Beating the Bounds of Socially-Engaged Art? A Transdisciplinary Dialogue on a Collaborative Art Project with Youth in Dublin, Ireland
Beating the Bounds of Socially-Engaged Art? A Transdisciplinary Dialogue on a Collaborative Art Project with Youth in Dublin, Ireland
Fiona Whelan and Kevin Ryan.
This might seem like a dismal way to begin a discussion on socially-engaged art, and we hasten to add that it is not a conclusion so much as a point of departure – a working hypothesis might be a better way of pitching it – but in any case a concern that has brought us together with the aim of conversing across the boundaries of collaborative art and sociology. Moreover we have found it necessary to dispense with meta-theoretical frames such as the “four stages” model outlined above, focusing instead on situated practice as a line of approach to a question that follows from our hypothesis: how can socially-engaged art avoid the failures associated with “recuperation” while at the same time surviving its own successes? 
The center of gravity for our conversation is a durational project that spans a decade of socially-engaged art practice in one urban context in Dublin in the Republic of Ireland (hereafter referred to as “Ireland”). Traversing collaborative art, youth work, critical pedagogy and activism, this project is documented in Fiona’s critical memoir published under the title TEN: Territory, Encounter & Negotiation, which both recollects and re-presents the field of practice as a story that tensions its own history – its own conditions of existence. We believe that deep-dialogical engagement with the context and process encapsulated by TEN offers critical perspectives on the pitfalls and possible futures for engaged practice more generally.
1. Chronos: Historicizing Socially-Engaged Art in Ireland
1.1 Power as a distribution of places and parts
During the 1970s, community-based art groups such as The Grapevine Arts Centre in Dublin articulated a deeply political “counter-cultural” ethos.  Without wishing to overgeneralize, the thrust of this politicized wing of community arts was framed by the idea – or vision – of “cultural democracy,” which of course had international resonance in the context of those times. By the time CAFE (Creative Activity for Everyone) was established in 1983 as an umbrella organization to co-ordinate community arts in Ireland, there was already a tension emerging in the form of a question: what exactly is community art?  This question would have the effect of disciplining what had originated as a nebulous and unruly arena of experimental practice. By the mid-1980s all roads seemed to point towards the need for training and accreditation as a way of developing community arts as an organised “sector” (which chimes with the concept of “coalescence” mentioned in our introduction above). This was a long way from the ethos of early community arts practitioners, many of whom were self-taught.  Within the space of roughly a decade, the question “what is community art” had been answered and the field had undergone a profound transformation. The radical “commitment to achieving social and cultural equality through creative action” was still in place, yet the method seemed to jar with this commitment to equality.  As a self-identified sector community art became a governable entity. It also positioned itself within the space of a paradox in that achieving the core objective of equality through creative action was deemed to necessitate further bureaucratization and professionalization. This eroded the possibility of meaningful equality by instituting a rupture between artist and non-artist, thereby establishing an asymmetrical power relation that would render the very idea of empowerment-through-art deeply problematic. 
This distinction between artist/non-artist reappears in your own practice Fiona, though importantly it takes the form of a problem to be explored through collaboration. I’m thinking specifically of your triangulated approach to dialogue. From reading your memoir, it seems that this mode of subject-positioning – whereby each “side” of the triangle is distinct from the others – created a degree of friction.  Yet this tensioning of power relations also seems to have been productive precisely because it was given representational form within the context of your collaborative practice. To track this back to when you commenced your work with Rialto Youth Project, I wonder whether your trialogical approach might also be indicative of socially-engaged art entering into a deeper dialogue with its own history, thereby attempting to transfigure the field?
Fiona: In order to address your question I need to first introduce Rialto Youth Project (RYP), a community based youth organization that has hosted me on a twelve year residency. Rialto is a village in the south inner city of Dublin, and RYP was established in 1981 (though its origins can be traced back to the early 1970s). With a local voluntary management team, a manager of over 30 years and a strong diverse staff, RYP has acquired a reputation for taking an independent stance, refusing to endorse the depoliticised language in the State’s classification of Rialto as “disadvantaged,” and instead adopting the defiant language of “oppression” and “marginalization.”  Through the 1980s and 1990s, when youth work was being steered by policies with minimal focus on inequality, RYP built a strong capacity for arts-based work committed to the exploration and representation of social issues – including youth incarceration and the HIV/AIDS crisis. [12, 13] Entering this organization as an artist in residence in 2004, I encountered what Kester has described as a “politically coherent community.” [14, 15] I engaged with a micro-political economy made up of strong community development groups negotiating with state powers in relation to the physical and social regeneration of the area.  After three years of collaboration between artist, youth workers, and young people, What’s the Story? Collective (2007-11) was developed as an interdisciplinary group responding to this triangulation of positions that occupied the field. 
In the spirit of Rancière’s “ignorant schoolmaster,” equality became a starting point for our diverse Collective rather than a destination.  Holding and working through the complexities attached to each of our points on the triangle was important. Any removal of subject identities presented a risk of suggesting some kind of neutralized equality that would flatten the cultural hierarchy we were working to overcome, a dangerous move towards a model of social “inclusion.” So in conscious opposition, the triangle was symbolically laid flat, highlighting our differences in knowledge, class, background and our commitment to a horizontal process. These would be explored in practice over time as the Collective went on to co-develop and co-author a three-year collaborative project exploring power and policing with multiple manifestations, including a series of events engaging the national police force.
