Companion Planting: Chapter 1

Companion Planting: Chapter 1

Companion Planting: Chapter 1 is a three-day event that applies the concept of age-old sustainable farming techniques to sort through, gather and identify an ecology for contemporary art, today’s art, where many factors coalesce into complex and intertwined—sustainable—infrastructures in order to provide support. In other words, what does support look like for a robust and healthy contemporary arts scene—today?

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Salmon Creek Farm
Albion, CA
June 7–10, 2018

Organized by James Voorhies and Nate Padavick with Fritz Haeg

Made possible with support from Salmon Creek Farm.

Over the course of three days in June 2018 at Salmon Creek Farm in Albion, California, a group of artists, writers, curators, and educators convene to explore this question and others related to the forces that shape production, presentation and experience of art. Roundtables, dinners, walks, actions and readings organized around six pillars of inquiry—Institutions, Artists, Publics, Economics, Publicity, and Education—will guide the program. These pillars generally define what is made and distributed, indeed what understood, as contemporary art. What does it mean to be an artist today? What are the responsibilities of curators as representatives of institutions to the artists and audiences they work with? What radical changes are needed in arts education to properly prepare practitioners for life in the contemporary arts? What is publicity and how does it inform economics? These are just a sampling of overlapping points of inquiry that will seek to foment a discourse about what is necessary—now, at this very moment—to sustain a healthy ecosystem in the contemporary arts in order for it to remain a viable field for future practitioners.

Companion Planting: Chapter 1 follows Companion Planting: A Prologue, an initial convening of practitioners in arts and design in February 2018 to discuss new strategies for a new art. We are grateful to the following participants for their time, minds, and attention toward helping to develop a pathway. 

Susanne Cockrell, Fritz Haeg, Ron Kirkpatrick, Nils Norman, Helen Maria Nugent, Nate Padavick, Calvin Rocchio, and James Voorhies

Salmon Creek Farm
Albion, CA
February 2–4, 2018

Organized by James Voorhies and Nate Padavick with Fritz Haeg

The overall intent with Companion Planting is to publish a manual reflective of all the complex and messy characteristics and forms contemporary art takes. This manual, call it Companion Planting: A Manual for the Ecology of a New Art, will include the ideas, actions, exchanges, and conversations culled from these ongoing gatherings. The manual, in its totality, will define an aesthetics of a healthy ecosystem by identifying the characteristics of support, what it looks like for the wide-ranging artistic and cultural production of today’s contemporary arts scene.

Salmon Creek Farm is located two miles from California’s Mendocino coast on 35 acres of mostly second-growth redwoods. Established in 1971, Salmon Creek Farm was founded by a group of young people disenchanted with mainstream society and searching for something else. The commune completely dissolved in 2012 and in 2014 Fritz Haeg purchased the land. Today, Salmon Creek Farm continues as a place to take a step back from contemporary urban society and starts a new chapter as a long-term art project formed by many hands, a new sort of commune-farm-homestead-sanctuary-school hybrid.

An extended community of returning comrades contribute to the land’s revival and daily operations with projects, gatherings, and workshops where each person involved with the land asks how their skills, interests, curiosities meet and contribute to the needs and potential of the place. 

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