9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering Revisited, 1966/2016

Exactly fifty years after the legendary 9 Evenings: Theater and Engineering, Arts Catalyst revisits this hugely influential art event with a new performance commission by Robert Whitman, participating artist in the original 9 Evenings and co-founder of Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T) who produced it. An accompanying exhibition, talks and events programme will be held at Arts Catalyst Centre for Art, Science & Technology and other venues across the city, developed in collaboration with Afterall and students from Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London and Goldsmiths, University of London.

9 Evenings: Theater and Engineering was initiated by artist Robert Rauschenberg and the engineer Billy Kluver. This 1966 event was a pioneering project in large-scale collaboration between artists and engineers. 9 Evenings was a significant moment in art history when many artists became aware for the first time of the implications that advancements in technology had for the development of their own artwork. Artists, including Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage, Robert Whitman and Yvonne Rainier worked with engineers for 10 months to develop technical equipment and systems that were used as an integral part of the artists’ performances, producing a blend of avant-garde theatre, dance and new technologies. The collaboration produced many ‘firsts’ with specially designed systems and with innovative use of existing equipment.

In October 2016, Arts Catalyst presents a contemporary re-imaging of this seminal event, with a programme throughout the month. Robert Whitman’s performance will be held in The Crossing, an ex-industrial warehouse space in the new Kings Cross development. Whitman will present his new performance, Side Effects, commissioned for this event. This spectacular evening will mix pre-recorded and live-streamed moving image from across the city, animated by a live performance unfolding over eight acts.

Within walking distance, the Arts Catalyst Centre for Art, Science & Technology hosts an exhibition of film footage from the 1966 9 Evenings events, alongside an archival presentation of the broader work of E.A.T., making public this rich history of cross-disciplinary collaboration. In addition talks developed, in collaboration with Afterall’s Exhibition Histories series, will reflect on the histories of art and technology in performance, transdisciplinary collaboration, and the influence of the 1960s on contemporary art today.

Finally, since January 2016 a working group of students from MRes Art: Exhibition Studies at Central Saint Martins and MFA Curating, Goldsmiths University of London, have been using 9 Eveningsand the work of E.A.T as a starting point to reflect on: re-staging and re-enactments as a method of doing art history, transdisciplinary practice and exhibiting the archive. The result of the working group will be three texts, compiled in a booklet that will be distributed both online and at the Arts Catalyst’s October events. A working group made up of students from MA Art and Science at Central Saint Martins, as well as other programmes, will collectively develop their own performances, to be held at Arts Catalyst’s Centre throughout October.

This programme is supported by Arts Council England, Cockayne – Grants for the Arts, The London Community Foundation, PACE, Afterall, Central Saint Martins, UAL, King’s Cross and Goldsmiths, University of London, University of Westminster, London: The Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM) with the Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture (IMCC) and The Performance Studio.

Arts Catalyst presents 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering Revisited 1966/2016, including a night of new cross-disciplinary performance art and an archival exhibition.

9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering Revisited 1966/2016 programme listing:

Arts Catalyst presents Experiments in Art and Technology
Private View: Thu 22 September 6pm – 8.30pm please RSVP*
Thu 22 September – Sat 29 October 2016, Thursdays & Fridays, 12 noon – 6pm
Arts Catalyst Centre, 74-76 Cromer Street, London, WC1H 8DR
An exhibition chronicling the history of Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), the group who were behind the 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering event.

Arts Catalyst Presents Experiments in Art and Technology will include archival presentations and film screenings, making public this rich history of pioneering cross-disciplinary collaboration. It has been developed in close collaboration with Julie Martin, Director of E.A.T. and Barbro Schultz Lundestam the filmmaker responsible for documenting much of their activities.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a talks programme developed in collaboration with Afterall’s Exhibition Histories series, that will reflect on the histories of art and technology in performance, transdisciplinary collaboration, and the influence of the 1960s on contemporary art today.
 
Gallery tour of the Story of E.A.T with Barbro Schultz Lundestam
Sat 24 September 3pm-4pm
Arts Catalyst Centre, 74-76 Cromer Street, London, WC1H 8DR
Joins us for a gallery tour with Swedish journalist and independent documentary director Barbro Schultz Lundestam who was responsible for the re-emergence of documentation of the seminal performances by Experiments in Art and Technology in 1966.

Experiments and Incidents - Julie Martin and Barbra Steveni in conversation
Wed 5 October, 6.45 - 8.30pm
Arts Catalyst Centre, 74-76 Cromer Street, London, WC1H 8DR
Julie Martin (Experiments in Art and Technology) and Barbra Steveni (Artist Placement Group / O+I) in conversation, chaired by artist Neal White, Professor of Art/Science, University of Westminster.

Side Effects by Robert Whitman
Fri 7 October 2016, Entrance 7pm, Performance 7.30pm
The Crossing, Granary Square, Kings Cross, London N1C 4AA
Robert Whitman presents a new Arts Catalyst commissioned performance called Side Effects.

