Test Sites: Assembly

Arts Catalyst presents Test Sites: Assembly, an exhibition and co-inquiry asking how we can respond collectively to social and environmental challenges.

We invite people from art, science, academia, activism and various communities to come together to explore methodologies for developing cross-disciplinary research and building community resilience. In doing so, we introduce and open up Test Sites, Arts Catalyst’s ongoing programme of environmental co-inquiries around the UK. 
 
The major challenges facing us today intertwine environmental, social, political and psychological factors. Challenges such as flooding, species loss, and pollution, and complex health issues like diabetes, mental illness and cancer, interweave large-scale global forces with the small-scale and the personal, and are inextricable from the social and political systems in which they unfold. Realising that empirical science on its own is not enough faced with these complex systems, many scientists and thinkers are calling for transdisciplinary approaches and for fresh thinking about conducting science and research in new ways. Critically, we need to involve those whose lives are directly affected – not just make assumptions about the causes, the impact, and what might be the best paths towards resistance and resilience. 
 
The term Assembly indicates the intention of our programme, which is to gather tactics, practices and theory to create “commoning tools”, creating social and cooperative alternatives for co-producing knowledge and taking control. Through workshops, study days, field trips, reading groups, talks and discussions, we will examine, practice and discuss possible approaches to ecology and society that centre on collaboration and co-creating knowledge, highlighting radical and progressive practices from the UK and internationally. 
 
An exhibition of works-in-progress by Test Sites artists Ruth Levene and Neal White will be shown at Arts Catalyst’s Centre, drawing on their research in the Calder Valley and Poole Harbour. Ruth Levene presents Working Waters, an installation of maps and models created from her investigations into the flows and stewardship of water in the Calder Valley. Neal White meanwhile presents Brownsea: An Imaginary Island (An Island of the Imaginary), comprising a vivarium containing fauna and flora of an island in Poole Harbour alongside an archive of local knowledge, interrupted by industrial frequencies.
 
EVENTS AND INQUIRY PROGRAMME
The programme will introduce and focus on issues, concepts and methodologies in a format that blurs the divides between expert and non-expert, those who make decisions and those who are affected by them. We will explore a set of approaches that include active citizenship, planetary commoning practices, co-inquiry processes, and collective governance and policy making, as well as making tactical use of concepts such as the negative commons. These terms are defined further down.
 
Confirmed programme participants include architect Godofredo Pereira, complexity scientist Sylvia Nagl, social anthropologist Megan Clinch, public science expert Tom Wakeford, interactive theatre company Coney, artist Tom James, artist Luigi Coppola, theorist and editor Shela Sheikh, artist Åsa Sonjasdotter, sustainability expert Rokiah Yaman and artists Ruth Levene and Neal White.
 
SCROLL DOWN FOR THE FULL LIST OF PROGRAMME EVENTS
 
KEY TERMS
 
Active Citizenship - a philosophy that people have a responsibility to their society and the environment that encourages participation in local communities and democracy at all levels. We extend this to participation in research and environmental monitoring.
 
Planetary Commoning Practices - tactical actions towards asserting, enabling, connecting and networking local commoning practices relating to the use or stewardship of common-pool resources within transnational and extraterritorial spaces and natural resource domains, such as the atmosphere, biodiversity, the Arctic, the electromagnetic spectrum, outer space, the lithosphere, and the oceans (Triscott, 2017).
 
Co-inquiry Processes - Arts Catalyst has been developing a curatorial model of critical and transdisciplinary co-inquiry. The key principles of our model include focusing the inquiry on a shared “matter of concern”, the intentional co-production of knowledge - including artistic, scientific and situated - that is context-specific, and fostering an ecology practices that is sensitive to how particular practices relate to and impact on other practices.
 
Collective Governance and Policy Making - aimed at shifting the balance of power away from the regimes of commerce and strategic interests that seek to enclose the commons, and instead towards networked grassroots movements working for increased equity and environmental justice.
 
Negative Commons - the waste of capitalism’s operation, such as debt, epidemics, industrial wastes, and pollution including radiation, which becomes the burden of society once it is of no further value to commerce (Kohso, 2012).
 
