'We Were Trying to Make Sense...' is a project that originated from conversations we had with artists who were working with various communities in the UK and rest of the Europe. In the process of organising an exhibition of these collaborative works at 1Shanthiroad in Bangalore, India in January 2013, we realised that it was important to also collect the reflections of those involved in the process of commissioning, creating and participating in the work, in a publication that was affordable and could be widely circulated. One of our aims was to include the opinions of those who collaborated who do not consider themselves as contemporary artists, as their voice is often marginalised or edited to fit the ‘project feedback’ criteria. The term ‘non-artist’ is a problematic one, but one used in order to start the conversation that could then begin to re-evaluate such terminology.

‘We were trying to make sense…’ looks at collaborative projects operating on a number of scales and working both within and outside of institutional constraints. It is a platform for reflecting on the collaborative process from a variety of perspectives, with contributions from both artists and non-artists, and looks at specific issues concerning ethics, power dynamics, communication and representation. The publication was developed in collaboration between Magda Fabianczyk and Sophie Hoyle, and features contributions from Rachel Anderson of Artangel, Broniowianki Folk Group, Petra Bryant, Sophie Hoyle, Magda Fabianczyk, Tilly Fowler of AIR at CSM, Emaan Mahmud, David Roberts, Alicja Rogalska, Justyna Scheuring and Erica Scourti.

Works presented at the London launch of the publication include Reality Life (2009) by Erica Scourti, and Broniowska Piosenka / Untitled (Broniow Song) (2011) by Alicja Rogalska, commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art Warsaw, discussed by the artists and their contributors in interviews featured in the publication.

In January 2013 the publication was launched as part of the 'We were trying to make sense...' exhibition at 1Shanthiroad in Bangalore, India. The exhibition, curated by Magda Fabiańczyk and coordinated by Sophie Hoyle, provided an opportunity to discuss the texts in relation to collaborative works with non-artists in an Indian context. Fabianczyk travelled to New Delhi, Kochi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Santiniketan and Kolkata to meet artists and curators involved with developing projects with various communities in India. This launch includes a limited edition version of the publication, with additional texts from Sanchayan Ghosh (Frieze Art Fair, Kochi Muziris Biennial, Visva Bharati University), Annika Hampel (Goethe Institute Stipend, PHD candidate at Department of Cultural Policy of the University of Hildesheim) and Suresh Kumar (Bar 1, Bangalore), as a preview of the second issue that is currently being developed. The second issue will focus on socially engaged art practices in India, how Indian artists self-organise when state funding is not available, and the issues of cross-cultural collaborations between Western and non-Western participants.

‘We Were Trying to Make Sense…’ was supported by Polish Cultural Institute in London, Polish Institute New Delhi, Adam Mickiewicz Institute, AND Publishing and X Marks Bokship among others. The publication was designed by An Endless Supply at Jerwood Project Space.

The book was first launched at 1Shanthiroad Studio Gallery in Bangalore ( Triangle Trust Network) and was distributed across India ending up at Khoj Delhi reading room, 1Shanthiroad, Studio 21, Clark House and Santiniketan University among others.  It is currently available to buy in London and Poland at:

AND Publishing / www.andpublishing.org

X Marks the Bökship / www.bokship.org

South London Gallery / www.southlondongallery.org

Banner Repeater / www.bannerrepeater.org

Book Art Book Shop / www.bookartbookshop.com

Ti Pi Tin / www.tipitin.com

Publish and Be Damned at the ICA / www.publishandbedamned.org

MSN Bookoff / www.bookoff.pl

Fundacja Bęc Zmiana / www.funbec.eu/shop

Goldsmiths University  - Library/ available to read only

Chelsea College of Art - Library / available to read only

Current list of contents:

2 ‘We Were Trying to Make Sense’: Introduction

Sophie Hoyle

6 Thinking of us here... Thinking of us

differently there...

Magda Fabianczyk

Walkway Press was developed by Magda Fabianczyk on the Grey Leopold Estate, east London over two years, building cross-generational and cross-cultural relationships with neighbouring families. In her text she explores the limits of collaboration, what happens when the professional becomes personal and attachments form, and when the artist subsequently leaves as the estate is demolished.

8 Expanding fields

Rachel Anderson

Rachel Anderson of Artangel’s Interaction programme speaks from her experience of collaborative projects with local communities. She outlines the difficulties and risk-taking facing the artist practicing in this area. Anderson looks at ideas of hierarchy in these projects and wider society, the assumptions made of certain communities and the different ideas of ‘value’ attributed to collaborative projects.

