MARCH 22 Curated and presented by Claire Bishop
With Gavin Butt, Claire Bishop, Annie Dorsen, Alexandra Pirici, Jesse Darling, 100 first year students Rietveld Academie & Mårten Spångberg



Keywords: amateurism, professionalisation, de-skilling, de-scaling, participation, performance, karaoke, punk, user.

In Artificial Hells, Claire Bishop focused on works of art that involve live performance, more akin to theatre than to traditional forms of visual art. She proposed that participatory art has historically aspired to a utopian collapse of artist and audience: as a result, the work of art becomes an ongoing project (rather than an object); the artist becomes a collaborator and producer of situations; and the beholder or viewer is now repositioned as a co-producer or participant.

However, any consideration of digital participation was left out of this book. Arguably, Web 2.0 has already made these arguments about participatory art obsolete. The non-stop creation and consumption of self-image in social media means that today we are all photographers, models, curators, film-makers, poets and DJs. Such amateur performances arguably turn our entire lives into theatre, with no need for a mediating artist, stage or gallery.

This day will therefore focus on the intersection between such amateur performances and the concept of de-skilling. If amateurism is undertaken for love and pleasure, without any concern for disciplinary expertise, then de-skilling denotes a conscious rejection of acquired competences in favour of a simpler or rawer way of doing things. After all, you need to be trained in a discipline or technique in order to have the privilege of rejecting it; de-skilled artist tries to access an everyday aesthetic, but can never leave his or her training fully behind. The amateur, by contrast, stakes out a position against professionalization, and the whole organization of our lives around work.

The invited speakers will all respond to the central question of whether amateurism opens up to inclusive new aesthetic possibilities (such as punk, karaoke or the user)—or just heralds the end of virtuosity altogether.

Gavin ButtBeing in a Band: Artschool Experimentalism and the Post-Punk Commons

Gavin Butt works at the intersection of art history, performance studies and queer theory. His lecture will address the post-punk music scene surrounding art schools in the city of Leeds (UK) in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Being in a band provided the opportunity for artists to transcend the creative dead-ends of Modernist art and punk rock, given that both had become culture industry business-as-usual at this time. Introducing the idea of a post-punk ‘commons’, he will consider the importance of artistic communalism and non-proficient musicianship as a means to produce new forms of expression beyond rock, and the transposing of avant-garde experiment into the popular arena. Bands to be addressed will include the SheeHees, Mekons, Another Colour, Fad Gadget, and Impact Theatre.

Alexandra Piricidemonstration-lecture

Alexandra Pirici was trained as a choreographer but today does most of her work in a visual art context—in public space or galleries where the audience is free to move around her performers. Her interventions are often sculptural and time-based, transforming the monumental into the human and embodied. Rather than adapt one of these works to a theatre context, Alexandra will present a new demonstration-lecture that allows us to understand her own development within a larger framework of de-skilling and down-scaling. Excerpts of her past pieces will be performed alongside a commentary that reflects on embodiment, especially the embodiment of iconic moments in the collective imaginary.

Jesse Darling Habeas Corpus Ad Subjiciendum, or Body of Work? You’re Looking at It and #usermilitia manifesto

Jesse Darling will present a silent powerpoint lecture in which s/he incorporates his/her own writing, tweets, found quotes and images to comment on the labour of self-performance for an online audience. In law, the term Habeas Corpus refers to unlawful detention; Jesse suggests that our perpetual capture (by security cameras and online data mining) is far from voluntary. S/he will also present a new piece of writing, the #usermilitia manifesto, which makes a case for the role of the user (who doesn’t have technical expertise), as opposed to the professional. Is the nonprofessional labour of social media too often dismissed as gendered and performative?

Annie DorsenSpokaoke

Annie Dorsen’s Spokaoke is a karaoke of famous political speeches—from Margaret Thatcher to Socrates, Harvey Milk to Jesus Christ. Participants sign up for a speech, which they perform for the audience in the style of their choosing. Unlike pop music karaoke, where the tunes tend to be more familiar than the lyrics, with Spokaoke the texts are invariably more famous than the performance. It’s therefore up to participants to make their delivery live up to the powerful words. Is there a way to see this kind of karaoke as educational—as a form of learning through doing? Could it constitute a rehearsal for public political speech?

