Last weekend, amaCollective had the pleasure of attending the In Dialogue Symposium 2014; hosted in the city of Nottingham. This was the collective’s initial venture as a unit, to a peripheral contemporary community, and marked the first step of a further ambition to establish links to communities outside London. The collective was formally created in May of this year by Alejandro Ball, Amy E. Brown and Miriam La Rosa – with a shared belief in a different approach to the curatorial, one based on a stronger bond between artists and curators. This philosophy can be witnessed in the collaborative mentality that we share, working as a unit that utilises each other’s strengths in the pursuit of an authorship that is not individual, but one of a communal happening.
The In Dialogue Symposium was a platform for us to not only present our research into the notion of Dialogue as a curatorial medium for reactive exhibition-making, a process emulating a conversation, but to physically show this process through performativity. Beginning on Thursday (02/10) evening through to the afternoon of Sunday (05/10), the In Dialogue Symposium was spread across three of Nottingham’s best contemporary institutions: Nottingham Contemporary, Backlit and Primary. We had the pleasure of being part of the line-up at Nottingham Contemporary, the final act playing a game of Karaoke. This performative intervention was a direct comparison of the rigidity of synchronisation with the more organic nature of de-synchronisation. Pierre Boulez spoke of the overwhelming affliction created when a zealous approach to synchronisation is taken:
“If you’re behind, you speed up: if you’re ahead, you slow down, so much that even a supple gesture is a gesture on command – and is therefore no longer an intuitive one.” (Obrist, 2013: 65)
Our own synthesised model, demonstrated this impairment live, generating de-synchronisation through the enforcement of harmony and synchronisation. Of course, there was much more to see during the three-day event. Heather Connelly, Rhiannon Jones and guest curator Rebecca Beinart had arranged the symposium into three sections: Linguistic Hospitality, The Performative Conversation, and Politics of Participation. This all kicked off in a late night welcome by the organisers on Thursday evening, breaking the ice for the audience and participants with a transatlantic talk from guest speaker Grant H. Kester, art historian and author of the recent title Conversation Pieces.
The first panel, arranged by Heather Connelly, considered dialogical translation and the interactions between different cultures. Here, we were introduced to the work of artist duo Fucking Good Art and curator Rachel Marsden, founder of The Temporary, a transcultural exchange platform between the United Kingdom and China. Panel two saw Rhiannon Jones conversing with artist John Newling with amaCollective situated in the performative section of the panel – alongside the likes of artist Emma O’Connor. During the evening of the first full day of events, the crowd was ushered to Backlit for dinner and an enjoyable evening of performances from artists such as Bruno Santos, a sound artist interested in translation of musical scores into the contemporary, as well as a collaborative performance by Manchester-based artists Karen Wood and Sally Morfill. This was all rounded off during the final full day, taking place at Primary, where Rebecca Beinart, introduced her panel – Politics of Participation.
As the collective’s first public appearance, the In Dialogue Symposium was a platform for us to convey our curatorial mission: we set out to make exhibitions as physical conversations. Surrounded by a community enthusiastic and willing to share and discuss the discursive potential of Dialogue, ideas and thoughts passed around us, helping to evaluate and extend our research.
amaCollective is a curatorial collaboration comprised of Alejandro Ball, Amy E. Brown and Miriam La Rosa, three MA students of Curating the Contemporary: a course taught in conjunction between Whitechapel Gallery and London Metropolitan University. Collectively their background is diverse, combining art history, museology, fine art and cultural studies.
Obrist, H.U., A Brief History of New Music (JRP|Ringier, Zurich, 2013).