Leeds School of Arts

Tacit Agreements

This June, Gallery House will hold an event by Leeds Beckett University MA Art and Design as part of INDEX, under the banner of Yorkshire Sculpture International.

Student work - plants and colourful fabric

This large scale international event brings together a number of alternative spaces comprising the fringe event programme, attached to YSI exhibitions and public commissions. The project is a timely acknowledgement of the energy of Yorkshire's art schools, independent artists' studios and project spaces, bringing them into a close relation with the city museums and public institutions, to establish Yorkshire Sculpture International as a world class event.

Featuring work by:

Charlotte Allen, Christopher Bennigsen, James Blackmore, Jordan Cale-Riley, Sophie Carrington, Ian Dashper, Alexandra Francis, Harrison Hirst, Njoki Kahungura, Zahra Malik, Rick Marriner, Charlotte Mear, Rachel Hazell, Victoria Patterson, Stephanie Rawcliffe, Lauren Reibbitt, Raymond Rodriguez, Joana Sousa, Nicholas Shearon, Matthew Walsh, Danny Tootell, Frances Watson

An exhibit from the show

Tacit Agreements

“A ball is not an ordinary object, for it is what it is only if a subject holds it. Over there, on the ground, it is nothing; it is stupid; it has no meaning, no function, and no value. Ball isn’t played alone. Those who do, those who hog the ball, are bad players and are soon excluded from the game. They are said to be selfish. The collective game doesn’t need persons, people out for themselves. Let us consider the one who holds it. If he makes it move around him, he is awkward, a bad player. The ball isn’t therefore the body; the exact contrary is true: the body is the object of the ball; the subject moves around this sun”. Michel Serres on ‘quasi-objects’, in Parasite

'Tacit' is a kind of knowledge, unspoken, and difficult to express, yet is arguably paramount in reaching agreements of value. A tacit understanding differs from one employing empirical and logical means of communication, predetermined by technology networks. The tacit, or silent understanding between exhibiting artists, is not predetermined by facts, or curatorial will, but by an agreement to open interpretation from many subjective positions of equal value. A tacit agreement will allow for different kinds of experience to be shared, in this case upon a grid marked out on the gallery floor, without demands for categorical description or authorial identification. The construction of artworks follows a method using a simple algorithm, live on the web, that locates exact positions on a world grid. The online mapping tool is designed precisely to identify global hyper-reality by generating random combinations of words.

However, the algorithm can be taken at face value, arbitrary and nonsensical as its ‘three words’ title is, to provide starting points. They incite dormant recollection of memories of past and future places. By excavating specific objects and images from their associations, a certain displacement occurs, and a game played. At the same time, the agreement to work collectively frees up language itself as a space of invention. The ‘three words’ aspect is, in fact, no longer relevant to what happens in the play. These affects proliferate beyond the stupidity of dwelling upon their origin. We are directed to the sleeping dormouse at an infamous tea party, spouting inconsequential rubbish, yet whose pretentiousness is laced with the tacit playfulness of British humour, to invoke a grotesque menagerie from a state of sublime stupor.

The project 'Tacit Agreements' explores the ground of collective memory in the mapping of experiences, where both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ may embrace each as the other, arbitrary objects of knowledge. The group maps the gallery space, dividing geometrically, 3 metre by 3 metre to mark out 24 squares [curiously like an alphabet] to adjust sculpture from this awkward, tacit understanding, providing a ‘quasi-object’, like a ball in a game. Here we get to play many games. The domain of quasi-objects, of course, does not end here. Algorithms, monies, animals, microbes, and natural resources can all come and do come to function as quasi-objects. These quasi-objects all bend human practices in a variety of ways and constantly configure and reconfigure human relations among one another.

The algorithm, a ghost in the machine, does not always 'know' what is to be done in its name, even if it is constantly at work manufacturing a best version of 'You' or ‘Me’. While busy re-engineering space and time, left to its own devices, it overlooks a more coded, and clandestine human conversation where the customs, practices, and institutions on which people have relied or which they have valued cease to exist, will never the less produce antagonists, playing in the ruins of language, to ensure the demise of behavioural certainty that this is just the game, playing with lives, of little consequence than language itself.

As artists, we ask, to what purpose, do we tacitly agree to play the game?

Tacit Agreements Part 2, will be held as the end of year exhibition of MA Art & Design, at Leeds Beckett University, Broadcasting Place in early September 2019.

Peter Lewis

Senior Lecturer / Leeds School Of Arts

Peter Lewis is an artist and curator. His work has extended over two decades, holding posts as varied as the Chief Curator of Sharjah Biennale, and Independent Curator at Kunstverein, Bregenz. He has curated projects at Tramway and Tate Modern, publishing new research in his journal.

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