Toward a Lexicon of Usership
A meeting as a part of the series: Artist as an urban being: occurence, habits and policy
Fragment of “Toward a Lexicon of Usership"
Together with Stephen Wright we will reflect on the use and users of the public space, which is particularly attention-grabbing when focusing on the role of art and artists in the urban context.
Stephen Wright encourages us to ask basic questions about the meaning of “making use.” In what way is it different from “using?” In his opinion, this nuance is crucial for understanding the dynamics of use – be it language, tools, media, services, art or city. In Wright’s own words: “The term ‘making use’ suggests that using is not something given or evident, but rather that using needs to be crafted somehow. Using happens by chance, this is certain, but it never happens in itself, our help is instrumental here.“
Political subjectivity related to critical opportunism, which is specific for the act of using and the users themselves, not so much makes use of a situation, but rather creates it, just like in sports or in politics. The fact that usage is “made” and constantly processed can explain why expert culture usually deems using for abuse. “Making use” is of fundamental significance to our understanding of using as a form of political practice that opposes various manifestations of social and cultural hegemony. However, by assuming a natural perspective of bottom-up pragmatism, users do not “use" something, but rather “make use” of something – modifying all possible time-spaces for own (and others’) use.
In the context of our programme we will “make use” of concepts presented by Stephen Wright. We will take a look at the public art from the perspective of “bottom-up pragmatism”, deliberating about various methods of “making use” of art, city and art in the city.
The lecture is accompanied by a seminar for art theoreticians and a presentation of a Polish translation of Stephen Wright’s recent book “Toward a Lexicon of Usership", published in the latest issue of „Format P.“
Stephen Wright is a Paris-based art writer and teaches the practice of theory at the European School of Visual Arts (eesi.eu). His writing has focused primarily on the politics of usership, particularly in contexts of collaborative, extradisciplinary practices with variable coefficients of art. His current research seeks to understand the ongoing usological turn in art and society in terms of contemporary escapological theory and practice. In 2004, he curated The Future of the Reciprocal Readymade (Apexart, New York), in 2005 In Absentia (Passerelle, Brest), in 2006 Rumour as Media (Aksanat, Istanbul) and Dataesthetics (WHW, Zagreb), and is currently preparing, amongst other projects, Withdrawal: The Performative Document (New York) as part of a series of exhibitions examining art practices with low coefficients of artistic visibility, which raise the prospect of art without artworks, authorship or spectatorship. Born in 1963 in Vancouver, Canada, he lives and works in Paris.