Thursday, 27 August 2009


‘towards an alternative statement of the way forward on climate change’

QUESTION TIME is a series of 1000 interviews, conducted throughout Copenhagen during the UN COP15 conference, towards an alternative statement of the way forward on climate change. In a context of inter-governmental debate and negotiation, QUESTION TIME explores an alternative approach to climate change based on anecdote, neurotic behaviors, misunderstandings, and gossip.

QUESTION TIME involves four UK artists, ranging in mood from the mildly neurotic to the apocalyptic, looking to discuss climate change with as wide a spectrum of Copenhagen residents as possible, mapping its presence in the individual and collective psyche. Each day, parallel to the conference, the four artists will conduct a series of programmed and random interviews across the city - in cafes, conference centres, parks, street corners, shopping centres, museums, universities, and domestic residencies.

Initially, the questions will be our own - formulated as a pack of 30 playing cards, dealt out in ever new combinations at the start of each conversation. But, of course, each encounter will bring new (mis-) information to light. So each day ends with a public summit at which the days discoveries are presented, and the next days questions are formulated. In the manner of the COP15 itself, we will each day use the material we have collected to formulate a statement on climate change and the way forward for us, Copenhagen, and the world.

These summits will be open events, held in various locations around the city, with a feel that combines performance, seminar, poetry reading and a shared meal - an alternative, convivial, artists led version of the discussions taking place at COP15. The unfolding statement will appear online as a series of podcasts, adapted with new material daily. The accumulated questions will map a web of concerns and also provide a score for future research projects into the area of climate change.

QUESTION TIME will conclude with a final summit, to which all participants will be invited to share in a final declaration. The final summit will also launch the next stage of the project, where each artist develops their own project - be it performance, exhibition, event, or written text - from the archive of material collected throughout COP15.

QUESTION TIME is a collaboration between David Berridge, Rachel Lois Clapham, Alex Eisenberg and Mary Paterson as Open Dialogues. QUESTION TIME is programmed as part of New Life Copenhagen, featuring in the official United Nations COP15 artistic programme.


Open Dialogues

Open Dialogues is a UK based collaboration, founded by Mary Paterson and Rachel Lois Clapham, that explores critical writing as debate and practice.

New Life Copenhagen

Produced by Wooloo Productions, and cntered around themes of activism and transnational communities, New Life Copenhagen comprises of 5.000 people living in and around Copenhagen opening their homes to 5.000 environmental activists during the UN Climate Change Conference in Denmark this December.

New Life Copenhagen will utilize this large-scale human meeting as its exhibition platform on which to stage participatory art works by artists Superflex (DK) and Signa (DK/A) among others. More details about the festival can be found at the Wooloo Productions online network or at

The UN Climate Change Conference 2009 (COP15)

From December 7th to 18th 2009, representatives from 192 nations will gather in Denmark for the UN Climate Change Conference to reach an agreement on a new global climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol. In addition to the large number of official UN delegates, thousands of activists and Non-Governmental Organizations are bound for the conference. More details on

If you are interested in contributing to QUESTION TIME either during or after New Life Copenhagen and COP15 please contact


Rite, write, rote, right and sometimes wrong....

Forthcoming in October 2009, RITE is the result of a nine month collaboration with Critical Communities, a New Work Network and Open Dialogues project exploring the practice of critical writing on and as new work (interdisciplinary and live art).

Featuring the work of the Critical Community, RITE is a collection that brings together 18 original texts by UK based art writers that enact expanded acts of criticism, question the essay form, use language as material and attempt to work the different ways that writing can be on or about new work.

Contributors include Emma Bennett, David Berridge, Rachel Lois Clapham and Alex Eisenberg, Emma Cocker, Hannah Crosson, Amelia Crouch, Chloe Dechery, Tim Jeeves, Emma Leach, Johanna Linsley, Joanna Loveday, Charlotte Morgan, Mary Paterson, Jim Prevett, Nathan Walker and Wood McGrath.

