelle y sacks fore word u we derksen

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Nicol as Floc’h


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making the invisible visible


Making the Invisible Visible

Cathy Busby in c onver sation with ARTISTS nic ol as flo c’h heiko hansen anthony he y wood julie morel shelle y sacks fore word u we derksen

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Nicol as Floc’h


Making the Invisible Visible: Cathy Busby in Conversation with Artists Nicolas Floc’h Heiko Hansen Anthony Heywood Julie Morel Shelley Sacks Foreword Uwe Derksen First edition, 2016 Š 2016 University of the Creative Arts ISBN 978-0-9930502-4-4 This work is copyrighted under a Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported copyright. You are free to share and to mix this work under certain conditions: http://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

Cover: Tabula - Fortis in Pace I, detail, Anthony Heywood and Uwe Derksen, Canterbury, 2014

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m a k ing t he in v isibl e v isibl e: A r t ist s in C on v er s at ion


C o nt e n ts

Foreword

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Uwe Derkse n Introdu ction

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Cath y Bu sby

C o n v er s at i o ns

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Ni c o l a s F l o c ’ h

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He iko H a n s e n

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A n t h o n y He y w o o d

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J u l ie M o r e l

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S he l l e y S ac ks

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A c k n owl ed gemen t s

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Nicol as Floc’h


Fore word: Making invisible

A few days before his death, Josef Beuys gave a speech, his last speech. It was a tribute to the sculptor Wilhelm Lehmbruck, and he explained how he was encouraged through Lehmbruck’s work to eventually expand his own practice of sculpture beyond that of ‘proportionality against proportionality’ in space, to embrace the ‘beyond-the-pure-visual’, towards the spiritual, the inner self, the warmth, towards the forming of social sculpture in space and time. Employing our different senses, the depths of our sensing, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, intuitively, and so on, will provide us with a real opportunity to deal with the unfettered industrial-mechanical structures and processes which have been and are shaping our lives and the lives of future generations and, importantly, with increasingly catastrophic social and environmental consequences. An expanded vision for sculpture could therefore rise to the challenges we face now, those that inevitably lie ahead of us and those that will face our children. It could help us shape visions of alternative social configurations in time and space, undertake consciousness-raising interventions, create mirrors of our condition and pursue trajectories for action. We have come to a point where we can no longer isolate spatial practice from social practice.

When I first met the artist and teacher Cathy Busby, I, we, immediately

connected. Intuitively I knew that we could work together, converse. I felt that she could sense. There was a depth of sensing. I was therefore excited when the opportunity arose to undertake a collaborative intervention, simply building on understanding and trust. This publication is in many ways the result of our mutual understanding and trust.

This book forms part of a number of outcomes I set out in a relatively

large-scale project, called Interregional Culture-led Regeneration (ICR): a project that was part-funded by the European Commission. The fund – Interreg Channel programme – is basically a European policy tool to facilitate cross-border collaboration to enhance the socio-economic prospects in the region and to further European cohesion. In our case the neighbouring regions are Southern and Eastern England and Northern and Western France. I was particularly keen to organize the project around the dynamics

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of the art schools in our respective regions and the arts practices emanating from these schools. I wanted to create an opportunity to expand the field.

Back in 2011/12 I referenced the Danish proverb ‘no one is rich enough to

do without his neighbour’ and the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard ‘le moi s’éveille par la grâce du toi’ (roughly translated as ‘I awake by your grace’) to set the tone for the partnership’s future collaboration, which included the important French art schools École Supérieure d’Art et Design Le Havre-Rouen (ESADHaR) and École Européenne Supérieure d’Art de Bretagne, as well as the Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) and the University for the Creative Arts (UCA). What would it mean to place arts practices, artists, art schools and their students at the centre of interventions to support communities, towns and neigbourhoods operating at the edge of our channel region? Typically, the arts themselves operate at the edge and are not necessarily empowered to take the lead in such large-scale funded interventions, which are basically socioeconomic policy interventions. So, the field was opened and amazing experimentations and interventions followed (too many to list here in this foreword, but some are documented on the webpages of www.creativeecology.eu).

Many of the interventions and activities were moving, motivating and

energizing. Many of the results, the conversations and relationships that came about through this project, have yet to be digested and I am sure that their true influence is yet to be fully felt. This book, therefore, is one of those project interventions, and I was keen to somehow demonstrate or exemplify the enormous artistic and creative potential, energy, practice and intellect that resides within our different art schools; how a selected number of artists, who also teach in our schools, embrace and challenge the expanded field. The aim of the book is to interrogate and draw out exciting ‘case studies’ of a number of artists and their practices that could inspire future generations of art students. This is what Cathy achieved through the artist-to-artist conversations contained in this book. Uwe Derksen

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foreword


Ava n t- P r op o s : Rendre Invisible

Quelques jours avant sa mort, Josef Beuys a fait un discours, son dernier. C’était un hommage au sculpteur Wilhelm Lehmbruck, et il expliquait comment le travail de Lehmbruck l’a encouragé à étendre sa propre pratique de la sculpture, au-delà de sa ‹ proportionnalité contre la proportionnalité › dans l’espace, à embrasser ‹ l’au-delà du visuel pur ›, et aller vers le spirituel, le moi intérieur, la chaleur, vers la formation de sculptures sociales dans l’espace et le temps. Utiliser nos différents sens, la profondeur de nos sens, émotionnellement, spirituellement, intellectuellement, intuitivement, etc… va nous offrir une réelle opportunité de gérer des structures industrielles et mécaniques sans entraves, et gérer les processus qui régulent nos vies et celles des générations futures, avec des conséquences sociales et environnementales catastrophiques. Une vision étendue de la sculpture pourrait donc augmenter les challenges auxquels nous faisons face maintenant et ceux qui nous attendent inévitablement, et auxquels nos enfant feront face. Cela pourrait nous aider à donner forme à des configurations sociales alternatives dans le temps et l’espace, encourager les prises de conscience, poser des miroirs sur notre condition et encourager les actions à poursuivre. Nous sommes arrivés à un point où nous ne pouvons plus distinguer la pratique spatiale de la pratique sociale.

Quand j’ai rencontré l’artiste/professeur Cathy Busby pour la première

fois, j’ai, ou plutôt, nous avons tout de suite accroché, nous étions sur la même longueur d’onde. Intuitivement, je savais que nous pourrions travailler ensemble et échanger. J’ai senti qu’elle pouvait ressentir jusqu’à une certaine profondeur. J’étais aussi très motivé quand l’opportunité s’est présentée. Nous allions pouvoir entreprendre un projet ensemble, tout simplement en bâtissant une compréhension et une confiance mutuelles. Cette publication est le résultat de cette compréhension et cette confiance mutuelles.

Ce livre est l’aboutissement d’une partie d’un projet que j’ai monté à

relativement grande échelle, un projet appelé Interregional Culture-led Regeneration (ICR), en partie financé par la Commission européenne. Les fonds – Interreg Channel Programme – sont en fait un outil européen pour faciliter la collaboration à travers les frontières, pour améliorer les perspectives socio-

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économiques dans la région et pour renforcer la cohésion de l’Europe. Pour nous, les régions voisines sont le Sud et l’Est de l’Angleterre, et le Nord et l’Ouest de la France. J’étais particulièrement intéressé par l’organisation du projet autour des dynamiques des écoles d’arts de nos régions respectives, et les pratiques qui sortent de ces écoles. Je voulais créer l’opportunité d’en élargir le champ.

En 2011/2012, j’ai cité un proverbe danois : « personne n’est assez riche pour

s’en sortir sans son voisin », et le philosophe français Gaston Bachelard « le moi s’éveille par la grâce du toi », pour donner le ton du futur partenariat, qui incluait l’école Supérieur d’Art et Design de Le Havre-Rouen, (ESADHaR), l’Ecole Européenne supérieure d’Art de Bretagne ainsi que l’Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) et University for Creative Arts (UCA). Quel intérêt de placer les pratiques artistiques, les artistes, les écoles d’arts et leurs étudiants au centre des interventions pour le soutien aux communautés, aux villes et aux quartiers, si c’était pour se limiter à nos régions ? Typiquement, les arts ne sont pas forcément habilités à se retrouver en tête des priorités des financements à répartir sur une si grande échelle, qui sont justement, plus souvent orientés vers des interventions plutôt socio-économiques. Alors, la voie était ouverte et d’impressionnantes expérimentations et interventions ont suivi ; trop pour être listées ici, mais certaines sont renseignées sur le lien suivant : www.creativeecology.eu.

Une grande partie des interventions et des activités était émouvante,

motivante et énergisante. Les résultats, les conversations et les rencontres qui sont issus de ce projet se sont ancrés et je suis sûre que leur vraie influence reste encore à venir. Ce livre est donc un exemple de ces interventions. J’avais envie de donner un exemple et montrer le potentiel artistique et créatif, l’énergie, la pratique et l’intellect qui résident dans nos différentes écoles d’Arts. Je souhaitais montrer comment un nombre d’artistes qui sont aussi enseignants dans nos écoles, saisissent le champ et le défient. Le but de ce livre est d’interroger un nombre d’artistes et d’exposer des études de cas de leurs pratiques, qui pourraient inspirer les générations futures d’étudiants en arts. Voici ce que Cathy a acquis grâce aux conversations d’artiste à artiste contenues dans ce livre. Uwe Derksen

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introduction: Making the Invisible Visible

I imagine this publication as a window into the art practices of five artist/professors who you may work with as current or prospective students. In the day-to-day pedagogical environment, the practices of professors, who are also often active artists, may be little-known. This series of interviews and accompanying images provides an overview of these particular practices. In May 2014, Uwe Derksen asked if I could consider developing a publication which would be a critical inquiry into socio-political and environmental issues explored through the visual arts. How could we bring forward the practices of a group of artist/professors concerned with these issues within the Interregional Culture-led Regeneration (ICR) partnership project? I suggested making a book of interviews. I thought that collectively they could provide a mapping of these artists’ shared interests in terms of site-specific environmental engagement; their ways of working across disciplinary boundaries; their ideas around utility and the relevance of art; and their approaches to teaching and learning. Uwe and his group enthusiastically agreed. In 2002, I had done a series of 20 interviews with artists (Artist-to-Artist, Ottawa, Canada) and I felt this form would be a substantial way to bring forward these individual practices and reveal correspondences between them. Days before conducting the interviews, I led Rebound, a Colloquium for the ICR at UCA Canterbury in conjunction with the Folkestone Triennial, alongside my guest Roger Conover (Executive Editor, Art, Architecture, Visual & Cultural Studies at MIT Press). All but one of the artists who I would interview were in attendance, along with numerous other artist/professors from both the southern UK and northern France. The Colloquium gave voice to different positions in a period of upheaval and transition taking place at UCA and in the French art schools of the ICR. The British wanted to decrease overwhelming bureaucracy while the French wanted to preserve the open system they currently enjoy. I came away realizing how many interesting artists were at work in these art schools and at the same time, how much artists’ energy was drawn into administrative responsibilities. I felt fueled for the interview conversations I was about to engage in where art would be central.

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Soon after, I was in conversation with graphic designer Hans Dieter Reichert in the well-worn lounge of the historic Walpole Bay Hotel in Margate. We talked over what we like in art books, whether artist-made or about art. We agreed on the importance of using images of artwork in conjunction with the interviews to illustrate and also to create a visual text. New Ways of Teaching /Learning

Students are looking for new ways of learning, particularly within the context of the contemporary ecological and economic climate. They know that faculty guide their learning experiences and ultimately shape the beginnings of their practice and the underpinnings of their related thinking. Through the interview process I learned that these five artists often take interdisciplinary approaches both in their practices and teaching while working nimbly across international borders, sometimes accompanied by students. Their work often happens in the field, with the gallery acting more as a complementary presentation space. Each artist is thinking about teaching and learning within the context of their own artmaking. They teach in schools located outside major urban centres, which echoes a trend in the environmental movement of knowledge dispersion and ecologically-conscious practices beyond such large cities. Collectively, these factors constitute a potentially compelling and relevant learning situation. The four artists in the ICR partnership who were invited to be part of this series of interviews were: Nicolas Floc’h, Heiko Hansen, Anthony Heywood, and Julie Morel. In addition, Shelley Sacks, an associate of the ICR, generously agreed to replace Kathleen Rogers, who had to leave the project. Nicolas Floc’h’s work is concerned with worlds of underwater life and of late this

has developed through his work with artificial reefs – observing, documenting and building them. He talks about these artificial reefs, vast underwater colonies for sea life, and notes that most people don’t even know they’re there. His interest in the sea and sea life, both visible and invisible, has led him to creating a soon-to-be-launched art school on a boat that will travel from port to port in Europe. Heiko Hansen and Helen Evans, together known as the collaborative team

HeHe, challenge the invisibility of pollution by making it visible in their work. They also propose reviving personal rapid transport (PRT) vehicles using the existing infrastructure of disused railway tracks, such as La Petite Ceinture in Paris.

