Saturday, 25 September 2010

there is beauty in the city meets the stranger at the party

artist cara lockley has a day long programme of interactive and investigative arts in the public realm of the Old Market area of Bristol happening today. The day consists of a variety of projects, one of which will see 200 beauty in the city magnets given out - encouraging a reframing of how this rundown, but still beautiful urban area is seen. we're looking forward to seeing a rich variety of images.

The Stranger at the Party combines a contemporary art event and curatorial intervention, which employs temporary actions and presentations in public space.

The project's title is appropriated from the 1961 theory of human behavior by Canadian sociologist Erving Goffman. In 'Encounters' Goffman considers the structure of everyday experiences in relation to the manipulation of the individual by society as a whole. Goffman's 'stranger at the party' anchors the gathering of multiple social groups as a mode of focused interaction or memorable experience. The project intends to provoke encounters and investigate the formation of tactics for building relationships between artworks and audiences.

The encounter; a brief, casual, often chance meeting or conflict, here acts as a device that cultivates relationships between artworks and audiences. By considering the project as a constructed situation, the performances and visual artworks presented respond to the social context within which they are displayed, and in most cases within which they have been conceived. The Stranger at the Party blends-in, hides, confronts, provokes, investigates, and causes ruptures, whilst recognizing the significance of the art of encounters in the changing economic climate.

Old Market suffered significantly in the Bristol Blitz during World War Two, and was subsequently not rebuilt by Bristol planners, which caused the loss of a vital balance. During the 1960s radical plans began to emerge which resulted in massive changes to the area including; the construction of an underpass, and the vast demolition of housing on Old Market's two main streets. The Stranger at the Party celebrates the diverse social history of the area, and in essence, re-activates the streets in celebration of the past, present and future of Old Market. It aims to bring back some of the liveliness that has been displaced during the area's development. Temporality and unpredictability here become curatorial frames which link art with human interaction and social context.

The Stranger at the Party is curated by Cara Lockley, and is a demonstration of her current curatorial practice.

My hope for The Stranger at the Party is that the participating artists and audiences, including individuals and groups who are aware of the project's existence and accidental passers-by, will thread aspects of their encounters with the world into the fabric of the works and the project as a whole. The project is not intended as a representation of what we know, or documentation of what already exists, but as a way to encourage a rethinking of social relations at large. (Lockley: 2010)

Lockley is an independent curator, currently based in Bristol, UK. She specializes in the production, and manipulation of situations for the presentation of contemporary artworks. Often working in close collaboration with other artists, Lockley's practice deals with the notions of encounter, intervention, and temporality. She engages with these fields of interest through the development, and coordination, of visual arts and performance projects.

Lockley completed her BA Hons in Fine Art at Staffordshire University in 2007, and has since contributed to and initiated a number of contemporary art projects including the Bristol / Cardiff based artist collective Hand In Glove. She is also currently completing an MA in Curating with University College Falmouth incorporating Dartington College of Arts.

Lockley's recent curatorial projects include; Platform 2010, in Bristol, Fragment, in Totnes, Devon and TAKE PLACE, in association with Spacex, Exeter.

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