Exhibition Histories - Art and Technology Talk: Jeremy Millar
Thu 13 October, 6.30pm
Arts Catalyst Centre, 74-76 Cromer Street, London, WC1H 8DR
Jeremy Millar will host an evening screening of the film documenting John Cage's performance Variations VII., produced as part of 9 Evenings: Theater and Engineering. Millar will then contextualise the piece in relation to Cage's broader practice and related works.
Jeremy Millar is an artist and senior tutor at the Royal College of Art, London. He has an ongoing interest in John Cage's practice, and curated the current exhibition at Frith Street Gallery, John Cage: Lecture on the Weather (1975) previously, he conceived Every Day is a Good Day for Hayward Touring, the largest exhibition to date of the visual art of John Cage, which opened at Baltic in June 2010.

Exhibition Histories - Art and Technology Talk: Catherine Wood
Thu 20 October, 6.30pm
Arts Catalyst Centre, 74-76 Cromer Street, London, WC1H 8DR
Catherine Wood, Senior Curator, International Art (Performance) at Tate, will host an evening of screenings, showing films of Robert Rauschenberg’s Open Score and Yvonne Rainer’s Carriage Discreteness, both works produced as part of 9 Evenings: Theater and Engineering in 1966. The screenings will be followed by an informal talk from Wood reading both pieces as well as the broader practice of Rauschenberg and Rainer within the context of dance.
This event builds on Wood’s ongoing interest and in-depth knowledge on both artists' practice, having curated the critically acclaimed retrospective Yvonne Rainer: Dance Works at Raven Row in 2014 and as co-curator of the forthcoming Robert Rachenberg Retrospective at Tate Modern, opening in December 2016.
 

Experiments and Incidents - Julie Martin and Barbara Steveni in Conversation
Thu 27 October, 6.30pm
Arts Catalyst Centre, 74-76 Cromer Street, London, WC1H 8DR
 

Why make it simple, when you can make it complex?
Sat 29 October 2016, 12-6pm
Arts Catalyst Centre, 74-76 Cromer Street, London, WC1H 8DR
This day long event has arisen from a month long collaboration between a group of students from MA Art and Science at Central Saint Martins, UAL, and recent graduates from Goldsmiths and Farnham. The group came together as performers in Robert Whitman’s new commission 'Side Effects', produced as part of Arts Catalysts current season ‘9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering Revisited 1966/2016’. In collaboration with The Performance Studio, Arts Catalyst has since hosted weekly workshops for the group to develop a practical and historical perspective on performance practice and transdisciplinary working. The resulting performative installation involves individual works, collectively mediated by the group.
 
Auto Italia discussion with Exhibition Studies Working Group
Thu 3 November 2016, 6.30pm
Arts Catalyst Centre, 74-76 Cromer Street, London, WC1H 8DR

 

Artists

Robert Whitman, in 1966 was one of 10 artists who worked with more than 30 engineers and scientists from Bell Telephone Laboratories to create 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering (nine events held between 13–23 October 1966). From this experience in collaboration Whitman joined engineers Billy Klüver and Fred Waldhauer and fellow artist Robert Rauschenberg to start Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), a foundation that aimed to provide artists with access to new technology through collaborations between artists and engineers and scientists.

Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) was launched in 1967 by the engineers Billy Klüver and Fred Waldhauer and the artists Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Whitman. E.A.T. was an organisation established to develop collaborations between artists and engineers. The group operated by facilitating person-to-person contacts between artists and engineers, rather than defining a formal process for cooperation. E.A.T. initiated and carried out projects that expanded the role of the artist in contemporary society and helped eliminate the separation of the individual from technological change.

Julie Martin is the Director of Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), the not-for-profit organisation co-founded in 1966 in New York by artists Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Whitman, and engineers Billy Klüver (Martin’s late husband) and Fred Waldhauer to encourage and facilitate collaborations between artists and engineers.

Catherine Wood is Senior Curator in International Art (Performance) at Tate. Catherine has an ongoing interest and in-depth knowledge on both Robert Rauschenberg and Yvonne Rainer’s artists' practice.

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Arts Catalyst Season of Films at Carroll/Fletcher Onscreen

A season of three films marking the 20th anniversary of Arts Catalyst. Carroll / Fletcher Onscreen is an online cinema showing dynamic curated weekly screenings of experimental and artists' film.

 

Chris Oakley Half-life
Tue 10 March – Mon 16 March
15:00min, HD Video, 2009
Half-life looks at the histories of Harwell, birthplace of the UK nuclear industry, and the development of fusion energy technology at the Culham facility in Oxfordshire. The film examines nuclear science research through a historical and cultural filter. Drawing on archive footage of the sites, alongside contemporary materials, the work takes structural clues from nuclear physics, exploring the heritage of nuclear energy from the roots of the technology that drove the industrial revolution. Half-life was commissioned by Arts Catalyst and SCAN.

The Otolith Group and Richard Couzins Otolith I
Tue 17 March – Mon 23 March
23:16min, SD Video, 2003
Otolith I is set in the 22nd Century, when the human race is no longer able to survive on earth and is obliged to live in the agravic conditions of the International Space Station. Dr. Usha Adebaran Sagar, the future descendent of Otolith Group member Anjalika Sagar, is an exo-anthropologist researching life on an earth that she can experience only through media archives. Otolith 1 was the Otolith Group's first project. It was commissioned by Arts Catalyst and the M.I.R. Consortium.

