Life (Bildung)

I have been invited to submit a proposal for a transgressive-sounding interactive conference, organised by the artist/curatorial group ‘Life-Agency’ (established by Anna Clifford, Ciarán Wood and Miloslav Vorlíček). This conference will be held at the Barbican Centre, London, in August. It follows the theme of Life (Bildung) and aims to amplify multidisciplinary collaboration , creating experiments that encourage dialogue between otherwise disparate practices.

Life (Bildung) is a project composed of a series of 3 minute events – trailers – followed by 3 minutes of critical feedback. Artists, experts and practitioners will engage in a continuous dialogue, presenting a wide range of practices in quick succession. The project brings experts from multiple disciplines and specializations into contact not only with one another, but also into involved conversation with the audience, creating a non-hierarchical environment of exchange.


Here is my proposal:

About me:

I am a painter, poet and arts educator based in Cambridge, where I completed my PhD in French philosophy, as a Foundation scholar at Jesus College. My philosophical and artistic journey strives to ‘Make Sense’ of my existence, and source my embodied place in the world. This notion of ‘Making Sense’ is a vocation, activated and fuelled by art practice. By creating artworks (using colours, words, moving meditation, and experimental media) I find a method of sharing an essence of life with others and I build a community. Thence my solitary ‘I’ becomes a ‘We’, building into a group of artistic activists who gather to effect social change to source and express the zeitgeist of life itself. ‘Making Sense’ is a profound artistic movement, which is instigated through direct collaborations with individuals who come from diverse fields: artists, architects, psychologists, neurologists, people working in prisons, patients who have been detained in mental hospitals, farmers, and all those who use art as a proactive, sensuous discipline of reform. We meet, create and perform at annual colloquia, to produce a language and knowledge that is sensuous, invigorating, accessible and politically active. The events provide international, interdisciplinary and experimental moments of mutual creativity, empathy and meaning, during the sensuous activity of creating art and debating timely issues about the present. This aesthetic process reaches beyond the gatherings of each colloquium, and stretches into the working, daily lives of our participants. Making Sense becomes a way to live by using art to heal, connect with others, and find a meditative harmony that both makes life more possible and reveals its inherent beauty.


In this presentation I propose to introduce participants to my project of ‘Making Sense’ and conduct an experimental, collaborative dialogue that generates an unexpected, but inherently creative and multidisciplinary vocabulary of outcomes. I would instigate a spontaneous poetry performance, where each member of the audience invents either one word or one phrase each, and together we create a communal piece of literature and, in doing so, build a new fraternity of working together. As a lively form of collective psychography, a hyper-accelerated game of Surrealist automatic writing, an ‘Exquisite corpse’ poetry performance, individuals must spontaneously continue the poem and invent their own phrase to continue the stanza. We go around the lecture hall so that everyone has a turn, whilst I keep track of time. The locomotion of this exercise is impetuous and swift. The resultant poem, which we all compose and perform together, is surprising. It may be nonsensical, or at the edges of sense, whilst its creative process of manufacture provides a powerful agency that brings participants together and expresses a new mode of Making Sense. This 3-minute poetry performance will be impulsive and fast-paced. It will build into a discussion about what the unexpected outcomes of this conceptual and sensory exchange reveal about life in the present, and defining what form of zeitgeist we can all make and take from this collaborative experience.


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