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REACHING OUT
TO THE MARGINS

Once we start questioning the infrastructure of art, the first thing that stands out is the centralisation of institutional activity - be that geographical dislocation, distribution of finances and resources, and last but not least, the narrow focus on the actors and beneficiaries of the ‘art machine’. Peripheral city districts, vulnerable social groups, ecologically fragile and otherwise problematic areas - are generally at the bottom of the list.

 

Although art can be the tool to highlight and empower particular discourses, the discourse of the ‘marginal’ still stays on the margin, and is of interest to few artists and institutions. In this section we propose to look away from the center, step outside the institutional walls and frameworks, and go exploring the periphery.

 

This block is curated by Anastasia Albokrinova, artist, researcher and curator.

BLOCK 5.1

Intro

REACHING OUT TO THE MARGINS: A GLANCE AROUND

Let us first define the notion of ‘margin’. This simple exercise is not only a question of understanding, but also a tool to situate yourself in the center-periphery model and a possible key to reinvent it. How do you define what is marginal/peripheral? Is ‘margin’  a place/ a social group/ a practice? Are you part of a margin/what margin you belong to?

What is a margin? Make a list

______________

______________

______________

______________

______________

Task

Reaching out to the margins can be something outstanding to your daily experience and arouses a number of questions. How to act? What to pay attention to? How to talk with people? How to not just gather information, but build action based on reciprocity? You can continue the list.

  • Think of a margin you can reach.
    Choose a time to visit it. Make this first encounter open-ended. Try to gather maximum information and welcome any experience, but don’t forget to take care of yourself and be careful towards others.

  • Remember: your margin visit might be only for this exercise, but what we actually need is establishing a long-term relationship.
    So you will need to find a way to come back. And this coming back should be with purpose. During your journey you will need to discover what is your purpose other than the visitor.

  • Take this set of words as a departure point to tell about your ‘margin’ experience.
    Navigate through them, stopping and expanding those that were of use to you in your journey. Add new notions that you find important.

    intuition
    improvisation
    limitation
    risk
    trust
    autonomy
    collaboration
    confrontation
    curiosity
    exchange
    exhaustion
    affective labor

     

  • Use visual + text format to document and reflect on your journey.
    You can be free in the choice of visual approach - it can be a photographic image, a drawing, a collage, etc.

Additional materials

In this journey we will draw inspiration from the practice of Skart, an art collective founded in 1990 by two students at the Faculty of Architecture in Belgrade - Dragan Protic and Dorde Balmazovic, also known as Prota and Zole. Their story throughout 3 decades is told by Sea Yildiz in a book “Building Human Relations Through Art. Skart collective (Belgrade) > from 1990 to present” published by ONOMATOPEE 224 IN 2022.

SKART_Error as a trace of humanity

Self-feedback

At this point you can stop and reflect on what was done. Here are some questions that may help:

  • What were your spontaneous impulses? Where were you driven? What scared you away?

  • Did you surprise yourself? Did you face your limitations?

  • What will you do the next time you come back?

BLOCK 5.2

Intro

REACHING OUT TO THE MARGINS: A GESTURE

You’ve found your ‘margin’. First time you went with an empty head and empty hands, now you can come back having something in both. But what is this ‘something’? It lies in the narrow gap between the ‘possible’ and the ‘visionary’, the ‘banal’ and the ‘weird’, the ‘caring’ and ‘cautious’.

Task

  • Draw a line. On the left end write the smallest, simplest or funniest gesture you could do at your margin. Now turn to the right end of the line and dream big: what could you do if you had unlimited resources?

  • Now start filling the line on its sequence. What would be your gesture if you had ‘this’ or ‘that’? What could you do if you united forces, found allies? What could be done if you partnered with an institution?

  • Select a point on this line that sounds doable. Make a ‘to-do’ list to make this gesture happen.

  • Now think of your gesture in the paradigm of time. Is it a one-time intervention or a structural approach? Is it spectacular or non-spectacular? What change it may bring, how may it impact the established infrastructure? May it hurt? May it heal?

  • Being aware and prepared, reach out to the margin again and make your gesture.

Additional materials

SKART_The beauty of working together

Self-feedback

Now is time to estimate your actions:

  • What went as planned, where you had to improvise, what appeared to be unrealistic?

  • What would you change if you did it again?

  • Finally, how could you implement this exercise in your structural thinking about profession?


Let’s also zoom out and think institution-wise:

  • What would you propose to do for the institutions to be more sensitive / aware of the margins?

  • Would that be a program/ a structural change, a staff member proposal?

  • What resources would that require?

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