This week: Duncan, Richard, and Jason Dunda talk to a cast of thousands led by Jen Delos Reyes!
Jen Delos Reyes is an artist originally from Winnipeg, MB, Canada. Her research interests include the history of socially engaged art, group work, band dynamics, folk music, and artists’ social roles.
She has exhibited works across North America and Europe, and has contributed writing to various catalogues and institutional publications. She has received numerous grants and awards including a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Grant. Jen is the founder and director of Open Engagement, a conference on socially engaged art practice and herself speaks widely on Art and Social Practice at conferences and institutions around the world.
Jen is currently an Assistant Professor at Portland State University where she teaches in the Art and Social Practice MFA program.
photo credit: Motoya Nakamura
by Jen Delos Reyes
Two countries. Five conferences. Seven years. 14 partnerships. Over 700 presenters. Over 1600 attendees. Since the ﬁrst Open Engagement conference in 2007 this event has become a key meeting point for people interested in socially engaged art. Open Engagement: Art After Aesthetic Distance began as a hybrid project that used a conference on socially engaged art practices as its foundation and incorporated elements including workshops, exhibitions, residencies, pedagogy, curatorial practice and collaboration. I wanted to foster a different kind of conference—one that worked in the way I wanted to see it work: with a sense of togetherness, putting emerging and established voices side by side, highlighting different ways of knowing and learning, and serving as a site of production, as well as reﬂection. I wanted to contribute to the discourse on socially engaged art in a meaningful way. When Open Engagement began it was a student project. I was a graduate student. The conversations that I wanted to engage in were not happening at my school in Saskatchewan, so I decided to create the situation that would allow for me to have these discussions with people doing similar work. Open Engagement was the basis of my education, and now is a major foundation of my work as an educator.
This year as in most years my experience of Open Engagement happens mostly in the lead up—in conversations with students to determine the themes of exploration for the year, in the selection of keynote presenters, in the scheduling, planning, writing, partnerships, and all things organizing. In the day to day of the event itself I get to attend very few sessions, usually only the opening and closing sessions, keynote events, and a hand full of other projects and for a limited amount of time. My time during Open Engagement is mostly spent assisting and making sure things are running smoothly. But in that way of moving through the conference I intersect with people all throughout the day that I ask what they have attended, and what their thoughts are on the experience at the conference so far. This idea of needing to talk to others to fully experience the conference is intentional. Because of the parallel programming no one person can take in all of the projects and sessions that form the event on their own. We need to work together, and see from multiple perspectives to get a full sense of the ﬁeld.
In 2010 at Open Engagement Pablo Helguera said that he had always heard that a conference is meaningful in as much as it generated new questions to follow up. If you didn’t ﬁnd new questions then maybe it was not successful. I had a similar feeling about conferences, and it had been one of the ways I was measuring outcomes. The conference begins with a series of calls and questions, and throughout the course of the event and the conversations there are undoubtedly more that are generated. At OE 2013 we were making a concerted effort to capture that questioning throughout the weekend, and on Sunday before Tom Finkelpearl’s keynote talk were reminded by Michelle Swineheart of one of Sister Corita’s “quantity assignments” of generating 100 questions when embarking on intensive work and research. With this in mind, as well as earlier feedback from the day at a session between the Creative Time summit and OE where I heard from many participants that they wanted to work together to generate something during the conference and that in general there was a desire for sessions that allowed for formats other than being talked at, I decided that the ﬁnal event would be an opportunity for just that.
