Report on the Montreal Sandbox, April 7, 2012

Many people dropped by the artist-run centre Skol since Artivistic’s Promiscuous Infrastructures started on March 9, 2012. The place was bursting with the visitors’ traces. Seeking to transform Skol into a (counter)production space, the Artivistic collective had built a temporary printing station, an alternative press library, a workshop venue and, last but not least, a cozy space where people could share their ideas, their zines, and their artifacts. As the last activity before the finissage of Promiscuous Infrastructures, the Sandbox Project could count on a variety of materials to re-use and incorporate into our activities.

Our Montreal lab had three main objectives: 1) to continue the discussion on the relationship between collaboration and trust that we initiated at the Transmediale festival in Berlin; 2) to contribute to the material accumulated, produced and manipulated during previous Promiscuous Infrastructures workshops and initiatives; 3) to reflect on and build upon the mass mobilizations, the solidarity and creative collaborations that are taking place in Montreal, and Quebec in general, as we write. Given these circumstances, this was a timely moment to build on the experience and impressions that the participants had brought with them, hoping to process them while they are still sinking in.

Thus, the main questions that guided the conceptualization of the Montreal Sandbox resonated with the spirit of the local context:

1) How can we foster forms of collaboration that thrive on newfound affinities without erasing or flattening diversity?

2) How can we make these relationships sustainable and tend to the trust developed among groups?

The lab spanned 4 full hours during which the participants entered into dialogue with each other using citations and concepts, as well as the material available in the gallery. Unlike the other labs that took place in mainly (or officially so) Anglophone environments, here the challenge was to accommodate bilingualism. We provided some citations in French and some in English and let participants decide which language they felt more comfortable to use. Since the majority of the participants were fluent in English, French was only partly used. Still, the challenges and political potential of modulating bilingual interaction sparked a series of reflections on mutual help within communities. Rather than being the cause of misinterpretations, resentment or exclusion, bilingualism provided a shared entry point into a more concrete discussion of practices of inclusion and exclusion. It also functioned as an additional element to explore the very process of collaboration. Citations in French and English were dismembered, coupled and mixed creatively to form poems that contained both languages, showing their differences and affinities.

The gallery space was full to the brim with independent publications and zines. Here, working duos and groups formed and re-formed organically, without us having to set constraints or provide rules; the space itself–with material hung mid-air, as well as on the walls and floors–seemed to be conducive to such spontaneous movement. As participants, we were immersed in a multilayered, three-dimensional environment that could be fully and freely explored. Surrounded by text, images and other print materials, the objects produced during the lab could have consisted of zines or other forms of experimental publishing but we let everyone experiment with the materiality of what they could find in the gallery. Through relational exercises participants were encouraged to physically engage with the citations and definitions they had previously collected and matched, cutting them and forming new phrases, words and images. The results were “exploded zines”–a series of sculptural, tactile objects that mixed the idea of the zine, the ready-made, the collage and the theatrical space. This included kaleidoscopic compositions and riddles hidden within folded papers; mini-theatres with modifiable stages that featured a battle between opposed notions (nomad-En- and sedentaire-Fr-); collages of various materials (including food, rubber and other found stuff). These beautiful collages and objects captured the spirit of our discussions and added new meaning and questions to what we had proposed at the beginning of the lab. The objects later became tools to interact with each other and with the audience.

Beside the creative outcomes, a reflection was initiated regarding the peaceful and generous atmosphere that surrounded the lab: while individuals continued to cross the lines between groups, they seemed to be communicating in a harmonious way, not by means of spoken language, but through collective practice–the “making of things together”–constructing and collaborating manually. At the verbal level, participants engaged in discussions on trust, fatigue and burn-out, power relations, issues of inclusion/exclusion. Importantly, these conversations were taking place informally while tending to menial tasks. In most cases, the objects produced reflected the conversations almost naturally, without the need to negotiate their formal appearance and without speculating on how the object would be interpreted by others. We had quickly learnt how to work with each other mainly by doing, not talking. From this angle, the lab was a true success.

The following questions provided a guiding thread for the final phase of the lab, the Zapatista-style town hall meeting, when the lab switches into performance-preparation mode: 1) what kind of infrastructures could facilitate the kindling of trust? 2) how can we create a sustainable space and time for processing our thoughts, practices and conflicts? 3) what does it mean to deal with conflict and oppression within movements? 4) What could practices to express hurt within a group look like?