10 Alicja Rogalska in conversation with

Magda Fabianczyk

13 Magda Fabianczyk in conversation with

Polish folk group Broniowianki

Untitled (Broniów Song) (2011) is a collaboration between Alicja Rogalska and Polish folk-group Broniowianki making a ‘contemporary’ folk song looking at unemployment in rural Poland after entering the EU. Both the artist and folk group were interviewed, discussing politics of representation and providing contrasting views of the project.

17 A Million Minutes: A Highly Subjective Glossary

of Important, Problematic and Contested Terms

Tilly Fowler

Tilly Fowler writes of her experience at AIR (Archway Investigations and Response) based at Central Saint Martins, which facilitates artists to work within public spaces and non-artist communities in Archway and Kings Cross, London. She looks at the problematic theoretical and institutional terminology used to discuss collaborative projects, relating to the specific context of AIR.

20 Erica Scourti in conversation with

Magda Fabianczyk

24 Reality Life: Discussion between Petra Bryant and

artist Magda Fabianczyk

Erica Scourti discusses a number of her collaborative projects, from commissions to artist-initiated works. With Magda Fabianczyk she discusses the problems of authority, equality and representation when working with non-artists. One of the participants in Scourti’s project, Petra Bryant, discusses her involvement from a different perspective.

26 Justyna Scheuring: The Incidental Participant

Sophie Hoyle

Justyna Scheuring is an artist whose participatory performances devise situations for social interaction and watches them unfold. These performative happenings address the processes of group formation, and explore individual decision-making and self-reflection.

30 St.art. Looking out. Looking in.

Magda Fabianczyk

Magda Fabianczyk uses the example of Emaan Mahmud’s St.art project initiated in Karachi, Pakistan in early 2012, to explore ideas of participatory projects in different cultural contexts, and whether their social and artistic value can be understood by those from outside this context.

33 From ‘heroin’ to heroines

David Roberts

David Roberts is part of the collaborative art project Fugitive Images, started in 2009 by Andrea Zimmerman and Lasse Johansson, residents of the Haggerston Estate. They run a series of collaborative workshops with a collective output, including the film ‘Estate’. Roberts’ text addresses the history and ideology of social housing and social reform in Britain and what relevance it has for today’s estate residents. 

37 ‘We Were Trying to Make Sense’: Conclusion

Sophie Hoyle

‘We were trying to make sense...’ was printed by An Endless Supply at Jerwood Project Space in London and supported by the  Polish Cultural Institute in London and Delhi and Adam Mickiewicz Institute.

Magdalena Fabianczyk works \ contact \ bio

‘We were trying to make sense …’ showcases a selection of artworks developed between artists and non-artists, brought together to critically evaluate the processes and relationships involved in their making, and representing a variety of approaches towards collaborative practice. The project will look into artists’ works that focus on dialogue as a fundamental part of the process.

By bringing together works developed separately in India, Germany, Pakistan, Poland and the UK,  the exhibition looks at how artists that operate internationally work with non-artists in local communities and other specific contexts. It emphasizes a critical reflection on the works made in collaborative projects between artists and non-artists and their perceived successes and failures, and questions the responsibility of the artist.