I was in dialogue with Youth Work practice and its historical relationship with Community Arts, but importantly I entered this dialogue as a product of the dominant educational tradition supporting signature/market-orientated practice, where terms like “community artist” had become othered. Holding my title of “artist” with absolute determination I had gone on to engage in new postgraduate courses, becoming part of a first generation of professionalized practitioners in the field of community based and public art practice.  The development of the triangulated Collective brought youth work practice and legacies of community arts into conversation with contemporary critical discourses occupying the field of collaborative and socially-engaged practice, especially as they related to power. Through our structure and our shared interests, power relations were explored, confronted and embodied while power was grown collectively. Our practice slowly moved in from the points and sides of the triangle, to create a temporary hybrid collaborative space in the center, demanding a complimentary process of learning and unlearning.
1.2 Depoliticizing inequality: empowering the “disadvantaged” subject
Fiona: You are absolutely right. Such labeling first came into focus two years prior to the development of the Collective when I traveled to Philadelphia with a group of young people from Rialto (aged 14-16) and a youth worker to work with an arts organization and another youth group on a public mural. Our process there included some engagement with US media and a report later emerged on Fox News in which the Dublin group’s interviews about their enjoyment of the art project were interspersed with descriptions of their home place as “the saddest housing project in the city” and “one of Ireland’s roughest neighbourhoods.”  This external framing uncomfortably positioned our practice within what Kester (from James Clifford) refers to as the ‘“salvage” paradigm in which the artist takes on the task of “ ‘improving’ the implicitly flawed subject.”  In this context, the US media’s representation of the group was a very significant moment as it publicly highlighted a powerful framing that each young person was inherently familiar with and had embodied to some degree. Creating new ways of working that could harness another type of power was necessary, while also developing ways to speak back to such power. The Collective was developed shortly afterwards and many from this group of young people were central to its progression.
Kevin: So the external framing you refer to was also a catalyst for resistance – part of a learning process that has shaped the direction and development of the Collective’s work. I’d like us to broaden the context here by returning to your earlier point concerning a “dangerous move towards a model of social inclusion.” We’ve touched on the power of language, but this is also partly about the language of power, which was radically altered during the 1980s and 1990s – not just in Ireland but in the EC/EU: inequality became “disadvantage,” poverty was subsumed by the concept of social “exclusion,” and the policy of “inclusion” began to articulate what I think of as a sociological thesis of unintended effects.  What I mean here is that inequality was reframed as an unfortunate by-product of growing prosperity. Nobody was to blame, and redistributing wealth would only prolong the agony by retarding economic growth, so the best policy was to enable the excluded to make the transition from “outside” to “inside” the structure of opportunities – from “exclusion” to “inclusion.” 
There is a comparison to be made between community art as practiced during this period and the emergence of neo-liberal workfare regimes, and I want to angle this at the issue of scripted participation versus collaborative approaches to engaged art today. The instruments of workfare attempt to “activate” people deemed to be incapacitated by a passive welfare system that instils habits of dependency. Employability thus becomes the responsibility of the individual, while the state offers a menu of training and back-to-work schemes. In the field of community art, the technique of empowerment became analogous to activation in that it aimed to animate latent creative capacities as a way of enabling disadvantaged individuals/communities to “take control of their lives.”  Activation and empowerment converge on a disadvantaged subject who is acted upon by others, and I think this goes some way to explaining how the field of community art started to become a type of vocational training regime nested within the now dominant welfare-to-work paradigm.  There is however an important difference between acting upon and acting with, and this is arguably the crucial consideration when it comes to decisions as to whether or to what extent engaged art can challenge, resist or subvert existing power inequalities. Does this have any bearing on your avowed commitment to collaborative practice, i.e. as opposed to scripted participation?
Fiona: Yes. When What’s the Story? Collective was formed, an examination of power relations was foregrounded as power was examined at the level of our own collaborative structure as I described it above. Concurrently, an important feature of the practice was a collection of anonymous testimonies documenting lived experience of power and powerlessness gathered privately from each member of the Collective. These stories influenced the direction of the project as the theme of policing emerged strongly, leading to a series of live events where power was examined, reversed, and performed. You’ve mentioned my emphasis on listening as a feature of the practice, which is of primary importance here when speaking about the power of language and practices of activating people. The concept of an authentic voice is well recognized in youth work and community based arts, with many projects uncritically describing the act of “giving voice.” As the theme of policing emerged and influenced the direction of our project, young people specifically named that they wanted “to be heard” by Gardaí (Irish police). The resulting series of public works from What’s the Story? Collective brought together the authors of the anonymous personal stories relating to power and policing, the stories themselves and multiple publics, constituting acts of voice and listening that were interdependent. The Collective’s emphasis on listening was a way of countering the assumption that the opportunity to express a grievance is sufficient when it comes to righting a wrong. The deficiency of this approach is both highlighted and addressed in Alan Grossman and Áine O’Brien’s work with new immigrant communities in Ireland. Grossman and O’Brien frame the relationship between voicing and listening as a “working dialectic” that orchestrates movement towards “the politics of impression…a move in which mediated communication more readily presents itself as a relational space of intersecting practices and identities.”  Inviting those holding state power into a relational space where they would listen to young people was unique, particularly when compared to existing state-sponsored programs between young people and Gardaí, which are largely based on the assumption that young people from so-called “disadvantaged” areas harbor the potential to become future criminals and deviants.  In the dialogical encounter The Day in Question (2009), enacted behind closed doors at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), a newly recruited group of Gardaí seated on one side of a triangle would begin by reading aloud a collection of young people’s anonymous testimonies describing diverse and largely negative experiences of policing: in homes, in Garda stations, and in public space.  To relate this to Grossman and O’Brien’s dialectic: the Gardaí were listening through the act of speaking, and this was further layered, in that the reading was staged in the presence of the Collective who occupied another side of the triangle along with a group of invited witnesses who formed the third side (Fig. 1). The collection of narratives was not encountered by the Gardaí prior to the event as the written “truth,” but experienced only through re-enacted live readings in the presence of a group of anonymous authors. Members of the Collective listened to their own “voices” articulated by the Gardaí, while the invited witnesses experienced what is referred to above as a relational space of intersecting identities, after which all parties engaged in a facilitated conversation which unearthed many complex issues.
