Restock, Rethink, Reflect is an ongoing series of initiatives for, and about, artists who are engaging with issues of identity politics and cultural diversity in innovative and radical ways, and which aims to map and mark the impact of art to these debates, whilst supporting future generations of artists through specialized professional development, resources, events and publications.
As Live Art is an interdisciplinary and ephemeral area of practice, there are many challenges to its documentation, archiving and contextualization, which can lead to the exclusion of significant artists and approaches from wider cultural discourses and art histories. This is particularly the case for culturally diverse artists, whose experiences and practices are often sidelined within UK's cultural histories.
Restock, Rethink, Reflect sets out to address these challenges by marking the critical historical contributions of artists, mapping dynamic current practices and looking to the future.
Restock, Rethink, Reflect Three: Live Art and feminism (2013 - 2014)
Following the first two RRR projects on race (2006-08) and disability (2009-12), we are working on a new RRR programme on feminism.
Many radical artists working today emerged from the charged socio-political contexts of the 20th Century, and specifically the feminist movement. Their pioneering practices not only challenged the politics of gender, but also shaped the work of future generations and contributed to shifts in mainstream discourses and cultural representations.
Like the histories of race and disability in performance, these kinds of critical and catalytic shifts demand to be mapped and marked in accessible ways that are neither scholarly nor sensationalist.
Unlike previous RRR projects, RRR3 will primarily take the form of collaborations between the Agency and key European partners on programming, publishing and archival projects. It will also feature specific DIY projects and new Study Room Guides, to be announced in Spring 2013.
The Agency is delighted to be working as a partner on re.act.feminism.
Based in Berlin, re.act.feminism is a continually expanding, temporary and living archive and exhibition project on feminism and performance art. It presents feminist, gendercritical and queer performance art by over 120 artists and artist collectives from the 1960s to the beginning of the 1980s, as well as contemporary positions. The research focus is on Eastern and Western Europe, the Mediterranean and Middle East, the US and several countries in Latin America. As it travels through Europe, this temporary archive will continue to expand through local research and cooperation with art academies and universities, and will be ‘animated’ through exhibitions, screenings, performances and discussions.
The Agency plans to present the archive in the UK (subject to funding) and will also co-publish the eagerly anticipated re.act.feminism catalogue (2013/14).
City of Women Festival 2013
Based in Ljubljana (Slovenia), City Of Women Festival has been running for almost 20 years, presenting a wide range of performance and interdisciplinary works by some of the world’s most radical women artists. City of Women has invited the Agency to curate a strand of the festival in 2013 (subject to funding). The Agency’s programme, provisionally titled Made Up - Performing Gender, will be a weekend of performances, screenings, lectures and interactive events looking at the performance of gender and particularly the ways in which femininity is 'performed' and gender identities are blurred and queered through performance. The programme will include women performing women, men performing women, women performing men, and artists who work beyond the limits of male and female identities. Provisional line up includes Lois Weaver, Neil Bartlett, Dickie Beau, Nando Messias, The Famous Lauren Barri Holstein, Thom Shaw and Laura Bridgeman.
Collectively, the activities in RRR3 aspire to:
Restock and inspire future generations of artists to engage with the complex historical and contemporary politics around representations of gender in politicised Live Art practices.
Rethink the nature of politicised Live Art in relation to discourses around gender.
Reflect upon the lineages, influences and legacies of artists and their works, particularly those who might have been excluded from wider art historical frameworks and the dominant cultural discourses in the late 20th Century.
Restock, Rethink, Reflect Two: on Live Art and disability (2009 – 2012):
Building on the achievements and findings of Restock, Rethink, Reflect One (see below), this programme of activities explored the ways in which the practices of artists who work with Live Art have engaged with, and represented issues of disability in radical ways.
The key components of the project:
A DIY7:2010 professional development project led by Sean Burn which set out to reclaim the languages surrounding disability using live writing, movement and other performance skills.