RITE is commissioned by New Work Network, designed by Wood McGrath, edited Open Dialogues and produced by the members of Critical Communities with external editorial advice from Maria Fusco. It includes a foreword by New Work Network and introduction by Open Dialogues. All material is copyright the authors and Critical Communities 2009.

To find out more about the project click Critical Communities

Digital Documentation and Performance

Open Dialogues were invited to participate in Digital Documentation and Performance, a series of three one-day events on the topics of creating, managing and delivering digital documentation of performance work. The events were hosted and devised by JISC Digital Media and University of Bristol Department of Drama 23-25 September 2009.

Lifecycle list of audience member's experience c. Liz Clarke


‘Creating Digital Performance Documentation’ featured a range of practitioners working in the field of performance including Dr Paul Clarke - Research Fellow 'Performing the Archive: the Future of the Past' University of Bristol & Arnolfini, Becky Edmunds - trained a dancer and choreographer and who now practices as a dance videographer, Open Dialogues - a UK based collaboration, founded in 2008 by Rachel Lois Clapham and Mary Paterson, that produces critical writing on contemporary art, Paul Hurley - an artist who since 2003 has been making an ongoing series of ‘becomings-invertebrate’, Heike Roms - Senior Lecturer in Performance Studies Aberystwyth University, currently researching the AHRC-funded ‘Locating the early history of performance art in Wales 1965–1979”and Sarah Whatley - project leader for the AHRC-funded Siobhan Davies Archive.

The lifecycle of a real-time durational performance - ‘Becoming Snail’ by PaulHurley – was used as case study; the creation, management and delivery of documentation from the performance was tracked over the three days: through digitisation, accession, structuring, delivery, annotation, tagging and curation by users.

Interior. Some lines made in response... c. Julien Warren

ARE YOU STILL THERE? : SKYPE CHAT [10:00:19] – [10:31:20]

For ‘Creating Digital Documentation of Performance’ we - Rachel Lois and Mary - jointly delivered a paper on the Open Dialogues critical model; a how, why and what we produce online of and for performance - be it documents, documentation doc/u- . The paper – entitled ARE YOU STILL THERE? : SKYPE CHAT [10:00:19] – [10:31:20] - discussed how digital & online technology is central to our practice and analogous to our critical model in terms of blogging, ‘Flash’ publishing, durational writing events and collaborative writing. The paper also reflected upon the non-venue based, dialogic nature of Open Dialogues, and its collaborators, and how this relates to an online archive for performance. A short excerpt is below.

ARE YOU STILL THERE? : SKYPE CHAT [10:00:19] – [10:31:20]


Open Dialogues also lead a practical workshop session entitled ‘4.Writing in Parallel’ in which participants applied our methods to the performance ‘Becoming Snail’ by Paul Hurley. The session asked participants to choose one of four words: Interior, Mucous, Lifecycle and Metamorphosis (words taken from the fourth sentence of every ‘Becoming Snail’ google hit as of 28.08.2009) and use it – as prompt, proposition, object or not - to write through ‘Becoming Snail’ for the conference audience. The resulting community of texts – devised to be in parallel to, rather than as a response, record or document of ‘Becoming Snail’ - is linked by #JDMperform09 and hosted by Internet Archive.

MUCUS c. Rachel Lois Clapham

At The Edges c. Mary Paterson


Other material from the Digital Documentation and Performance conference can be accessed on JISC Digital Media or via #JDMperform09

More on our critical model here

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Open Dialogues in the Live Art Collection

Open Dialogues are part of ‘The Live Art Collection’ - The Live Art Development Agency and the British Library’s UK Web Archiving project.