For the closing event of Open Engagement 2013 instead of having a panel discussion between only keynotes and curatorial representatives we instead set out to collect 100 questions generated by the group assembled to further get a sense of what is emerging, what people are thinking, and where this conversation is going. The Sister Corita assignment felt ﬁtting for a group of presumably invested individuals, who wish to continue to be involved in research and practice, to take this on together. It was a hope that as we would move out into the world after the conference that we could then reﬂect on this list of the questions we are currently asking ourselves about socially engaged art. The format was that each of our six panelists joined one of six seated groups that each had about 40 chairs (based on past years we were planning for between 200-300 people at the ﬁnal panel), and we then had about 35 minutes to work together and for each group to write 17 questions and then we reconvened and the panelists shared the group work. After the instructions were given, at least 20% of the assembled group left instead of joining the break out groups. As I stood at the front of the room watching people choose to stream out, I wondered if I had made a mistake. The people that remained formed groups and were led in discussions to generate questions. There was one group in particular that voiced resentment, yet not enough resentment for them to have just left. This all came out in sharing of the questions at the end of the session. After many weeks I heard from someone who was part of that dissenting group how difﬁcult it was to contribute questions, to have a discussion, and to feel like they could share. Days after the conference I heard some thoughts from Michael Rakowitz (who was the person facilitating that group) on the conference and the ﬁnal event in general and he said, “You created a space for people to get upset, and that opens up possibilities for things that haven’t been done yet.” While I had no doubt that we had created a place for people to get upset I wondered what else the space was a possibility for. I thought of other conferences and their goals, Suzanne Lacy’s City Sites: Artists and Urban Strategies (1989), and Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art (1991), the Creative Time summits that began in 2009, and the more recent Homework conferences organized by Broken City Lab. Lacey was trying to create a space to develop language for socially engaged art that went beyond the limitations of forms like performance and conceptual art, and with the latter intended that the activities of Mapping the Terrain would come together as a publication. The most simple way to describe the Creative Time efforts is an attempt to become the TED talks for socially engaged contemporary art. The latest incarnation of the Homework conference takes a similar approach to Mapping the Terrain with a end goal of a collectively generated publication, and a similar format to Open Engagement with three keynote presenters and framing devices.
My last memory of Open Engagement took place at Boxxes, the club that hosted the wrap party for the conference. I showed up after a late dinner and took a seat behind the DJ booth where Paul Ramirez Jonas was virtually spinning tunes for the party. I was approached by a woman I met earlier in the day who is a funder at an arts organization dedicated to supporting socially engaged art. I found myself captive behind the DJ booth during a moment of celebration hearing out her frustrations with the conference. The parts of her dialogue that rang out the loudest in my mind were, “I am not here to learn with you, I am not here to generate your content.” I nodded throughout, and thanked her for so openly sharing her criticisms. I meant it. I still do.
This encounter made me think of who was present Open Engagement, and what they expected, and how at least for this person how much of a radical departure it was from what I thought people were there for. I revisited some writing from 2007 that I had done after the conference:
What does it mean to be open? What does it mean to be engaged? What if one were to be both open and engaged simultaneously? Openness is honesty, generosity, a sense of possibility, freedom, free of boundaries and restrictions. To be engaged is a promise. It is a commitment, an obligation. It is also a sense of involvement and participation. To have an “open engagement” implies a commitment that is potentially limited or short lived. But what if the two terms once united could keep their respective deﬁnitions making openly engaged a term that would embody an obligation to honesty, sharing and possibility?
It happened, we did create a place of possibility, a place for honesty and sharing, one where many boundaries and expectations were crossed and left behind. What should Open Engagement be? Who should it be for? How can we adequately capture what is generated? Over the last few days I have been thinking about the possibility of an online community archive for Open Engagement that would be a collective effort that would be open for all to share their documentation, writing, thinking, and stories related to the conference.
I had always seen Open Engagement as a site of learning. In an online video conference with Ren Morrison from the Atlantic Center for the Arts weeks following the conference he off handedly referred to Open Engagement as being his “education”. The conference has for the past four years been a site of convening for many of the MFA programs with a focus on publicly/socially engaged art. The fact that this conference is so embedded in the structure of an MFA program makes the very nature of it educational, as well as the fact that even the very beginning was in an educational framework. In my mind we were all working together, learning together, and teaching one another. How we organize this conference collaboratively echoes the spirit of our program and our approach to learning. An education in our program is emergent, unorthodox, and at times unruly. This translates into Open Engagement feeling slightly unkempt, and in ﬂux. And while this might be a point of criticism for some, I would not trade this instability for rigid professionalism or a set structure. It is important that we remain open to this conference and this conversation shifting and developing in unexpected ways. It is also important that we remain open to the realization that this may no longer be a site that is necessary, or that it might need to take a completely new form and possibly a new grounding. I hope that whatever becomes of it, that Open Engagement can be a site to work together, learn together and see what we are contributing to the ﬁeld of socially engaged art from multiple perspectives. I am open to whatever comes next.
Jen Delos Reyes is an artist originally from Winnipeg, MB, Canada. Her research interests include the history of socially engaged art, group work, band dynamics, folk music, and artists’ social roles. She has exhibited works across North America and Europe, and has contributed writing to various catalogues and institutional publications. She has received numerous grants and awards including a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Grant. Jen is the founder and director of Open Engagement, a conference on socially engaged art practice and herself speaks widely on Art and Social Practice at conferences and institutions around the world. She is currently an Assistant Professor at Portland State University where she teaches in the Art and Social Practice MFA program.
