What art have I seen? AHM State of Play

Posted in Exhibitions, Sited work, Texts by chrisfremantle on October 1, 2011

Ruth Ewan’s Brank & Heckle at Dundee Contemporary Arts.

There for the AHM State of Play symposium.  Ross Sinclair’s rant by audio/powerpoint was very refreshing, Jean Urquhart MSP deserved a standing ovation and perhaps hit the nail on the head.  The Manifestos were really good, especially Tara Beall’s.

Once again, and precisely because there was no policy agenda being promoted, one must think hard to understand the point.  Most conferences are organised by bureaucracies seeking to promulgate their policy initiatives and secure adoption by practitioners.  Conferences organised by practitioners tend to complicate and agitate.

So what were AHM attempting to complicate and agitate?  The simple answer might be in Jean Urquhart MSP’s talk which ended with an invitation or a challenge for the artists to engage more directly with the political – get stuck in, get into the Parliament, get political, stop talking the talk and start walking the walk.

And this is probably true, although perhaps the ambition for AHM was more subtle and demonstrated through the one-minute manifestos.  These were a platform for artists (in the broad sense) to articulate something, frankly anything, that they felt it was important to say.  Over the three events, some were political, some humorous, some dadaist, some demonstrated their point through their form.

My manifesto was intended to set out what I think is important in doing what I do.  I was glad to be able to be part of another two manifestos (in the end).  I was part of Tim Collins Anthropocene Evolution Alliance and on the day I found myself being part of Tara Beall’s multivocal performance.

We all have stuff to say and we all believe that it matters.

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