c. Montauk – “Imaginary Needs”

Included in the conference notebook is a four-page report on the conference at Montauk by Rebecca Lewis.

A few excerpts give a sense of the form and content of the gathering.

The meeting was not structured by panels, lectures, the recitation of prepared papers, and the requisite question and answer periods; rather, the 150 participants convened as a whole, broke into smaller discussion groups, and reconvened to question, compare notes, testify, and wrestle with issues of support systems for creative artists.… This unique structure, or lack of it, made for an extremely involving, and often frustrating, conference.

After dinner, at the first plenary session, participants plunged immediately into a discussion of a range of topics: money; need; the role of the artist in society; the consumption of art and the mechanisms of getting art to the people; the financial, structural, and psychological obstacles an artist must overcome in order to make art; the need to create social and cultural environments that stimulate and support art-making; the efficacy of the panel system as a method of selecting grant recipients; and money.

The agenda for action was discovered by the participants as they talked and thought together.

After a long day of talk, the conference was energized and enlightened by the evening’s performances: dance by choreographer and performer, Dana Reitz; poetry performance by Bob Holman; a selection from “X,” an opera based on the life of Malcolm X, on piano by composer Anthony Davis; and dance by Timothy Buckley improvising with composer “Blue” Gene Tyranny on piano. This return to art was a potent reminder of the fundamental reason for the conference, and participants found themselves staying up very late, continuing the conversations of the day and watching videotapes programmed by video artist, Ed Bowes.

The whole report can be found here: Montauk conference report

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