The Live Art Collection was initiated in late 2008 and is maintained by the British Library in collaboration with the Live Art Development Agency, London. The Live Art Collection is part of the UK Web Archive which is a corpus of websites selected by leading UK institutions for their historical, social and cultural significance in the UK, for the benefit of researchers. Snapshots of each title, known as instances, are taken at suitable intervals. The archive is free to view and has already collected over 4,000 selected websites since it was set up in mid-2005.

The range of websites in the Live Art Collection includes organizations supporting and promoting Live Art; artists’ websites; artistic or project-driven sites; blogsites and online spaces for critical reviews and commentaries; and online archival sites relating to Live Art. The Live Art Collection reflects some of the diverse practices and approaches of artists today and the curatorial, cultural and critical frameworks that exist to support, promote and comment upon Live Art and the ephemeral nature of this area of practice.

The collection is free to access and can be viewed by visiting the online portal at

Websites represented in the Live Art Collection have either been selected by the Live Art Development Agency or have been successfully nominated for archiving. They have been selected as organisations and individuals websites and blogsites that are primarily concerned with Live Art in the UK, and are gathered with permissions from the website content owners. The Live Art Development Agency and the British Library are always interested in further nominations for the Live Art Collection. Further information can be found at

The British Library, National Library of Wales, JISC, Wellcome Library and National Archives collaborated to build the UK Web Archive. This initiative is a partnership between the Live Art Development Agency and the British Library.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Review: True Riches, curated by Tim Etchells and Ant Hampton

This article originally appeared in A-N Magazine, June 2009'

by Mary Paterson

True Riches is an exciting and ambitious programme of live art events inhabiting every space of the ICA throughout 2009. 25 artists were invited to take part, and across the works proposed there are exhibitions, lectures, discussions and residencies; ideas for shared meals, shared games and interactive experiences; work that touches on cinema, dance and theatre; art that is high concept and low concept, and even a piece that hopes to define the gap between the two. “There is an argument as to whether this event would be more accurately described as middlebrow or at best uppermiddlebrow,” says the programme about Shunt’s Highbrow event. “A brow height exit poll will be employed to resolve debate for future presentations.”

True Riches is also never going to happen. It is an imaginary programme, created in response to the closure of the ICA’s Live and Media Arts department, announced last year. For many who work in or around live art, this was difficult news to take. As Lois Keidan points out in her proposal for True Riches, Sixty to Nought, the ICA has a strong and vital history of supporting performance (not least because of Keidan’s own directorship of the organisation in the 1990s) and while the closure of the department prevents this relationship from growing, it also fails to acknowledge the significance of its past. What really stung for artists and others working in this field, however, was an email from the Director of the ICA, Ekow Eshun, explaining the decision. The ICA is facing financial strictures, he said, and Live and Media Arts can no longer justify its costs. This is because, “it’s my consideration that, in the main, the art form lacks depth and cultural urgency.” The artists Tim Etchells and Ant Hampton clearly read this as a challenge, to which True Riches is a vigorous reply.

Some of the proposals engage directly with the situation at the ICA. Geraldine Pilgrim’s Black Box will flood the ICA theatre with water and oil, and set the oil alight. Viewers will watch from the fire exit recess – an audience for the “flood of ideas that have filled this black box space over the years” as well as a congregation in mourning for histories forgotten, and futures not lived. The Centre of Attention will gather a group of people to serenade the ICA like a bitter lover, singing Live don’t live here anymore at its entrance. And when Shunt/David Rosenberg suggests Moving In, a Real Time Property Happening, in which “a vast assortment of varied crap” is rolled through the ICA and into the lower gallery, is this a way of saying that live art has depth? Real depth if you want it – cases full of it, delivered right to the depths of your building.

