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Thematic residency: Re-think the collective



A thematic residency on the role of the collective in the current artistic climate at Arc in Romainmôtier, Switzerland.

In a society of individualism, geared towards material possession, art has become a vehicle for investment. In this neoliberalist context, artists seem to fall into three categories: a very few global stars, a larger number of institutionally recognised artists and a great many hopefuls on the margins struggling to receive any form of recognition. At the same time, and perhaps in response to this state of affairs, initiatives aimed at forming collectives are emerging, driven by artists’ desire to work together, if only on a temporary basis.

Does the situation in the art world today give rise to collaborations of this kind? Should collectives be promoted at the expense of solo work? In any case, this question of collective artistic practice is not entirely new: examples of collaboration in which diverse artistic idioms converge can be found throughout the history of 20th century art. These idioms are used by authors from different backgrounds to invent new modes of production and thus to articulate a socio-economic critique of the art world. Can referencing the past help us re-think the act of collective creativity today and provide us with ideas on how to stimulate and promote it? What structures should be invented to support artists who occasionally come together on an ad hoc basis? What structures are needed to strengthen the act of collective creativity and encourage a creative dialogue on the practices currently being followed, primarily through networking?

By bringing together artists and curators as well as stakeholders from outside the art world for a week in October 2017, Art Babel and Arc hope to lead a reflection on fundamental questions about the practices of collaboration and co-creation, taking the real-life experience of Art Babel as a case study and starting point. The aim of the week is to arrive at a resolution: “An act by which, after reflection, one voluntarily decides to accomplish something”.

Art Babel is an artistic project that was launched in September 2016 on the initiative of Julien Babel. It happened almost by accident – akin to inviting a few friends round to your place to enjoy a meal and chat around the table. A heterogeneous format for presenting works for a short period, similar to a tiny fair, was an obvious choice – a way of thumbing one’s nose at the market. Four exhibitions have brought together artists with very different outlooks at a number of venues in Switzerland and France.

The thematic residency is being coordinated by Julien Babel, founder of Art Babel, and Sally De Kunst, director of Arc, in collaboration with Martial Mingam and Iris Gallarotti.

Participants: Julien Babel (Art Babel, artist, CH), Sally De Kunst (director of Arc), Arrachetesyeux - Maude Sprumont Cosandey & Florian Duffey (artists, CH), Heike Cavallo-Swift (artist, CH), Iris Gallarotti (artist, FR), Nicolas Joos (artist, ESP), Enric Llorach (architect and artist, ESP), Martial Mingam (artist and curator, FR-CH) and Pierre-Olivier Schenk (musician and artist, CH).

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