INTERVENTIONS

The methods used in curating long-term art interventions in public spaces over the past decade is proving useful grounding for developing new economic spaces for these challenging Covid times.


Previous interventions

I founded the Platform-7 network out of the creative customer base of my Moonbow Jakes coffee bars and theatre in 2009. Beginning with one-off large scaled events, I curated my first 3-month intervention in 2011, in Margate, Kent, which followed the impact of the Turner Contemporary art gallery on the nearby deprived area of Cliftonville. I have curated several more since then of various lengths, including 3-months in a riot-abandoned Blockbusters video in Catford, discussing impact of technology, and 4-months in a disused HMV record store in the City of London discussing consumption and wastefulness.

Intervention methodologies

Interventionist methodologies go back centuries in various forms and in more recent times generally tied to philosophy and resistance. To the modern viewer, interventionism can seem a little too abstract to understand as the process trumps the goal. In modern capitalist business thinking, there must be a strategic aim, objective and final goal, usually meaning a profitable financial transaction. Interventionism borrows heavily from the arts, where often the process is the most enjoyable and rewarding aspect. Interventions still have strategic goals, for example to influence people to reconsider why they have the opinions they do on subjects as diverse as war, environment or art. However, they do not seek to lead but to engage on an equal footing, which allows the intervention to adapt, evolve and transmogrify as more people add their input.

End product

Moonbow Margate (2011) | From this (L) to this (R) in 6 weeks

My interventions have attracted thousands of people, the majority arriving close to the end, when the space is alive, buzzing and full of interesting art, people and discussion. Yet for those who wander in near the outset there is usually a more mixed reaction. Many will just see an empty room. Artists will see a gallery space. And then there are those who are seeking to pivot their own life.

Waste Agency (2014-15) | From this (L) to this (R) in 4 weeks

Interventionist journey

For those in the midst of personal change, the road can seem lonely. Our Western conditioning tends to focus on practical solutions to these periods of life; a change of job or relationship, go travelling, buy a new car. Too often these answers are only short-lived, with the urge, itch, unhappiness soon returning and sometimes leading to anxiety and other negative impacts. The blank canvas that the interventionist approach offers can represent, in physical form, the anxiety that discarding convention causes; and this becomes attractive to those seeking a break from personal conformity.

“Anxiety levels were highest among an estimated 8.6 million people whose income fell, according to the weekly survey on the impact of coronavirus.”

BBC, Money worries in pandemic drive surge in anxiety, 4 May 2020

Tapescape Catford (2012) | From this (L) to this (R) in 2 weeks

Post-covid anxiety

One of the major issues becoming apparent from this pandemic across the Western world is the increasing level of anxiety. The disruption to ‘normality’ through lockdown has forced many to reassess the way they have lived life up to this point. Whether or not people keep or lose their jobs, some will be considering how they lived before the lockdown is really how they will want to live and spend their time post this period.

Fourth Portal

“Covid-19 will only increase automation anxiety”   

FT Headline, Opinion | Artificial Intelligence, 21 April 2020

Fourth Portal will be a commercial led intervention, and the conclusion to this first part of the Haphazard Business journey, creating an innovation hub. Using the interventionist methods touched on above, these new Fourth Portals will be technology led retail-esque cum gallery spaces, exploring what the world may look-like post Covid-19. The spaces will evolve over the summer of 2020, encouraging people to share their thoughts and add their input, creating some completely unique spaces in Great Yarmouth, fit for the coming 4IR.

John M

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