It was harder than I thought it might be to peel my fingers off the idea of ‘straightforward mentoring’. Disappointingly so. But I have learnt so much more (SO MUCH MORE) from these conversations. About how we might start things. About what holes and traps we need to look out for. Sometimes a tangential wandering conversation can be more direct than the arrow of a 5 year plan.
From my initial email invitation to interlocutors:
I’m getting in touch to invite you to a conversation. I am trying to look into the structures and systems that either aid or curb the work that we would most like to make and/or support. I am contacting close friends, acquaintances, artists whose work I admire & producers or curators who might be attempting to work towards a re-framing of a gallery, museum or performance space. I’d like to see if some thoughts can be exchanged that look at what gets in the way and what might act as a salve or spur when we come to think about making or exhibiting work. From the conversations, I will make a book of some sort. I’m not yet sure of the form it will take.
I am keen to talk to people in as frank a way as possible about the micro and the macro systems that dictate what we do. This might be about the form that you work in (live-ness, photo-chemical film, a room with 4 walls) or about the things that you navigate (opening hours, whiteness, a locale). I am aware that the word ‘systems’ has a kind of sticky death-kiss to it. I am using it to hint at the possibility of discussing both the small and the large and also to give a nod to the often totalising way in which disparate elements combine to make something that can be defined as a ‘system’. Perhaps a better word will emerge from the conversations.
I’d like to have these conversations on the following terms, if possible:
– I will come to the place you feel most comfortable having the conversation.
– The conversation will be recorded and transcribed by me, at which point I will send it to you and you can excise or adjust whatever you would rather was not considered for the publication.
– The fee will be £50 per hour of conversation, always rounded up. I don’t expect to have convs for longer than 4 hours but I guess you never know! In the case of the conversation being shorter than an hour, the fee is rounded up to £100.
– For those people who I sometimes collaborate with for free or for reduced rates, I would like to cap the fee for the conversations at £100. This is because I feel (hope) that there have been or will be situations in which we do things together that could stand in (gift economy style) for money. This is also absolutely open to chatting and negotiation though.
– As the budget is small, I would appreciate those who receive a regular and healthy salary donating their time in kind. This is in view of the fact that a conversation such as this could also feed into salaried work and also so that I can remunerate freelance/precarious art workers more fully. If this is problematic we can absolutely discuss.
– After I have spoken to everyone (probably around 10 individuals/orgs) I will work the material into a publication and will send the pdf to everyone involved to proof. At this point, any edits/vetoes are absolutely encouraged.
– All contributors will be cited in the book, unless you wish otherwise. Convs. can also be anonymised.
– If the resultant publication gets distribution of any sort, the profits from sales will be divided amongst all the people who were initially paid for their thoughts. I don’t yet know where the publication would be available. Apart from possibly the a-n website for members.
In terms of starting points for conversations, I have quite a few different ones in mind but these will depend on particular contexts and can be discussed with people individually before meeting up. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to have some flow that goes beyond the language that often gets used to talk about art but we’ll have to see. That kinda thing can be hard-won. Understandably.
If you have any questions, do please let me know. Thanks for reading.