Thursday, June 29, 2006

site notes

Arrived in Portugal on Wednesday... Visited Lugar Comum today with Alexandra and Andrea, (who just arrived from Denmark). Helio and the staff at Lugar Comum are really engaged with the project. They are providing a locking room on site with internet access where tools and equipment can be used and stored, though the ruined chambers of the steam shop itself also have electricity.

The site is very curious and hybridized-- a historic landmark building with a modern techinicolor kid's playground abutting it. All around are mainicured gardens which have at points invaded the ruins themselves, introducing another element in the mix of references. Also on the grounds are a museum, cafe, restaurant, children's book store, greenhouses, concert hall, university nearby .... The walkway behind the ruins has been stabilized since I saw them last year, with a rustic wooden railing and park benches at intervals which may suggest, once the project is underway, something of a zoo of artists, where one can walk along and observe the artists in their "natural" habitat. Can this be played with...

One question we discussed today was the nature of the public we will try and engage with-- the random public who go to Lugar Comum to stroll the grounds, the art going public, who go due to the project's publicity, and/or the inherent audience of the center's gardeners and administrators? How will the public complete our work beyond the role of spectators?

Also, we visited the house that is being rented in Colares for some of the travelling artist to stay in-- very nice. Looking forward to long dinners, long talks, and tall bottles of wine under the pine trees outside!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Mon imagier...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

les petits cours du matin enseigne le cheveux blanc, oh!le cuir chevelu, me démange, a un accentué parler.
«A leitura fortalece a juventude» aconselha, que entre duas fatias douradas poisa, uma laranja sobre uma mesa com os dois pés no chão numa leve inclinação do corpo para frente. Com a mão a acompanhar faz rebolar a laranja para ti, até ela estivera a cair.
A laranja esta quase a cair - creio que uma das mãos deve agarrar a borda da mesa durante o tempo todo da experiência - apanhes a antes de ela tocar no chão. Repetes o fenómeno umas 3 ou 4 vezes seguidas.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

This blog is as public- if not moreso- than our studio projects will be. Realistically, the only ones reading it now are us- the participants. We are artists, we are informed about a whole range of art historical information a general public would not know, we are reading the same texts and responding to them. But this blog is obvibiously an extention of our studio spaces next month: there for anyone to wander into and, hopefully, take something away from. I certainly don't want to curtail the academic aspects of the project, but I also don't want to define our "public" too narrowly.... If you were in a bar talking to the random drunk beside you, how would you describe the overall project [a situation I just found myself in]? How would you describe your specific project? How we conceive of "the public" is, no doubt, a part of our projects. So, who do we think of as our public?
[edit to add: this isn't to propose how the writing should or shouldn't be; I recognize my own meandering between a conversational and a more academic tone. It's an observation, too, that "the public" is constructed- so what public would I like to construct? In other words, I don't define "the public" by mere proximity to my art or by a quick click on our blog; I would define it by who is engaged with the work or words.]

Friday, June 16, 2006

In the eighties, 1989, there was a project named L’exposition imaginaire. The artists were invited to give form to an idea by visualizing or verbalizing it in an exposition imaginaire that would reflect their views on the presentation of art. Through a postcard invitation with the image of Courbet’s The Artist Studio, (the same one we are using for this project), the curatorial team asked them to respond assuming the painting as a catalyst of ideas, to regard it as a model, a yardstick for opinions about the positions of those who converge on the exhibition. In short, then, to think about how an ‘allegorie réelle’ of our times would look. The project would only exist in a book format.
Ilya Kabakov, one of the artists responded with a series of characters, the work was named "Ten Characters". I found his project quite interesting, here is one of them:

3. The man who flew into space from his apartment

the lonely inhabitant of this room, as becomes clear from the story his neighbor tells, was obsessed by a dream of a lonely flight into space, and in all probability he realized this dream of his, his ‘grand project’.
The entire cosmos, according to the thoughts of the inhabitant of this room, was permeated by streams of energy leading to hook up with somewhere. His project was conceived in an effort to hook up with these streams and to fly away with them. A catapult, hung from the corners of the room, would give this new ‘astronaut’, who was sealed in a plastic sack, his initial velocity and further up, at the eight of forty to fifty meters, he would land in a stream of energy through the Earth was passing at that moment as it moved along it’s orbit. The astronaut had to pass through the ceiling and attic of the house with his vault.
With this goal in mind, he installed powder charges and at the moment of the take-off from the catapult, the ceiling and the roof would be wiped out by an explosion, and he would be carried way into the wide-open space. Everything takes place late at night, when all the other inhabitants of the communal apartment are sound asleep. One can imagine their horror, fright, and bewilderment. The local police are summoned, an investigation begins, and the tenants search everywhere—in the yard, on the street—but he is nowhere to be found. In all probability, the project, the general nature of which was known by the neighbor who told the investigator about this, was successfully realized.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Complex conceptual valences:

--Courbet's painting as "realist" in opposition to the stylist academicians such as Couture.

