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    • CommentAuthorModerator
    • CommentTimeJun 17th 2010 edited
    This discussion concentrates on how we define ‘independent’ positions in the contemporary art world.

    Some may argue that staking an effective independent position has become increasingly difficult in an interconnected system that valorizes contingent relations, flexibility, and cooperation over singularity. This type of social profile can be neutralizing for the project of the independent — i.e., ‘hardliners’ now risk exclusion as tolerance is low for non-team players.

    Independent art initiatives today face this complex dynamic at all levels. Perhaps, the independent position can be characterized by a refusal of this ongoing social smoothing through demands for keeping agonistic social space, diversity, and creativity open.

    What makes an independent project? How are independent positions articulated through your organizations, projects, and actions? What are the roles of independents in relation to other entities? Is it possible to be truly independent? Independent of what?
    By Norberto Roldan, director
    Green Papaya Art Projects-Manila

    To argue with the (Philippine) National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) whether the No Soul for Sale Festival of the Independents is prestigious enough or not is like arguing whether Tate Modern is a prestigious venue or not.* "Tate Modern is a cathedral, but it is also a strange bazaar and a great place to hang-out. Tate, too, is much more porous than we think. It’s a museum I like a lot because it promotes a sort of mass elitism, which I find very contemporary" (Maurizio Catellan). (*Green Papaya applied for funding from NCCA to participate in NSFSbut ws denied because NSFS is not in the list of NCCA's accredited list of "prestigious" international festivals.)

    But whether it is a cathedral or a souk, there’s no argument about how the term independence operated within the rigid apparatus of prestigious behemoth institutions like Tate Modern. Although the word independent indicates an autonomy from existing organizational paradigm within self-regulating art spaces, NSFS has clearly indicated that both should co-exist to provide the necessary tension needed to sustain a level of discussion on the ongoing relationships between important players in the international contemporary art scene. "In general one could also say that the whole opposition – centre versus margin or underground versus mainstream – has dramatically changed in the last few years. “No Soul for Sale” is also about this shift: it recognises that the role of the Tate and of a small not-for-profit space in Beijing is in the end almost equal. It might be idealistic or romantic, but we do believe such different institutions are much closer than we think" (Cecilia Alemani).

    Green Papaya Art Projects brought a slice of Manila contemporary art to London. Certainly it was not definitive of what’s happening locally but significant enough to highlight some of the most outstanding artists who have contributed and continue to participate to the growth and dynamics of our local independent art scene. Green Papaya’s curators Yason Banal, Maria Taniguchi and Conrado Velasco have done a tremendous and a terrific job with so little resources. "It’s not so much that artists are fed up with selling or with selling out. It’s simply that nobody ever pays respect to those who work in situations in which there is very little money but a lot of energy and enthusiasm. If it didn’t sound so much like a Mastercard ad, I wouldn’t say that what the participants in 'No Soul for Sale' have in common is they invest their time, their knowledge, their energies, which are simply priceless"(Massimiliano Gioni).

