Arika is a Japanese word, which a friend of ours thought could give a name to our activities. We have heard many translations of it - ‘a secret hiding place’, ‘the location of all things’. But the one we like the best is – ‘a place where maybe you might find the thing you desire’.
What we do
We work to celebrate and support art as it expresses communities’ desires and struggles in creating their lives and worlds together. When we say art, we mean the ways we sing and dance together, the ways we listen and want to be heard, how we look and hope to be seen, how we think of our bodies and how we move through space, things like this... These things happen wherever we are, not just in galleries or on stage. We don’t think art is a fixed place – it is a relationship, which constantly unfurls in the realm of the common.
We try to work to increase the potential within and between communities who’s artistic practices help them to generate different futures together, rather than only navigate or survive them. We do this through an evolving programme of public events foregrounding performance, debate and collective learning - social spaces, which bring together allies through new, shared experiences.
Through friendship and solidarity, we work within and with a local, national and international network of communities and relationships between people who struggle against many intersecting oppressions. Most recently these have included struggles and resistances to oppressions of race, sex, gender, sexuality, ability, class, or religion; lack of access to health care or safe housing, criminalisation, restricted migration; ideas of the human, the subject or the citizen.
As of February 2015 and since 2001, we’ve organised 32 major projects. These have comprised about 860 events, directly involving about 800 people (artists, filmmakers, performers, dancers, musicians, philosophers, activists, community organisers, academics, non-academics etc) and attended by more than 115,000 people. We work with many different partners and venues, depending on what is most appropriate for each project – these have included community spaces, major international museums and biennials, cinemas, art centres, the sides of motorways, an IMAX, pubs, under bridges, universities, and once in a fuel storage tank.
Events we've organised include the recent Episodes, the INSTAL, Uninstal and Kill Your Timid Notion festivals and the Shadowed Spaces and Resonant Spaces tours. We have also worked in longer term community projects with Ultra-red and presented a week long programme of events as part of the 2012 Whitney Biennial entitled A Survey is a Process of Listening.
Our current Episode series develop iteratively, each informing the next. They often involve watching, listening, talking or dancing together as ways to gradually refine an awareness of the inseparable, intertwined nature of aesthetics and how people and communities understand and organise themselves. They are a continuation, through friendship and solidarity, of conversations we are entangled in both locally and internationally. Especially, they are committed to experiments in personhood and sociality that propose new ways of living in the world today, born of collective desires and struggle - generating futures together rather than navigating or surviving them.
We are in the process of editing and collating all the video, photo and audio documentation that we have from all the events that we have put on and will be making all these documents public on the Archive part of our website as soon as we can.
We are a not-for-profit Community Interest Company who are supported by Creative Scotland.
Folks who have spent time working on Arika projects include (but are not limited to): Agnieszka Habraska, Alex Fleming, Alex McNutt, Alex Woodward, Ash Reid, Avalon Hernandez, Barry Esson, Ben Kamps, Bryony McIntyre, Chris Dennis, Chris Nelms, Dan Adams, Emilia Muller-Ginorio, Emily Roff, Emma Macleod, Erin McElhinney, Glen Thomson, James Hindle, Jana Robert, Jason Brogan, Jim Hutcheson, Jo Shaw, Jon Clarke, Kamal Ackerie, Kenny Macleod, Laura Cameron Lewis, Matt Lloyd, Neil Davidson, Nick Miller, Ruari Cormack, Ruth Marsh, Lesley Young, Mike and Darri Donnelly.
The current team at Arika is Bryony McIntyre, Barry Esson, Emma Macloed, Agnieszka Habraska, Alex Fleming and, working on the Archive, Neil Davidson.
The encounters they stage and the episodes they construct bear the weight of a history they honour in trying to forge. Their work reminds us that art is irreducibly social and that its spirit, the range of its transcendence, is irreducibly earthly.
Poet and writer
Arika are at the forefront of experientially rich, aesthetically demanding, and philosophically provoking curatorial practice…
Curator at Whitney Museum of American Art
Arika have a unique organisational practice that allows them to dynamically reflect and contribute to contemporary arts practice.
My brain and soul melted after all of the weekend's programme. And now thankfully it is starting to regenerate into something stronger...
Episode 6: Make a Way Out of No Way
Provocative, iconoclastic, sophisticated art, discussion and social interaction midwifed by a visionary team whose high professional standards added materially to its execution and the impact of its content.
Arika’s conversations remain extremely necessary – so that, if nothing else, we may at least collectively chart our downfall, or perhaps even our destruction.—The Skinny
On Episode 6, published October 2014
Like the host of any good party, Arika is host to people, to concepts and ideas, to daily struggles and joys.