Soft
Sep 2002 – Dec 2002

written by Gilane Tawadros


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Artists have long been adept at negotiating and crossing the boundaries between disciplines, media and cultures, operating in the gaps between institutions and audiences. This has given rise to dynamic artistic practices that are porous yet self-contained, supple yet sturdy. Bypassing the institution, artists are able to be more inclusive and offer opportunities to other artists by creating a platform within their own practice to present little-seen or little-known work. Often these enterprises are collaborative, mutating according to site and context. At times, artists mimic museum structures and, at others, artists literally build their own exhibiting spaces.

In this season of exhibitions, events and interventions, soft (September - December 2002) highlights different approaches to exhibition-making which operate outside a rigid institutional structure. It tests the limits and flexibility of physical, conceptual and curatorial space to explore the relationship between the institution, artist and audience. Three distinct artist groups/initiatives - Danger Museum (September 2002), Charlotte Cullinan + Jeanine Richards artlab (October - November 2002) and msdm (November - December 2002) - have been invited to represent their practice both on- and off-site in month-long exhibitions and to devise their own critical framework within the season. Meanwhile the unique photographs of Diego Ferrari (September - December 2002) capture the work in progress and exhibition sites of the three artist groups. A publication soft (December 2002) accompanies the season, documenting the more recent manifestations of this practice whilst setting it in an international art historical and critical context. Curatorial projects by artists have increasingly influenced the programming of mainstream institutions who have responded by attempting either to historicise or to relay the vitality and immediacy of such practices. soft is located somewhere in between these two models, acknowledging its antecedents whilst firmly anchoring itself in the present, in order to make visible the fluidity and unpredictability of this hybrid artistic practice.

The soft boundaries between disciplines are crossed in a number of the other projects which make up the soft season. Kobena Mercer - Writer-in-Residence (October - December 2002) at inIVA tests the boundaries between inIVA's institutional practice and the academic discipline of art history, while the distinct zones of contemporary music and cultural theory are blurred by wattUP! (September 2002 - March 2003), the first phase of inIVA's dynamic new education programme that explores hybrid cultural forms. inIVA's brand new Digital Archive (live from December 2002) begins to translate our physical archive of projects into the virtual domain, while Changing States (January - December 2002), our year-long series of debates, continues its investigation of the crossover between globalisation and contemporary arts practice.




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