Origins

Following on from our meeting at Sugarhouse Studios on the 10th of Jan.

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To begin I thought I would outline a few thoughts I have had about how this project may work. I don’t want this to be a simple question and answer exchange, it will only be productive if we can both get something out of this conversation. There is no hierarchy here; I may have initiated the project but this format allows for a democratic approach. This digital story telling platform will hopefully allow this to be a co-authored project with no direct end point, other than when it ‘naturally’ comes to a close.

I am becoming more and more interested in how friendship -or something that goes beyond simple working relationships- develop in the cultural nebula. As it seems that contemporary artist-led collectives are formed on such terms. I wondered it you had an opinion on this? With regard to Assemble or otherwise?

We talked in our meeting, earlier this month, about how ‘alternative economies’ have developed within the global system of capital, here is a link to a text on the subject which was used in a reading group formed by myself and Kerry Harker in Leeds (see link in the Items section). I would love to know your thoughts on these economies and if they essentially fail or whether you think they have potential? They are obviously developing due to a social need. Here also is the link to a fairly interesting article on the artist collectives forming in India and in some cases adopting similar ‘alternative systems’ https://homegrown.co.in/article/801473/11-indian-art-collectives-that-you-should-know-about. This website is obviously Western focused as its as sleek as an art marketing website but the information is useful.

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Document image from a trip to Manchester by members of The Retro Bar at the End of the Universe collective.

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I am currently researching ‘the artistic guild’ or a political re-imagining of such a construct within 19th century socio-political discourse. Figures such as Pugin, Ruskin, Morris, Dickens and Marx were all in Britain at the time and they appear to have tapped into this sense of social and political change which led the proto-collective groups like the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and socialist movements within arts and crafts. I am beginning to see the possibility of change being a central factor in the evolution of the artist collective during this time. This sense of change is still embedded within the term collective. I wondered if you felt it was a factor in Assemble? Even if it is not a conscious concern all of the time.

Finally, for now, you began to talk about how Assemble formed? I wondered if you could briefly remind me?

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