In the preparatory phase:

  • Finding new formulations for collaborative work to be tested
  • Defining and organising materials needed for the in-situ phase
  • Setting up online spaces (RC, perhaps nextCloud, git etc.) and physical spaces (studios).
  • Seeking agreement on implementation of method, licensing and authorship
  • Discussing code of conduct, concensus on intended process
  • Define common tools shared among the group

In the contact phase:

  • We work under self-directed working conditions
  • We call what we will be developing artefacts and propositions, either manifest aesthetic objects, machines, sounds … or ideas, sketches, trials, modifications to the space, performances or more ephemeral elements. As they are embedded in the research as forms of practices and susceptible to come together with the artefacts and propositions of the other artists-researchers, we avoid the term ‘artwork’. When we investigate what the ‘unit’ of artistic work and research is, we indicate the meaningful groupings and relations formed between the artefacts and propositions (determined by the group).
  • Simultaneous research does not mean that all artists-researchers are continuously working at the same times in the same space. Sometimes we are, sometimes we are within reach. We are engaged in a parallel process structured by common discourse and contact, stretching over the period of the in-situ phase. Selected recordings from exchanges are transcribed and embedded in the project’s documentation.
  • We will be thinking and working together, producing circulation, exchanging artefacts and notations, at times making common exercises, but they will be allowed to develop in their own proper time and rhythm. The co-presence is established as a form that extends beyond day-to-day activities, while traces can be left in the workspaces (or handed over) and reacted upon by others. If we determine a common rudiment machinery (dispositif), this will be a condensation point where the different ideas and practices meet.
  • The output are not a ‘group exhibition’ or ‘group residency artefacts’, but making visible and communicable operations and strategies of cross-pollination.
The crucial part will be to understand what kind of operations we can define that bind the process as a collaboration despite the relative independence of all artist-researchers.

What initiates the intensive exchange of the Contact Phase? Each artist-researcher brings in questions, material, experience, strategies that is important to them, putting them into relation to rudimentary concepts emerging from the preparatory group process. We propose a number of “method stubs”, open to extension by suggestions coming from the artist-researchers and their experience:

  • Framing the Inquiry – devising questions useful for others. Our experiences constitute a significant part of the formulation itself, we all have an established language, the tools to analyse our own systematic, and the capacity to listen to others’ processes.
  • Circulation – the capacity to come and react towards what others are doing, leaving behind a trace of the reaction, and giving the element reacted on possibilities for expansion, shaping the reaction so that it can eventually return to the others.
  • Continuous Notation – the expedience of verbalisation methods (text production) differs largely across the individuals within a group process, so other forms of narration are mandatory. The “import” of each artist’s form of notation can reorder the group process. Also collecting and prompting material among others is an important way to construct a significant analysis.
  • Temporary Bridging – to come together and establish ephemeral bridges among us. If we settle on specific machinery, this will an important contact point where this happens. There are different scales of these rendezvous, some are mini-condensations, e.g. one artist-research visits or meets another and comments on the visited process; some more involved, creating a connection between different artefacts, e.g. exchanging data, sending pings, creating a physical contact between elements.
  • Distancing – traces may develop in the form of “canopy shyness”, a mutual distancing to produce gaps between us. It is also a common undertaking in most art media to repeatedly dissociate from the process and observe it from distance.
  • ...

Organisational Questions

  • What do you think of this experimental design? Can you relate to it?
  • Who of you could imagine to work in such a setting, and this would be feasible for you in spring?
  • Who would be the local artist(s) and collaborators?
  • What would be the site of intensive week?
  • What would be the machineries / dispositifs introduced at the beginning of the preparatory phase?


Situating the Project

What artistic language is appropriate for the present? One might start from current social conditions and process them, make them tangible. New forms of working together in artistic contexts seem an important imperative in defining new roles and expressions of artistic practice. Different kinds of collaborative approaches have been developed throughout history, but they often settled on either forms of “collectivisation” (subsuming the artists that work together under common goals, unified outcomes, aligned intentions), or on the division of roles, either between “professionals” and the “general public” (in the field of participatory art), or between composers / performers, directors / producers, curator / artist, scientist / artist, or division of media (sound artist working with a visual artist, choreographer working with composer, etc.) There is a third kind of “meeting” in which goals are not directly aligned, such as coming together in a residency or group exhibition or maker space. Here, people can work relatively free next to each other, there is not necessarily a need to react to or orient with respect to the others, it’s a more utilitarian situation.

What if collectivisation and dependence are routed in temporal regimes of tight coupling and synchronisation, and we imagine a different temporal regime—simultaneity—as an enabler or warrantor for preserving and fostering multiplicity and otherness within an artistic endeavour? Then it will be necessary to develop a concept of simultaneous work that does not reduce to the utilitarian work next-by-next, as indicated for a residency or group exhibition. A form of contact must be embedded in the concept; this was previously condensed in the two word construction simultaneous arrival. It points at the necessity of a site where people and things come together. It points to the importance of spaces, their affordances and conditioning.