--as statement of centrality of the artist (do we still believe this? since death of Pollock expressionism, probably not.)

--as appropriation of the form of history painting for a subversive contemporary statement (tweaking bourgeois sensibilities) yet one which leaves certain very ancient forms-- the use of commedia dell'arte stock characters, intact.

-- the dichotomy between the personal "my artistic life" and the ideal which presumably exists beyond the range of the personal (the muse, the Claudian landscape, etc..)

-- as break with the politics of display by showing the painting in his own Pavillon du Réalisme, when it was rejected by the jury of the 1855 Exposition Universelle.

Then add in the site with its historical traces of colonialism, and the architecture of ruin, and the fact that this is project of duration rather than event, and the result is a profusion of possibilities for the project. Perhaps it is american pragmatism, but, like David, I have an urge to try a construct a base-- a basis for action, a place from which to begin.

We can take the painting as a compelling first step in the assertion of art's capability to do more than represent prevailing taste back to a public-- of course, all great artists form that taste rather than represent it, but Courbet was arguably the first one of the industrial era to use art in service of a specific political ideology. The seven years of the title starts with the cataclysmic year of 1848 when revolutions threatened monarchical order across Europe. So with Courbet we have at once a declaration of artistic sovereignty (I'll do it my way) and at the same time an assumption of a social role beyond that of the salon, of representing life in its grimy reality, of being engaged in political life.

Fast forwarding to the present, we have forty years of post-studio conceptual practice, and at least ten of the relational aesthetics put forward by Bourriaud and those at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, and their assortment of open social situations as art-- gallery as a cafe, gallery as lounge, gallery as bookstore etc..

I will be interested in how we put these things together within the steam shop-- for me, the relational aesthetics stand is just too weak and half hearted-- we don't know what to do with art, so we'll just rebrand the things we already do as art; for me, this is no solution, no belief in the value of art, not as more important than other activities, but nevertheless important on its own terms. Although I understand the desire to GIVE something to the audience as opposed to a hard core conceptual approach that uses some intricate tautological system to make a not very interesting point.

So, there is that, to give something, but what, penny candy? No, to give something within the frame of art. To involve the public in the production of the meaning, and this here is the important difference with Courbet, the ruins are Courbet's ruins too, for it can no longer be only about my artistic life, our backs to the spectator, but what we as artists may add to a general artistic life.

But with what parameters? The term public art can be applied to the polished steel asteriods found in corporate plaza across america or inside portugal's rotaries . One way to think about this perhaps is as the public as energizing force, needing the public as an essential battery. This model for me is most interesting, and one I hope to develop in the project-- where the public has a vital part to play in the performance of the work, where their interaction is not overly determined by a self enclosed tautological artist project, where you genuinely DO NOT KNOW what the reaction will be..

Monday, June 12, 2006

Unfinished Notes on a Project

Some disorganised thoughts, neither first nor last, but ongoing, indiscreet, oblique, eliptical...

I am struck by the improbability of the situation: to develop a project for an unknown public in a yet-unseen space (and a loaded one at that [artillery-related pun intended]) based on an imperfectly understood and unfinished painting. It has the makings of a classic joke set-up: "A Rabbi, a monkey, and Kris Kristofferson walk into a bar..." - ten conceptualists at work in a former artillery factory. What the hell are we doing here: that is, essentially, the question- the question- for me. It is not unique to this situation, but this situation frames it succinctly.

"I have nothing to say, and I am saying it"- John Cage

Well that clearly is a whole lot to say, and it is not said enough. This is a confession, both personal and universal. And Cage was also a storyteller- an anecdotist, if I can coin a term. We have to deny these things to call him a formalist [an anecdote: Frank Zappa contributed a "cover" of the infamously silent 4'33" to a collection of Cage covers. Zappa was, of course, dead at the time. another anecdote: a friend covered that piece, in full, on guitar at a bar open-mic. All hell broke loose]. This is a contradiction at the very heart of Cage. Perhaps it is similar to the contradiction, often observed, in the term "Real Allegory" in Courbet's title. Courbet here emphasises symbolic spacial relationships (left right, center, fore and back), subjects as symbolic types (The hunter, The poet, The beggarwoman), objects as icons (the skull, the painting, the cat). Courbet, the anecdotist, compiles seven years worth of his anecdotes into a symbolic meta-scene ("scene" in a theatrical sense).

