Scratching the Surface: Stretch, Resonance and Resilience

25 Jan-7 Feb 2023


For two weeks, Kneed: Ishwari Bhalerao and Leonie Rousham, will be using the gallery at Lewisham Arthouse as a research space – to read, chat, discuss, draw, bring, take and exchange thoughts, ideas, practices, critiques and support. As a starting point, we will feel our way through this research process, using terms Stretch, Resonance and Resilience – inspired by Ruth Wilson Gilmore. We will be using these as a way of understanding the role research has in cutting through the arts and cultural landscape in the UK. Often built on oppressive and exploitative models these institutions continue to employ extractive strategies; from funding structures heavily reliant on sources which fund oil, war and apartheid, to the co-option of marginalised people and spaces for private interest and profit… and so on…and so on…

Sean Roy Parker writes in his essay Vague Decay Now, ‘I’m not staring at the art but through it, at the labour, materials, hierarchies and supply chain logistics that go into its production’ – how do we place attention back onto the economy that surrounds the artwork? The things we make, the places we exhibit in, their makers, participants and audiences, exist within an economy. How can we place our attention back onto these everyday items, relationships, moves of hand, and ships and sales that are the ‘cultural scaffolding holding contemporary art up’ but often forgotten. By placing our attention back onto these interconnected structures, can this research process be an opportunity for the scaffolding to slowly come back into the foreground.

Scratching the Surface: Stretch, Resonance, Resilience, is a framework through which we think about the economy of things that are making up the art and its context- the low-waged, racialised, plastic, extractive, mass produced, the public and the private bureaucracies that helped us get here. How can we learn from and imagine liberated models of making, being in relationship with, sharing, collaborating and being artists?