We may tentatively distinguish, on one axis, between functions of spaces—working/developing, exhibiting/performing, experiencing/absorbing, distancing/sheltering, ...—, and on another axis, kinds of spaces: thought spaces, aesthetic spaces, architectural spaces, or modalities of spaces: analog, digital, imagined, ... Here is a reduced set as was used in a previous proposal, focusing on the interfacing nature of analog and digital spaces with respect to aesthetic expression and experience (intermedia), and artistic practice / work process. If work is collaborative, it is itself already a discursive space.

Artistic Research and Questions

We see artistic research as foundational research that sheds light on the conditions under which specific languages and processes are made possible, rather than contenting oneself with the creation of artistic objects alone, which of course have value in themselves. At the same time, artistic research as it is institutionally situated within academia, risks of becoming self-perpetuating, rigid, sometimes even bureaucratic, and “riskless”. There is a constant danger that the norms of “proper scientific search” and academic scholarship are absolutised, smothering the unique potential of research through the arts, whose strategies often going against these norms, such as objectivity, repeatability, explainability, consensus through peer review, ... and the dominance of verbalisation. The exciting part of artistic research is that we’re constantly defining the field in what we propose and implement. We believe that the development of new forms of collaborative artistic work hinging on the relative freedom given by modes of simultaneity will yield an important impulse for the formation of artistic research itself. Departing from the original research grant proposal, here is a selection of questions:

  • What are strategies distributable to individuals so they can translate shared concepts into actions? How can we imagine such a distribution that maintains a situation of simultaneous without degrading to a chain of dependencies and causation?
  • How can simultaneity and spatiality unfold a dynamics through their complementary relationship?
  • What is the “unit” of artistic work. How can the artists leaving the common process “take” its results with them, what happens when they reappear outside the “wholeness” developed together?
  • How can artistic propositions bear witness to our transformative practice without being framed within a meta-discourse, articles-about, etc. How is the process inscribed into what we are making?
  • How can individuality and otherness be preserved in the process, while binding the process as something shared among those participating? How to avoid “appropriation” of the others’ positions and intentions?
  • What is a suitable manifest form of this research; how can it be notated, made experiencable, structured as methods susceptible to survive this project and be given into the hands of others?



Swap Space Graz should be distinguished from Simularr, as the intention is not to make a ‘mini-Simularr’ or ‘one iteration of Simularr’. Instead, Swap Space is an autonomous experiment which can diverge from the questions and methods envisaged for Simularr. But to recall the original proposal, Simularr is divided into a series of intervals, in each of which the research team of Graz works with two invited artists coming from abroad (i.e. the participants of this exposition); an interval begins with an online preparatory phase, followed by a two month in-situ ‘contact’ phase, working at the lab spaces of Reagenz, KUG (IEM and now KWDS), TU Graz (IRG). Embedded in the contact phase is an intensive week where we transpose ourselves into a particular architectural space. At the end of an interval, the developments are shown and somehow leaving with the participants (‘dispersal’). This structure was also presented in the paper Three Spaces. All research is translated into a repository and becomes part of a Manual of Simultaneous Arrivals.

Swap Space Graz is dimensioned for one month of in-situ work with one artist coming from outside of Graz, and possibly one local artist joining the experiments. The provisional timeline includes a one month online / remote preparatory phase (March), followed by the one month in-situ phase, which ideally includes an intensive working week in a dedicated and architecturally-atmospherically particular space. The external artist will stay and work at the Reagenz (Ost) space, and regular meetings with recordings of discussions can take place at the KWDS (KUG's doctoral school).
Beginning in May, the team will review the experiments and prepare the start of Simularr. Output of the experiments can be shown / performed in various ways after the completion of the pilot. We also obtained extra funding to make a small printed publication.

Schedule during Contact Phase

  • A weekly online meeting among all of us. The regular slot is Mondays 4 pm CEST via Jitsi.
  • A weekly meeting among the people located in Graz. The regular slot is Thrursdays 5 pm CEST at KWDS, Maiffredygasse 12b.
  • At least one invitation per artist to visit their studios.
  • 09.–15.04. Intensive Week in Hotelpupik, Scheifling.

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We were exploring multiple options nearby Graz. Unhoped-for, the artist space Hotelpupik, outside the countryside in Western-Styria and located next to a castle ruins, offered us a domicile for the intensive week. Hotelpupik was already designated for Simularr. It is run by an association, and on-site live Heimo Wallner (during the summer period) and Johanna Lettmayer, who also organise a summer residency there, which mixes visual arts and music. The compound consists of several buildings, and we will have different options of working there.

{hhr 220211, edited}

Shane will be coming to Graz as the external artist for the April experiments. So the artistic group will consist of four or five persons (plus Franziska as the architectural researcher). We have drawn up a list of possible venues for the intensive week, but have not yet decided. This week will take place 11–17 April, thus lie rather 1 1/2 weeks after the beginning of the in-situ phase.

{hhr 220302, edited}

Jackie joins us as fifth artist during Swap Space. Rather than travelling to Graz at this point, she will take a physically remote position in her studio in Nairobi, and the exchange happens via the Research Catalogue and recurrent video calls.