Magda Fabianczyk presents two films, Premise - There is no end to the story about the artists from America and India (x3) (2010) an EU funded project with a film realized through a collaborative workshop between Patachitra artists (West Bengal) and Transition Collective (UK), and Grey Leopold (2012) made in collaboration with Annalisa Sonzogni and  tenants of the condemned Leopold Estate in east London, where Fabianczyk lived and worked for over two years. Dhrupadi Ghosh will present a series of posters, a project that looks at the position of political messages and public reaction to them in urban spaces.  It is an ongoing project, evolving with each site it takes place in and questioning the ideas of artistic ownership. Matthew Krishanu presents  The Mausoleum of Lost Objects (2008). He invited artists and non-artists to create works in memory of significant objects that had either been  lost or had been  stolen,  bringing together art works that perhaps share common concerns of loss and memory. The Mausoleum of Lost Objects was previously presented for Iniva, Rivington Place in 2008, and this will be its first international presentation. Contributors to The Mausoleum of Lost Objects, India: Manas Acharya, Aparna Jayakumar, Suresh Jayaram, Aishwaryan K, Urmila V.G; UK: Dave Ball, Irina Barski, Ansuman Biswas, Heidi Ferid, Uschi Gatward, Sara Haq, Jan Hildebrand, Solveig Hill, Valerie Josephs, Gael Lindenfield, Raksha Patel. Alicja Rogalska’s Broniowska Piosenka / Untitled (Broniow Song) (2011) is a contemporary folk song written by Alicja Rogalska together with folk singing group Broniowianki from the small Polish village of Broniow. The area is known for its folk music and for having the highest unemployment rate in the country. The lyrics of the song reflect the socio-economic situation of the area, but can also be seen as a commentary about the situation in the Polish countryside and the wider economic crisis worldwide. Justyna Scheuring will present the video We Play Tonight No More Sorrow (2012), a short documentary about a performance realised at the Colchester Arts Centre on the 26th of April, 2012. The project evolved from an idea of two groups of people meeting, and having to confront their differences or overcome them and merge. Olga’s Schulz Chillaoui Lounge (2008) was a project that took place in a soon-to-be developed peninsula in the river Main in “Nord-End” Offenbach, an area with a high rate of immigration and unemployment. Inspired by pre-existing outdoor fireplaces used by homeless people, she devised a concept for an improvised open air “lounge”, to form a space of communication. In the gallery work she  explores the  problematic collaboration with immigrant teenagers and the project funding body. Erica Scourti will show Reality Life (2009) where teenage girls recruited from all over England though beonscreen.com, which advertises listings for people wanting to appear on TV, filmed themselves reading out a script written by the artist from the titles of reality, ‘unscripted’ TV shows and documentaries. Between them they narrate the TV portrayal of girls’ issues and everyday life through the language of TV.  In Here en route, Maria Theodoraki presents documentation of her working process through  a collection of images and email messages sent to her by people she visited as part of the project. Here en route started with the work ‘here’ made for the online gallery or-bits.com (2009) to connect across different audiences, time and space, and the idea of “offline/online/offline”. The work explores the distance between her studio space and the gallery space,  the route of which she walked everyday. She knocked on all 416 doors, presented the online work here and asked people to email a photograph of how they see it on their computer screens in their private spaces.

The Opening Reception will be accompanied by a launch of the publication ‘We were trying to make sense …’ also looking at artists and non-artist collaborations, with contributions from Rachel Anderson of Artangel, Broniowianki Folk Group, Petra Bryant, Sophie Hoyle, Magda Fabianczyk, Tilly Fowler of AIR at CSM, Emaan Mahmud, David Roberts, Alicja Rogalska and Justyna Scheuring. It accompanies the exhibition not as a catalogue but as an autonomous vehicle for further reflection and discussion. It was printed by An Endless Supply at Jerwood Project Space, London.

1Shanthiroad Gallery in Bangalore is an artist led-residency and project programme that is part of the Triangle Arts Trust. The exhibition ‘We Were Trying to Make Sense...’ will travel to venues in the UK and Poland.

Exhibition curated by Magda Fabianczyk and co-ordinated by Sophie Hoyle.

Publication developed in collaboration between Magda Fabianczyk and Sophie Hoyle.

We were trying to make sense … exhibition was held at 1Shanthiroad in Bangalore, India

Exhibition project held at: 1.Shanthiroad Studio Gallery in Bangalore, India; 5-15 Janurary 2013

Participating artists: Dhrupadi Ghosh, Magda Fabianczyk, Matthew Krishanu, Alicja Rogalska, Justyna Scheuring, Olga Schulz, Erica Scourti, Maria Theodoraki

Supported by: Polish Cultural Institute in New Delhi, Adam Mickiewicz Institute, AND Publishing and X Marks Bokship.

Links to artists websites:

Sophie Hoyle http://www.londonsartistquarter.org/users/sophie-hoyle

Matthew Krishanu www.matthewkrishanu.com

Alicja Rogalska www.alicjarogalska.co.uk

Olga Schulz www.gsamfa.com/2010/olga_schulz.php

Justyna Scheuring http://www.justynascheuring.com/

Erica Scourti  www.ericascourti.com

Maria Theodoraki  www.mariatheodoraki.net

1Shanthiroad  www.1shanthiroad.com

‘We were trying to make sense...’  Exploring Artist and Non-Artist Collaborations publication and exhibition, 2012 - 2013

Developed in collaboration with artist Sophie Hoyle.

Publication contributors: Rachel Anderson of Artangel, Broniowianki Folk Group, Petra Bryant, Sophie Hoyle, Magda Fabianczyk, Tilly Fowler of AIR at CSM, Emaan Mahmud, David Roberts, Alicja Rogalska, Justyna Scheuring and Erica Scourti.

Publication designed by: An Endless Supply at Jerwood Project Space, London.