Esther Planas

Copyright 2023

Five Years

Five Years celebrated recently its 20 Years of existence!

Below there are a series of links and information about my own perspective and possible agency in relation to the project since it started.

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 setup of the project leaves literally any of its members space and a time to self manage and exercise curatorial experimental proposals (including the possibility of displaying its own work) apart from also opening the "network/web" to other artists as guest curators and to echo the main structural setup.

The idea of a cooperative setting, based on a self-instituting praxis seemed very challenging in the late nineties and very inspiring too. It was like an empty blank philosophical space were to try, make, re-formulate, change roles and ultimately fail too, as the results were not so important compared to anything related to the journey/ experiences of such experiments and situations.
Even if I was not yet an official member, for many artists I am related and known as one, and as such, I am described on some occasions. Also, since moving to the UK, and starting my relationship, discovering the trajectory of Marc Hulson (who along with Elizabeth Prize (Turner Prize-2012), Susan Morris, Mathew Thompsom, and David Bate started first in mid 90's a mobile site-specific intervention and show projects named Infanta of Castille which then transformed into a yearly project named ACCIDENT) had really inspired me as I immediately saw in this a spirit, or resonance with experiences I had in the late '70s and early 80's both in Barcelona and London as a dance student.

Thus, I can state that I was one artist who believed in the format and wanted to commit to its experimentality and open-ended nature.

Starting very early, first with collaborative projects as Dark Pop, along with Marc Hulson, and later on my own I have invited or mediated a series of works at our site or as walks or derives, below a selection of those:

Dark Pop:

Here is a text by Catherine Grant translated to Spanish for Barcelona's gallery Espai UBU

or a later critical theory-based text published in my own profile of Academia, Dark Pop as methodology.

We, as a group, with some of its members leaving or fading, other new folks coming and joining and always keeping at its dynamic of explorative, self-reflective, and research-based exhibition projects have published, made projects uniquely related to such themes as what it means to be a cooperative, a group, and artist-led or run? space, if we are curators or not, etc. We keep the practice, of self-questioning, critical thinking, and work in relation to what we do, what we produce, in terms of self-instituting practices as referenced by Gerald Raunig and others.

Some of this works listed here:

Since 2010, I am conducting a series of explorations and comparative studies around the artist's lead space/curatorial new practices and spaces. My experiences with projects as the 24/7 Latin American project based in London, Proyectos Ultravioleta, Guatemala, Helena Producciones, Colombia, or Beta-Local in Puerto Rico in contrast with previous collaborations with spaces as Outline, Amsterdam, Autocenter, Berlin, or acquaintances with Beaconsfield, London.

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 a medium, editing, and publishing and self instituting via having one space or site from where to experiment, while also using the website format or the nomadic interchange of spaces or the site intervention as methods.

Betalocal at Five Years

The first example of these unexpected encounters happened as follows:

20 years ago, when I had just moved to London with my then partner artist Marc Hulson, who had started Five Years as a way of continuing a project with a few of the remaining members of ACCIDENT, by re-named it and staying in the same location at 40 Underwood Street.

In the last year of our stay, the speedy gentrification of that area gathered its maximum momentum when we had Charles Saatchi coming and renting out our spaces and taking up a huge surface to show its art while he was pondering on buying the whole Victorian industrial buildings in which many artists like us, had their studios and project spaces.

It was then that I meet on a hot summer day, seating on the pavement of Underwood street, both as the carers of each space, a very young guy who was working for Saatchi Gallery as an intern and invigilator, Juan Sebastian Ramirez from Cali, Colombia, he introduced me to his collaborators and their contingent of very energetic and enthusiastic Latin American young artist based in London.

Barely after a few months after meeting us and being inspired by the Five Years project, they started their very own nomadic artist collective 24/7.

My partner and I, following up our policy of always inviting people who could benefit from the experience, invited 24/7 to Five Years space during the last month of our stay on Underwood St space, before losing it forever to gentrification.