Friendly Invasions 2034

Friendly invasions 2034 is our response to an invitation to reflect on artconnexion’s activity since 1994 and its future direction in the lead up to and during the celebration of its 20th anniversary in 2014. artconnexion is funded by Ville de Lille, Conseil Régional Nord-Pas de Calais, Drac Nord-Pas de Calais - Ministère de la culture, Culturesfrance, Fondation de France. It is a designated Fondation de France partner in the ‘Nouveaux Commanditaire / New Patron’ programme of public art that enables citizens confronted with questions of society or local development to investigate issues by commissioning artists.

A significant amount of preparatory research took place, that involved working behind the scenes to uncover artconnexion’s activities in exhibition-making and public commissioning. Using a range of creative approaches, artconnexion’s work was investigated through the making of an artwork that developed in public, and in a series of live situations. Issues we considered were What is the nature of relationships between artconnexion, artists and the city? How able is the organisation to adapt to the evolving and dynamic interplay between place, culture and creativity? How fit for purpose is artconnexion's role in developing artistic and commissioning policies which are locally relevant and globally significant?

A large-scale sculptural work functioned simultaneously as an immersive artwork, hosted a Visual Research Studio and incorporated a curated public events programme. Several micro-residencies took place inside the artwork which was situated in artconnexion’s presentation space. During the occupation of the gallery a growing sculptural assemblage of visual material showed myriad art historical and cultural references and associations, progressively revealing the visual investigation process whilst celebrating twenty years of artconnexion’s production. A vast modular architectural structure filled the entire gallery space, requiring visitors to navigate around and through the structure, in close proximity with the research material being generated.

The structure encompassed a public Visual Research Studio where a mass of material derived from artconnexion’s archives, publications and reports and related art historical material and new drawings commenting on the key subjects was produced and applied to hundreds of surfaces. Social media was used as a creative platform to communicate the project regularly through drawings and related texts. A public programme of discursive events took place in the site of the artwork and formal presentations included contributions to the research project ‘Collaborations between Artists: Art, Labour and Creation’, Lille3 University and MESHS (The European Social Sciences and Humanities Research Institute), Lille. Friendly Invasions 2034 has featured in Artpress (Feb 2016), in the article ‘Hier et aujourd'hui. Enjeux des pratiques collectives’ by V Goudinoux in the special edition ‘La création à plusieur. Duos, collectifs, et plus si affinités’.

Friendly Invasions 2034 builds on our long-standing relationship with artconnexion, and our knowledge of the organisation. In 1994 Tracy was the first artist to exhibit at artconnexion when, with Invasions Naturelles the gallery was perceived as a site of communication and exchange, a place for research and experimentation in art. As Tracy Mackenna & Edwin Janssen a decade later, a large-scale publicly sited video work Growth, Form & the Inevitability of Herself was commissioned by CCA Glasgow and produced and presented by artconnexion as part of the Entente Cordiale celebrations (2004), shown in the Centre d’Arts Plastiques et Visuels in the heart of Lille’s multicultural centre.

A 2016 publication Friendly Invasions 2034 captures the artwork’s many stages and the live, public research process undertaken during the exhibition project Friendly Invasions 2034.

artconnexion, Lille, France, 04 October - 06 December 2014

Invited to mark artconnexion’s 20th anniversary, we worked in situ to create a three dimensional collage that simultaneously generated the visual material for a new publication