Thanks to a wonderful collective of artists and geographers*, I have just had the opportunity to think in a new way about the relationship between the truth and the poetic, the known and the unseeable, and the functions of the kinds of stories that people tell each other in trying to make the world better.
In the context of the larger conversation about 'Intervention and Embeddedness, Art Practice and Environmental Discourse' at the American Association of Geographers conference going on in New York, David Haley, Christine Baeumler, and Simon Read shared thoughts on art as a process, and more, as Haley put it, an 'act of making a process manifest, making things possible,' and also of crafting maps for behavioral procedures that might help us deal with uncertain challenges -- and environmental prompts for them. Read showed his understated process for 'mapping issues that may need questioning,' to feel his way into it, and to document, for his own understanding -- and then for others' -- what that path into challenging questions is like, and how to embark on it, knowing where he came from, but explicitly not determining where to go.
The core theme that impressed me was this dialogue between telling strong directive stories that habits need to be relearned -- public processes need to be highlighted, and made equitable -- and creating spaces that prompt others' creation of exploratory stories. As Baeumler so brilliantly summed it up, as much as we are following that irresistible compulsion to make the invisible visible, we should also embrace a willingness to keep some invisibles invisible. The socially motivated and impeccably structured interventions they discussed highlight compelling parallels to the recurrent theme in OnFiction of the open supportive framework provided by fiction, and art -- poieses -- for creative exploration.
*Particular thanks to the organizers Karen Till and Simon Read
The image above is from Marcus Young's project, Don't You Feel it Too?, discussed in the panel by Christine Baeumler; the project is organized around the premise of 'dancing your inner life in public places.'
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