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Anthony Heywood has undertaken a number of large sculptural works in col-

laboration with commissioning communities including his Send All Weapons to the Moon for Peace Monuments of War Material in Arboga, Sweden. The first in his series of large public table sculptures initiatives, Tabula – Fortis in Pace in collaboration with Uwe Derksen, created in the tradition of Brancusi’s Table of Silence at Târgu Jiu, was built using reclaimed wood from derelict buildings in Dover. Julie Morel has developed a long-term research program, Geographies Variables,

where she takes small groups of Masters students on extended field trips. A recent trip to Louisiana and New Orleans led to the initiation of the work Neutral Ground, in collaboration with local communities and agencies. The project addresses the issue of road medians historically used as public meeting places that are now in contention through the pressures of gentrification in post-hurricane Katrina New Orleans. Shelley Sacks works in a Beuysian tradition with an environmental sensitivity

at its core. She believes that people and their ideas, imaginations, and thought processes are the tools for transformation. In her view, everyone has these tools and everyone is an artist. Her ongoing works University of Trees and Earth Forum bring groups of people into dialogue to stimulate transformational experiences, enabling them to be more sensitive and decisive about their actions in the world. I am an artist/professor based at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. After my two immersions at UCA and in the ICR project, I have come away feeling privileged to have had the opportunity to work with this innovative, experimental research group. Cathy Busby March 2015

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in t r odu ct i o n : R e n d e l’ I n v i s i b l e Visible

J’imagine cette publication comme une fenêtre ouverte sur les pratiques artistiques de cinq artistes/professeurs avec qui vous pourriez être amenés à travailler en tant qu’étudiants actuels ou à venir. Dans l’environnement pédagogique quotidien, les pratiques des professeurs, qui sont aussi souvent des artistes actifs, sont peu connues. Cette série d’interviews illustrées offre une vue d’ensemble sur ces pratiques particulières.

En mai 2014, Uwe Derksen m’a demandé si je pouvais considérer la

publication d’une enquête critique sur les problèmes socio-politiques et environnementaux explorés via les arts visuels. Comment pourrions-nous mettre en avant les pratiques d’un groupe d’artistes/professeurs préoccupés par ces problèmes au sein du projet en partenariat avec l’ICR (Interregional Culture-led Regeneration) ? J’ai suggéré un livret d’interviews. Je pensais que, collectivement, il pourrait fournir une vue d’ensemble sur les intérêts communs de ces artistes, en terme d’engagement environnemental, leur façon de travailler à travers les limites disciplinaires, leurs idées sur l’utilité et la pertinence de l’art, et leur approche sur l’enseignement et les apprentissages. Uwe et son groupe ont approuvé avec enthousiasme. En 2002, j’avais fait une série d’interviews avec vingt artistes (Artist-to-Artist, à Ottawa, Canada), et j’ai senti que ce format de publication serait une façon considérable de mettre en avant ces pratiques individuelles, et d’en relever les similarités.

Quelques jours avant de mener ces entretiens, j’ai dirigé « Rebound », un

colloque pour l’ICR à UCA Canterbury, en coopération avec le Triennal de Folkestone, aux côtés de mon invité Roger Conover (Directeur de la Rédaction des Etudes visuelles et culturelles en Art et Architecture à Mit Press). Tous les artistes, sauf un, étaient présents aux côtés de nombreux artistes/ professeurs du sud du Royaume-Uni et du nord de la France. Le colloque est devenu porte-parole des différentes opinions en cette période de bouleversements et de transition qui s’installait à l’UCA et dans les écoles françaises d’art de l’ICR. Les anglais voulaient diminuer la bureaucratie écrasante alors que les français souhaitaient préserver un système ouvert qu’ils apprécient actuellement.

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J’en suis venue à réaliser combien d’artistes passionnants travaillent

dans ces écoles d’art, et à la fois, combien d’énergie se dessine dans les responsabilités administratives. Le contenu des entretiens que j’étais sur le point de mener était alimenté, avec l’Art comme élément central.

Peu de temps après, je conversais avec le dessinateur graphique Hans

Dieter Reichert dans le salon de l’Hôtel de la baie Walpole à Margate. Nous avons parlé de ce que nous aimons dans les livres d’art, livres portant sur l’Art, ou faits par des artistes eux-mêmes. Nous étions en accord sur l’importance d’utiliser des images d’art en même temps que les interviews non seulement pour illustrer mais aussi pour donner un texte visuel. Nouvelles Facons d’Enseigner / D’Apprendre

Les étudiants cherchent de nouvelles façons d’apprendre, surtout dans le contexte écologique et environnemental actuel. Ils savent que la faculté guide leurs expériences d’apprentissage, pour ensuite donner naissance à leur pratique et aux fondations de leur pensée.

A travers ce concept d’interviews, j’ai appris que ces cinq artistes optaient

souvent pour des approches interdisciplinaires, autant dans leur pratique que leur enseignement, et en travaillant au-delà des frontières, parfois accompagnés d’étudiants. Leur travail se fait souvent sur le terrain, avec la galerie qui agit davantage comme un espace d’exposition complémentaire. Chacun des artistes pense à l’enseignement et l’apprentissage dans le contexte de sa propre pratique de l’art. Ils enseignent dans des écoles situées en dehors des centres urbains majeurs, ce qui fait écho à une tendance dans le mouvement environnemental : la dispersion du savoir et les pratiques éthiques au-delà des grandes villes. Collectivement, ces facteurs constituent une situation d’apprentissage potentiellement irréfutable et pertinente. Les quatre artistes du partenariat avec l’ICR qui étaient invités à prendre part aux interviews étaient Nicolas Floc’h, Heiko Hansen, Anthony Heywood and Julie Morel. De plus, Shelley Sacks, une associée de l’ICR, a généreusement accepté de remplacer Kathleen Rogers qui a dû quitter le projet.

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Le travail de Nicolas Floc’h repose sur l’univers de la vie aquatique, et cela s’est développé à travers son travail sur les récifs artificiels – en les observant, en se documentant et en les construisant. Il parle de ces récifs artificiels, de ces vastes colonies aquatiques de la vie sous-marine, et remarque que la plupart des gens n’en connaissent même pas l’existence. Son intérêt pour la mer et la vie aquatique, tous les deux visibles et invisibles, l’ont amené à créer une école d’art qui verra bientôt le jour sur un bateau, qui voyagera de port en port autour de l’Europe. Heiko Hansen et Helen Evans, connus ensemble comme le duo HeHe, mettent

au défi l’invisibilité de la pollution, en la rendant visible à travers leur travail. Ils proposent aussi les véhicules de Transport Rapide Personnel (PRT), en utilisant les infrastructures existantes telles que des chemins de fer désaffectés, comme la Petite Ceinture à Paris. Anthony Heywood a entrepris bon nombre de grands travaux de sculpture en

collaboration avec des communautés engagées, Send all Weapons to the Moon (« Envoyez toutes les armes sur la lune »)pour Peace Monuments of War Material à Arboga, en Suède. Dans sa série d’initiatives en sculptures sur table, qui s’adressent à un public large, la première Tabula – Fortis in Pace a été créée en collaboration avec Uwe Derksen, et en suivant la tradition de la Table du Silence de Brancusi, à Târgu Jiu. Elle a été construite à partir de bois récupéré dans des bâtiments abandonnés, à Dover. Julie Morel a développé un programme de recherche sur le long-terme intitulé

Géographies Variables, dans lequel elle emmène des petits groupes d’étudiants en Master dans des voyages sur des terrains étendus. Un voyage récent en Louisiane et la Nouvelle Orléans a mené à l’initiation de Neutral Ground, en collaboration avec des agences et des communautés locales. Ce projet dresse le problème des routes historiquement utilisées comme des lieux de réunions publiques, et qui se voient maintenant menacées par l’embourgeoisement récent de la Nouvelle Orléans post-Katrina (l’ouragan). Shelley Sacks travaille à la manière de Josef Beuys, avec au cœur, une

sensibilité pour l’environnement. Elle croit que les gens et leurs idées, leur imagination, et le processus de la pensée sont les outils de la transformation. Selon elle, chacun a ces outils en main, et chaque être est un artiste. Son travail en cours, University of Trees and Earth Forum, amène des groupes à

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dialoguer pour stimuler et développer des expériences de transformation, leur permettant ainsi de devenir plus sensibles et déterminés envers leurs actions sur le monde qui les entoure. Je suis une artiste/professeur, basée à l’Université de la Colombie-Britannique de Vancouver, au Canada. Suite à mes deux immersions à UCA et dans le projet d’ICR, j’en suis arrivée à me sentir vraiment privilégiée d’avoir eu l’opportunité de travailler avec un groupe de recherche expérimentale si innovante. Cathy Busby Le mars 2015

Opposite: Tabula – Fortis in Pace I, Anthony Heywood and Uwe Derksen, UCA Canterbury, 2011.

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Nicol as Floc’h


Nic ol as Floc’h

Nicolas Floc’h talks about his art education, which

he makes this ever-changing underwater world

includes an MFA and a Masters degree in Spanish,

visible to those above the surface. He locates his

and the impact of exposure to art practices in

work at the intersection of contemporary art,

different countries. The ideas of translation and

documentary and scientific research.

transformation have been through lines in his art

As a professor, he notes the importance of students working closely with practicing artists.

practice. His work often involves long multi-stage

He is currently developing a mobile studio

processes and combines a fascination with

on a fishing boat where students and artists/

natural processes of growing and development

teachers will live and work together, travelling to

(as in Cosmos and Poisson) with a keen interest

different European ports. He talks about art and

in production, distribution, consumption and

art research impacting the environment and the

economical and functional processes. He has

necessity for artists to consider their materials,

also made exhibitions based on modular

scale and quantity of production.

components (Sculpture Multifunction) that can be rearranged to work in different spaces and with different functions such as seating, flooring and shelving. Most recently, his work has called attention to the underwater world of artificial reefs, vast underwater cities that are habitats for sea life (e.g. Structure Productives, Japan, 2013). Through photography, video and sculptural modelling

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Nicolas Floc’h nous parle de sa formation

Entant que professeur, il remarque qu’il est

artistique : un Master en beaux-arts et un Master

important pour les étudiants de travailler en

en Espagnol, et de l’impact de la sensibilisation

étroite collaboration avec des artistes en activité.

aux pratiques artistiques dans de diverses pays.

Il travaille actuellement sur l’idée d’un atelier

Les idées de transposition et de transformation

mobile, sur un bateau de pêche, où les étudiants et

s’entremêlent à sa pratique artistique.

les artistes/enseignants pourront s’y installer afin

Son travail requiert généralement des procédés

de vivre et travailler ensemble, tout en naviguant

longs et à plusieurs étapes, auxquelles il associe

vers des ports européens. Il parle de l’impact

sa fascination pour les processus naturels de

que peut avoir l’art et la recherche artistique

croissance et de développement (tel que pour

sur l’environnement et de l’obligation qu’ont

Cosmos et Poisson). Il est adepte de production,

les artistes de prendre en considération leurs

de distribution et de consommation et des

matériaux ainsi que l’échelle et la quantité

mécanismes économiques et fonctionnels. Il a

de production.

aussi exposé des œuvres fabriquées à partir de composants modulaires (Sculpture Multifunction) réutilisables dans différents espaces et susceptibles d’obtenir une nouvelle fonction se transformer en siège, en sol ou en étagère. Plus récemment, son travail a attiré l’attention sur le monde sous-marin des coraux artificiels, de véritables villes submergées qui servent d’habitats á la vie aquatique (ex : Structure Productives, Japon, 2013). Par le biais de la photographie, de la vidéo et du modelage de sculpture, il crée un monde sous-marin en constante mutation, et le rend visible pour ceux qui se trouvent à la surface. Il définit son travail comme étant au croisement de l’œuvre contemporaine, du documentaire et de la recherche scientifique.

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in CO N VERSATIO N with ni c o l a s floc’h Cathy Busby (CB): You’ve worked in various countries and functioned in

different languages. You also did a Masters degree in Spanish. You’ve talked about the metamorphosis of language over time. Is translation something that still interests you 10 years later? Nicolas Floc’h (NF): I think it’s something that’s always stayed quite deeply

in my work, in relation to many other things. My first study before art was Spanish, so I worked on translation a lot, thinking about how one word could be important and how you can go about translating it in another language. In my work I started something that I called ‘productive writing’ where the work was linked to a real word, meaning that I could grow, for example, a lettuce into the shape of a word. I chose the word ‘cosmos’, which is the name of a flower, and it was growing and shaping the word. CB: Would you plant these seeds in the shape of the word? NF: Yeah, so the words were growing, appearing. It was really this question

of translation, working with a language, a word, a signification, and putting it into reality to have its physicality linked to its meaning. All the things I do are linked to a process and my objects or sculptures or installations are never fixed. There is constant transformation present in the work, and this can appear in many ways. Sometimes it can be a natural growing or evolution,

Cosmos, 1995

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like in the productive writing, or in a more recent project of artificial reefs with underwater structures, the structure transforms and the shape isn’t something established. And it can be a project with human intervention, like the Beer Kilometer between cans of beer (2004). People drinking transform the piece and make it playful.

