The Artist Placement Group: an archaeology of impact

Rycroft, Simon (2019) The Artist Placement Group: an archaeology of impact. Cultural Geographies, 26 (3). pp. 289-304. ISSN 1474-4740

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Mid-20th century experiments in aesthetics underpin the establishment of the first artist-in-residence schemes which were established by the Artist Placement Group from 1966. Documents from two underused archives, the Tate’s Artist Placement Group archive and the John Latham Archive, tell the story of the organisation. Tracing this story helps outline one aspect of the pre-history of impact in the geohumanities. The Artist Placement Group had a radical agenda that was in part taken from the artistic philosophy of one of its co-founders, the conceptual artist John Latham. Artists who were placed in a variety of workplace and community settings were not obliged to produce art objects, but rather to work with organisations in a way that might affect their development. This affective engagement in which the outcomes of the placement were co-produced with participants bears many similarities to contemporary practices of impact in the geohumanities. Despite their idiosyncratic outlook, underpinned as it was by Latham’s time-based cosmology, the Artist Placement Group placed artists in a number of large and influential organisations. Although the Artist Placement Group ultimately failed, the lesson from the story told here is not one that suggests our current endeavours might suffer the same fate. Rather, it is to celebrate and highlight the possibilities and potentials of belligerently different ways of thinking and doing impact.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: artist in residence, Artist Placement Group, geohumanities, John Latham, mid-century
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
Depositing User: Sharon Krummel
Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2018 10:23
Last Modified: 14 Aug 2020 11:45

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