TEST SITES
 
Test Sites is Arts Catalyst’s series of inquiries into matters of concern relating to environmental issues, such as flooding, pollution, and species loss, and their impact on local culture and the health of ecosystems and communities. Initially taking place in three sites around the UK, we are inviting local people and groups to be part of art-centred co-inquiries, working with artists, scientists and other experts. Test Sites represents a significant step in Arts Catalyst’s curatorial model of transdisciplinary co-inquiry
 
 
ABOUT THE ARTISTS 
 
Ruth Levene is an artist based in Sheffield, Yorkshire working in video, performance, events, digital drawings, walks, installations and participatory work. Curious and concerned by the complex systems we live by, she is currently exploring water systems, farming and market driven developments of the countryside. Recent projects have included a research residency in the Faculty of Engineering, University of Sheffield, engaging with engineers about urban water systems; and A Field of Wheat with Anne-Marie Culhane, a 42-person strong collective and a Lincolnshire farmer, growing a 22-acre field of wheat. She is currently completing a collaborative work alongside Ian Nesbitt entitled Precarious Landscapes commissioned by In Certain Places. Recent exhibitions include Everything Flows at the Millennium Gallery, Sheffield and Formations, curated by Site Gallery as part of Abandon Normal Devices Festival, Castleton. Ruth was known by her nickname Bob Levene until 2015. 
 
For over 20 years, Neal White's work has critically explored art in relation to new ideas, forms and technologies. As part of many collaborative endeavours – he has been developing projects, research and artworks, publications, archives, fieldworks, critical excursions as bus tours and exhibitions with academics, architects and activists. His current work explores situated practices and knowledge - drawing together environmental and ecological matters of concern with marine biologists, ecologists, coders, architects and volunteers in Poole Harbour and Brownsea Island, Dorset for Test Sites. Neal White is a Professor at University of Westminster, where he also directs the Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM), a UK leader in research in art, design and media.
 
SUPPORT
 
Test Sites is supported by Wellcome Trust, University of Westminster, Bournemouth University, Canal and River Trust, and Arts Council England.
 
PROGRAMME EVENTS
 
Tuesday 27 March, 6:30 – 8pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
£5, booking essential
 
Tuesday 10 April, 4 – 7pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
Free, booking essential
 
Thursday 12 April, 4 – 6pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
Free, booking essential
 
Thursday 19 April, 4 – 8pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
Free, booking essential
 
Friday 20 April, 4 – 8pm
R-Urban, Poplar
Free, booking essential
 
Monday 23 April, time TBC
Arts Catalyst Centre
Free, booking essential
 
Wednesday 25 April, 2 – 6pm
Calthorpe Project, King’s Cross
Free, booking essential
 
Saturday 28 April, 10am – 6pm
University of Westminster, Regent Street
£5, booking essential
 
Tuesday 1 May, 6 - 8pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
Free, booking essential
 
Tuesday 8 May, 6:30 - 8:30pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
£3, booking essential
 
 
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Test Sites: Poole Harbour

Test Sites is Arts Catalyst’s series of inquiries into matters of concern connected with environmental change – such as flooding, pollution, and species loss – and their impact on local and their impact on local culture and the health and well-being of our ecosystems and ourselves. At each site, we invite local people to be part of art-led co-inquiries, working with artists, scientists, and other experts.

Test Sites: Poole Harbour was inspired by the idyllic landscape of this natural harbour with its serene wooded islands and beaches, a site of outstanding natural beauty, which boasts numerous Sites of Scientific Interest, the start of a UNESCO world heritage park, and countless European Union protected environmental habitats, and the contrast with the almost invisible network of oil industry activities and varied commercial and military interests that also characterise the area.During 2017 and 2018, Arts Catalyst has organised field trips, workshops and platforms bringing together artists, scientists, students and wildlife experts, many of whom lived locally to Poole, to explore the ecology and economy of the harbour area and Brownsea Island, and the shifting tensions between private land use and ecological needs, between scientific and amateur understanding of wildlife patterns, and between the competing needs of leisure boat users, tourists, shipping, the military, and the oil industry.

Core team members are artists Neal White and Anna Troisi, marine biologist Rick Stafford from Bournemouth University, and Anna Santomauro, Nicola Triscott and Claudia Lastra from Arts Catalyst. Other contributors include the Alternative School of Economics.

More information about future workshops, events and opportunities will be announced here and through our mailing list.

The project will gather pace during 2019 with workshops, residencies, situated knowledge and citizen science research leading to the creation of site-specific artworks, events, and alternative archives of knowledge.

Supported by EMERGE, Bournemouth University and the University of Westminster, in collaboration with Dorset Wildlife Trust, Lighthouse Poole and the Arts Development Company.

Image: Design by An Endless Supply

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Test Sites: Calder Valley

Test Sites is Arts Catalyst’s series of inquiries into matters of concern connected with environmental change – such as flooding, pollution, and species loss – and their impact on local culture and the health and wellbeing of our ecosystems and ourselves. At each site, we are involving local people in art-led co-inquiries, working with artists, scientists, and other experts.