In this triangulation, temporary reversals of power were enacted and a counter narrative aired, the practice comparable to parrhesia, the kind of speech act described by Foucault as speaking truth to power.  Through a series of related public events over three years, representation and listening occurred simultaneously to the individual storytellers, to the Collective, and to a range of publics as part of a continuum of developing and shifting identities that would speak back to the categorization and classification of communities.  The project climaxed with the exhibition and residency Policing Dialogues (2010) in The LAB, an art space managed by Dublin City Council, where the cumulative process – presented as an exhibition – served as a backdrop to an active public exploration of complex neighborhood relations of power (Fig. 2 & 3). 
Central to this was the closing of the gallery to the public for a two-day dialogue between the same group of Gardaí and the Collective who would identify and examine the conditions that contributed to their beliefs, behaviours and ability to act differently. While the first reading event was controlled by the Collective and had consciously inverted the existing power relationship temporarily, this dialogue one year later was planned by a core representative group of Gardaí, youth workers, young people, and myself and included external facilitators, who identified a “stuck pattern” evident in the behaviour of both groups. The learning from this dialogue and the full program of events was channelled into another space, after-hours in the gallery. Seated on an illuminated triangle, the core representative group would meet regularly to collate the learning and co-develop a training program for new Gardaí assigned to the Dublin South Central district addressing agreed gaps in existing provision (Fig 4). 
In addition to speaking to power from below, the act of speaking in public was also central to our collective practice. The latter phase of the project was supported by a transdisciplinary advisory group that represented a combined knowledge base of art, youth/community work, and sociology, who would steer the project at its most public moment while external professionals including a sociologist and public broadcaster were invited to critically engage with the collective’s process and emerging content.  While multiple discourses were feeding the process, positioning the public phases of the work in contemporary art spaces was intended to break down something of the divide between a signature and co-authored practice and exercise a right to position public issues in public venues.However, this was not without its problems. The collective authoring reflected our horizontal working relationship but the theme of the work was closely linked to the lives and homeplace of one third of the triangle – young people were both subjects and authors. Their anonymous stories were at the core of the project but they were also central to the mediation of these stories and their representation in the public domain. Holding this representational struggle centrally, we engaged in intensive media training to avoid young people being negatively stereotyped as they spoke of the work. However the theme of the work coupled with the structuring of the Collective as a triangle of subject identities contributed to an occasional reading of the young people’s role as “participants” or in one case as merely “subjects.” Their non-professional status as “young person” alongside youth worker and artist, skewed the nature of the triangle at its most public moment. I had given much consideration to my position as an artist and the youth workers were operating in their own professional capacity, but due to the nature of the field and the context of our collaboration, one third of the triangle had been appointed their titles from the outset. The residency nature of Policing Dialogues allowed us to talk publicly about this issue as it emerged in the media, with young people publicly questioning the status of their own classification.  Acting with young people to collectively explore power relations, we had surpassed the triangulated structure associated with the sector. We also considered a separation of the Collective from Rialto Youth Project which, by association, classified the young people as “youth at risk,” thereby exploring the possibilities for young people to self-identify differently and considering ourselves momentarily as an artists’ collective.
Kevin: If I could just take stock of this complex and layered process: although the triangle was configured horizontally within the Collective, from the outside – as it entered the public domain – it was interpreted by some commentators as a hierarchical pyramid. To come back to the distinction between scripted and collaborative practice, it might be important to think about how the macro-political context can encroach upon and (de)form the meaning of collaborative art by subjecting it to scripted interpretations. In the context of What’s the Story?, the positions of youth worker and artist were publically recognized and affirmed, while the other members of the Collective were “read” through the lens of socially-scripted categories derived from the fields of public policy (youth-at-risk), social science (subjects), and art (participation).  If you think your way back to the beginning, and in light of the difficulty of external framing as it emerged much later, I wonder whether there was a missed opportunity to destabilize this mode of representation. If the Collective had – as you suggest – presented itself as an artists’ collective and refused to qualify that in terms of academic diplomas, degrees and so forth, might that have been a way of insisting that commentators such as journalists and art critics at least ask (and listen) before jumping to conclusions?
Fiona: The triangulated Collective was developed in response to a youth arts development model, repositioning those well understood roles within the field of practice in a horizontal collaborative structure. In advance of the Collective’s most public manifestation – Policing Dialogues – a dismantling of the triangle to reframe as an “artists’ collective” would indeed have solved a type of classification that emerged with this public phase of the work, but the structure was bound by its origins, highlighting your original point about the controlled nature of the sector within which the practice has come to exist – youth work is a model of non-formal education committed to “aiding and enhancing the personal and social development of young people through their voluntary participation.”  In the youth sector there are plenty of rigid models of work where youth are paid, like your earlier examples of back-to-work schemes and training programs. The triangulation came with an understanding that artist and youth worker were professional positions and received payment. By their association to RYP, young people were engaged through their voluntary participation in a developmental process. The triangulated collective was an experiment with this structure to see how far power could be explored and tested. Following the rich dialogical process that unearthed a multiplicity of identities and changing roles over four years, we agreed to disband the Collective in its particular arrangement and proposed a range of other options should we consider reforming (a conversation which remains live). Reframing as an artist’s collective mid-project, in advance of this major public phase could have been detrimental. It could not have happened solely in branding terms, but would have required a major process of restructuring including the distribution of funds to all the “artists” which would go against the core youth work principle of voluntary participation. It is also important to note that the youth worker did not want to be an artist, and was committed to the process within her existing professional capacity, while departing from the organization was not an option at that time either due to the level of support they provided the young people in the process. While the lack of a professional status attached to “young person” invited the “socially-scripted categories” that you identify, the reality is that the youth worker and the organizational support for young people were integral to the project (as was my artistic process). It would be dangerous to hide the value of this work, particularly in light of the ongoing problem of funding cutbacks as the Irish State slowly dismantles the youth and community sector while also subjecting practitioners to new modes of evaluation and control. While young people continue to experience multiple oppressive forces, new policy and funding streams place emphasis on practices that promote “youth employability.”  Creative, opened-ended, collaborative cultural processes are being eroded by policies and programs that exert pressure on young people to think of themselves as “job-seekers” and assume responsibility for their own employability.
