Screen shot from Comrade Alfredo Neri.

Screen shot from Comrade Alfredo Neri. Courtesy Chamber of Public Secrets.

AGM 10 willingly takes on board one of the main characteristics of Manifesta 8: the wish and the will to explore new modes of curating through collective work. It is about shifting the boundaries beyond the authorship of the single curator. This is a conscious decision to explore a different way of working in the contemporary art world and beyond, an active stimulant for “knowledge production” currently being discussed by many initiatives in both practical and intellectual terms.

Here in Spain, within a biennial fully embracing the idea of collectivity, we put this process in motion, using historical and geographical contexts. AGM 10 asks: what is the best way to “act out” rather than just represent such a method, in order to best produce and distribute knowledge? By creating a new model, maybe one can get closer to the “real” thing, instead of simply by reporting. To research this further, AGM 10, acting as CPS’ critical lens, reflects back on the collective’s productions to date and their working processes.

What does ‘working together’ imply on a critical and practical level? AGM 10 realistically does this by ‘working together’. What you now see in this space is a subjective selection from the vast CPS archives, along with research extracts and recorded conversations. The audio-visual and printed ‘files’ of previous collaborative works (or ‘transmissions’ to adopt terminology from CPS), are built into an exhibition venue which itself embodies a sedimentation of knowledge over time as the result of collective working processes. By juxtaposing these elements, AGM 10 simultaneously demonstrates and questions the various documents, procedures and agents (visible and non-visible) which govern the conception, production and distribution of collective knowledge in the broader public sphere.

AGM 10 takes as it’s starting point the possible configuration/network of participants, spaces, ideas and ideals that represent any given form of collectivity. It most importantly questions how these are held together and sustain themselves over time, through histories and ever changing ideological frameworks. The latter is crucial for understanding how AGM 10: Collectivus CPS operates within CPS’ project for Manifesta 8. This very space, filled with the residue of previous and ongoing artistic and discursive processes involving CPS, is but a mere tool for highlighting the very mechanisms of collectivity. As such, it presently holds and unravels at close range the seen and unseen concerns that guide collective production. Through this, AGM means to consider the contingent nature of relationships, the struggle to find or evade consensus, the risk of failure or success at the expense of others, the impossibility of translating meanings, the labour of sustained participation and exchange, the promise of final resolutions or the desire never to reach that point.

So how can we begin to connect this intent to; Comrade Alfredo Neri, 2006 -2010, a piece that brings to the fore the moving image’s power to affect our emotions and shape our options; or a handheld, almost clandestine, recording of a Walid Raad’s performance at the 2005 edition of Homeworks; or the AGM conversation series that have addressed the “state-of-play” at various moments in the lead up to Manifesta 8?

When we look to these documents, certainly we can draw parallels in subject matter, we can speak of CPS’ prolonged confrontation with the geopolitical, their engagement with systems of knowledge production or their questioning of the subjects and objects of recorded histories and narratives. We can talk at length about the shared experiences or perspectives that have brought together the collective and it’s contributors. Yet, AGM seeks to move beyond this. It proposes that its subjective archive embodies the collective condition not only as material output of collective labour, but also as an evocation of a particular position that it believes must be ever present in any form of working together. This, for AGM, is a position that is able to direct the critical gaze both within and beyond the frame, one that is conscious of it’s own subjectivity and positioning when it acts in tandem or against other agents and structures. So when AGM brings to the fore the “current state of affairs”, it does so in countenance to the presumed distance often attributed to criticality.

Consequently, in bringing this archive together under the aegis of Manifesta 8, AGM looks not to showcase the individual works, but present them as tools with which CPS and others can begin to critically assess their collective productions and approach. Importantly, this space is not an attempt to short circuit or reduce to specific moments the due process of critical questioning that pre/pro-ceeds any collective endeavour, but rather points to its urgency at all stages.

AGM 10 is organised by Hannah Conroy and Yesomi Umolu in close dialogue with CPS members.


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