Former West

Just when you’re looking for progress in this sector of artistic research, through the tough period of reduced resourcing and rising student numbers, with membership organisations and institutional partnerships promising to do so, Former West comes through in depth. Through the necessity of research linked to core funding, where knowledge, innovation and creativity strategies are made visible and where the structural profiling of ‘active research staff’, (people who used to be called artists, art historians etc) gains funding points, such obligations have given rise to a decade of conferences and projects where good intentions have frequently resulted in a struggle to achieve sustainable connectivity. FW are doing much more than going through the motions.

Former West stand out as a leading agency, presenting their work with a sense of direct access. One of the continuing problems of most academic / artistic / cultural sector research sites seems to be with the incoherency that indivdual ‘staff/research’ practices have in relation to one another conceptually and contextually, this being for both internal and external colleagues with the tendency for any binding qualities to remain over temporalised and unsatisfactory.

The selective coherency about Former West allows the purpose of such a usefully binding exploration and dialogue to become a series of exchanges combining specific criticality with developing an historic awareness that is both present and continuously evolving.  This leads to the content  and dialogues being stimulating and refreshing!

One dilemma FW has identified remains the need and indeed mystery as to how to identify and engage contemporary practitioners, with most contributors being theorists, philosopers and cultural curators. It could be that due to the broad incoherencies in institutional  practices, this concern FW has to engage artists more is problematised by institutional research organisation.

A focus on purpose, communication and collaborative dialogue could be a central engagement for the artistic research groups within the academies, whose groups even now, appear to becoming more and more marginalised from each another. It could be a time for some fundamental re-examining of the relationships of individual and thematic practices and a re-invigoration of purposeful, collaborative institutional research.



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