2. Reprise: Future Trajectories
2.1 The onto-politics of managerialism: the socially-engaged artist as administrator?
Fiona: This is a really challenging point. In order to address it, I need to position my work somewhat. To borrow a phrase from artist Jay Koh, my practice could be described as “relationally responsive,” operating without the subservience of facilitation but not with the autonomy of intervention.  Built in one geographic context over twelve years, my collaborative practice occupies the terrain of direct and dialogical engagement with others as opposed to other antagonisic, protest based or interventionist approaches. It’s a space of enquiry, one of not knowing whereby the learning is not prescribed. Over twelve years, short-term funding has been sought from a variety of sources, some youth based, some arts based, depending on the specific phase of work.  While a part of the work met the criteria for each diverse fund, it was their succession that was important in feeding the cumulative nature of the work. In the face of a short-term funding landscape, I learned from the manager of the youth project to think long-term. In addition to the issues with arts funding that you describe, I have seen huge changes to the field of youth work over the last decade. While much important developmental work occurs with young people, this increasingly conservative sector (with notable exceptions) often fails to challenge the underlying problem of inequality. The funding landscape has undergone a massive change which I have witnessed first-hand in Rialto, with the governance system you describe leading to the need for a “demonstration model of youth work” to prevail. With the sector now at risk of being eradicated, the RYP is working to communicate the “value” of its non-formal educational practice. Logic models have entered the language of planning and a complex database for assessment now takes up much of a youth worker’s time. While the organization works to convey the complexity of its practice, the State continues to cut its budget.
In this context I have come to describe my practice in terms of its distinct features – the practice is ideas led and interest based. The form of a work is not pre-determined but emerges from the process. The learning is also to be found. The terms “Territory,” “Encounter,” and “Negotiation” that I use in my 2014 book title summarize the philosophical and methodological approaches to collaboration while also communicating a cycle – from any negotiation, new territories emerge, new encounters necessary and so forth. I believe that the arts need to hold open the space of not-knowing in the face of the increasing structures of governance that require practitioners to know, both in advance – in the naming of learning outcomes, and in retrospect – in the summary of effect. The difficulty of this ambition is highlighted in the MA Socially Engaged Art at NCAD of which I am a joint Coordinator, which focuses on the relationship between socially-engaged arts practice and pedagogy. Embedded in this MA program is a further education teaching qualification, necessary for those considering a career as a teacher or facilitator of learning within an increasingly diverse further education sector, one in a state of flux as policy and structural reforms have impacted on provision and pedagogical practices. Some modules on the MA SEA explore educational theory and practice along with curriculum development, while others are concerned with the practice and critical discourse circulating the field of socially-engaged practice. While the transdisciplinary enquiry offers rich potential for students to develop unique radical practices at the intersection of socially-engaged practice and informal, non-formal, and further educational settings, students can struggle to identify new territories for hybrid practices to develop. The level of governance and control that arts and educational practice are experiencing can push them to conform to evaluation and governance structures to secure funding and status. This is further experienced by staff in an increasingly governed higher education sector.
Kevin: In terms of how this new managerialism is impacting on the broader arena of higher education (i.e. not just art colleges), of late I find myself looking to something that Michel Foucault once said in an interview. For me this is a way of remembering what is at stake in a situation where academic freedom is being eroded, but I also think this has a bearing on how you describe both your practice and your understanding of the arts. Asked by the interviewer to label himself (are you a philosopher, historian, structuralist…?) Foucault replied by saying that it wasn’t important for him to know exactly what he was, and he continued by explaining that, “The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning. If you knew when you began a book what you were going to say at the end, do you think you would have the courage to write it? What is true for writing and for love relationships, is also true for life. The game is worthwhile insofar as we do not know what will be the end.”  If Foucault were alive today, the response to these words from university management would most likely be to insist on a five-year research plan, with specific attention to detail regarding funding, outputs, and impact. The ethos of openness that you defend – and rightly so in my view – is being erased by forms of surveillance and control that measure and rank comparable entities, whether individuals, projects, services, or organizations, which is also an effective way of instituting the logic of competition. But what makes this technology of power particularly insidious is that it is insulated by the language of “transparency” and “accountability.” The modus operandi is about ensuring quality, rewarding excellence and delivering value for money, which requires everything to be transparent so that everyone is equally accountable. But a minority excel only because others are deemed deficient, so this is a serious game of power – one that operates by generating hierarchies and intensifying inequality among equals.  As artists and academics, we have the freedom to initiate and manage our own projects, but current trends indicate that these will only have validity and longevity if we can demonstrate verifiable “impact” in the form of tangible social and economic benefits. Increasingly, these impacts must be identified before the project even begins, so that our autonomy is regulated by norms and procedures that direct and constrain what can be done if a project is to continue beyond the current round of funding and review. As argued by Stephen Ball (he is writing about teachers, but this could apply equally well to the field of socially-engaged art) this governmentality does not simply change what artists and academics do, it also changes who they are. In short, evaluative monitoring is not simply a form of indirect control but also an onto-political struggle for the artist’s “soul.” 