Agnes Meyer-Brandis The Moon Goose Colony
Tue 24 March – Thu 2 April
20:56min, HD Video, 2011/12
In her documentary film The Moon Goose Colony, artist Agnes Meyer-Brandis develops an ongoing narrative based on the book 'The Man in the Moone' written by English bishop Francis Godwin in 1638, in which the protagonist flies to the Moon in a chariot towed by moon geese. Meyer-Brandis actualised this concept by raising eleven moon geese from birth, imprinting them on herself as goose-mother, taking them on expeditions and housing them in a Moon analogue habitat. The Moon Goose Colony is a Pollinaria project and formed part of The Moon Goose Analogue: Lunar Migration Bird Facility commissioned by Arts Catalyst and FACT.

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Listening to the Fern-owl: Poetry as Field Recording

This online workshop focuses on the experience of listening, through writing. With artist Nastassja Simensky and Mina Gorji, writer and Associate Professor at the Faculty of English, University of Cambridge

 
Drawing on artist Ashley Holmes’ Sonic Walk in Gleadless Valley, and Breakwater’s listening meditation in Ecclesall Woods earlier this year as part of the Emergent Ecologies programme, this online workshop focuses on the experience of listening, through writing. 
 
This talk and workshop begins by exploring how a number of poets described the sound of the fern-owl, and the eerie experience of hearing its cry. We’ll listen to a couple of poems together and think about the challenges of recording, listening and describing sound in language. 
 
In the workshop, we'll work with field recordings and writing exercises to explore how we can create different effects, dynamics and sonic spaces through writing sound. Together, we will develop ideas and approaches to describing and recreating sound in words, as well as thinking about how we might focus and enhance our own experiences of listening to the environment around us. By thinking through the challenges of distinguishing and articulating what and how we hear, we can consider how listening is culturally informed.
 
No experience or identification as a poet or writer is needed. A longer break is built into this workshop so participants can get a break from their screens.
 
SCHEDULE
6 - 7pm Workshop Part 1
7 - 7.30pm - Screen Break
7.30 - 8.15pm - Workshop Part 2
 
‘Poetry as Field Recording’ is part of Leaky Transmissions, a project by Nottingham-based artist Nastassja Simensky that explores changing land-use, and the potential of collaborative fieldwork involving artists and archaeologists. Find out more about Leaky Transmissions which will culminate in a series of podcasts for Radio Arts Catalyst. 
 
Participants are invited to develop a short response to the workshop and contribution to the third Leaky Transmissions episode, which will also include recordings taken at artist Harun Morrison’s Mind Garden and extracts from a conversation with artist Rachel Pimm about the ideas that resonate through their work for the Emergent Ecologies programme. 
 
ACCESS: The workshop takes place online, with a 30-minute break built in away from screens. It will be captioned, and key instructions and links will be typed into the chat. Materials will be sent in advance to participants. 
 
About the facilitators
Mina Gorji is Associate Professor at the Faculty of English, University of Cambridge. She is currently writing a book about Romantic Poetry and Listening, and has published a study of John Clare's poetry as well as essays on weeds, littleness, mess and listening. As a practicing poet her most recent collection, Scale (Carcanet, 2022), has been described as a work of "deep sonic attention" (Irish Times).
 
Nastassja Simensky is an artist who often works collaboratively to make writing, place-specific performances, events, sound work and films as a form of ongoing fieldwork. Leaky Transmissions is an ongoing body of artwork and research Nastassja is developing through a PhD at the Slade exploring changing land-use and the potential of collaborative fieldwork involving artists and archaeologists
 
Tickets are free but please reserve a place so you can receive the zoom link. If you can no longer make it, please cancel your ticket so your place can be reallocated.
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Kitchen Club 2: Spring Bitters

Kitchen Club brings together people who care about food including its circulation and production, to collectively reflect on what it means – culturally, socially and environmentally – to prepare, share and consume in the kitchen. Each month artists and cultural practitioners will share their practice connected to food, and engage participants in sensory experiences around a kitchen table.  

 
What is the knowledge, memory and medicine held in bitters? If we sat with bitterness, what might emerge?
 
A morning of tasting herbs and thinking aloud together will be facilitated by writer and researcher Priya Jay. She will invite participants to explore the taste, sensation, memory and medicine of bitter herbs. Taking time with a flavour that many of us avoid or aren’t used to, this will be an opportunity to sit with the power and potential of bitterness.
 
Kitchen Club It is connected to Arts Catalyst’s Emergent Ecologies programme of work. The first season of Kitchen Club is co-curated with artist Harun Morrison in the context of his project Mind Garden
 
Tickets are free but please reserve a place to help us manage capacity. If you can no longer make it, please request a refund so your place can be reallocated. 
 
ACCESS: The workshop takes at Sheffield Mind, which is accessible for wheelchair users with a disabled toilet.  Regular bus services are in place along London / Abbeydale Road. 
 
We are taking extra precautions to manage the risk of COVID-19.
 
We ask everyone attending this event to wear a mask indoors unless exempt. We are limiting capacity to enable social distancing and the room will be well ventilated. Please wear layers should you feel the cold. 
 
We ask everyone attending this event to take a Lateral Flow Test on the day of the event. 
 