The dry, frequently mouth-puckering style of beer called lambic is brewed almost exclusively in one small corner of Belgium. Unlike most beer—which is brewed with unvarying amounts and calculated strains of yeast—lambic is subjected to spontaneous fermentation. This is done by exposing the wort to outside air in a structure called a coolship. It’s sort of like leaving the windows open and it goes against the popular image of a brewery as an ultra-hygienic temple of stainless steel. Wild yeast and bacteria present in the air wander into the wort, lending each batch of lambic specific characteristics created by chance. Lambic is crucial for the production of gueuze, another traditional beer style from Belgium’s Pajottenland. Gueuze is essentially blended lambic. Younger lambics that still have some sugar left in them are combined with lambics that have been aged longer. The reintroduction of sugar in the young lambic sparks a second round of fermentation. The result of this process is called gueuze.
The artist, homebrewer, and organizer Eric Steen blends roles with the creativity and skill of a Belgian brewmaster blending lambics in pursuit of the perfect gueuze. Each role informs the other, sparking transformations in his work as a whole as the artist in him feeds on the sugar of homebrewing, mellowed all over by the aged subtleties of organizing. Steen went to grad school in beer-savvy Portland, OR and is now based in Colorado Springs, a beer Mecca in its own right. He has brewed his own beer, collaborated with amateur and professional brewers, and organized countless events rooted in the experience of drinking beer. While his work as an artist is by no means limited to beer, he also runs a beer blog (Focus on the Beer) specific to Colorado Springs (his home base these days) that allows him to interface with both the local beer community and the art audiences cultivated by his many projects.
In the interview below, conducted by email over the past few weeks, Steen and I discuss, among other things, how he came to beer, how some of his projects have manifested, and skills and processes that might translate between the worlds of brewing and art.
Bryce Dwyer: What was the first beer you loved? What was the last beer you drank?
Eric Steen: The beer that changed my life was Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale. My friend Brian Hall used to make fun of me because I couldn’t finish a pint of any beer, but something clicked with that one and I’ve never been the same since. Some people develop their taste buds and get sick of their early interests, but I still will buy myself a pack of that beer. It always reminds me of Oregon and some great times.
The last beer I drank was actually at a Wild Game and Wild Beer dinner at Trinity Brewing in Colorado Springs a day ago. Three breweries participated and brought in beers that use wild yeast strains. It was the best beer dinner I’ve been to. So, technically, the last beer was at that. It was called Buddha Nuvo, a collaboration between 14 different breweries, it had buddha’s hand fruit, lots of pumpkin and spices, ten different strains of Brett yeast, and was aged in Chardonnay wine barrels. It was an amazing beer too.
BD: Can you relate an anecdote about your path from artist with a casual interest in beer to artist with a solid involvement with beer? More and more artists are taking interest in fields further flung from art and need to know how to navigate that journey. Do you have any insight about this from your own experience?
ES: I’m tempted to say it will vary from field to field but I suppose I can let my anecdote serve as a way to navigate the question, without coming to any real conclusion one way or another. My trajectory as an artist really changed in grad school [at Portland State University's Art and Social Practice MFA Program] when I was asked “What are you passionate about?” Reluctantly and maybe even jokingly I said that I love beer. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense to me. So I tried out a project or two, nothing I really care to mention here, but I learned a lot about it and realized that it would be worth making an effort to really focus in on beer as a major element of my work.
At this point I really loved to drink and taste beer but I didn’t really know enough about it to spark the interest of people I wanted to collaborate with. It was never a conscious decision to wiggle my way into the beer community, but I started keeping a beer blog and I started reading about beer for hours every day. At some point I was able to have conversations with people in the industry so that they took me reasonably seriously and could get on board with something I asked them to do. From there it has just grown and was a bit of a step by step process. It was certainly not at all a sudden realization that I desired and (I hesitate to say it) needed people in the industry to believe that what I was doing was worthwhile. It’s not that I needed their approval or affirmation, it just was a growing impression that I had that I was not only making art, that these folks need not see it as art, but that it was definitely also part of their world. That’s one huge reason why the beer becomes sculpture to me. I work with ideas but the beer itself as an object must remain central to what I do in order for it to be taken at all seriously. Anyway, the more I’ve written, the more I use social media to connect, the more I’ve attached myself to that community. I’ve even begun organizing events that I wouldn’t call my “art” but that I do to further educate my readers (and myself) and I think things like that are super important as well. I’m not just constantly doing my own thing as an artist, but I’m really a part of this thing and now work in multiple ways to stay a part of it.
