Unrealised Projects doc
Sophie Risner
Independent Curator
MFA Curating
Goldsmiths College

Introduction to my practice &
Project Islington Mission Statement

Introducing my practice in relation to PROJECT ISLINGTON ///

The premise of my practice to date is to harness the relationship between the state, the market and the individual and to formulate this relationship through a curatorial identity.

I am interested in harnessing a critical best practice as a means to look at a very specific area within this relationship. What interests me about this relationship is the idea of governmental bureaucracy.

How art manages within this relationship ///

How governmental decision-making can be understood through an artistic and curatorial practice ///

This is a moment that understands the way in which life is organized as a sociological structure. The key idea that has consistently run throughout my practice has been the idea that life is motivated behind closed doors through a set of rules and laws, that these man-made structures are in place to certify a structure to the running of the day to day.

I am fascinated by the concept of bureaucracy and the essence that bureaucratic structures are hidden within the depths of equally monolithic architectural structures. In realizing this it can then be said that my practice is not just influenced by bureaucratic structures but also by the buildings that they inhabit, as both lend to unpacking this idea of
what actually is structure?

In realizing that both law and mortar are of interest to my curatorial practice it can be said that my curatorial practice is about uncovering governmental law and governmental structure as equally fruitful realms to start unpicking through an engaged critical practice.

"In the end, I contend that conflict, far from the ruin of democratic public space, is the condition of its existence"

Deutsche, Rosalyn

Deutsche clearly defines that the understanding of space comes inherently from the recognition that space is impossible to define. All that can be got from such an exploration will essentially always lean on the imperatives of aesthetics, or the reminder of opinion, thus, why it is so important to unify my own research with an open discourse with others as a moment with which to begin to relate this problem of representation. Here determines again that my practice is essentially about space, but a very specific space, one of governmental habitation, be that through municipal structures or by the economy of governmental strategy which helps define space and our relationship to space. The mention of an active critique of governmental space an be understood as an important equal to the work of Mel Bochner and the minimalist exploration of a gallery institutional critique, i.e. my curatorial practice finds harmony with ideas of institutional critique of governmental space leaning on art practice as a mode to explore the best critical engagement.

Deutsche looks into the work of Hans Haacke in particular the Shapolsky et al. Manhattan Real Estate Holdings, A Real Time Social System, as of May 1, 1971, this is an interesting example of the kind of curatorial approach that is core to my own practice. Here, Haacke not only uses institutional critique in the most objective fashion i.e. mere facts stated sans emotive narration, but it is juxtaposed with an informative black and white photo of the property in question, in essence law and mortar equally and objectively evaluated in the same breath.

Mission Statement for PROJECT ISLINGTON ///

I identified early on within the project that the London borough of Islington lacked an arts officer, this is something that has been a constant for many years and has a very true link with the way art is appreciated and recognized through a governmental discourse.


I intended to supplement the lack of Arts Officer by becoming a self-elected Arts Officer for the borough, this would have recourse by direct dealing with the borough, opening up the debate with the borough over the importance of a clear and concise relationship between artistic practice and governmental practice, as well as using art to define public space within the borough. I began to view the practice or mentality of government (r.e. Michel Foucault's seminal 1970s lecture series on his man-made concept of governmentality) as a similar concern or artistic / curatorial practice.

I intended to use my newfound role to begin to map this mentality of government within Islington. My first idea was to map the main point of contact for Islington council, this is a building found on Upper Street which is responsible for all citizen relationship building. This particular building goes under the name of Contact Islington and boasts the following on its website

General Information available on the Contact Islington website ///

Contact Islington
222 Upper Street
London N1 1XR

Tel: 020 7527 2000
E-form: General Enquiries
Minicom: 020 7527 1900
Fax: 020 7527 5001

For details on how to get to Contact Islington, click the Visiting Our Offices link on the left side of this page.

Opening Hours

Contact Centre - for telephone, fax and email:
8am - 8pm Monday
8am - 8pm Tuesday
8am - 8pm Wednesday
8am - 8pm Thursday
8am - 8pm Friday
9am - 6pm Saturday

Service Centre - front office counter for visitors in person:
8am - 6pm Monday
8am - 6pm Tuesday
8.30am - 6pm Wednesday
8am - 6pm Thursday
8am - 6pm Friday

Sign-Video Call Centre: 9am - 5pm Monday to Friday (excluding bank and public holidays)

For Saturday opening times, click Contact Islington - Extended Opening in the left hand menu.

Visiting Council Offices

For details of council offices including directions and travel options, click Visiting Our Offices on the left.

For a map of where council offices are located, click Interactive Maps, under Do It Online on the right-hand side of this page. Select Council Services then Council Offices from the list on the right. You can then use the 'identify' tool to display details of each office.

Enquiries and Complaints

To find out who your councillor is, and for other useful information about where you live such as your nearest library or sports centre, click Find My Nearest under Do It Online.

To submit an enquiry online to the council, click General Forms under Related Information.

If you have a complaint about the council, click the Complaints link on the left.

Media Enquiries

The Media Office deals with all media enquiries about Islington Council. The Media Office can be contacted on 020 7527 2307.

Outside of regular office hours, the Media Team can be contacted on 07813 142480.

Please note that the Media Office is for media enquiries only.

Online Directories

The Online Directories bring together a wide range of information and contact details:

* FAQs gives you answers to your frequently asked questions, as well as downloadable forms and contact information.
* Directory of Services offers a wide range of services to residents, businesses and visitors to the borough.
* Directory of Local Services provides information about local public services in Islington.
* Children's Directory is an online guide to services for children, young people and families.
* Refugee Services Directory is an online guide for refugees, asylum seekers and professionals.
* Supporting People Directory lists housing support services to encourage sustainable independent living.

222 Upper Street, Contact Islington

Contact Islington
222 Upper Sreet
Front Entrance and building rooftop

As my project is just as much about opening up the reality of governmental practice it is about expanding on the idea that government. Though government purports to actively translate into the public sector in a transparent fashion the reality is very far re-moved.

What made me come to this conclusion was through the contact I had with Contact Islington regarding trying to gain direct access the building as I wished to conduct a survey of the building in a bid to outline and essentially map what goes on within 222 Upper Street, to demystify the subjectivity of government and try to objectify its activities.

I wanted to eventually create a full and detailed map clearly representing what goes on within the building,

1.At what level architecturally is each department situated, so that it is possible to visually see the relationship between decisions made and place of decision making. To formulate a truth between what government does and where it goes about what it does.

2.Where abouts in the building, so that the truth of governmental activity / practice can attempt to stand the test of suspended judgement, representing truth for truth.

3.To unify the decisions made with the actuality of place.

Contact Islington,
222 Upper Street,
Front of building, taken from Compton Terrace Gardens.

Outcome ///

Unfortunately I was quite clearly reminded that I would not be allowed into the building by not only the building manager, but by several key departments within the building. This was the last passage of Project Islington which found a conclusion handed to it before it was ready to realise that a conclusion was forgone.

All relevant contact between departments and myself were posted onto the Project Islington blog, the address you can find below equally all of my own personal research into this field and further developments can be found at the Debates on Bureaucracy blog.

Project blog - http://projectislington.blogspot.com/
Master blog - http://debatesonbureaucracy.blogspot.com/