WORKSHOP PERIOD I
Meeting the Street Workshop Dambruggestraat – Antwerp 26 April – 8 May 2016
Meeting the Street Workshop
Process-based and largely student-directed, the aim of our research and experimentation was to personally get to know people working and living in the street and their concerns, gathering notes and sketches for potential work rather than imposed ideas and artworks. Day 1 facilitated personal exploration and responses to the street. On Day 2, students were encouraged to start conversations with members of the street’s extremely diverse immigrant community. Ethical concerns were discussed by the group, as well as social and conversational skills to initiate and sustain community dialogue. Day 3 asked students to re-examine the street, their findings and ideas in discussion with their informants. Thereafter, on Day 4 the intention was to develop and test ideas. Day 5 was dedicated to finalising this research and documentation for presentations. Students invited the community to their studio for a feast on Day 6, with locally bought culturally specific food that represented some of the traditions and tastes in the neighborhood. The only partial success of this points to the large gap between educated cultural settings and less privileged communities, and the potential for art to play a role in social cohesion.
- Self-directed learning of social art practices
- Multiprofessional approach, learning collaborative art practices and the challenges when working in city spaces
- Learning to use situation specific and time bound art methods.
- Making participatory situation specific art and finding/reaching new audiences
- Learning to collaborate (working in teams and collaboration with street actors)
- Learning to negotiate: How can the process and end result please you as an artist as well as the the street actors (SMEs, passers-by)
- Target groups: individual business owners, small enterprises, art students
Developing Effective Practices
On the whole, collaborative practice was less favoured by this group than individual projects. While there was a wish to engage with the diverse street communities, the real community building happened where it was needed: within the group. Through trial and error, shared practices for meaningful and effective student participation and co-learning were evolved. One of these was the motivating factor of a shared breakfast, after following simple suggestions during early morning walks to re-experience the Dambruggestraat. Personal consultation between individual students and visiting mentors was encouraged wherever possible. Peer group reporting, feedback and discussion at key points in the process also proved useful as a means towards shared accountability and self-motivation.
A collective set of noticeboards evolved as a record or archive of collective learning gained about the street, for the next generation of IPIP student participants the following year. The practice of collecting data on notice boards resonated with the practice of research boxes, used successfully at NCAD, where this was separated into pre-determined themes.