Incubator: Sitting on Eggs

What happens after the artwork?

March 9 – 11, 2016 at SSW (Lumsden, Scotland)

Climate change has got to be in the hymn sheet or manifesto or charter of every citizen effort from now on and it doesn’t matter if it’s the local football club or the movement to separate the banks and close down tax havens or promote human (gay, women’s, minority) rights or save the whales or anything else you care to name. Find the angle and include it in your struggle. 

- Susan George

Sitting on Eggs: What happens after the artwork? incubator set up a collective learning space ‘to examine processes of change in particular, sensitive ecological [and social] contexts within Europe, to reflect them in relation to each other and to develop new approaches to the urgencies posed by them.’ It does so by asking: What happens after the artworks are finished? What change has taken place? What have we learned and how does this learning process extend to others? 

By artwork we mean not only visual works, to be exhibited, but relational works, which take place among people and activate new forms of sociality, often described as social practices. Frontiers in Retreat and SSW, through our resident artists, have put forward unique propositions: an 11-day CAMP BREAKDOWN BREAK DOWN about going beyond Petro-Subjectivities by Brett Bloom, three self-published essays on Craft, The Commons and Slime Moulds by Simon Yuill, a video called I really don’t feel them by Carl Giffney, a walk looking at geological strata, a drawing workshop and a farmer exchange by Fernando Garcia Dory, a signature Lumsden shortbread by Sylvia Grace Borda and a Clydesdale Oracle and sauna by Mari Keski-Korsu. Alongside our resident artists from Frontiers, we invited other artists and curators to present work, and to help us reflect collectively on these issues.

Artworks that are socially, politically or environmentally engaged produce new perspectives and create new knowledge, they open up our perception to new possibilities. What do we do with this new knowledge? How is it applied beyond our contemporary art practices and to the landscapes, contexts and communities we are working with? 

We had an opportunity, during the incubator session on March 9—11, to question and discuss what we had learned to date with each art project, and reflect on how these findings can inform future actions within and beyond the artistic / curatorial context. This session was a chance to reflect and refract, a space for peer-to-peer discussion, focusing on the dissemination of new information and experience. People working in social, political, and environmental practices are invested in producing actual change in the contexts where they are working. We thus proposed a safe but frank space of discussion, a time to suspend anxieties and fears around the political aspirations of our work, and move forward in the search for vocabulary and concepts that allow us to understand the modest - and sometimes larger - changes effected by artistic practices.

– SSW organising team

A critical response by Marc Herbst

Art, Institutions and the Mechanics of an Avant-garde Upon a Viscous and Loud Earth 

The above essay was written by Marc Herbst for Frontiers in Retreat, following his invitation to participate in and critically respond to the SSW Incubator.

Marc Herbst is an artist and co-editor of the Journal of Aesthetics & Protest. He is also a researcher/PhD candidate at the Goldsmiths Centre for Cultural studies. He has a broad and often collaborative practice, incorporating publications, performance, critical praxis, comic book drawing, and cultural organizing. Recent collaborations include the well-dressed fleecing of Londoners and the dumping the goods into the river Thames (with Cristina Ribas), an effort to graph the scope of human/human and human/natural relations in both the sensual and the actual through an open-called cartography project-with both fictional and real cities (with the Llano Del Rio Collective). Recent collaborators also include Murmarea (Barcelona), The Squatting in Europe Collective (SqEK), and the Field (in London).