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Nicol as Floc’h


Or you can think of it in terms of a piece like the Sculpture Multi-function, which is a translation in a way. I started to work with this piece in 2000; it’s a sculpture working as a scenario – its base is 81 elements which can be shared. There is a plate – like plates for a table – and a kind of board, and there are a few elements to glue together with Velcro. You can transform this object, and each time it’s a point of departure. I give it to dancers, theatre people, performing artists, and visual artists to make something with the modular components. That’s why I say it’s like a scenario or another partition. And it’s a work which is never fixed; it’s always reinventing itself. I did this work from 2001 to 2007, and in 2007 the National Fund of Contemporary Art in France bought it. And so I stopped all the intervention and I sold it with all the archival elements and its structure. It’s now used as shelving or modular units for the archive. But the curator can still use it to present what happened before it, and it’s now a structure for curators rather than artists. It’s open. They have it and can interpret it. CB: This interview is especially intended for students, so I think it’s inter-

esting to talk about your experience of art school. You went from France to Scotland to go to the Glasgow School of Art in the ’90s. NF: Yeah. It was an important experience for me. I did an MFA at the

Glasgow School of Art, but I didn’t do a BA before. I did a Masters degree in Spanish while I was practicing as an artist, and since I had it, I was able to go into the MFA program. So it was my first contact with an art school, and for me it was a free space. I’d been used to university being more academic, and it was more like a residency to be in the art school in Glasgow. So what was very interesting for me was to live abroad in another country and see how people could approach art differently. I did quite a few projects in Scotland and it was really interesting to have this distance from my country and the experience of understanding different ways of approaching art, even though there are many similarities. CB: Could you talk a little bit more about the character of the program? NF: It was a two-year program with 20 students. We had a studio. We were

doing our work, seeing different tutors each week with all the facilities had to offer. And we had one three-week seminar on artist writing, so we were studying only artist writing, which I found quite interesting, and we had to produce a small essay of maybe 10 pages or something like that. Theory was a big part of the MFA, but we were also mainly meeting artists, critics, and

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making the invisible visible


curators. We also had a show at the end of the first year, and a bigger show at the end of the MFA. We had a relationship with the art scene in Glasgow, all the people. I did several shows in Glasgow at Transmission Gallery, Tramway, and other spaces during the time I was there. So, I was given feedback from established artists and curators and was introduced to the Glasgow network. And it was a good experience. We were a strong group. CB: Much of your work is concerned with underwater life, going back to

Poisson in 1995, where you traced the fish from sea to consumer. Can you talk about how this interest in the circulation of consumption developed? NF: Yeah. I’ve always been interested in processes of production and also

economic processes. We went out with a trawler and with the net that followed the boat, we wrote “poisson” (fish), and the writing was 40km long. It took us seven hours to write and we fished something like 500 kilos of fish. This is how this process of writing could produce something. I was writing the word “poisson” and catching fish at the same time.

La tour Pélagique, 2008

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Nicol as Floc’h


La tour PĂŠlagique, 2008

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making the invisible visible


I could sell the product in the market as an art product, but at the same time, it was a food product. So I could eat and live with my product. I always have been very close to the sea. My first project was a performance that I did underwater. As the tide was slowly going down, the landscape was appearing with rocks and everything. I sat on a rock, not moving, emerging with the tide, and once it was out, I came back to the shoreline, which was 50 or 100 meters away. And so I was in the middle of the sea, not moving and just appearing with the tide. I did a project that could be seen as the start of what I now call ‘productive structure’. I worked with net makers off the coast of Brittany, making a fishing

23

Nicol as Floc’h


net the size and shape of the Eiffel Tower. We first made a small model that we tested in a research centre in Lorient where they have test pools. After that, we made one to scale and I put it in a fishing boat and we tested it while fishing. I exhibited the whole process and the net as a 2 x 2 x 2 meter pile of rope. This project was about making something very visible from something not visible, something which is underwater. You change the shape. It’s also related to what the Eiffel Tower meant in the 19th century when it was built as a symbol of industrialisation. With the fishing net, we have a much more ambiguous object. All this was very interesting for me in terms of how if you change an object’s physical shape, you change its meaning. In 2010, I started to work on a project about artificial reefs, which are architecturally created for fish to make ecosystems. They are used mainly by fishermen, or to restore damaged ecosystems and create biomass, and you find them all over the world. They started in Japan, but there are some in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, the UK and America. The biggest ones are 40 meters high. They can be up to 80 meters deep and they are always immersed underwater. They are really like cities. There are millions of them; in Japan there are 20,000 sites. Constructing them is such a massive process. I find it really interesting that not many people know about them. So small organisms will start to colonise the structure. Reproduction cycles start and it creates a full ecosystem on the reef. In a way, these systems are for growing fish but in a natural environment. It’s like urbanism, and I link this to sculpture and architecture. The link to transformation is very important for me: you have a structure which nature will colonise; you construct this invasion by natural means; this structure will be a living space for different organisms. We don’t have access to the structure, which is transformed very quickly, so I thought it would be interesting to make a documentary sculpture project. I re-made this structure 10 times smaller in concrete and steel, the same material as the originals. And I show them as sculptures because they really look like sculptural architecture, but it’s to allow the viewer to perceive this underwater structure. CB: So you’re making something that’s invisible visible? NF: Yes, as a structure. And after, I want to show how the structure can

transform, to give an impression of its variation. I take underwater pictures and videos of the submerged structures to show how they are living and how they transform themselves. Their shapes and sizes change depending on the

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making the invisible visible


particular species and ecological context. I make documentary work in sculpture, photography, and video. Afterwards, I work on projects where I recall the experiences of all these structures from different ecosystems. I try to learn from all of this in making sculpture that can work as a functional reef. For the moment, I’ve started to work on a few projects which are linked to existing elements, and playing more with symbolic aspects of the transformation of structure. But there is also this idea of working on the immersion of structures which are ecologically productive. Some of them can be represented outside of the water and will never be submerged. CB: Standing back from this project, what do you think about art and art

research practices contributing to averting ecological disaster? Structures productives, 2008

NF: There is one important thing for me in relation to art: I think an artist

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Nicol as Floc’h


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making the invisible visible


Structures productives, 2008

27

Nicol as Floc’h


can’t work today without taking into consideration his or her impact on the world. How one produces something, the quantity and scale of objects and kind of material used are all important considerations. It’s not easy to think like that, given the importance and power of the art market. What is your art for? How do we work and what do we produce in the world? We have the responsibility to be conscious about what we are doing because we can choose to make art in one way or in another way. CB: Could you talk about how you share your artmaking knowledge and experi-

ence with students? Do their perspectives inform how you think about your work? NF: I try to help them to enter their work with a certain consciousness. Art

school is not always an easy space. There is sometimes not enough reality in art school and not enough of a link to how you produce an artwork. I think it’s very important for students to be in contact with the reality of artists. I really believe that one of the important parts of learning is observing, and with time, seeing how things work. In art or in any context I think observing is the best way of learning. I think it would be good to have more practicing artists, teachers or non-teachers, producing in art school. It is also a way to share experience through working processes and making. To share the same conditions is always one of the best learning processes for me. A second aspect of this is that it is very interesting to see how their perspectives open space and put us in relation with today’s young people, but at the same time, we have to keep in contact with the broader context of art in addition to student work. We can never forget that they are always in a process of learning and we, as artists and teachers, can only transmit an experience, a method, and a conscience. We don’t own any knowledge that we can deliver, only a process. CB: I know you’re starting an art school on a boat and I understand you now

have a pilot project. You’re going to have six students working on the boat that will travel the waterways to different destinations in Europe. NF: The idea is to make a mobile studio and living space for students and

teachers. A boat is a structure that promotes freedom and can bring us to many places. You can have a real working space and studio and living space on a boat. I think the best structure is a fishing boat because it’s not too big. We’re starting with a 16 meter boat, but the ideal would be 30 meters. That will be the next project. The larger boat would have enough space to work,

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making the invisible visible


but wouldn’t be too big or too expensive. It’s mainly a kind of research tool, an artistic research vessel. This boat can go to all the harbours around Europe. We’ll be able to meet people from different art scenes, participate in different events and invite people to our space. So there’s this way of approaching the space that is totally different, which will no doubt alter the students’ point of view. It’s also on the ocean, a space which has been fundamental and will be very present in the climate change debates in the coming years. So it’s quite interesting being on the boat to think about it. As well, it’s a space where you can work differently: for example, you can talk with a student for a long time; you are together for 24 hours, so it’s not the same as going to school for a day. CB: It’s a residential community. NF: It’s a residential space/community – exactly. So it’s not an easy process, but

I think there are quite a few people who are interested and ready to go for this kind of experience. I think it can be a fantastic tool to facilitate all kinds of exchange with many other countries, and it puts the student in a situation which will be their situation in the future – which is to work in different spaces. They don’t live and work in one space as an artist today. We are working everywhere all the time and you have to be prepared. You have to be adaptable.

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Nicol as Floc’h


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making the invisible visible


31

Nicol as Floc’h


Heiko Hansen

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making the invisible visible


Heiko Hansen talks about the work he and

Heiko Hansen nous parle des œuvres crées en

collaborator/life-partner Helen Evans have been

collaboration avec sa collaboratrice/conjointe

making as HeHe since 1999. He also discusses

Helen Evans, sous le nom de HeHe, depuis 1999.

teaching at the École Supérieure d’Art et Design

Il traite de son poste d’enseignant à l’École

Le Havre-Rouen where he is developing an art

Supérieure d’Art et Design Le Havre-Rouen où il

laboratory.

développe actuellement un laboratoire artistique.

HeHe’s art practice often intersects with science

Les œuvres de HeHe se confondent avec

and engineering and provides an environmentally-

les mondes scientifiques et techniques, elles

engaged commentary on consumerism. In Nuage

fournissent un argument environnemental qui va

Vert (2008), they coloured the emissions from

á l’encontre de la consommation. Dans Nuage Vert

a power station smokestack in Helsinki. With

(2008), ils ont donné de la couleur aux émissions

Toy Emissions, a remote control toy car wove

d’une cheminée d’une centrale électrique,

its way through heavy traffic in Manhattan, its

à Helsinki. Avec Toy Emissions, une voiture

exhaust billowing out in bright colours. Their

télécommandée frayait son chemin au milieu

artwork exposes hidden processes to comment on

des embouteillages de Manhattan et laissait

environmental consciousness.

s’échapper des gaz d’échappement de couleurs

vives. Leurs œuvres rendent l’invisible visible

Another significant area of work has been

revitalizing abandoned railway lines, which they

et ont pour but de sensibiliser sur la conscience

have undertaken most substantially in Paris

écologique.

(Métronome) using La Petite Ceinture, and also in

Parmi leurs autres œuvres d’importance,

Istanbul (Tapis Volant/Flying Carpet), Manchester

ils ont revisité des lignes de chemin de fer

(M-Blem), and New York City (H-Line). They are

abandonnées, essentiellement à Paris (Métronome)

currently working on an artist book entitled

en utilisant La Petite Ceinture, mais aussi à

Man Made Clouds, which summarizes their work

Istanbul (Tapis Volant/Flying Carpet), Manchester

on pollution.

(M-Blem), et New York (H-Line). Ils travaillent actuellement sur un livre nommé Man Made Clouds, qui rassemble l’ensemble de leurs œuvres sur la pollution.