Earlier you discussed how RYP has carefully and consciously negotiated the power of language and the language of power (“disadvantage”), and you have also explained how you manage to keep a degree of distance from the encroaching managerialism by using bundles of short-term funding packages to support long-range objectives. And yet, as you point out, the demonstration model of youth work is fast becoming a reality. With respect to the features of your collaborative method – the openness that allows form to emerge through process and for learning to be both generated and discovered through the practice – it seems unavoidable that at some level, whether purposefully or reluctantly, as an engaged artist you must encounter and enter into negotiation with the technologies of power that shape the field (or territory) within which your practice is situated.
Fiona: The professional framing of my practice and the request for it to be funded, place me in the game of power and control that you describe but the constant circulation of ideas prevent despair from setting in. As argued by Freire, one of the most tragic illnesses of our societies is “the bureaucratization of the mind.”  I value the mind as “a site of a political struggle” in the face of the many forces that try to exercise control over one’s consciousness.  Within the arts, it is also important to acknowledge the power of the reputational economy that controls the field. For some time, the open ended nature of my durational hybrid practice, with long hidden phases and public moments that traversed any specific sectoral or disciplinary framing, contributed to the marginal position of the practice in the Irish arts scene. Furthermore, the geographic position of the work in a local youth project, away from any major commissioning body or arts festival, remove it from the instruments of power that operate the arts as a reputational economy, and further position the work outside of mainstream critique. As I mentioned, occasionally positioning the work in high profile art venues was a conscious move to engage and confront this power structure. Furthermore, in response to our own collaborative process, we adopted a number of approaches to integrate external layers of critical thinking to complement our own and to gather the learning from the practice as it developed. These included mentoring, transdisciplinary advisory teams, inviting external “witnesses” to engage with the work over time, and collective writing and presentation formats. New knowledge was encountering the cumulative process and emerging from it simultaneously. While a public discourse did emerge from Policing Dialogues on radio and TV in relation to the content and theme of the work, the arts media largely ignored it, with the major arts review show on Irish television reducing it to “youth arts” and refusing to engage with it. My choice to self-publish TEN was to position a story of a decade of durational practice into a critical register and funding landscape more focused on individual projects rather than practice learning. Attempting to collate learning into categories of “impact” is obviously short-sighted. Speaking about the armature of evaluation which is brought to bear on this field of practice and the request to measure impact in particular, artist Ailbhe Murphy asks, “…was there a crash?” She goes on to observe: “In this particular evaluative arena the collision occurs when the institutionally sanctioned technocratic inquiry meets the polyphonic speculations of a relational network and that can only play out and is most often felt as a form of discursive violence.”  While individual evaluation systems were tolerated as they confronted our collaborative practice, TEN was my attempt to communicate something bigger than a fragmented set of learnings outcomes. The effect of the work is not yet entirely realized, the polyvocal and multi-faceted practice in constant flux as those involved continue to navigate their own individual and collective paths. Significantly for me, it’s important to recognize my increased visibility as a practitioner since presenting Policing Dialogues and self-publishing TEN and the effect that has on the funding process, opportunities for the work, and perception of the collaborative process. Furthermore, I now occupy an increased position of power (since 2013) in influencing the field as we understand it, through my role in NCAD. As I re-negotiate my position in the field, my practice is a product of the structures of power, in conversation with those structures and part of shaping them.
2.2 Narrating power/contesting power: doxa and praxis
I would see your practice as being grounded in complex and layered negotiations with power/knowledge. On the more tangible level are two forms of relational power: one that articulates inequalities between those who exercise power and those who are subject to power (as with Policing Dialogues), and another whereby power is co-produced through collaboration (within the triangulated space of the Collective). A distinguishing feature of the work you have been doing over the past decade is to create dialogical processes and encounters that bring both types of relational power together. Moreover, there is a volatility to the practice, and your memoir conveys a vivid sense of how working with and through power relations can be challenging for all involved, partly because this entails a type of unlearning and re-perceiving of the “other” (from either side of the power asymmetry), but also because this is a process that tensions the less tangible power of language and discourse. As noted earlier, this is power that constitutes, conditions and constrains the thinkable, sayable, and doable – what you have referred to, from Friere, as the bureaucratization of the mind. To engage with this mode of power is to wrestle not only with the issues and problems we think about, but also with thought itself, or what is sometimes referred to as doxa.  To relate this to the idea of folding/unfolding the field, would it be appropriate to suggest that your memoir folds practice back onto itself by taking critical distance from what has been enacted and experienced through practice, and is this what you and Glenn Loughran mean by “praxis of enquiry?” 
Fiona: Yes. When I started in Rialto I was absolute in my position as an artist and full of resistance to being institutionalized or instrumentalized. Now twelve years later with the benefits of maturity, the durational experience of the practice, and a critical understanding of the systems that govern and influence the field, I find myself less interested in holding on to anything and more open to being in a constant state of becoming. As soon as TEN was published I questioned my last minute decision to describe myself as a “socially-engaged artist” on the front cover. While I felt “artist” didn’t give enough information as to the nature of the content, I’m concerned about what it means to connect one’s self to a governable movement. Stories have been a central feature of my practice; the gathering of personal and anonymous lived experience as a way to examine familial, community and State power while also growing communal power in the act of working with the stories collectively and in public. Significantly, the stories are not gathered as data to be frozen. Recognizing the temporality of experience and the intersubjectivity of the act of storytelling, the stories in the projects exist as a vehicle to create movement, re-negotiate one’s position, and shift ground.  With each encounter, public reading, or visual manifestation, the original story is altered and rethought. I see my practice in a similar vein. Although the specific project we speak about occurred from 2007-11, the knowledge and its value continue to unfold in multiple ways. Methodology and practice learning has fed into a subsequent project called Natural History of Hope (2012-16) between myself and Rialto Youth Project which examines class and gender inequality. The story, and the learning in the work, is alive. I position myself as a practitioner publicly in flux. While the genre of “memoir” is largely associated with an older person looking back on life, I didn’t wait to write TEN until I had exited the field and developed an increased reflective position on the decade of work, choosing instead to present the vulnerability of the ongoing practice publicly to be in conversation with a range of others to promote new learning. With theory featuring in the book only as it was in conversation with the practice at a specific time, I am speaking back to this theory and the power structures of the field to keep open a dialogue. Since publishing TEN, I have encountered many new professionals from Psychology, Education, Sociology and Collaborative Arts and subsequent conversations, like our one here, influence current practice and create further movement; the praxis of enquiry remains alive.
