“Looking at concepts that are made [through art and design] is it important to look at the institutional role of developing meaning and creating conclusions that artists aren’t perhaps willing to make? Institutions like to have a product or concluded idea to sell.”
August: “The institution of art critic and art historian, because they are people and professions, you don’t think of as an institution but that’s how they function. And writing in the art press they’ll often say that “this artist is doing X”… and we’re the ones that like to come with tidy boxes and put the boxes around the art.”
Is CAS “We” or “They” or both?
“It’s interesting for me to come from an outside perspective on this particular exhibition, you’re asking questions about We and They, and identifying yourself as They outside the institution.”
“But I’m looking at you and thinking have you become part of the institution and in a way institutionalised?”
“Subconsciously even pandering to the gallery or the space or the people you know?”
Maija: … to something. Definitely.
It’s an ongoing process of asserting whether you are in or out. Are you ever really free of being co-opted into We or They? Our personal awareness and social awareness can grow but it’s almost like you have to consciously re-commit. You never arrive at ‘outside’ or ‘inside’ as a fixed place. That position is always open to re-negotiation in the present moment.
We’re all susceptible to messages outside of us. You never get to a permanent place of ‘freedom’ from influence, not in small groups or in wider society.
“So the act of dissent is always something that has to be constantly thought about in relation to external stimuli. Whereas not to dissent is easier because you don’t have to critically think about how you’re responding.”
Ed: “I think the problem is when people think things are in opposition because you can’t change things when you are in direct opposition. You can just make your point and then the other point. It’s actually more risky to be closer because then you need to have a discussion.”
Laurence: “Well, because you are taking a risk of possibly changing your mind and being shaped by someone else and I think that’s something we have done in this project and we have willingly worked within the institution, albeit questioning it all the time, welcoming the opportunity but playing with it as well.”
These words are extracted from a recorded discussion held at The Laboratory of Dissent Symposium, (Day 2, Session 1) 24 September, 2015.
Today’s Act of Dissent
Who are you allowing to speak for you?
Who are you speaking for, without permission?
Where do you need to reserve the right to make your own meaning?