These questions re-emerged very concretely and urgently during our encounter with the audience when the group found itself confronting its own boundaries and living out some of the problems that had been discussed abstractly only a few minutes earlier.

During the town hall meeting participants had increasingly felt comfortable with each other and were unwilling to interrupt and re-package their conversations to present to an audience. To put it into a participant’s words: “it just felt contrived.” With lack of consensus about how to structure the presentation, the default option was to let visitors naturally and gradually be included into the group. As the audience started pouring into the gallery during the last hour, they found a circle of discussants willing to open up and let others in, but lacking any instrument to communicate their inclination to accommodate and care for the new-comers. We somewhat superficially assumed that the audience would be able to decipher and feel entitled to intervene in the conversation at any time with no need for explanation, freely adapting to this new space (that felt so familiar to us). After some objections and complains were raised, the conversation quickly took a different turn and started re-focusing on the problem of exclusion. Yet, this time, we had to analyze our own internal limits as a group not being able to reach out to the outside. While we had created a safe space for ourselves, we had inadvertently shut off others who were interested in our work and in the issues we engaged. This is an attitude that often characterizes many activist circles, where the so-called newcomers or outsiders feel often isolated and excluded from the main group. This episode laid bare more questions: how can we be vigilant about our own internalized modes of oppression? How can equity within and among groups be sustained organically, or do we need specific protocols in place? How can we welcome those people who first approach an already pre-constituted group and guarantee their participation, even when their kind of contribution does not match our set expectations?

While this was a teachable moment for us all as a group, we also hope that those who were strong and generous enough to flag the latent forms of exclusion felt reaffirmed by their actions and by our willingness to learn. As organisers of the lab, Montreal brought the magic of collaboration and fostering a safe and trusting environment to a new level, but it also showed us how much more work can be done to rethink the osmotic relationship between inside and outside. It opened up a space to talk about vulnerability as the basis of new relations and connections. Finally, it complicated our thinking about the relationship between collaboration and outcomes–process and product; tending and hospitality– in ways that will be incorporated in our next labs, as well as hopefully in everyone’s future work.

We would like to thank Skol and Artivistic, and especially all participants and audience for their amazing contributions: Sophie Le Phat Ho, Faiz Abhuani and Kevin Yuen Kit Lo, Anne Bertrand, Koby Rogers Hall, Frederic Biron Carmel, Heather Davis, Candace Mooers, Caroline Kunzle, Elaine Spencer, Michelle Lacombe, Nicole Burisch, Jess Glavina, Aaron Barcant, Nasrin Himada, Lilian Radovac, Pablo de los Santos, Tagny Duff, Erik Bourdelau, Adriana de Oliveira, and all the anonymous people who provided comments and feedback during our session with the public.

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call for participation: The sandbox Project Montreal, sat. apr. 7, 12:00-5:00 pm @ Skol

Activism beyond the Interface: The Sandbox Project

This year ‘s Artivistic: Promiscuous Infrastructures consists of a (counter)production space to bring ideas to life and punctuate collective thought processes. To achieve this, the Artivistic collective has turned the artist-run centre Skol into a temporary press functioning as an action-oriented, affinity-building machine. On Apr 7, 2012, (12:00 to 5:00) this hybrid space–combining a creative lab, a radical documentation centre and an experimental exhibition–will host Activism beyond the Interface: The Sandbox Project and we would like to invite you to participate.

The Montreal Sandbox is the third in a series of experimental production labs developed in different cities (Toronto, Berlin) and bringing together artists, activists and techies to reflect creatively on the diversity of artivist practices. The Sandbox project wishes to acknowledge and nurture the communities fighting for social justice in each city by creating an ad hoc space facilitating the crossover of different collaborative and sharing practices.

The Montreal event will consist of a two-parts live collaboration: a preliminary “Lab” (4 hours) followed by a public presentation/performance (1 hour). With the help of relational exercises and the material collected at Skol since the opening of Promiscuous Infrastructures, lab participants will draw on their artistic, social, technological skills to set the “action-oriented-affinity-building-press-machine” in motion. In order to relay the work shared during the previous labs, we will start from where the previous one left off at Transmediale in Berlin. That is, we will use various creative strategies and techniques to reflect on the relationship between collaboration and trust. Yet, given the mass mobilizations, the solidarity and creative collaboration that we have recently witnessed in Montreal, our lab will also attempt to build on the experience and impressions that participants bring with them, hoping to process them while they are still settling in our imaginary.