A Study Room Guide by Aaron Williamson, Disability and New Artistic Models. The Guide is available to read and download from this website.
A two-day public programme in March 2011, Access All Areas, which responded to many of the core issues driving Restock, Rethink, Reflect Two. The programme included specially commissioned durational performance-installations by Noemi Lakmaier and Martin O’Brien, a new performance and retrospective screening by The Disabled Avant-Garde, a landmark symposium, screenings of seminal documentation and works for camera, and a bibliotheque.
The Access All Areas publication. Developed from the Access All Areas public programme and containing materials generated by the event, the Access All Areas publication is a landmark collection of artists' writings, creative dialogues, critical commentaries and DVDs featuring documentation of artists' presentations and performances spanning 20 years. Published by the Agency, April 2012. Purchase here.
Responses to the Access All Areas programme:
Lyn Gardner for the Guardian
Mary Paterson at Open Dialogues
Disability Arts Online
Full Access All Areas programme details can be found here.
Documentation of the Restock, Rethink, Reflect Two events is available in the Study Room.
Restock, Rethink, Reflect Two is financially assisted by Arts Council England, with additional support from Tower Hamlets Council and British Council, Croatia. Restock, Rethink, Reflect Two has also been supported by an artists’ advisory group: Tonny A, Katherine Araniello, Bobby Baker, Pete Edwards, Mat Fraser, Catherine Long, Maria Oshodi, Jenny Sealy and Aaron Williamson.
Restock, Rethink, Reflect One: on Live Art and race (2006 -2008):
Restock, Rethink, Reflect One supported artists and audiences through a range of initiatives, including specialized professional development, resources, events and publication. The key components of the project are summarized below.
Lore and Other Convergences offered fifteen UK practitioners the opportunity to work alongside internationally renowned artist Janine Antoni, exploring the intersection between process and product through the creation of a 25m rope made of significant personal materials. The workshop was accompanied by a series of talks and a public sharing of outcomes at inIVA. Documentation of these events can be viewed in the Agency's Study Room.
Open Nights were an innovative and exciting series of informal events designed to stimulate debate and a sense of community among artists questioning cultural identity through live and interdisciplinary practices. Open Nights included presentations and events by George Chakravarthi, Yara El-Sherbini, Sonia Boyce, Oreet Ashery, David A Bailey, Manick Govinda, Ali Zaidi and Janine Antoni. Events took place at a variety of different London venues and each had a unique structure that encouraged new ways of talking, engaging and asking questions. Open Nights were curated by Barby Asante and produced by Rajni Shah.
Documenting Live is a unique publication and dvd resource reflecting the work of key UK based artists working in the 1990s and 2000s, and placing Live Art practices that are informed by questions of cultural identity within critical and historical frameworks. Documenting Live was developed in collaboration with curator David A Bailey in response to the challenges of documenting Live Art, and particularly the influential work of artists from culturally diverse backgrounds in the UK. Documenting Live set out to address these challenges through the creation of an archival and critical document that maps a history; marks a territory; and looks to the future. Barby Asante, Ansuman Biswas, Malika Booker, Sonia Boyce, George Chakravarthi, Robin Deacon, Yara El-Sherbini, Harminder Singh Judge, Keith Khan, David Medalla, Harold Offeh, Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa and Ali Zaidi collaborated on this mapping project through the creation of biographical postcards and video commentaries, the selection of illustrative documentation of their work, and participation in round table discussions prompted by David A Bailey’s essay Documenting Live: Performance-Based Art and the Racialised Body.
Documenting Live contains David A Bailey’s mapping essay Performance-Based Art and the Racialised Body; the artists’ postcards; and a dvd featuring the artists’ commentaries, excerpts from key works, and documentation of the round table discussions.
Documenting Live was launched at Iniva and is available to buy through Unbound.
Documentation of the Restock, Rethink, Reflect One events is available in various forms in the Study Room.
Restock, Rethink, Reflect One was funded by Arts Council England and produced by Rajni Shah for the Live Art Development Agency.