CAS Associate Artists divided into 4 groups and each occupied Winchester Gallery in Winchester for a week, using Chantal Mouffe’s essay ‘Artistic Activism and Agonistic Spaces’ as a starting point for collaboration. Using the gallery as a site for investigation rather than a showcase for finished work their creative enquiry explored the themes of dissent and consensus. The Laboratory of Dissent ran from 24 August – 25 September 2015, ending in week 5 with a two day symposium. See also: Tumblr Archive of photographs taken by gallery curator August Davis throughout weeks 1 – 5 of The Laboratory of Dissent
Week 1. If Not This, Then What?
Monday 24st August – Friday 28th August 2015
‘If Not This Then What?’ used the format of a Public Consultation project to ‘unveil all that is repressed by the dominant consensus’ and make ‘visible what the dominant consensus tends to obscure and obliterate.’ An investigation into the political structures and power relationship between institutions and stakeholders inherent in contemporary galleries, and inviting the public to join them in a re-imagining of what the contemporary gallery space could become. Artists: Lydia Heath, Dawn Evans, Amy Wyatt. Read more on the blog and this group also maintained a tumblr archive.
Week 2. Domesticating Conflicts
When: Tuesday 1st September – Friday 4th September 2015
The political scientist Chantal Mouffe, argues that the task of democracy is not to exclude or deny a conflict which cannot be eradicated, but rather to ‘domesticate’ it.’ Artists Susan Francis, Laurence Dube-Rushby, Yonat Nitzan-Green, and Clarisse Wisser positioned themselves as ‘agitators’ in order to bring potentially suppressed conflicts to the surface of visibility and consciousness. The gallery became a Domestic Laboratory where artists and participants were be invited to invent stratagems to negotiate the arising conflicts. Week 2 artists identified themselves as Mothers/Artists/Foreigners. The domestic space, a place where work and life develops and unfolds, is an agonistic space where conflicts emerge and become visible. Some are resolved whereas others remain unresolved and are often underlying. Read The Blog…
Week 3. Are We In Or Out?
When: Monday 7th September – Friday 11th September 2015
Isaac Whitcombe, Kirsty Smith, Maija Liepins used the gallery to investigate cultural narratives and hegemonic structures, exploring the question: ‘are we in our out?’ as an ongoing negotiation between the individual and the collective. Meaning is made not given. Whilst cultural consensus informs the accepted, dominant interpretation of what we see and hear, there is always the option of dissent. If you dare to question it, new viewpoints emerge. Read the blog…
Week 4. From Earth: Prototype A
When: Tuesday 15th September – Friday 18th September
A lo-fi sci-fi installation set in the B-movie spaceways of Dissent by artists David Dixon, Peter Driver, and Helen Northcott. Entering a gallery space configured and divided into Propositional Zones derived from the Mouffe text, participants were invited to engage with a series of encounters. They were taken through a discursive maze that both parodied and engaged with the notions of dissent and its academic context. Working with the notions of narrative and game, a context was laid of linearity, rules, permissions and choices of engagement. The viewer/ participant/ reader was be placed in a position of choice throughout.
Week 5. The Laboratory of Dissent Symposium
When: Wednesday 23rd – Thursday 24th September
Splitting up into small groups with different starting points, the artists informally presented their approach, discoveries and questions through a programme of talks, workshops and interactions.