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Heiko Hansen


in CO N VERSATIO N with He iko Hansen

In this interview Heiko talks about his teaching and the work of HeHe with artistcollaborator and life partner, Helen Evans. Cathy Busby (CB): Where and what are you teaching now? Heiko Hansen (HH): I’m teaching at the school of fine art and design in Le

Havre that offers studies in graphic design and fine art. The art department specialises in ‘art espaces specifique’, which translates to ‘site specific art’. My open atelier class is called ‘Interaction with the Environment’. The literal translation from French is ‘Interaction with Space’. CB: From what you’ve told me, it sounds like you’re able to make your art

practice into a kind of teaching context. HH: That would be the ideal! Ideally the students and I would have the chance

to experience the creation of the artworks together, the ones they create and the ones I create as an artist. I have this vision that this is the future of art teaching: to provide an open dynamic atelier / studio situation to artists in art schools, in which making art and teaching art would fuse into one flow. In reality there is a big gap between what one does as an active artist and as a teacher. It is a struggle to be an active artist and to be actively developing an artistic curriculum in an art school at the same time. Both of them need a lot of energy. What I like about the art school in Le Havre is that we have a lot of free space for experimentation. CB: With Nuage Vert in 2008, you worked with a power station in Helsinki to

visualise the omissions. You used laser projections and made a spectacular record of these omissions in order to make pollution data visible. This work received a lot of public attention. You and Helen often make invisible omissions visible alluding to their toxic presence. HH: Nuage Vert is the most ambitious project from a series of works called

POLLSTREAM. In all these projects we are trying to give pollution a form, make it visible, transform it into an art performance. We are not living in the days of the London fog anymore, where pollution was visible. Today we experience air pollution through internet websites monitoring the polluted

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making the invisible visible


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Heiko Hansen


cities (and through our coughs). To know the pollution in front of my window I have to connect to the Internet. If I drive out of Paris I can see the polluted orange glow of the city in the distance – however if you are inside the cloud, it’s all a blur. In New York we made a performance driving a miniature RC (radio controlled) toy Porsche through the streets of Manhattan, which emitted coloured exhaust fumes and which was entitled Toy Emissions (My friends all drive Porsches), (2007). In another installation called Champs d’Ozone (2007) one can experience in real time the cloudscape above the Paris skyline tinted with colours according to the actual air pollution data. Today engineering tries hard to make pollution invisible. Cars are still polluting but we can’t see the pollution anymore – the pollution clouds can be sold better when they are invisible. In Paris we have a new incinerator that has been engineered so that the chimneys are smaller and their pollution will condense high up in the sky. This costs more in energy, but it’s made so that people won’t see it anymore. The other problem with pollution is that we can’t perceive its impact in the moment that we consume it. Pollution is about latency – the side effects come later. HeHe tries to make pollution into real-time performances. CB: Toy Emissions is very funny, too; you know, it’s site specific in New York

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making the invisible visible


where consumption is excessive and reflected in car culture, but I thought it’s hilarious that you would shrink an oversized vehicle and make it dodge the traffic, meanwhile omitting this brightly coloured exhaust. Is humour intentional in your work? HH: It’s really hard to make something funny, but if it happens, it is a precious

moment. Sometimes environmental art comes across to be a bit lazy in the sense that it just critiques, but in a very boring and dry manner. People can’t really benefit from these politically correct messages if as an artist you are not offering something else. You mentioned the word ‘spectacle’ earlier in relation to Nuage Vert. Environmental art has to offer spectacle, drama and humour at times, even if it’s dealing with serious technological transformations of society. Often it’s too easy to point fingers at something or somebody, even if this is obviously needed at times. In the case of Toy Emissions, I think we managed to do something hilarious. The radio-controlled toy car, a Porsche Cayenne, was the perfect icon to comment on the obsession of New Yorkers with SUV’s (sports utility vehicles) at the time. At the end of the performance on 5th Avenue, at the corner of Central Park, the toy car was destroyed, run over by a bus. People were so engaged, they were screaming and shouting during the performance!

37

Heiko Hansen


CB: That’s great, I wish I’d been there! One of the compelling aspects of Toy

Emissions was the brightly coloured exhaust. Could you talk about HeHe’s use of colour? I’m thinking about the car exhaust in blue and the power station emissions in green. These colours are bright and unnatural, even appearing chemically-infused and toxic at times. HH: They’re all different. Let’s take Nuage Vert – the green cloud. Technically

speaking, we are drawing the outline of the pollution cloud coming out of a power plant in real time. Green is the perfect colour. It encapsulates the dichotomy of our times: on the one hand the environmental or green movement, life, chlorophyll and everything which is positive; at the same time, it suggests phosphorous glowing in the dark, decay, pollution, contamination. The colour green provides the chromatic mental association for people to project their own images and thoughts onto the cloud of the factory. CB: I also associate it with television cartoons – you know, the very saturated

fluorescent colours, especially in stories about outer space. That green colour like Mars and other-worldliness. HH: It’s a fascinating topic. It’s also a special colour in relation to our per-

ception. It seems that scientific research enters our technological awareness through the colour green, if you think about the first computer displays or the trans-genetic glow-in-the-dark prototypes of today. The green in Nuage Vert is the colour of the laser at the wavelength of 532 nanometres, which is the wavelength we perceive the best in shaded light environments. Obviously there is something phenomenologically intrinsic in our perception of light which plays in favour of this mystical green. And often as an artist these details are very important for the perception of the artwork – a proper understanding of the material conditions to achieve (with limited budgets) complicated and deep experiences. In the beginning in Helsinki we wanted to colour the cloud of the electricity power plant depending on how much energy had been consumed by the inhabitants of the city. Later the limitation to green allowed a much wider and more poetic reading of the artwork. CB: It’s wonderful when a practical decision also strengthens the work

conceptually, as in the case of this limitation to green. I’d like to turn to your personal rapid transit projects. I wondered if you could talk about the vehicles, and using disused rail lines such as you did

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making the invisible visible


with the prototype Metronome and M-blem. These came about because of your discovery of La Petite Ceinture. HH: We have realised many different vehicles in different locations in the

past 12 years. But everything started on the Petite Ceinture in 2003. Back then, even more than today, this abandoned train track, lying disused since 1936, was a utopian space. It was a wild, overgrown ring around the dense city of Paris. A mythic space, with tunnels, abandoned train stations and nature. Straight away we had the idea to make a train infrastructure as an art project and we wanted to use the Petite Ceinture as a testbed – an open air art laboratory. Today the Petite Ceinture has slowly become a political issue and everybody wants their bit: community gardeners, property developers, politicians. I just saw it again today in a big international newspaper. It’s comparable to the Highline in New York, but bigger. We also designed a vehicle for the Highline in 2007 before it was renovated. It was a magic space

39

Heiko Hansen


and the Petite Ceinture has also been a beautiful social biotope to catalyse new usages and situations in the city – including us and our train project. Our dream has always been to make a complete infrastructure, which is usually only reserved for governments and city planners. We are still working on the implementation of our Métronome project in Paris: an autonomous Métro on the Petite Ceinture, working between two of the old stations with tickets, uniforms and all the rest. For the last year we’ve been working with a community garden which has access to the tracks and running our metro as a railway service for parties, events and social gatherings. So we hope it’s only a matter of time before we can convert the project into a permanent artist railway service and work out access and permissions with the city authorities and the other stakeholders. In the meantime we were invited to do art-train services in other places in the world. We designed a flying robotic carpet called Tapis Volant during the Istanbul Biennial in 2005 on the historic tram tracks in the old part of the city. As I mentioned, in 2007 we made a train vehicle on the Highline in New York, behind Madison Square Garden. Conceptually important for us was the train service we created in 2012 for one week in Manchester. For this occasion we used the railway station and the tracks of the first passenger railway service in the world – the Manchester Liverpool railway line. There’s something about public transport that makes you think, its public, its good. But as individuals we don’t really interact with the train transport infrastructure; these systems are “machine ensembles” as Wolfgang Schivelbusch calls them. Our concept throughout the years was not only to reverse engineer, but to rethink the “ensemble”. The train is one of the most prominent examples of infrastructure in our industrial history. In the beginning, tracks were open for people to place their own vehicles. CB: I can only imagine that the rail world would look very different if

personal rapid transit had developed, as HeHe now re-envisions. Changing topics, this interview is particularly intended for students, so I wanted to ask you what part of your training best prepared you for the work that you do now? HH: People often ask about the influence of your studies and how that’s

prepared you for teaching or for the art that you do. Education is very important, because it leaves an imprint on you for the rest of your life. Personally, I had the chance to study all kinds of different things – art came

40

making the invisible visible


after those studies. Now I’ve been working as an artist for 15 years and that is much longer than the period of my formal education. But to answer your question, when teaching, one should be curious and experimental, always trying out new formats. As a student that means studying in different environments. In today’s world there is nothing worse than trying hard to be a good artist from the day you go to art school. Especially in art, we have the chance to constantly learn something new even after the school is finished. CB: So what kind of things set your art practice in the direction that it takes

now? HH: Helen and I met in London at the Royal College where we took a course

called “computer related design” from 1997 to 1999. It was one of the first MA courses in Europe, I believe, where you had this interesting mix of people doing all kinds of stuff with computers. Everybody was coming from different backgrounds including design, art, politics, sociology, etc. Prior to this, Helen had studied politics and stage design and I had studied mechanical

41

Heiko Hansen


engineering and industrial design. So maybe that sets the background for our practice today that includes critical performances, design and architecture about interaction between technology and society. However our path into the art world has not been very straight! CB: And here you are now teaching in an art school. HH: Yes, maybe time to do something new! CB: Could you talk about approaches that you take in teaching students? HH: For me it’s important to work in a practical atelier situation with the

students. That’s why we’re building up a hybrid workspace right now with new and old machines and tools. It’s important for me that students don’t sit in a white atelier space all day. I try to immerse them into a practical making and discussing situation. In our new atelier which we call ‘TRANS/FAIRE’ we have some machines from an unused metal workshop, which we couple with new tools to do programming, electronics and digital fabrication. We collaborate with the university and their research departments. We just worked with the laboratory for fluid mechanics and right now we are working with a PhD researcher on drones. Helen and I have collaborated with scientific institutions. We’ve always done this in a self-initiated way. It’s important to teach students the capacity to acquire and source skills outside the art school. CB: I teach in the Visual Arts at the University of British Columbia in

Vancouver and in my art practice I often make use of fabricators. To many of my students, this is a completely new way of thinking about artmaking. But if there is an element of fabrication in their projects, I encourage them to outsource it. HH: Yes, I agree. Art schools often don’t have enough budget and resources,

so it’s an important skill to learn to convince other experts and institutions to help you. For the same reason it is sometimes equally important to learn to fight your way through a problem and just do it yourself. CB: You’ve worked with Helen as HeHe for 15 years, and I realise she isn’t able

to schedule an interview at this time because of being fully occupied with a new baby. Could you talk about your process of working as collaborators? Maybe you could start with your name HeHe, as in Heiko and Helen, but it also has a sense of humour, like the laughing sound, heehee. HH: I don’t want to spoil the magic of it, but there was this moment at the end

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making the invisible visible


of the last century where people looked for websites and that’s really how it happened. We joined the two HE’s from our names and that made a strangely nice name for a website! CB: What are the two of you working on now? HH: Among many other things, we’ve been working on an artist book

publication, called Man Made Clouds for the last five years. The book features our work on pollution, but also includes texts from us and five other authors on the history of art and air pollution. We started the project in 2009 at Pollinaria, a centre for contemporary art, science and agriculture in Abruzzo, Italy. We decided it should not only be a book about pollution smoke, but it should also be a book that you can literally smoke, so you can smoke the first page in the book. We’ve been growing a field of organic tobacco in Italy. Everybody wants organic products so why not organic tobacco? CB: I really appreciate you providing us with this overview of what HeHe –

you and Helen – have undertaken over the past 15 years and how you’re taking your experience in cross-disciplinary innovative practice into the art school setting.

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Heiko Hansen


Anthony Heywood

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making the invisible visible


Anthony Heywood discusses the development of his art practice beginning with his student days

Anthony Heywood nous parle de l’évolution de sa

at the school that is now the University for the

carrière artistique, depuis ses années d’étudiant

Creative Arts in Canterbury (UCA), where he

á l’université qu’est aujourd’hui the University

teaches and is Head of Sculpture. His work has

for the Creative Arts à Canterbury (UCA), où

evolved through explorations in bronze casting

á présent il occupe un poste d’enseignant et de

to developing techniques for large-scale sculptures

responsable du département Sculpture. Son travail

constructed from readymade everyday objects,

a évolué du moulage de sculpture en bronze à

detritus and paper casting.

la conception de techniques pour fabriquer des

He stresses the importance of community

sculptures á grande échelle, construites à partir

engagement with public artwork through

d’objets du quotidien préfabriqués, de détritus et

participation and debate. Boots and Shoes (2012)

de moulage de papier.

used 1800 pairs of recycled boots and shoes

Il souligne qu’il est important que les

collected by the community as raw material for

communautés puissent interagir avec les œuvres

this public sculpture, and local university students

d’arts publics par le biais de leur participation

aided in the construction.

ou de débat. Boots and Shoes (2012), cette

He also talks about how continuing to

sculpture construite grâce à l’aide d’étudiants

actively produce art benefits his teaching in that

d’universités locales, a utilisé 1800 paires de bottes

he remains alert to materials, processes, site

et de chaussures recyclées, rassemblées par la

and scale. Tabula – Fortis in Pace, a collaborative

communauté comme matière première.

project with Uwe Derksen, was constructed from

Il signale par ailleurs que sa production

reclaimed wood sourced from derelict buildings

constante de nouvelles œuvres d’art l’aide à

in nearby Dover and situated on the grounds of

enseigner dans le sens où il se tient informé sur

UCA, Canterbury. Heywood sees this work

les matériaux, les procédés, les sites et les échelles.

referencing Brancusi’s commemorative multi-part

Tabula – Fortis in Pace, un projet collaboratif avec

sculpture at Târgu Jiu that includes a central

Uwe Derksen ; cette sculpture fut construite à

table similarly intended for meeting and

partir de bois recyclé trouvé dans des immeubles

discussion.

abandonnés á proximité de Douvres. Elle se trouve

He has maintained a concern for the

aujourd’hui sur le campus d’UCA, Canterbury.

environment, socio-political and community

Heywood voit ce travail comme une référence à la

engagement and issues of sustainability

sculpture commémorative de Bransuci à Târgu Jiu,

throughout his career.

qui avait en son centre une table semblable prévue pour des réunions et des discussions. Tout au long de sa carrière, il s’est soucié de l’environnement, de l’implication socio-politique et de celles des communautés ainsi que des problèmes liés au développement durable.

