Collaborative curation and emergence theory

The Survey Show is not planned as a group show of site-specific work but might become that because the Clandulla State Gallery’s unconventional gallery spaces might make some think of land art rather than paintings. I have always been curious about how artists deal with the way a site could be expected to change as artists instal works, and how this difficulty actually encourages self-containment so as to protect works from collapsing when their site morphs into something else as other works appear nearby.

The only solution I ever thuoght of is for artists to collaboratively curate the whole by being in such close contact with each other from incubation to installation of works, that each is able to incorporate others’ developments sufficiently to be able to understand the way the site is morphing before or as it actually happens. That sounds like a large osmotic ocean, but it did seem to happen for me once a long time ago, if on a small scale.

However when visiting the Gallery with Alex, he was more enthusiastic about emergence theory as a way of understanding how multiple works could be placed or made in relation to each other. This is thought to be how bees and ants work, where no overall understanding is needed for an overall activity to be produced, and things are placed and actions taken in response to whatever is placed and done before or nearby. That seems reasonable as well, and I was reminded of the accumulation of actions produced by Collective Actions group in the 1970s and 80s.[i]

In any case, whatever method is used, we are not curating The Survey Show in any sense of directing where works are placed or carried out. We are simply providing a large gallery space and a wandering track and asking the artists to take it from there.

Margaret Roberts

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