(I wonder if Honore de Balzac was a model for the idea of this painting: Balzac's The Human Comedy, concieved of as a work in itself, was comprised of nearly all his output over many years [somebody let me know if you run across a reference to this in the discussion of The Painter's Studio...; I haven't yet seen a reference, but it seems likely that Courbet would have been aware of his fellow "Realist"'s sprawling, conceptual construction])

Courbet winkingly observed (in his letter to, was it Bruyas?) that the chattering classes (now, ourselves, included) would spill endless ink trying to make his contradictions go away. Seeing that he was correct, he could put it away, definitively unfinished, crowned finally with a title- the very mark of a finished work: The Painter's Studio: A Real Allegory Determining a Phase of Seven Years of My Artistic Life. And while everyone has focused on the contradictions inherent in "Real Allegory", almost all ignore the more specific subject: The Studio, itself, as embodiment of his contradictions. T.J. Clark quotes a contemporary (of Courbet) critic, Redgrave, who comments that the Collector's wife is "strong-minded" for being unfazed by the messy spectacle of the assembled riffraff ("a course, fat, greasy beggar woman, almost entirely without drapery, engaged in nursing a dirty little brat") and nude model. He characterizes these improprieties, without condemnation, as "studio doings". Instead, Redgrave's criticism is that, in taking "The Studio" as subject, Courbet has violated that timeless law: what happens in 'Vegas stays in 'Vegas. Courbet showed Redgrave how his sausage was made. The lives of the rural classes, fine; but the nitty-gritty of bohemians, no.

We have, for many and complex reasons that we have the luxury of taking for granted, arrived at a moment when we can make our sausage in the streets, as it were. In an airport, in bed, in our minds only, in a blog, in a 15c. former artillery factory. And pointing at things known but taken for granted is, itself, a mode of artistic work- a form of pathos. We do not have to construct (or reconstruct) complex social interactions in illustration; we are a complex social interaction by default. In an age of webcams and micro niche marketing, the distinction between "hermetic" and "social" practice is, perhaps, as quaint as Courbet's nude model. We insist on our specificity, and we have myspace accounts to prove it.

An exploded war factory manages to be both appropriately random and intentional. Whereas Courbet constructed a complex riddle to be "got" or not, we run the risk today of being either overly eliptical (like this post, perhaps), oblique, or overly didactic. Perhaps the "art" of our respective agendas is now a matter of our behaviours or activities being invisible enough to fit into the everyday social fabric while being "other" enough to register. To build a frame, not paint a painting. I think of Kaprow shaking hands until it becomes transgressive....

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Notes on an unfinished project

The Steam Shop project comes out of a necessity to transform a framed image into a specific site—[The Painter’s Studio painting into the Steam Shop], a real architectural situation that could potentially become a ground for the exploration of a concept through the artists practice in situ. Seeing the Steam Shop was like instantly materializing an idea into a workable/alive space--this space is per se already part of an investigation, let’s say that it can be seen as a start for this endeavor-- the potential allegory coming from this painting when transposed to a site can eventually create a positive discussion about contemporary practice and its critical potential.
The painting is an idea of a practice—the allegory is able to create uncertainty—today we create our practice outside the studio as a continuation of an old allegory—the Courbet’s studio painting being one of them.
However I do see this project within my practice as an investigation of contradictions in contemporary artistic practices; recognizing a distance between Courbet’s practice and a more radical Proudhonian socio-political approach, “Seeing himself both as an example of positivist consciousness and as a romantic social prophet, the painter had clearly been attracted by certain non-Proudhonian ideas that led him to an increasingly different concept of the role of the artist in society”* I want to engage in this discussion that is still dividing artists today.
This project comes out of necessity to understand aesthetics in relation to the concept of agency. A practice based on efemerality, a performatic act that leads one to action in favor of materiality. Perhaps I do need as Courbet to understand the contemporary inherent contradictions of real allegories and relocate my practice.
The need to understand the relationship with people outside the framed art world; preoccupations and considerations on the viewers role, the assumption of the “other” as a creator of meaning, a real participation within ideas that wouldn’t pass from a merely starting point if not for the significant participatory role of other people.
A necessity of understanding my relationship with tradition, both within art history and history, seeing utopia coming from a previous situation where meaning was once created and afterwards open to a presence of reality in the present--as if the ruinous concept of modernity enables me to rebuild.
Without wanting to anchor my practice in formal traditional medias per se, I would like to create different levels of understanding within the practice and perhaps unfold a more complex investigation that always includes the other as seen in Levinas; other not as equal because that would be to recognize our superiority, other as an individual that you will never fully understand and therefore one capable of building with you some other reality.

