Incidental Futures:
Study Day & Incidental Assembly
Incidental Unit
13 & 14 September 2019

The Incidental Unit presented this two-day event to mark the culmination of the Incidental Futures programme.

On Friday 13 September a study day explored historical examples of Artist Placement Group to consider how these experiments anticipated key challenges presently facing art, artists, the worlds of art and beyond.

Image courtesy Amanda Loomes

On Saturday 14 September, a curated assembly convened contemporary practices inspired Artist Placement Group. Activated by their artist practitioners, each instance will highlight the long-term impact of the Artist Placement Group on cultural production across the UK.

Artists: Michele Allen, Johann Arens, Charles Danby and Rob Smith, Corinna Dean, KALEIDOWORKS, Nicola Ellis, Simon Farid, Rob Flint, Amanda Loomes and Laura Purseglove.

From the whirlpool of change comes urgent interest in creative practices that challenge conventional ways of doing and being. Faced with wicked problems and uncertainty of cosmic proportions, many of us who value culture are once again questioning the role of art in society and beyond. What work does it do? Where does it do this and, crucially, why and for whom? What value does this work create, both inside and outside of the cultural sphere?

These questions propelled one of the UK’s most critically acclaimed networks. Founded by Barbara Steveni in 1966, Artist Placement Group spent more than forty years wrestling with the value of art to champion its potential beyond the studio, the gallery, the auction house and other sites long associated with the cultural sphere. This began with positioning the artist in extra-artistic contexts. Exceptional experiments supported by Artist Placement Group took place in administration (government departments and public policy), industry (manufacturing and technology) and commercial enterprise (trade and urban renewal).

At the heart of this two-day programme is the legacy of the Artist Placement Group. Exploring this impact across the UK contributes to global conversations about the avant-garde experimentation and its drive to merge art and life by embracing cultural complexity and interrupting business as usual. Holding fast to the prospect that a return to historical examples affords new possibilities, the Incidental Unit aims to extend the lineage of Artist Placement Group by highlighting its contemporary relevance. On the one hand, this public programme opens up the group’s rich but unruly past to contemporary audiences and other publics; on the other, this is an invitation to all those influenced by Artist Placement Group to come and recognise/be recognised as a community of practice.


Friday 13 September 2019, 10—4pm
FREE, drop-in, no booking required
The Clore Studio and Orozco Gardens

Join the Incidental Unit to learn more about the Artist Placement Group’s history and methods. Four themed sessions will bring together newbies, enthusiasts and experts. Come for one or all of them, with each session focusing on specific concern (see below). Everyone is welcome but booking is encouraged. Email to reserve your place.

11.00—11.45 — Context is Half the Work

12.15—13.00 — Incidentality & John Latham

13.30—14.15 — Artists in Industry: Giving Up and Giving Over

14.30—15.15 — What’s the Difference Between Placements and Socially Engaged Practice?

15.30—17.00 — Open Discussion

Sessions will start on time but may run into the break. More information on the leaders will be available in early September.

This will be followed by the opening of Offer For Sale 6.30–8.30pm at Flat Time House


Saturday 14 September 2019, 12—4pm
FREE, drop-in, no booking required
The Clore Studio and Orozco Gardens

Incidental Assembly will showcase examples of live practice that carry the DNA of the Artist Placement Group. Selected through an open call, the eleven featured practitioners will work with the event’s publics to inspire action. This is based on diverse techniques, methods and other aspects that share a commitment to interrupting norms in law, health, industry, education, administration and more. Many of these drawn upon concepts coined by the Artist Placement Group, such as the idea that ‘context is half the work’ or the figure of the incidental person.

Incidental Unit have commissioned 10 artists across the UK following a Call for Entries inviting practices to explore their relation to the methods of the Artist Placement Group. Below is a short preview of what visitors can expect by attending the Incidental Assembly.

Reflecting on John Latham’s Bings project, an outcome of his placement in Scotland, *, artist collaborators Charles Danby and Rob Smith will bring Lowick quicklime to London to offer new narratives between land use and industrial processes.

Following a placement at Ritherdon & Co Ltd., Lancashire, Nicola Ellis will invite the public to experience her role as an ‘Incidental Person’ in her manufacturing context through an active assembly line.

Discover the potential of experimental, collective moving-image making in public space with Betsy Dadd of KALEIDOWORKS and consider the legacy of embedded projects by revisiting their 2017 ‘Playing Fields’ together.

Learn about artist Johann Arens’ collaboration with medical developer Dr. Alejandro Granados Martinez and their cross-disciplinary workshops for surgeons grounded in tactility.

Amanda Loomes will use a combination of personal anecdote and expert knowledge to activate objects and portfolios from her work in industry and open dialogues around social engagement, the culture of health and safety and other complex practices.

Michele Allen wonders what it means for nature to bear witness to industrialisation. Her ongoing engagement with an ancient woodland in Gateshead builds on Allen’s previous work with Stuart Brisley (a founding member of Artist Placement Group) about Peterlee, one of the new towns built in post-war Britain.

Rob Flint will explore voice with an ad hoc chorus of volunteers. Their collective reading will take up Incidental Assembly as its immediate context to explore the Artist Placement Group’s preoccupation with situated understanding.

Curator Laura Purseglove will facilitate a series of roundtables inspired by the dialogues convened by Artist Placement Group. Those attending Incidental Futures are invited to join Purseglove in four sequential interdisciplinary conversations that are prompted by future scenarios authored by her collaborator, artist and poet Himali Singh Soin.

Simon Farid will be conspicuously absent from the assembly owing to the demands of his day job as a gallery invigilator. This highlights the tensions that organise the mixed economy of cultural production as a touchstone in Farid’s practice.