In the Calder Valley in Yorkshire, where flooding and water pollution have been issues for 200 years, we are exploring water governance in relation to health, wellbeing and the resilience of communities and ecologies, in partnership with many local individuals and groups. The core team comprises artist Ruth Levene, anthropologist Megan Clinch, artist group Invisible Flock, curator Anna Santomauro from Arts Catalyst, with input from Liz Sharp at Pennine Water Group, University of Sheffield, and the water@leeds group, University of Leeds.

We began in 2017 by making two research journeys by narrowboat along the Calder/ Hebble Navigation meeting local people, river/canal users, and experts with interests in water, the history of the river and canal, and water governance.

During 2018, under the banner of ‘The River College’, we organised workshops with local groups and hosted stands and events at local festivals, using walks, games, geological cake-baking, water testing experiments and exhibits of maps and models to spark conversations around the geology, ecology, history, pollution and uses of the water system, while exchanging ideas around water’s social, spiritual, political and environmental meanings. Alongside, we held many group meetings and interviews to gather people’s varied understandings about the Calder water system and its management.

In Summer 2019, we will unfold a series of art installations and public events at festivals and venues along the Calder Valley, sharing our findings and continuing the inquiry with many more people. Find out more about the Summer programme here!

CO-INQUIRERS

Ruth Levene
Ruth Levene is an artist based in Sheffield, Yorkshire working in video, performance, events, digital drawings, walks, installations and participatory work. Curious and concerned by the complex systems we live by, she is currently exploring water systems, farming and market driven developments of the countryside.

Megan Clinch
Dr Megan Clinch is an anthropologist and lecturer at Queen Mary, University of London. Her research explores how different forms of investigation, experimentality, evidence, and evaluation are understood (or not) and managed in the development of public health interventions.

Invisible Flock
Invisible Flock is an interactive arts studio based in the UK, making innovative artworks to be experienced and participated in by thousands all over the world. The artists create highly sensory installations and environments that ask us to re-negotiate our emotional relationship to the natural world.

Anna Santomauro
Anna Santomauro is a curator, educator and researcher in micropolitics and socially engaged art. She is Programme Curator at Art Catalyst.

Test Sites: Calder Valley is supported by the Wellcome Trust, Canal and River Trust and Arts Council England.

Hero image: Design by An Endless Supply

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A Public Hearing – Cromer Street Lyric

As part of Everyday Urbanism: Architecture as Social Process postgraduate students from Goldsmiths Centre for Research Architecture, University of London have been in residence at Arts Catalyst’s Cromer Street Centre throughout May and June 2016. During this time, they have developed a project titled A Public Hearing in which they have used the form and function of the public hearing as an aid for investigating a number of contemporary experiences. This has produced a eight channel sound installation, and a range of events examining different aspects of speaking and listening.

For the final event of the project on Saturday 25 June the group have invited local choir groups, singers and musicians for a new lyric to be composed; distilled from conversations with local people and sounds heard in and around the environs of Cromer Street in King's Cross.

This final installation of A Public Hearing, organised by students from the Centre for Research Architecture, looks at oral histories and the means by which knowledge can be altered and passed along. The process for composition will be collaborative – dialogue, consensus and disruption will be made evident in the final choral arrangement. Simultaneous to the performance a live recording with feedback will play in an adjacent room suggesting the configuration of Arts Catalyst as a sensing organ attuned to and bearing witness to unfolding events.

Event schedule

Saturday 25 June, 12 noon – 7pm
12 noon – 6pm Exhibition and performance
5pm – 7pm Closing Drinks reception

This event is FREE no booking required


Support:

A Public Hearting is supported by the Wellcome Trust and Arts Council England. 

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Kota Takeuchi in discussion with Eiko Honda

Artist Kota Takeuchi in conversation with curator and writer Eiko Honda chaired by artist Kaori Homma from Art Action UK

During his time in the UK, Kota Takeuchi will be researching the deep time concerns of monuments, site markers and memory around the UK and Belgium. He will undertake field research at the Belgian underground research laboratory for the geologic storage of radioactive waste in partnership with Z33 and the Belgian nuclear waste agency NIRAS / NIROND.

On Saturday 16 July curator and writer Eiko Honda will be in discussion with Kota Takeuchi, chaired by artist Kaori Homma from Art Action UK. Kota Takeuchi's residency has been organised by S-AIR in Japan in partnership with Arts Catalyst, supported by the Sasakawa Foundation and Agency for Cultural Affairs, the Government of Japan.

Event schedule
 

3pm – 4pm KotaTakeuchi Open Studio

4pm – 5pm Eiko Honda in conversation with Kota Takeuchi, chaired by Kaori Homma.

