Near the end of the project, I raised these issues with the Director of The Institution in the hope of developing a deeper dialogue with them about the problematics of my project. I discussed the difficulty in the constant moving of the studio, in the constantly un-moored barge, in the lack of contacts, in the outsourcing of community relationships, in the loneliness, in the violence I experienced, and in the general lack of infrastructure. I reminded her that I had left my family, my home and my social networks of support to work on this project and was hoping to find a way to make it successful and worthwhile for me, for The Institution, for CPP and – most importantly – the community. How could we overcome all these problems and make a good, meaningful project? She shrugged her shoulders, and flippantly said: ‘these difficulties are to be expected with these Guinea pig projects like yours.’(34)
Guinea Pig Project…
That is apparently what my project was: an experiment. This was the first I had heard of it. My own hurt feelings aside, I am not sure it is ethical to experiment on an artist, or an unsuspecting community. Indeed, identifying areas as ‘cold spots of culture’ fundamentally suggests that these places already lack cultural infrastructure – which is why they are ‘cold spots’. So funding projects to exist without investing in infrastructure seems experimental at best, and doomed to failure at worst. In other words: how does CPP expect culture to thrive without investing in the infrastructure first?
34 – Conversation 12 May, 2016. Location anonymised.