The official debate between exhibitors at Subvision Festival centred around the discussion of what was or was not 'off' art, and what exactly an 'off-art' initiative should be aiming to do. Given the festival's early description of it's remit, my understanding was that in this case the term 'off' was synonymous with 'marginal'. My opinion is that the term marginal is more appropriately applied to a gallery/initiative's practical structure than directly to it's programme, and that an organisation's marginality indicates its intention to conduct activities that are not concerned with commercial viability. Marginal institutions' characteristic gravitation towards the geographical, architectural and/or conceptual peripheries (including galleries that exist through mail-outs or online), and away from established centres of art, is not just a symptom of economic necessity, it is a tactical move.
In some cases (e.g. certain galleries associated with London's Peckham/Deptford 'scenes') what can be perceived as marginality represents nothing more than a failure to yet make the 'right' type of connections required to become commercially successful and claim a place in the main-stream. Such fledgling commercial galleries temporarily gather together in areas of cheap rent, and the term marginal is often, though wrongly, applied.
Marginal initiatives are those that have written commercial inviability into their operating structure as a system to vouchsafe the type of programme they aspire to deliver. Naturally, the removal of an inclination to become financially profitable, and the ongoing commitment to pour money earned in other ways into the projects creates both the ability to support work in the critical, rather than the tangible, field of cultural output and a keen desire to invest in projects of the highest 'worth'.
i-cabin, October 2009.
Entry Points - Subvision Festival.
Christina Mackie, James Hardy, Lewis Amar, Alec Dunnachie, Richard Healy, Sebastian Craig, Tyler Coburn, Darren Norman, Brandon Alvendia, Duncan McAfee.
Entry Points was conceived as a text and a public discussion. The text referred to a group of ten artists and attempted to offer a short analysis of the intentions each had for the functionality of their work and their practice as artists. It sought to query what each would consider to be an important action and chart the value of a work by each artist on a scale of ideological activism. It seemed necessary to include the ten works which the text was using as signs of either conscious or subconscious decisions or beliefs, as to not include them would be to deny the opportunity to critique the text in the presence of it's subjects. The space was divided to provide two equal elements, the text and the works, either one being capable of reduction to an accompaniment for the other. The pink string used to separate the spaces is a material which has a history at i-cabin and can be seen as an attempt to unify the selection of works and the text under the banner of the project space and it's own history. A discussion followed the presentation of the text and the works for the purpose of publicly critiquing the project, which is part of i-cabin's ongoing commitment to offsite projects and collaborations.