Please note: If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 such as sore throat, continuous headache, dry cough, runny nose, loss of taste of smell, or high temperature, or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, please do not attend. We want to keep everyone as safe as possible. Thank you for your understanding. 
 
Priya Jay's current practice encircles writing, study and somatics. Her work is rooted in grief, re-enchantment and technologies of healing. She takes cracks in the archives as her point of departure and arrival, experimenting with what wants to emerge or stay hidden. Priya’s academic background is in anthropology and she has worked in a curatorial capacity with several arts institutions. As a facilitator, Priya holds grief gatherings, is a guest lecturer in a course for Death Workers and is a yoga teacher in training.
 

 

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Forest Meditation Workshop

Artist duo Breakwater lead a walk with meditation in ancient woodland. 

 
Ecclesall Woods has a long history of industrial use since its enclosure in the 14th Century. In the past, trees were cut down to produce charcoal for smelting workshops, centuries of coppicing transformed the ancient woods into a plantation, whilst its edges have been lost to housing developments. Despite these human focused activities, Ecclesall Woods stands strong.
 
Using this resilient history as inspiration, artist duo Breakwater (Youngsook Choi & Taey Iohe) will facilitate a gentle walk around Ecclesall Woods. Using the senses as anchoring points, participants will be guided to different spaces to take part in meditation, finding connection with plants, soil and geological objects in the woods, and exploring the collective healing stories of the ancient forest. 
 
This event is designed to centre the voices of those who have lived experience of migration. 
It is part of Arts Catalyst's Emergent Ecologies programme. 
 
Tickets are free but please reserve a place to help us manage capacity. If you can no longer make it, please request a refund so your place can be reallocated. 
 
ACCESS: The workshop takes place outdoors, with gentle pathways. Some terrain may be uneven. There is a disabled toilet near the walk start at the discovery centre. Regular bus services are in place along Abbeydale Road which is a 5 minute walk from the meet point off Abbey Lane. 
 
EXTRAS: We advise wearing suitable warm, waterproof clothing that will keep you warm for the duration of the workshop.
For more information please email: admin@artscatalyst.org or call  Arts Catalyst on 07871 358337
 
We are taking extra precautions to manage the risk of COVID-19.
We ask everyone attending this event to wear a mask indoors unless exempt. We are limiting capacity to enable social distancing and hand sanitiser is provided.
 
We ask everyone attending this event to take a Lateral Flow Test on the day of the event. 
 
Please note: If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 such as sore throat, continuous headache, dry cough, runny nose, loss of taste of smell, or high temperature, or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, please do not attend. We want to keep everyone as safe as possible. Thank you for your understanding. 
 
If you develop symptoms of COVID19 after the event please email us at admin@artscatalyst.org and mark it 'URGENT' . This way we will be able to contact all who attended the event.
 
About the Artists
Breakwater is a London-based Korean diaspora artist duo of cross-disciplinary artist-researchers Youngsook Choi and Taey Iohe. With a mutual interest in counter-narratives of spiritual knowledge, folklore, and queer methodologies, Taey and Youngsook’s collaborative practice centres around socio-politics of post-colonialism, climate justice, and migrant's lived experiences.
 
Breakwater developed a seasonal radio programme for Radio Arts Catalyst emerging from their Becoming Forest - Solidarity Practice, in collaboration with cultural producer Cường Phạm. Recently, their large scale fabric and sound installation, Fermented Flower was shown as a part of the ‘Future Ages Will Wonder’ group show at Fact Liverpool. They formed and launched the Decolonising Botany Working Group with support from Liverpool Biennial and a-n in 2021. Breakwater will present their current encounters and spirits at Documenta 15 with members of Decolonising Botany.
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Kitchen Club #1 with Social Pickle

Launching in April 2022, Kitchen Club brings together people who care about food including its circulation and production, to collectively reflect on what it means – culturally, socially and environmentally – to prepare, share and consume in the kitchen. Each month we invite artists and cultural practitioners to lead a two-hour gathering at Sheffield Mind. They will share their practice connected to food through their unique lens and engage participants in sensory experiences around a kitchen table.

Kitchen Club forms part of Arts Catalyst’s Emergent Ecologies programme. This first season is co-curated with artist Harun Morrison in the context of his project Mind Garden. 

 

Kitchen Club #1 - Learning to Trust the Gut; Fermentation as Collaboration

“When we eat, we are not sitting at the top of a food chain. We are participating in a messy entanglement of living beings with whom we share “metabolic intimacy”. - The Convivial Table, Kelly Donati

In Kitchen Club #1 Artists Hannah and Ross from Sheffield's Social Pickle will be sharing lessons in microbial relationship therapy they’ve learned from their fermentation pot. Participants will get to know their bacteria collaborators through an olfactory and taste based tour of fermented aromas and flavours. Harnessing the emotions that thoughts conjured in the process you’ll be invited to use creative writing to explore this symbiotic relationship further.
 
Humans live in symbiosis with bacteria through all areas of life, 90% of the DNA in our own bodies belongs to microbial organisms. Fermentation is a process where we are particularly conscious of our role as caretakers of the environment needed by those microbes so that they can thrive, and in turn help us to fend off mould, transforming ingredients into deliciously sour flavours. Fermentation is a collaborative and caring process. 
 
