The Radical Gallery
Radical Equality and Art
The philosopher Jacques Rancière proposed radical ideas in areas such as education and theatre, including the concepts of the ‘ignorant schoolmaster’ and the ‘emancipated spectator’. The Radical Gallery Proposition attempts to apply these principles in the context of art, picking up and experimenting with the ideas of the ‘ignorant artist’ and the ‘emancipated viewer’ as a starting point.
The Radical Gallery Proposition takes radical equality as a starting proposition and presupposes that there are no fixed definitions of terms such as art, artist and gallery. Focusing on the viewer’s experience, the Radical Gallery aims to activate art works outside established conventions and codes. This not only proposes radical ideas on the definition of art, it also offers new insights on urban regeneration, economic policy, self-development and the meaning of life.
Cliff Stevenson talks about the Radical Gallery during a residency at the De La Warr Pavilion:
Radical Gallery Proposition
All human beings are equal – There is no hierarchy in art. No-one is a ‘better artist’ than anyone else. The artist is a facilitator. Art can be inside or outside a gallery. Non-art can become art. Art might be owned, bought, sold, or lost, but none of these is a pre-requisite for it to be art. The art ‘industry’ operates as a subset of art.
Art is life – Every human being has an inherent creative sensibility. The experience of art is the full experience of living and produces states that could be described as enlivened, awakened and activated.
Art is something to be experienced – Art provokes experiences and feelings and can only occur in human presence. The art is never in an object, though an object might be part of the experience. Art is about feelings not words or explanations. Someone does not need to know the right words in order to have a meaningful art experience. Art can only be judged through experience, not by pre-defined criteria or coding systems that encourage recognition rather than experience.
There is never only one interpretation of an art work – We each bring our own living and cultural experiences to our reception and interpretation of an art work. Art cannot be fully developed until it is perceived and the perceiver plays the key role in activating an art work.
Activating ‘non-art’ into art involves intention – Art is everywhere, at all times, and often in the unexpected. The Radical Gallery celebrates the art of the unintended through an intentional process of activation.
The art experience is powerful – The experience of art provides an internal regeneration that allows a full connection to be made with social, natural and urban environments. The experience of art goes beyond logic and reason. It allows direct experience of dimensions beyond the 3-D material world. Through the possibility of experiencing the whole, art is the doorway to knowing the unknown.
The artist can be commissioned to activate Radical Gallery Space on request
Activated Radical Gallery Spaces
Tunbridge Wells (Radical Gallery Tunbridge Wells)
Brighton (Radical Gallery Brighton)
Bexhill (Radical Gallery Bexhill)
St Leonards (Radical Gallery St Leonards)
Hastings (Radical Gallery Hastings)
Whitstable (Radical Gallery Whitstable)
Folkestone (Radical Gallery Folkestone)
Q&A with the Artist
What is the significance of the term ‘radical’ when discussing equality?
Most people would agree that all human beings are equal. Yet so much of our lives are riddled with inequalities. For me, radical equality is about being hyper-vigilent in questioning every label, boundary and code. Deleuze and Guattari talk about over-coding and I really agree with them. Queer theory is also articulating a new methodology which emanates from sex and gender studies but hits on a concept that has universal application. So when I use the term radical equality it means being un-compromising in sticking to that objective. This means questioning every convention, label and code that claims to identify what is art and what is not art, what is the gallery and not, and who is an artist and who is not.
It doesn’t sound very kind if you call yourself an ignorant artist.
It’s not about denigrating myself in any way. For me, approaching making art from a position of ignorance is about humility. I love being an artist and I think have a really creative mind and an imaginative approach to making art. However, I don’t believe that I’m superior in any way to those who view or participate in my work. Ultimately I believe that art is about the internal experience. There’s no experience that I have had that hasn’t been had by millions of human beings before me. And I don’t believe that there’s any experience that I’ve had that any viewer of my work couldn’t have.
Does someone have to like art to like your work?
That’s a great question and comes right to the heart of what I want to do as an artist. I aspire to produce work that has the potential to interest the person who is not interested in art. If work is inaccessible, it has an inherent inequality built into it.
Does this mean dumbing down the work?
Absolutely not! My work has very solid theoretical and methodological underpinnings. Ultimately my work is about experiencing infinity, exploring the meaning of life, experiencing the full capacity of all of the senses. There’s nothing dumbed down about that. I would hope that my work has an academic rigour and intellectual integrity. However, this comes after the work. I’m happy to sit and discuss my work for hours with anyone. But at the most basic level, I would hope that the response to my work is an emotional one. And this is accessible to anyone who is open to the experience and of course find interest in the experiences I am describing. I’m not trying to force this on the world!
You say that the Radical Galleries evolve. How does that work?
The way in which I select art works to activate is not through any preconception of what will make good works. I try and ignore the intellect and ego when identifying the works. I select the art works that touch me in terms of the type of experience that I have when I see art works that I like in the great galleries of the world. Once I feel any sort of engagement with an object or space in the activated gallery space, I spend a bit of time getting to know it. I visit it multiple times, I draw it, photograph it and start writing about it. This is a process by which I to get to know the work and even to start having a relationship with it. This is an evolutionary process and makes sense to me because I do see my relationship with these works as a living thing.