Extraterritoriality can extend to the places that juxtapose, overlap, reside in the same place which at times conflict. But let us consider other kinds places that have their own rules, norms. Shouldn’t we consider the spaces of art and artists with their own “states of exception” for imagination? They can be neutral spaces, within the normal public zones, such as the museum, parks and art institutions. But they can be places that suspend, or conflict, challenge traditional norms and rules and establish new types of communities. These can be the private galleries, the art spaces, alternative art venues, artist run projects spaces, installations and even the artist studio. They become the artist extraterritorial space. Like the traditional definitions of extraterritoriality, they also involve communities, transnational communications, with transcultural exchanges which can happen on borders and border zones. Artists, however, have created their own special kind of extraterritorial zones.
During my conversation with Michael Galbreth, one half of the Art Guys, Michael said to me, and a paraphrase: “Territory is how humans organize themselves and establish rules for behavior. Its binds the people in the spaces and places they live. Its called politics: organization of human behavior with agreed upon codified rules and laws. It is traditionally tied to territory. However, people interpret laws and codes which tend to restrict. And artists, like any other citizen, wants to explore the borders and beyond that territory. They want to travel and see other spaces.”
Michael then adds, “extraterritoriality also becomes a framework for thinking, with the “frame” as the context and the border of the ideas and art. As artists we are constantly perforating that frame, exploring around it and exploring outside to the other territories both conceptually and physically. Artist do a very good job of materializing the space. You can touch, smell, feel, taste and become part of it.”
The physical manifestations of “extraterritorial art spaces” develop their own rules and norms. These rules are part and parcel of the artist prerogatives and unique skills sets, such as: a place for having senses, thought, imagination; a place for you to emote freely and beneficially without coercion; a place where you can affiliate, collaborate and becomes friends with people that are not like yourself; and most importantly to have the space to Play. When artists experiment with new norms in those spaces for themselves and their communities it perhaps can provide the chance for many citizens to be part of and enjoy an art extraterritorial space. Perhaps this becomes an example where the rules, codes, and norms are “internal” just as much as they are external.
Though some of these extraterritorial art spaces may already have embedded societies, they also develop new communities, while being inclusive to outside and incoming groups. While these, sometimes, neutral spaces exist inside the prevalent, normal, traditional, public territory, they reach out and move outside the “frame” in the direction towards the general public and community service organizations, not just art organizations. It is outside of those spaces or here (in the self-made extraterritoriality) that artists can find themselves having another kind of role in society rather than just the author or arbiter of aesthetics.