This text has not followed a traditional academic framework and consequently, neither will it end with a traditional conclusion. Instead, I want to end with a feeling that things are unresolved, inconclusive and incomplete because the reality is that the subject is far from over.
From my perspective, I was desperate for the project to finish months before it actually ended: not because of the angry youth and the empty house and the flippancy of The Institution, but because I felt like I had failed. I had failed to make art, I had failed to work within the context given, and I had failed the community with which I had agreed to work. Not by lack of choice, but because there wasn’t an infrastructure to support participatory practices. My mother ingrained into me a sense of responsibility as a ‘good guest’ – always leave a gift for your hosts. In this project, I had entered into the homes and hearths of a community, but because of the lack of infrastructure for mutual exchange, the only option for me was to disappear back to Scotland, like an artistic thief in the night, knowing that there had been no sustainable engagement, no relationships developed, and no art. There was no shared gift. This is the danger of projects without sufficient infrastructure: they amount to nothing. I will never share any images of the workshops or engagements and I am sure The Institution will all-but-bury my project (except, of course, for the numbers that validate their funding). I felt guilty because the community was subjected to another empty gesture by an external, governmentally funded organisations. And instead of a lively and valued socially engaged art project they got some surface engagement, a small buzz of energy, and then nothing. As far as I am aware, The Institution are no longer working in this area, and has moved on.