Welcome

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As part of the winter program at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, I’ll be facilitating a number of events focused on exploring the local landscape. My collaborator, Kiah Coble, and I have titled it Exploring Psychogeography in Provincetown, referencing the art movement from the mid-20th century that established new art methods for exploring and understanding place. The program will include a couple of gatherings to share investigations of and artworks inspired by the Provincetown landscape (both its geographical and social ecologies), a series of walks that will navigate nearly the whole the perimeter of our town, and a blog that collects the works / thinking of artists, scientists and other investigators. The first gathering will be Saturday, 11 November 2017 at 4 PM at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum. Our first walk will be the following week, Saturday, 18 November at 3 PM. Those wishing to join us for the walk on the 18th should meet in front of the Provincetown Art Association and Museum (460 Commercial Street) by 4 PM.

The principles that inform Psychogeography have been part of my art practice for a long time. I’m somewhat obsessive about learning the history of places in which I live, and equally obsessive about sharing the stories I uncover. This usually results in being told that I’m an ‘expert.’ But I know that’s not true. Places reveal themselves over time, and we can never know a place comprehensively. There’s always more to discover. And, as the early Psychogeographers pointed out, we tend to believe that we ‘know’ a place from our habits and point of reference, quite often missing the extraordinary things that might be occurring a few blocks to our side.

In Provincetown, this impulse to ‘know’ is amplified by the number of people who frequently visit. In the summer, the streets are filled with people telling their definitive story of the town to the newly arrived. Our love of Provincetown inspires a deep sense of ownership of the place, but frequently confuses personal experience and folklore with fact. And our individual perspective — East End/West End, Summer/Year-Round, Townie/Wash-Ashore, etc. — shapes the stories we tell.

In Provincetown, my obsession with knowing the place expresses itself in my work as a visual artist. Over the past four years, I’ve shown several series of Provincetown paintings at Four Eleven Gallery that endeavor to see the place through new eyes. And my Instagram account acts as an archive for my visual research. Both of these efforts constitute a kind of idiosyncratic mapping, recording the habits and patterns of my walking and explorations while also collecting views of the area through intentional collecting of visual culture (such as vernacular signage, roses, and ’round things’). I hope that people who follow my Instagram and who engage with my paintings might be inspired to look at Provincetown in different ways.

This program intends to widen the conversation and invite others who are intently looking at this place to share their modes of inquiry and investigation — and through this enhance our collective ability to see and understand this place we love. It’s also undertaken in the hope that through conversation and by (literally) walking around town together we might find new connections, uncover the possibility of collaboration, and begin to build new networks of mutual support. Please join us!

— Pete Hocking, 10 November 2017

 

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