Six projects of urban creativity and social interaction
March 2006 - April 2007
SHUTTLE is a multifunctional structure, a
scaled replica of PS² project space in Donegall Street, Belfast. Approx.12m² internally,
this portacabin type module is sent into ‘orbit’ for six missions,
each at significant locations in Belfast. For up to two weeks, interdisciplinary
artists/initiatives and (community) organis.ations will use the device as
a platform for urban creativity and social interaction.
SPACE SHUTTLE can
be used as an onsite work base, as office/meeting point for activities,
as a creative laboratory or non- profit use in order to create- with the
participation of the residents and social environment- new and site influenced
work. All ‘mission’ findings will be documented in a publication
along with an exhibition back at mother ship- project space.
SHUTTLE is supported by Belfast City Council through Celebrate Belfast 2006
and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland through the National Lottery.
Introduction from the publication.
This is SPACE SHUTTLE - an experimental base for artists and urbanauts.
I have been launched to six different orbits around planet Belfast.
My mission is to explore the creative environment.
Please keep in contact. www.spaceshuttle.org.uk
Return to mother-ship PS²
This small note, printed on a red plaque stuck to the steel skin of a container box, sums up a series of projects, which took place in Belfast between summer 2006 and spring 2007. With many references and ironic similarities to real space travel, the orbits of SPACE SHUTTLE encircled the centre of Belfast; urban space: streets, squares, all fairly unattractive, everyday sites, chosen for their lack of attention, be it cultural or social; undervalued and underused public space which is never considered as a places of public interest and self-determination, except to incorporate it for commercial use.
PS² = (Paragon Studios, project space), is a small artist collective, with studio space in the centre of Belfast. A former shop in the same building, project space, is used as a platform for art projects and run on a voluntary base with the focus on art in an urban context. In 2005 we organised ‘Street Archaeology’, www.streetarchaeology.co.uk, where we invited artists to take Donegall Street as the subject for video and text which was then shown in the windows and facades of 30 shops and offices. A kind of ‘door-step’ project which extended and stretched the project space along a street. And it subsequently threw up crucial questions; in which way does art change within this everyday context of a hairdresser or a flower shop? How site-specific is the creative outcome or is it just a superficial and imposed change of stage? Did the artists for example transform the flowershop into an unexpected and enriched ‘art’venue and captured the interest of the shop keeper and their customers in art?
To test these questions- the relation between artist, production, urban environment and (street) audience in reality, we were looking for:
a conceptual framework; a playful sequence of repeated experiments with defined parameters.
a formalized setting and a standardized situation like in a laboratory but changeable within through the creativity of the artists, the location and the people.
a concept and initiative which was more intuitive than theoretical and of practical use for us- facing the loss of PS² due to regeneration- as a study in flexibility and mobility for art production.
The idea for SPACE SHUTTLE was simple; our project space –the mothership- would be replicated at a smaller scale and this shuttle sent as a mobile workstation to the outside. Urban space exploration in an art related structure, traveling back and forth between places in regular and frequent missions. ‘Manned’ by artists or multidisciplinary groups, who for the duration of one or two weeks, would work with the local environment. Journeys in a flexible and multifunctional box, with 12m², small enough to be lifted by crane lorry onto pavements and big enough as an on-site workbase, meeting point or activity centre. A mobile testlab for urban creativity and social interaction. Space-travel, real and metaphorical to ‘orbits’ like a schoolyard, the former shipyard of the Titanic or inner-city side-streets. Six missions within Belfast, nearly all in walking distance and all very different from their artistic approach. The artists and groups gave each project a distinct profile and demonstrated a spectrum of work practices and strategies in urban creativity. It exposed them to real and sometimes alien encounters and showed the various degrees of public participation and site specific originality.
And again, SPACE SHUTTLE did open many questions; how does one reach the public, which vehicle is most suitable, does one enter ‘alien’ territory if confronted with reality, how can one communicate and is the process or a specific outcome good art?
A journey which through its process mapped the city in many different visual forms, from film to objects to surveys; the outcome shows a trail of colourful and fragmented indication of local sights and findings, unique perhaps for Belfast or interchangeable with other comparable European cities. This recording process, this exploration tour of SPACE SHUTTLE for us also left traces on the locations in the city. A mutual relationship, between the artists and the urban space; art and audience; reality and creativity.
How precise this map is, how accurately it shows the actual reality, how much it reveals of the political change, shifting identities and large scale urban regeneration in Belfast, can perhaps be seen in this publication. It could also reveal a different reading of transformed realities and a poetics of space.