When it comes to our meals, many of us have become reliant on labels and sell by dates to direct us as to what is good and what is bad. But learning to preserve your own food means to sharpen your instincts, getting to know and love the pungent smells of these metabolic processes. Extending these empathetic notions out to the food that we eat could radically affect the way we feed ourselves and care for the conditions of all the contributing bodies to the dinner plate.
 
Tickets are free but please reserve a place to help us manage capacity. If you can no longer make it, please request a refund so your place can be reallocated. Book via Evenbrite here. 
 
ACCESS: The workshop takes at Sheffield Mind, which is accessible for wheelchair users with a disabled toilet.  Regular bus services are in place along London / Abbeydale Road. 
 
We are taking extra precautions to manage the risk of COVID-19.
We ask everyone attending this event to wear a mask indoors unless exempt. We are limiting capacity to enable social distancing and the room will be well ventilated. Please wear layers should you feel the cold. 
 
We ask everyone attending this event to take a Lateral Flow Test on the day of the event. 
 
Please note: If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 such as sore throat, continuous headache, dry cough, runny nose, loss of taste of smell, or high temperature, or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, please do not attend. We want to keep everyone as safe as possible. Thank you for your understanding. 
 
If you develop symptoms of COVID19 after the event please email us at admin@artscatalyst.org and mark it 'URGENT' . This way we will be able to contact all who attended the event.
 
About Social Pickle
Hannah Fincham and Ross Bennett’s collaborative work often uses vegetables as a tool, tapping into the social life of food, working around themes of creativity, care, waste, and health. Having moved to Sheffield in 2020, they found community through Foodhall and along with other volunteers they cooked meals that were being delivered around the city as part of the mutual aid and community response to the pandemic. 
 
Whilst doing this, a small group of fermentation enthusiasts realised that even with cooks processing every day there was still surplus in a surplus kitchen. So it made perfect sense, to add more life, or at least try to preserve the life that was in these ingredients and begin pickling. Social Pickle was born, bringing people together to share the joys of foraging, pickling and producing. Social Pickle explores fermentation as a human and non-human collaborative process, seeking to create better access to nutritious food and create less damaging practises to the planet. The process is one of shared learning, and they see it as a space for community members to empower each other through knowledge and build resilience!
 
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Tales from the Wetlands: Story Telling Workshop

A story-telling workshop as part of community arts and science project WET / LAND / DWELLERS

 
WET / LAND / DWELLERS project is asking people in Woodhouse and nearby areas about their relationship to the wetlands of the Woodhouse Washlands, Shire Brook Valley and Beighton Marsh - in the past, present and future. 
 
The workshop, led by Sheffield writer and performer Stacey Sampson, will involve a walk around the ponds at Shire Brook Valley, exploring the ecology of the area, and an outdoor workshop in which you will create and share stories, knowledges, memories, and imaginaries associated with the valley or washlands. 
 
Refreshments provided and travel reimbursed. No previous experience needed. There is the opportunity to have your stories included in the project newsletter, podcast or website. 
 
This event is aimed at adults but parents / carers are welcome to bring young people and children who don't mind being outdoors. 
 
ACCESS: The workshop takes place outdoors, but the meet point will be the Shire Brook Valley Visitor centre, off Stone Lane, which has level access and a disabled toilet. The toilet is available for use throughout the session. Please email to request more information on routes for wheelchair users. 
 
EXTRAS: We advise wearing suitable warm, waterproof clothing that will keep you warm for the duration of the workshop.
 
We are taking extra precautions to manage the risk of COVID-19.
We ask everyone attending this event to wear a mask indoors unless exempt. We are limiting capacity to enable social distancing and hand sanitiser is provided.
 
We ask everyone attending this event to take a Lateral Flow Test on the day of the event. 
 
Please note: If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 such as sore throat, continuous headache, dry cough, runny nose, loss of taste of smell, or high temperature, or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, please do not attend. We want to keep everyone as safe as possible. Thank you for your understanding. 
 
WET / LAND / DWELLERS
Wetlands are complex, environmentally important, ecosystems, and their loss inextricably connects legacies of colonial expansion with current environmental challenges. Up to 75% of the world’s wetlands are now lost, and so is the rich biodiversity that inhabits them as well as the histories that they carry.
 
Situated across Shire Brook Valley and Woodhouse Washlands in South Yorkshire, Wet / Land / Dwellers brings together communities, scientists, environmentalists and artists to interrogate the specificities of these sites through a critical spatial art practice.  By navigating local stories, with their social, ecological, political and geological histories, and expanding to a planetary dimension, the project explores how communities understand their relation to wetlands and how they could be the site of new social/ecological relations.
 
The Wet / Land / Dwellers project seeks partly to raise awareness of the global destruction of wetlands. World Wetlands Day 2022 is on the 2nd February. Please see more info here.
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fud

fud is a new body of work by Gary Zhexi Zhang, drawn from the artist's research into the role of insurance in shaping the times and spaces we inhabit, commissioned by Arts Catalyst and Bloc Projects, Sheffield, in partnership with Medialab Prado.

Insurance has long been practiced as a form of protection from individual life and loss. However, in today’s era of deep financialisation, insurers and reinsurers manage hazards at a planetary scale, connecting storm surges in Florida to nuclear reactors in Asia through global capital markets, hungry for risk. What were once “acts of God” become calculable, exchangeable resources to be mined from an uncertain future. 

