Take to the heather with art:
an exchange among community arts workers
What is it about?
Art, which originates from the feelings of living, should not be seen as an ornamental object in exhibition halls.
v-artivist has been dedicating ourselves to the mission of “Give art back to the people; Give the people back to art", and exploring ways to “Let the grassroots participate in art creation.".
After a long period of practice, we would like to invite friends with similar experiences for a chat.Through the communication with different community arts workers last year, we found a series of topics on which we can discuss with friends interested in community arts.
What makes it different from other art forums?
Time, Space, Number of Participants:
We hope this series of workshops and seminars can provide enough time and space for us to discuss on some common problems/confusions, or to find some conditions for more effective approaches. Therefore, space is limited – sign up early!
Exchange between the different sectors: arts workers/grassroots groups/neighbours:
Arts workers want to work on community arts. Meanwhile, as a part of empowerment, grassroots groups hope the grassroots can express themselves vividly. More communication between artists and civic and social organizations is needed to see how this goal can be achieved in the collaboration between the two sectors, under the current social conditions.
During the first round of workshops, certain invitations will be sent to different groups and neighbours interested in art. We hope the discussion can be stimulated by their responses.
Hope we can connect different communities and arts workers through these two rounds of discussion and spark off our imagination!
Round 4 Session 1-3
“art collectives, individual efforts and community: issues of engaging"
In Hong Kong, if a group of people gather and make art together, we usually call them an “art organization”. Art organizations in Hong Kong have to register themselves as a limited company if they want to apply for funding. As a limited liability company, we are required to operate through a hierarchical practice with divisions between the creative and administrative parts.
However, in many places around the world (including Hong Kong), artists are also practicing the form of organizing as “art collectives". There are many definitions of the art collective. In this round, we will define it as follows:
A group of friends with similar ideas get together to make art or to assist one another in making their own creations. Some groups will even become communal groups: in addition to sharing and helping each other equally through their creations, they would probably be sharing the costs of the studio or even the living space, toand share the economic and daily living obligations. Some groups may some other would work together according to certain basic principles explicitly, or some may publicise their specific artistic concepts and ways of working.
Not every artist could have their works sold for thousands of dollars, these collective studios or homes would often often located in grassroots areas with lower rent costs. Those art collectives who are interested in community art are more likely to embed themselves within the community and interact with it.
With the modes of contemporary art, “artwork" is not necessarily a physical object, but also an artistic process or a concept, and some people think that the act of viewing the world from an artistic perspective and responding accordingly is already a work of art. This can include could be the creation of a space with no specific purpose and letting people rest there, it can also include engaging in neighborhood activities continuously or even running a restaurant or library as a point of exchange for art and culture. It can be gardening projects made with neighbours and much, much more.
However, creating together, living together, and sharing together inevitably creates many external and internal challenges. For example, the different experiences of social and political suppression, there may be insufficient resources, disputes in the internal principles and ideals, different working paces and styles, conflicting assessment of the state of the community, a lack of assessment to the community, differences because of the family backgrounds of the artists, antagonisms between co-creation or individual creation, and issues that arise when some artists are more favored by the art market, etc.
However, in a society in which there are limited resources and accompanied by the situation that aesthetics is commercially mainstreamed, our situations could only worsen if we do not help one another. So what have art collectives in different places been doing and experienced? How do they face challenges? What are the experiences of “success" or “failure"? Or how do we define “success" and “failure" in the first place? How do we perceive our relationships with the communities in which we are situated? These sharings and understandings among the art communities are urgently needed.
All of the following sessions are on Saturdays, 1530-1830. All are conducted in Cantonese except session 1, and Cantonese translation will be provided on 28/11, English translation will be provided on 5/12.
session 1 (28/11/2020) stories and critiques of Indonesian art collectives
(in english with cantonese translation)
pls fill in feedback form after the session:
session 2 ( 5/12/2020) dialogue: two experiences of a “lost common" and the possibility of re-weaving (in cantonese with english translation)
session 3 (12/12/2020) tak cheong lane: the gravels and paths of yaumatei (in cantonese)
**1) due to the influence of covid-19, all discussions will be held as online activities. 2) please check email for confirmation of enrollment and links for the discussion, and PLEASE CONFIRM YOUR ENROLLMENT THROUGH EMAIL. 3) all enrollment will be closed at 2100 the day before the discussion is held.
