The Incidental Unit (IU, 2016 - present) continues the tradition of the Artist Placement Group (APG) and Organization and Imagination’s (O+I) concepts of the incidental person (IP) and incidentality. It does so by creating a collaborative critical discussion space to support the role of the IP and to define what it means to be an IP now. The IU seeks to encourage and foster IPs in their approach that interrupts existing institutional code, thereby creating the opportunity to develop new patterns in education, administration, planning processes and more.
The IU provides critical support space in which to discuss and exchange ideas with artists, curators and IPs without the expectations or evaluative frameworks of an artistic commission, gallery briefing or social project. To this end, the IU draws out key ideas, methods, process and rationale for maintaining the independent and critical work of artists and curators, connecting the historical legacy of the APG with the complex nature of social practice now.
The IU invites practitioners to submit a project for the online Directory that collects current practices inspired by the model and approach of placements.
Incidental Futures (2018 - 19), organised by Incidental Unit, was a public programme that toured seven cities in the UK to discover the national impact of the legacy of the Artist Placement Group, and subsequent Organisation + Imagination. For each event, a local artist was commissioned to lead a context-specific session in collaboration with the Incidental Unit.
The culminating event at South London Gallery took place over two days. A public study day explored historical examples of Artist Placement Group to consider how these experiments anticipated key challenges presently facing art, artists, the worlds of art and beyond. An Incidental Assembly followed, where artists selected from an open call presented contemporary practices inspired by Artist Placement Group highlighting the long-term impact of their project on cultural production across the UK.
List of hosts & commissioned artists:
Summerhall, Edinburgh: Anthony Schrag
Bluecoat, Liverpool: Niamh Riordan
Eastside Projects, Birmingham: General Public
Spike Island, Bristol: Oliver Sutherland, Conway and Young, Rising Arts Agency
Baltic 39, Newcastle: Bad Spirits (Dawn Bothwell and Paul Stewart)
Manchester Art Gallery: Jane Lawson
Incidental Assembly Artists at South London Gallery:
Michele Allen, Johann Arens, Charles Danby and Rob Smith, Corinna Dean, KALEIDOWORKS, Nicola Ellis, Simon Farid, Rob Flint, Amanda Loomes and Laura Purseglove.
Incidental Futures was coordinated by Polly Wright, co-curated by Marsha Bradfield and Polly Wright, and supported by Arts Council England, The Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM) of the University of Westminster, Flat Time House, and University of the Arts London.
For more information visit incidentalunit.org
Text by Polly Wright