On Conversation

There has been a well documented rise in the use of conversation in contemporary art. As a result conversation as a tool and medium is now embedded in our collective understandings of art. But more often than not when discussing a work we acknowledge that conversation took place and its outcomes without delving into the nature of the conversation or its formal properties.

The forthcoming gathering of a Performance Ethics Working Group seeks to go deeper and examine the specific aesthetic, ethical and social/political aspects of conversation in art. It plans to build a better understanding of the skills and considerations that artists bring to bear on the act of conversation, situating this practice within the increased interest in the role of conversation in contemporary society.

To begin this research the Performance Ethics Working Group was invited to undertake an onsite research project, alongside the exhibition Share/Cheat/Unite at Te Tuhi. The onsite part of the research was conducted during September 2016, in a (rather self reflexive) open conversational manner alongside some public talks and interviews which will go towards a new podcast series.

Stage Two: Monthly meet-ups to build and share knowledge taking place through 2017, hosted by Audio Foundation, Auckland CBD. Check the front page of this site for information about the next meeting.

Actions to date:
The discussion and collaboration group – Negotiating Conversational Frequencies – met between 2pm and 4pm Thursdays September 8,15, 22 and 29 at Te Tuhi. Participants in the discussion group included: Melissa Laing, Leon Tan, Jeremy Leatinu’u, Tosh Ahkit, John Vea, Xin Cheng, Chris Berthelsen, Amy Weng, Andrew Kennedy, Grace Wright, Raewyn Alexander, Grace Wright, Kelly Carmichael, Ivan Mrsic, Sean Curham, Kaoru Kodama.

Our first discussion group took place at Audio Foundation on 23 May and focused on Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of speech genres in relation to contemporary art practice. You can download a summary of Bakhtin’s theory here or the full essay The problem of Speech Genres here.

Participants in the 2017 discussion group include: Melissa Laing, Tosh Ahkit, Kaoru Kodama.

Interviews:
The following people and groups have been interviewed about the role of conversation in their practices. Mark Amery and Sophie Jerram (Letting Space, Urban Dream Brokerage), Ella Grace McPherson-Newton, Mark Harvey, Tosh Ahkit, Balamohan Shingade, Public Share and Tuafale Tanoai aka Linda T.