Opposite: Car, paper, 2012

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An t h o ny H e y w o o d


in CO N VERSATIO N with anthony he y w o o d Cathy Busby (CB): I wondered if you could talk about some of the experiences

and opportunities you’ve had in the development of your art practice. Anthony Heywood (AH): Well we’re sitting in the heart of the school and for

me that’s a very symbolic place. Many years ago this was where I encountered people like Stass Paraskos and other very good teachers and visiting artists, from Anthony Caro through to Richard Rome (who was teaching sculpture here), as well as David Thompson, Tom Pemberton and many others. Just through their actions they enabled me to develop my practice. When I came down to the South of England – because I’m originally from the North – I started to do an MA at the University of Kent on Brancusi’s drawings but because my practice was developing, I began to concentrate on that far more and I started to do some teaching here. Because of the nature of the people and my interests, I also worked very closely with Richard Rome and David Thompson to establish the foundry here. It’s no longer here but that was when we had sculpture as a discipline within the school of fine art and you had specialist workshops for the students. CB: How did the development of the foundry fit in with the development of

your practice? AH: I began to look at the possibilities of developing a series of works, forms

which were non-representational, abstracted, and I was finding ways of welding, casting, and bringing them together. I actually did some shows in Germany and London with the work. The learning of sophisticated casting techniques enabled me to develop my ideas for all of the work I did in bronze casting. For example, I began making the Buddha Series by casting everyday objects like telephones, shoes, toys etc. And I was also concerned with environmental and cultural issues.

When I was a student my thoughts were focussed on environmental

issues. I was casting ploughed fields and rocks by the seaside. I was building sculptures that were sometimes quite monumental. There was one occasion where I cast some trees and made a hundred of them to put in Kielder Forest. And then I had some engagement with abstracted forms and I was partly making two types of work because, though I was developing some ideas

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through the casting form, I was also collecting and using everyday detritus. I was engaged in making works that were challenging cultural, sentimental, intrinsic and formal values by reproducing forms into other materials such as bronze or paper. This generated a discussion that I found exciting. I was of course looking at contemporary shows and seeing Cragg and Opie and Whiteread developing works that involved the use of everyday objects. It was my learning experiences with the mould making that would support my idea to cast large scale iconic objects like a Spitfire for the work Dove of Peace. During the time that I was testing the casting of everyday objects, I saw a news item that pictured the slaughter of elephants for their tusks. This really made me very angry and I thought hold on, why don’t you just deal with, you know, something that’s really making you fired up but also using objects that are actually creating, in a sense, the end of nature. So in the mid-80s I made a series of elephants that were made of televisions; life-size elephants. I showed them all over Europe – and working purely with the readymade and finding a way in which I could make a form with it enabled me to move on from casting. In order to make any sort of forms with the readymade, I needed to look at ways in which I could put them together. I tested making animal structures and in the process found that there was a significant audience for this work. CB: So you were using televisions in these works and you were making

figurative sculptures. This reminds me of commemorative figurative sculpture and memorials that we often see in town centres or to mark heroic figures, but at the same time, you were using disused televisions? AH: One thing that’s always really intrigued me is civic pride because I’d been

looking at Brancusi, the Târgu Jiu complex again. You reflect and you begin to think well why did somebody make that? And then you realise how all of the communities, the Women’s Institute and nursery schools and everyone, contributed to having that sort of monument to commemorate the people who died in the First World War in their village. I’m very keen on the early Renaissance so to look at how Donatello developed his particular works or Brunelleschi or Gilbert and Masaccio and the reason why they made their work and how it was accepted into and supported by the community. So I’ve always been intrigued not just by making sculpture and putting it there, but by how communities or audiences engaged. Travelling as a student, I would try and see everything that I’d been studying. But underneath all that I was always thinking well why was it made

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and what was the connection with the community? I didn’t always know why people supported art. I mean, patrons have supported art for all sorts of political and economic reasons, but since then, I’ve learned that there are many other reasons. CB: So getting back to your practice, can you talk about community

engagement with works that you’ve made? AH: I was invited to Portugal a couple years back to develop a project for the city

working with the University in Lisbon. I worked with their students and staff, but also with some community members who wanted to develop a project. It was supported by some of the regional community organisations in conjunction with some major sponsors who they’d linked up with. By working with them, touring the city, and discussing how the city functioned and the way in which sculpture functioned there historically, I developed a monumental project that involved using shoes. I created a giant pair of boots, which, of course, has a humorous Boots and Shoes, recycled footware, Lisbon, Portugal, 2012

side to it. I made them three metres tall, five metres long. They were constructed of disused shoes collected with the help of students and community members.

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making the invisible visible


Because of the sponsor, we also had a supply of rejects from shoe companies. So I built this sculpture in conjunction with the people and we placed it in St. Moritz Square in Portugal. Now there is a twist to the tale. The work was very well received to start with. The British Council came down and met me and we had different community gatherings around the work. I thought that the media and the communities were very supportive, not only seeing the humour of it, but also seeing how the work came about because of all the people who had worked on it. But about a week after I’d returned to the UK, I learned that groups had attacked the work and completely destroyed it because they thought the shoes had a value and could be used. I’ve made elephants and other objects, and placed them into urban and rural settings, sometimes having objects of intrinsic, functional, or sentimental value within them. So that started a debate with the audience about value. A whole group of people saw that they could get a pair of shoes for free by destroying the sculpture – that really Mother Elephant, recycled material, Sculpture By the Sea, Sydney, Australia, 2009

intrigued me. But it was the end of the sculpture, so it was quite a strange event.

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And until this event in Lisbon I had had quite a few discussions, through television, media, newspapers and art peer reviews, about how the work functions with an audience. So in a sense, I would like to think that everything I do is with the community. A project that we’ve recently been Top left: Tabula – Fortis in Pace III, Larnaca, Cyprus, 2014 Top right: Tabula – Fortis in Pace II(b), King’s Wood near Canterbury, 2013 Below: Tabula – Fortis in Pace VII, Margate, 2015

working on with Uwe Derksen was developed around a table. Not just any ordinary functional table, but one that partly referenced Brancusi’s work. We knew it would engage with people, and every time, we’ve gone out and looked for materials that we could recycle, we’ve worked with different communities, including students.

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CB: I wondered if you could elaborate on your political engagement as an

artist? AH: I have a driving passion to make the work political, to make a point that’s

relevant and can transcend time. And working with the readymade object has become a passion. I actually imported a Spitfire from Canada 20 years ago. I made a mould and developed the technology to use paper to cast into the form and to make the paper hold its form. I then had a steel armature placed inside of it. I’m engaged with the Dover Harbour Board to site the work. Paper is a ubiquitous material that can have messages on it, be a printed book, wrap things, etc. So I’ve made what was originally a war machine in paper.

To ponder the technicalities for a moment, learning how to make moulds

in plaster or resin and gelflex rubber enabled me to visualise how certain works would be created. This is certainly true of the casting of the Spitfire, which had to be strategically planned – as I had generated sufficient sponsorship to support the idea around about 1993. I worked closely with paper technologists to cast the Spitfire into a paper sculpture, always bearing in mind that as a 20th century iconic object it is imbued with mixed emotions of war and peace, a machine that fought fascism. I wanted to subvert the notion of war by making a lifesize paper aeroplane. It’s a Spitfire, but it looks surreal as it is a creamy white ghost that is made of paper. It’s a very significant iconic object that I’ve transformed into another material. On a lot of other occasions I have just used the readymade, but working in everyday objects, I have found it really challenging but appropriate to what I want to do. CB: I wanted to ask you about sculpture in public space being a destination.

I wondered if there are experiences that you can talk about around the peace table where it brought people together. AH: We currently have it on the lawn at UCA and pretty much every day,

students are sitting on it, engaging, talking, discussing. Uwe and his team have strategically brought people to the table to address issues, to have a meal and conversation. And because of the scale of the work, it creates the opportunity to have literally dozens of people around it, so lots of voices. In that sense I’d like to think it’s democratic. And then we talked about its form and the idea of a democratic table being round. It has a classical quality and it was made using historic timber from Dover Next pages: Dove of Peace, Port of Dover Cruise Terminal 1, Dover, 2014

that was in some iconic buildings used by generations of people. Structurally, they were the rafters, holding up the building. We also collected lots of other

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Nicol as Floc’h


timber from the region and it all spoke about a previous life. And that gave us a chance to create a monumental table that we used when we were invited to show the work in the pre-Olympics in Dover. A lot of passing traffic in the market square engaged with the object. They didn’t see it as a monument, but it was monumental and they’d felt an affinity with it. CB: I’m thinking about consumerism and anti-warfare. Can you tell me

about your sense of the impact of Send the Weapons to the Moon? How does your work contribute to transforming this place of weapons manufacturing into a location symbolizing peaceful relations? How have communities been involved? AH: I remember seeing an Oldenburg at the Hayward Gallery, London. What

really intrigued me was they showed his drawing models and his sculptures. I was captivated by the way in which he thinks things out. About five years ago I was part of a small group of artists (from China, America, Romania, Germany, Ireland, among others) invited by the city of Arboga, Sweden to make a work that used war materials. The city is strategically situated in the middle of Sweden. For a thousand years it was where munitions were built and supplied all around the world. The city and a community within it wanted to change the war manufacturing image and build a peace park. They wanted to create works that not only subvert but represent how the community feels about not wanting to engage with war. I’d done a work called Lysander 2, shown in the Netherlands, which used a military spy plane – and I’d made it of clay to reference Delft ceramics. And so when they first invited me, I asked, “Is there any chance of getting a MiG?” Now a MiG is a Russian military aircraft, and they said, “You want a MiG? Wow. That’s a fighter jet.” Anyway, two or three years passed and I got a phone call and they said that they’d managed to get a MiG that was now decommissioned and all of the dangerous parts had been removed but it still looked like a MiG. When I arrived in Sweden, I knew I wanted to get rid of the wings, though it was very challenging to remove them. Nonetheless, I had the fuselage, and I’d also asked them about this Rolls Royce engine which was about three metres long and weighed 1,000 kilograms. I wanted to bring the two together and in order to, I needed to get the support of some engineers, and thankfully got some very good advice. My idea was to suspend the work over water and generate bubbles coming out of the back of it, though it was very challenging for the community. But it’s also a model of community engagement: they

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Send the Weapons to the Moon, 2012

welcomed us into their homes, and to different events in the evenings. So they knew that everything we were doing was contributing to the idea of creating a peace park. Community members buddied up with artists over the six-week construction period and this helped to inform the artists about the local area. For instance, I wanted to hang my work over the river, but it’s an ecologically sensitive place and the community didn’t want to pollute it with anything that the airplane body or engine might leak. This community was well-prepared for the Peace Park project; many were involved in making the bid for it. CB: In closing, could you say something about how you share your artmaking knowledge and experience with students? AH: There are certainly opportunities for faculty to talk about their work with students, and occasions to have students work with me, like on the Dover project. Students like to know more about what you do. If I were only teaching, I couldn’t offer my experience to students about site, context, scale and a variety of materials the way I am able to because I’m actively producing new work all the time.

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Julie Morel

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Julie Morel, professor at École Européenne

Julie Morel, professeure à l’École Européenne

Supérieure d’Art de Bretagne, encourages her

Supérieure d’Art de Bretagne, encourage ses

students to create something that is accurate for

étudiants a créer quelque chose avec laquelle ils

them and to think outside the artificial boundaries

sont en accord et les invite à mener une réflexion

of mediums and disciplines. Artmaking is integral

au-delà des frontières artificielles créées par les

to her method of pedagogy. For instance, as part

techniques et les disciplines. La création artistique

of her long-term research program, Geographies

forme une partie intégrante de sa démarche

Variables, she takes small groups of Masters

pédagogique. Par exemple, dans le cadre de son

students on extended field trips. A recent trip

programme de recherche, Géographies Variables,

to New Orleans led to the initiation of the work

elle organise des sorties pédagogiques destinées

Neutral Ground, in collaboration with local

aux étudiants en master. Parmi ces sorties

communities and agencies. The project addresses

pédagogiques, un voyage récent á la Nouvelle

the issue of the road medians historically used as

Orléans a engendré la création d’une œuvre,

meeting places whose functions change because of

Neutral Ground, produite en collaboration avec

gentrification in the post-Hurricane Katrina city.

les communautés et des agences locales. Le

Closer to home, she has also had students

projet aborde la question du terre-plein central

collaborate with communities. As an example,

qui historiquement servait comme lieu de

students built a better environment to assist

rencontre mais dont la fonction changea suite à

foreign mariners in accessing the Internet after

l’enrichissement de la ville de Katrina (après le

hours at a Seaman’s Club in Lorient Brittany.

passage de l’ouragan).

She discusses how being in proximity with

Plus près de chez elle, certains de ses étudiants

other disciplines has informed some of her

ont aussi travaillé avec les communautés locales.

artworks. Pyrrhic Victory (a hollow victory) began

Par exemple, après avoir passé quelques heures

with participation in a scientific expedition

dans un club de marins à Lorient (Bretagne)

to Clipperton Island, a French atoll, now

ils ont pris l’initiative de mettre en place une

disappearing with rising in sea levels. Out of

interface pour aider les marins étrangers á se

this journey, she made an installation mapping

connecter sur internet.

the island on the floor of Le BBB centre d’art in Toulouse.