Fiona Whelan is a Dublin based artist with a multifaceted practice, committed to exploring power relations through durational, reciprocal engagements with people and place. Her decade long collaboration with a city youth service included an extensive project exploring young people’s relationship to power and policing which manifested in multiple dialogical encounters including The Day in Question (2009) in IMMA, Policing Dialogues (2010) at The LAB and Natural History of Hope (2016) at Project Arts Centre. In 2014, she published a critical memoir, TEN: Territory, Encounter & Negotiation as a learning tool for a trans-disciplinary field. Fiona is also joint Course Coordinator of the MA Socially Engaged Art at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin. www.fionawhelan.com
Kevin Ryan is lecturer at the School of Political Science & Sociology, National University of Ireland, Galway and a graduate of the Crawford College of Art & Design in Cork. His research focuses on degrees of freedom, i.e. freedom not as an abstract figure of thought or normative ideal, but rather freedom as an agonistic arena of practice which is conditioned and constrained by historically-constituted relations of power. Kevin is the author of Social Exclusion and the Politics of Order (2007), and co-editor (with Mark Haugaard) of Political Power: The Development of the Field (2012). His articles have been published in Childhood, Critical Horizons, Critical Sociology, the International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, and The Journal of Political Power.
 C. Campos, “Beating the Bounds: The Tour de France and National Identity.” The Tour de France 1903 – 2003: A Century of Sporting Structures, Meanings and Values. H. Dauncey & G. Hare (eds) (London: Frank Cass, 200) 149-174.
 See J. Christiansen, Four Stages of Social Movements, in: Sociology Reference Guide: Theories of Social Movements (Pasadena: Salem Press, 2014).
 Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello use this concept to examine “the commodification of difference,” but it might also encompass a range of problems more familiarly referred to as “instrumentalization.” See L. Boltanski & E. Chiapello, The New Spirit of Capitalism (London & New York: Verso) 441-447.
 Though there are comparisons to be made between the history of community art in Ireland and the UK, and perhaps also the US and Australia, much of this work still remains to be done in the Irish case, and something that comes out of the existing literature is that context matters. I also share Claire Bishop’s reservations regarding the sketchy nature of source material on the history of community arts in Ireland. As with Bishop’s research in the UK, I am relying largely on published reports and evaluations of specific projects and pilot programs. C. Bishop, Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship (Verso: London, 2012) 163, 177.
 S. Fitzgerald, “The Beginnings of Community Arts in the Irish Republic.” An Outburst of Frankness. S. Fitzgerald (ed) (TASC: Dublin, 2004); City Arts Centre: 25 years 1973-1998 (City Arts Centre: Dublin, 1999) 64-79; P. Clancy, “Rhetoric and Reality: A Review of the Position of Community Arts in State Cultural Policy in the Irish Republic.” The Arts Council & TASC: Dublin.
 The Arts Council, with financial assistance from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, explored this question through the Arts Community Education (ACE) Project. Chaired by Ciarán Benson, the ACE Project commenced in 1985 and concluded in 1989, and there are some striking contrasts in the final report. Benson wrote in praise of “the commitment of so many people to making the arts a living part of ordinary and personal lives.” At the same time, there was a professionalizing emphasis on management, project evaluation, skills, and the need to “train professional community workers and…workers in arts and arts-related processes.” CAFE’s development as an organization was very much in step with this trend. C. Benson (ed), Art and the Ordinary: The Report of the Arts Community Education Commitee (ACE Committee: Dublin, 1989). On CAFE see J. Bowles, Developing Community Arts: An Evaluation of the Pilot National Arts Worker Course (CAFÉ: Dublin, 1992).
 A major landmark in the process of professionalization was the establishment of a Pilot National Arts Worker Course in 1991, which was accredited as an extra-mural diploma from St. Patrick’s College Maynooth (J. Bowles, Developing Community Arts).
 J. Bowles, Developing Community Arts, vii.
 This was pointed out at the time by the Galway-based philosopher Tom Duddy, who wrote an essay for Circa titled “The Politics of Creativity.” Adopting the role of “devil’s advocate” (his words), Duddy identified “the specter of paternalism…a new type of missionary or ideologue moving in on working-class communities in order to save their creative souls, to convert them to a sense of their own creativity.” T. Duddy, “The Politics of Creativity,” Circa (67, Spring, 1994) 28-31. Duddy’s essay resonates strongly with Grant Kester’s “Aesthetic Evangelists: Conversion and Empowerment in Contemporary Community Art,” Afterimage (January 1995) 5-11, and Hal Foster’s “Artist as Ethnographer in his Return of the Real: The Avant-Garde at the End of the Century (MIT Press: Cambridge, 1996).
