We are a group called Stair/Slide Space who will be asking the question “What does it mean to drop out?” through our peer learning group session.

The topic of dropping out is very timely, with many of us falling out of our usual patterns of life, work and health. Is there a space that has opened up to consider what can be learned from dropping outside of the mainstream, the ‘normal’ or the expected without romanticising a situation that has pushed many to the brink? For artists who ‘make change’ who are often working with a practice of participation, instead the question of what it means not to participate or to participate differently becomes more relevant. If dropping out is a choice, then can it be seen as a radical method of change-making? If dropping out is a decision forced upon us, then how can mutual support allow us to thrive none-the-less?



Movement, moving together, to walk at the same time through distance.

We voice call over WhatsApp whilst walking around our neighbourhoods describing our locations and what we can see.

noticing the moss growing everywhere in the urban environment and remembering Robin Wall Kimmerer talking about lessons from moss. take just what you need, nothing more

we take photos of the moss we can each see, on trees, on pavements we think about this whole period of research/study we have been doing together

what have we learnt? what has been difficult? what do we want to do next?

thinking about the collective, dropping out from the group itself. How to practice mutual aid within the group even when we are all emotionally frayed and wellness itself is scarce?

different interpretations, letting us each do what we need to do in these appalling circumstance where freelancers are left behind by government to a position of increasing precarity/desperation

Art is vital

Let’s focus on ourselves first, work out our own needs, to ask ourselves questions, How can we flourish as a collective?

burdened by responsibilities not wanting to burden others figuring out our capacities, not over stretching them

only working on what is vital to us

don’t have time or energy to do otherwise… but still lots of issues that are pressing – around social justice, how to operate as a collective, how to reinvigorate the collective (new members?), look again at our manifesto, is it still pertinent?

What else to add? how to sustain a collective? who cares for the carer? or in a hierarchy who looks after the boss?

To ensure people don’t experience burnout, everyone within the system should support each other, more like an interchanging multi-directional web of connections than a traditional hierarchy of cascading responsibilities and power

How does would that work in our collective? We have uneven responsibilities, this can be reflected by contributing uneven effort/time to projects but what does this mean for remuneration? we need to work this out (we are still operating within capitalism)


Dropping in.

How to articulate what we need in difficult times?

where are we at?

where do we move towards?

wanting to do stuff unsure of what to do that would have meaning?

trying out things?


fear can be paralysing

now to be bold.


10 useful questions for those organising for mutual aid during covid 

Some thoughts on the work of Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures 

For all I care – Connecting for change (Podcast) 



To walk or latte?

Arranged to all make turmeric lattes to sit and chat. One of us remembered, tea will do fine.

Thinking of walking in city scape – both port cities Southampton and Rotterdam are connected in stories? How else to tell stories? Performance, recorded? How to share? story telling / video / virtually / Documentary (Jonas Mekas). Collecting stories, generating stories, taking turns, roll the dice/ each compose sentences/images on slips of paper/(tarot) cards.

How to return to the soil as an urban dweller? Thinking about walking. Necessity as motivation to do stuff. Staying local, treading the same steps, over and over. Maybe these are the reasons it could be meditative? How to keep walking in local urban area fresh? How to make going outside appealing in the winter lull. Finding different things to listen to whilst walking, having a group conversation, geo-caching. Small mediations, collecting things go off on a walk where we are.

I’ve prepared a guided energy listening exercise if we wanna give it a go?

Using our hands to listen. We draw how we saw it on paper and talk about the exercise.

Meditating on the meanings of “hold” Different types of support / cradle / nurture. The meanings of ‘holding’ or “holding back” / “holding space”

(indecision about what to do next…)

Finding rituals –  turn towards something with a greater meaning of the universe during this time.

(constant stimming)

Vulnerable and discomfort when around people, social / general anxiety in pandemic times. Walking same route provides security. New windows into an alternative locality and stories.

Thinking of a previous S/S/S project ‘Invisible Tour’ – how could that work out and about?

Humans as bilateral beings can move both sides of the body through the memory of trauma. Walking, tapping, drumming, eye movement. Eye Movement De-sensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy. A structured therapy that encourages a person who has experienced trauma to briefly focus on the memory while simultaneously experiencing bilateral stimulation (typically eye movements), which is associated with a reduction in the vividness and emotion associated with the trauma memories. Moving both sides of the body whilst recollecting trauma to allow the body and brain to allow the processing of it. Using the imagery of three figures – a protector, a nurturer and someone wise

Turmeric latte recipe

The art of not giving a fuck

Eye Movement De-sensitisation and Reprocessing

The joy of steps 20 ways to give purpose to your daily walk



Extracts from our conversation presented as a stream of consciousness. The two accompanying images depict public placements of some of the text extracts.


Three is the magic number so they say. Where’s my pen. Where’s my tea.
How does the chat inform the practice?
What are we capturing?


Collective memory. The draw of Collective practice.
You must acknowledge there is a privilege to dropping out; some don’t have a choice.


Systems not functioning. Normalising behaviours.
Patients as customers. Students as customers.
Fungi. Fungi. Fungi.
Does this lead to art making?
Shutdown and Shielded from information in order to process the day-to-day.


Non publicness. Subtitles on Skype. Whatever next!
Everyone likes post. Maybe this can be the anchor. Postal projects to bridge our gaps.
Words can pull us together.
Poems on a window written in mud. Phrases plastered upon a wall.


(Wash your mitts).



“All About Love” (Book), “For Health Autonomy” (Book) and “Fucking Good Art” (Collective).





