Sunday, October 3, 2010

Interrogation: West Bromwich Over and Out

Interrogation: West Bromwich has been and gone. Over four Wednesdays in September groups of artists came to a little (previously) empty shop in Queens Square shopping centre - the Interrogation Room.

Planning time with Rich White
The night before their mission they would receive a text with instructions and a code phrase to deliver. They would all be issued with an agent uniform and a methodology to follow for the day's response. We gave them historical information about the Town and also sketched out the regen plans - asking the artist to respond to these and the physical reality of the High street. We would then take a quick tour - before the Agent Artists would be given lunch and planning time.

A tour with Michael Pinsky and the Agents
The artists would then have 2 hours and 15 minutes to carry out their Mission response in the High Street.

Agent's plotting
So, over the four weeks the High street has seen a party to celebrate West Brom.

Happy public reaction to a party.
A new anti-art space - The Private.

Artists have created numerous reframing opportunities for the people of West Brom to engage with, usually as a starting point for discussion about the Town. Some artists responded better than others to the project, but I feel sure that at least they all had an immense experience.
Each week we have been joined by a specialist artist - who has worked with the Agent's to develop their ideas.

In week one the mission was Action Research and Micheal Pinsky was the specialist artist.
Then in week two the mission was Participation and we had the wonderful Ania Bas to work with the agents.

Agent Lynch with Phil from Juneau Projects.
Week Three was Site specific and the marvellous location specific artist Rich White did a great job supporting the agents in developing their ideas. Then in the final week Phil and Ben from Juneau Projects pitched in and supported the artists.
The people of West Brom seemed quite shocked by our presence at first, but over the weeks people became used to us, and it seemed they became more ready to talk to and work with the artists.

interrogation:action reasearch from glen stoker on Vimeo.

The project culminated in an exhibition and conference (on Friday 1st October) where all of the specialist artists returned to speak - Rich White introduced an exclusive new piece of writing for the conference called 'State of Practice' (read it here) and we also heard from Gemma Thomas about her Stoke based empty SHOP project (Gemma was also one of the Agents this year). Rednile spoke about their regen based works - they were employed as Double Agents - as we were very keen to evaluate the programme this year - so we asked them to give us feedback from the artists point of view as to how they found the process. We finished the conference with a discussion activity - in order to map out where artists are bridging gaps, what these gaps are being filled with and what the concerns and issues might be for artists and the public in relation to this gap filling. WE are still collating the information and the films from the day - and will add them soon - but for now go to the project blog to see documentation of all of this years projects.

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