FIELDWORK International Summer School 2016

4–6 July 2016


Programmed with artist Bisan Abu Eisheh

Not Every Tent is the Same was the title of Fieldwork International Summer School 2016 at Hospitalfield. The use of 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 sameshe 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.

Not Every Tent is the Same 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.

The programme 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.


Tickets for the summer school cost £75 (includes all meals and camping space) and were booked in advance.

We had a small number of Bursary Places at a reduced cost of £45 available to people who feel that they are not in a position to pay the standard ticket price.



Monday 4 July

4.00pm: Participants can arrive, register and set up camp.

5.45pm: Welcome, introductory presentations by Lucy Byatt and Bisan Abu Eisheh.

Evening: Screening of Planet of Arabs, Jacqueline Salloum, 2005 and Reel Bad Arabs, Sut Jhally (Book author Jack Shaheen), 2006.

Tuesday 5 July

Morning: Neil Cummings presented his project Museum Futures and how an institution interacts with systems.

Afternoon:  Contemporary Image Collective Cairo Skype visit, walk to Balcathie Farm for discussion with owner Andrew Gray, and visit to Arbroath Abbey where journalist Alex Bell spoke about Scotland and the EU referendum.

Evening: Film screening of The Dupes, Tawfig Saleh

Wednesday 6 July

Morning: Artist Michael Rakowitx lecture and discussion

Afternoon: Break out session lead by Curatorial Studio

Evening: Dinner where Michael Rakowitz took the group through the process of cooking Masgouf, a traditional Iraqi fish dish cooked around a fire pit.

Thursday 7 July

Decamp in the morning.


Bisan Abu Eisheh (b. 1985 Palestine) is an artist from Palestine who is now living and working between Jerusalem and Glasgow. He uses information gathered through conversations and oral testimonies, archives and collected objects as a tool to investigate history and politics. His aesthetic is loaded with elements, facts and topics which lead the viewer into a world that focuses on issues such as national identity, mobility, migration and injustice.

He studied for an M.A. at Central Saint Martins with support from the Caspian Arts Foundation, graduating in 2014 and holds a B.A. from the International Academy of Art in Palestine.

In 2015 his work was presented in Resistance and Amnesia #2 – On Failed Utopias, Living Myths, and Coloniality Today at Kunstpavillon, Innsbruck, Austria; in a group show Too Early, Too Late at Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna, Italy; and within Afterimage/Images of Conflict at Galleria Civica di Trento del Mart, Italy. His installation Moving Homes, 2013, has a single screen based photograph at its core which shows a Syrian refugee moving a shelter on makeshift wheels made from gas bottles, trying to relocate the temporary building within a refugee camp in Jordan. The skeleton home structure and gas bottles in the gallery mirror the image and reinforce the complex implications of the global positioning over natural resources and the digital communication which shares the news of this positioning and subsequent movements of people.

Abu Eisheh was included in the two part exhibition Points of Departure which took place at the ICA, London and Al Mahatta Gallery, Ramalla in 2013. In 2012 Abu Eisheh arranged for visitors to the V&A Friday Late event to be ‘border checked’ at the entrance to the Middle Eastern section of the museum. His work Playing House 2008 – 11, an installation of objects gathered from the rubble of demolished houses in Jerusalem, including toys, practical tools and masonry, displayed alongside a map of the territory and data about each home, was exhibited at the 12th Istanbul Biennial in 2011 and Biennial for Contemporary Art Rennes in 2012.

Other selected group exhibitions include Arrivals and Departures, Ancona, 2012; The Jerusalem Show on/off Language, 2011; Belongings, Vita Havet Konstfack, Stockholm, 2011; World Social Forum Photo Exhibition, Jerusalem, 2010; and SIN festival, Al-Qattan Foundation, Ramallah, 2009.


The programme included contributions from American-Iraqi artist Michael Rakowitz, who gave a lecture and answered questions about his work and then got everyone involved in the cooking of Masgouf fish. This dish of carp, slow-cooked around an open fire and accompanied by tomato cumin sauce and pickle-dressed salad, is an unofficial national dish in Iraq.

Michael Rakowitz (b. 1973, New York) is an artist living and working in Chicago. His work often engages with craft or practical actions such a creating shelter and serving food in order to open up to larger questions about the transmission of knowledge and the possibility of resistance against cultural erasure.

He received his BFA in sculpture from Purchase College, State University of New York, and his MS in visual studies from MIT.

In 1998 he initiated paraSITE, an ongoing project in which the artist custom builds inflatable shelters for homeless people that attach to the exterior outtake vents of a building’s heating, ventilation, or air conditioning system. In 2015 his work The Flesh Is Yours, the Bones Are Ours, was commissioned for the 14th Istanbul Biennial which happened in the year of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. It took the legacy of an Armenian plaster caster named Garabet Cezayirliyan and his apprentice Kemal Cimbiz, who were responsible for creating the moldings installed on Istanbul’s Art Nouveau facades, as a starting point.

