amy plant – committee for radical diplomacy

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31.07.2008 H 19.30 Lungomare


Amy Plant – Committee for Radical Diplomacy

Amy Plant and the Committee for Radical Diplomacy, meet the public to present their work. They share an interest in participative and organizational practices that go beyond logics of representation.

Amy Plant

Amy Plant is concerned with the ecology principal that everything is connected to everything else. I am based, precariously, in London and have traveled quite a bit initiating projects of many shapes and sizes that respond to situations and couldn’t exist without a wide spectrum of collaborators and lots of conversation.

Amy will present two past projects to give an idea of her practice and concerns:

Laburnum Pilot – a street magazine, made by people who live, work and pass through Laburnum Street
March – June 2004

In response to a commission by The Drawing Room art gallery situated in Laburnum Street, East London, I collaborated with artist Ella Gibbs to create a project for the whole street. We used the gallery space as a publishing house for 6 weeks. A team of residents joined us for workshops led by designers Åbäke to make a magazine and we made a rule: all the images had to be drawn. It turned out to be 68 pages.

We initiated the first Laburnum Street Party to launch and distribute the 3000 print run. The residents now close the street and make a party every summer.

I continue to work together with Ella Gibbs as Pilot Publishing. We are now working on Energy Cafe:

The Square Circle
Farnborough Business Park: June 2005 – September 2007

I was invited to make a public art commission for the new square on a private business park development in Farnborough – a small town in southern England.

Instead of proposing a permanent feature for the landscaping, I brought together a team of local experts – a human network that could create a bridge between Farnborough residents and the business park enabling the land to return to the spirit of its former status of commons.

Recognising that flexibility of use is the most important thing when creating public space, the team convinced the developers not to build any permanent features in the square and developed a prototype in the form of a website to encourage public use on what is now corporate land.

Committee for Radical Diplomacy

The Committee for Radical Diplomacy is a gaggle of chronic collaborators with a passion for the protocols of formal diplomacy (cocktail parties, gift-giving, careless whispers, gestures of hospitality) and the mechanics of constituent organizing.

Within each of our actions, the diplomatic is that which hovers between the qualities that we value: collaboration, communication, micro-political gestures of alliance, actions with consequence, festivity, conviviality and the relations of force whose water we navigate.

Where diplomacy values the solution, the avoidance of a conflict, the covering over of structural and historical inequity through strategies and formalities of relations, a radical diplomacy is one which resolves not to solve. It provokes frictions and other modes of becoming: contra hierarchy, manipulation and avoidance.

The radical diplomat might ask: If we are inhabitants of a field in which we are regularly implicated, subsumed and entangled in all that we had thought to oppose, if indeed we often find ourselves, in the words of the early modern negotiators, ‘living in another’s land’, ‘wearing two hats’ or enacting the ‘virtues of disloyalty’, how might we imagine a radical diplomacy, that enables us to manipulate the conducts of the diplomatic to challenge our current circumstances?

In our development of participatory group formats for collaborative discussion (The Open Interview, Leeds, 2004), convivial knowledge production (What Happens When We Take Questions for a Walk?, Vanabbemuseum, 2006), cultural appreciation (COCTAIL Awards, Trondheim, Norway 2006, The C.A.P.E.R Awards Relay, Plymouth Arts Centre, 2007) and mobile research (The Ambulator; a camper van expedition through the perils of free labour, Europe, 2007), we have looked to methods developed in the contexts of radical pedagogy, participatory co-investigation and grassroot organizing.