A presentation by Steven Wheeler (Plymouth University) on self-organization and learning included a diagram that brought individual reflection via blogs into collaborative community via wikis. This intersection between the individual and collective was pointed out again during a recent dialogue hour hosted by the Opens Space Workshops for Scientific and Social change. This jumpstarted some thinking on my part about the 119 Gallery as a space that creates a similar intersection between individual creative visions and practices and a larger audience of community members.
While many may view galleries and performance spaces as a location of exchange between artists / producers and their audiences / consumers, the 119 Gallery actually exists as a space where creators and patrons come into communion with one another. Rather than exchange (which is the dominent concept of a “creative economy”) a new set of social and creative processes are formed within the context of this ever evolving creative space. Producers and consumers may enter, but through participation the roles and boundaries between these entities begin to blur.
It is not uncommon for an individual within this space to find themselves moving and revolving between multiples roles and responsibilities. The audience member becomes creator, the creator becomes audience and all have the opportunity to become architects / convenors / curators and producers of new formulations and articulations of the space. They also are invited to craft the supports for its operation.
Eric S. Raymond’s seminal book The Cathedral and the Bazaar explored the value of open source software development (the Bazaar) when compared to the centrally controlled processes of proprietary projects (the Cathedral). While much of the thinking done by Raymond and others resonates with a space like the 119 Gallery, the still dominant language of the market and exchange don’t quite capture what a creative space like the 119 is all about. And there are aspects of a “church” or a coming together or “communing” that are more exact.
The 119 Gallery space and the creative community it births make possible new visions and expressions that would not be possible for the individual creator or the audience alone. Co-construction and reconfiguration of creative impulses (including those in the realm of organizational management and development), are an essential feature of the 119 Gallery. It is these new formulations and the energy they create that also appear to motivate the continued engagement of members of this creative community.