Catalyst, Houshold, Prime Collective, ArtBox Projects, Pallas, Monster Truck, Ormston House, Occupy Space
Northern Ireland

In May last year I embarked on our Go And See bursary enabled tour of the UK. Parts one and two can he found here and here. There’s been a seven month gap between parts two and three because we ran out of money to complete our itinerary, on part one my traveling partner was Charlie Levine (Sluice’s associate curator), for part two the arts educationalist and my Sluice co-director Ben Street accompanied me. The last leg of our tour was to Belfast, this time I traveled alone. The a-n bursary only covered visits to UK cities, so the Go And See bursary got me to Northern Ireland and then I made my own way into the Republic of Ireland. For the purposes of this review, I’m treating it all as part of the Go And See trip.

In the past year we made research trips to The Supermarket art fair in Stockholm (the largest artist run art fair for artist run galleries in the world) and Poppositions, a curatorially focused art fair in Brussels. In October we were in New York for the Exchange Rates Expo. which we ran in collaboration with two great New York galleries; Theodore:Art and Centotto. We’ve visited countless galleries and projects in London and beyond – with the aid of the a-n bursary we’ve visited cities all over the UK and it seems that the one thing these disparate grass-roots projects have in common; perhaps the unifying narrative that runs through all artist/curator run and emerging spaces; is the DIY ethic. DIY is a practical solution to issues of access, which is bound up with exclusion – both on a personal and societal level. The Reside Residency, MorphPlinth (two other projects I’ve been involved with) and Sluice__ are all DIY solutions to issues of access, also bound up with exclusion. And each gallery or project within Sluice__ is predicated on a vernacular particular to the locale and concerns – personal and societal – that they inhabit.
in London this October we’ll be staging the third edition of our re-imagining of an art fair (Deadline for applications March 15th). Art fairs are cathedrals to art as high end investment. But by focusing on artistic practices that don’t foreground the commercial, but rather question value, ownership, authorship etc is a way of disrupting the dominant paradigm on an organisational level. All art is a commodity, but Sluice__ like most artist led projects, is primarily interested in it as a cultural commodity.
“Building an effective transnational network of contacts and for the reciprocal exchange of information, exhibitions, and publications was a fundamental prerequisite for the success and solidarity (social cohesion) of the cooperatives… Artist-run spaces can develop a vital inner life only if they maintain maximum openness to the outside world, I.e. They can survive over the long term only if they avoid becoming enclosed in an internal dynamic of the collective, and an activity-stunting introversion.  The more outwardly orientated an association is and the more it cooperates with other institutions, the better placed it is to develop social capital”  Gabriele Detterer

Like Sluice__, many of the galleries and projects I visited in NI / ROI are grappling with concepts of where they stand in regards to institutionalism and how they define themselves within the art world. One term that kept coming up was ‘self organising’ but this – as with others – is problematic. Ultimately, it’s your actions that define you.

Anyway, as before, rather than talk about the spaces I visited – as part of our ongoing Sluice__ encounters series – we’ve let the artists and curators that run the spaces speak for themselves. The first is Alissa Kleist explaining Prime Collective. (see the Sluice website for new interviews each Monday)

Sluice on tour met with:

(Image: Ormston House cornice)