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British site-specificity today

L’in situ de l’art contemporain britannique

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Published on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 by João Fernandes

Summary

The series of seminars will be an opportunity for international researchers and practitioners to explore the notion of site in contemporary British art. Site often refers to public art as the broad category of art either created or exhibited outside of the museum, and which appeals to its supposed democratic quality. In the last few years, the United Kingdom has witnessed a spectacular rise in the commissioning of public art, inaugurated principally under the impulse of New Labour who in the Nineties and Noughties calibrated much of their support to the cultural industries according to their potential regenerative impact on depressed areas around the country. 

Announcement

Argument

The series of seminars will be an opportunity for international researchers and practitioners to explore the notion of site in contemporary British art. Site often refers to public art as the broad category of art either created or exhibited outside of the museum, and which appeals to its supposed democratic quality. In the last few years, the United Kingdom has witnessed a spectacular rise in the commissioning of public art, inaugurated principally under the impulse of New Labour who in the Nineties and Noughties calibrated much of their support to the cultural industries according to their potential regenerative impact on depressed areas around the country. Still, all the while, the definition of a British public sphere which might serve as a marker of the genre has undergone major transformations likely to change the actual definition of what public art is today. The British incarnation of land art, while pressed to encompass concerns about sustainability under the more recent tag eco-art, has also come to include more urban and suburban forms of our environment addressed by environmental art. This has coincided with the inclusion of more social considerations, or, as Claire Bishop has called it a “social turn”, with Sarah Lowndes borrowing the phrase “social sculpture” from Joseph Beuys to describe the emergence of the Glasgow art scene since the 1980s. Indeed, the repercussions of deindustrialisation transformed both the social make-up and the landscape of the country. Thus, the new territories of contemporary creation across the Channel are physically the same as they were in the 20th century, but the ideological, urbanistic and commercial redefinition of its cities and countryside have transformed the links between site and works and have called for new grids of analysis – such as situation art, the framework suggested by Claire Doherty. The advance of mobile telephony, of social networks and of the commercialisation of the high street has blurred the lines between public and private spheres. Some art forms which might have been described as traditional are in fact remodelled by their loose inscription in a disseminated agora.

These varying connections between artwork and site seem today to involve a third dimension even more clearly, that of context. Site and work are considered not solely locally, but also by taking into account more global forces that come to bear on them. Architect Rem Koolhass has described the inexorable convergence towards a generic global contemporary city, a city which has shed its individual identity. The artwork which appears in the contemporary city has to adapt to the latter’s generic lack of qualities, its site-specific presence now facing more global issues. In order to give meaning to a site, art needs to address its current inherent conflicts and to decide whether its national or regional specificities are just a facade. The contemporary notion of site has also sometimes reclaimed the gallery – as when in 2007 Mark Wallinger recreated Brian Haw’s Parliament Square protest within the Tate and called it State Britain – or other places outside of the traditional urban or rural landscapes: television, cyberspace, fiction. Site then no longer espouses the ideologically charged contours of public art. It starts to spill over the margins of the traditional British landscape and to harbour new communities, whether real or imaginary.

We wish to think collectively about what is at stake in context specificity and to ask whether it has brushed aside any last hint of a desire to let art reveal a British genius of the place. 

Program

Monday 9th february 2015

(17h00-19h00)

  •  Jeremy Deller (artiste)
  •  Corinne Silva (artiste/University of the Arts, Londres)

Monday 18th may 2015

(17h00-19h00)

  •  Louis Henderson (artiste vidéaste)
  •  Catherine Bernard (Université Paris Diderot-Paris 7).

Monday 12th october 2015

(14h00-16h00)

  •  Laure Prouvost (artiste)
  •  Maeve Connoly (Faculty of Film, Art and Creative Technologies, Dublin)

Places

  • salle AVD 1er étage, salle 133, Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art - 2, rue Vivienne
    Paris, France (75002)

Date(s)

  • Monday, February 09, 2015
  • Monday, May 18, 2015
  • Monday, October 12, 2015

Keywords

  • art anglais, British art, in situ, art contemporain, patrimoine, politique culturelle

Contact(s)

  • Marion Duquerroy
    courriel : marionduquerroy [at] yahoo [dot] fr

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Marion Duquerroy
    courriel : marionduquerroy [at] yahoo [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« British site-specificity today », Seminar, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, January 20, 2015, https://calenda.org/314961

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