Over the past year, Zhang has been researching the "catastrophe industry", the billion-dollar market for insurance against hurricanes, earthquakes and droughts, priced through climate simulations and financial modelling. Over three episodes, fud explores the catastrophe industry as an elaborate work of science fiction, in which the business of underwriting the earth begins to resemble the shaping of possible worlds.
 
This 18-month project comprises a digital commission (launching online 16 October 2020), an exhibition at Bloc Projects in Sheffield (April 2021), a residency at Medialab Prado in Madrid (2021) and an accompanying publication. A public programme (online and in person) will accompany the project throughout its development, engaging audiences through study groups, workshops and talks.
 
The first episode, a web-based artwork developed in collaboration with Agnes Cameron, will be launched online on 16 October. Zhang describes the work as a “simulation play”, a computer-generated narrative to be performed over the total duration of fud. On a website imagined as a catastrophe market observatory, human and software participants argue, speculate and negotiate over the value of emerging planetary disturbances. The moods and desires of the characters in Zhang’s generative narrative respond to live climatological activity and market signals. Over an anonymous chat server, their drama invokes the dynamics of online prediction markets, where bets are placed, contracts are exchanged and debts are underwritten over future scenarios. Over several months, their interactions veer from the banal to the prescient to the absurd, as each player seeks new ways to game the market in the face of global uncertainty.
 
The second episode, an exhibition taking place at Bloc Projects, Sheffield, will bring together a selection of real and fictional artefacts gathered over the course of Zhang’s research and interviews with simulation engineers, existential risk analysts, loss adjusters and financial astrologists. Through encounters with its materials and practitioners, the exhibition will engage with the making and shaping of catastrophic time.
 
While fud was originally conceived in late 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the fragility of global infrastructures into plain sight. In the third episode, a residency at Medialab Prado, the artist will explore risk in relation to locality and statehood from a Southern European perspective. If insurance is a form of mutual security, how can its operation shift towards one of planetary accountability? And what will become of the anthropocene’s uninsurable hinterlands, cities and communities that find themselves beyond the calculus of financialised time and space?
 
fud forms part of the programme for Ungovernable Machines, Arts Catalyst’s ongoing strand of research investigating the social, political, economic and ecological implications of the intangible networks and systems that govern our daily lives, and the structures of power which underlie them.
 
PROGRAMME EVENTS
 
Two study groups led by the artist on the theme of “Catastrophe Time!”, exploring the temporality of global uncertainty and finance, will be held on 25 September and 2 October, both at 6 – 8pm UK time. If you are interested in joining, please send an email to admin@artscatalyst.org outlining in one paragraph your interests and why you would like to join. Participation is free.
 
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Gary Zhexi Zhang is an artist interested in concepts that interface between concrete and abstract worlds, such as ecology, finance and information. Recent group exhibitions and screenings include Participation Mystique at Ming Contemporary Art Museum, Shanghai; the Swamp School at the Venice Architecture Biennale; Cross-feed at Glasgow International 2018, vdrome.org (online) and All Channels Open at Wysing Arts Centre. Recent residencies include Delfina Foundation, Schloss Web (with Agnes Cameron), SPACE Art & Technology, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Praksis Oslo, CCA Glasgow and Wysing Arts Centre.
 
Established in 2002, Bloc Projects is a contemporary arts organisation in the centre of Sheffield focusing on the support and development of contemporary artists at pivotal points of their careers. Bloc Projects provide a safe and stimulating environment that is free for the public to explore ideas and creative practices and regularly works closely with other local art organisations, universities and charities to ensure that their activities welcome a diverse and intergenerational demographic. An expansive programme provides opportunities for cross-disciplinary and participatory learning, meaningful arts engagement, and skill development for creative practitioners as well as wider publics. Over the past two decades, Bloc Projects has developed a range of pivotal projects led by artists such as Beatrice Gibson, Joy Labinjo, Joey Holder, Rachel Adams, Ben Jeans Houghton and Alex Farrar. 
 
Based in Madrid, Spain, Medialab Prado is a laboratory for experimentation and cultural diffusion promoted by the Government Department of Culture and Sports of the Madrid City Council. It is a space that favours the encounter and the collaboration around open cultural projects. Activities are structured around work groups, open calls for the production of projects, collaborative research and learning communities that address a very wide range of topics.
 
SUPPORT
fud is supported by the Elephant Trust, the Henry Moore Foundation and Arts Council England.
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Test Sites: Assembly

Arts Catalyst presents Test Sites: Assembly, an exhibition and co-inquiry asking how we can respond collectively to social and environmental challenges.

We invite people from art, science, academia, activism and various communities to come together to explore methodologies for developing cross-disciplinary research and building community resilience. In doing so, we introduce and open up Test Sites, Arts Catalyst’s ongoing programme of environmental co-inquiries around the UK. 
 
The major challenges facing us today intertwine environmental, social, political and psychological factors. Challenges such as flooding, species loss, and pollution, and complex health issues like diabetes, mental illness and cancer, interweave large-scale global forces with the small-scale and the personal, and are inextricable from the social and political systems in which they unfold. Realising that empirical science on its own is not enough faced with these complex systems, many scientists and thinkers are calling for transdisciplinary approaches and for fresh thinking about conducting science and research in new ways. Critically, we need to involve those whose lives are directly affected – not just make assumptions about the causes, the impact, and what might be the best paths towards resistance and resilience. 
 
