Matt Kalasky of the Nicola Midnight St. Claire spoke to The Galleries at Moore about his organization’s involvement in Local Instruction and Show-and-Share, two programs being held in conjunction with the exhibition Living as Form (The Nomadic Version), on view through March 16.
Before launching Local Instruction and the Show-and-Share lecture series in partnership with The Galleries at Moore, I thought of the St. Claire as a digital forum for investigating the city’s cultural output, but it’s become more apparent that’s just one aspect of what you do. What do you see as the primary role of the St. Claire/how do you define what you do?
One of The St.Claire’s initial goals was to foster an environment where art journalism and art production exchanged freely, and productively grew in tandem. It soon became clear, however, that a realization of this goal would require an expanded range of engagement beyond journalism. For example, if we wanted to increase Philadelphia’s art-minded readership we would first have to nurture and coalesce the larger art community from which it draws. This meant hosting events where engaging with our publication’s material meant hanging out with your peers face-to-face rather than alone on your computer. We also realized that any responsible and earnest examination of Philadelphia’s cultural output would also have to encompass a broader network of social, political, and labor issues. To not talk about art’s role in a time of global social upheaval is like putting on horse blinders. To talk about an art show but not about the artist’s professional career as a dog walker/nanny/waiter is just plain negligent.
What was the genesis of Local Instruction and Show-and-Share?
Very simply we wanted to create an opportunity for the Philadelphia arts community to get better acquainted. See old friends, make new ones, and learn a little bit more about everyone. In the Local Instruction workshop space, visitors are invited to teach and learn creating, a database of peers united through a collective body of shared knowledge. The Show-and-Share lecture series rallies three presenters and their supporting audiences around the communal (and sometimes elusive) joy of hobbying.
How are these projects in dialogue with the Living as Form archive and exhibition?
Art has always been a practice of communication — the exchange between artist, art piece, and audience – with the emphasis traditionally placed on the art piece itself. Living as Form and the Local Instruction project is an effort to shift the focus off the object and onto the communication/interaction between individuals and groups. In this understanding all of the manifest materials of these projects – the installation, the video lessons and the lectures – are only supports for the interpersonal exchanges they facilitate.
At this time there seems to be a collective, urgent, and global demand for alternative educational initiatives. Many of these are artist-led, and tend to conflate art and pedagogy. Are Local Instruction and Show-and-Share a response to this in any way?
You’re an artist-run entity – how do these projects relate to your own practice, and that of your St. Claire colleagues?
I see my involvement with The St.Claire as an alternative method of communication that supplements my own art practice. All of our editors are engaged individuals seeking to understand their respective practices in relation to not only the art world, but the larger coalition of cultural and societal factors. And while we might choose to convey certain messages through paintings, video, performance, and photography there are other ideas that require a voice of a different cadence and directness. The St.Claire is that voice.
It seems that one of the outcomes of your collaboration with The Galleries is the development of a presence that is more physical and visible – rather than virtual and digital. Do you agree? And, if so, how do you think this will inform the St. Claire’s role and function in the future?
One of the drawbacks to a digital publication is the essential alienation of its readership community. Not very many people rally together on Friday nights to read art blogs. This said, I by no means equate the digital and virtual with a non-social functionality. People have been using the internet to hang out with each other since the very beginning. But now digitally mediated socializing comes at an inflated price. It is one thing to read our publication and perhaps “Like” our Facebook page. It is a completely different investment to drag yourself away from Netflix and come to a sponsored lecture. We see value in both physical and digital community franchises and are looking forward to bringing people together in whichever dimension we exist.
Local Instruction takes place every Wednesday – Saturday from 2-5pm in The Galleries’ Window on Race project space. Show-and-Share takes place at 6pm every Thursday evening in the exhibition’s Hub Space.