 F. Whelan, TEN Territory, Encounter & Negotiation (available from: www.fionawhelan.com, 2014) 75-79.
 RYP Mission Statement: “In an age of inequality, where working class people are oppressed, we are working towards bringing about social change, providing an integrated youth service, based on the needs of young people and in particular those most at risk.” www.rialtoyouthproject.net
 The field of youth work at this time was being steered by a policy framework that now seems broadly progressive, i.e. when compared to more recent policy initiatives (National Youth Policy Committee, Final Report, Stationary Office: Dublin, 1984, also known as the Costello Report after its chair Declan Costello highlighted youth work’s concern for social change). Yet looking back at that period, it is notable that there was very minimal focus on inequality, and insofar as the issue of inequality was broached, it was linked to individual and familial influence rather than structural inequality. This was highlighted by Professor Maurice Devlin in Youth Work and the Arts: Continuity and Change, on the occasion of the seminar Territory, Encounter and Negotiation- Collaborative Practice in a Youth Work Context, 5 Nov. 2014, NCAD, Dublin. Available at: http://www.fionawhelan.com/event/ten-seminar-book-launch/
 See: www.rialtoyouthproject.net
 My entry into Rialto was as an artist in residence in Studio 468, a purpose built artists’studio in St. Andrew’s Community Centre, managed by a studio team made up of representatives from the Rialto Development Association, Common Ground; a local arts development organization and the Dublin City Council Arts Office. Beyond the nine month residency, I continued to work with Rialto Youth Project.
 G. Kester, ‘Aesthetic Evangelists: Conversion and Empowerment in Contemporary Community Art’, Afterimage (January 1995)
 Rialto includes two large social housing complexes – Fatima Mansions and Dolphin House. Established in 1995 by a Voluntary Board of Management, Fatima Groups United led the successful regeneration of Fatima that has seen the physical and social transformation of the old flats complex. In 2015 Dolphin House began the first phase of physical refurbishment of what is now the largest flat complex in Dublin.
 What’s the Story? Collective (2007-11) was a collective of youth workers, artist and young people based in Rialto Youth Project Dublin: Gillian O Connor, Graham Dunphy, Nichola Mooney, Nicola Whelan, Garrett Kenny, Jamie Hendrick, Jonathan Myers, Vanessa Kenny, Fiona Whelan.
 J. Rancière. The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation (Stanford University Press: California, 1987).
 I completed the H-Dip Community Arts Education, NCAD Dublin, 2001-2; MA Art in Public, UU Belfast, 2008-9. I also engaged in The Civil Arts Inquiry (2002-04), a critical phase of work led by City Arts Centre Dublin aimed at formulating the future needs and future direction of community art in Ireland.
 TEN, 140-41.
 Jane Golden, executive director of the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, during a TV interview with Fox News, 2007.
 G. Kester, “Dialogical Aesthetics: A Critical Framework for Littoral Art,” Variant (9, Winter, 1999/2000); J. Clifford, “The Others: Beyond the ‘Salvage’ Paradigm,” Third Text (3: 6, 1989) 73-78. In a similar vein, UCD Professor of Equality Studies, Kathleen Lynch describes the “charity model of social justice deep rooted in Ireland, based on the institutionalization of unequal relationships,” Kathleen Lynch at The Care-Less State: why we need radical egalitarian thinking in Ireland, 5 Nov. 2014, NCAD, Dublin. Audio available at http://www.fionawhelan.com/event/ten-seminar-book-launch/. An edited version of this presentation The Care-Less State of Ireland: Why we need to challenge the Charity model of Social Justice was subsequently published in TransActions #1 and is available at http://transactionspublication.com/2015/06/11/the-care-less-state-of-ireland-why-we-need-to-challenge-the-charity-model-of-social-justice/. Kathleen Lynch is Professor of Equality Studies at the School of Social Justice, University College Dublin.
 The community arts sector was a key player in this process of discursive formation in that it began to shoulder the task of administering what might be described as “communities of predicament,” such as single-parents, the long-term unemployed, and young people “at risk” of offending or becoming habituated in alcohol and substance abuse. It would henceforth become more difficult to engage in a politics of contestation because the very language of domination – discrimination, exploitation, oppression – was outflanked by the new consensual register of inequality-as-disadvantage. Instituted as a lingua franca used by policy-makers, administrators and activists alike, this lexicon became a solvent that diluted the ideational underpinnings of social conflict, thereby also taming the unruly field of community art.
 I have examined this in detail in K. Ryan, Social Exclusion and the Politics of Order (Manchester University Press: Manchester & New York, 2007).
 I’m quoting from J. Bowles, Developing Community Arts, 6, 117.
 Examples can be seen in the Community Arts Pilot Programme that ran for two years in 1993-94. The final report is saturated from top to bottom (i.e. from funding agencies down to participating groups) with the language of leadership, management, skills, training, and evaluation protocols. Several participating groups define “outcomes” as the need to pay those who participate in the projects. One of the problems here is that people classified as trainees can be paid less than the minimum wage, which is also a key characteristic of workfare and learnfare programs, as well as the more recent innovation of internships. See: Creating a Difference: Report of the Creative Activity for Everyone/Combat Poverty Agency Community Arts Pilot Programme 1993-1994 (CAFE & CPA, Dublin, 1995).
 Grossman and O’Brien are here quoting O’Donnell, P., Lloyd, J., and Dreher, T., “Listening, Pathbuilding and Continuations: A Research Agenda for the Analysis of Listening,” Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies (23: 4, 2009) 423–39. Grossman and O’Brien have been long time collaborators through their roles as Co-Directors of the Centre for Transcultural Research and Media Practice, School of Media, DIT, Forum on Migration and Communications (FOMACS) and subsequently Counterpoints Arts in London.
