c.cred

C.CRED [ Collective CREative Dissent ]

C.CRED [Collective CREative Dissent]: C.CRED (2001-2008, primary project coordinator Ola Ståhl) started out in the late 90s as the artist collaboration [ in ] and developed, in the early 00s, into an artist collective in the broader sense of the word. Based in London, UK, but operating largely as a nomadic, situation- and event based platform for the development of critical forms of dialogue and conviviality, self-organized modes of collective learning, and collaborative forms of artistic social and political research and intervention, the overriding concern of the collective was to foster links between art and aesthetic practices and the wider socio-political contexts in which they are situated. Between 2001 and 2008 various people have been involved with the collective in different capacities, some more permanently (including Carl Lindh and Kajsa Thelin) others on a project by project basis or as participants in specific events.

In 2008 C.CRED [Centre: CREative Dissent]: C.CRED partly disbanded and sought to reinvent itself finding a more permanent base in Malmö, Sweden with the intention of operating as a members-run development platform and host venue for various forms of critically and politically engaged collaborative and research based practice with a focus on experimentatal forms of dissemination and publishing. The intentions were for this new manifestation of C.CRED to function less as a fixed artist group and more as a wider set of collaborations, projects and practices sharing a both physical and virtual platform, a ‘free office’, premised on principles of self-organization as well as notions of co-ownership, collaboration and exchange. The outcome of this thwarted attemt at self-reinvention was the 2008 establishment of the publishing – in a very expanded sense – platform Publication Studio Malmö.

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C.CRED is a London based but very nomadic artist collective, a collaborative structure in a continuous process of becoming, a portable lab, an expanded studio or platform for experimentation, collaboration and dialogue. Although maintained by a small group of people, it operates only through participation and through the wider, continuously changing collective structure that remains the material, or object, of the practice itself. As an initiative C.CRED derives from a shared concern to establish not another form of collaborative practice but a dialogue around existing practices, potentially incorporating also alliances and collaborations between existing groups, collectives and individuals, and the experimental development of different modes of artistic and political intervention. This also means that part of the collective practice is the mapping out of the different historical, cultural and socio-political contexts and terrains in which our different working processes are situated and in which we can potentially, and collaboratively, intervene.

C.CRED operates both through regular events, situations and interventions in London and, nomadically, as a kind of platform moving between different localities, hosts and contexts. Activities taking place as part of these platforms range from small informal meetings with some food and drinks, reading groups, workshops, discussion, dialogue, open mic project presentations, etc. Largely, however, our activities are configured around two central concerns:

(1) To enter into a critical dialogue around artistic strategies, tactics and contexts, modes and conditions of artistic production and distribution, both as a critical engagement with existing conditions and as an attempt to open up towards the production of on-going, alternative modes of practice.

(2) To establish a framework for the production – and sometimes actualization – of various different models of artistic interventions. These models, developed collaboratively, can then be actualized, re-used, edited, remixed, taken up by anybody as a tool and a resource. These models include direct interventions into existing terrains, but also models for networking and archiving, collective learning and resource sharing, etc.

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A somewhat tongue-in-cheek three-point polemic against audiences!

audience, c.1374, “the action of hearing,” from O.Fr. audience, from L. audentia “a hearing, listening,” from audientum (nom. audiens), prp. of audire “to hear,” from PIE *awis- “to perceive physically, grasp,” from base *au- “to perceive.” Meaning “formal hearing or reception” is from 1377; that of “persons within hearing range, assembly of listeners” is from 1407. Sense transferred 1855 to “readers of a book.”

In reply to the question Who is the audience?, we would like to make the following three assertions/suggestions/proposals:

The very notion of an audience is in itself hugely problematic and based upon a number of binary positions – active/passive, subject/object, etc. – that tend to materialize and be articulated in the form of hierarchies dictating the parameters of cultural production/consumption. Possession, propriety, authority, authorship; a private origin of meaning and intention, coherent subject positions, notions of representation; and so on and so forth. Those with a voice and those that hear, listen, audit, critically or not; to paraphrase Massive Attack, it becomes a question of who’s got the microphone.

Although these binaries and hierarchies have been subjected to much critical scrutiny, particularly perhaps in the post-war period, many of the alternative models we’ve seen emerging have proved themselves redundant in that they tend to re-establish precisely the binaries and hierarchies they try to subvert. This, it seems, goes for most participatory frameworks as well as for the vast majority of contemporary frameworks for so-called socially and politically engaged work, both of which, despite what often seem to be very good intentions, tend to end up either exploiting whatever margins they target by uncritically reinstating positions and figures of authority – whether or not those authority positions have proper names or group names is of little relevance in this context – or by all-too-comfortably sliding into a kind of problematic anti-intellectualist populism. In both of these instances, although perhaps in different ways, the structural function of authority remains intact – we bring culture to the ignorant masses, the people; we make art people can easily understand and engage with; we raise consciousness; we help you gain access to cultural spaces; we give you a voice, as long as you keep listening to us. The hierarchies remain not only intact but are reinforced through a kind of pretense politics which often amounts to little more than a slightly more benevolent version of the universalizing moralist assertions of neo-liberal capitalism.  

As cultural practitioners, we desperately need to come up with more productive models for collaboration that actually displace authorship rather than simply establish different formats and pretexts for the reinforcement of the same age-old figures of authority. Perhaps the field of art, in a more traditional sense, is not the place to look for such models. Perhaps we need to engage with other forms of cultural production in order for us to be able to locate experiments and practices that can be translated, approximated to fit into the context of artistic production. Some musical practices, for instance, seem to involve both loose collaborative formations operating through nomadic transactions, migrations, hybrids, mergers, etc., and notions of scenes (rather than audiences) based on common interests and shared concerns, agendas and ethics. In other words, here it is not so much a question of reaching out to a maximum amount of people. It is not a question of populism, nor is it a question of targeting whatever happens to be identified as the social and political margin of the day and imposing upon that margin, in a more or less patronizing way, a number of imperatives: you must like art because we’re granting you access to art, you must want to express yourself in culturally recognizable forms because we’re giving you the option; you must want to engage in worthy activity because this is a right that you should be grateful to have been given. Much rather, it seems it is a question of ethical trajectories converging into fluent collectivities that, although they are closed on one side – there is nothing for you here unless you’re into what we’re doing – are open on the other side – if you’re into what we’re doing, you should join us! The problem we’re facing, in other words, is not how to reach an almost spectral audience that is never really there anyway – whether this is the widest possible group imaginable (populism), or a particular marginal group or community (pseudo-socio-political engagement) – but how to break down the institutional parameters that militate against the affirmative formation of diverse and fluent, self-organized, scenes around artistic and other cultural practices. That, to us, seems to be the point where artistic practice gain any kind of ethical and political validity, not by reiterating and mimicking the discourses of neo-liberalism, but by actually producing alternative models – prototypes – for social and political organization beyond the fear and paranoia, and, to paraphrase Situationist literature, the stupefying boredom, of what is imposed upon us in the form of ‘everyday life’.