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Topographies of the Obsolete: Phase Two Rhizomatic Trajectories

BROWNSWORD, Neil (2020) Topographies of the Obsolete: Phase Two Rhizomatic Trajectories. Topographies of the Obsolete, 5 . Topographies of the Obsolete Publications, Stoke-on-Trent. ISBN ISBN 978-82-93801-01-6

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Abstract or description

Topographies of the Obsolete is an artistic research project conceived in 2012 by University of Bergen Professors Neil Brownsword and Anne Helen Mydland, in collaboration with six European HEI’s1 and the British Ceramics Biennial. Emerging through two phases (2012-15; 2015-2020) it has to date engaged ninety-seven interdisciplinary artists, scholars, cultural commentators and students from thirteen countries. It has transformed participants’ practices, with works originating out of the initial research being celebrated on an international platform. Topographies of the Obsolete has received funding from a variety of institutions, alongside its core support from the Norwegian Artistic Research Programme (2013-15 & 2015-17), whose peer review system (2015) rated it as ‘exemplary... strengthening artistic research and its scope beyond potential communities of practitioners/researchers’.

In its first phase, the project evolved out of six site-specific residencies2 with a range of multi-media responses centred primarily around the former Spode ceramics factory and broader post-industrial landscape of Stoke-on-Trent. It positions itself within recent cultural discourse that critically interrogates the transformation of places, communities and sites of abandoned industry. The lure of ruination and ‘materiality of dereliction’ has endured in contemporary art to examine cultural and political concerns, which Topographies of the Obsolete extends, but has been distinguished by its analysis of a particular locality and industry. Focusing on the singularity and associated histories of the Spode site, phase one questioned how ‘ceramics’ can be interrogated via site-specific engagement beyond the traditional scope of its materiality. Through the perspectives of artistic research it has examined the geological, anthropological, socio-economic and global/historic dimensions of ‘ceramics’ to offer new insights into the complexities of deindustrialisation.

Through action/reflection strategies and Nyrnes’ rhetorical method (2006), interconnected research strands have evolved to examine the socio-economic impact of globalisation upon community and place, the contemporary ruin and the artist as post-industrial archivist/archaeologist. Numerous questions have emerged through these topics surrounding the role of the artist in a non-art space, and how to address a post-industrial site artistically and ethically. These themes and methods have since been extended, juxtaposed and mirrored back to Stoke-on-Trent and other post-industrial regions to develop a second phase of Topographies of the Obsolete.

Phase two has extended rhizomatic connections between individual lines of enquiry and the project’s overarching research strands to facilitate new trajectories where each partner institution has furthered discourse through an active and evolving process of investigation. This publication, the fifth in the series, draws together reflections nurtured through Topographies’ contextualising platform from both invited scholars and artists who remain connected to the project. It comprises of a range of descriptive, narrative and poetic texts which elucidate questions, contexts and methods that offer an alternative historiography of post- industrial sites and situations.

Item Type: Book / Proceeding
Faculty: School of Creative Arts and Engineering > Art and Design
Depositing User: Neil BROWNSWORD
Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2020 10:52
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2020 10:11
URI: http://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/id/eprint/6180

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