 The two primary State run programs that bring young people and Gardaí together are the Garda Juvenile Diversion Program and Garda Youth Diversion Projects. The Garda Juvenile Diversion Program aims to prevent young offenders in Ireland from entering into the full criminal justice system. When a young person comes to the attention of the Gardaí because of their criminal activity, they may be dealt with through the Diversion Program. The intended outcome of the program is to divert young people from committing further offences. Children on the program may be referred to the Garda Youth Diversion Projects, which are community-based youth services that provide a range of activities and seek to support good relations between the Garda and the community. Both projects place an emphasis on the young person as being in need of change.
 The Day in Question (2009) was a participatory reading event staged in the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin which brought together a group of young people in a dialogical exchange with 26 uniformed police officers during the final phase of their training. The event was built around the reading of young people’s anonymous accounts of power and policing, read aloud by Gardaí.
 M. Foucault, Fearless Speech (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2001).
 What’s the Story? Collective produced multiple works over three years; Anonymous: Reading, Narrative, Memory (2008), 12 Anonymous Stories (2009), Section 8 (2009), The Day in Question (2009), Section 8 screens Eight Dublin Lithuanian Stories (2009), Policing Dialogues (2010), The Policing Dialogues Review (2011).
 Policing Dialogues (2010) was a six-week exhibition and residency at The LAB Dublin which included an exhibition over two floors by What’s the Story? Collective and an extensive program of events aimed at exploring neighborhood relations of power and policing. This included a two-day dialogue between the Collective and Gardaí and the co-development of local training for future Gardaí assigned to the Dublin south central district. The LAB Gallery and Rehearsal Studios is run by Dublin City Council’s Arts Office, its ethos that of providing “an incubation space for a range of art forms (http://www.dccartsoffice.ie/the-lab/).”
 Two modules in local police training were co-developed by Gardaí and representatives from Rialto Youth Project; Understanding young people’s behaviour and Understanding areas of urban disadvantage and poverty. Since the recent re-opening of the National Garda training college after its closure for four years at the height of the financial crisis, myself and the manager of Rialto Youth Project are currently in negotiation with senior staff to position our training as a local induction to Dublin South Central for new recruits graduating from the BA Applied Policing.
 What’s the Story? Collective created an advisory team in advance of the highly public Policing Dialogues exhibition and residency. This included Niall O’ Baoill, Arts Manger FGU; Jim Lawlor, Manager RYP; Annette Moloney, Independent Curator and Ailbhe Murphy & Ciaran Smyth of Vagabond Reviews, an inter-disciplinary platform for socially-engaged art and research practice. During the residency, Sociologist Aogán Mulcahy who teaches Sociology and Criminology at University College Dublin, was invited to be a critical witness for the process.
 What’s the Story? Collective in conversation with Vagabond Reviews, The LAB. 19 Oct. 2010. A public conversation critically examined the work and practice of What’s the Story? Collective with Ailbhe Murphy and Ciaran Smyth of Vagabond Reviews.
 The second state-funded Arts Plan, which ran from 1999-2001, articulated a shift from “access” to a “participation strategy” (P. Clancy, Rhetoric and Reality, p. 10-12).
 Youth Work Act (2001). Available at: www.irishstatutebook.ie
 DCYA, National Youth Strategy 2015–2020 (Dublin: Department of Children and Youth Affairs, 2015). Available online at: www.dcya.ie.
 C. Bishop, Artificial Hells, 13, 188.
 For evidence of the former see Creating a Difference, pp. 27-29. For the latter see J. Bowles, Developing Community Arts pp. 30-32.
 I’m borrowing this from P. Miller & N. Rose, Governing the Present (Polity: Cambridge, 2008) 53-83.
 J. Koh, Art-Led Participative Processes, Dialogue and Subjectivity within Performances in the Everyday (Academy of Fine Arts: University of the Arts Helsinki, 2015) 29.
 A full list of funders for my practice from 2004-2013 can be found in TEN, pp. 252-253.
 M. Foucault, “Truth, Power, Self: An Interview with Michel Foucault.” In: L. H. Martin, H. Gutman and P. H. Hutton, eds. Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault (London: Tavistock, 1988) 9-15.
 I owe this point to Foucault’s analysis of neo-liberalism in The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France 1978-1979 (2008, Palgrave: New York).
 S. J. Ball, “The Teacher’s Soul and the Terrors of Performativity,” Journal of Education Policy (18:2, 2003) 215-28.
 Horton, M. and Freire, P. (1990) We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change. B. Bell, J. Gaventa, and J. Peters (eds.), (Philadelphia: Temple University Press) 37.
 On this point see Kathleen Lynch, The Care-Less State.
 A. Murphy, “Situation Room: Critical Cartographies for Engaged Practice” (AIC10 event organised by Create, IMMA, 2012).
 M. Foucault, “What is Enlightenment.” In: P. Rabinow (ed) The Foucault Reader (Pantheon: New York, 1984) 303-319.
 There are different ways of conceptualizing constitutive power, but I am thinking specifically about Foucault’s work on truth as a regime of power/knowledge, Rancière’s conception of the sensible, and Bourdieu’s theory of doxa. See M. Foucault, “Truth and Power.” Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews & Other Writings 1972-1977. C. Gordon (ed) (Pantheon: New York, 1980) 109-33; J. Rancière, The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible (Continuum: New York, 2004); P. Bourdieu, Outline of a Theory of Practice (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK & NY, 1977).
 F. Whelan and G. Loughran. A Tale of Two Cities… TransActions #1. http://transactionspublication.com/.
 In her PhD thesis “Negotiation-as-Active-Knowing: An Approach Evolved from Relational Art Practice,” artist Chu Chu Yuan explores the domains of “ground,” “contact,” and “movement” as essential components in processes of negotiation. A summarized essay of the same name is included in J. Koh, Art-Led Participative Processes, pp. 173-199.