BD: Can you speak more specifically about some of your beer-related projects?
ES: I’ll go through the ones that I think may be most relevant. Concerning actually making beer myself: I am a homebrewer and I have made a few beers that were part of art related events. In general when I make a beer for art, meaning not just homebrew to be consumed at home, I make a Heather Ale. The recipe is based on a beer, also called Heather Ale, made by William Bros. Brewing in Alloa, Scotland. It uses heather flower tips to get much of the aroma and flavor. The beer has an interesting history. In eighteenth century Scotland, the English outlawed the use of any ingredients in beer besides water, hops, and malt. Because of this, Heather Ale was not produced commercially until the 1980′s when a Gaelic family gave their recipe to Williams Bros. This brewery has inspired me in multiple ways, and I have actually taken their recipe, changed it, and used it for art events. I’ve used this beer for Open Engagement, Eat Art in NYC, a show in Southern Oregon that was about the mythical state of Jefferson and a few other circumstances. For Open Engagement 2011, I actually had Coalition Brewery in Portland re-brew the recipe on their commercial system so it could be served at a real brewery.
In addition to brewing myself I have a number of projects. Beers Made By Walking was a summer long series where a public audience went on a nature hike with a homebrewer and a naturalist. We identified edible and medicinal plants along the way. Afterwards, the homebrewer created a recipe based off ingredients we identified on the hike and brewed the beer at a local commercial brewery. There were eight beers, served in two different tasting sessions, and because we produced the beer commercially the event took place not in a gallery, but at a local pub. I really liked the idea that each beer became a portrait of the particular trail its ingredients came from. In the future I’ll be doing this again, but in various iterations. One will be working with commercial breweries in Colorado and in Oregon. They will send their brewers on a hike and then the beer produced will actually raise money for local environmental non-profit groups.
I’ve also created a couple pop-up pubs. In Glasgow I worked with 17 local homebrewers, and they made about 25 beers which we served for free to the public. There were ten beers on tap at a time, getting rotated out every ten or so minutes. It lasted about four hours and then we shut it down. This was in a gallery and was part of the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art. It was also a culmination of a month long series of educational beer activities called Pub School. For Performa 11 I also created a pop-up pub, Performa Brew Pub, this time working with 33 NYC homebrewers. There were 33 beers and all were on tap at the same time. In both situations I worked directly with the homebrewers to present their beer in a way they thought would be special. The beers were on display as was their equipment, although we could still utilize the equipment like at a normal bar.
The last one I’ll mention for now was called Art & Beer and happened twice at the Portland Art Museum. Each time I invited three local commercial brewers to tour the museum. They picked out art that they liked, we researched it for them and then they made a beer based off the artwork. So the beer was served at the museum, and you could see the artwork, and for a few weeks afterword some of the beer was available in town as well.
BD: Have any skills or tendencies from your training as an artist come to bear on your brewing? Is there some relationship between your brewing and your art practice (even if it’s a way to support work monetarily), or do they mostly exist separately from one another?
ES: There is definitely a relationship to my brewing habits, beer habits and my art. The majority of my work in some way uses beer and/or is about beer. In many ways these projects are “beer events” as much as they are “art projects”‘ and I particularly like the blurring of these boundaries. As an artist I am interested in looking at the particular aesthetics and creativity of beer and brewing. I see the brewer as an artist and in my work I try to make the beer the highlight of the experience, so it becomes a type of drinkable sculpture in a way. However, I’m also really interested in social forms of art and so my work is also about finding intersections between fields of interest, such as beer, geography, education, and art. Another aspect of socially-engaged art that I really incorporate is the common theme of blurring the role between artist and audience. I work with commercial brewers and homebrewers and when someone comes to one of these events they may not even realize that it was organized by me. Instead, they become interested in the work of the other brewers (artists) that have been involved from the beginning. Those are some of my “formal” considerations, if you could call them that.
About the last part of that question though, the part where you say it could be way to support work monetarily, I would like to say something. In addition to making beer-related art projects I also spend a large amount of my time reading and writing about beer. I have a blog called Focus on the Beer I update almost every day. I have other writers and a photographer as well. The blog can be promotional at times, but it’s definitely a way to both build and understand the craft beer community as well. I often post my thoughts on particular beers as well as thoughts on the industry in general. I am able to be both promotional and critical. Through the blog, I organize educational events such as Meet the Brewer and I’m even starting up a granting program where readers can realize their own community-based beer events to be funded by the blog. We do accept local advertising through breweries and beer companies that I believe in, so I have recently become more capable of supporting what we could call “field research.” I’m hesitant to call the blog an art project, but certainly it keeps me highly informed on the industry.
