Re: [-empyre-] what is to be done? (a third space)

Hello everyone,

Thank you Christina – I am excited to participate in this
conversation.  Our space at The Art Gallery of Knoxville can be seen
as a type of experiment that actively addresses these issues.  The
space was founded by myself and several other graduates from the
School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2005.  The question "What is
to be done?" was very conscious in the formation of our space.  We
were also very concerned with issues such as:  Where are the spaces
committed to culture production?  What ideas do these spaces protect,
and how does an audience interact with them?

Some of our recent exhibits deal with the idea of Art, Education and
Community in different ways.  In particular our exhibit which opened
this last Friday, "Distribution Religion" – with work by
criticalartware, People Powered, and Temporary Services, discusses new
forms of open / distributed Art that I think are very important to
this topic.

I am certainly interested in the discussion of new art processes
(value and mechanical conditions) that have been brought up – but this
is not the most important concern to be addressed.  In many instances
we must first deal with the physical conditions of cultural space and
how it interacts with a community.

It is not a question of "What is to be understood by Art" but "How is
Art understood?  In what context?  How can understanding be motivated
to happen on a personal level?"

The first thing to be done is encourage the further development of
independent (critical) space everywhere.  In order to make these
spaces effective they must be encouraged to represent any of the ideas
and material they find most important without regard for ownership or

In this sense, an importance of independent space can be the reform of
power structures.  The text "Art and Reality" by artist group N55 is
an exciting framework for new conclusions on the structure of
community space:

-- (excerpt on "concentrations of power") --

"Concentrations of power do not always respect the rights of persons.
If one denies this fact one gets: concentrations of power always
respect the rights of persons.  This does not correspond with our
experiences.  Concentrations of power characterize our society.
Concentrations of power force persons to concentrate on participating
in competition and power games, in order to create a social position
for themselves.  Concurrently with the concentrations of power
dominating our conscious mind and being decisive to our situations,
the significance of our fellow humans diminishes.  And our own
significance becomes the significance we have for concentrations of
power, the growth of concentrations of power, and the conflicts of
concentrations of power."

"It is clear that persons should be consciously aware of the rights of
persons and therefore must seek to organize the smallest
concentrations of power possible."

In order to further encourage new situations of power, all of our
cultural spaces must consider "artist" / "audience" relationships in a
new way.  Both an "artist" and an "audience" should experience things
directly – by working through a personal understanding that involves
ideas of production, ownership and use.

Public education strategies have often involved the idea of personal
ownership as an effective means for learning.  Cultural spaces need to
respect our audience as producers, and acknowledge the need for a
public to use cultural products on a personal level.

Education is not an alternative - it is part of every cultural
practice.  We can enable the changes we need through the creation of
personal space dedicated to the independent exchange, understanding,
and production of culture.

Chris Molinski

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