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Curatorial Studio Blog: Our future network Reflections on the first session of Curatorial Studio 2017

by Mairi Lafferty
Image: Mairi Lafferty sketchbook. Image: Mairi Lafferty

Before beginning to study the laws and principles of Pantomime, we must first put the body in fit condition to express our emotions in the highest and most artistic manner. – From Gesture and pantomimic action by Florence A. Fowle Adams

Curatorial Studio 2017 began in one the most beautiful buildings in Glasgow – Govan’s Pearce Institute. The focus of week one was understanding each other’s approaches and voices. Through talking, objects, movement, sound, the absence of sound, through space and over time, we have learned more.

I learned that as a group we are VERY good at counting to 11 – one after the other, in no set order, with our eyes closed. That we are less good at keeping time, or moving with abandon and that given a chance we will always form a very polite, orderly queue for food. I learnt that my curatorial practice continues to move closer to my art practice and my work as a producer, that these strands are fluid. That I think better in a room to the sound of bodies than at a desk, and that movement brings my brain to life.

The title of this blog post is taken from a film of the same name by artist Alex Martinis Roe. The film explores the fundamental transactions on which a network is built: requests, invitations, demands, refusal, listening, speaking. What if we were to create a network for the future? What would we learn from the past? What can we change? How should it be built?

Curatorial Studio workshop. Image: Mairi Lafferty
Curatorial Studio workshop. Image: Mairi Lafferty

The things, which have formed the basis of our network so far, are food, talking and movement. Dialogue is self-explanatory as our primary tool for communication and expression. Eating together is important, it’s where all the good conversation happens and it’s fundamentally about sharing. I have already admitted to forgetting how good movement is for thinking: shame on me. From artists Judith Browning and Emmie McLuskey’s techniques on preparing for pantomime (it’s all in the wrist) to dancer/choreographer Mele Broome’s workshop on whole-body movement, my neurons were loosened along with my joints and muscles, and if it weren’t for that I’d never have had the stamina to keep going.

As with movement, the opportunities to engage in critical dialogue and creative thinking need to be cultivated. Without it, they become fewer and harder to settle into. I look forward to the months ahead, and to what my cohort will say about the sessions that follow.

One thing that stands out to me in particular is the need to share information – cast it out, share links and ideas and discussions. Change your mind, or have it changed, write about that and share it again. In this vein, and to reflect the generosity of those who have already given their time and shared their work, here are some links to things that we were sent to set our minds on fire before session one.

1. Audre Lorde’s The Erotic as Power. Always good to remember – use your whole body.
2. Alex Martinis Roe’s Our Future Network: if you get a chance to see this film, do it. It is brilliant and is packed with advice for your life.
3. Mele Broome Group counting game: Our task is to count from 1 to 10 out loud, in random order, with each group member offering one number at a time. If two people say a number at the same time, the game stops and begins again with 1. Anyone can say a number whenever they wish, although they cannot say two numbers in a row. To begin, everyone needs to close their eyes or focus on the floor in the centre of the circle and start.

  1. See the Group counting game
  2. Look out for their work – both have just finished a Creative Lab residency at CCA and their approach to the session was fantastic.