    More importantly, we reaffirm our understanding that the concept of independence vary quite politically from country-to-country and from time-to-time. It is simplistic to reduce independence as a not-for-profit or alternative as both small-scale self-organized art projects and major cultural institutions are dependent on a wide range of complex support systems, peer communities, social network and financial backers. We maintain that independence serves as an operative word when confronting the dead end affecting critical artistic strategies – free from trumped-up theories and old reference points which are no longer relevant.
    • CommentAuthorParaSite
    • CommentTimeJul 6th 2010
    One thing that has bugged me since I started working in an “independent” organization is the definition of “independent” itself. This term is misleading and utopian, as “independent” from what”?, independent from external agents?, from life?, from collectors?, from sponsors?, etc I don’t think so. The tag independent has a certain epic attached to it, and it is indeed a very useful term, as it is surrounded by positive connotations. Having said this, I am not really sure it fits an organization like Para/Site. The terms “micro-space” or “micro-organization” are terms that I frequently use to define our position and our situation. I find them more neutral and descriptive, and without the aura of being tagged “independent”, which we don’t reject and we still use to define the space. In certain places in Asia, independent spaces fill in the gap that should be occupied by more institutionalized organizations. It is the lack of alternatives that makes our position strong, for example in a place like Hong Kong.
    Alvaro Rodriguez Fominaya
    • CommentAuthorjackie
    • CommentTimeJul 9th 2010 edited
    I think that original aritists will always be independent in themselves ever evolving wahtever group or project they are in. I think that "hardliners" or artists on the edge have always been excluded! at the initial stages at least. Most of the independent organizations doing installations at least, seem to thrive solely on concepts rather at the expense of painting. Many painters could create a concept in their work, but very few could do the opposite, create good painting! I think we are moving towards a new wave of painting emerging from raw art , outsider art. A new fusion that is heading somwhere else. Maybe in groups or individuals, who could well be defined as independent.

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    • CommentAuthorlucarossi
    • CommentTimeJul 15th 2010
    The language of contemporary art is going through a state of fatigue which coincides with a flattening of contents. In a phase of extreme postproduction, during the first decade of the 21st century, the problem is not “to do” but “what to do”. In every phase of the 20th century, from WWII to the end of the Cold War, it has always been clear “what to do” in art as well as in the industrial production. On the other hand, we are currently going through a phase of saturation and overproduction of works and artists; this language is wiggling inside the cage of artisanal work and interior design. Art seems to have become an excuse and an accessory to legitimate a group of places and relations. The only thing that escapes this dynamic is the development of the best things of the 20th century.

    Everybody could sinthesize all positions of the Art System in one point (artist, curator, critic, collector, observer, spectatorr, etc). The idea of a "synthetic system" as a tool which is pragmatic, divisible and smooth, theoretically independent and self-sustaining, a platform allowing everybody to skip the art system and encouraging thoughts and actions in a critical context.

    The question is not "to be indipendent" on to be. The question are the contents. A reflection about language, roles and format.
    • CommentAuthorModerator
    • CommentTimeJul 15th 2010 edited
    There are some nice themes running through the recent posts that I think are really interesting:

    One is the flexible definition of the 'independent', especially since many efforts are specific to local conditions and relationships to other institutions. Para/Site and Green Papaya voiced these specificities and how their strategies are geared toward these concerns.

    There is also a sense that the term 'independent' is an umbrella word and is perhaps not sufficiently descriptive of the varying positions people take. Or perhaps, the term is too loaded and difficult to negotiate when the effort d is to develop more appropriate/sophisticated descriptions. The practical necessity of interdependence also is a factor too in grappling with the term and position.

    Most interesting is this feeling of a palpable shift happening in the larger system that we are all dealing with and the possible strategies presented in response. So there is this local and macro dynamic at play.

    I wonder, are independent efforts about response-type approaches or are forging new models? or both?
    • CommentAuthorlucarossi
    • CommentTimeJul 16th 2010
    I think we need new models. Also the best no-profit/smart models and solutions seem functional to a pre-order. But this reflection isn't institution critique: rather a dialogue between independent and no-indipendet. Sometimes the no-indipendent one is more fresh and light than the independent.

    At the same time we have to be concrete..behind the words.

    I think that also the english translation of this Fabio Cavallucci article could be useful:
    • CommentAuthorlanshan75
    • CommentTimeAug 22nd 2012
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    • CommentAuthorjayismyson
    • CommentTimeMar 12th 2013
    At the same time we have to be concrete..behind the words.
    • CommentAuthorjacktimo
    • CommentTimeOct 16th 2013
    a platform allowing everybody to skip the art system and encouraging thoughts and actions in a critical context.

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    • CommentAuthorobd2life
    • CommentTimeJan 17th 2014 edited
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