His work has appeared in venues worldwide including dOCUMENTA (13), P.S.1, MoMA, MassMOCA, Castello di Rivoli, the 16th Biennale of Sydney, the 10th Istanbul Biennial, Sharjah Biennial 8, Tirana Biennale, National Design Triennial at the Cooper-Hewitt, and Transmediale 05. He has had solo exhibitions at Tate Modern in London, Lombard Freid Gallery in New York, Alberto Peola Arte Contemporanea in Torino, and Kunstraum Innsbruck. He is the recipient of a Tiffany Foundation Award, 2012; a Creative Capital Grant, 2008; a Sharjah Biennial Jury Award; a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship Grant in Architecture and Environmental Structures, 2006; the Dena Foundation Award, 2003; and the Design 21 Grand Prix from UNESCO in 2002.

His work features in major private and public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Neue Galerie, Kassel, Germany; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Smart Museum of Art, Chicago; Van Abbemuseum, Endhoven, Netherlands; The British Museum; Kabul National Museum, Afghanistan; and UNESCO, Paris.

His solo exhibition, The worst condition is to pass under a sword which is not one’s own was on view at Tate Modern in London in 2010. Rakowitz was commissioned by Creative Time in 2011 for his project, Spoils, a culinary intervention at New York City’s Park Avenue restaurant that invited diners to eat off of plates looted from Saddam Hussein’s palaces. The project culminated in the repatriation of the former Iraqi President’s flatware to the Republic of Iraq at the behest of current Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki on December 15, 2011—the date Coalition Forces left Iraq. Enemy Kitchen (2003-ongoing) is a food truck serving Iraqi food to Chicago’s hungry public, staffed by veterans of the Iraq War working under Iraqi refugee chefs. Another recent project, The Breakup, was first presented by Al Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art in Jerusalem in October 2010, and was exhibited at Rhona Hoffman Gallery in Chicago in 2014. Rakowitz is Professor of Art Theory and Practice at Northwestern University and is represented in Chicago by Rhona Hoffman Gallery.

Michael Rakowitz’s website has detailed information about his projects and fully annotated and credited photographs of his work.


A live link enabled us to have a conversation with the Contemporary Image Collective team in Cairo who spoke about working within the current Egyptian political situation, accepting the tensions and finding ways to carry on alongside them. The discussion gave an intimate look into their team relationships and dynamics, covering how they work with both English and Arabic languages and seek to expand the accessibility of their programmes.

If Not For That Wall is a long-term contemporary art project on different forms of imprisonment. It addresses institutionalized forms of imprisonment and exclusion such as prisons, the various forms of detention migrants are exposed to and mental institutions as well as other, less direct, forms of exclusion such as restriction of movement, exile or normalisation. The project includes research, several exhibitions, screening and talk programs, reading and working groups as well as the production of artworks and texts on the topic. If Not For That Wall is conceived by Nawara Belal, Ahmed Refaat and Andrea Thal working at CIC – Contemporary Image Collective in Cairo.

CIC is a Cairo based contemporary art institution with a special interest in contemporary image practices and related discourses. Through exhibitions, film programs and discursive events, research, publications and educational activities CIC aims to create awareness for contemporary image practices that address and actively engage in relevant topics of our time and place.


Artist and Critical Practice member Neil Cummings screened his film Museum Futures, created through a process of imagining back to the present from a duration of 50 years ahead, and opened up a discussion about how planning, articulating new trends, archiving and optimism can be relevant to individuals and organisations.

Neil Cummings was born in Wales and lives in London.  He is a professor at Chelsea College of Arts, a member of Critical Practice; and on the editorial board of Documents of Contemporary Art

He has worked with museums, banks, galleries, archives, auction houses, enthusiasts, places of education and department stores in London, New York, Geneva, Cairo and Warsaw. Through his projects Neil Cummings has explored the entanglements of art and capital in 19th century Manchester, documented lost property recovered by London Transport in a single day, constructed possible futures and impersonated a famous art dealer. These projects, although diverse, have consistently engaged with the cultural institutions that designate and exhibit art, and the increasingly devolved experience of art, to its publics.

Neil Cummings’ website has a full list of his projects and writing.


Curatorial Studio is a project facilitated by Kirsteen Macdonald that responds to the needs of recent graduates from curatorial courses and their peers working in a variety of contexts across Scotland. The programme has developed through a partnership between SCAN, Framework, CCA: Glasgow and the MLitt Curatorial Practice (Contemporary Art) programme which is jointly run by The Glasgow School of Art and the University of Glasgow.

The aim is to create a supportive peer-learning environment for curators in the early stages of their career through a programme of weekend seminars and workshops focusing on specific areas of practice as well as public talks and events with international guests. Curatorial Studio encourages cooperative learning by bringing group discussion to the fore as a means of engaging with contemporary art theory and extending a network of support to those participating.

The Curatorial Studio are: Frances Davis, Gordon Douglas, Cicely Farrer,  Rachel Grant, Marcus Jack, Grace Johnston, Maria Lanko, Gemma Lawrence, Emmie Mcluskey, Katherine Murphey, Rosie O’Grady, Frances Stacey, Shireen Taylor, Nick Thomas, Claire Walsh.

During FIELDWORK this year, the Curatorial Studio members in attendance are going to be actively involved in prompting and gathering questions, contentious points and urgent queries. This discursive activity is what all participants, organisers and speakers at the summer school will be involved in and Curatorial Studio’s role will be to widen and propel the discussion.



Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, Joshua Brown was unable to attend FIELDWORK.

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