Inheritance Projects


Community without Propinquity

About Community without Propinquity*

MK Gallery, Milton Keynes

Project & Event Spaces

October 7 - November 27 2011

*propinquity (noun)
1 the state of being close to someone or something;
2 close kinship.

EXHIBITION: Paulo Catrica, Cao Fei, Nathan Coley, Jesal Kapadia, Wayne Lloyd, Vincent Meessen, Paul Noble, Pia Ronicke, Ishmael Randall Weeks, Stuart Whipps

VIDEO PROGRAMME: Amanda Beech, Bernd Behr, Cao Fei, Dominique Gonzales Foester, Cyprien Gaillard, Huang Xiaopeng, Minouk Lim, Corey McCorkle, Vincent Meessen, Pia Ronicke, Alain Tanner.

RESEARCH LAB COMMISSIONS: Caroline Devine, Emma Hedditch, Kelly Large, Emma Smith, Patrick Staff, Mark Aerial Waller, An Endless Supply.

'Community without Propinquity'* is a research lab and exhibition that investigates the concept of community in the context of New Towns. As part of the 'Community without Propinquity' lab there will be an exhibition and artists film programme, 5 new artists commissions made in Milton Keynes, a publication and public symposium. The project is curated by Claire Louise Staunton and Inheritance Projects with the MK Gallery.

Full text...

The 'Community without Propinquity' is part of a nomadic proposal for a group of curators, artists and writers to temporarily inhabit and articulate New Towns from an alienated position. With previous incarnations in Shenzhen (China), there are possible futures planned for Chandigarh, Brasilia and Almere.


The title, 'Community without Propinquity' is taken from a 1963 speech by Melvin Webber, an urbanist and consultant with the Milton Keynes Development Corporation. He believed that the world was entering a new age of urban design where communities were determined by technological links and economic networks rather than physical neighborliness. Throughout the exhibition programme, there will be an active research lab where we will investigate what can be understood by the word 'community' and to rethink its spatial conditions in the context of a New Town. What constitutes a community? How are they formed? Can they be engineered? How does the town planning or architecture influence the shape of a community? Does community exist in a unique way in New Towns? How do we recognise community when we see it? Is community always a good thing? Can communities evolve irrespective of geography or time? Do communities need to be human? What role does propinquity play in the political power of a community?

We will ask these questions and we will propose various answers throughout the exhibition period through the medium of art practice, writing and discussion. 5 artists will spend time investigating the idea of 'Community without Propinquity' in Milton Keynes and will be displayed or performed in the Project Space during the exhibition period. Inheritance Projects, a curatorial group, will search through the archives of the town, invite others to write and compile their findings in a publication to be edited and produced in time for the closing weekend. The evolving show will culminate in a final weekend of artists events and a public symposium where research is presented and speakers will be invited to discuss 'Community without Propinquity'.

Commissioned Works

Caroline Devine

Caroline Devine's practice investigates the boundaries between sound and music, encompassing sound installation, electro-acoustic composition and theatre with a particular interest in the use of space as a compositional parameter. Caroline's work focuses on the voice, frequently involving the transformation of text into sound and the exploration of sounds that are disregarded or discarded. She uses text, speech, oral history and music to draw attention to voices that may be obscured, silenced or in some way absent.

For the Community Without Propinquity Research Lab, Caroline Devine has developed the work autapia (2011). She has explored public and private sound archives and interviewed people born in or around 1967. She has manipulated these vocal fragments, her own field recordings and archive material from a local band as raw material for a sound installation that investigates subculture among individuals who grew up at the same time as the town of Milton Keynes. Caroline has used this material for a sound installation in the Milton Keynes Gallery Project Space diffused through public address speakers that she has modified.

Emma Smith

Emma Smith has a social practice that is both research- and production-based and that responds to site-specific issues. Using an interdisciplinary approach, including organised events, performance, participation and sound and text, she explores the inter-relation between people and place. Situated in the everyday, Smith's work investigates historic behaviours in relation to the present, collapsing notions of time in exploring transitory relations to place and practices of being. As part of her process, Smith regularly collaborates and works through bringing together multi-disciplinary teams. The resulting events, occurrences and instigations construct ephemeral moments that are both particular to and for the people who experience them at the time.

For Community without Propinquity Emma has interviewed community specialists in Milton Keynes about the actuality of enacting community within their work. From these conversations she has attempted to identify the individual practices of community as a motivated act as opposed to a phenomenon or organic structure. From these discussions Emma has developed a set of instructions and for a live solo performance reflecting the information gathered during this research period.

Kelly Large

Kelly Large lives and works in London. She is interested in exploring the artist's role in the production and distribution of culture. Her current work is preoccupied with ideas and experiences of ‘being visible' and acts of public appearance. Kelly's artwork often involves a long-term involvement with an organisation or institution. 'We Are Legion,' for example, is an ongoing sculptural project that aims to connect the Arthouse Foundation gallery with the school on the same site though transforming a class of thirty pupils into an object during their seven years of primary education. She has also spent time working at the British Library and with groups of young people in a Lincolnshire town.

