It feels apt that our last project, Radical Ventriloquism by Lee Campbell, focused on the complexities and innate limitations of standard forms of communication and the possibilities of alternate modes of human interaction: new types of language, new ways of connecting. It is frustratingly ironic too that a project of this nature be silenced early by the onset of the crisis we find ourselves in. One that fundamentally threatens the very fabric of social life and our ability to connect to one another, undermines the essence of what makes us human and constitutes a sense of community. What most of us would give now to spark up a conversation with a stranger in a public place, shake hands with a colleague, or hug a friend without fear or a sense of guilt.
As cultural institutions we have been forced to close our doors to a public who are our lifeblood, to rethink the ways in which we connect with people in the future, and to reassess what constitutes a valuable cultural provision for the communities we serve. Never has it been more crucial to reflect carefully on the ways we connect with and communicate to our audiences. As such, KELDER’s space has remained empty, while we regroup, reflect and plan. By no means a period of inactivity or inertia, it has been a time to take stock of the things we’ve achieved thus far and think of new and exciting ways to continue to work with artists and our community in the future.
Over the past few months we have been working on KELDER PRESS. A way for us to continue supporting artists and publish artist books and other printed works as a counterbalance to the vast amounts of digital content that has been produced recently. Our ambition is to develop KELDER PRESS into a larger publishing platform that will support artists and creatives in distributing their work in a more tangible, considered way that is less fleeting. We will announce the release date of our first two publications and other KELDER PRESS initiatives shortly.
So, what’s next? If we are unable to invite people into our physical space, what are the alternatives for offering a meaningful and engaging experience of art? We are most certainly at a juncture where there are more questions than answers, but all too often the questions we want to ask—to our policymakers, to our communities, to one another— either remain unsaid or fall on deaf ears. As such, our next project will centre around a series of questions, posed by artists and put to the communities local to KELDER. The responses we get and the continuing conversations these questions spark, will help shape our ongoing programme in 2021 and beyond.
At a moment like this, fraught with uncertainty, instability and fear, when the very viability of what we do as artists and cultural practitioners is being questioned, what we need are gestures of hope, expressions of solidarity, acts of listening not telling. Now is precisely the time to look to artists and to those who shine through in times of adversity and offer us a glimmer of optimism, a welcome escape, and new ways of looking at the world around us.
KELDER will continue to do everything we can to help support and nurture such vital work and to celebrate the manifold forms of cultural expression that are so valuable at a time when so much feels at risk of being lost. Collaboration will remain at the heart of everything we do, and we are excited to continue working with artists to develop new ways of coming together, reaching our immediate community and building wider, more diverse audiences.
We look forward to seeing you soon.
Christian and Aaron