"But there's a steelier critical edge to Wilsher's sense of fair play. This continues the artist's interest in applying business plans to art, a model all too familiar one might think, from arts-based regeneration schemes, where culture is forced to take the place of real government investment"
Guardian Guide April 2010
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The Yesable Proposition at OUTPOST, Norwich April 2010
Ellie Morgan: By replacing and presenting elements of the gallery's make-up your show interrogates a chain of institutional relationships and a series of dependencies and communication. Have the re-presented elements become symbols of funding and discussion?
MW Not just symbols exactly. But certainly they are being used to indicate the parameters of what's been permitted, or the extent to which you have trusted me. I think I would like to de-emphasise the role of the physical objects presented up on the wall (which are after all just one part of a larger set of tangible and intangible aspects that go together to make up the exhibition).
EM Although your recent research has focussed on the importance of antagonistic negotiation in the presentation of public art, your show was proposed as a 'win-win' scenario. Could you discuss how The Yesable Proposition relates to your proposition of negotiation over dialogue?
MW My recent work has been questioning the notion of dialogue as a panacea in contemporary art. Many artists who make work with other people or in the public realm will say that they are engaged in a process of dialogue, indeed it has become a kind of orthodoxy in the world of socially-engaged art in the last fifteen years or so. But I feel that this glosses over a whole load of issues.
I have been using negotiation theory borrowed from the world of business to set up a different kind of model. It offers a more detailed analysis of the processes and 'moves' that might take place within a relationship, especially where the two parties are unequal and they are both trying to push for their preferred outcome.
EM So your show directly enters into the model you have set; your proposal directly uses integrative negotiation to explore the relationship between you, the artist, and OUTPOST, the gallery.
MW It's typical of my broader working methods which often borrow or inhabit a way of operating, from which I can then produce a set of artworks that are shaped by that approach. The result will be a real consequence of real relationships, something that really happened at a particular time and place rather than just me making it up.
People tend to read overtly confrontational content in an artist's work as antagonistic (like Santiago Sierra for instance), but I would rather shift the place of conflict earlier on in the process and consequently it may not be so visible. In current discussion around agonistic art I think that a specific political theory has been confused with traditional models of avant-garde shock because they appear superficially similar. But that reading really doesn't stand up to scrutiny.