The Becoming is the title for Kelly Large's commissioned work for the Community Without Propinquity project. Kelly has initiated a project in collaboration with students from the Art History Department at the Open University. She is interested in the Open University as a site of transmission that produces dispersed communities connected by interest, rather than geographical proximity. Kelly describes the OU community as a disembodied one that is rarely physically experienced or made manifest. It exists as an Internet forum, a skype call, a postal batch or an online virtual learning environment instead. She is working with the dispersed community of learners (therefore a ‘community without propinquity') who are exploring the status of the art object as part of their course. In the process of their studies they shall collectively transform into an Object, realised via Kelly's interventions within the printed course material sent out to Art History students. This commission for Community without Propinquity is intended to be only the first act in what the artist hopes will be a long-term engagement.

Mark Ariel Waller

Mark Aerial Waller is an artist who works with video, sculpture and event-based practices. His many films, installations and events condense forms and symbolic orders from multiple time zones into a skillfully articulated present tense. Mark defies conventional screening formats, integrating sculptural objects and live performances for an experience of cinema defined in spatial and situational terms. He is also the founder of The Wayward Canon, a platform for event-based interventions in cinematic practices.

For the Community Without Propinquity commission, Mark has been investigating the history of Channel 40, an experimental community access television channel that was established by the Milton Keynes Development Corporation in 1976. It ran for only three years and the archives currently held at the Buckinghamshire County Archives are in too delicate condition for public view. Waller's research led him to Carry Gorney, a visionary television producer who envisaged that Channel 40 could activate a community of isolated women and young mothers in Milton Keynes' early years. Mark has produced his own video work revisiting such themes in contemporary Milton Keynes.

Patrick Staff

Patrick Staff is an artist based in London. His - often collaborative - video installation and performance pieces explore the physical and narrative implications of historiography, social spaces and forms of collectivity. He uses abstracted physical movements and dialogues, sound, sculpture and obscuring structures to create a malleable means for research and production. He has worked with a range of artists, theorists, community groups and historians and is a 2010/11 Lux Associate Artist.

The work for artist Patrick Staff's commission, which was presented at the closing event on the 26th November as a video and a performance work by Staff along with Milton Keynes' Madcap Performers, has developed out of a period of research at the archive of the Milton Keynes Discovery Centre, including a number of interviews with key planners and academic researchers, with participatory workshops. It explores urban design, growth developments, the history of the garden city and New Town movements with a particular focus on the role of the irrational, mystic and holistic in these plans and the cities themselves in order to consider how such knowledge is produced, circulated and understood by communities.

Commissions Gallery


EXHIBITION: Paulo Catrica, Cao Fei, Nathan Coley, Jesal Kapadia, Wayne Lloyd, Vincent Meessen, Paul Noble, Pia Ronicke, Ishmael Randall Weeks, Stuart Whipps

VIDEO PROGRAMME: Amanda Beech, Bernd Behr, Cao Fei, Dominique Gonzales Foester, Cyprien Gaillard, Huang Xiaopeng, Minouk Lim, Corey McCorkle, Vincent Meessen, Pia Ronicke, Alain Tanner.

An exhibition and artists film programme in the Project Space and Events Space will show artwork from other New Towns around the world including Chandigarh, Brasilia, Shenzhen, Nowa Huta and even cyber space. These works present a way of understanding the unique geographical, architectural and historical context of intentionally built cities on land where there was previously no significant population.

Exhibition Works

26 November - Closing Event

Over the course of the exhibition, The Project Space has been an active research laboratory and forum for public events and artists commissioned to make new work, with an urgent demand that the word ‘community’ is re-addressed.

As well as artists presentations there will be a panel panel discussion with Mk Urban Designers, Academics and artists. The Community without Propinquity a publication produced by ANDPublishing and An Endless Supply with new writing from Celine Condorelli, Emma Hedditch and Melissa Butcher and archival matter produced by ANDPublishing will be distributed at on 26 November 2011 from 14:00.

A coach leaves at 13.30 from outside Iniva, Rivington Place EC2A 3BA

Please email to book a ticket £8 return.

14:00: SCREENING (Video Room): Pierre Huyghe Streamside Day Follies (2003)

Video, 16mm transferred to DVD, 26:00 mins looped.

15:00 PANEL DISCUSSION (Events Room):

David Lock CBE (MK Urbanist & Town Planner)

Anthony Iles (Editor of MUTE, Academic/writer on Art and Regeneration)

Roman Vasseur (Artist & Curator at Harlow New Town 2008),

Peter Waterman (Social Development Director of Milton Keynes Development Corporation 1978-1988) TBC

17.00 ARTISTS PRESENTATIONS (Events Room): Kelly Large, Caroline Devine, Emma Hedditch, Emma Smith

17:45 SCREENING, Q&A: Carry Gorney

Introduced by artist Mark Aerial Waller. Carry Gorney is a Systemic Psychotherapist and writer. She has worked with Inter-Action in London and Milton Keynes, developing the use of video for community participation. This became the basis for a series of television programmes broadcast on MK Channel 40 from 1977 to 1979.

19:00 PERFORMANCE: Artist, Patrick Staff performance with Milton Keynes's Madcap Performers.