Bad Ideas Collective

Curator's foreword

Bad Ideas Collective was born out of a desire to examine and document ways in which artists reflect on their own practices. Being incognito is useful during this analysis, as privacy allows for more insights and even intimacy in relation to practitioners’ thought processes – discussions reflect on the mechanism, not just the outcome, and are more open or direct than artwork analysis. In many cases, humour or jokes also serve as an effective strategy to avoid responsibility or the pressure of self-confession: this endows the artists’ testimonies with a certain playfulness and in some cases they function as entertainment.

The artists involved have produced short videos that reflect on projects which they held back from developing for reasons other than purely practical obstacles – for example, either because of perceived inadequacies in the concept or due to speculation over audience responses. In a way, by focussing on these unstable elements, we are looking for fundamental structures which are part of art practice. The videos are presented without direct authorial attribution, as a means of shifting audience engagement away from questions of production and ownership. The emphasis is on the candid disclosure of the play and processing of ideas – how they are evaluated and either used or abandoned in the creative process.

Within this quasi-confessional framework a kind of collective formal freedom might emerge: a speculative post-art-world space where the ghosts of discarded possibilities drift and intermingle, cut loose from the moorings of authorship and value. Sometimes it almost seems as if we have discovered a new form or category of artwork – or should we call it a medium?

During the last couple of years, while this collection of videos has been developing and growing, members of the collective have raised a number of further questions concerning the decision-making behind art practices. 

Throughout this time, discussions and intriguing discoveries have been the keystone for continuing to collect bad ideas. Occasionally, ideas which have been considered in the past find new dimensions and it is worth revisiting them, keeping an archive and record of them even if they have been labelled as bad or unresolved. Sometimes perhaps it is just the wrong time or place for them to be developed straight away.

As many of the members are involved in educational art institutions, we are looking at how these conversations and discussions could influence teaching practice and beyond. How do you identify bad or good ideas in the work of students, when young practitioners are just at the beginning of their journey?

What makes an idea good or bad? How big a role do different contexts play? Can an idea become good if a shift in the context happens? Can we really forecast such circumstances? Can the world itself, independently from an artist, change the status of an artwork or idea? Many members of the collective have highlighted that a distinction needs to be made between bad artwork and bad ideas. Bad ideas do not always take the shape of a bad artwork and vice versa: ‘good’ ideas will not always take the form of a good artwork. Is it ultimately just a question of deciding what is a good or bad idea?

Together with members of the collective, we invite visitors to this showcase to discover questions around art making and the mechanisms behind it.