Esther Planas

Copyright 2019


Starting Celebrations/ Events/ Archive Mania and all sort of memory recovery with ArtLicks Week end and following up next week till 14 Oct.

Then we will continue with a series of pop-up projects all around the year. To celebrate our first year of this amazing project, experiment, and experience that tuck of in Sept 1998.

One Thousand Years Of Things

Marking Five Years’ 20th anniversary, 1000 Years of Things is a show about material and its
accumulation, about the stuff that accretes to a project over a long period of time: documentation, recordings, publicity material, paperwork, publications, bank statements and bills, correspondence.
In the case of Five Years this material hasn’t been sufficiently organized or historicized to constitute
an archive – its form is disordered and dispersed, in scattered cupboards and shoe boxes, much of
it stored on outdated media. Spanning 200 exhibitions and projects, a selection of this material will
be presented publicly both inside and outside of the gallery.

Artists and collectives, Five Years members and previous exhibitors will be invited to add to,
edit and activate the collection.
Performing with and within it, collaging it with new items and other collections, mixing its
chronology to create new shared lines of interest, we will present our archive as a stage
on which earlier projects can be reassessed and new players added. Challenging the concept
of an archive as a hidden space or a place of stasis and power, we hope to generate new
agency by thawing items frozen in time.

Five Years was founded as an organisation in 1998 and its activities were initially based
at spaces in Underwood Street, Hoxton – a location that was also home to other artists’
projects including 30 Underwood Street Gallery and Bank.

From the outset Five Years intention has been to maintain a long-term working context
and physical environment guided by principals of organisational co-operation, while
supporting the sometimes conflicting drives of creative autonomy, artistic colllaboration,
dialogue and the exchange of ideas. To an extent it has functioned as a sustained experiment
in whether individual artistic agency and dissenting perspectives on cultural production can be
supported in an open and non-competitive structure. Over the course of two decades it has
presented 200 exhibitions and events at 3 primary venues and has involved 25 members,
functioning without individual directorship or regular funding, operating in the zones of marginality and precarity.

Its continued existence is as much about its ethics as its activities, which have a symbiotic
relationship to one another. Five Years defines itself as an artists’ organisation rather than
an artist-run organisation: its purpose is to facilitate, support and make public its members’
projects and by extension the projects of those artists invited by its members to contribute
to the programme – the physical gallery space is a shared resource, a tool rather than a
gallery ‘run’ by the artist in the role of curator or director.

Five Years intention is not to play a secondary or supportive role to the commercial or
established institutional sectors, as a ‘springboard’ for so-called ‘emerging’ artists: it
has endeavoured to create an environment where serious experimentation and artistic
development can be sustained over long periods of time with relative autonomy.…/one-thousand-years-of-things/



Five Years consists of a membership of twelve contributors, each of whom may
present two exhibition projects in the gallery every 18 months.
Each contributor can choose to include their own work in one of these slots if
they wish, but the other show must be purely invitational.
Aside from these basic rules, each member acts autonomously of the others
in deciding the nature and content of their contributions to Five Years’
exhibition programme.
The creative freedom that this structure allows operates like an engine,
generating a continuous, rapid succession of new projects and
continuously branching out into unpredictable territory,
beyond the control of any individual directorship.

Five Years is an unfunded collaborative artists’ project. Founded in 1998,
Five Years’ initial aim was to set up a gallery which was artist-run and
where programming would maintain a direct relationship to practice.
Five Years continues to develop this aim of maintaining close links
between the production and exhibition of work, and the discourse which
informs it. Rather than acting as a ‘curatorial’ entity, the group’s members
continue to develop exhibition projects based around concerns emerging
from their own practices; offering these projects as frameworks within
which other artists can, through participation, respond to or engage in
dialogue around the concerns being discussed by the group.
Through these processes, Five Years aims to create a context
which fosters productive dialogue between artists and the exposure
of ambitious new work.

My involvement with Five Years goes back to its starting point and site,
in 40 Underwood st since 1998 but was only formalised after the move
to the new space since 2006.
The structural set up of the project , leaves literally any of its members a
space and a time to self manage and exercise curatorial experimental
proposals (including the possibility of displaying its own work) apart
of also open the "network/web" to other artist as guest curators and
to echo the main structural set up. The idea of a cooperative setting,
based on a Free Association spirit where each member independently
can self curate and self manage, seemed very challenging in the late
nineties and very inspiring too. It was like an empty blank philosophical
space where to try, make, re-formulate, change roles and ultimately fail too...
as the results where not so important compared to any thing related to the
journey/ experiences of such experiments and situations .

For the last years since 2010, I am conducting a series of explorations and
comparative studies around the artist lead space/ curatorial new practices
and spaces. I am hoping to publish those and to be part of the bigger
conversation about what it means for an artist to consistently work on
exhibition as medium, editing and publishing and self instituting via
having a space, an address or site from where to experiment, while
also using the website format or the nomadic interchange of spaces
or the site intervention as methods.