Speaking from the hole in the ground:

What has kept you optimistic since we last spoke?
What’s been entertaining you?
What have you been worrying about?
what gives you energy?

We turn up differently and start the conversation from a new angle.
Like Cyclamen seeds we’ve been growing in dark and cold places.
We’ve found entertainment in films and TV that tell stories in layers or revisits a narrative from multiple pathways.

How can a collective practice survive such chaos and unpredictability? How do you sustain a practice when a personal life is so challenging?
Collectivity must be resilient…it must be based on the flexibility and adaptability that comes with lived reality…
What does the messiness and chaos bring? We’re feeling disorganised when we so want to organise.

The energy we share with each other when organising with groups…
Finding friends to take action with…
Swallowing the urge to be in control…
Considering you own expectations…

Realigning ideas of economy. Not money and wealth but the value of exchange or sharing.

“Growthmania is the fatal disease of civilisation, it must be replaced by campaigns that make equity and well-being society’s goals – not consuming more junk”

Ehrlich, The Population Bomb

What is socially engaged practice in relation to Growthmania? Is it a habit to always want to pioneer a new idea, a new technique, a new work…does making art always have to be about making something new?

How can we give gratitude to what is already occurring?

We give gratitude to the writers whose words have nourished us recently. Jaquetta Hawkes, Nan Shepard, Robyn Kimmerer, Annie Dillard.

Where to put the fury that I feel right now? The struggle of supporting children through online learning…feels like an impossible position to hold…

How in an age of no social gatherings, can we reduce the administrative work of solidarity or activism? How can we support members of the collective within the pandemic? Is there still space to research and make together?

We are a ‘dis-organisation’ – how to organise in a time of disorganisation? What is a collective art practice in a time of panic?

How to make space for dropping out and dropping in?

Considering the Undercommons:

A lot of the questions from people on Facebook were, ‘how do you enter into the undercommons?’: well, you know, the ‘undercommons’ is a box, and if you open it you can enter into our world. A couple of people seem to be reticent about the term ‘study,’ but is there a way to be in the undercommons that isn’t intellectual? Is there a way of being intellectual that isn’t social? When I think about the way we use the term ‘study,’ I think we are committed to the idea that study is what you do with other people. It’s talking and walking around with other people, working, dancing, suffering, some irreducible convergence of all three, held under the name of speculative practice. The notion of a rehearsal – being in a kind of workshop, playing in a band, in a jam session, or old men sitting on a porch, or people working together in a factory – there are these various modes of activity. The point of calling it ‘study’ is to mark that the incessant and irreversible intellectuality of these activities is already present. These activities aren’t ennobled by the fact that we now say, “oh, if you did these things in a certain way, you could be said to be have been studying.” To do these things is to be involved in a kind of common intellectual practice. What’s important is to recognize that that has been the case – because that recognition allows you to access a whole, varied, alternative history of thought.

The undercommons is a place of exclusion…or of ‘dropping out’…or of the kind of stuff that happens on the margins…

life is boring right now

need adrenaline of creative risk

what artistic practice am i practicing?

energy – wasting energy?

Letting go of the shame that comes with ‘not knowing enough’. Not having a practice that repeats the same processes over and over. Social art is more about life, chaotic.

And the lifecycle of a project, not viewing projects with regrets or denigrating them with focusing on the negative parts.

Storytelling as activism. Thinking about landscape and traditional storytelling, how to translate this to the city?

Where is this leading us?

Reading list:

Nan Shepherd – The Living Mountain
Annie Dillard – Teaching a Stone to Talk
Mission Economy – Mariana Mazzucato
Joan Didion in Suppose a Sentence
Moten and Harney – The Undercommons



#04 I

The soil from my mother’s garden crunches in the hand shells of snails accumulated grit roots as strong and delicate as greying hairs. Ground that welcomes rain and pushes between toes on bare feet leaving marks like the tide on the shoreline.


#04 II

Meeting starts online.

“Can you see me?”

“No, not yet”

“I can’t get my camera to turn on”

[sudden loud, harsh electronic noise]

Meeting aborted, whole mug of coffee spilt on laptop

#04 III

A looming disquiet as we attempt to adjust once again.

“What is good news and what is bad news?” … “It feels like an act of warfare to keep people apart.”

At least we can reconnect with what’s on our doorstep. We discuss Hito Steyerl Hyper local /global local.

Relating back to S/S/S practice … we would usually have a face to face element – sharing stories in real space and time. Is it possible to replace that process of interaction with cues of intonation and body language, and how? Then there is the dilemma of having so many conversations, and not necessarily knowing where to put them. How to archive/ document the learning? Continuing the conversations keeps it living. Becoming storytellers. Feeling through in which ways we can develop our practice, new methods, approaches, connections. Community art what is it?

Thinking about soil, one of us remembers seeing mud cloth (Bògòlanfini or bogolan) being made in Djenne, Mail.

The geometric patterns painted on cloth with fermented iron rich local soil communicate tribal narratives, mnemonics and values of the people, passed down from generation to generation.

The collective is about care and finding small pleasures

Hands – what do they know? what can they sense? The skin as our largest organ. Motor memory, seeing hands, feeling with prosthetic’s? Sense of self-hood.

Octopus brains in their limbs/Humans (neurons) transmitters, how knowledge flows the body(s)

How little movement in the house. The body needs to move, even visualising movement can slow muscle tone loss. Lifestyle fitness/ formal exercise, Exercise with purposefulness.

[many disconnected and connected thoughts]

Libertarianism and behaviours an epidemic necessitates, we are where we are.

Leap frogging resources