The Incidental Unit was formed after a series of 'incidental meetings' was initiated by Barbara Steveni, Neal White, Tina O'Connell, Gareth Bell-Jones and Marsha Bradfield in 2016-17. The aim of these meetings was to informally share information about the Artist Placement Group (1966-89), as well as O+I (1989-2009), whose revolutionary work on 'the artist placement' and the idea of being incidental within a societal context remained an urgent concern for all. The meetings have shared just one open agenda item; 'unfinished business'. The meeting structure evolved in intention and purpose to become the Incidental Unit, with the aim of reconnecting the rigorous approach of APG with wider concerns around the brief given to socially engaged art today. IU have since hosted a wide range of artists, collectives and others who are given a critically supportive space in which to discuss and exchange their ideas without the expectations or evaluative frameworks of an artistic commission, gallery briefing or social project.
The Incidental Unit receives direct support of the APG and O+I in order to continue to develop a rigorous approach to socially engaged art practice today. IU provides critical support space in which to discuss and exchange ideas with artists, curators and 'incidental persons' without the expectations or evaluative frameworks of an artistic commission, gallery briefing or social project. To this end, IU draws out key ideas, methods, process and rationale for maintaining the independent and critical work of artists and curators, connecting the historical legacy of APG with the complex nature of social practice now.
Incidental Futures Programme
Having co-founded the Artist Placement Group (APG) in 1966, Barbara Steveni, with other members of the Incidental Unit, have developed the Incidental Futures Programme to explore the ongoing relevance of APG’s ways of working through six public meetings led by artists at public institutions in cities across the UK: Eastside Projects, Birmingham; Spike Island, Bristol; Summerhall, Edinburgh; Bluecoat, Liverpool; Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester; and Baltic 39, Newcastle. These events will be followed by a large-scale public gathering of 100+ artistic practitioners in London at South London Gallery and with CREAM at University of Westminster. An online resource will disseminate some of the outcomes which are developed. Incidental Futures considers the impact of APG on recent practice while introducing a broader public to the group’s ethos of artist ‘placements’ to explore the role of art in society.
The project is supported by Arts Council England, CREAM at University of Westminster, Flat Time House and University of the Arts, London. The project is managed and coordinated by the pre-IU, a core group that includes Barbara Steveni, Neal White, Gareth Bell-Jones, and Marsha Bradfield.
Incidental Futures Partner Organisations: