occursus (Latin) : a meeting; to run or bump into each other
- a project led by Dr Amanda Crawley Jackson (University of Sheffield)
- a research laboratory for art, philosophy, dialogue, practice and praxis
- a conceptual space for reflective practice and urban engagement
- a space where various disciplines come together to explore the links between art and research
occursus is a loosely organised, interdisciplinary collective of writers, artists and researchers. Founded in 2011, occursus hosts and develops reading groups, workshops, public seminar series, writing, exhibition curation and publication.
The beginnings of occursus can be traced back through 7 Garden Street, a fleeting, experimental project that brought together artists, writers and researchers from across the city of Sheffield to discuss philosophy, art, politics and literature in early 2011. They also go back to the Channel project of 2005-2006, led by Dr Amanda Crawley Jackson in collaboration with Helen Darlington and Karen Sherwood, the owner and director of Cupola Contemporary Art.
This is not, however, to suggest any sense of linear development; rather, these projects and discussions form part of a mutable, shape-shifting network of interests. The encounters and friendships that developed both through and beyond Channel have enabled other conversations and collaborations, including Nicolas Moulin’s 2009 Leverhulme Trust residency at the University of Sheffield and his subsequent exhibition, Blanklüdermilq, at Site Gallery. Since then, 7 Garden Street and now occursus have hosted residencies by artists including the Underground Painting Liberation Movement, Christine Arnold, Hondartza Fraga, Maud Haya-Baviera (whose work featured also in the Channel exhibition) and Jérôme Grivel. If these residencies have provided artists with some time and space to think and make, they have also inspired further encounters and projects, such as Grivel’s ongoing collaboration with the Sheffield-based collective Trans/Human. Equally, the residencies have taken place within the larger frame of the weekly occursus Reading Loop, initially founded by Laurence Piercy, a postgraduate student in English and Amanda Crawley Jackson in early 2011 and devoted to discussing texts and ideas from across the disciplinary spectrum.
In 2008, undergraduate students from the University of Sheffield formed a writing group with Amanda Crawley Jackson, exploring some of the issues that structure the transversal relation between pedagogy, research and public engagement, some of the results of which (and also others which have since followed) are published on our sister website, occursusetcetera.wordpress.com.
Following the Channel exhibition and writing project, Amanda Crawley Jackson has continued to work alongside many of the artists and contributors from the exhibition whilst involving and collaborating with others. 7 Garden Street was generously offered to her free of charge for use as a temporary discussion space and quickly evolved into occursus’s current format: four-week artist residencies at Site Gallery, accompanied by a weekly reading loop and invited public speakers. In addition to the art-based elements, the collaborative writing aspect has remained a constant throughout the development of all the projects. The first occursus book, which contains responses to some of the themes that emerged through the reading loop, is currently in press.
occursus has met in pubs, people’s living rooms and coffee shops all over the city, as well as Garden Street and Site Gallery. It is also worth noting that despite having their roots in a university setting, none of the initiatives has ever been solely based in the university. The absence of a fixed project space may give an impression of impermanence but the project has, conversely, been strengthened by its itinerancy; we are not bound or defined by a space and are able to develop networks all over the city without working under the shadow of an institution and all the connotations that that an institutional or fixed space may carry. As Channel prophetically suggested, the spatiality of the projects encourages both their inclusiveness and transversality.
Melinda Hawtin and Amanda Crawley Jackson, 2011
To object (v) to the object (n). To register objections is to draw lines through objects of power, objects that are the result of institutions, which in turn rely on knowledge. Knowledge itself is a massive heavy object, with enormous foundations and a reliance on gravity. Theories and philosophies are constructed on the backs of canonical precedents. Like doctrines, they are dangerously authoritarian.
Jill Stoner. Toward a Minor Architecture. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2012. p. 67
Dr Amanda Crawley Jackson, SLC, Jessop West, University of Sheffield, S3 7RA