Did you ever wonder who had the bright idea to take artists into businesses, schools, and other organizations? I mean, shouldn’t artists stick to studios, galleries and coffeeshops? These days it seems everyone is doing the artist residency thing. But, back in the 60’s and 70’s taking an artist anywhere (let alone to work) was probably considered a crazy idea.
The Artist Placement Group (APG) emerged in London in the 1960s in order to go where no artist had gone before. The APG pioneered the concept of art in the social context and sought to address the marginalization of artists by taking them into corporations and organizations. The APG would negotiate to place artists within industry and British government departments. The artists would be paid a salary and become involved in the business of the host organization. These placements resulted in a variety of artists’ reports, films, photographs, interviews, poetry and art installations. The group also played an important role in the history of conceptual art. British Journalist, Peter Beaumont, has described the APG as “one of the most radical social experiments of the 1960s.” The Tate Modern has acquired the records of APG and is celebrating with an online symposium and a website tracing the history of this pioneering group. So, now you know someone to blame the next time an artist comes up with a crazy idea for a residency and you find yourself spending months doing “Who knows what” at some strange location far from your comfy cubicle in your shiny-new art center.