Concept description for Spanien19C in the new Sydhavnen area
In the next four years the Sydhavnen area in Aarhus will undergo radical transformations which will result in the creation of an ‘art city’ under the name of “Kunstbyen”. Sydhavnen has an already thriving artistic environment and one of the players is Spanien19C, the city’s oldest artist-run exhibition space, which has exhibited site-specific installation art since 1989. In the next few years Spanien19C wishes to contribute to bridging the gap between the knowledge and expertise of the existing players on the one hand and the visions for urban renewal on the other, so that the interim period in which the area will be a building site does not become a de facto reset phase. Spanien19C will thus contribute to the preservation of an artist-run and non-commercial exhibition space in the area. Spanien19C also commits to ensuring that the visual arts representing the area carry on a serious and professional artistic standard, which is also socially justifiable with regards to the set political and economic criteria.
Being site-specific in an area undergoing transformation
To achieve this, Spanien19C must itself become a transformative platform able to continually adapt in order to examine the changes happening in the area. From the moment in 2021 when Spanien19C’s building will be torn down, the exhibition space transforms from a space for the display of site-specific installations into the activity of working with a fluid site specificity. To this end art becomes an explorative means for examining concrete qualities and possibilities in the area.
Strategy: Office and Pavilion
The concrete strategy is to divide Spanien19C into two states of existing in order to set an underlying and productive dynamic for this otherwise indefinable, transformative stage. These two states of existing will be an Office and a Pavilion. The office will be housed in the Bylageret, which is placed by the building site and is a showroom and a storehouse of information on the urban renewal plans for the entire area. The pavilion will be mobile and move around the area.
The following lays out their respective functions and reciprocal effect:
The office is a continuation of Spanien19C’s site-specific practise. The context in which Spanien19C operates, the Sydhavnen area, is in transformation. This means there needs to be an ongoing analysis of this transformation’s concrete course according to which the artistic endeavours taking place in Spanien19C can specifically act and adapt.
This work is both conceptual and social in its origin and the office work therefore requires coordinating with collaborators who can provide expertise and strategic knowledge from similar projects.
The functions of the office
a) Monitoring and registration
An ongoing systematic registering of the specific changes to the site. The office does not act according to external interests. It is neither a neighbourhood watch nor a labour inspectorate. The registration work is exclusively related to artistic practices deriving from Spanien19C’s transforming role in the area.
The two stages of registering: 1.) the physical work of gathering data and 2.) the technical registration/technical monitoring of the area.
The physical act of gathering data/field work.
Delegates from the office will go out into the field and gather data at set times. This could be registering the placement of road cones and their migration over time. It could be monitoring the movement of the building elements across the site. Or following the growth of vegetation in green spaces. It could also mean following the overall changes in the lines along which the area is set to develop and whether there is a coherence between the vision for the area and the reality of the changes that are carried out.
The construction of an active research apparatus: seismograph, decibel meter, aerial imaging, etc.
b) Input-processing and continuous analysis of context
The way the data is processed points to the artistic nature of the work with registering information. The exhibition space becomes an artist-run site research project or a speculative project of defining the identity of this location. As soon as the office begins to monitor its context, the Sydhavnen area, the data is released for processing in various figurative and diagrammatic representations. The opposition between the quantitative and the qualitative that is normally used to differentiate art from technical work is here being overridden in that the office is processing data, which is open to speculative abstraction on the ongoing urban development.
c) Social outreach
The office develops strategies for relating to the public and converts the gathered data into presentable material. This is done by way of engaging collaborators like artists, other exhibition spaces, researchers and volunteers and employing their expertise in the artistic research work. The collaborations ensure that the work that is carried out stays relevant and that it reaches out to art enthusiasts locally and internationally.
In addition, the office will house workshops, reading groups, development meetings and so on. These activities open the office up to developing practical and theoretical work in collaboration with the city of Aarhus’ art scene and various student clusters.
The office is operationally responsible for providing ideas to the Pavilion and is also the bureaucratic warrant for a continuous production of exhibitions.
Transforming and Transformative Exhibition Pavilion
The office is in a way the core of the project, a theoretical machine room, while the Pavilion can be seen as its exterior with the main function of engaging the broader public and the area’s other stakeholders who are not involved in the office’s practises.
While the area’s transformation is taken in for analysis by the office, the Pavilion is the productive force translating that data into creative expression and must therefore by definition be adaptive and mobile. The Pavilion can be materialised in the form of a scaffold, a tent or a trailer, or at times as a mere demarcation in an open space. At the same time, the Pavilion connects other stakeholders to the project, for instance through open calls, by inviting in collaborators and exhibiting artists and through long-term collaborations. The Pavilion is thus not merely a ‘display of art projects’, but also a driver of change in its context. This is also reflected in the organisation of the exhibition programs, which are coordinated around principles of diversity and edifying critique.
The Pavilion has three functions:
The Pavilion is experimental in several ways. Partly as a setting for the practical application of the office’s theoretical work, and thus as a laboratory. But it is also a panoptic experimentarium, meaning it can function as a platform for observing the new players and the new segments of the public that make their entrance into the area. It will therefore continuously provide input to the office and function both as a scene for artistic experimentation and a platform for differential research on what an exhibition space could look like.
The Pavilion is therefore in itself a change-making factor in the area, albeit on a modest scale in comparison to the ongoing construction. It does therefore not call on an experimental virtuality where everything has to be tried out, but rather on an experimental attention where every action has to be carefully and strategically thought out since the mere presence of the Pavilion can be perceived as a form of artistic intervention.
c) Installation / Presentation
The art exhibitions in the Pavilion will primarily be temporary installations and the display of artistic work. The Pavilion carries on Spanien19C’s expertise with showing exhibition at a high artistic level. The exhibitions of installation art will be highly relevant because they are not constrained to a fixed space, but to a space especially constructed for this purpose and for this specific context.
Udstillingsstedet Spanien19c, Kalkværksvej 11, DK 8000 Århus C, Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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