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This is a short text that accompanied an exhibition at Chelsea Space in London, January 24th - March 3rd 2007

The ice trade, that is the trade in huge cubes of ice hewn from the frozen lakes of North America or Scandinavia and shipped to warmer climes, exists somewhere between brute fact and fairytale.

The trade existed, flourished even, throughout the later part of the 19th century. Grainy photographs depicting sawn meter square cubes of ice, cut from the frozen crusts of freshwater lakes are waiting, stored as documents in relevant archives. You can visit luxury loft apartments inserted into the hollow remnants of bunker-like Ice houses – warehouses for frozen water - found in many former ports of Britain, especially in Bristol, Liverpool, and London. There is also compulsive testimony from the American author, naturalist and philosopher Henry David Thoreau writing one of the foundational texts of the environmental movement, Walden (published in 1854). Thoreau records the cold winter of 46/7 when from the window of his forest cabin he sees the frozen skin of Walden pond being stripped by a hundred Irish labourers, and carted away.

‘[….] in a good day they could get out a thousand tons, which was the yield of about one acre.’

Museums and Archives always exist in the present, yet their endless ‘waiting without forgetting’ locates them in our imagined past.

Our own recent past has been marked by an increasing number of new museums, mushrooming around the globe.  The museum, or the idea of the museum - like a parable from the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges - has become the space to preserve our culture; the museum is the ideal destination of everything. Re-found objects from the distant, and not so distant past are restored and preserved there, new technologies compete for inclusion in museums of design and industry.

To enter the museum is to enter the past of the present, and participate in the value of things.

In the summer of 2009 I walked for a month as a pilgrim to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. I walked the Rutal del Norte which was used by pilgrims when the Muslim pressence - until the 15th century - made travel along the Camino Francés too difficult and dangerous.  Much of the route follows the line of the old Roman road, the Via Agrippa which threads its way along a ribbon of land between the mountains of the Picos de Europa to the south, and the sea to the north.

Daniel García AndújarThe second of the Procesos de archivo/ Archivalprocess. expert working sessions took place at Intermediæ in Madrid. The working sessions are to enable the core curatorial team to gain knowledge and experience. The sessions are closed but resources will be on-line soon.

Artist Daniel García Andújar, founder of the post-capital archive lead the sessions. In the first, Daniel gave an overview of his ideas of the archive, and in the second talked through his post-capital archive and its exhibition.

I wrote into Daniel’s presentation as he spoke, following are the tweaked notes....

As part of Sequelism; Possible, probable or preferable futures at the Arnolfini I will screen Museum Futures: Distributed, a machinima record of the centenary interview with Moderna Museet’s executive Ayan Lindquist in June 2058. It explores a possible genealogy for contemporary art practice and its institutions, by re-imagining the role of artists, museums, galleries, markets, manufactories and academies.

The screening will be followed with a discussion led by Max and Mariana of Latitudes curators of Sequelism.

Sequelism is a cultural investigation into how representations of the future affect the present.

I'll be in  Kennington Park London, on Sunday 5th July

To refine and generate some of the intellectual content, and perhaps some of the participants for Parade, Critical Practice are planning to convene a PubliCamp in Kennington Park – a former common, scene of a huge public Chartist gathering, enclosed (with Royal sponsorship), and now a ‘public’ park.

We intend to explore different conceptions of the publicness - historical, cultural, political, social, architectural and digital. We aim to develop a shared ethic towards the notion of public goods and will not be deterred by the disagreeable, contentious, messy, inefficient, live, improvisatory and provisional nature of Being in Public. Public, common or shared resources are like muscles, they become stronger with exercise.

I contribute to the editorial board of Documents of Contemporary Art, these are readers co-published by the Whitechapel Gallery and MIT press.

In recent decades artists have progresively expanded the boundaries of art, as they have sought to engage with an increasingly varied social, political and cultural environment. Likewise, being an artist, teaching, curating and/or interpreting art and visual culture is no longer the perogative of traditional disciplines, but consists of overlapping practices centered on significant ideas, topics and themes. Ranging from the Everyday to Beauty, the psychoanalytical to the political.

The Documents of Contemporary Arts series emerges from these contexts. Each volume -edited by a guest scholar, artist critic or curator - focuses on a specific subject or body of thought that has been a key influence on current international art. 

Political philosopher Professor Michael Sandel delivered the first of the BBC's 2009 Reith Lectures.

A New Citizenship builds on a lifetime’s work exploring issues around democracy, ethics and ‘politics of the common good’. Many of the themes we are developing within Critical Practice, especially for publicness

The first lecture called for a new politics of the common good.

I wrote into the lecture as I listened, and then ammended those notes

First Sandel suggested we have to recognise the limits, the moral limits of the idea of a competitive market. Clearly, markets are not the best technology for achieving a public good. So, to enable markets to contribute - to a public good, we need to reconnect them to different structures of evaluation; moral, ethical, environmental, etc. And to drives for social justice. Collective integrity and shared values have to triumph over individual greed. But how?

For Sandel, self interest is a personal need; like self respect, self-worth, and self love. And like greed or profit, these drives animate markets. Markets are connected to welbeing, therefore we need markets. They are also very good at distributing resources, but we have to recognise thay are a limited technology. There are some things that money, at work in markets cannot buy - like  friendship, and some things money should not buy - like a child.

Jorge expert 1The first of the Procesos de archivo/ Archivalprocess. 'expert working sessions' took place at Intermediæ in Madrid. The working sessions are to enable the core curatorial team to gain knowedge and experience. The sessions are closed but resources will be on-line soon.

Artist and amateur archivist Jorge Blasco Gallardo, founder of Culturas de Archivo and Amateurarchivist lead the sessions.

In the first, Jorge gave an extraordinary 5 hour tour-de-force presentation on the history, politics and philosophy of the idea of the archive.

I wrote into Jorge’s presentation as he spoke, following are the tweaked notes....

Museum Futures: Distributed will be screened as part of What are we going to do after we’ve done what we’re going to do next? is a curatorial film selection by Latitudes for The Uncertainty PrincipleMACBA, Barcelona, Spain.

The Uncertainty Principle' is a programme produced by the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) divided in four parts, which through conferences, performances, cinema, video programmes and artist presentations sets out to analyse the multiple ways of generating a hypothesis.

What are we going to do after we’ve done what we’re going to do next? consider the notion of memory in reverse, prognosis, doubt and strategic foresight within the arena of futurology, in particular narratives of time travel. How we might look beyond the present with or without recourse to established genres?

You can see a sliver of Museum Futures or read the transcribed machinima dialogue

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Villa Arson, NiceIglesia del Santa SepulchroCollaborative mappingBoadilla babesAbandoned houseDaniel expert 1