PACTO x Raven Row, Collectives, not Collections 
/london, uk/


Collectives, not Collections

PACTO’s first full day symposium took place on the 23rd January 2019 at Raven Row in London, comprising of a workshop & a group discussion in the afternoon and a roundtable discussion in the evening. The main focus of the day was to explore why artists choose to collaborate, and what does that change about their individual art making? Further to this, we discussed why collectives are currently such a popular format of working, and how choosing to work in this manner poses different questions - and solutions - to the current art market.

For this we were joined by a number of collectives & schools from the UK, including :pillow, Mileskm, Sandwich Collective and School of the Damned.

  1. World Craft
A workshop | Devised by Pedro Moreira

After a brief introduction, the day started off with “WorldCraft”, a world-building workshop led by Ped.Moreira. The participants were first split in four small groups of 4 to 5 members.

Using a large piece of fabric as a map, the members of each small group were asked to work collectively towards the creation and terraforming of their respective continent using plasticine.

In the second step, the groups proceeded in shaping the cultural and social background to the continents they had just created, answering questions ranging from “what is the climate like?” to “describe the economic system” and “what are the differing political views of this continent?”.

The third and final phase saw the groups coming back together to introduce their newly created civilizations to each other and discuss the different topics addressed during the first two phases of the workshop, from space negotiation to utopianism.

2. Collectives not Collections
A group discussion | Chaired by Kelly Lloyd

Collectives empower people to participate through co-decision, thus opening the doorway to fulfilling a mutually empowering agenda. In contrast, Collections instrumentalize not only the artwork but the labor of the artist, in order to ease the way to personal profit and simplify what contemporary art sponsorship looks like. Through sharing examples of how our labor and our work has been instrumentalized, and how this reflects larger trends in the art world, we can break down the “on the ground” effects of how collections are formed, managed and valued.  

To prepare for this conversation Kelly asked everyone to bring one concrete example (an event, an article, an instance from their own lives, etc.) to the conversation which speaks to how collectives can interrupt processes of institutional knowledge production.  Kelly’s contribution to this conversation reflected on the press statement above, and begun the conversation with a reflection on this table from Birgit Eriksson’s “Rethinking Participation and Re-enacting It’s Dilemmas: Aarhus and “The Playful Society”” to speak about what kinds of engagement create certain kinds of participation.

For detailed notes please follow the link

3. If the Artist is the Protagonist, does that make the Collective the Antagonist?
A panel discussion | Chaired by Demelza Watts

Warren Andrews (Mileskm), Sophie Goodchild (School of the Damned), Nicola Guastamacchia (Sandwich), Alessandro Moroni (:pillow), and Daphne Politi (PACTO)

For this roundtable each group put forward one person to be a representative and speak in the panel discussion. Demelza invite each member to introduce themselves and give a short introduction on the structure of their groups and their current work/practice/history for five minutes approximately each. After that all the participants engaged in a discussion around the title question. Towards the end of the discussion the conversation opened up to the whole room.

"The Only Solace We Get Is From Each Other" Where does the collective position itself in an art history that promotes the myth of the lone, artistic genius. Is there a seat in this art world that groups of people can really sit on? In recent years more and more institutions like our host Raven Row (London), Tate Modern (London), Baltic 39 (Newcastle) and Wysing Arts Centre (Cambridge), to name but a few; are putting out open calls inviting collectives to initiate projects, take part in residencies and participate in exhibitions, even winning prizes originally reserved for solo artists. How does the collective negotiate this domain, does the collective want to enter the same arena, does the antagonist really want to become the protagonist, or would we rather level the playing field and open up the spotlight to explore more alternative structures of producing and sharing creative acts. Why has the art world elevated the solo artist for so long, what can be gained from shifting the focus off of an individual and onto the collective process.

For detailed notes please follow the link