Perhaps the thing that I appreciate most of all about the blog (and I didn’t intend for this to happen) is that it has really legitimized some of the strange things I do. People in the beer industry are now interested in what I do. They follow me online and even attend events that I organize and seek to be a part of it. The more I do this, the more I realize how important it is to not only possess authentic enthusiasm for the expanded field I’m engaged in, but also to have the thumbs up from the people in that particular field.
BD: Can you point to any beer-related projects, art or otherwise, that have been helpful to you in your experience with beer? Projects that have helped you think through aesthetic quandaries are as relevant as technical help or inspirational small businesspeople.
ES: To be honest, I had not heard of Tom Marioni’s project (The Act of Drinking Beer is the Highest Form of Art)or Superflex’s Free Beer before the first one or two projects I did. I did soon thereafter become familiar with them and while they don’t necessarily influence me directly, I do think about the title of Tom Marioni’s piece as I’m drinking beer with my friends. “Drinking beer with friends is the highest form of art” is true, and I realize this on a regular basis.
I’ve been influenced by plenty of artists and art projects, and many have changed the way I do what I do. Sunday Soup and Josh Greene’s Service Works have been on my mind recently as I’ve been thinking about a granting program for our readers. Richard Long, Hamish Fulton, and REBAR have been on my mind a lot too, in terms of walking. When I think about the roles of artist/audience I often consider the work of Harrell Fletcher and Temporary Services. Additionally I’d say when I think about my work I like to think that it’s site specific, both in the physical place I do something but also in the “field of beer.” I’m also inspired by people like Mierle Laderman Ukeles and her work with NY Sanitation Department.
I’m also hugely influenced by people working in various ways in the beer industry. Many people have influenced and inspired me as much as the artists mentioned above. I’m particular inspired by Williams Bros. Brewing, who I mentioned already. They began a whole program of historical Scottish beers that use ingredients from the landscape including seaweed, elderberries, dandelions, Scottish pine, and more. I also mentioned Coalition Brewing in Portland. They have a program where they bring in a homebrewer and allow them to brew a beer (they approve the recipe first) on a large commercial scale, so then the homebrewer has a real commercially produced beer. I think that’s awesome. There’s also this guy in Portland named Dean Pottle who has a speakeasy at his house called Dean’s Scene. When his neon light is on, you know that you are welcome to come downstairs and pour yourself whatever you want. He’s regularly opening his house up to the public.
I’m inspired by all kinds of tasty and beautifully crafted beer, from subtle flavors to loud and obnoxious flavors. Perhaps there’s too many to mention. I will mention one brewery, Crooked Stave, that has been experimenting with a wild yeast called Brettanomyces. Normally associated with sour beers here in the US, this brewery is redefining the way we think of Brett yeast strains by making delicately soft beers, concentrating on parts of the yeast that we’ve not really thought about before. I’m also influenced by other beer bloggers that go out of their way to create events around something they’ve been thinking a lot about. One of my favorite examples is Ezra Johnson Greenough of the New School Beer Blog. He organized a fruit beer festival in which he challenged breweries to create fruit beers that will make beer drinkers rethink what they know of fruit beer.
Maybe this doesn’t need to be mentioned but I’m also really influenced by people who do alternative education and by people who write about it. All my projects incorporate varying levels of what I think is experimental pedagogy, but maybe this is for another discussion?
BD: From your point of view, what is important for someone who encounters the project to take away? The taste of the beer leaves the senses soon after the glass is drained, but are there other aesthetic qualities, historical perspectives, learned habits, or thought processes that you hope stick with the participants your work reaches?
ES: Actually, one thing that I hope people take away is a sense that they just tasted something that might change the way they think about beer. I think that beer is often seen as a party drink, associated with drunk driving, objectifying advertisements, and little flavor. So I hope that when someone drinks a “Smoked Wheat Chili Sour,” their socks are knocked off.
Concerning other qualities, it really depends on the project. For example, in Beers Made By Walking I hope that people interested in beer will gain something from the botanist or naturalist, that they will learn about the landscape in new ways. I hope people interested in the outdoors will begin to appreciate the mind of the brewer and understand beer differently, and I hope the brewer will understand the landscape anew. In that project I provide two venues for those people to connect: on the hikes and at the pub. Perhaps most importantly, the project is motivated by my desire to have people simply experience being outside, and to grow an appreciation for nature. I’d also like people to have a more holistic understanding of the landscape that they’ve walked through.
