The APRA Foundation Berlin Multi-Disciplinary Fellow 2013
Project Proposal: The Alexandria Project
The Alexandria Project is conceived as a residency and a collaborative, conceptually-based artwork. In its formative years, it will be a “residency-within-a-residency” (or “fellowship-within-a-fellowship” in this case). The primary aim of the project is to provide a conceptual space for individuals and collaborative teams who work in and across the fields of art, literature and theory to explore and develop their craft, providing a supportive and challenging environment in which ideas can be shared. It will facilitate an open dialogue among its participants and the public by offering a rich variety of educational programs and outreach initiatives. As an artwork it makes its self-reflective process available to the public in the form of exhibitions, publications, and presentations. The first cohort of participants, led by me, will work through the period of the Fellowship on a template for multidisciplinary collaboration – for example, by asking questions about the current meaning and significance of the multidisciplinary in the context of the increasingly corporate-modeled university, leading to the scaling-back of arts and humanities programs, international “occupy” movements, and the interconnectedness and networks of relationships made possible by digital technologies. The template will be the Alexandria Project’s core product.
Project Report: The Alexandria Project
The first year of the Alexandria Project was defined by a series of exploratory discussions and interviews with curators, artists, designers, theorists and writers interested in the project, leading to a reconsideration of certain of its elements. In particular, the decision was made to organize the project around a concrete theme which might remain the same or, more likely, fluctuate from cohort to cohort depending on the participants’ current interests and work. The purpose of the theme is to ground the project and, possibly, facilitate the creation of its template. For the first cohort a broad theme of tourism, travel and exploration is tentatively proposed with a more specific focus to be decided upon if necessary. This theme was selected after reading Lucy Lippard’s On the Beaten Track: Tourism, Art and Place (1999), and considering the interests of those I met with and interviewed.
I have also done a great deal of research on the dual concepts of collaboration and the multidisciplinary, compiling an extensive literature review, notes and summaries of this research. For example, a Canadian curator and artist I met with introduced me to the notion of the “human microphone” as a collaborative and interventionist method involving repetition which was used to great effect during the Occupy Wall Street movement, and, arguably, functions secondarily as a kind of performance art. This prompted me to return to past research I did on the auditory imagination and my interest in Laurie Anderson’s collaborations. I also reviewed more conventional theoretical sources for guidance such as the writings of Paolo Freire on his collaborative model of democratic participation. The question of the multidisciplinary was also important to this project and I felt compelled to examine the concept finding concrete examples in the notion of electronic literature, which I had studied in the past.
Finally, my work on the Alexandria Project this past year was informed by the writing and editing of a book manuscript about Algerian women's life-writing on the war of independence that has been accepted for publication by Peter Lang Ltd. (Oxford) as part of the Studies in Contemporary Women’s Writing series, edited by Gill Rye, School of Advanced Study, University of London. While its connection to the Alexandria Project is more implicit, I found the book contributed to the project as both explore to some extent the resistive or disruptive possibilities of collaboration.