The term Assembly indicates the intention of our programme, which is to gather tactics, practices and theory to create “commoning tools”, creating social and cooperative alternatives for co-producing knowledge and taking control. Through workshops, study days, field trips, reading groups, talks and discussions, we will examine, practice and discuss possible approaches to ecology and society that centre on collaboration and co-creating knowledge, highlighting radical and progressive practices from the UK and internationally. 
 
An exhibition of works-in-progress by Test Sites artists Ruth Levene and Neal White will be shown at Arts Catalyst’s Centre, drawing on their research in the Calder Valley and Poole Harbour. Ruth Levene presents Working Waters, an installation of maps and models created from her investigations into the flows and stewardship of water in the Calder Valley. Neal White meanwhile presents Brownsea: An Imaginary Island (An Island of the Imaginary), comprising a vivarium containing fauna and flora of an island in Poole Harbour alongside an archive of local knowledge, interrupted by industrial frequencies.
 
EVENTS AND INQUIRY PROGRAMME
The programme will introduce and focus on issues, concepts and methodologies in a format that blurs the divides between expert and non-expert, those who make decisions and those who are affected by them. We will explore a set of approaches that include active citizenship, planetary commoning practices, co-inquiry processes, and collective governance and policy making, as well as making tactical use of concepts such as the negative commons. These terms are defined further down.
 
Confirmed programme participants include architect Godofredo Pereira, complexity scientist Sylvia Nagl, social anthropologist Megan Clinch, public science expert Tom Wakeford, interactive theatre company Coney, artist Tom James, artist Luigi Coppola, theorist and editor Shela Sheikh, artist Åsa Sonjasdotter, sustainability expert Rokiah Yaman and artists Ruth Levene and Neal White.
 
SCROLL DOWN FOR THE FULL LIST OF PROGRAMME EVENTS
 
KEY TERMS
 
Active Citizenship - a philosophy that people have a responsibility to their society and the environment that encourages participation in local communities and democracy at all levels. We extend this to participation in research and environmental monitoring.
 
Planetary Commoning Practices - tactical actions towards asserting, enabling, connecting and networking local commoning practices relating to the use or stewardship of common-pool resources within transnational and extraterritorial spaces and natural resource domains, such as the atmosphere, biodiversity, the Arctic, the electromagnetic spectrum, outer space, the lithosphere, and the oceans (Triscott, 2017).
 
Co-inquiry Processes - Arts Catalyst has been developing a curatorial model of critical and transdisciplinary co-inquiry. The key principles of our model include focusing the inquiry on a shared “matter of concern”, the intentional co-production of knowledge - including artistic, scientific and situated - that is context-specific, and fostering an ecology practices that is sensitive to how particular practices relate to and impact on other practices.
 
Collective Governance and Policy Making - aimed at shifting the balance of power away from the regimes of commerce and strategic interests that seek to enclose the commons, and instead towards networked grassroots movements working for increased equity and environmental justice.
 
Negative Commons - the waste of capitalism’s operation, such as debt, epidemics, industrial wastes, and pollution including radiation, which becomes the burden of society once it is of no further value to commerce (Kohso, 2012).
 
TEST SITES
 
Test Sites is Arts Catalyst’s series of inquiries into matters of concern relating to environmental issues, such as flooding, pollution, and species loss, and their impact on local culture and the health of ecosystems and communities. Initially taking place in three sites around the UK, we are inviting local people and groups to be part of art-centred co-inquiries, working with artists, scientists and other experts. Test Sites represents a significant step in Arts Catalyst’s curatorial model of transdisciplinary co-inquiry
 
 
ABOUT THE ARTISTS 
 
Ruth Levene is an artist based in Sheffield, Yorkshire working in video, performance, events, digital drawings, walks, installations and participatory work. Curious and concerned by the complex systems we live by, she is currently exploring water systems, farming and market driven developments of the countryside. Recent projects have included a research residency in the Faculty of Engineering, University of Sheffield, engaging with engineers about urban water systems; and A Field of Wheat with Anne-Marie Culhane, a 42-person strong collective and a Lincolnshire farmer, growing a 22-acre field of wheat. She is currently completing a collaborative work alongside Ian Nesbitt entitled Precarious Landscapes commissioned by In Certain Places. Recent exhibitions include Everything Flows at the Millennium Gallery, Sheffield and Formations, curated by Site Gallery as part of Abandon Normal Devices Festival, Castleton. Ruth was known by her nickname Bob Levene until 2015. 
 
For over 20 years, Neal White's work has critically explored art in relation to new ideas, forms and technologies. As part of many collaborative endeavours – he has been developing projects, research and artworks, publications, archives, fieldworks, critical excursions as bus tours and exhibitions with academics, architects and activists. His current work explores situated practices and knowledge - drawing together environmental and ecological matters of concern with marine biologists, ecologists, coders, architects and volunteers in Poole Harbour and Brownsea Island, Dorset for Test Sites. Neal White is a Professor at University of Westminster, where he also directs the Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM), a UK leader in research in art, design and media.
 
