What kind of a year has 2015 been for you?
A breakthrough: from intervening in a state occasion with the rallying cry of poet Owen Sheers to staging 24 days of continuous performance in a Scheduled Ancient Monument. 2015 is the year Situations found its voice – in a literal sense, too. I’d say it’s somewhere between an indie ballad, strident feminist spoken word, with a bit of glam rock thrown in for good measure.
What has changed for the better and what, if anything, has changed for the worse?
Audiences are braver and bolder in their cultural choices, and ready to seek the unexpected – they just need to be invited to dance! Local authorities and heritage organisations are embracing new types of arts projects to reinvigorate and reimagine public sites. There’s still too much emphasis on arts commissioning on the basis of what’s been done before (sometimes decades before) as opposed to the quiet and curious, the unexplained or the conversational. Taking more risks will mean investing in process and talent before either are proved.
What do you wish hadn’t happened this year?
The arrest and detention of Cuban artist Tania Bruguera.
What do you wish had happened this year, but didn’t?
Still little sign of decent regular critical features on public projects – though the predominance of new digital conversations is beginning to win out. You only have to look at the broadsheet and magazine round-ups of the visual arts in 2015 to recognise an entire facet of our cultural landscape is missing. 2016 – we live in hope.
What would you characterise as your major achievement this year and why?
Building and then sustaining 552 continuous hours of Theaster Gates’ Sanctum (pictured above). Had the project just been a breathless marathon of performance, the achievement would have just been about conquering sleep deprivation. But rather, it was a development of Gates’ practice, an open invitation to become part of a temporary congregation, and a belief in the value of intimacy and the unexpected, versus the blockbuster showcase.
Is there anything you’d like to have done this year but haven’t?
Changed public art policy across the land to favour temporary or unfolding projects. Maybe Assemble’s Turner Prize win and Theaster Gates’ and Futurefarmers’ recognition in the Artes Mundi Prize will start to help shift popular opinion about the value of new forms of public art.
What would make 2016 a better year than 2015?
More field trips, fewer panel discussions.