Elle explique comment sa proximité avec d’autres disciplines artistiques a influencé certaines de ses œuvres. Pyrrhic Victory (une victoire dérisoire) a commencé suite à une expédition scientifique sur l’île de Clipperton, un atoll français sur le point de disparaitre avec la montée du niveau des mers. Suite à ce voyage, elle arrangea une installation : une cartographie de l’île, visible sur le sol du centre d’art Le BBB, à Toulouse.

Opposite: Original Big Nine Annual Parade, New Orleans, 2013

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Julie Morel


in CO N VERSATIO N with julie morel Cathy Busby (CB): There’s continuity in the way that you’re working with

the students and the way that informs your practice – where you’re going and what you’re doing – projects that integrate your work with students’ work. The one that comes to mind is Neutral Ground. Working with students – N e u t r al G r o u nd

Julie Morel (JM): Neutral Ground is a project about medians in New Orleans.

In the other parts of the States they’re called medians, but in New Orleans they’re called neutral ground. They’re those expanses of land in the middle of the road. I was interested in them and had some questions and realised that they’re historical, racial and social markers throughout the cities. They can be very small – just the length of a bedroom for instance – but they can be as wide as a football field and they cover the whole city, especially the central areas. They’re expanses of land with big trees – oaks mainly, but also myrtles– planted on them most of the time. Many used to be used for transport like trains and then they were used for street cars and then as community gathering places. They really developed after the Creole period when Americans started settling in the city. Canal Street, for instance, is the most well-known of this period. The Creoles, who were the French, the Spanish and the free people of colour, were the three main inhabitants of the city. They didn’t have the same way of living as the Americans so they used those places to segregate themselves. But they also functioned as a meeting place for doing business, duelling, social meeting and gathering, cultural demonstrations, showing yourself to your neighbour on the weekend. So when I was in New Orleans last year with my students I started asking questions about those spaces. I realised that after Katrina, their function was changing. Because of the gentrification of the city, people are starting to invest in those grounds very differently. Some of the neutral ground was becoming like a wall of greenery to prevent neighbours from seeing what was across the street from them, so that a re-built side of the street didn’t have to look at a not re-built area. Also, since Katrina, there’s been a big political transformation in transport in New Orleans because of the gentrification of the city and because

Opposite: Neutral Ground, New Orleans, 2013

of tourism. The city is trying to put streetcars back in the centre of the city and, again, you know, those spaces which had a real function for meeting and

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Julie Morel


socialising would be deprived of that function because of building tracks.

I’m working with the old Mint at the Louisiana State Museum in

partnership with The Historic New Orleans Collection (which is a private foundation) and the French Consulate to create a project on a neutral ground. I’m going to meet the communities around them, speak with them and then design a project using plants. I’m also seeking to work with the botanical gardens because I want to have a reflection about plants and their meanings. In in a place like Louisiana, if you’re using cotton plants, or pecans, or indian grass or any kind of plant like that it means something – there’s a whole history about it – so I’m going to get the help of Park and Parkways, the municipal institution that deals with the neutral ground. So I’m meeting with people and having different events on the chosen neutral grounds, and then starting to design something. The project is designed to be long term, one piece every year on a neutral ground, to be completed for the tercentennial in 2018. Working with students – G eog r ap h ie V a r iable

CB: And this came out of working with your students there when you went for

a few weeks? You also said you started at the Art Basel Fair in Miami, then took them to Alabama and New Orleans. I wonder if you can talk a little bit about how you made this project happen and about that journey? JM: I tried to bring some of my own projects to the school, EESAB (École

Europénne supérieure d’art de Bretagne). I feel there’s a collective energy to it that I can put in and share with my students. I consider the students partners in exchanging and producing the work. So for me there were many questions around places where art is under-represented, either for geographical reasons, economic reasons, because of the weather, etc. The New Orleans project happened after those questions. I set up a research program and it’s called Géographies variables. It’s been going for a year and a half now. Last year, I took three Masters students on a trip to Miami for a month for them to see the worst market-based art. It’s an incredible experience. I mean there’s art that is of incredible quality but there’s also the worst kind of art and for me it was important that they would start a journey with this vision. Then we went to New Orleans and met artists who were both really young and also established artists who were part of the Black and the Cuban communities. We also met with curators and people from independent artistrun spaces and institutional curators from the Museum of New Orleans. Then we went to Alabama to have a look at Rural Studio, which is an architecture department from the University in Auburn, Alabama. They made a conscious

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Left: Rural Studio, Auburn

Below: Rural Studio, library

University, architectural

construction site, 2013

projects, Newbern, Alabama, 2013 Left below: Rural Studio, studios, 2013

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decision to be in the middle of the Black Belt so they could have an impact on everyday life and the community there. Rural Studio is rebuilding the whole infrastructure, including the fire hall and the city community hall, for this money-deprived area. It’s a really interesting project and really intelligently done, so it helps the community but doesn’t compete with builders or other suppliers. And the architecture students spend one year designing a project and then they actually build it with their own hands. Working with students – P r o j ect B

CB: And so your students are actually meeting other students and

interviewing them about their work that they’re doing, in this case at Rural Studio? JM: Yeah. So we visited different sites and then met with the Rural Studio

students. Then we went back to New Orleans, and we visited a few places. One of them was Project B, a housing project which was closed after Katrina. It was a nearly-finished neighbourhood before Katrina and never got finished. You couldn’t access it because they put fences all around. So I took my students there and we “jumped” the fences and we visited the place, which was completely empty. Since Katrina it had been a ground for visual artists and street artists to play with, and there were artists who had a real message around the reconstruction of the city after Katrina and the Civil Rights Movement. I wanted them to see this very specific situation but also get a sense of the overall atmosphere of the city. We took part in a few cultural events such as the Second Line, which is a procession to commemorate the recent dead. That happens every month in each neighbourhood. Everything is done with music, of course. We went to visit the archive from the Louisiana State Museum. The director of the collection showed us absolutely everything, including their music collection. In New Orleans you really get the sense that culture comes from everyday people, whereas in Europe it comes from the top and showers the masses. So for the students it was also a good way of thinking about autonomy. CB: Can you tell me about one of the student’s projects? JM: So, Marion worked around her experience of meeting people in the street

and helping at a “food shelter”. Nicolas is a sculptor who’s always working with material he finds. In New Orleans it was gingerbread houses! During a party he just overheard a conversation between a father and daughter. The father said, “What is that gingerbread house you made? It looks like

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a post-Katrina house!” And that’s a family who lost their house. The gingerbread walls were collapsing. And Nicolas started speaking with them and then came up with a project around vernacular architecture using gingerbread as sculpture. The project is called Gingerbread Shotgun Houses and he made a series of drawings and sculptures around that. The third student worked on the relation between Lorient and New Orleans, because Lorient is actually a city that was built under Louis XIV to do trade with Vietnam, Senegal and New Orleans. They would pick up the slaves in Senegal, bring them into Louisiana, go to Vietnam to put goods in the ships, and then come back to France. She’ll be able to continue working on this after she finishes her Masters degree. So she did something around the Museum in Lorient and the Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans. She spent a lot of time gathering information from one place that had all those archives, artefacts, and objects, and she filmed Skype conversations between the two.

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Working with students – S eaman ’ s C l u b

CB: You were saying it’s not just in other countries where doing this kind

of work makes sense, but also closer to home. Could you tell us about the Seaman’s Club? JM: I was clear from the beginning that the students and the project itself

would be consciously dealing with non-spectacle propositions. The school in Lorient is small - 200 students. It’s built on the harbour – actually, in between two harbours - in a city where there’s no art centre, where most of the cultural background has to do with the sea and sailing. There’s a Seaman’s Club in almost every harbour around the world. They welcome sailors and workers from the sea who are there for a day, a week, or a month. They have no access to the Internet on the ship. Sometimes they don’t

Seaman’s Club, Lorient, 2014

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have the proper clothes for the weather because Lorient is cold and humid and sometimes they come from the Philippines or another warm country, so the Seaman’s Club provides them with clothes, WiFi, and community support. However, it was only open limited hours, relying on volunteer work. One of the invited artists is in the process of building a wooden porch as an extension to the building that would always be open and provide a space to sit and use the WiFi connection. As the extension of this project, I thought it would be a good idea to involve the BA students from the second year. At that time they’re starting to develop their own practices - it’s very fragile and emergent. The Seaman’s Club asked us to work on the whole building, and through dialogue with them, we decided to work on the bottom half, as the top half had interesting typographical features. It was definitely a negotiation. We worked on the project, spending two months setting it up and then four months designing and creating it. I had a lot to say, but mainly it was the people from the Club who decided. There were about 20 students and they presented ten different projects. One was chosen. They had to find paint – second hand paint – from various places in the harbour. It was a very collective effort. P y r r h ic V icto r y

CB: I wonder if we could change topics now and talk about the Pyrrhic Victory

project? JM: Clipperton Island, or Île de la Passion, is a tiny atoll, a ring-shaped coral

reef with fresh water in the middle. What interested me was the fact that the island was really flat, but also that it was a territory that people were seeking and fighting for; that it was so far away from France and basically France wants to have it, but our government doesn’t do anything to maintain or to protect it. It’s just a place that we own in the middle of the ocean. Also, the island is only populated by birds and crabs! It’s very narrow and the living conditions are very tough. The project was dealing with environmental issues on this island in the middle of nowhere whose ecosystem is rapidly disappearing. It’s a fresh water atoll and the rising of the sea water means that, in time, all the endemic species in there will disappear. There were 24 of us on the expedition: four artists, and the rest were scientists and people to facilitate the project.

My first idea was that I wanted to focus on the people who are speaking

about the island. So I wanted to interview scientists, which I did. It is important to speak about subjectivity in science. You don’t get a lot of information about the island so any info is really precious. You realise

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the people who were going there already have a way of thinking about the place. I don’t think art is a way of resolving things. The means we have with art are not powerful enough to make the situation change. I mean, I believe it can change things - otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it - but I think it’s more in a symbolic way than in a very concrete way, even though the projects I’ve been doing are very concrete. The work was produced by Le BBB centre d’art in Toulouse. I was to take part in an exhibition called Stratégie des espaces, and when I spoke to the person in charge she mentioned that nobody was really working with the whole space. So I decided that I would be part of the exhibition if my protocol was strictly followed. I made a laser cut map of the island on top of a blue carpet. I asked for the whole art centre to be invaded by that blue carpet and made a calculation and said, “I don’t want anything around this island for five metres at least,” which would put all the artwork on the other side of the space. During the opening, people were just stepping on the small piece of carpet, representing the atoll – a grey and yellow carpet – without seeing it as representing anything. It was just this abstract blob, and I really liked that.

I’d been interested in doing a project with carpets. Carpets are a symbolic

territorial space, like the red carpet for officials or the carpet where you pray. I like that it’s flat and you can step on it; it’s unobtrusive. And the arts centre was putting on that exhibition called Strategy of Space where they acknowledge the fact that when you have an exhibition with various artists it’s a fight for territory and available space. CB: How did you see this being a Pyrrhic victory? JM: ‘The Pyrrhic victory’ is a military term, meaning when somebody’s

victorious in a battle or war but they’ve been putting so much into it that it’s not really a victory anymore. It was named by a Roman General who spent all of the Roman empire’s money to have a war, and in the end they were victorious, but they couldn’t rule over the people that they had fought because they had no money and no more men. We had to fight, in a gentle way, with each other as artists and I succeeded so well. You know, I was the only one on the floor, nobody around me, but in the end I was on my own. Ironically, I was just a solitary little island in the corner of the art centre. Victorious in my strategy but not successful in connecting with the rest of the artworks in the show.

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I ncident : U s i n g t h e interne t 1996

CB: I was wondering about your work as an early user of the Internet. JM: We created Incident in 1996. It was a big project and we worked on it for

almost ten years. We were a collective of up to eight people, creating mainly Net Art. At the time, servers were so expensive, so we decided to open the server to other artists on the Internet. So for a few years we asked artists from all around the world to send us work around a subject or a theme. Most of the time they were really open themes. We had a collection of nearly 300 pieces online. We were still students and we were discovering that it was really important that artists invest in that new space. And a lot of art institutions and even some of our professors were telling us that what we were doing was not art. So being together was really important. I was in fine art school in Paris, along with one of the others, so that’s how we started. And, again, for us it was – and that’s what I try to teach to my students – not relying on existing networks, but setting up your own. Don’t try to be part of an institution, try to create your own thing and then the institution eventually will come to you and you can engage in a dialogue. CB: You come from a more powerful position when you have created

something that is of interest. JM: You know exactly where you stand and you never sell your soul to any art

institution, exhibition or curator. And for students in a small school where there are no art resources around, it’s also interesting because it means they can try to stay in the local region where the art school is, and a lot of them are actually staying now and not going, as I did, to Paris. I was trying to be an artist and be part of something that already existed. I encourage my students to try to create something new that is accurate for them and for their life and to think outside the artificial boundaries of mediums and disciplines.