The following questions will guide our lab:

-how can we foster forms of collaboration that thrive on newfound affinities without erasing or flattening diversity?

-how can we make these relationships sustainable and tend to the trust developed among groups?

We would be thrilled to have you as part of our Montreal event.

Both lab and public presentation will take place on Saturday, April 7, 2012 from 12:00 to 5:00 pm at Skol.
While the lab is open to registrants only (max 20 registered guests), the second part of the Sandbox will be open to and interacting with the public. Together with labs taking place in Toronto, Berlin, New York and Sao Paolo, the Montreal Sandbox will contribute towards the development of an open collaboration platform meant to incorporate, visually and architecturally, the narratives emerging from, and the connections existing among each of these events and their participants.

Please, let us know if you will be able to participate. If you can’t attend but you know of anybody who should be part of this project, please, let us know.

For more info and to RSVP: https://sandboxproject.wordpress.com and sandbox.prj@gmail.com.

Sandbox call and description “en français”!

Ici une description du projet en français. Merci SKOL!

L’activisme au-delà de l’interface : Le

Projet Sandbox

Dans le cadre de notre projet Infrastructures entrelacees (Phase 2), nos amies Alessandra Renzi et Roberta Buiani (Toronto) proposent un atelier le samedi 7 avril 2012, de midi à 17 heures, à Skol.

Le Projet Sandbox est une série de laboratoires de production expérimentaux mis sur pied dans différentes villes qui réunissent des artistes, des militant.es et des cracks de technologie qui réfléchissent avec créativité sur la diversité des pratiques artivistes des artistes militant.es. LeSandbox de Montréal est une collaboration en direct ludique qui se déroulera en deux volets le 7 avril 2012 : un « labo » préliminaire (durée de 4 heures) suivi d’une intervention multimédia publique d’une heure qui reformulera la composition des plateformes de collaboration en ligne et hors ligne.

Notre projet a pour objectif de reconnaître le travail des communautés qui militent pour la justice sociale dans la ville et de les soutenir en aménageant un espace qui permettra le croisement de différentes pratiques de cocréation et d’échange. En recourant à la performance et aux médias artisanaux « DIY », le Projet Sandbox redéfinit le rôle du corps pour mobiliser de nouvelles formes d’action politique. Grâce aux exercices et aux outils relationnels fournis, les participant.es au labo puiseront dans leurs aptitudes artistiques, sociales, médiatiques et technologiques pour reprendre le travail là où il avait été laissé lors du précédent labo. Le labo de Montréal se penchera sur les relations entre la collaboration et la confiance qui ont été remises en cause lors du labo de Transmediale à Berlin. Tout comme les Sandbox de Toronto, Berlin et Mexico, celui de Montréal contribuera au développement d’une plate-forme de collaboration ouverte conçue pour incorporer, visuellement et architecturalement, les récits qui émergeront de chacun de ces événements et de leurs participant.es, et les rapports entre eux.lles.

Pour obtenir plus de renseignements, consultez le site Web https://sandboxproject.wordpress.com. Vous pouvez vous inscrire au labo par courriel à l’adresse sandbox.prj@gmail.com.

Artivistic starting on March 9

Centre des arts actuels Skol presents

Artivistic collective
Promiscuous Infrastructures (Phase 2)

From Friday March 9 to Saturday April 14, 2012
Opening: Friday March 9 from 5:30pm
Hand-made dumplings served at 7pm (while supplies last)

For a detailed description of public events, visit artivistic.org or skol.ca

Centre des arts actuels SKOL presents the second phase of Promiscuous Infrastructures. In its ongoing investigation into autonomous infrastructures, Artivistic proposes insights into the ?base? of creative life in our society, particularly in how it pertains to the work of artists, activists and academics, by asking: How do we build value in affective relationships? How do we organise for that (models, processes, strategies)? How do we in turn outstretch these in the long-term?

