Emma Cocker is a writer-artist based in Sheffield and Associate Professor in Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University. Operating under the title Not Yet There, Cocker's research focuses on the process of artistic exploration and the performing of ‘thinking-in-action’ emerging therein; on models of (art) practice and subjectivity that resist the pressure of a single, stable position by remaining wilfully unresolved. Her mode of working unfolds restlessly along the threshold between writing/art, including experimental, performative and collaborative approaches to producing texts parallel to and as art practice. Cocker's recent writing has been published in Failure, 2010; Stillness in a Mobile World, 2010; Drawing a Hypothesis: Figures of Thought, 2011; Hyperdrawing: Beyond the Lines of Contemporary Art, 2012; Reading/Feeling (Affect), 2013; On Not Knowing: How Artists Think, 2013; Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line, 2017; The Creative Critic: Writing as/about Practice, and as a solo collection entitled The Yes of the No, 2016.

Arts in Society conference, Sydney

OpenCity's proposal for a workshop has been accepted as part of the Arts in Society conference which will take place in Sydney Australia in July, 2010.

OpenCity: Performing Community

Led by artist-project OpenCity, this workshop presentation investigates the critical/creative potential of collective action within public performance, through dialogic exchange between practice-based enquiry and theoretical/philosophical ideas around collectivity/subjectivity/participation. Within this workshop, delegates are invited to collaborate with OpenCity in a live investigation of the critical/creative potential of collective action within public performance. OpenCity (Andrew Brown/Emma Cocker/Katie Doubleday) is a practice-led project that explores how public space and its societies are conceptualized/organized through interrogating how daily actions/behaviours are conditioned/controlled. OpenCity will reflexively present/contextualize their recent research activity, before working collaboratively with delegates to investigate how collective performance might intervene in the public sphere through the production/creation of ‘counter-publics’; new social formations for rehearsing or testing alternativeethical/political/criticalforms of citizenship/subjectivity. According to Michel Foucault, subjectivity/subjectivization involves a process or practice, a critical operation that must be activated on a daily or life-long basis. Architectural theorists Arakawa+Gins similarly suggest that personhood/subjectivity is not a guaranteed property of human existence rather it requires nurturing: ‘to person’ is a verb; it has to be performed. Whilst such philosophical opinion perceives subjectivity as a contingent state of being which is actively and critically enacted by the individual, this ‘project’ or endeavour has become evermore difficult to realize, as a consequence of the increasingly legislated, controlled or homogenized templatesof society/citizenshipwithin which contemporary existence is expected to operate. OpenCity’s research examines the capacity of performance as a ‘tactic’ for refusing, resisting or circumnavigating the negative processes of societal normalization/homogeneity, through the development of active strategies for increasing/augmenting an individual’s affective capacity, their potential for becoming an ‘organism that persons’ (Arakawa+Gins). OpenCity will put theory/research into practice through a participatory workshop that interactively questions how collective action might augment an individual’s capacity to act or be affective. Through a synchronized/choreographed performance involving ipod technologies, the workshop will interrogate/explore how an individual’s decision-making process within participatory/collective performance might also increase critical decision-making at a societal level, in relation to wider social rules, instructions or expectations.


Conference background

The annual International Conference on the Arts in Society (the Arts Conference), The International Journal of the Arts in Society (the Arts Journal), and the Arts in Society Book Imprint and News Blog create fora for discussion and publication of innovative theories, practices and critical commentaries in the arts. The Arts Conference, Journal, Book Imprint and News Blog acknowledge the need for critical discussion on issues in the arts, and specifically as they are situated in everyday life, culture, economics and politics. Linked to critical cultural discourse, creative acts of engagement are called for that respond to the needs of our times. What is called for is no less than ‘free speech zones’, which have become ever more pressing in present-day contexts of globalisation, and its social, economic and political artefacts of cultural homogenisation and commodification. More information here