In the first of two panel discussions with the artists participating in the Transformer project, we began with the work being done by Ro Caminal and Kosmas Nikolaou in Malta. This conversation led to our experience of what an Artist Run Organisation is, does and how it contributes to a local cultural ecology: a discussion the project aims to develop in Malta.
The conversation was of course staged against the backdrop of broader, uneven dynamics of contemporary art, and how they were marshalled into Transformer’s intervention into the transformations happening in, or to, Malta. Arriving in Malta a few days in advance of the panel however, it was difficult to anticipate how these large-scale issues, cultural shifts, geo-politics and deep historical narratives of Malta, would intersect with the more basic aims of our discussion.
These are the torsions effecting any Artist Run Organisation, already instituted or at the start of instituting, and they were certainly important to the work that both artists were beginning to shape. In the panel that followed two days together, walking two of Malta’s cities, Valletta and Sliema — taking the ferry between them, which will hopefully become the site of Ro Caminal’s intervention — we began by discussing our own work in this context, and how the Transformer project had sparked our interest in Networks, Transformation, and Policy.
You can hear the introduction by Tom Clark here:
(Moderator and online platform editor Tom Clark introduces the panel discussions and the core ideas of the project as well as his role to create a dialogue and catalogue of the discourse between artists and audience through interviews and public events.)
(Here Tom Clark expands on the offsite context of the project. This approach creates a network which intersects with the mobility of existing communities. He reflects on how art is often used in certain areas, using the UK as a reference, to trigger regeneration, and how art can be used to enable a visibility to these issues.)
Here is Kosmas Nikolaou’s presentation on his work
(In this clip, Kosmas Nikolaou reflects on the founding of 3137, the Artist Run Organisation he co-initiated in 2012, which has an origin in a shared studio. Nikolaou is interested in the landscape and site during his residency, finding similarities to Athens yet strong differences. Drawing from the layered histories from the sites and the spirituality and archeology of these places.)
Ro Caminal’s presentation
(Roser Caminal, representing CeRC-Ca, Barcelona introduces her practice and founding of her Artist Run Organisation CeRC-Ca. Evolving organically into a platform called Platform HARAKAT, meaning ‘movement’ in Arabic, it functions as a platform to bring research and the practice of movement together. With a background in anthropology which influences her work, with its focus on immigration. She reflects on the physical and cultural displacement of people are core and the intersections within the construction of architecture in Sliema, built by a community of migrant workers. She expands on gentrification, through her interactions during the research for her residency focusing on the experiences of immigrants rather than locals. She discusses the role of art within gentrification and the position of policy within this, allowing the audience of the work to acknowledge their role in this effect on the areas she is working with during Transformer.)
(An audience member to the panel questions the previous discussion surrounding policy. He believes that the artist community has developed alongside the government and is very self-directed, generating lots of complaints with little action. The panel expands discussion to examining the payment of living wage to artists, questioning the structures within the art industry and how the context of high rent influences art production. Furthering this to examine different social climates such as Greece and how the culture industry is effected with the financial collapse ‘we have a crisis, but the coffee shops are always full’.)
(The panel discuss the value of art schools within the various communities represented in the Transformer project. The discussion expands to questioning the cultures of working in communities and collaboration with few artists having art school backgrounds, with the suggestion that the networks of practicing artists are built in other ways through local means. The panel concludes on this thought, with further questioning of these intersecting ideas leading into the next panel discussion.)