Other projects are totally different, some engage more heavily in forms of alternative education than others. In Building in the Post-Apocalypse, which I haven’t mentioned yet, I look at a number of options for doing education and learning differently than a typical classroom set up, and I point to the pub, or perhaps the table with the pitcher of beer as being a more suitable place for learning. In the pop-up pubs I work directly with homebrewers and I’m thinking more about participation, the common language used among homebrewers, as well as looking at these folks as artists, people engaged in a craft for the fun and enjoyment of what they are doing. They experiment or hone their skills, although they are not professionals in the field. I build those spaces to focus on the beer as sculpture, but also build a pub atmosphere that encourages people to hang out and talk (not just sit alone, not just get drunk) with the brewers about what they do. I suppose in these pubs it is a more direct look at the beer as a craft, the brewer as the artist, than in some of the other projects.
BD: How do you think about documenting your work? How do you shape the experience of someone encountering your work at a remove?
ES: This is a tough call for me. In general, documentation for me refers to online articles, my website, and artist presentations. I’ve tried taking some of the physical remnants from an event and transplanting them into another gallery and I was very dissatisfied with how that turned out and haven’t wanted to do it since. In one or two cases the leftovers (of, say, the pop-up pubs) were literally left in a gallery, complete with sticky floors, beer smells, and bottles everywhere. People came into the gallery, walked around, knew they missed something, and could sit on the picnic benches and read through the menu.
I really like creating menus for these projects, they serve the role of both a menu for what’s on tap but also an artist catalog with additional information about the participating artists, information about the beer, and, with Beers Made By Walking, a write up on the whole experience. That way, someone who misses the event can at least begin to understand that there were, say, 33 beers available, and read up on what the brewer is all about. For projects that don’t have an exhibition element to them, I may write about it on the blog, without being heavy handed about all the ideas I’m working through, usually a dry type of telling what happened with brief information about why I do what I do. There may be better ways to do these things that I’ll figure out, but this is what I’m most comfortable with at the moment.
This week: Duncan, Brian, and Abigail Satinsky in conversation with Christine Hill at the Open Engagement conference, which took place from May 13 to 15, 2011 at Portland State University.
Open Engagement is an initiative of PSU’s Art and Social Practice MFA program that encourages discussion on various perspectives in social practice.
Hill has exhibited and lectured widely internationally. She has been the subject of numerous publications and she shows regularly. Recent solo exhibitions include Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York; Galerie EIGEN+ART, Berlin; the Museum of Contemporary Art Leipzig; the MigrosMuseum in Zurich and the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin. She was included in documenta X in 1997, and has participated in numerous international group exhibitions. Her work has been reviewed extensively, including in Artforum, The New York Times, The Village Voice, Art in America and in considerable international publications. The ³Volksboutique Style Manual² is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Volksboutique project ³Minutes² was included in the 2007 Venice Biennale under the curation of Robert Storr. A forthcoming review of Volksboutique sculptural work will be shown at the New Museum in Weimar, Germany in April 2012.
The current Organizational Venture, The Volksboutique Small Business, is housed in her studio’s storefront in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood and is open to the public. For more information and opening hours, you can contact email@example.com
This week: Duncan, Brian, and Abigail Satinsky in conversation with James Voorhies at the Open Engagement conference, which took place from May 13 to 15, 2011 at Portland State University.
Open Engagement is an initiative of PSU’s Art and Social Practice MFA program that encourages discussion on various perspectives in social practice. In this conversation, Voorhies, who was a featured presenter at this year’s conference, talks about the origin, evolution, and activities of the Bureau for Open Culture, which he founded.
The Bureau for Open Culture is a curatorial and pedagogic institution for the contemporary arts. It works intentionally to re-imagine the art exhibition as a discursive form of education that creates a kind of new public sphere or new institution. Exhibitions take shape as installations, screenings, informal talks, and performances; they occur in parking lots, storefronts, libraries, industrial sites, country roads, gardens, and galleries. In doing so, the Bureau generates platforms for learning and knowledge production that make ideas accessible, relevant, and inviting for diverse audiences. This model encourages overlaps of art, science, ecology, the built environment, philosophy, and design. Form, content and site are underlining points of critical inquiry for Bureau for Open Culture.
This interview is part of the ongoing collaboration between Bad at Sports and Art Practical. You can read an abridged transcript of the conversation here: