symposium_paper_by_k._bohm.doc - Art as Space versus Spaces...

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Art as Space versus Spaces for Art A New Typology Art Space for the Rural A paper given by Kathrin Böhm during the Rural Art Space Symposium in Shrewsbury (UK) in January 2007 Looking for the Rural Art Space / picture taken during the Village Convention in Ditchling May 2005 One of the ideas we had, when Antje, Wapke and myself started the artist initiative, was to run an arts project in the very villages where we came from. To start with we visited each other’s village. We walked around, had a chat with some of the villagers we met in the street and went to the local pub. Wapke always describes this as our first visit to a new art space. Even though the villages were extremely familiar to us, our new art outlook transformed them form the place where we have childhood memories and where we still visit our family, to a new place for our art practice. The title for the symposium today is Rural Art Space , a rather dry title, but in my opinion a very pointed one. Within the current context of regional development and rural regeneration we need a discussion and debate about what rural culture is, and how contemporary art practice can engage with rural issues and places. The question of space becomes relevant, because art practice will take place and require space somewhere. Art projects might use and appropriate existing spaces and they will generate new ones. When it comes to cities, we have a clearer idea of the art spaces in existence and use. For the rural environment the first quick assumption is that there are less art spaces, and those that exist are smaller, more widespread, and less significant. What and where is the rural art space? Which images come to mind? Is it galleries in converted barns that show contemporary painting and sculpture? Craft fairs? Wooden objects along well advertised sculpture trails? Minimal white cube galleries in the smaller towns? Is it the Welsh Pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale? Do we think of Landart? Artist communes? The Schwitters Barn? Is it a private studio at the back of a house overlooking a meadow? Or an evening life drawing class in the local school? Is it an artists meeting in the village pub? A theatre production for the community hall or an arts festival in one of the market towns? This list could go on. Many of the more interesting art projects from recent years that really engaged with rural issues and rural communities took place outside of the institutional exhibition space. I am thinking of projects such as the Festival of the Regions
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in Austria ( ), Huit Facettes in Senegal ( car/documenta/11/halle/e-huit.htm)and Grizedale Arts in the Lake District ( ), just to mention some. I would also like to refer to the Bibliobox ( ) which is an important part of the Why We Left The Village And Came Back project here in Shrewsbury, and which contains many art projects that developed and exist outside of the conventional exhibition space. They are often participatory and process
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