During five weeks, Artivistic will activate a (counter)production space by transforming the gallery into a temporary press with the hope of bringing ideas to life and punctuating collective thought processes. The space will consist of a hybrid between a creative lab, a radical documentation centre and an experimental exhibition, exuding the spirit of infrastructures at the expense of fear and isolation.

?The temporary print shop will serve as an action-oriented affinity building machine. This intervention represents an important stage of our development of ‘promiscuous infrastructures,’ that of visualising our research. By ‘night shifting’ the Skol office (as one of those promiscuous infrastructures) in the months leading up to the spring, we collaborated with past and new allies in order to make material available in malleable form, in the spirit of critical open source, community building and mutual valuation of our diverse tactics. In this out-of-service site, the public will be invited to take part, with us, in a creative and convivial slowing down, where thinking and making meet in the process of finding each other and becoming many.?

During the exhibition, members of Artivistic will have ?drop-in hours? every Saturday from 12 to 5pm during which the public is invited to discuss their ideas. In parallel, PI2 will be hosting the following public events:

Saturday March 10, 12-5pm: How do we negotiate the promiscuity of infrastructures on the island of Montréal? Cecilia Chen & Heather Davis. (Max 15 participants, RSVP at jetsam.overboard@gmail.com)

Saturday March 17, 12-6pm: Typographic Poster Workshop with Kevin Yuen Kit Lo

Saturday March 31 & Sunday April 1, 12-5pm: Think We Must/Convocation. With the participation of Marie-Pierre Boucher, Hermine Ortega, Emmanuelle Sirois, Martine Delvaux, Annie Abrahams and others to confirm. Performance proposed by Julie Châteauvert, technical concept by Sofian Benaissa.

Saturday April 7, 12-5pm: The Sandbox Project is a series of experimental production labs bringing together artists, activists and techies; Proposed by Alessandra Renzi & Roberta Buiani. (Max 20 participants, RSVP at sandbox.prj@gmail.com)

Saturday April 14, 4-6pm: Unveiling of the ?winning proposal? by the Awesomest Foundation + finissage.

SKOL is wheelchair accessible.

Artivistic would like to send warm shout-outs to: Sydney Hart, Nasrin Himada, Sarita Ahooja, Anne Bertrand, Thien V. Qn., Kim Tsui, Amy Novak, Alessandra Renzi, Roberta Buiani, Heather Davis, Cecilia Chen, Gina Badger, Laura Sirois, Julie Chateauvert, Sofian Benaissa, Marie-Pierre Boucher, Hermine Ortega, Emmanuelle Sirois, Martine Delvaux, Annie Abrahams, tobias c. van Veen, olo J. Milkman, Anita Naidu, ecoarttech, John Kerkhoven, François Deck, Jean-Maxime Dufresne, Rebecca Duclos, all the people who participated in the group cartography project & all the other Artivistic homies and subjectivites in outerspace.

Artivistic is currently in transition, experimenting ways of being perpetually creative within a hostile political and economic context. From 2004 to 2009, the Artivistic collective organized thematic events including four large-scale, international and transdisciplinary gatherings on the interPlay between art, information and activism, bringing together diverse artists-organisers and other thinkers & makers. Artivistic emerges out of the proposition that not only artists can talk about art, activists about activism, and academics about theory. Artivistic aims to inspire, proliferate, activate. artivistic.org

For more information: http://www.skol.ca/en/now/promiscuous-infrastructures-phase-2

INFO: Anne Bertrand
Tel.?+1.514.398.9322?
abertrand@skol.ca

Actif depuis 1984, Skol est un centre d?artistes à but non-lucratif qui présente surtout le travail d?artistes et de théoriciens en début de carrière. La programmation du Centre privilégie les pratiques exploratoires et expérimentales et vise à promouvoir les échanges entre la théorie et la pratique. Le centre des arts actuels Skol est situé au 372, rue Ste-Catherine O., espace 314. L?entrée est libre (et accessible en fauteuil roulant) du mardi au vendredi de 12h à 17h30 et le samedi de 12h à 17h. Renseignements : www.skol.ca.
– – – – – – – –
In operation since 1984, Skol presents the work of artists and theorists in the early stages of their careers. The centre’s programming is in place to privilege exploratory and experimental practices. Centre des arts actuels Skol is located at 372 St. Catherine O. in suite 314, is wheelchair accessible and open free to the public from Tuesday to Friday, from noon to 5:30pm and Saturday from noon to 5pm. For more information about exhibitions and upcoming programming, the public can consult www.skol.ca.

