Disclosures II: The Middle Ages

Disclosures II: The Middle Ages

Nottingham Contemporary

Jury Day – Foreman Ernest Jones and Wilfred Saddington hammer in a new stake, 1983, photographer unknown.

September 1, 2008

Disclosures II: The Middle Ages

A symposium, performances and party
Saturday 6th September 2008
Laxton, Nottinghamshire

An exhibition by Olivia Plender
6th September – 5th October 2008
Nottingham Castle


Disclosures II: The Middle Ages will explore the idea of ‘commons’ – both agricultural commons (the grazing of animals and growing of crops on shared land) and cultural commons: the shared production and free distribution of knowledge online and in culture in general. Disclosures II will be set in the unique Nottinghamshire village of Laxton, the last substantial surviving example of the medieval open field system of farming in England. In Laxton farmers farm individual strips of land in shared fields, now owned by the Crown, as they have done for centuries.

Disclosures II asks to what extent Laxton’s survival through centuries of Enclosure of common land might suggest precedents for the various ways cultural producers and activists seek to enlarge the public domain of today’s ‘knowledge economy’. In the 1990s, the Internet was heralded in utopian terms as a new and limitless frontier of information that one day would be equally accessible to all. Since then, corporations and governments have sought to control, appropriate and charge for content. This threat has been met with an increasingly inventive and elusive opposition, whose aim is to increase and democratise the digital commons.

Disclosures II is the latest instalment of Nottingham Contemporary’s 2008 programme of pre-opening exhibitions and events, Histories of the Present. It is also a sequel to Disclosures, an international conference and exhibition held at Gasworks in London earlier this year. Disclosure examined what openness might mean, as an ethos and strategy, to both online action and cultural production at large. Openness was considered in terms of organisation, platform, content, authorship and distribution. It looked to apply lessons learnt from radical political collectives to our understanding of socially engaged cultural practices on and off line.

Disclosures II: The Middle Ages continues these investigations in a historical, rural situation. It reflects upon the open field system: its social advantages and economic viability historically and today. It will use these considerations as a backdrop to debate contemporary concerns around food production, and the use, ownership and control of land, notably in relationship to cultural production.

The day will consist of lectures, discussions, a guided walk, performances, meals and a party. Speakers and performers include Olivia Plender, Anna Colin (Gasworks), Neil Cummings, Jai Redman and Joe Richardson (Ultimate Holding Company), Eileen Simpson and Ben White (Open Music Archive), Prof John Beckett (historian), Chris Matthews (artist and historian) and Stuart Rose (Laxton farmer).

Olivia Plender will also be exhibiting at Nottingham Castle in September within the museum’s collection. Plender presents Bring Back Robin Hood, a new video, her board game Set Sail for the Levant (an update of the 16th century Royal Game of the Goose charting the fortunes of the English working class from feudalism to today’s neo-liberal economy), and costumes and banners relating to the Kibbo Kift, the early 20th century radical camping movement. Nottingham Castle is located on Friar Lane, off Maid Marion Way in the centre of Nottingham.

Coaches will take visitors from Nottingham to Laxton and meals are provided. Booking is essential: book@nottinghamcontemporary.org. For more information about Disclosures II: The Middle Ages, including travel and accommodation advice, please visit: www.nottinghamcontemporary.org

Please note that 6 and 7 September is also the closing weekend of That Beautiful Pale Face is my Fate (For Lord Byron) at the poet’s ancestral home Newstead Abbey, a few miles outside Nottingham, featuring Ulla Von Brandenburg, Pablo Bronstein, Marcia Farquhar, Blue Firth, Linder, Goshka Macuga, David Noonan and Alexis Marguerite Teplin.

Nottingham Contemporary will be one of England’s leading and largest spaces for contemporary art when it opens next year.

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Nottingham Contemporary
September 1, 2008

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