Lecture 2 – The Art of the Project

Johnnie Gratton and Michael Sheringhan in the first chapter of their book The Art of the Project comment how many contemporary cultural practices often involve the setting up of ‘experiments’ or ‘projects’. They comment how these so-called projects are defined by having a clearly designated spatial location in which they take place and a course of action that determines what is to be done and how frequently it is to occur. They are also governed by a strict set of self-imposed ground rules that guide the execution of the project itself.

Gratton and Sheringham note how such programmes of action are often indicative of the ‘ethnographic turn’ in art production, drawing influence from sociological, anthropological or documentary concerns. Equally such projects owe a debt to conceptual art with their playful, ironic or absurdist elements. The emphasis of such projects is not on the end result but on the process of undertaking the project itself according to the predetermined set of rules. The final results take a variety of differing forms that somehow produce an account of what took place.

Key Project: Tokyo Blues