Permanently Temporary / Weekend in Reflection

The best way for me to begin this reflection is with the response I give to anyone who asks about how this class was. "Who Goes There?" was an experience of the difficulties that come with collaborations organized around non-specific, but very specific goals. This is a familiar place for me after my work with a print cooperative, and it is often a very frustrating place to be. It is an important experience to have though, because when trying to address--and even change things that often are really larger than us---one can get lost in idealism. Those ideals motivate us, but have to withstand the pummel of the bureaucracy that often stands in the way of them being accomplished. 

In our case, these occurred when we discovered how much had already been set in motion between our enrollment in the course, and the day we walked into class. I think it's important to address the "non-specific, but very specific goals" nature of the class. Obviously it reflects the conflict inherent in "permanently/temporary" but it reflects this "what we knew, what we discovered, and how we could work with it."
  • We knew we could activate the space by way of installation. But we didn't know how long, with what material, and in what ways we could do it without causing too much of a fuss with powers that be. 
  • We had great ideas for future use of the space (apiary, composting, workshops and classes, communal spaces within the space). But again, decisions had already been made on how to change the space, and how that activation would be done.
  • We wanted to actively engage with the space through installation, but our materials had in some ways been determined, but we didn't have to use them, but they were there. 

Although I grew weary of discussions along with the rest of the class, it was only because the class time began to feel much too small to really get at the issues you find outlined in our posts. I think there was the lingering push to actually activate the space over the weekend that resulted in the installation you see now. However, just as our discussions in the classroom remained unresolved and saturated with conflict, in some ways, that disparity extended into what was done with the space. 

I think what is actually great about the class is the situation it presented is a real situation. I don't think there is ever an ideal collaborative setting or an ideal problem to address. Even the timeline is never ideal. And all things considered, as a group we exhibited our passion for this sort of collaboration and addressed a common desire: to activate a space we felt was inactive and reach out to the surrounding community. But I do think that some more direction needs to be provided on such a tight timeline. 

E.g. Give everyone a clean slate from the get-go; no materials. You have a space. Activate it. Look at it's potential as it exists and bring that front and center. Address larger issues, but don't get hung-up on them, as they exist regardless of what you do now, so do something, now. 

Biggest concern moving forward:
  • How do we communicate to the student and surrounding community what is going on with the space, how is it changing, and...
  • How can they participate? 
  • How can the collective 'we' use the space? (Who do we talk to? Who is in charge? How do we get the code?)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Heather,

    Thanks for your thoughts. I have some similar feelings after the workshop. After so much rain in previous weeks, there seemed to be a great possibility that weather would not be good enough for us to do anything in the space that weekend. I may have over-prepared in some regards, as I did not realize what a rhetorical bind would be caused by the presence of predetermined materials!

    Your entry is very helpful in emphasizing our class concerns about access and inclusivity.

    Sometimes the work of social practice does not take shape immediately, and this is frustrating. It's what makes it so different from a traditional studio practice. You are right that the work of sincere collaboration was one of the best outcomes here. It is very challenging and I think the group really rose to the challenge despite it all.