on talking about tending


what is tending
Click on the image to see it bigger…

Me and Lucas gave a talk yesterday as part of the Lunch Time Lecture series at SCA, to whoever wanted to know a bit more about what is actually happening in the courtyard beside the library: Tending.

After brainstorming about how to tackle the (not) lecture we resolved a few points: 1 we wanted to be fun and light, the guests were on their lunch break after all; 2 we wanted it to cover what is Tending, what happened so far, give a short over-arching idea of the concept of Art as social relations, give a short overview of a few art projects which dealt with the concept of food (or food production) as art and gardening (or ecological co-habitation) as art; bring the Tending project outside of the art bubble, by placing it in the wider debates now pressing society; present what we (me and Lucas) do outside of Tending; bring in the presentation other fellow travelers so far; invite all guests to participate and walk to the garden.

To keep it snappy we decided to break it in short sections, of 5 minutes each, with one person only speaking at any given point. Somewhat I felt this delivery would give better the idea of plurality within the project: different voices having all a fare share of attention.
Heather spoke of her involvement, and of the community surrounding the SCA campus, an important aspect which allows Tending to truly ingrain itself in a much wider social reality.
Incidentally there is going to be a Verge planting happening this w/e in Rozelle, see Heather’s corner for details.
Great way to get to meet the local green promoters.

We offered some mustard greens and lettuce from the garden to all, and thanks to Daniel’s questioning of the disengagement on our behalf with the bureaucracy surrounding the implementation of the project, we adventured into some interesting conversation about social dynamics and transparency, or the lack of.
We will surely talk more about his ideas and questionings.

Above there is a fantastic thought map by Lucas, with which he presented the complexities underlying the project, yet, the simplicity of growing and letting grow, overshadow and mellow down the implications.

Thanks all for coming to the talk, I will be tending on Thursday next, pop in, have a tea.

7 thoughts on “on talking about tending

  1. Thanks Ross, I really think it is important to consider community participation, via fostering programs/initiatives that community do want.
    I do not intend to say that any number of people represent wide-spread scopes, yet to assess and consider underlying concerns is paramount.
    On that note i’d like to give a heads-up to the public display of the draft options for Callan Park Master Plan, now open for consultation. the Draft will be on public dysplay at SCA from today to Monday.
    Feedback is highly sought after.

    Dear Friends

    1. DRAFT OPTIONS for Callan Park Master Plan will be available this week:

    * Launch – Friday, 8 October 6:30 – 8 pm @ Leichhardt Town Hall
    * On Exhibit — Sat & Sun & Mon 9 – 11 October 10 am – 4 pm @ Sydney College of the Arts, Kirkbride at Callan Park
    * On Exhibit – Sat & Sun 16 – 17 October 10 am- 4 pm @ Balmain Town Hall

    Callan Park NEEDS YOUR VOICE – Please come & provide input to the draft options – see times above.

  2. I’m enjoying watching this process unfold, especially as it coincides with my own tending efforts at a block of flats in inner-western-Sydney! And I’m wondering a few things, which were perhaps foregrounded by your said Daniel. Like, what about the land on which the garden is sculpted; the violence that has produced the very possibility of growing a patch of transnational plants? I am pretty suss about Bourriaud – are social relations (including social-relations-as-art) to be valorized in themselves; how does their formation around projects like this one alter the patterning of the social? This here critique speaks on it. Also, do you think it’s possible to put too many/much coffee grounds on one’s plants? Might the snails think I don’t want to share *at all*?

  3. Ross, the studio for urban projects does look good. i’ll be interested to see if TENDING evolves in that direction…

    Diego, it seems that the Sydney City Farm HAS been approved – see here:

    Ana, thanks for your excellent thoughts. Certainly, one of the things we’re well aware of, every day that we TEND, is that our very presence depends on a whole series of prior interactions, of varying degrees of violence. We encourage these histories to emerge while we work, and we will pay attention to them as they arise. However, an institutional critique of the material and political reality of the Sydney College of the Arts is not our sole focus.

    I’m going to have to take a bit longer to read that link you sent. I think that one of the problems poor old Bourriaud encounters is not really his fault — that he is either loved or hated, each polar position taken without much depth, without much reference to specific local situations. His work has been celebrated, and torn apart. But this does not take away the fact that his book Relational Aesthetics still has some really useful points to make about social relations constituting a key component of an art practice.

    Before I could begin answer a juicy question like: ” are social relations (including social-relations-as-art) to be valorized in themselves; how does their formation around projects like this one alter the patterning of the social?” – perhaps you might yourself give some thoughts on this?

    Is there already evidence, here in the blog, which reveals the ways that the patterning of the social is developing through TENDING? I’d be interested in your thoughts!

    Looking forward to seeing you at the garden!

  4. The audacity! Asked to answer my own question! 😉 I’m not sure I could answer it – certainly not on your behalf/on behalf of the tender-ers. It’s more something I tend (see what I did there?!) to keep in mind when making claims to relational work.

    As for site histories, institutional or otherwise, it makes sense that they will emerge (or, be made present in a different way to usual, perhaps even be made more visible) through the process of tending – which I believe can refer to both waiting and witnessing.

    I still need help with my snails…permaculture says I need a duck but I don’t think they’re allowed in flats. Sigh.

  5. ana
    do you have a cat? I used to have millions of snails.

    i believe there’s a connection. when my cat died (RIP dear Ruben), my snail problem really dropped off.

    You see, Ruben spent a lot of his day chasing birds. They stopped coming to our yard. After he departed this mortal coil, the birds came back, and they ate the snails.

    not all of them, but enough to stop the plague…
    just a thought…

    the other thing i used to do (in the ruben era) was go out at 10pm with a big bucket and harvest them all. I’m afraid to say i then squashed them, and turned them back into the soil.

    recycling nutrients! but not for the squeamish.

  6. Oh wow. Thanks Lucas. I wish I had a cat but maybe it’s for the best. Lolo Houbein suggests “migrating” them – perhaps a euphemism for mass squashing?!

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