Wednesday, 7 November 2007

the brunswick bluestockings and the practices of everyday life...

as you might recall, i have been lately involved with the various activities of my coterie of bright young apprentice boffins - the brunswick bluestockings. they have been most patient with this clueless old antiquarian, including me in their meetings, creative processes and their tactics for everyday life. the hub for this loose grouping of 'de certeauists', if i might profer a tentative tag for their collective, is lamport court and apartment , a post-modern bloomsbury set laced with lashings of irony and just a dash of parody...

paul harfleet, one of my adopted young boffins (or have they perhaps adopted me?) and contemporary flaneurs, is the creator of the pansy project, which revisits locations where homophobia has been experienced and plants pansies there. originally an autobiographical artwork, it has developed into a series of site specific installations and participatory events, commissioned as far afield as berlin, london and new york, distinguished for their fragile yet powerful tactics for navigating or walking the contemporary landscape.

its latest incarnation is a large scale intervention in city centre liverpool, for the festival homotopia, and a paper was very recently presented at the liverpool tate exploring some of the background and history of the project against the backdrop of the art institution and socially engaged practice: a transcript of which can be read by following this link:

there is a very different conversation to be had inside the art academy from the one in the process, or as paul put it to me recently, ‘in the world’ rather than apart from it. the pansy project has so far interested me on a conceptual level, one rather abstracted from the effect it has in terms of participatory engagement, so it is good to be reminded of the direct, visceral, emotional responses it evokes when the process, the artwork, is created or performed. last weekend was something of a revelation for an observer such as myself when the principles, concepts and theoretical framework that i have been carefully considering fell away under the phenomenological power of the intervention at st john’s gardens.

as someone who by training and experience is mainly concerned with the after effects of social engagement on landscape, geography and memory, being a minor player in the proceedings was fascinating, filled with unforeseen insights, and a personal rite of passage. there was an eerie sense of deja vu, trowel in hand, digging a trench, hands and face grubby with soil, the vital difference being the Creating of an Artefact instead of the Unearthing of one. archaeology attempts to unravel the remains and meanings of past human activities, rituals and experiences from the dusty imprints left behind. paul’s artistic practice has brought me face to face with contemporary society’s attempts to negotiate their way across the landscape, actual and metaphysical, in which they find themselves. this is perhaps the crux of what art does and is the potential link between these two practices.

im looking forward to taking some part in next Sunday’s participatory 'conversation'…the pansy hand out, sunday 18 november, 2-4pm, church st.


Yewtree said...

What a wonderful idea.

Bluestocking said...

hi yewtree,

always pleased to introduce nother person to the wonderful pansy project! if you havent already, do check out the latest on this ongoing artwork and gentle activism can be read on its own blog and facebook page, updated regularly by the artist who devised it Paul Harfleet.