What does 2016 hold for your creative practice?
Are you too immersed in its development, yearning instead for new provocations? Or are you spreading yourself too thin among collaborations, yearning instead for focused development? Do you find you’re remaining faithful to your practice, or are you finding it impossible to even begin to reflect on how you define your work? What will the new year open up for you, and what commitments will you make?
Artists Bek Berger, Dan Koop and Kieran Swann first conceived Independent Convergence last May, as a day-long conference where independent artists could form a creative community that thinks differently. This year, Dan and I created a day at MPavilion that explored the realities of being an independent artist in Australia. Our provocations: Let’s start the year together. Let’s take an entire day’s critical reflection on practice. Let’s examine our personal and our public commitments to the work of being an independent artist. Let’s hear how artists at different stages of their practice are orienting themselves to that practice. And let’s be honest about our ambitions, our challenges, our risks and our desires.
The day was a set of open discussions and activities, with focused provocations by Adelaide Fisher, Julien Leyre, Thomas Quirk, Kelly Lee Hickey, Izzy Roberts-Orr, Myfanwy Alderson and Mary Harmer. We spoke about identity, practice, physical and mental health, success and failure, networks and gatekeepers, responsibility, ambition, and critical reflection. Kelly Lee wrote the piece Together, Apart in response, and there have been many other responses, some collected on the Facebook event page.
It was clear by the end of the day that people wanted to remain connected. After all, we had converged! There were frustrations over the ineffectiveness of Facebook groups etc. which require dedicated facilitation, and once again the importance and the value of gathering face-to-face was so very clear to us all. We also reminded ourselves how very important it is to take time, as well as to make space, for reflection on our own practice. Here’s some tools to promote that goodness:
- Critical reflection on practice: a set of provocations
- Constructive disruption: The Mindset
- Constructive disruption
- Body of work: art, health, wellbeing
- And, touching obliquely on advocacy as we did: Stuart Harrison: Make it useful.
To keep Independent Convergence going, make one small commitment to your practice: to develop it with rigour and care. Right now: why not start small with an Artist Salon, inviting a group of known or radically unknown artists to join you for a regular (weekly? monthly?) unstructured reflection on where your practice is at. You could use these provocations as a starting point, or track back on #convmelb to recollect the day’s thoughts. Or you may like to begin a reflective writing practice (mine has ballooned!), taking a favourite blank volume and curling into it to respond to those provocations in a more personal way. It’s up to you.