Into Action: the Politics of Play and Participation
Friday 20 May 2016, 10.00 – 16.00

Cost: £5 + booking fee (including lunch)
BOOK TICKETS

This one-day event at Primary, is inspired by the radical political roots of Action Space - a collective of artists, performers, dancers and musicians working in the community, set up in 1968 in London by Mary and Ken Turner. In common with other collective groups committed to the idea of art as a tool of cultural democracy and social change, Action Space took art onto the streets, blending art and play through the use of environmental inflatable structures. Over the last couple of decades, participative art projects have become commonplace but has art lost its capacity to be radical? In particular, this one-day event asks:

How can ‘play’ be political?
How can participative projects generate agency?
What is the potential for community projects to be radical today?

A series of talks and interactive workshops will explore these questions. The day kicks off with materials from Huw Wahl’s current film project, which explores Action Space through archive research, interviews with participants, contemporary artists and theorists and the recreation of an inflatable structure.

Contributors include:
Gillian Whiteley (Politicized Practice Research Group, School of the Arts, Loughborough University)
Huw Wahl (Director of Action Space film)
Simon Connor (Sound designer of Action Space film)
Barby Asante (Artist, Curator and Educator)
Anna Hart (AIR at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London )
Amanda Ravetz (Manchester School of Art)
Antoinette Burchill (School of the Arts, Loughborough University)
Zoë Petersen and Sarah Green (School of the Arts, Loughborough University)
Ian Nesbitt (Artist and Filmmaker)
Alison Denholm and Alma Solarte-Tobón (City Arts, Nottingham)

This event is part-funded by School of the Arts, English and Drama as part of the Critical Citizenship, Activism and Art project, an initiative of the Politicized Practice and Anarchism Research Groups at Loughborough University. 

Enquiries: gro.y1493508157ramir1493508157perae1493508157w@tra1493508157nieb.1493508157acceb1493508157er1493508157

INTO ACTION – SCHEDULE

10.00: Coffee / arrival

10.30: Gillian Whiteley: Inflatable and inflammatory: the politics of play then and now
Introduction, historical background & outlining questions for the day
10.50: Huw Wahl & Simon Connor: Action Space 
Live
Presenting footage from the Action Space film
11.20: Amanda Ravetz in conversation with Huw & Simon about making the film + Q&A
11.50: Barby Asante presenting recent projects and leading a conversation on questions of play, public space, identity & exclusion
12.25: Discussion with all morning participants + Q&A

13.00:  Lunch

14.00: Parallel break-out sessions (1 hour)
A: Antoinette Burchill: Provoking conflict?
B: Sarah Green & Zoë Petersen: Working with communities – the whys and hows of working with a community
C: Alison Denholm and Alma Solarte-Tobón  (City Arts): A question of scale – how to create safe spaces within larger projects to enable vulnerable groups to be part of big scale events
D: Ian Nesbitt: What can Art do for me?

15.00: Anna Hart facilitating feedback from group sessions + Wrap Up session

16.00: Tea & coffee Primary will remain open til 17.00 for informal conversations to round off the day.

SESSION DETAILS

Morning

Gillian Whiteley: Inflatable and inflammatory: the politics of play then and now
‘The street is a place to play and learn. The street is disorder. All the elements of urban life, which are fixed and redundant elsewhere, are free to fill the streets and through the streets flow to the centers, where they meet and interact, torn form their fixed abode. This disorder is alive. It informs. It surprises.’  – Lefebvre H, The Urban Revolution, [1970], Minneapolis, 2003:18-19

As Action Space was founded in 1968, this opening talk will explore some of the political roots and contexts of this radical ‘inflatable and inflammatory’ moment, its resonances with other community-based projects – such as Welfare State International, also set up in 1968 – and their contemporary legacies. It will also set out some specific questions about the potential political efficacy of play and participation which we hope to address in discussions and activities throughout the day.

Huw Wahl and Simon Connor: Action Space Live
Audio-Visual collaboration between Huw Wahl and Simon Connor, the director and sound designer of the Action Space film. Experience a live mix of Action Space archive materials, from the art school to the street.

Barby Asante
Using her recent project Noise Summit (South London Gallery 2014) as a starting point for discussion Barby will lead a conversation exploring questions of the politics of play, public space, identity and exclusion – framed by histories of post colonial migration and the current hyper-gentrification of London neighbourhoods.

Afternoon

Break-out sessions:

A: Antoinette Burchill: Provoking conflict?
This round-table discussion will draw on experiences of disagreements, arguments, and conflict in socially engaged art practices. Should participation always be convivial, or should artists make space for conflict? If conflict arises, should artists amplify or annul?

B: Sarah Green & Zoë Petersen: Working with communities – the whys and hows of working with a community
Sarah & Zoe invite you to take part in a making activity whilst reflecting on:
- The ethics of working with communities – familiarity and friendship, where are the boundaries and how can you maintain professionalism whilst also being supportive and encouraging?
- The role of the community-based artist\arts worker – more than just maintaining a creative space – facilitating wellbeing – ethics of care
- Discourse and dialogue – its function and place within community-based art practices

C: Alison Denholm and Alma Solarte-Tobón (City Arts): A question of scale – how to create safe spaces within larger projects to enable vulnerable groups to be part of big scale events
Alison and Alma will introduce City Arts and its work over the last 40 years in Nottingham, giving an overview of ‘Express Yourself’ young peoples programme and ‘Imagine’ work with older people and how there programmes fed into an award winning Carnival Troupe. They will lead a discussion around how creating intimate and safe spaces can enable people to become part of a bigger family leading to being part of larger scale festivals or events. The session will also explore who ‘leads the way’ – the individual, the group, the art form or the artist.

D: Ian Nesbitt: What can Art do for me?
Starting with the reconstructed performance of a conversation entitled ‘What can Art do for me?’ that took place in 2015 between artists, academics, arts practicioners and social housing tenants in Sheffield as part of a Social Housing Arts Network commission, the session will use the themes of that conversation to draw out varying experiences of individual, community and socially-engaged arts practices, asking what makes a ‘good practice’ and who gets to decide.

IntoAction_ContributorsBios


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