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Exploring political agency

Published onFeb 25, 2021
Exploring political agency

I am interested in the phenomenon of political agency, and how it can be better understood and cultivated in what we think of as ‘everyday life’. My practice, in a range of different political settings, sets out to work with others to open up spaces where people can think critically together. In doing this, I have become increasingly interested in the porosity of apparently rigid borders that can seem to exist both between people and in nature.

This interest has drawn me to active engagement in a range of political contexts in the UK:

  • as one of a group of activists who became known as the ‘Stansted 15’ for having stopped a deportation charter flight. The flight was scheduled to take 60 people to Nigeria and Ghana in March 2017;

  • as an artist and activist with Liberate Tate. This involved participation in unsanctioned art works in Tate gallery spaces that were designed to reveal the impact of the activity of oil company BP—a sponsor of the Gallery until 2016—in order for this impact to be seen, explored and acted on;

  • in my recent work on the parliamentary inquiry, Reset. This was a process that opened up a space for a broad cross-section of the public to explore their experience of the first Covid lockdown collectively. And to discuss how they might want life in Britain to change after Covid, so that it is greener and fairer. The inquiry gathered their reflections so that these could be used to influence government. 

I am interested in the phenomenon of political agency in all these contexts, as it arises during the course of considered creative acts. These acts set out to open up space for dialogue in some way, in their preparation, duration and unfolding aftermath. Through my participation in the Research in Action Community, I want to further this interest to increase the efficacy of my work. I also want to experiment with more creative ways of expressing what it is that I think this approach to political agency does, or might do, so that it might be taken up, and furthered, in a range of different contexts, as well as in passing moments of everyday life. 

Monument was a durational performance using plaster casts, bodies, consent, tenderness and sustenance. It took place overnight from February 8th to February 9th, 2020, in the Great Court of the British Museum.

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