AffiliationNottingham Trent University
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AbstractGrant Kester was invited by Rhiannon Jones to speak at InDialogue to provide an international context and framework for InDialogue delegates on the use of dialogue in both practice and research. It was designed to be a conversation between Dr Rhiannon Jones and Professor Grant Kester – which took place at Nottingham Contemporary for InDialogue 2016. It was informed by a series of pre-rehearsed conversations that included time for reflections on the previous keynote by Professor Grant Kester at InDialogue in 2014. As a foreword to this conversation, reference was made to a previous conversation between Jones and Kester at InDialogue2014, (available here https://youtu.be/QDS4c-piY0w ) and the book written by Grant Kester ‘Conversation Pieces’ (2008), in which it is stated that conversations need to continue. To this end, the conversation for 2016 was carefully curated and designed to clearly signpost the dialogic methodological approach that both researchers take up as a position - which is that conversation is iterative and an ongoing / re-informing process. The decision was made to approach this conversation as a working paper, and to structure the conversation by application of a series of research questions to create a framework to generate a discourse between them, whilst also locating it within the national and international contemporary context for dialogic practice. It engaged with the overarching enquiry of InDialogue – which asks how artists and researchers use dialogue in their practice. This was then used as a device through which their conversation provided the engaging audience, made up of artists and researchers with the opportunity to present works, develop ideas and networks and to test out ideas. Their conversation part-curated, and part improvised discussion reflected their positions taken within the field about the role and use of the dialogic. In doing so, the conversation, engaged with contemporary references as well as those set out in texts written by Grant Kester, such as Conversation Pieces (2004) and The One and the Many (2011). The dialogue that occurred between Rhiannon and Grant set out the research terms of reference for the audience online and in the room - through which InDialogue engages with critically and practically. There was a total of 150 artists and researchers engaged with the session. It also embedded InDialogue as ' the only platform I (Grant Kester), know of that provides a space for substantive international exchange on issues associated with dialogue, across the boundaries of visual art, theatre and performance studies. It provides a rare opportunity for researchers and artists in all of these disciplines to learn from each other and does a great deal to advance the critical conversation in this burgeoning field. As dialogue and participation become ever more central methods across the arts and humanities events like InDialogue will only become more important. (Grant Kester, 2016). This conversation is considered as a live research enquiry, offering a specific time and space – literally and metaphorically for reflection and the generation of conversation. Equally this position or offering is addressed during the discussion - what is exactly meant by it? What can be ascertained through its use and what dialogic reflection means to the individual practitioner? The conversation opens with remarks from Rhiannon Jones on the movement of time, “both personally and professionally, certainly a lot has changed within the arts and academic communities world wide. So, what does that mean for us all on a day-to-day basis? How does this affect dialogically engaged practice research and where do we see this discipline heading over the forthcoming years? “(Jones, R. 2016 In Conversation with Grant Kester, InDialogue, UK) And Rhiannon continues by saying that “in speaking we will propose more questions and provide less answers - so that the conversation can indeed continue after this keynote with one another, and within our wide arts and research communities thereafter… “(Jones, R. 2016 In Conversation with Grant Kester, InDialogue, UK) Research Questions discussed: • When is dialogue “dialogic”? • What are the core principles? As artists and researchers, often working with the public in a very visible way, I would like to ask you what do you think our core principles for public engagement should now be? • How do we assess dialogical practice in the post-Brexit/Trump moment? Following on from this… How do we reassess the role of the dialogic, is the role of the dialogic more pertinent now than ever before as we enter a new era of post Trump and Brexit? • What are the limits of dialogue? How do we confront the limits of dialogue? Are there limits? How do we assess this? What do we measure dialogic practice against? Life/society/culture? • How do we measure impact? A question on the Impact of dialogic art projects – how do we measure impact – something we are asked to demonstrate more and more, is this something we can only achieve retrospectively? How are we living in an age of measurability and accountability, do we need to embrace this or fight against it – as artists as academics? Who is measuring who? Notes: Grant Kester, Professor of Art History and the founding editor of FIELD: A Journal of Socially Engaged Art Criticism. Kester is one of the leading figures in the emerging critical dialogue around “relational” or “dialogical” art practices. His publications include Art, Activism and Oppositionality: Essays from Afterimage (Duke University Press, 1998), Conversation Pieces: Community and Communication in Modern Art (University of California Press, 2004) and The One and the Many: Contemporary Collaborative Art in a Global Context (Duke University Press, 2011). His curatorial projects include “Unlimited Partnerships: Collaboration in Contemporary Art” at CEPA Gallery in Buffalo, New York in 2000 and “Groundworks: Environmental Collaborations in Contemporary Art” at Carnegie Mellon University in 2005. Kester's essays have been published in The Blackwell Companion to Contemporary Art Since 1945 (Blackwell, 2005). He is currently completing an anthology of writings by art collectives working in Latin America, in collaboration with Bill Kelley. Start YouTube video at 5:07:13
CitationKester, G. (2016). 'Keynote: Grant Kester In conversation with Rhiannon Jones'. 1 December, Nottingham Contemporary.
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