FAQ > Below is a list of FAQ - in progress - we will continue to update this page. > Could you explain your catch phrase 'Independent, Critical, Rigorous and Productive'?
‘Independent' refers to the fact that we are not owned metaphorically or technically by anyone. We are not attached to any institution or company thus avoiding the constant cajole to be ‘company men’ and therefore the disavowal to be self-critical. Funding has been deliberately a pepper-pot formula to ensure we have independence in all programming and to weaken the potential for censorship and editing. Contributors to This Is Not A Gateway activities do so as individuals; the ideas, knowledge and provocations are theirs alone and not those of their employers, community organisation, benefactors or institutions. There are no contracts, unlike, for example, the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, limiting what contributors say or exhibit. Independence contributes to providing the widest, most robust and most transparent platform for contributors.
‘Critical’ is the main motivation for establishing and continuing the organisation’s work. There are a growing number of organisations, corporately funded, that undertake quite enticing self-reinforcing uncritical celebrations of urban life, of cities and of themselves. Our aim is to bring people together, who might be apart and unaware of each other, to critically interrogate these organisations, their people, the structures that propel them and most importantly to make apparent the implications on our lives, on future lives - anywhere.
Through criticality we can arrive at understanding our lives today, and create the potential to increase our agency and to support others in doing so. Constant criticality allows for openness, agility and the possibility of providing propositions/alternatives for now and for our futures. For us, this means creating a space that is somehow ‘the street’ meets ‘the community centre’ meets ‘the academy/the institution’.
‘Rigorous’ is in contrast to lasse faire approaches. We often turn invitations down or don’t incorporate work in the festival, for example, that reflects a laziness of intent, deficits of self-awareness, hidden or blatant advertising or a un-critical or non-existent hypothesises or proposition. Rigorous denotes seriousness, urgency, sharpened focus and openness to criticism and ability to provoke debate. There is no doubt however, rigorous work, can also be some of the most humorous! Rigour to us, does not equate to the highest levels of production nor glossy presentation but rather; the questions put forward, inter-disciplinary methodologies employed, the ability to extend or complicate rather than solidify and the pursuit of justice with the exploited and the disenfranchised as the driving or resultant focus. Any event or publication sees the pushing up against each other of any number of disciplines, artistic practices and people; ‘smooth and efficient’ is disguarded in the pursuit of rigour.
‘Productive’ demonstrates that through constant activity the refusal to accept the habits of history (the attempts to enclose and to subdue us by elites), the ceremonies of possession (such as uncritical university departments, exclusive conferences, funded ‘think thanks’ and festivals) and the legal, philosophical and built acceptance of inequalities. Being productive, whether creating platforms for new international networks to evolve, the publishing of books, regularly tweeting examples of 'Who Dares Wins' tactics employed by the Urban Industry or the bringing together of two thousand critical thinkers and practitioners for an annual event, being productive is a refusal to accept the inequalities and is resistance through every-day and also specific actions and ‘use’.