Wednesday, February 09, 2011

on the road: SPCMKR

I first heard about Nick Lucking and Tim Ivison's SPCMKR on a Bad At Sports podcast back in January 2009. Frankly, hearing the two explain their project--which offered artists a space in which to propose, share opportunities for, and document informal artist-run residencies--inspired me to begin putting together ON THE ROAD.

It seemed obvious to me that I needed to find a way to include these guys in the show. What was less clear was how to present the SPCMKR project--particularly at a moment when had been hacked beyond repair. A web terminal in the gallery was out of the question.

The solution that Tim and Nick came up with was simple: a large tape grid on the floor of the gallery, featuring hard copies of images and data and what few artifacts or snapshots remain from the residencies that made up SPCMKR. The result looks a bit like the restaging of some minimal/conceptual art project from the early 1970s--or maybe an archaeological or forensic reconstruction of some recently excavated crime scene.

Below are some shots of the install, some pics included in that installation, and the statement Nick and Tim drafted for the gallery:

Studios, residencies, equipment, and exhibition spaces are the foundations of the art world as we know it, but they are often made artificially scarce through competition and difficult financial circumstances. The program objective of SPCKMR was, first and foremost, to create a forum in which artists and cultural producers could discuss and access material resources through a loose network of exchange.

We aimed to connect artists helping artists to find the resources they needed to support travel, production, exhibition, and convivial association, whether for escapism, reconnaissance, work, tourism, or refuge. Not only did the project aim to provide the rudiments of temporary housing through a network of available spaces, but it also encouraged the sharing of tools, access to social networks and opportunities within various fields before, during, and after the exchange.

The idea for this project emerged out of a unique opportunity to visit Mexico City. Our mutual friend and colleague, Frederick Janka, offered us access to his apartment in the Centro Historico of Mexico City, under the auspices of an informal residency program for artists visiting the city. James Young, Frederick’s roommate in Mexico City, also become involved, acting as a liaison and guide for visitors during their stay. The romantic lure of working in one of the most populated, chaotic, and sprawling cities in the world, on ANY kind of project, proved to be impossible for us to pass up.

But what was also interesting to us was the nature of the invitation itself. Here we were, presented with a very impressive and very useful surplus resource that was at our disposal. In addition to the relative lack of investment required in taking advantage of this opportunity, we – in accepting this surplus – were ourselves creating a surplus when leaving our respective apartments in Los Angeles (coincidentally within four blocks of each other). In fact, since both of us were leaving to inhabit a single apartment, it seemed one opportunity had become two for other friends, relatives or invited strangers. And it is this proliferation of contingent opportunities for the sharing of resources that we wanted to examine here.

We were surely inspired by Craigslist, couchsurfing, rideshare message boards, and ye olde classified ads of all sorts. In our particular project, we sought to make something that was more directed towards artists, but also eschewed the trappings of most social media, going for the most minimal administrative and technological threshold possible: the wiki platform. But of course, we also wanted to somehow formalize and articulate the exchanges in a way that would make them more effective and rich through documentation, reflection, and mediation, as well as to highlight the system of exchange itself as a site of aesthetic production and social sculpture.

Two years and many residencies later ( and after months of spam attacks and uninvited modifications to the SPCMKR website) someone finally deleted the whole site, possibly as a kind of middle finger to our attempts to block their abusive solicitations to buy Air Jordans, handbags, generic steroids, and viagra. Despite the premature ending of the site, SPCMKR has lived on through a number of roundtable discussions and exhibitions such as ON THE ROAD.

The installation created for AAC is our way of making a diagram of the detritus from the last two years and to consider what worked and what didn't - how we might regroup the site and restart the idea, which we still feel is relevant, perhaps even more so today as arts funding is cut and artists are pooling their collective resources to get through the downturn.

The artifacts included in the installation are a cross-section of ephemera, photographs, e-mail exchanges and web data, providing a heterogeneous picture of the all the domestic, artistic, mundane, and ephemeral moments that went into the project, and perhaps, somewhere amongst the wreckage, a reason to continue doing it.
--Nick Lucking and Tim Ivison, from their statement for ON THE ROAD @ AAC.


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