Brief encounters: delayed closure as a social art practice

Shepley, Alec (2016) Brief encounters: delayed closure as a social art practice. In: SHARING CULTURES 2015 - 4th International Conference on Intangible Heritage, 21-23 September, 2015, Lagos, Portugal.

Paper - Waiting Room - delayed closure as a form of social art practice in a former church (Lagos, 2015).docx
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Paper - Waiting Room - delayed closure as a form of social art practice in a former church (Lagos, 2015).docx

Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


Often an unfinished or incomplete work is regarded with varying degrees of scepticism and even negativity to a certain extent - as if inconclusiveness somehow equates with failure, and the complete connected with success. On the other hand an unfinished object may also be seen as ‘invitational’ e.g. a door not having been given an attractive surface appearance in the final stage of manufacture as the item may be supplied unfinished for you to paint yourself!

The unfinished work maintains a provisional relationship to its surroundings - to its present. There are many historical examples of works of art, literature, music, film and architecture that have been left unfinished and often the hand of fate has played a key role in this. However, an artwork that is unfinished through a deliberate artistic strategy speaks to our condition as humans and preserves an experimental ‘laboratory’ feel that is essential to its interpretation and appreciation. The work or object in this condition delays closure – it speaks about what is not there and in so doing conjures a dialogue with what is actually present. The deliberately unfinished work can on the one hand be seen to encourage anticipation, hopes and dreams - a more open, inventive, participatory plurality of voices, and on the other hand unrealised dreams. Whichever end of the scale you subscribe to, the unfinished work amounts to a proposition to engage in the work productively - in its potential future(s) - and situates those encountering the work in the present - in what Benjamin calls ‘the time of the now’. Rather than focussing [yet again] on failed utopias or abandoned hope this paper will focus on a year-long residency, including a series of micro engagements undertaken by this artist-presenter at ‘x-church’ in the UK, and will provide practical examples of current artistic research in the form of the unfinished project as a strategic mode of engagement and renewal. The project seeks to showcase contemporary artworks and practices that speak to a ‘lasting and immaculate present’ through the unfinished.

Keywords:delayed closure, Contemporary Art Practice, practice research, utopia and dystopia, situated artwork, situatedness, bmjconvert
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art
W Creative Arts and Design > W160 Fine Art Conservation
W Creative Arts and Design > W990 Creative Arts and Design not elsewhere classified
W Creative Arts and Design > W130 Sculpture
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Fine Arts)
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ID Code:19063
Deposited On:17 Oct 2015 08:37

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