28/11/2020 stories and critics of Indonesian art collectives
main facilitator: riar rizaldi | response facilitator: elaine ho wing-ah
（conducted with english, with cantonese translation)
time: 1530-1830 | link: notice on registration
Because of the consistent lack of government subsidies and the need for mutual aid as well as the rich history of peoples’ aspirations for autonomy and self-determination, the artists of Indonesia have formed many art collectives. These artists will help one another in their creative work or even with economic support; some even used to squat together in empty houses. These art collectives often exist in grassroot communities. Actually, Indonesia has a long history of engagement with grassroot communities through art. The Indonesian term “nongkrong" has become popular in the international contemporary arts scene lately. Nongkrong means “doing nothing, or non-productive time”. Does the fact that many Indonesian groups have become internationally renowned affect their relations with grassroot communities? Artist and researcher Riar Rizaldi is working for his PhD in Hong Kong now, and seeing such developments in the situation, he is not without critique and reflection of his own role as an artist and member of the art community. In this sharing, he will also present his work with mining workers on the Bangka Islands.
5/12/2020 dialogue: two experiences of a “lost common" and the possibility of re-weaving
main facilitators: elaine ho wing-ah + vangi fong
time: 1530-1830 | link: notice on registration
(held in cantonese, with english translation)
Elaine is an artist researcher who has been fortunate to have lived in and worked with many different communities around the world, making her keenly aware of a so-called ‘third culture’ that allows her to find her way everywhere and yet fit in nowhere. One of her most important efforts took place in Beijing, however, where she lived for eight years and where she co-organised the collaboratively run project space known as HomeShop from 2008-2013. Its closure has prompted her ongoing research and interest in the complexities of collective work and socially engaged practices, though her relocation to Hong Kong, the sociopolitical tides of the last year, and the new biopolitical era only seem to highlight divisions and borders ever more strongly.
In 2009 while working on the Hong Kong Complaints Choir project, Vangi Fong became drawn to community art space WooferTen. Curious of the potential force that art could have in a local neighbourhood, Vangi’s frequent visits grew towards helping out more with the space and a five-year long relationship with Yaumatei. Together with other participants, she was active in projects like the Mobile Bar Battle, rooftop gardening, a community kitchen, the Lunar New Year market and parade, etc. There were many other amazing projects organised by others at WooferTen, and everyone was interested in the these unknown possibilities for exchange in the community, making simple qualifications of each project as a ‘failure’ or a ‘success’ no longer important. What art contributed was the extension of ‘projects’ or ‘events’ into the realm of everyday life. In the end when she finally decided to leave WooferTen, she had come to realise that the strength of mutual exchange and social engagement is not only within any particular space or community, but about the trust and relations between people.
In this dialogue, Elaine and Vangi will look back together at their experiences with collaborative practice, try to untie knots—and perhaps, weave new threads together.
12/12/2020 tak cheong lane: the gravels and paths of yaumatei
main facilitator: tak cheong lane | response facilitator: lee waiyi ( member of v-artivist)
time: 1530-1830 | link: notice on registration
“tak cheong lane” seems to be a signifier pointing at a liquid state with flashing reflections. For friends who know them, some will think of the first “Occupy Central” answering the call of “Occupy Wall Street,” some will think of a vegetarian co-operatives named “so-boring” in Tak Cheong Lane, Yaumatei, some will think about a group of mutual help co-living youth, some will think about an exhibition co-work with the homeless about the homeless……and then, part of them may give names to different sub-groups…well, and the people living and doing art together, may not consider themselves as “people of tak cheong lane.” Many people “outside” consider “tak cheong lane” people are artists, while some people “inside” “tak cheong lane” consider themselves as an art-loving and social concern collective. While, some people “inside” “tak cheong lane” and usually considered as artists by “outsiders,” do not consider the group as an “art collective”…
As unclear as its border, as liquid as its status, how will people in this group deal with the topic of “art collective”?