5pm – 6pm Discussion and drinks

 

Biographies

Kota Takeuchi is an artist based in Tokyo / Fukushima, Japan. He produces performative videos and oil paintings about how we physically view images of public scenery, social events, and their memory. His work explores the loop of digital image capture and distribution.
His solo exhibition Open Secret, 2012, explored the labour problems at the Fukushima Dai’ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident. Takeuchi acts as the agent for Finger Pointing Worker (a man who pointed at the public live camera at the Fukushima power plant after the disaster in 2011). 
 
 
Eiko Honda is a writer and curator of contemporary art and transnational intellectual history. She is the 2013-2016 curatorial fellow of the Overseas Study Programme for Artists, Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan. She is a contributor to The Nuclear Culture Source Book, edited by Ele Carpenter, forthcoming September 2016. Recent papers include: 'Political Ecology of Art and Architecture in Japan: 100 Years Ago and Now' in Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art (Intellect, 2016). Her curatorial work is driven by the idea of history as an enquiry that unravels potential new understandings of the planetary past, future and present. Recent exhibitions include Saya Kubota: Material Witness, Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, London; and Missing Post Office UK, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham. 
 
Kaori Homma is an artist and co-founder and co-ordinator of Art Action UK. Homma is Associate Lecturer at University of Arts London at Central Saint Martins and Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Colleges (CCW), her art practice includes social engagement, fire etching and video exploring time, and reflecting on nuclear concerns. Art Action UK was established in response to the 2011 Japanese earthquake, tsunami and subsequent Fukushima nuclear fallout. The project supports artists who have been affected by natural and manmade disasters to undertake residencies in London including: Kyun Chome, Yoi Kawakubo, Komori & Seo, Hikaru Fujii, and Kaya Hanasaki. 
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Book: ARIEL GUZIK - HOLOTURIAN

For the last 10 years, artist Ariel Guzik has searched for a way to communicate with whales and dolphins. Guzik’s project has encompassed the creation of underwater instruments, expeditions to contact whales and dolphins off the coasts of Baja California, Costa Rica and Scotland, and sound recordings of these remarkable encounters.
 
Guzik's Holoturian was a new work commissioned by Arts Catalyst and Edinburgh Art Festival in 2015. It was an installation of a new underwater resonance instrument, specially designed to communicate with whales and dolphins in the deep seas, and incorporated objects, drawings and films from the artist’s decade-long research project, which included a field trip by the artist and his team with Arts Catalyst to the Moray Firth in the North of Scotland to encounter the population of bottlenose dolphins that live there.
 
The Holoturian is planned to be launched for the first time in 2017 in the Gulf of California, following extensive underwater tests in a water tank.
 
To mark this exciting development, Arts Catalyst launches a new book, available as an ebook, on Issuu and as a print book by print-on-demand, which records the project to date and explores the ideas underlying it, bringing together artistic, scientific and environmental reflections on Guzik’s work, the language and culture of cetaceans, and the challenges facing these intelligent creatures in our threatened oceans today.
 
It comprises images of the research and installation with texts by curator Nicola Triscott and marine scientist and conservationist Mark Simmonds OBE.
 
“The cetaceans, who belong to a civilization parallel to ours, are the interlocutors who motivate this research. We are interested in building an approach to them without limiting their freedom and without any intentions of intrusion, training, or domination.” - Ariel Guzik
 
PUBLICATION DETAILS
 
Ariel Guzik - Holoturian
ISBN 978-0-9927776-8-5
Edited by Nicola Triscott
Published by Arts Catalyst, March 2017 in UK
Designed by Margherita Huntley
Pages 44
It is available as an eBook (.pdf and on Issuu) and print-on-demand.
 
PRINT VERSION
Binding Perfect-bound Paperback
Weight 0.11 kg 
Dimensions (centimetres) 14.81 wide x 20.98 tall
Black & white inside
Full colour cover
 
eBook - FREE
Print copy - Print on demand, £6
 

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Material Nuclear Culture Roundtable Discussion

A discussion about art and nuclear culture will take place in the centre of the Material Nuclear Culture exhibition bringing together artists, submariners, and members of the Submarine Dismantling Project Advisory Group (SDP-AG) and NsubF Nuclear Submarine Forum in the South East.

Participants include: Les Netherton, chair of the SDP-AG; Mark Portman, WO1, Royal Navy (Submarines); Carien Kremer, Curator, William Morris Gallery; artists: Nick Crowe, David Mabb, Kota Takeuchi, Jon Thomson & Alison Craighead; Ele Carpenter, Curator; Nicola Triscott, Artistic Director of Arts Catalyst.