From Linda Nochlin’s
“Because it is literally unfinished, it is more than ever possible to consider the Painter’s Studio as a field of uncertainty, in which vague and more substantial incidents rise, assert themselves for a while, and then fade away on the vast projective screen of the canvas. The slippery flow of unfixed meaning, the interminable production of significance has a material source in the painting’s incompleteness. Undoing the phallic illusions of the author as well as the authority of the central image of the artist, an image that speaks to our own phallic illusions of plenitude, the unfinished condition of the painting counters the apparent closure of Courbet’s tableau vivant by creating other meanings, totally apart from authorial intentions and often working against them.”

“as Eagleton points out, citing Walter Benjamin to make this point. The nature of this possibilities is important enough to reproduce the passage as length. Says Eagleton:

The very arbitrariness of the relations between signifier and signified in allegorical thought encourages ‘the exploitation of ever remote characteristics of the representative objects as symbols.’ …In an astounding circulation of signifiers, “any person, any object, any relationship can mean absolutely anything else.” The immanent meaning that ebbs from the object under the transfixing gaze of melancholy leaves it a pure signifier, a rune or fragment retrived from the clutches of an univocal sense and surrendered unconditionally into the allegorist’s power. If it has become in one sense embalmed, it has also been liberated into polyvalence : it is in this that for Benjamin the profoundly dialectical nature of allegory lies. Allegorical discourse has the doubleness of the death’s head: ‘total expressionlessness- the black of the eye-sockets-coulped to the most unbridled expression-the grinning rows of teeth.’”

“If, says Benjamin, allegory “‘enslaves objects in the eccentric embrace of meaning’, that meaning is irreducibly multiple.”

The ruinous aspect of the painting, the painting as a fragmentary object, unfinished and open to multiple interpretations, the allegorical in its polyvalence, giving to others.

The site-the steam shop works for me as a touch base, it is a ground, an architectural structure—in it’s multiple layers of history, now open, semi divided in nine chambers—grounded and workable.

The painting, a situation of authorship, framed into social-political categories.
• in relation to Prouhdon The ruin is unframed.

I invite you to use the space with the intention of using it as an allegorical site. See it from the outside.
Inverted situations.

Erase the image, start from a site and maintain the continuity of an artistic practice based on criticality.

No previous preparation, the encounter with the space will give us directions.
Discussing process is important.

The body of the author has a dubious power relation with the spectator--
As Michael Fried says “Courbet’s paintings recreate and thus transfigure the terms of his embodied-ness.
In another remark Fried says “In fact it might be argued that Courbet’s ability to enlist his own corporeality in the service of his painting is a prime example of the phenomenon Foucault calls resistance, by which power gives rise (locally, to begin with) to counter-movements that oppose its dominant strategic mobilization.”

In between immanence and outside-ness—“had transporting oneself into a painting been physically feasible, which is to say had paintings traditionally been altogether different sorts of objects from what they are, the issue of theatricality would have taken a wholly different from or indeed wouldn’t have arisen.”

A theatrical site--the painting is like a theatrical representation—

According to André Fermigier, “Nous sommes déjà dans le monde de l’Opéra de Quat’sous, tous le tableau est d’ailleurs composé comme une représentation théâtrale et fait penser au lever de rideau d’un drame à multiples figurants. Le décor lui-même, avec la grand toile de fond, l’éclairage oblique et la limitation de la profondeur, est bien celui de l’irréalité scénique.

This theatrical representation and this notion of the dramatic is certainly not the same for Diderot(1713-84), the dramatic in painting was for him profoundly associated with a discontinuity between actors and beholders, Michael Fried says “Hence the importance in Diderot’s writings of a dynamic ideal of compositional unity according to which the various elements in a painting were to be combined to form a perspicuously closed and self-sufficient structure which would so to speak seal off the world of the representation from that of the viewer.”, “ Diderot maintained that it was necessary for the painting has a whole actively to “forget” the beholder, to neutralize his presence, to establish positively insofar as that could be done that he had not been taken into account. “The canvas encloses all the space, and there is no one beyond it””.