Other proposals are simply suggestions for projects that could be housed at the gallery. Mobile Academy’s London Trading Zone, for example, is a version of the Blackmarket for Useful Knowledge and Non-Knowledge – a system to facilitate and frustrate exchange which has taken place across Europe, including at the Bluecoat in Liverpool last November. True Riches’ artists have not only imagined that the ICA will invite them in, but also that the institution will throw all its resources behind each piece of work. Christine Peters’ The Living Archive hopes to invite over 70 artists to join a 6 month residency, to which “ICA has fully committed itself – financially, infrastructurally and staff-wise.” The result will be a method of ‘Slow Production’ whereby thought, knowledge and exchange can grow without all the familiar constraints that limit time and money. Indeed, many of the proposals reach out to other artists, artworks, speakers or participants to help create the work. Bill Aithchison will curate a series of discussions for ICA Conspiracy Week (charting various conspiracy theories), for example, and Goran Sergej Pristaš will show a season of performances, screenings and theory for Cinematic Modes of Choreography (exploring the relationship between dance and cinema).

This enthusiastic and varied approach eloquently describes the range of cultural activities that are spun, or spun into, by events that are called ‘live art’. It is also what stops True Riches from being a sulky reproach to the ICA. The context naturally illuminates all allusions to marginality and segregation in this work. Are the social outsiders in Gary Stevens’ The Sceneshifters versions of live artists, forced to work in the shadows of an institution? Is Shunt’s The Information, in which “big ideas get pounded into shit-sized nuggets that we can more successfully hide if hiding GOD FORBID should become necessary”, an allegory for the fate of live artists, pushed under the cloaks of other artforms in an attempt to survive? After all, part of Ekow Eshun’s defence has been that live art will continue to be programmed in other ICA departments – suggesting that artists must insinuate themselves into a different discipline in order to be seen or heard. But its pure exuberance means True Riches is not a petition to an ungrateful master. Instead, it is a book brimming with opportunities that lie just out of reach, a programme for a parallel universe in which only one thing is altered – the ICA’s willingness to be involved.

As such, True Riches is a quiet kind of manifesto, the kind that whispers into the audience’s ear and garners their support through an act of private collusion. Like all programmes, this one speaks in the future tense about something that hasn’t happened yet. But unlike other programmes, True Riches’ future lies in the reader’s imagination alone. In other words, the programme form is not only a strategic approach – an impersonation that has been successful enough to solicit real visitor enquiries; it also embodies a kind of engagement with the audience that is often associated with live art. In the book Programme Notes (published by the Live Art Development Agency in 2007), the only recurring theme in a collection of disparate essays on ‘experimental theatre’ (which, if not live art itself, is part of the same family) was the desire to get under an audience’s skin. And many of the projects inside True Riches also reflect this attitude – from a collaborative exhibition by Home Live Art, to an archive of memories by Janez Janša.

Has True Riches, then, achieved that most elusive of states – a definition of what live art might be? It is certainly strategic, cross-disciplinary, engaging and social. It is certainly political, experimental, mainstream and accessible. It is certainly, one might say, deep and culturally urgent. But of course its variety lets it slip away again, slithering off the page as you turn from a lecture programme to a dance piece, from a guided tour to a film screening, or from a protest outside the ICA to a dog guarding the building from live art.

Ironically, it is this diverse and often strategic approach – the readiness of live art to sit beside or between familiar disciplines and relationships – that gives Eshun his reason for closing the department: live art will live on in relation to other artforms. And of course, if True Riches constitutes one side of the argument with the ICA, then the artists have an advantage. With all the resources he could imagine, and no-one to please but his peers, let’s assume that Eshun could also create a programme of live art to inspire and delight on this scale. It’s also because live art is supported enthusiastically elsewhere – by organisations like the Live Art Development Agency and Live Art UK, at venues like Arnolfini, Bluecoat and Chelsea Theatre (to name but a few) – that the programme is so easy to imagine in the first place. Those pieces that have not already been produced feel so real because they really could be - coming to a non-ICA venue near you soon.