Centre des arts actuels Skol
372, rue Ste-Catherine ouest, espace 314
Montréal, QC, H3B 1A2
514.398.9322 | skol@skol.ca | www.skol.ca

We will be in Montreal for Artivistic

We will be helping out our friends from Artivistic with a Sandbox project event and intervention in Montreal in April 2012.

The call for participation for Artivistic is still open, if you’d like to participate:

PROMISCUOUS INFRASTRUCTURES (PHASE 2)

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

As part of its project entitled Promiscuous Infrastructures, the Artivistic collective invites submissions for the second phase of the project, which will take place from March 9 to April 14, 2012, at Skol, an artist-run centre in Montréal.

What Artivistic is up to

Artivistic is currently in the research-creation phase of a publication tentatively entitled Promiscuous Infrastructures: experiments in art + information + activism. Rooted in the work of Artivistic’s friends, allies, and past participants, the publication sets its sights on “autonomous infrastructures” by looking at radical education & the production of knowledge, intergenerational support systems, as well as sustainable financing.

For Phase 2, we will set up a temporary printing workshop at Skol. This intervention is meant to collectively visualize our concern, obsession perhaps, with what lies behind art, activism and knowledge production: (1) the ways in which we relate to each other, (2) organise to work together, and (3) the conditions in which things are being done. In other words, we are asking:

How do we build value in affective relationships?

How do we organise for that (models, processes, strategies)?

How do we in turn outstretch these in the long-term?

In order to get a grip on autonomous infrastructures, Artivistic will turn its ideas, words and images into printable material that can be shared in such a way that others can contribute and engage their own approach.

By engaging in this convivial method of making printed stuff to be passed on, commented on, and remixed, we hope to bring ideas to life and to punctuate collective thought processes that have to do with autonomy. In parallel to the set up of a printing area, an office space and a documentation centre, the public will be invited to further engage with the process through activities and events. Works featured will be composed of material produced by Artivistic, collaborators and that selected from the present call for submissions.

Submission requirements: 3xA cells

Artivistic will accept submissions that will address the above interrogations, in the form of printable material, and produced by “3xA cells” composed of 1 artist + 1 activist + 1 academic.

Of course, participants need not exactly see themselves in these ways, but there should be in every cell a trouble-maker, someone that is obsessed with form (or that can make things look pretty), and another who more often thinks things through a bit too much.

What for

Our stance is not so much “what is to be done?” but “something is already being done.” And we not so much want to show it (off) but to actually come to value it better, to become more confident collectively. We believe that the fundamental predicament of our times is fear. It makes us defensive, it insidiously brings about isolation. In 1969, it was right after the initiation of the first Black Panther’s Free Breakfast for School Children Program that J. Edgar Hoover (FBI director) stated that the Panthers posed “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country.” This exemplifies the power of alternative infrastructures and brings us back to today’s (global) criminalisation of dissent. As we know, valuing is not an individual act, it is a collective one. We see this project as a kind of “work interruption”: to interrupt the current flow of things, of business-as-usual (not for an anonymous “system” but for ourselves, as artists, activists, academics); to perhaps go back to some of our footnotes (left behind because we were too busy going forward); to take the time to think and to nourish each other, to be present, in order to live differently. By making stuff together, we can get to know each other better, to value our ideas better, to build affinity.

 

Deadline: Saturday, February 4, 2012

 

Examples of formats: zines, booklets, posters, maps, inserts, and anything else that can be printed on paper.

 

Please send your submission (including names and contact info) to: printme (at) artivistic (dot) org

 

Send any questions to: info (at) artivistic (dot) org

For more info: http://www.skol.ca/en/next/promiscuous-infrastructures-phase-2

 

Artivistic is currently in transition, experimenting ways of being perpetually creative within a hostile political and economic context. From 2004 to 2009, the Artivistic collective organized thematic events including four large-scale, international and transdisciplinary gatherings on the interPlay between art, information and activism, bringing together diverse artists-organisers and other thinkers & makers. Artivistic emerges out of the proposition that not only artists can talk about art, activists about activism, and academics about theory. Artivistic aims to inspire, proliferate, activate. http://artivistic.org