These initial responses were sent by email by Dr Gillian Whiteley:
Thoughts on format of event
I felt that we didn't have enough time to get to know the GA
history through to current projects to evaluate what's going on at
GA enough to also comment on it in any meaningful and
non-superficial way. That said, sometimes coming in 'cold' to a
situation does facilitate critical distance that can then aid
insight. In this case though, I felt we didn't get enough detached
in-depth focus discussion sessions. More intensive smaller group
sessions might have been useful as I felt we barely scratched the
surface in many ways as the group of diverse academics (and
approaches) needed some introduction/familiarisation with each
Maybe if it had been over two days, we might have had time to do this.
The final 'plenary' session felt a little forced and
uncomfortable – partly as I felt objectives of the day were unclear
as to whether (primarily) the day had been about introducing GA
(and its potential for some new collaborative projects etc) to us
or (primarily) seeking review of GAs projects/processes and
All that said, the openness of GA to our comments and reflections was remarkable also. But its much better to reflect on what occurred and what might be followed up with critical (and real) distance/time after the event.
A few more thoughts/questions…
Event though it resists it and thinks it works 'with' not 'at' etc, is GA operating a form of 'avant gardism', is it a form of philanthropy? Is the lack of focus/ethos a problem? Is it disingenuous anyway as there is a 'manifesto' on the wall in the GA library – and it had 11 theses (a ref to Marx?) I noted!
Is there a fear of becoming a 'model' - why?
There was an aim espoused to challenge models of relational aesthetics cos they are all speaking to the galllery - but there is long history/are plenty of artists/etc who also primarily work to break that down and operate outside gallery settings .
Is GA fostering conviviality or radicality? Is it
smoothing over social (class) difference and making community
convivial? How does GA relate to 'community', communities,
public/publics - counter–publics?
What about social class/property relations/ownership etc in lake district?
Can an organisation grow organically only as long as its small
Dangers of philanthropy conviviality as affirmation of bourgeois values – do they offer no real challenge to neoliberalism or capitalism at all? Does that matter? How does GA activities relate to recent occupations rebellions and other global issues?
Is GA local, global, parochial?
How does GA engage with notions of mutuality, cooperation, DIY cultures?
Does GA as an organisation need to wither away and if it did what would its activities become? Would it matter? Back to questions of ethos, aims, 'mission' etc…
Idiosyncracy and irreverance for all systems is essential (in my view) but if no ethos then does it become playground for artists?
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