But imagine, for a moment, how barbaric is would seem if the ICA cut its film department, or decided to stop supporting visual art. It’s a tribute to a sector sometimes criticised for performing its own marginal position that True Riches is a positive and forward looking response to what would otherwise be a devastating blow. It’s also a testament to the fact that the ICA stopped being important to live art some time ago. And for this reason True Riches is best read not as a defensive response to bad news, but as a hopeful glimpse of a future that may well be. It sticks two fingers up at the ICA but, more effectively, it waves in a host of ideas to inspire makers and audience members alike. Good news, then, that “a second season,” as the programme promises, “is already in the planning stages.”

FREE PRESS - Till Poems

image (c) cross-section July 09.

June - October 09

TILL POEMS is action, performance and writing. TILL POEMS is temporary. TILL POEMS likes dialogue, DADA, Concrete Poetry and creating with pre-authored products. TILL POEMS has a manifesto. TILL POEMS is subversive shopping, poetry readings and action scripting. TILL POEMS is coming to a supermarket near you soon!

Till Poems is a >>FREE PRESS<< case study. Participants are Dave Ball, Rachel Lois Clapham, Nicola Singh, Monika Dutta, Anna Williams.



Dave Ball; Dave; Berlin; artist; ground coffee; Swansea; Contemporary Art Theory; How to Live; book of English jokes in German; splendid; cauliflower; depends who's asking; folding bicycle; artist (that's a job, isn't it?); ...sometimes forget that euros aren't worth the same as pounds and then when I remember feel like I've inadvertently saved some money.

Rachel Lois Clapham, Poo, Bradford, curator and art writer; a bag of crisp salad; Manchester; Contemporary Art Theory, Goldsmiths College 2007; Curator ‘Nahnou-Together Now’ at Tate Britain; a large sequined handbag; marginalia; Two large glasses of Shiraz; live writing, performance criticism, improvisation and the porosity of text; A pair of ill fitting black pants; Co-Director of Open Dialogues; ...never have any cash or change.

Monika Dutta; Mo/Moses; None; Make stuff; Bus ticket; South London; Fine Art Media (1993); audio visual performance ‘Cirrus’; A book on audubon's bird studies in Dutch; Minki; Predator sticker booparra; The persistence of personality after death of the body; Cool kits dinosaurs 3D skeleton puzzle and dino factfile; None;... wonder if I should.

Nicola Singh; Knickers; Newcastle upon Tyne; performance artist, musician and curator; a spider plant; Newcastle upon Tyne; BA Music Performance and Visual Arts, Dartington College of Art; ‘A love affair with the National History Museum (do something to make your Mam proud)’ 2008; Parma Violet flavored cocktail; dour; Marina Abramovic by Kristine Stiles, Klaus Biesenbach, and Chrissie Iles, 2008; Actuations, Bachelard’s ‘Poetics of Space’ and Gertrude Stein’s ‘Tender Buttons’; faulty dress; Wunderbar Festival 2009, People Show Workshops, Switch Performance Company collaboration, Allotment Residency; mostly very fond of them.

Anna Maria Williams; Tick: Llanvihangel Crucorney (nr.Hereford); Visiting lecturer Documentary Photography and Documentary Film and Television/PhD researcher/Client Liaison officer(charity); 10 nails (masonry); London; MA Documentary Photography, Newport; ‘Territorialisation’ (ongoing); Shoes in Berlin; Yes; Suesse lust 2x 2.19 ; Site-specificity- impact upon community, collective memory and the communal archive; Multi-way push-up bra; preparing first paper for international conference; ... enjoy anticipating the purchase more than the actual transaction itself, which can be rather disappointing having robbed me of the potential for expectation.


Name; the name your family or partner calls you (nick-name); the city you live in; what you ‘do’ (one word or two); the last thing you purchased with cash; your home town; MA course you did recently; a job title/name of project you are proud of from 2008; last impulse buy; favorite word; an item off a receipt currently in your wallet; current research interest; the last item purchased that you got refunded for; what job you are doing now; when buying things I '……………' ;