Our Lead Artists have always been great travellers, and have brought that into our work. So far we’ve made work on 5 continents, and we’re by no means finished yet. We’re always keen on this for numerous reasons:
- Learning – by working in different contexts you’re always learning new skills, approaches, ways of communicating.
- Legacy – we don’t do tourism, we’re participants and we like to leave things behind us.
- Reciprocation – an underlying concept regarding our work, we always go for a win-win if possible and, as well as leaving something, we like to bring something back and share it.
- Experience – it really does broaden the mind and as ‘expert generalists’ this is vital to what we do.
- Food – because we like eating different stuff
We’ve worked on projects as far apart as South Africa (1 Square Mile Johannesburg), Brazil (Viva Catreieros), Tasmania (with Stompin Dance) and the US (with Touchable Stories), as well as participating in festivals, hosting workshops and seminars across Europe and beyond. We’re currently working towards a residency in 2020 in Moora, Western Australia and hoping to build a project in cooperation with Indonesian art/activists LifePatch.
Our process is to do as little research as possible before landing in a place, preferring to get our information from the horses mouth, as it were – desk-based research is not for us. We then rock up in a place and investigate our context through self-set ‘subculture safaris’ – a series of challenges where we try to find such things as ‘the place where the sadness lives’, ‘a pattern’, ‘movements’, etc – it could be anything, but it allows us to try and find a place without using the usual filters and we inevitably discover things that even locals might miss. We’ll then host a dinner where we’ll invite about a dozen or so people – artists, activists, a police officer, a postal worker, a social worker – anyone we think will have a unique perspective, and we’ll often throw a couple of wild cards in there. This gives us lots of different inside perspectives, prevents having a dozen meetings and, by breaking bread together, conversations are different, more honest and intimate.
After this we’ll start to respond, using the knowledge we’ve gained to begin to build a framework for whatever artwork or intervention we feel is appropriate to the needs of the context. This means that every projects is different, bespoke, and we’re as much in the dark about the results as the local people we’ll be working with. Which obviously drives funders and commissioners up the wall, but we couldn’t do it any other way – we wouldn’t want to impose our preformed ideas or preconceptions on a place and its people, that seems like some sort of artistic colonialism to us. We never know if it’s going to work or not, but we’re always prepared to take a risk and we’ve never had any major disasters, so far, and sometimes something extraordinary happens.
As we keep rebuilding this website we’ll be sharing the documentation for previous projects, so check back and click on the ‘international’ category for more.