The idea of Artist Placement stemmed
from a group of UK artists, and was guided by John Latham and initiated
by Barbara Steveni, who were experimenting with radical new forms
of art. Directed by Steveni, the APG pioneered the concept of art
in the social context. From the outset their notion of ‘placement’ acknowledged the marginalised position of the artist and sought
to improve the situation. By enabling artists to engage actively
in non-art environments, the APG shifted the function of art towards
Acting outside the conventional art gallery system, the APG attempted,
through negotiation and agreement, to place artists within industry
and government departments. The artist would become involved in
the day-to-day work of the organisation and be paid a salary equal
to that of other employees by the host organization, while being
given the new role of maintaining sufficient autonomy to acting
on an open brief. These placements resulted in a variety of artists’
reports, films, photographs, interviews, poetry and art installations.
Artists of international repute, such as Keith Arnatt, Ian Breakwell,
Stuart Brisley, George Levantis and David Hall, had important placements
or early associations with the APG.
Like many other British artists and groups working outside common
frameworks, the APG had a high profile abroad, particularly in Germany.
Recent years have seen an increasing recognition that the APG served
as a catalyst for many artist-in-residence programmes and community
schemes, both in Britain and abroad. However, the APG’s brief
was always more about political, social, and long-term engagement
than about parachuting artists into problem zones. Like British
Pop, the APG initiated and developed an aspect of art practice long
before many of its contemporaries.
Today the organisation exists as Organisation and Imagination (O
+ I). The name APG was changed in 1989 in order to distinguish it
from the art administration’s placement schemes, set up closely
along the lines of the APG’s legacy, to the group, highly
problematic. O + I describes itself as ‘an independent, international
artist initiative, a network consultancy and research organisation’.
Its board of directors, members and specialist advisors include
leading artists, civil servants, politicians, scientists, and academics
from various disciplines.