occursus (Latin) : a meeting; to run or bump into each other
- a long-running project led by Dr Amanda Crawley Jackson (London College of Communication, University of the Arts London; formerly 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
The beginnings of occursus can be traced back to 2011 and 7 Garden Street, a cross-disciplinary, experimental project that brought together artists, writers and researchers from Sheffield and further afield to discuss philosophy, art, politics and literature. This loosely organised, shape-shifting collective met weekly for more than two years to read and walk together; to create exhibitions, residencies, invited talks and all manner of fleeting urban interventions.
occursus hosted residencies, both at 7 Garden Street and Site Gallery (Sheffield), with artists including The Underground Painting Liberation Movement, Christine Arnold, Hondartza Fraga, Maud Haya-Baviera and Jérôme Grivel. The aim of the residencies was, quite simply, to provide artists with time and space to think and make. The residencies also inspired further encounters and projects, such as Grivel’s collaboration with the Sheffield-based collective Trans/Human. Artists participated in the weekly occursus Reading Loop, founded by Laurence Piercy, a postgraduate student in English and Amanda Crawley Jackson in early 2011, which was devoted to discussing texts and ideas from across the disciplinary spectrum.
From 2008, undergraduate students from the University of Sheffield created 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 occursusetc.
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 early 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.
occursus has met in pubs, people’s living rooms and coffee shops all over the city, as well as Garden Street, Bloc 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. The spatialities of occursus encourage, we hope, our projects’ inclusiveness and transversality.
The ethos of occursus has inspired Amanda Crawley Jackson’s knowledge exchange practice.
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