We kicked off the study period with a session looking into nature, paying attention to non-human relationships that could inspire new ways of thinking.
The session involved:
- memory and location mapping exercise: connecting the body, memories, places and imagination, a process used by Ghost & John to develop their work Meniscus.
- watching excerpts of My Octopus Teacher and Our Planet, touching on anthropomorphism and the theory of mind.
- looking at hierarchies and interconnections between species and comparing them with society and more specifically the art world. This section involved: exploring keystone species (what would be the keystone species in an art ecology?); reading an excerpt from “The Second Body” by Daisy Hildyard about sharing resources between ‘abled’ bacteria cells and ‘disabled’ bacteria cells; watching a video excerpt of Examined Life with Judith Butler and Sunaura Taylor on disability in society.
- we touched on deep ecology and activism, looking at ‘self-realisation’, less human-centric thinking and discussing the problems/concerns with creating art about environmental issues (exploitation vs raising awareness). Case studies we looked at were: Among the Trees exhibition and HS2 Rebellion, Liberate Tate, UN’s ‘Love song to the earth’ and Lil Dicky’s ‘Earth’ (for addition context click here).
In this session we discussed: permeable kinship, capitalism and how it affects interdependence, the precariousness of making a living as an artist, the difficulty of changing institutions and indigenous wisdom of asking the land for permission, how to create a different paradigm and what are we (human/artists) giving back to the environment.
The session ended with the whole group writing down what they would like to do if they had unlimited resources, money, space time and energy (image below, highlighted text indicated activities involving art).
Extended reading for this session:
For the study period we decided to have four study sessions taking place between November and the beginning of January. After having several discussions we noted down the four key topics we would like to study together (one topic for each session). We split the whole group into pairs and one group of three (there are 9 of us) and each pair/group will be in charge of planning and facilitating a session (support will be given from other members of the group where needed). This will involve working out what materials to read, inviting speakers, planning activities and how to spend the budget of £100 (we split the budget of £400 into £100 per session which could go into guest speakers fee, materials and admin cost). Each pair/group will decide how they would like to spend this budget.
We will be carrying out all the study sessions on Jitsi Meet as well as our group meetings. This is an alternative to Zoom, where you could also screen share, raise hands and type in the chatbox. A work around for breakout rooms is to create new meetings rooms, synchronise watches (optional) and come back to main meeting at a set time. We’ve attempted this in the first planning meeting where each pair/group went away to plan their session and come back to give thw whole group an overview of their progress.
This photo here is our second planning meeting. We have since finalized our session dates and times and can see the shape of the whole study period, which is pretty exciting.
Our sessions and topics are as follows:
Session #1 Human and nature in activism
Facilitated by Ghost and John
Session #2 On Empathy, Sympathy and Compassion (in the context of activism)
Facilitated by Colleen, Candy and Jimena
Session #3 Relationships between an artist/artworks and society
Facilitated by Catherine and Mirei
Session #4 Self-organising and the DIY Culture
Facilitated by Bettina and Karen
These are all big topics and this study period is a starting point. We accept that we might be just touching the surface but we have to start somewhere. We also decided to keep these sessions closed and not open them to the public in order for us to know each other better within the group as well as being able to be messy and learn by doing. Keeping the session closed also means elevating the pressure of delivering public events and the additional work of advertising the sessions and energy of ensuring newcomers feel included.
I feel that developing the study group this way allows us to learn how to communicate within a group as well as facilitate better.
I will write about what we did in each session in later posts.