This research funded through Participatory Research funding at Teesside University and in collaboration with the co-production Unit at UCL, will combine ethnographic and participatory methods, drawing on interviews, performances and collective group actions. It will disseminate its findings through a sharing event, publication and short film. The focus of this research will be on how collectives articulate tactics and actions towards resolutions and thereby retain control of their experiences. The project’s objectives are:
1. to experiment with art as a means of exploring and evaluating the value of cultural experiences to further understand power relations
2. to use live events to enable peer review and ongoing cultural meaning-making through ethnographic methods
3. to explore how the representation of power through bodies affects cultural and political understandings
contemporary artists have become producers when they shifted their position from that of an independent creator reliant on traditional artistic apparatus - to that of an operative, in which the skills and competences of the artist are transformed to the advanced technical content of the new reproductive technologies and their collective use within the labour processes. This supports the role of an artist as a facilitator or curator to support the creative processes of others as part of a larger production of their own practice in that the work becomes a moment of interaction and a negotiation with another person(s). This form of practice making is to develop a shared platform of negotiation and facilitation of a context to build works collaboratively. As Joseph Beuys stated, “All I do, is inform people of their own possibilities. Art is a technical means of transmitting information. The formation of a bureau is a physical act for its dissemination.” Beuys used his practice, his body and medium whether that be sculpture, performance and so on, as a transmitter of information.
The premise of the ‘Assembly’ considers relationships to collective actions, movement, sound and empathy. Constituents develop artworks and performance scores towards experiences of ownership, power and site, these methods originate from collaboration and research previously undertaken with the Alternative Art College (2011-2014), TATE Live Art and Filmmaking (2013), Bad Spirits (2017-2022).
Assembly of Actions is a co-produced group performance involving tools and techniques to question democracy, site, power and ownership. Influenced by alternative art school strategies and methodologies to art making, the Assembly will consider and develop collective and individual response to nature and the environment. Through tangible and intangible actions including movement, text, speech, sound and empathy. Through the course of our performance, we will work through positions of unfamiliarity - our relationships with one another; the aesthetics we collectively adhere to; the dynamics of the space we are occupying; our comfort in expressing ourselves in a shared space. The purpose is to use the below tools to expand on how nature has voice in democracy and how to make visible the effects we have on plant and animal life in our day to day actions.
Geodome: co-constructing a bamboo geodome to create a refuge/safe space/ site of ownership.
Collective score: using pens and paper to gather words, ideas, emotions, oppressions and desires to generate a score for resultant actions.
Karaoke: playful social format to break the ice; temporary emancipation through song; providing chance lyrical elements to incorporate into the performance.
Camera & mic: democratic camera operation for participant-led handheld documentation and live voice over reflections.
This study will investigate and hope to develop responses to:
How collective art making can develop new forms of knowledge exchange
Where does learning happen in art making when focused on specific social or political questions/ concerns
To explore how to represent the experience of participants authentically using a range of ethnographic and participatory approaches
To draw on methods of empowerment evaluation and participatory action research in order to support the positive aspects of collaborative creative production.