Not Every Tent is the Same used the tent as a theme provided us with a potent image that bears many and various different associations. The programme drew upon the work of artists whose practice is a vehicle for their investigation of socio-political daily matters and was devised by Hospitalfield with Guest Artist Bisan Abu Eisheh.
Not Every Tent is the Same is a quote from Um Saad (Mother of Saad), a novel written by the late Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani, who was killed in Beirut 1972 by the Israeli Mossad. When Um Saad said to her son “Not every tent is the same” she was referring to the similarities and differences between two states. One is the passive state of waiting and hoping, which conjures up an image of a refugee under a makeshift structure; the other, more active state, is about replacing waiting with taking initiative, resisting the difficult circumstances or the status quo.
The immediate image of a tent is of flexibility and mobility; a light weight, convenient, portable shelter. There are other more metaphorical uses of this image: a gathering of people under canvas; likeminded, choosing to be together in a hospitable place; another is of a crowded, fragile, cloth, make-shift shelter, vainly straining to provide protection. There is a conflict of association with this simple everyday image, from desperate tragedy to the romantic.
The programme took place over three days and investigated the diverse roles of art practices in relation to our socio-political daily matters. Contributors to the programme elaborated on cultural and artistic practices, which investigate issues such as: migration & refuge, injustice & the insidious acceptance of stereotypes. The programme highlighted some of the ways that art and its processes engage with, activate and negotiate many different states; identities, geographies and conditions. In considering these conditions, space was added to discuss the questions – personal and political – about the changes in the EU that have come further to the fore.
Not Every Tent is the Same included contributions from different geographies and backgrounds, such as the artist Michael Rakowitz, the artist Neil Cummings and the curator Andrea Thal and her team at CIC Cairo, who generously shared their expertise on a personal and professional level with the rest of the participants. Curatorial Studio took an active part in opening up and propelling wider discussion during the summer school.
Fieldwork 2016 took place mostly at Hospitalfield and offered the opportunity for participants to attend talks, screenings, workshops, walks and performances. There was a lot of attention given to the planning of hosting and catering for such a large number visiting Hospitalfield for these annual events. We had accommodation for some to stay in the house but the majority of participants brought a tent.