Out of Alternatives
Presented by Common Practice New York
and Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College (CCS Bard)
Artists Space Books & Talks
55 Walker Street, New York, NY
Sunday, May 18, 2014
11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
On May 18, Common Practice New York will present Out of Alternatives, a symposium on the role of small-scale arts organizations in New York City, hosted by Artists Space Books & Talks and co-presented by CCS Bard. Participants include Rhea Anastas, Katherine Brewer Ball, David Joselit, Ralph Lemon, Stephen Levin, Park MacArthur, Nadja Millner-Larsen, and Andrea Fraser and Lise Soskolne for Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E.), with additional presentations and support from CCS Bard students Sabrina Blaichman, Neringa Cerniauskaite, Andrew Kachel, Clara Lopez, Cloé Perrone, and Carla Acevedo-Yates.
Out of Alternatives, the first public initiative by CPNY, will examine the ways in which small-scale organizations are perceived and understood by audiences, artists, and funders; identify the challenges of operating in today’s climate; and revive discussions of obstacles and inequalities which have persisted since the rise of the alternative space. Out of Alternatives will further a partnership between CPNY and CCS Bard that began in fall of 2013 with a series of invitational roundtables, site visits, and discussions. This partnership will continue with the production of a publication that will include transcripts from these events alongside additional essays and artistic contributions.
Space is limited, seating is first-come, first-served.
11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
Keynote: “In Praise of Small”
Art historian David Joselit will ask whether there is a particular ethos possessed by small-scale organizations and, if so, how does it operate within the greater field? By reframing small-scale organizations as propositions unto themselves, Joselit will discuss how publics emerge from these spaces; the relationship between scale and radicalism; the importance of documentation; and the ability to speculate, politicize information, and re-signify art beyond its profit-making potential. Joselit will be introduced by members of Common Practice New York and Paul O’Neill, director of the graduate program at CCS Bard.
New York City Council Member Stephen Levin and the activist group Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E.)—represented by artists Andrea Fraser, board member, and Lise Soskolne, core organizer—will each present propositions for the city’s cultural policy. Both plans address the economic challenges facing artists and ways of combating inequality. Taken together, their proposals question how structures for art production, presentation, and reception are shaped and surveyed, especially with regards to the role of small-scale nonprofits. Do such organizations have a responsibility to local artist communities? How can these organizations successfully argue for their importance at the level of city government?
Artists Ralph Lemon and Park McArthur and scholar Katherine Brewer Ball will discuss how performance, deliberately or incidentally, adapts to the scale and audience of an organization. How is the radicalism of a performer’s proposition changed as a result? The academic field of Performance Studies considers performance as a sprawling category—one that encompasses social life and is inherently interdisciplinary and site-responsive. What can performance tell us about the changing relationship between small-scale organizations and their publics? With research and support by CCS Bard students Andrew Kachel and Clara Lopez.
CCS Bard students and curators Sabrina Blaichman, Neringa Cerniauskaite, andCloé Perrone will present three propositions for small-scale organizations, informed by the work of proliferating, agile, artist-led collectives. What methodologies might organizations adopt from collectives that have embraced so-called capitalist infrastructures and “accelerationist” strategies? In a landscape where both models coexist, even thrive, what challenges do artists and curators face when attempting to envision the future?
Art historian Rhea Anastas, media historian Nadja Millner-Larsen, and Light Industry cofounder and director Ed Halter, will discuss whether small-scale organizations establish a kind of instant art history, serving museums and culture-at-large as test sites for new artistic practice. What is the responsibility of an organization to address pressing social and political concerns with “instant” programming? Likewise, can an organization’s history—its archive, its public-as-archive—provide an ethical roadmap for its future? With research and support by CCS Bard student Carla Acevedo-Yates.
Common Practice New York would like to thank Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt, David Joselit, Margaret Lee, Ralph Lemon, Allan Schwartzman, and Lynne Tillman, whose contributions to our invitational roundtables this past fall have informed and inspired Out of Alternatives. Generous support for Common Practice New York and Out of Alternatives has been provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Lambent Foundation/Fund of Tides Foundation, and Outset USA.