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As world events rage over the planet, civil life seems to be becoming more and more problematic and unresolvable. The global problems the world is facing politically and economically have lead to more violence, more repression, more rules and regulations, more security devices, more, more…Nevertheless, more freedom and more equality seem a long way ahead. This project, Small Acts of Disobedience, investigates the possibilities left when the margins for freedom seem to be thinning. The invention of attitudes, dispositions, and the resources of micro-politics open up avenues that can unblock a situation. Artistic interventions or productions will not change the world in any direct fashion. They will however encourage shifts, starting with shifts in the imagination. An extract from:
To Obey or to Disobey
an essay by Chantal Pontbriand

 

 

Individual actions matter. In many regions of the world, they have triggered sweeping changes to historical systems of power in dictatorial, democratic and revolutionary states alike. These systems have however been replaced, in some European states, by new top-down systems of power which embed greater control over citizens than the old. These far-reaching national and global shifts require our full attention as individuals. However, the frameworks that regulate the ‘local’, the ‘specific’ and the ‘personal’ within our lives need no less vigilance; indeed they need frequent re-assessment. While our attention is elsewhere, the abuse or appropriation of these frameworks by private interests and elected national and local representatives, is incrementally eroding the freedoms of the individual and changing our increasingly regulated, public space.  Sustained actions within public spaces, including performative ones, can change how and who uses public space. S.A.D is an art project that works in the spaces and frameworks described above.

 

S.A.D is an ever-growing, archive that is collecting small, discreet, performative actions, and non actions, that have been realized by artists and citizens from different communities, as a response to the inequities, discrepancies, absurdities and abuse of historical laws/bye-laws, demands, constitutions and commands of government as they impact their specific local communities and spaces. Each action, which places the body in a different public space, is a form of local or personal empowerment, cultural disruption and a form of civil disobedience. It is a pedagogy of action.

 

Each time, the project is resident in a community, works from the archive and new works created during the resident period, are exhibited or performed in a space associated with the host organisation’s locality.

 

There are two processes by which the actions (art works) and/or their documentation are delivered to the project curators and the ever-growing project archive. Either, citizens including artists can ‘loan’ their completed action and/or its documentation, realized through a self-directed process, to the project archive. Alternatively, citizens (including artists and communicators working in other disciplines) can bring their idea/proposal for an as-yet unrealized action to the temporary project space located within the host community.

 

During the project’s residency in a community, workshops are held where ‘action’ proposers, invited guest artists and the project’s legal advisor, come together to discuss the proposed ‘acts of disobedience’. The specific law/bye-law or command as it functions today is interrogated; in some cases revealing its abuse or appropriation by corporate interests: and the group is encouraged to raise concerns, engage in dialogue about how meaning is constructed and offer feedback to the proposal, acting as a framing device for the action (historically and otherwise). If requested by the proposer, the group can devise an alternative action or inaction that presents information or points to an amendment to the legal framework in question, through an aesthetic means. S.A.D.’s residency can provide assistance with the realisation of the action by the proposer, including paying for its performance, exhibition and documentation thereby acting as project co-curators and producers. In addition to providing a pedagogy of action, the workshop is a social experience (hot drinks and baked goods are integral), and supports social interaction as a form of cultural production. In order to create a space of equals creating art, all participants, bring an idea or proposal, no bystanders are allowed.

 

S.A.D. is building an ever-increasing archive of existing projects/art works and proposals (both realised and unrealized); for future exhibition or performance.  Documentation of some of the individual projects within the framework of Small Acts of Disobedience are accessible online at the project site – www.portlandgreen.com/PGArt/sad.

 

The project is also building a ‘library’ of quotes, texts, books and media emanating from the critical frameworks in which this work is situated. Here is one from the former commissioner of police:

“There are so many spaces in London which have a set of bye-laws where almost everything is forbidden, except breathing”
Lord Blair, Former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service

 
The library will be available to the public at each residence.

 

Portland Green, Concept

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PARTICIPATE in S.A.D.

 

BARKING and DAGENHAM
In February 2015, we were awarded a Creative Barking and Dagenham Landmark Commission Research and Development Award to develop SHORT CUT, by artist Stijn Van Dorpe as part of the project Small Acts of Disobedience for future presentation in the borough. Portland and Stijn spent a month, just prior to the 2015 general election in the borough talking to residents and business owners about SHORT CUT and civil disobedience.

MANIFESTA 9

SMALL ACTS OF DISOBEDIENCE was selected for presentation at MANIFESTA 9 as part of the Parallel Events Programme from May 31 (Preview) to September 30 2012. For Manifesta 9, three works loaned to the S.A.D archive were presented: S.A.D Archive Project Nos: 10, 11 and 12. Documentation from this presentation is available on this site.
 

 

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CRITICAL WRITING

 

As world events rage over the planet, civil life seems to be becoming more and more problematic and unresolvable. The global problems the world is facing politically and economically have lead to more violence, more repression, more rules and regulations, more security devices, more, more…Nevertheless, more freedom and more equality seem a long way ahead.This project, Small Acts of Disobedience, investigates the possibilities left when the margins for freedom seem to be thinning. The invention of attitudes, dispositions, and the resources of micro-politics open up avenues that can unblock a situation. Artistic interventions or productions will not change the world in any direct fashion. They will however encourage shifts, starting with shifts in the imagination.

To Obey or to Disobey an essay by Chantal Pontbriand

 

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S.A.D.in your community

 

You can book S.A.D to work with your community.

As a host, community members can bring their idea/proposal for an as-yet unrealized action to the temporary project space provided by the host, to one of the regularly held group ‘workshops’ and a work from the archive can be re-activated/performed/exhibited.

During the workshop, the proposers, invited guest artists and the project’s legal advisor, come together to discuss the proposed ‘acts of disobedience’. The specific law/bye-law or command as it functions today is interrogated; in some cases revealing its abuse or appropriation by corporate interests: and the group is encouraged to raise concerns, engage in dialogue about how meaning is constructed and offer feedback to the proposal, acting as a framing device for the action (historically and otherwise). If requested by the proposer, the group can devise an alternative action or inaction that presents information or points to an amendment to the legal framework in question, through an aesthetic means. The group can provide assistance with the realisation of the action by the proposer, including paying for its performance, exhibition and documentation thereby acting as project co-curators and producers. The workshop is a social experience (hot drinks and baked goods are integral), and supports social interaction as a form of cultural production. In order to create a space of equals creating art, all participants, bring an idea or proposal, no bystanders are allowed.

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LOAN TO S.A.D. ARCHIVE

 

Artists can ‘loan’ documentation of their completed action, realized through a self-directed process, to the project archive. During the exhibition/performance of the project at the host site, archived projects are represented/performed/exhibited.

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PRESS / REVIEWS

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