The Braid diagram is a tool that is designed to aid users in discussing and comparing how they recognize and work within the forcefields they inhabit. It is aimed at artists and other cultural producers. The diagram contains verbal prompts that emerged from individual conversations with artists, who derive agency from more or less intentionally integrating epistemic, critical and administrative needs and capacities into an idiosyncratic practice. Prompts are associated with a path wound around a continuum. The path is represented by a trefoil, the continuum by a torus. These mathematical shapes evoke topology as a metaphor through which to inclusively model and by that also brace the practices of cultural practitioners.
The key prompts are marked by an alliteration:
Making includes forms of attention, epistemic and material work processes, in the studio or equivalent.
Mediating contains forms of reflection on all aspect of cultural practice, and verbal articulation of narratives among stakeholders.
Managing broadly frames generative and normative institutional exposures.These areas may expand or contract at different times of practice. There is no specified point of entry.
Website: Here you can find videos of The Braid in use. Titled "Talking Whiteboards" and including interactions with additional diagrams, this project was developed with support from Asha Iman Veal.
Performative Diagrammatics, functions as a mobile laboratory: a place to work things out. Audiences are invited to participate in facilitated workshops, using and altering pre-made tools to model own ways of making sense, including connections between civic and cultural concepts, and embodied values. Tools range from verbal prompts to pre-printed diagrams on whiteboards, fabricated objects, and live streaming, custom-coded 360° video. This work develops by carefully observing how lay and professional cultural producers animate the systems through which they operate; and by creating tools collaboratively, with volunteers and other contributors, who share experiences and ways of knowing.
Adelheid Mers engages in conversations with lay and professional cultural producers about their aesthetic practices. She uses diagrams as tools for figuring, to make cultural ecologies accessible to reflection, with an emphasis on practitioner perspectives. As a tenured professor of arts administration and policy at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Mers appraises cultural processes across scales and manifold participant's interests. As a visual artist, she draws on the performative tools of studio critique to facilitate conversations. Formally, diagrams are defined by their operativity, engendering action and reflection. Mers' diagrams are deployed across media, ranging from quick sketches to freely distributed flyers to manipulable whiteboards; occasions are created for use and response.
Mers works independently, with artists, and with non-profits and their constituencies. She has explored artist's thinking about grant application processes for the 3Arts Foundation, and conducted research on cultural ecologies on Chicago's south and west sides, with the Foundation for Homan Square and the University of Chicago. As part of an ongoing project, Art Work (Visual Art/Music/Management) Mers is currently exploring the practices of sound artists, composers and experimental musicians, in collaboration with colleagues at the Institute of Cultural Management at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna. Her work is presented nationally and internationally, through conference contributions and exhibitions. She has curated thematic exhibitions, published essays on pedagogy, arts administration and art-based research and has edited and published a book, Useful Pictures.
Honors include grants from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the British Council, the NEA, Illinois Arts Council and DCASE. Mers serves on editorial boards, and has recently served as juror for the NEA and the Rauschenberg Foundation.
Mers works with artists and with non-profit clients: with the City of Chicago Mayor's office and department of Innovation and Technology she observed stimulus funding application and uses. She has worked with the Evanston Art Center seeking out local arts ecologies, explored grant making impacts on artists for the 3Arts Foundation and conducted projects on Chicago's south and west sides, with the Foundation for Homan Square and the University of Chicago. Her work is presented nationally and internationally, at conferences and exhibitions. She has curated several exhibitions, published essays on pedagogy, arts administration and art-based research and has edited and published a book, Useful Pictures. Honors include grants from the German Academic Exchange Service, the British Council, NEA, the Illinois Arts Council and DCASE.