The discussion will take place around a reconstruction of James Acord’s roundtable that he built in his Hanford studio, USA 1999, to bring together environmentalists and people from the nuclear industry to discuss the clean up of nuclear materials at the Hanford site.

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Perpetual Uncertainty

An exhibition of contemporary art in the nuclear Anthropocene exploring the complexity of knowledge and the deep time of radiation.

The exhibition brings together twenty-five international artists from across Europe, the USA and Japan, investigating nuclear aesthetics through the material sensing of nuclear sites and experiences.

Exhibiting artists:
James Acord, Shuji Akagi, Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway, Erich Berger and Mari Keto, Nick Crowe & Ian Rawlinson, Don’t Follow the Wind, Dave Griffiths, Isao Hashimoto, Erika Kobayashi, David Mabb, Cecile Massart, Eva and Franco Mattes, Yelena Popova, Susan Schuppli, Shimpei Takeda, Kota Takeuchi, Thomson & Craighead, Suzanne Treister, Andy Weir, Robert Williams and Bryan McGovern Wilson and Ken + Julia Yonetani.

The exhibition is accompanied by The Nuclear Culture Source Book, edited by Ele Carpenter, and published by Black Dog Publishing in partnership with Bildmuseet and Arts Catalyst, London.

Download the exhibition guide.

 

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A Public Hearing

Arts Catalyst announces Everyday Urbanism: Architecture as Social Process, a research and public programme launching in May 2016 with A Public Hearing.

As the first phase of Everyday Urbanism: Architecture as Social Process, postgraduate students from the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London will be in residence at Arts Catalyst’s Cromer Street Centre throughout May and June. During this time, they will use the form and function of the public hearing as an aid for investigating a number of contemporary conditions.

Public hearings originated from the process of the enclosure of public lands in Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries. They were held in order to create a petition to parliament to enclose the land, and then later to hear objections to the act created by Parliament. Today, public hearings are still used when dealing with both public lands and private properties. Adopting the device of the public hearing, the Goldsmiths group will consider how diverse experiences and events are communicated through speech, vocalising, hearing and listening. Whose stories are heard and whose not? What other forms of nonhuman expression - animals, plants, industrial, atmospheric - are heard, and what new modes of sensing are needed? In short, who speaks and who listens, and with what technologies?

Through a series of hearings in June (some public, others with invited groups) and an exhibition, the students will bring together diverse participants, ideas and concerns. They will explore how the conditions of the hearing – vocalisation strategies, performance, technologies, architecture - affect how information travels from one body to an other and from one entity to many. Hearings will address local social issues, as well as more abstract themes.

Starting from Arts Catalyst’s new neighbourhood of Cromer Street in London’s Kings Cross and expanding out across the city, Everyday Urbanism: Architecture as Social Process will create a platform for international artists, urbanist collectives and research architects to link with a diverse range of local communities. Together these groups will explore and document the social, political and environmental issues affecting those who inhabit the city. Everyday Urbanism will evolve over the course of three years creating new relationships, networks, events, exhibitions and commissions.
 

Everyday Urbanism will be developed in collaboration with a curatorial advisory group including Arts Catalyst, Territorial Agency / John Palmesino and Ann-Sofi Rönnskog, curator Claire Louise Staunton (Flat Time House/MK Gallery) and Susan Schuppli, Deputy Director of the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Cromer Street based Barrister Ousman Noor.

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Nuclear Culture Project 2016/17

A curatorial research project led by Ele Carpenter, associate curator at Arts Catalyst, in partnership with Goldsmiths College.


The Nuclear Culture Project is a curatorial exploration of nuclear culture, which began with considering the conceptual and cultural challenges of dismantling nuclear submarines in the UK, inviting artists to consider the aesthetic, conceptual, ethical and cultural concerns of nuclear submarines in conjunction with experts in the field. The project is bringing together scientists, engineers and community activists with artists and ethicists to develop new opportunities for creative practice investigating nuclear culture. Specific areas of enquiry include: the invisibility of the nuclear economy, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant meltdown, geological waste storage, the Anthropocene, and nuclear humanities.

The project involves artists’ field trips, commissioning new work and curating exhibitions, film screenings and interdisciplinary symposia, and public events and talks. Three groups of artists are developing new work in response to the culture of submarines, decay rates, and the architectures of decision-making: Jon Thomson & Alison Craighead; Nick Crowe & Ian Rawlinson; Lise Autogena, Susan Schuppli and David Mabb.


The Nuclear Culture website has more information about Ele Carpenter's research.
 

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