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Shelle y Sacks

Shelley Sacks works in a Social Sculpture –

for reflecting on our role in the global economy,

Beuysian tradition with a social-ecological focus.

through an interface between the small producers

She sees the trauma and pain facing the planet as

in the Caribbean and consumers in Europe and

a tragic gift, an opportunity for shifts in thinking

South Africa.

and behaviour. Her work involves creating arenas

Earth Forum is an easily replicable social

for developing new strategies of engagement and

sculpture process that takes place in small groups

exchanging that work towards more humane and

and begins with each participant taking a focused

sustainable ways of being in the world. The work

walk on the planet, and bringing back something

incorporates performative actions, interventions,

of the ‘earth’ to contribute to the circle. Through

site works, dialogue processes, writings, lectures

free imagining and discussion, participants

and pedagogic practices. Her premise is that

connect to the local situation and larger social-

people and their ideas, imaginations and thought

ecological issues.

processes are the real means for transformation.

These works, along with the University of

Everybody has these capacities and therefore

the Trees, bring disparate groups of people

everyone is an artist. Her social sculpture practice

into dialogue to stimulate transformational

puts this paradigm into action.

experiences that enable them to be more sensitive

In her long-term project Exchange Values, she

and decisive about their actions in the world.

began by collecting banana skins and, over several

She brings this work with the imagination to

decades, developed a multi-tiered project that

pedagogic research and teaching as Professor of

involved narratives from the farmers linked to

Social Sculpture and Interdisciplinary Arts at

stretched sheets of skin. This project, that was part

Oxford Brookes University in Oxford.

of the early Fairtrade movement created an arena

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Shelley Sacks travaille dans la tradition

libres, les participants prennent conscience de

Beuysienne de la sculpture sociale avec un

la situation locale et des plus grands problèmes

intérêt socio-écologique. Elle perçoit le trauma

socio-écologiques.

et la douleur qu’expérience la planète comme un

Ces œuvres, avec l’University of the Trees,

cadeau tragique, une opportunité de faire évoluer

rassemblent des groupes de personnes disparates

nos comportements et nos manières de penser.

autour du dialogue, afin de stimuler les

Son travail inclut la mise en place d’un espace

expériences transformationnelles et ainsi les aider

servant au développement de nouvelles stratégies

à devenir plus sensibles et décisifs quand à leurs

d’échange et d’engagement dans le but de devenir

actions sur le monde. Elle présente son travail en

plus humain et plus attentionné au développement

plus de son imagination pour l’enseignement et

durable. Son travail comprend des actions

la recherche pédagogique en tant que Professeur

performatives, des interventions, des travaux

de Sculpture Sociale et d’Art Interdisciplinaire á

sur site, des processus de dialogue, des écrits, des

l’Oxford Brookes University á Oxford.

conférences et des activités pédagogiques. Son hypothèse suggère que c’est la population avec ses idées, son imagination et sa manière de penser qui rendra une transformation possible. Tout le monde détient ces capacités, dès lors tout le monde est artiste. Son travail avec la sculpture sociale met ce paradigme en action. Dans son projet de longue durée Exchange Values, elle commença en amassant des peaux de bananes sans réel objectif, puis, après plusieurs décennies, créa un projet multidimensionnel où elle joignit les récits d’agriculteurs avec des toiles tendues fabriquées à partir de ces peaux de bananes. Ce projet qui comptait parmi les premiers du mouvement en faveur du commerce équitable, a créé un espace de réflexion sur notre rôle dans la globalisation en mettant en place une interface entre les petits agriculteurs caribéens et les consommateurs européens et sud-africains. Earth Forum est un modèle de sculpture sociale reproductible, qui s’organise en petit groupe, et où les participants sont invités à entreprendre une marche attentive sur la planète et à rapporter quelque chose de la ‘Terre’ qui contribuera au cercle. Par le biais de discussions et de réflexions

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in CO N VERSATIO N with s he l l e y s ac ks Cathy Busby (CB): Shelley, perhaps you could start by talking about what

you’ve been working on recently, what you’re excited about at the moment. Shelley Sacks (SS): It might sound strange, but what I’m most excited about

is the field of transformation… the field of social sculpture. One could also describe it as ‘the philosophy and practice of freedom’. I’ve been excited by this for many years, but now it is manifesting in lots of different ways that can be shared and scaled up in just about any discipline or area of society. So it doesn’t make much sense to talk about my work in terms of projects – although it includes forms, practices and projects. What excites me is working with what Joseph Beuys described as the ‘invisible materials’; exploring appropriate ways of working with these invisible materials toward a humane and ecologically viable future. So my work has a lot to do with the role of imagination in changing one’s mindset, and some of the forms this can take. One of these forms is through pedagogic research and pedagogy, in the teaching arena as well as in my projects. Another has to do with the connective thinking and practices embodied in the University of the Trees (UOT). UOT is a framework for exploring and working with the social sculpture understandings and the connective practice approach anywhere in the world. This mobile, alternative university invites participation in an experiential approach to knowing, and a set of practices emerging from principles and questions that are significant in the field of transformation. CB: What are these principles? SS: One of the UOT’s core principles highlights the connection between

inner work and outer action. It is important to recognize that thought and action are not opposites, but part of a continuum. Thought is already the beginning of action, or, in Joseph Beuys’ words, “thinking is already sculpture”. Another principle is drawn directly from Beuys’ provocative statement that “every human being is an artist”. This became one of my key ‘research’ questions, because most people, including me, even after having worked closely with Beuys, had no idea how one worked with this in practice… except in a very generalized and vague way. In the field of social sculpture this is a key principle, and so it is a problem if one understands

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its implications and doesn’t know how to work with it in practice! In addition to this, the University of the Trees emphasizes that every human being is both a student and a teacher, and that the trees and all other-than-human beings are the teachers as well. This is a way of emphasizing that we need to recognize different forms and modes of knowing. So this social sculpture university asks the questions, ‘what is knowledge?’ and ‘how do we know?’ as an important part of discovering connective practices and connective forms of thinking for connective ways of being in the world. And this requires more than the standard Newtonian scientific approach to knowledge. Building on methods that Goethe evolved to go beyond Newton and Kant, the UOT focuses on developing ‘new organs of perception’ and experiential knowing. Most importantly however, this university focuses on becoming conscious of our relationship to the world and developing a more connective mode of thinking and of existence. This is reflected in another UOT principle, or understanding, that ‘the ecological crisis is an opportunity for consciousness’. This is probably the most disastrous, and yet, the hugest opportunity we’ve had for achieving shifts in consciousness… in this sense the trauma and pain facing the planet and all its beings can be seen as a tragic gift. CB: Today when you described working in the regular university in Oxford,

you talked about finding a way in troubled situations where policies and practices are increasingly rigid. You seemed to be saying that an aspect of your practice is about locating spaces for shifts and changes that cannot easily be compromised. SS: Yes, locating spaces for such shifts is at the heart of the field of Below and following pages: Agents of Change, San Francisco, 2010

social sculpture. University of the Trees is an arena for working with the social sculpture principles beyond institutionalized universities. It is an opportunity for any citizen, in any part of the world, whether they have formal education or not, to become an ecological citizen and an agent of change. But back to the point you made. Looking for possibilities for transformation, for movement, for plasticity wherever there are negative forms and structures, is central to the field of social sculpture. Which is why Beuys originally used the term ‘soziale plastik’ instead of ‘soziale skulptur’: to emphasize the potential for movement in every situation, for undoing hardened and fossilized thought forms, and for reshaping social forms in such a way that every human being is able to become a creative participant

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Exploring Anti-Capitalistic Practice, 2014

in the shaping of their life and the world around them. This is what the shorthand ‘every human being is an artist’ really means. Much of my practice explores this ‘movement’ and the questions connected to it. For example: how do we overcome the habitual modes of perception that tie us in to a network of complex horrors? What sense organs do we need to perceive these complex horrors? How can we explore the potential in these difficulties for working toward a humane and viable society? The answers emerge from endless experimentation. As Lao Zu emphasized ‘the way is the goal’. Beuys used to say “Don’t paralyze yourself from acting by worrying so much about mistakes. As long as you work with the mistakes, they are an important source of possibilities.” CB: This sounds a bit like management speak... “Don’t speak about problems,

just call them challenges.” SS: Yes, this is often a way of glossing over difficulties. But it doesn’t have to

be. It is also about learning to perceive the possibilities in a situation where the tuning’s not right. How do we see what’s going wrong in a situation, and develop the organs of perception to see what needs to change, where shifts can take place? ‘Working with difficulty’ is a creative strategy. It is part of a transformative plastic process that runs through all my work. It lies at the heart of Exchange Values, the huge social sculpture project I’ve been working on with banana farmers and consumers which began way back in 1970. This arena for exploring our relationship to the world economy has been in many different countries and venues since 1996.

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One of the reasons it still has such currency seems to be the way it enables participants – both consumers and farmers – to inhabit the global economy experientially, and, one could say, to develop ‘new organs of perception’. For Goethe, ‘every object, or situation truly seen, opens up, in us, a new organ of perception’. Exchange Values creates an organ of perception that enables people to not only see the situation, but to see themselves and how they act in it. I’m interested in people being able to experience where the possibilities for movement are, both inner and outer, and in what sense they can become agents of change contributing to a more humane and ecologically viable world. CB: Can you describe the Exchange Values project in its materiality? SS: Okay, I’ll try, although it is difficult to describe briefly because there are

so many aspects to its form. One day, back in its unintended beginnings in 1970, I was on the verge of throwing away a banana skin when I began to wonder about the person who had grown it: how they looked, where they were, what their circumstances were. I pinned the banana skin to the back of my door. It became pitch black and twisted - and it was beautiful. After this, it was impossible for me to throw a banana skin away. It was like throwing away a person. This evolved into a collection of hundreds of banana skins. In 1973, before taking up Beuys’

Exchange Values, Nottingham, 1996, first venue

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invitation to come to Germany, I cleared out all my accumulated stuff, but I just couldn’t part with the skins and they accompanied me as hand luggage in a wooden suitcase. This obviously caused huge problems at customs in Germany – especially trying to explain my attachment to them, when I could give no good reason for having them. Eventually I offered the head of customs an explanation that came to me in an image from my childhood. The skins reminded me of my grandmother reading our future in the tea leaves at the bottom of a teacup. I told the customs guy that I did something similar with the banana skins, that I read the world economy in the skins for passersby. And that was the beginning of this now almost two-decade long global project. Not only did this crazy story get my skins through customs, but it also seemed to me to be an amazing idea. On a few occasions in Germany in 1974, I laid out the banana skins on a mat on the pavement, reading the world economy in the skins for passersby. So the ‘skins’ of invisible producers in the global economy became the first material in this unfolding process.

In the early ‘90s – after a long research process that I can’t go into here –

I took 20 numbers stamped on the side of 20 banana boxes to St. Lucia in the Windward Islands to try and find the farmers that had grown these specific boxes of bananas. During the 3-month journey, we located 19 of the 20 farmers. They were astounded to see photographs of passersby eating bananas from their numbered boxes on a UK pavement a few months earlier. Handing out the bananas alongside a sign that read ‘Free Bananas in exchange for your skin’ enabled me to get all the banana skins from the numbered boxes. It was also an opportunity to engage passersby in conversations about the nature of our global economy and the ‘invisible lives’ of both producers and consumers. So, this practical process of retrieving the numbered skins generated several days of intense pavement dialogues about our roles and responsibilities as consumers and the nature of our global economy. These exchanges with consumers were another important part of the project’s materiality. The exchanges with the farmers were recorded after doing a careful internal picturing process together. This process is based on the fact that we can all make ‘pictures’, at least when we dream. The idea is that if you really picture the whole situation you’re in, in great detail, and then re-enter this picture, one might be able to see alternatives and to locate possibilities for change. So I invited each of the farmers to join me in doing so. This process, working with the ‘invisible materials’ of social sculpture that Beuys described as ‘speech, discussion and thought’, became a central part of Exchange Values,

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Top left: Exchange Values, ‘Free Bananas in exchange for your skin’, 1996 Whilst collecting the skins, various pavement dialogues (first in 1974 in Germany, and later in England in 1996), were followed by several months of intense exchanges with the farmers, whose bananas had been distributed earlier in the UK Top right: Exchange Values, Birmingham, 2004, with growers

Exchange Values, Sheet of skin with corresponding grower recording, 1996

and is integral to all my work even today. The recorded thoughts from the farmers, speaking freely as opposed to being interviewed, were made after this ‘picturing process’. The thoughts were then linked to a sheet of dried, blackened banana skin – sewn together from the skins in the numbered boxes. In the original Exchange Values arena in Nottingham in 1996, 20 ‘listening stations’ created by these 20 sheets of skin and their corresponding recordings were installed around the walls. In the middle of the space, over 10,000 unnumbered and unknown skins formed a large square. Regular public forums with consumers, as individuals and as organisations, were organized in this arena. The space for exchange existed between the listening stations with the farmers’ voices and their corresponding sheets of skin, and the contrasting millions of invisible producers’ skins laid out on the floor.

