Instant Coffee Light Bar
as part of Assume Nothing: New Social Practice
Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
Jan 30 - May 24, 2009
Curated by Lisa Baldissera
Assume Nothing: New Social Practice presents 115 days of art - including sculpture, video, drawings, films, performances, actions, networks, sound works, and a theatrical performance- exploring the expanding field of socially engaged art. What unites the projects in this exhibition is their ability to challenge the traditional relationship between art and society. In the 1960s, art intersected the social and political landscape through actions ranging from public protest to sculptural installations that responded to a particular site. In Assume Nothing, the artists investigate human relations and their social context as their starting point.
In 1974, Joseph Beuys founded the Free International University for Creativity and Interdisciplinary Research. The FIU was intended to realize the capacity of each person for creativity and individual freedom through his or her ability to shape social forms. Beuys developed the concept "social sculpture" to describe the interplay between spiritual, material and social spheres. For Beuys, constant change and ongoing dialogue was the source of social sculpture; such transformational exchanges were intended to address entrenched patterns of history, and contained the potential to reconfigure both society and notions of creativity.
Three years later at the site of exhibition Documenta 6 in Kassel, Germany, Beuys realized one aspect of his social sculpture through the creation of "honey pump at its place of work," a distribution network comprised of a 17 meter high pipe that pumped honey through the rooms of the Museum Fridericianum. Beuys transformed the site, infecting the spaces with the powerful scent of honey during the 100 day event. Through this project, Beuys offered an expanded notion of art, emphasizing the conditions that made it different from the traditional concept of art production. The project included presentations, speeches, and discussions in work groups, and citizens' action committees from different countries. It was an arena for the discussion of ideas about the way in which art and society should change. Assume Nothing explores the Beuysian notion of social sculpture by presenting a contemporary formulation of Beuys' 100 Days of Honey.
Because the City of Victoria is currently undergoing rapid growth, and within this growth are conflicting ideologies about the role and function of art in public spaces, Assume Nothing is a particulary timely and apt project. It brings forward exciting ideas about the way in which public spaces can be considered dynamically. In her book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, American urbanist, writer and activist, Jane Jacobs, maintained that vibrant cities attract vibrant people: "We need art," Jacobs asserts, "in the arrangements of cities as well as in the other realms of life to help explain life to us, to show us meanings, to illuminate the relationship between the life that each of us embodies and the life outside us." Assume Nothing: New Social Practice consists of an international selection of sixteen individuals and collectives. Projects will be located onsite at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, and throughout downtown Victoria, including Market Square, Beacon Hill Park and Chinatown to engage and activate the social site of the city.
Based out of Vancouver and Toronto, the artist collective Instant Coffee (Toronto/ Vancouver) creates event-based activities and formal installations that construct public places of artistic practice. Instant Coffee (IC) productions are loosely themed events formed by a convergence of creative talent that includes writers, artists and producers, to name a few. They offer networking services that promote local, national and international activities and they also publish bookworks, posters and other multiples. IC originated, in part, as a reaction to the often distinct and exaggerated divisions between studio and exhibition practices creating a space about work outside conventional modes of production, Instant Coffee privileges the relations built on the activities of the work in progress, while also moving the notion of work toward a discussion of lifestyle.
The Instant Coffee Light Bar is part of the collective's research of light which includes six lectures/performances over the course of its six-week installation. It will function like most local community bars, as a place of social gathering. The Light Bar will also be a venue to research the impact of light on social relations. and their brand of aesthetics. The Light Bar will investigate the potential and power of light's eect on our individual mental health and how that eect may play a vital role in creating a positive social milieu. IC comes to this idea through sunlight during the winter months. The use of light as a therapy or remedy for SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is commonly and effectively used by individuals, but has never been put to the test in small or large group situations. IC will also create a lounge area for the Art Gallery.
Artists/Collectives: Mowry Baden, John G Boehme, Mark Dion, Jamie Drouin, Harrell Fletcher, Instant Coffee, Runa Islam, Nils Norman, Annie Pootoogook, Rene Francisco Rodriguez, Superflex, Jackson 2bears, Andrea Walsh, Robert Wise, Haegue Yang, and Artur Zmijewski.