Social Sculpture Airport Notes

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On 12/12/09 I had forty five minutes to wait in Copenhagen airport. I wrote:

Early on – both with Question Time and with New Life Copenhagen – the phrase “social sculpture” was used. We placed it on one of our interview cards, but all found it too confusing to actually ask anyone.

At the first of our daily summits – when words and questions can be re-placed and re-written – “social sculpture” became “solidarity” – a phrase used by one interviewee – and through discussion this was then edited further to become “solid.” Or as I prefer to write it:

Social Sculpture

Solidarity

Solid

But the phrase Social Sculpture still has some currency for me in how I think about Question Time. Waiting at the airport 12/12/09 I thought I would make some notes to try an improvise a definition and a use. A definition:

Social Sculpture is the application of sculpture derived process(es) to broader processes by which societies are created, maintained and transformed.

Different Kinds:

(1)The working with/ shaping of a fixed amount of material to find a form within/ out of.

(2)The combination of a potentially infinite amount of material to create a (new) form.

(3)The translation into social forms of broader (gestural) notions of sculptural processes – shaping, moulding, carving – both as actual gestures and as (immaterial) metaphors.

In all of these instances social sculpture = seeing materials as active and continuous and therefore changing

The Practice of Social Sculpture


The practice of social sculpture can be language based and/or non-verbal.

Social Sculpture seeks to find a balance between verbal and non-verbal means within an expanded economy of exchange. Maybe any resultant social formation is proposing how these two forms of communication can relate.

CASE STUDY: I associate the invention of the term with Joseph Beuys. Beuys was very verbal but also developed an alternative (silent) economy of fat, honey and iron. For Beuys the two were connected by charisma.

The reason we removed “Social Sculpture” from our cards was that it seemed to lack any currency outside of an art context. It is a phrase adrift. Amongst the Question Time group, who had all heard and used the phrase, it had different histories and etymologies, including an association with art as non-spectacle and links to relational aesthetics.

There are several ways of responding to “social sculpture”:

1.Reject the phrase.

2.Embrace the phrase.

3.Make it common currency.

I think (1) would necessitate an immersion in physical processes of moulding, sculpting, carving and shaping towards the emergence of new words and phrases that do figure in a common currency.

I think (2) involves an embrace of the state of exception. “Social sculpture” as a private language, unsaid, but whose implications and meanings are unfolded, almost non-identified by myself,  in my work.

I think (3) involves billboards, television adverts, the authorship of successful pop songs, or maybe a quieter insertion of “social sculpture” into a whole range of social situations.

Yesterday, in one interview, somebody responded to “solid” through talking about “solidarity.” I wonder if “social sculpture” might also re-enter our discussions as a way of understanding how this project is unfolding.

Certainly, the interviews are scripted and shaped in a very particular way by our cards. I am unsure how that shaping/ sculpting relates to a sense of the “social.”

Despite these notes I am not yet able to put “social” and “sculpture” together in a way that constructs.

Barack Obama is arriving tomorrow.


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Posted: December 16th, 2009 | Author: David Berridge | Filed under: Text | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Statement 4: “Boring Rhetoric Your Question [STRIKETHROUGH]”

Each day Question Time hold a summit somewhere in Copenhagen- in cafes, street corners, domestic apartments, and train stations – after which a new statement of intent is produced towards an alternative declaration of the way forward on climate change.

DATE: 11/12/09

LOCATION: FotoKaffe

PRESENT: David Berridge, Rachel Lois Clapham, Alex Eisenberg, Sara Seerup Laursen, Sarah Wingate.

MINUTE TAKERS: David Berridge and Sarah Wingate.

STATEMENT 4: “Boring Rhetoric Your Question”

Boring rhetoric destroying the house of cards. Destroys questions. Destroys the room of space. Destroys music.

Boring rhetoric binds non-verbal actions. Boring rhetoric the action of now. Boring rhetoric not lived out yet.

Boring rhetoric can get weird. Boring rhetoric “with my mind.” Boring rhetoric pledge mimics boring rhetoric.

Boring rhetoric magic of choice. Boring rhetoric utopia becomes two statements: “Boring and “Rhetoric.” Begins with ending. Refuses to answer question. Boring rhetoric turn over. Let’s all jump up and down at the same time.

Boring rhetoric meets one person and everything changes. Boring rhetoric self publishing. Boring rhetoric more important than the interviewee. Boring rhetoric New York.

RIP UP BORING RHETORIC! EVERYONE! PLAYING! WITH! DECLAMATORY! STATEMENTS! BORING RHETORIC THROUGH ABSENT MINDEDNESS DESTROYED!

WE SAY: THE BORING RHETORIC EMERGENCY COULD BE A BORING RHETORIC CRISIS! RHET YOUR CONFIDENT BOR AND TOR AND IC AND ING!I CAN’T MAKE OUT IF YOU’RE HAVING A TERRIBLE TIME. IS EVERYTHING OKAY?

WE SAY: BORING RHETORIC THE MOST CRYSTALLISED! TAKE A PHOTOGRAPH! DESTROY! BORING RHETORIC WHAT PEOPLE TAKE IT AS! WE SAY:


BORING RHETORIC WHAT IS YOUR QUESTION?


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Posted: December 12th, 2009 | Author: David Berridge | Filed under: Statement of Intent | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

An artists’ protocol: seven artistic strategies

DAVID BERRIDGE: I’ve been asking people what role the artist can play in debates on climate change. To think through what people told me I juxtaposed responses to this question and a quotation from the Peoples’ Protocol on Climate Change. I wonder if  the idea of the artist that emerges will satisfy any of the demands of the protocol.

First here is an extract from the protocol:

“We, the people need a platform that raises real solutions, registers our voices, and articulates our demand for social justice. Real solutions go beyond “business-as-usual” technology – and market- fixes along which powerful interests have set and confined the climate agenda. Real solutions require the reallocation of the world’s resources between and within nations for equity and social justice; the reversal of neoliberal globalization; the restoration of people’s sovereignty over resources, economies and institutions; and the compensation by the corporations and the Global North of the poor and peoples of the South for the losses they are forced to bear as victims both of climate change and the social system that is behind it.

Socially just solutions also make for scientifically and ecologically sound ones. Using natural resources equitably and democratically , and supplanting the drive for private profit with the fulfillment of social needs as the principal economic goal will reset human society’s relationship with the environment on a far more sustainable path.”

And here are some things I was told about  the role of artists:

They are like mirrors of society they present different angles of climate change

Well [the responsibility of artists is to] use paint that is er not poisonous (laughs)

How artists well mmm by doing events in the way that artists are innovative and sometime they have some ideas that might provoke people

Because I think that in one way or another people need to be provoked because you think this is something that will not have an effect on me

Because by making events or exhibitions or whatever and trying to show it effects all of us…

Artists they have this obligation, so to say, that they should use their artistic skills to show other people that we have a problem yeah

I  tried to transcribe something of the speakers rhythms because these, too, tell about the artists’ role in climate change debates. A certain stuttering and hesitation towards efficacy  -  I write after taking part in today’s climate change march through Copenhagen – also  an intertwining sense of utopia and cliche.

So, trying to distill from these insights, here are seven artistic strategies. Check any art work for how it fulfills all seven:

(1)  Mirrors

(2)  Poisonous paint

(3)  Innovative

(4)  Provoke

(5)  It effects all of us

(6)  We have a problem

(7)  Laughs


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Posted: December 12th, 2009 | Author: David Berridge | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | No Comments »