SLOT 1 11.00 - 12.301 bits

Keep Knotting Notes performance by TXT department students
Introduction Claire Bishop Is Everyone a Performer?
Gavin Butt Being in a Band: Artschool Experimentalism and the Post-Punk Commons
Gavin Butt & Claire Bishop discussion + Q&A

(45-minute break - with possible interventions)

SLOT 2 13.15 - 14.45 2 bits

Demonstration-lecture by Alexandra Pirici
Alexandra Pirici, Gavin Butt & Claire Bishop discussion + Q&A

(15min break)

SLOT 3 15.00 - 16.15 2 bits

Jesse Darling performance Habeas Corpus
Jesse Darling #usermilitia manifesto
Jesse Darling, Alexandra Pirici, Gavin Butt, Claire Bishop – conversation + Q&A

(15min break)

SLOT 4 16.30 -18.00 2 bits

Annie Dorsen Spokaoke
Annie Dorsen, Mårten Spångberg, Claire Bishop – conversation + Q&A + Closing statements

Full Attendance 8 bits

Claire Bishop is an art historian and critic based at CUNY Graduate Center, New York. She is the author of Installation Art: A Critical History (2005), Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship (2012), Radical Museology, or, What’s Contemporary in Contemporary Art? (2013) and numerous articles on contemporary art and performance. She is a regular contributor to Artforum, and her books and essays have been translated into over fourteen languages.

Gavin Butt is Professor of Visual Cultures and Performance at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is author of Between You and Me: Queer Disclosures in the New York Art World, co-author of Visual Cultures as Seriousness, and editor of After Criticism: New Responses to Art and Performance. He co-directed Performance Matters (2009-2013) a creative research project exploring the cultural value of performance, and was co-director of This Is Not a Dream (2014) a documentary film exploring artists’ DIY use of moving image technology. He is currently completing a new book Anti-Gravitas: Queer Importance in Art and Performance, and is engaged in research on post-punk culture and British art schools.

Jesse Darling is an artist living currently in London. Jesse’s work is concerned with the human condition and how it is mediated through the structures, narratives and technologies (architectural, [bio]political, social) that govern life as we know it, and considers the social and physical body as a site where these structures manifest and transform. Jesse works in sculpture, installation, text and ‘dasein by design’ - the space where performance and unmediated experience meet. Recent exhibitions include Private Settings: Art After the Internet (Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw), Preteen Gallery’s It’s Been Four Years since 2010 and The Extinction Marathon at Serpentine Gallery, London.

Annie Dorsen works in a variety of fields, including theatre, film, dance, and, as of 2010, digital performance. Her most recent projects, A Piece of Work and Hello Hi There, are part of her continuing exploration of ‘algorithmic theatre.’ Those pieces, along with Magical, a collaboration with choreographer Anne Juren, continue to tour extensively in Europe and the US. She is the co-creator/director of the 2008 Broadway musical Passing Strange, for which she won numerous awards. Her next piece, Yesterday Tomorrow, will premiere at the Holland Festival in June 2015.

Alexandra Pirici is a Bucharest-based artist. She has a background in choreography but works across disciplines and different mediums, from choreography to visual art, music and film. Recent works include “An Immaterial Retrospective of the Venice Biennale”- together with Manuel Pelmus, exhibited in the Romanian Pavilion at the 55th edition of the Venice Biennale, public space and museum space projects for the Centre Pompidou, 12th Swiss Sculpture Exhibition, the Van Abbemuseum, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Leipzig, Bass Museum of Art – Miami and Manifesta10, among others.

Mårten Spångberg is a choreographer living and working in Stockholm. His interests concern choreography in an expanded field, something that he has approached through experimental practices and creative processes in a multiplicity of formats and expressions. He has been active on stage as performer and creator since 1994, and from 1999 onward he has created his own choreographies, from solos to large scale works, which have toured the world. Mårten Spångberg has thorough experience in teaching, both theory and practice and he was director for the MA program in choreography at the University of Dance in Stockholm from 2008 till 2012. In 2011 his first book, "Spangbergianism" was published.