FIELDWORK International Summer School 2020
4-5 September online, 10am-2pm GMT
Programmed with Bik Van der Pol
Documentation and Full Info on Contributors
Hospitalfield invited Rotterdam based artists Bik Van der Pol to work with us to programme the FIELDWORK International Summer School for 2020. The ideas and conversation emerging from this year will then be extended in to 2021 when we can hold the School once again at Hospitalfield. We are looking forward to working with Bik Van der Pol over these two years with the opportunity to develop the programme in 2021 as a response to the discussion this year.
Contributors to the online programme include curators Binna Choi, Galit Eilat, Tessa Giblin, and artists Ashanti Harris and Olivia Plender. In addition, the film What is Democracy? by film-maker Astra Taylor was screened.
“Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought.
To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears.
To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool.
To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen.
To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies.
To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.”
From: Parable of the Talents, 1998, Octavia E. Butler
2020 marks the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath. One of Scotland’s most important historic documents; it is a letter from the Scottish nobles sent to the Pope in Avignon in 1320 from Arbroath Abbey. The document seeds the first ideas of democracy by declaring the desire to be disentangled from hereditary rule which was dominated by the relationship with English monarchy.
Near Arbroath, in the Meffan Museum & Art Gallery in Forfar is a ‘scold’s bridle’; a torture device that was used until the early 1800s. It is an iron mask with a bit that would tear a person’s tongue if they attempted to talk. In Scotland these were intended to be used on non-conforming people cast to be witches, most often, women. The act of ‘making mute’ or not having voice in society has been written about by feminist activist and political theorist Silvia Federici specifically in relationship to women: “In many parts of the world, women have historically been seen as the weavers of memory—those who keep alive the voices of the past and the histories of the communities, transmit them to the future generations and, in so doing, create a collective identity and profound sense of cohesion […] They are also those who hand down acquired knowledges and wisdoms. […] It is in this way that women have been silenced and to this day excluded from many places where decisions are taken.” (Witches, Witch-hunting and Women, PM Press, 2018).
With the help of participants and invited speakers we ask, think and talk through what ‘muteness’ is at the present time: What are possible consequences of making mute, of silencing, of suspension, for people, species and the earth? How can we, in times of the pandemic crisis, take advantage of collective silence, and actively take care of the world we share and pass on? Do we stumble to the next crisis, or do we listen? What would care look like? What would we like to see not coming back, and what would we like to see develop? How can histories and experience of the past and of others help us to organize our thinking and acting wisely? What would you like to speak about or hear now?
Departing from objects and documents described above, participants and invited speakers are invited engage in a collective dialogue, to understand place and bodies as carriers of experience, as archive and scene. Considering loss of voice and silence as a political imperative, we propose to rethink this as instigator and potential for alternative learning for the future, and to increase the volume of the stories that must be told.
Moving towards eventually creating a scenario, a speculative narrative that takes place here, now and in the future.
In 2021 a three day residential summer school on site at Hospitalfield will further the conversations begun and continue to consider questions of democracy now.
Image: Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Allegory of Good Government. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.