EKV – 5 okt – There is a maybe in agency

A join-in conversation
by Karin Arink, Thomas Bakker, Miriam Bestebreurtje, Ian Gu, Erik Hagoort, Klaar van der Lippe, Sebastian Olma, Bart Stuart.
October 5, 2017.
Club Solo, Breda

How do artists work with given conditions?
How can we use our circumstances to gain traction in our artistic practice?
How to start where you are, with what you’ve got?

With these questions in mind a small group of visitors and MFA tutors of St. Joost Academy gathered with ‘burospelen’ artists Klaar van der Lippe and Bart Suart, at Club Solo in Breda. In the installation of ‘burospelen’, titled JUST PRACTICE! an array of thoughts and questions emerged, while circumventing around the notion of agency.

The term agency experiences a certain renaissance within the art world. Several artists refer to themselves as ‘agents’ or even ‘agencies’. ‘Artistic Agency’ is also at the core of the programme of the new Master Institute of AKV|St. Joost in Den Bosch.

What is meant with the term agency?

Where does the recent popularity of the term come from?
Agency in general refers to the capacity of humans to act within given circumstances.
By applying the word agency to themselves, artists point to their capacity to act not only within circumstances but also with circumstances.

More questions were raised than answers were given. Intuitive, sometimes contradictory statements appeared, which will trigger further thinking on artistic agency.

* agency does not exist in a vacuum.
* agency is tied by rules.
* agency is just about knowing how to fit in the system.
* agency is daring to imagine things to be different.
* agency is something you acquire.
* agency is attributed to you by others.
* you need to become visible in order to be recognized as an agent.
* an effective agent is a secret agent.
* you can attribute agency to someone while this agency is not there, …yet.
* agency depends on legitimacy.
* agency is to be accountable, to be responsible.
* there is a ‘maybe’ in agency, a curiosity for what you cannot control.

This was the first in a series of exploratory conversations on artistic agency, in the framework of the research ‘Artistic Agency: Performative and Imperformative’, by Erik Hagoort for the research group Autonomy in Art and Design, and was part of the peripheral programme of SOLO 13 – JUST PRACTICE!, an exhibition by artists’ duo Klaar van der Lippe and Bart Stuart.

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