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The current form of Exchange Values now includes a 5-meter round table that accommodates up to 30 people, and incorporates the 10,000 unnumbered skins of the invisible producers. This consumer ‘gathering place’ foregrounds Exchange Values as an experiential arena for dialogue and imaginal work about the global economy and our actions within it. Surrounded by 20 stitched sheets of banana skin and the constantly audible voices of the invisible farmers, specially designed processes take place at a table that enable individual insights about what it means to be ‘an artist’ and a ‘producer’, and what helps or hinders each person’s creative potential as a shaper of their life and society. An active listening process enables each individual contribution to become part of thinking as a social process in which the individual does not disappear. I often tell the story of the event at customs to students, because it highlights a way of working that trusts in the things that fascinate us, instead of starting off with predetermined ideas. I hadn’t intended or tried to do anything with the skins for several years. I just followed them in my imagination and inhabited aspects of their reality, which allowed this whole project to emerge. Also, you can see it’s come back to some of those principles that I mentioned at the beginning, which include inhabiting the situation, gifting it your full Exchange Values, Zurich, 2011

attention, recognizing habits of perception, and taking the difficulties as

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a starting point. All this can be summarized as developing new organs of perception and connecting inner work and outer action. When one looks at it like this you can see the whole ‘plastic’ social sculpture process as a kind of spiritual practice: not in the sense of a religion, but of enhancing your capacity for perception, for observing, for standing back, for looking for movement (that is, possibilities for change). At the opening in London in 1998, when Exchange Values was one of the UK Presidency projects, the head of WINFA, an alternative farmers’ organization in the Windward Islands said: “The most amazing thing we got out of the whole project was that we realized we are all artists. We’ve all got an imagination, and we can use our imagination to explore alternatives and to work with our difficulties.” What happened with the farmers is one part of the project. Here the ‘materiality’ is the transformative imaginal-thought process itself, which also informed the voice recordings at the listening places, linked to the sheets of skin. The other aspect of its materiality is as an arena for working with the invisible materials with consumers; for exploring in what sense they are also ‘producers’, and what inner and outer actions they can envisage as agents of change towards a more humane economy and ecological way of being in the world. CB: So it seems to me that through what you did, your transformative action

was going from a disconnection to a deep connection. SS: Yeah. This project enabled connective action at many points of the chain:

for the individual, who was wondering where the things they use come from; for the producers, who could see no way out of multinational control; for the consumers, who had begun to realize where their power might lie; and for the organisations working to develop fair trade. Through its 12 venues over the past 18 years, thousands of people have engaged in its ‘connective aesthetics’ processes and forms. From the feedback over the years, and the testimonies that were part of a research process, it seems that it opened up a deep connection for many people, beyond the art-world as well. Since 2007, the practices developed for working at the round table have enabled others to lead the process and therefore to scale up the numbers of people who can be involved. I coined the term ‘responsible participant’ for those who led the process, and began training people interested in doing this work. This obviously also meant formalizing the process enough to share it, so I produced a small handbook to give to Exchange Values’ ‘responsible participants’. It soon became clear that these processes had the potential

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to provoke shifts in mindset, that they open up awareness of our habits of thinking, and enable participants to experience themselves as artists, working with speech, discussion and thought. These methods have been sharpened and deepened in the Earth Forum since 2011, when I was invited to create a process that could be used in the days leading up to the Climate Summit in South Africa as well as for the after-summit work. Now Earth Forum is a popular module in the University of the Trees. CB: Could you talk more about these modules that you developed for the

University of the Trees? SS: Unlike the Exchange Values arena, which is portable but huge, Earth

Forum is really portable and replicable. Basically people gather around a circular cloth. So it only needs an oiled cloth, a time-investment of half a day, and a ‘responsible participant’ to guide it. Every person who does an Earth Forum is a participant. Having done one Earth Forum, participants can choose to be trained, after which they get their own oiled cloth and can guide Earth Forums anywhere, with organisations or groups of individuals. Earth Forum 1 came into being as a multi-stakeholder process exploring conflicting takes on ‘sustainable development’ in a village in South Africa, in the wake of the 2002 Summit for Sustainable Development. As you can see, on the bag of my own original Earth Forum cloth are all the places I’ve used it, probably with 10 to 15 people at a time, sometimes up to 30. It’s been in many countries and many places. And the oiled cloth carries the marks and memories of each event. CB: So people work together around it? SS: Yes, people are invited to participate in a process that has four phases.

It is both a structured and a free imaginative process. It also introduces two ‘capacities’ that give one an experience of the link between imagination and transformation, as well as freedom and responsibility. In South Africa when I first introduced it, one of the challenges was to describe what it was, so I referred to it as a ‘capacity building’ process. CB: You had to enter into that language? Earth Forum cloth bag, 2013

SS: Yeah. I see this language work as a key part of my practice. It is part of the

artistic process and a non-manipulative form of ‘branding’. Even though you are not trying to sell something, you have to find language that people can connect with, that enables them to enter new territory. This is well known to

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Earth Forum: Germany, UK, India, 2012–2014

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anyone who wants to share something unfamiliar. This is also not a new issue for me. Most of my works can be seen both as interventions and as opening up new territory. There is usually some kind of rupture as well as capacity building. Creating new language forms is a key strategy in my practice and my pedagogy. That’s why I can’t really differentiate between my pedagogy and my practice. Also, because Earth Forum is a social sculpture practice and an intervention that works largely with invisible materials – like perceptions, values, habits and imagination – it cannot be understood simply as art, communication technology, activism or social development training. So it is part of the work to find language currency that will give people a sense of why they should participate in this process. What is interesting is that when we do Earth Forums in different countries and contexts, we have to vary the language for introducing it, but not the process. People have to be able to get a sense of its value and where it sits in relation to their lives; otherwise, why would they want to participate? And because the type of thing is so unfamiliar, one also has a responsibility to inform people why you are inviting them to engage in such a process. What might be in it for them? This doesn’t mean telling them what they might experience. ‘Capacity building’ is simply a category – like art or science. As long as you don’t describe what they will experience, calling it ‘capacity building’ or whatever else might be appropriate doesn’t rob them of their experience. CB: So how does Earth Forum work? What does it consist of? And what has it

got to do with exploring our relationship to the world? SS: In the first phase, participants leave their places around the cloth and

go out for a short walk on the planet to get something of the earth. What ‘earth’ means is for each person to decide. But before they do this they are introduced to the first ‘capacity’ that runs through the whole Earth Forum process. This has to do with the process of imagination and reflection. It includes experiencing how we make inner images and how we can come to see our thoughts, values, attitudes and habits of perception in this ‘rent-free’ workspace that is available to all. In many ways it is similar to the inner picturing work in the Exchange Values project that I did with the farmers and then with the consumers around the table. When the participants return from this short walk they are introduced to the second capacity, ‘active listening’. This is similar to the ‘active noticing’

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and ‘active seeing’ strategy that is part of their initial silent walk on the planet. By replacing the usual forms of discussion in the first three phases of Earth Forum with active listening, each person not only contributes, but is listened to carefully by all the others. Participants are also encouraged to listen to what is emerging via the accumulated contributions. In this way, a shared substance is built up that is almost palpable.

If one looks at the gesture in this first phase of Earth Forum one could say

that participants ‘go out’ to ‘come in’: they go out into the world, literally and with their attention, in order to come closer to their own perceptions, and later, to the perceptions and experiences of others in the circle. The second and third phases are each initiated by a question: the second, by a question that takes one far into the future of the planet and of society, and the third, that brings one back to the present, to one’s choices and actions. In the fourth phase, the active listening is no longer a formal requirement. The ‘responsible participant’ steps out of their responsibilities, having created the space for whatever kind of exchange all the participants now want to have. Because the responsible participant is now just a participant like any other, they are free to say whatever they choose to, including making observations about the kind of dialogue that is taking place, and how they feel about this. This contributes to what is usually a very thoughtful, self-regulating process by the group. CB: It would be interesting to hear you describe how such capacities and the

Earth Forum as a whole relate to the field of social sculpture. SS:: The inner space that Earth Forum gives one an experience of is a

workspace. James Hillman, the archetypal psychologist, calls it the ‘theatre of memory’. But it is actually the place in which we can stage the past, the present, and the future, and draw insights from these inner images… partly because the images from these different time frames are all co-existent in the inner space, and partly because we can see what we see, and therefore how we see! In everyday language we call this reflection: it is the inner arena for understanding, for seeing the possibilities and for making choices. Imaginal thinking is an important aspect of what enables us to become conscious artists of our lives, and, in dialogue with others, of the way we live in the world. In German, the term Beuys and Paul Klee used for this is ‘bildhaftes Denken’. This space of working with imagination – for reentering what we experience, as well as for seeing how we see – is the true ‘atelier’ where we work with the invisible materials and make new thoughts. So, not only is this process of

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knowing, thinking and reflecting astonishing, but, as I said before, it takes place in a ‘rent-free studio’ available to all! Earth Forum lifts our experience into conscious awareness and enables us to become more response-able for our choices and our actions. What are normally overlooked and taken-for-granted processes now also become accessible, and can give us a sense of what it means to work with the invisible materials of speech, discussion and thought. This hopefully throws some light on what I said when we first started talking – about social sculpture and all the evolving programmes in the UOT having to do with ‘the philosophy and practice of freedom’. Beuys often emphasized that social sculpture is about working with the invisible materials of speech, thought and discussion. But no one really knew what that meant, other than creating space for more discussion and debate of the kind that we are used to, and that many people find so disappointing. To work to create appropriate societal forms and to develop connective thinking, we need to recognize the role and implications of thinking and how closely linked thinking is to imagination. We can’t think without this inner space. Everything we see has to first be taken inside. All thought or understanding goes into the space where we can re-see it, re-look at it and reflect. This is something every human being can do, potentially. It is also what can help us overcome fossilized thoughts, assumptions, ideologies and habits and explore connective ways of living in the world. But you have to break the process of knowing down so that people can experience it. CB: I really appreciate your working through this with me. It feels like a little

bit of magic to have been drawn into your world… and to see that you are not trying to convince anyone about these ideas but to develop processes that unfold through experience. SS: It’s so hard because unless you experience these processes or describe

them in much more detail, it can sound very abstract. CB: I think this does explain what you do, and why you do it. SS: Mmmm. It’s a bit like trying to describe music: one really needs to live

it and experience it. Although there are core understandings in this field of transformation that can, I think, be described. The main one has to do with the space of imagination and the process of reflection, in which every human being can experience the possibilities for sculpting with the invisible materials, and realize how thinking becomes form.

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The physical forms in all these practices are part of this imaginal thought process too. The ruptures they provoke and the portals they open up create new experiences and understandings that can lead to a change of mindset and of heart. They can enable empathy and activate the inner field. The round oiled cloth seems – in the experience of most of the several thousand people who participated in Earth Forum – to be an important part of the experience. Without words, it confirms that we can make space anywhere on the planet for working together, for listening, and for intense, connective experience and connective thought. CB: Yeah. It’s timely. The effects of globalisation are continuing to barge their

way into everyone’s lives. I think the processes that you’re talking about can help us make a more tangible connection to what’s going on in our world. SS: Yes, and hopefully also to shape new thoughts and envision new

connective forms. Something that makes me glad is to see how useful some of these practices have been to activists who’ve participated in the Earth Forum and Exchange Values, enabling them to integrate these in their work. What is key in this expanded concept of art is the understanding that there is only one field of transformation that does not separate inner and outer work. This recognition can have a radical effect on both our attitude and approach. I’m also glad that processes like Earth Forum – that anyone can be trained to use Below and following pages: University of the Trees (UOT), Kassel, 2012

– can easily be scaled up, without losing the subtle understandings and the in-depth experiential process.

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Acknowledgements

Thank you:

Photography:

All the artists, UCA, ESADHaR

Unless otherwise noted, all pictures

and EESAB

have been provided courtesy of the respective artists: Nicolas Floc’h,

Cathy Busby was commissioned

Heiko Hansen, Anthony Heywood,

by Uwe Derksen to interview

Julie Morel and Shelley Sacks.

Nicolas Floc’h, Heiko Hansen, Anthony Heywood, Julie Morel and

Additional photographs have been

Shelley Sacks in October/November

provided by:

2014. She and the artists edited

Chakkrit Chimnok: 78

the interviews.

Uwe Derksen: cover (front/back), 50b Peter Lewis: 44

Producer/Concept:

Marta Patlewicz: 15, 50tl, tr, 52–53

Uwe Derksen

James Reed (Social Sculpture Unit):

Assistant Director, Research and

71, 72–73

Enterprise,

Ali Taptik: 41

University for the Creative Arts Design: Translation:

Hans Dieter Reichert

Aurelie Riaud

HDR Visual Communication Ltd.

Transcription:

www.creativeecology.eu

Helen Wooldridge

www.esadhar.fr www.ucreative.ac.uk

Editing Assistance: Elysse Bell, Ella Tetrault,

University for the Creative Arts (UCA),

Vanessa Grondin

Ecole Supérieure d’Art et Design Le Havre-Rouen (ESADHaR)

European Regional Development Fund The European Union, investing in your future

Fonds européen de développement régional L’Union européenne investit dans votre avenir

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3

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