This painting can be a good example of the theater that Diderot hold against and that some of us celebrate today through our practices.

The Steam Shop architectural structure developed over time, since the 15th century into a physical situation of decadence and ruinous appearance and by consequence it is open to the public in a very peculiar way—the structure works like a theatrical setting, dramatic par excellence combining a natural nature’s invasion with a formal working manufacture ghost presence—as it is the idea(concept) behind the framed image of this Courbet’s work that is interesting to me, it is not my intention to provoke a fishtank situation where artists would serve as natural spectacle for a potential public—on the contrary, maintaining the characteristics of the space I invite artists to resolve the unsettled situation—[or the analysis of it] of the painting as starting from it’s author’s intention—not in terms of what is being depicted or it’s symbolic meaning but a whole intention of the painter’s allegory-a critical social approach both in terms of the artistic practice and social political practices at the time—it is in this way that the image functions as theater, as allegory-- as something more that what is being depicted using a realistic manner, as something that only the viewer can translate-- by doing so I would say that it stays in a limbo between a strong author’s central presence(that our eyes can’t avoid) and the whole meaning of the gift that that author is performing during seven years for us—the anti-Diderotian theater is being performed and since it’s conception the image of this painting has being speaking to us.

Site—the physical embodies one possible interpretation—the site is where Courbet’s allegory is transformed into a particular reality. By looking at this site (steam shop) I am immediately interpreting the framed image, I am giving it a body. One other and most important level we will add; the creation of work inside the space.
We are therefore constantly adding levels to the unfinished situation of the image created in 1855--- It is not our intention to propose an exhibition, it is our intention to propose an unfinished allegorical situation that allows discussion about contemporary art practices.

If able to, I would like to see a flow of people passing by the Steam shop, creating innumerous situations.

The Steam Shop is now accommodating ten artists for a period of time during July of 2006. It is continuously going to add value to the reading of this painting through the practice.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Welcome to the web log for the Steam Shop project. This site can be used as a forum to discuss ideas and issues related to the project, as well as to post texts, pictures or links. The site will serve as a platform and information center throughout the project. Please feel free to invite others to visit and participate.

Gunpowder is composed of “explosive bodies formed by substances that individually do not explode but when physically united through an intimate contact between its components, explode”

C.M.O Breve apontamento Historico 2004

I. Overview
“The Steam Shop Project (or the Painter’s studio) is composed of three aspects—a painting, Gustave Courbet’s 1855 work, The Painter’s Studio, a space, the ruined architecture of a gunpowder factory outside Lisbon, Portugal, called Oficinas a Vapor, and a concept, that the occupancy of the ruins of open chambers by artists, continuing the discourse begun by Courbet 150 years earlier, could provide a vital setting for exploring issues of art practice and social context.

The project seeks to explore the dialectic between the social and hermetic dimensions of contemporary practice, with Courbet’s Painter’s Studio as active historical precedent.

II. The Painter’s Studio, a Real Allegory Determining a Phase of Seven Years of my
Artistic Life

Courbet formalized a fundamental shift in artistic practice from the romantic transformation of subject to the realist re-presentation of subject with the artist being the medium of re-creation—an egalitarian or even democratic impulse validating daily life over distant mythological subjects.

Courbet arranges his work into two sections, with diverse allegorical types representing, on the left, “the world of trivial life, the people, misery, poverty, wealth-- people that are exploited, those that exploit, the ones that live from death,” and on the right, “the people of action, the one who are my friends, the workers, and the lovers of the art world” In the middle is the artist himself and his muse. With Courbet then, the restructuring of the social order with the artist’s worldview as the central organizing principle begins, for it is not a king, patron, or epic event that is valorized, but the universe of the artist with the artist at center holding court over the diverse assembly.

This notion of the transformative primacy of the artist’s perception and feeling would reign for the next hundred years, through impressionism, cubism and modernisms many incarnations, continually aggregating unto itself ever greater auratic gravity before reaching an apotheosis in abstract expressionist angst, weakening in the cold climate of minimalism, and being deposed by the advent of socially motivated, “post-studio” practices of conceptual art in the late nineteen sixties. Nevertheless, what Okwui Enwezor calls the “utopian” aspect of art production survives in the hybridized climate of conceptual and studio practices of the present day. Indeed, we may ask to what degree art production is still described by Courbet’s dichotomy, with conceptual practices that attempt to rescue Courbet’s people of“trivial life” and bring the spectator into the studio and utopian practices which maintain the private immanence of studio work as exemplified by the figure of Baudelaire at far right, absorbed in the private world of his book.