SUPPORT
 
Test Sites is supported by Wellcome Trust, University of Westminster, Bournemouth University, Canal and River Trust, and Arts Council England.
 
PROGRAMME EVENTS
 
Tuesday 27 March, 6:30 – 8pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
£5, booking essential
 
Tuesday 10 April, 4 – 7pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
Free, booking essential
As part of Test Sites: Assembly, artist Kat Austen will lead a workshop on microplastics exploring both the different plastic types and the different plastic identification techniques.
Microplastics have been gaining more and more public attention over the last few years. These small plastic particles have been shown to pervade the marine environment, and have been found to affect the wellbeing – and possibly even the behaviour – of marine species, and maybe even those that consume them. Much microplastic in the environment comes from the breakdown of larger pieces of plastic pollution. In this workshop we will explore different types of plastics, where they are commonly found, and methods of identifying them. We’ll also explore what it would mean to live without plastic. 
As an artist Kat deals with themes of environment, social justice, communities and human relations to digital culture. She creates experiences, stories and playful installations, mixing fact and fiction closely, so troublesome. Kat holds a PhD in chemistry from UCL and worked as a post-doctoral research associate at the University of Cambridge. Her writing has appeared in Nature, The Ecologist and The Guardian, and she consults widely on the intersection of science, art and technology, including as a Futureshaper for Forum for the Future, for the European Commission and UK water regulator Ofwat.
 
Thursday 12 April, 4 – 6pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
Free, booking essential
 
Thursday 19 April, 4 – 8pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
Free, booking essential
 
Friday 20 April, 4 – 8pm
R-Urban, Poplar
Free, booking essential
 
Monday 23 April, time TBC
Arts Catalyst Centre
Free, booking essential
 
Wednesday 25 April, 2 – 6pm
Calthorpe Project, King’s Cross
Free, booking essential
 
Saturday 28 April, 10am – 6pm
University of Westminster, Regent Street
£5, booking essential
 
Tuesday 1 May, 6 - 8pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
Free, booking essential
 
Tuesday 8 May, 6:30 - 8:30pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
£3, booking essential
As part of Test Sites: Assembly, activist and researcher pantxo ramas (aka Francesco Salvini) is joined by researcher Nicholas Beuret for a conversation on the subject of caring ecologies and infrastructures.
Taking the radical practice of institutional destruction and reinvention realised within the Trieste psychiatric asylum (Italy) as a starting point, pantxo ramas will consider various forms of commoning infrastructures in a process of “recovery” as emancipation. 
Nicholas Beuret will give an introduction to the affects and practices of chemopolitics and toxic entanglements, a research interest that stemmed from a routine blood screening test that for Beuret, brought about a personal revelation: the quiet horror of toxicity and the saturation of everyday life within the endless loops of the uncanny and the eerie. What does it mean when our capacities to act and know, the basis of what it means to be social and to understand, are transformed by the very things we come to act on and know? What does it mean to live within the horror of late industrialism with its never-quite-confirmed allegations and conspiracies?
Francesco Salvini (pantxo ramas) is a Wellcome Trust Research Associate, at the Kent Law School where he works in a project on the modern boundaries of healthcare. Pantxo is also an activist and has been actively involved in social mobilisations around the contemporary crisis of care in Ecuador, Italy and Spain.
Nicholas Beuret is a lecturer at the University of Essex. Previously he has been a researcher on green chemistry and climate migration, and environmental campaigner and community organiser. His research explores the politics of environmental catastrophe and how our lives are shaped by both the more than human world and technoscience.
 
 
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Test Sites: Remedy for a City

Remedy for a City forms part of our 'Test Sites' programme, a series of inquiries into matters of concern connected with environmental change – such as flooding, pollution, and species loss – and their impact on local culture and the health and wellbeing of our ecosystems and ourselves.

In Camden, the area around Arts Catalyst's Centre in King's Cross, we are working with Dimitri Launder, the Artist Gardener, and several local projects and groups, as well as drawing on expertise from specialists in horticulture and medical health.

Treating the city as a body to explore the common ailments of communities and individuals, Launder’s Remedy for a City aims to create a dialogue with the dis-eases of society. During Summer 2017, he will be developing the Phytobscura, a mobile field device to collect medicinal plant material and hand written remedies, drawing on local knowledge around Camden.

If you would like to participate, please email Anna Santomauro at anna.santomauro@artscatalyst.org

The project will continue through 2018 and 2019 with creative activities, remedy gathering, and citizen science research leading to the creation of site-specific artworks, events, and an alternative archive of knowledge.

Artist

Dimitri Launder’s projects as Artist Gardener offer a gentle provocation to an apocalyptic view of urban ecological sustainability. His work often explores the liminal issues between public and private use of space, aspiring towards transformative urban propagation. Launder’s work has been commissioned by organisations including Tate Modern with his Apothecary Arborimum and RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show for Tales Of The NOOSPHERE recently featured in the Arte Útil archive. His ideas cross pollinate between commercial private gardens, public commissions and emergent ideas in his art practice. His experience in this grafted practice has developed over 15 years expertise as a garden designer and as an artist with inherent interests in ecology and socially engaged practices.

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