ZERO1_MAR12

ArtPlace funds ZERO1 to support two initiatives that complement one another. The Garage is one, where principles of artistic creativity will be applied to real world innovation challenges, and the other is the 2012 Biennial, which will focus on contemporary art expressed at the frontier of technology. The Garage, located in SoFA, San Jose’s fledging art district, is undergoing a complete retrofit and will open officially during the core Biennial dates of September 12‐18, 2012.

Featured street activation, exhibitions, and public art will take place in downtown San Jose, and, through institutional collaborations and a distributed signature exhibition, ZER01 will extend the official Biennial timeframe with a presence throughout the San Francisco Bay Area from September 12 to December 6. Artplace is particularly interested in the scope of the Garage’s cultural impact. More than a presentation venue, the Garage will act as a cultural laboratory for artistic innovation and research enabled through fellowships, workshops, and thought summits involving the academic, corporate and cultural sectors.

ArtPlace spoke with Douglas Hull, Vice President of Marketing at ZERO1, about how the project is going.

ARTPLACE: Do you have partners on the project?

HULL: ZERO1 has an extensive network of partners. The 2012 Biennial is the fruit of collaborations between more than 30 partners who agreed to participate and express the theme “Seeking Silicon Valley” in their programming and market it during the period. The street festival, free to the public, will activate the arts district in collaboration with ten local art institutions. The Public Art component of the Biennial, in collaboration with San Jose’s Office of Cultural Affairs and the San Jose Public Art program, includes installations on corporate campuses that will last until December (eBay, Autodesk, etc).

In addition, ZERO1 and the San Jose Public Art Program have co-commissioned San Francisco based artist group ArtHERE with the support of San Francisco’s The Gray Area Foundation for the Arts (GAFFTA) to launch www.sanjose.arthere.org, a community website and open call platform that matches art proposals with empty spaces. ArtHERE is a prototype and exportable model to bring community and artists together to activate city spaces.

SoFA, San Jose’s arts district, is challenged by sparse foot traffic outside event time periods and a multitude of empty storefront spaces separating art spaces. San Jose is therefore an excellent pilot site for this program, which will launch its first round of seed-funded and curated open calls at the 2012 ZERO1 Biennial and stay installed for a period of 3-6 months. ZERO1 is working with the local community, businesses and arts organizations to make a series of unused spaces available, ranging from storefront windows and walls, to light posts and streetscapes. Through a juried open call-like format, artists will be invited later this month to animate these spaces temporarily (leaving no trace afterward) with site-specific installations in response to the Biennial thematic Seeking Silicon Valley.

The long-term goal in San Jose is to foster a creatively engaged community, and active use of this online tool to participate in transforming the city’s empty and unused spaces with artworks at the intersection of technology.

The Garage is in the process of establishing more collaborative relations with a number of leading Silicon Valley corporations and Bay area institutions, including top universities, and is extending its reach internationally. It is building upon the network of partner institutions developed for the Biennial to attract world class talent to its fellowship program. We are delighted to share the news that the soft-start to the Fellowship program has yielded our first collaborator: Google.

ARTPLACE: What is the toughest thing about collaboration?

HULL: Keeping a workable path to execute the vision. Every partner operates under a unique set of constraints and resources. Monitoring individual execution and maintaining effective leadership while pointing in the agreed direction takes grace, flexibility and empathy, and a good internal compass. The mix of these qualities varies at any given moment and has to be adjusted accordingly, not always easy to do.

ARTPLACE: What is the most rewarding thing about collaboration?

HULL: ZERO1′s Garage, a model for collaboration between an arts non-profit and for profit companies, is groundbreaking. It’s a 21st century model that can be replicated and scaled to other cultural institutions. The vision is itself compelling, and sharing it with new partners, seeing the lights go on as the case is being made, is a source of constantly renewed energy. In the process of achieving something greater than the sum of its parts, glimpses of a better future, hints of new solutions are also granted watchful participants. While realization of the shiny vision is not the only benefit that accrues, in the end, giving life to the vision is an act of creation. Creating is an inexhaustible well of satisfaction.

ARTPLACE: What advice would you give to those having trouble making a collaboration work? (Joel Slayton, ZERO1′s Executive Director, and the driver behind these projects, stepped in to answer this question)

SLAYTONL: One size does not fit all, avoid standardization, embrace a flexible/adaptive frame of mind, take risks, iterate, keep moving. Periodically remind yourself what attracted you to the project to begin with, and if you can remember it, stay true to your vision. There are times when a partnership cannot be made to work. Don’t insist, find an alternative, and replace the partner, not the vision.

BREAKING NEWS: Internationally renown architect Christopher Haas has agreed to create the exhibition design for “Seeking Silicon Valley” which will inaugurate the new space. ZERO1 has partnered with WPA Architects on the design build for the space, scheduled to begin construction in April.

PHOTO: Wormhole by Eddo Stern

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