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Incidental Futures at Experimental Studio, hosted by the BxNU Institute, BALTIC 39

Fri 31 May 19.00 & Sat 1 June 14.00-17.00

We are delighted to welcome the Incidental Unit to Newcastle for two events hosted by the BxNU Institute at BALTIC 39.

Friday 31 May, 19.00: Barbara Steveni in conversation with Andrea Phillips

Saturday 1 June 14.00-17.00: Incidental Unit Public Meeting

Register your free place by e-mailing: andrea.phillips@northumbria.ac.uk

The Incidental Unit (IU) was formed in 2016 following a series of 'incidental meetings‘. The aim of these meetings was to informally share information about the Artist Placement Group (APG) (1966-89), as well as its successor O+I (Organisation and Imagination) (1989-2009). Founded by artist Barbara Steveni in London in the 1960s, the APG sought to reposition the role of the artist in society. For the APG, the artist was no longer restricted to or defined by the burgeoning culture industry nor conceptual modes of practice. Rather, the artist would work within what was called ‘industry’ in the UK of the 1960s. By way of the APG, artists were placed into governmental and commercial sectors. The IU seeks to reignite and enrich debates around the role of the artist in contemporary society and, more specifically, around current modes of socially engaged practice in the UK.

The IU reprises John Latham’s use of the term ‘incidental’. It is used to refer to activities without a predetermined intention. Incidental also refers to what Barbara Steveni identifies as the ‘not knowing’ experienced by an individual who enters an unfamiliar context or chooses to critically examine their own. The IU encourages approaches that interrupt existing institutional codes and that therefore create the opportunity to develop new patterns in education, administration and planning processes. To this end the IU has no formal organisational structure associated with legal, industrial or cooperative models. It is instead bound together by relations, knowledge, experience and a record of incidental activity that reflects the socially engaged nature of the IU. It is a unit of activity.

Incidental Unit Public Meeting: Bad Spirits

This Incidental Futures meeting forms part of a touring public programme which explores the ongoing relevance of APG’s ways of working. The meeting will be led by artists and feature incidental expanded documentation by Dawn Bothwell and Paul Stewart. The programme aims to collect material, facilitate conversation and inspire action. The IU calls upon anyone to share thoughts and practice to continue researching the impact of APG and O+I.

This incidental meeting is part of a seven-city UK tour to explore the long term impact of the radical work of Artist Placement Group (1960-70s). In this context, the term ‘incidental’ refers to activities without a predetermined intention. The only item on the agenda of incidental meetings is the ‘unfinished business’ of Artist Placement Group and its commitment to placing artists beyond the worlds of art, thereby interrupting norms in law, health, industry, education, administration and more.

At BALTIC 39 Bad Spirits will create three stages of experience to discuss collaboration and methods of making influenced by two key themes of Artist Placement Group, Thinking in Public and Context is Half the Work.

Initiating an act of 'space appropriation' - starting from Robert Filliou & Joachim Pfeufer's 'Poipoi Drome' and Buckminster Fuller's Geodesic Domes, Bad Spirits will construct a nomadic structure comprised of three spaces.

They will then lead an open session to consider 'thought exchange' in relation to site. Through writing exercises, and sound experiments inside a temporary architecture in the space, Bad Spirits will facilitate a meeting in public which moves through different forms of expression, synthesised into a performance (of sorts).

Curatorial support for this incidental meeting is provided by Barbara Steveni, Marsha Bradfield, and Polly Wright, who are all members of Incidental Unit, the current iteration of Artist Placement Group (2016 - ongoing). This incidental meeting is part of Incidental Futures, a public programme and UK supported by Arts Council England, The Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM) of the University of Westminster Flat Time House and University of the Arts London. Incidental Futures is coordinated by Polly Wright and co-curated by Marsha Bradfield and Polly Wright.

Bad Spirits is a curatorial project / a performance / an artistic collaboration between Dawn Bothwell & Paul Stewart. The central theme is how to create contexts to 'think in public'. Bad Spirits creates environments that support collaboration, collectivism and making in the company of others.

Funded by Arts Council England and supported by the BxNU Institute (BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Northumbria University) and The Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM, University of Westminster).