WORKSHOP: ARTISTIC PRACTICE – WORKING WITH DISPLACED AND PERIPHERAL COMMUNITIES
Jens Haendeler and Alex Ioannou participated in a workshop to facilitate conversations around artistic and cultural practices that explore and work with communities affected by peripheralisation and marginalisation at Arts Catalyst.
Processes of peripheralisation and marginalisation are consequences of an imbalance of power. Such power relations and forms of exclusion are deeply embedded in the politics of space, for example, communities within industrial towns or those living near industrial disasters who have little or no agency in the decision-making that affects their health.
Whilst these forms of spatial inequality often manifest themselves in a lack of access to the public and political sphere, we also witness the emergence of grassroots struggles and new forms of solidarity and self-empowerment.
What do we understand as centre and periphery? Can artistic practice empower people from displaced or peripheral communities to be active citizens? How can art contribute to problems of language barriers, lack of political voice, or the need to be understood and accepted? How might art-based interventions generate positive or transformative effects in individuals and communities, and how is that knowledge shared? These questions were addressed through a series of presentations by artists and researchers, and through conversations across various disciplines and practices.
The workshop stems from Arts Catalyst’s current exhibition Real Lives Half Lives: Fukushima which demonstrates some of the ways in which artists have worked with people displaced by the Fukushima disaster, one being the creation of a festival that unites people and their multiple talents together, the other a collaborative exhibition in former homes sited within the exclusion zone of Fukushima.
As part of the workshop, curator Warren Harper and artist James Ravinet discussed their ongoing project around the Blackwater Estuary, Essex, and recent research residency to Japan, where they have been investigating nuclear power, alternative methods of energy production and the ways that communities have lived with and reacted to the imposition of the nuclear industry and its infrastructure.
Anna Santomauro is Programme Curator at Arts Catalyst. She was previously an independent curator and the Co-founder and Chief Curator of Vessel in Bari, Italy, a non-profit arts organisation that develops public programmes and alternative education projects to address contemporary social, political, and economic issues. Based in Birmingham for the last few years, Anna recently worked for Eastside Projects and is curator-in-residence at Grand Union. She is a part-time PhD candidate at the University of Wolverhampton.
Nicola Triscott is the founder and Artistic Director/CEO of Arts Catalyst. She is a cultural producer, curator and writer, specialising in the intersections between art, science, technology and society. Nicola lectures and publishes internationally, including books on art and technology in the Arctic, art and space, and ecological art. She blogs at www.nicolatriscott.org on the critical inter-relationships between the arts, humanities and our technoscientific society. She is a doctoral candidate at University of Westminster.
The workshop brought together a range of individuals and a variety of projects which led us all to question the questions:
‘What do we understand as centre and periphery? Can artistic practice empower people from displaced or peripheral communities to be active citizens? How can art contribute to problems of language barriers, lack of political voice, or the need to be understood and accepted? How might art-based interventions generate positive or transformative effects in individuals and communities, and how is that knowledge shared? ‘
The workshop was kindly and eagerly facilitated by the Arts Catalyst team.