III. Architecture- Oficinas a Vapor [The Steam Shop]
The architectural setting is not neutral or a given, but central to the construction of the project-- some history is necessary. The stone structure was built in the fifteenth century of Dom João II as a blacksmiths shop, it was established as a Fábrica da Pólvora gunpowder factory of Barcarena with Filipe II in 1617 and 1621, then passed to the army until 1869, with an interruption it came back to the army’s administration until 1927, after this date it stayed in the government’s hands with the purpose of commercialize military artifacts and survived into the nineteenth century with significant modifications being made in 1879 for conversion into a factory for the production of gunpowder. Ten chambers were built along a single axis with steam power providing the energy to grind the ingredients for gunpowder into finer and finer grades, with rotating iron axels and gears running through holes between each of the chambers. In 1972, an industrial accident occurred resulting in a catastrophic explosion killing six people. The roofs, doorways, and rear walls were of the chambers were completely blown off.

The city hall of Oeiras, the local municipality, stabilized the ruins and incorporated the structure into a park where we can find a non profit public institution and performative arts venue, Lugar Comum [The Public Space]

Currently the public may wander in and out of the ten individual rooms through the front entrance as well as along the hillside behind the structure which affords a clear surveillance view of the interior of all the rooms together. Alongside this hillside are park benches which afford the opportunity of extended viewing of the interior. There are two degrees of openness vis a vis the public: first by actually entering the space through the exploded doorways, and second through observation at a distance from the hillside.

Currently, the empty ruins are distinct from the arts venue, displayed as monuments of national heritage, with didactic wall texts explaining the history of the structure—they are empty and have never been incorporated into an art project. With no roof, and one wall missing, the space is both open and closed, the remaining wall defining a series of rooms, and these rooms being literally exploded—open to the elements and visually accessible.

IV. Resonances

The project would seek to create a relational space in the open confines of the Steam Shop between artists and the public using Courbet’s work as a point of departure. As Courbet broke with tradition in exteriorizing the vitality of the studio, thereby validating the artist and his practice, so the artists are invited to construct contemporary practice within socially engaged and visually accessible grounds, creating in effect a continuous open studio. The notion of practice understood from Courbet’s painting seems specific and equivocal, rather than universalizing, for the title delimits the work as “..a phase of seven years..”, as if a different bracket of time would have yielded a different result. This ambiguity and rejection of certainty will be magnified in the Steam Shop by having the ten artists all working in the same direction, but ultimately, towards different ends.

The Steam Shop, having exploded in 1972, coincident with the conceptualist’s deconstruction of the cult of the lone artist, provides a fitting architecture for an exploration of an open and engaged artistic production. It will be suggested that the artists involve themselves within the ideas presented in the painting as a staring point. The idea is to reverse and not to stage Courbet’s painting, the idea is to have a critical position towards it, to challenge the proposal presented by the curatorial presentation and to develop “in situ” the project.

By being open as a theater setting the architecture of the Steam Shop doesn’t want to present itself to the public as a fish tank where artists are confused with circus curiosities, it will rather aim to present itself as a space of constant engagement with the place and people-- questioning and proposing ideas on authorship that hopefully serve future thoughts and other approaches in relation to the steam shop building. There’s also the possibility of involving the public directly in the production of the work, either by inviting the public into the studios or integrally involving them in the production of the works. The project then, seeks to explore the problematic of artistic hegemony introduced in the painting, within the function-less exploded architecture of the Steam Shop, to examine the sustainability and strength of a contemporary practice of social engagement.

There will be at least three public sessions at Lugar Comum’s auditorium; in each one of them there will be a discussion on a particular issue related with the project’s nature that will be presented by one of the guests or the artists if they whish. The artists are encouraged to present the work in progress and ideas that would like to discuss. The guest is encouraged to engage with the artist’s work and vice versa; the artists on the art critics and curators, art historians presentations.

The sessions together with the work developed (theoretical or practical) are the product as opposed to a formal exhibition.

We see the development of these sessions as the production of other ways of looking at collective curatorial proposals.