Grizedale Arts

1848: The New Mechanics

01/04/2012 until 0000

1848: The New Mechanics is a large scale touring project developed by Grizedale Arts with the aim to articulate a new, emerging tendency in art; a movement built around the idea of the use value of art and the value of art as tool to see, mediate and effect the world around us. On the one hand this project will highlight artists and art strategies that share an ambition to have effect beyond the confines of the art world, whilst on the other looking to the origins of our present era, signified by the year 1848, to offer an alternative reading of art history that supports the case for a new approach to art.

The project has it's roots in the early 19th century and the beginnings of industrialisation; as society reorganised itself through Mechanics Institutes, revolution, democracy, environmentalism, social welfare, education, in a moment when art, science and civic society were still fused together. This historical anchor will inform a rethinking, and part of a solution to unlock the current stasis that prevails at a moment of declining Western influence, economic crisis, ecological anxiety and an inability for the arts to make a case for their value in society – what Charles Esche terms as a pervading 'Cluelessness.' To this end, 1848 proposes a range of approaches that attempt to reinstate the function of art at the centre of civic society, and make a claim for the role of aesthetics as a critical dynamic of social change.

This vastly ambitious, landmark project will look to advance the position of art beyond the conditions that have dominated the last two centuries under the influence of modernism and the Romantic paradigm. The project will be carried out through a network of exhibitions, discourse and activity, presenting new emerging art, artists and art-like projects, alongside a re-evaluation or re-reading of the last 200 years of European art as way to help formulate new methodologies of art that can have a use in present times.

The project will tour throughout europe, to the Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven, Reina Sofia, Madrid, Consortium Dijon, France, with a number of other venues to be confirmed. The project is built around a core body of live and documentary material that exemplifies the new work being made by artists and art agencies that have or aim to have a useful function within a socio-economic context. It is seen as a touring concept, rather than a touring show, which will evolve and be developed specifically in each location, with each institution renewing the material and content with use of its collections, outreach/social programmes and partnerships with its own constituencies, in order to bring to life the ideas and actions that are pertinent to its own context.

This is a long term project which is still evolving, and planned to get underway 2014.