The School of Unlearning
Part 1 of 6 workshops in Edinburgh, Stirling, Dundee, Glasgow, and the Isle of Lewis in January-March 2020.
Increasingly, it seems more and more difficult to make a living from art, to make artwork around our personal lives and commitments, to strive for change without burning out, and make an artistic practice a viable career choice. The School of Unlearning offers us new tools in our ongoing struggle to maintain a career - over 6 workshops, we will examine aspects of contemporary work in order to establish common values and plan for change that we can all work towards. The workshops will cover a number of work-related issues such as busyness (striving to remain constantly visible in highly competitive conditions), attachment (the need for investment versus detachment from commercial interest), habits (the entwinement of our bodies and minds to environments and practices that have slipped our rational analysis), professionalism (the idea that the workplace is no space for emotion), and failure (fear of fallibility in art, organising and activism). The practice of unlearning will be presented as a new skill that can be developed to increase our capacity to think clearly about and challenge the conditions we are working in.
Part 1, Dundee
Lifespans not lifestyles
Being an artist and caring for the environment
Monday 20 January 2020
Venue: DCA, Dundee
For this installment of the programme, we will be with artist Sarah Rose who has created a bespoke workshop to support and encourage us to unlearn habits and attempt to unravel the entwinement of our bodies and minds to environments and practices that have slipped our rational analysis. Within the rise of capitalist and industrialised logics and technologies, where is our material body in relation to a future and where does it belong? This workshop will examine subjectivity, nature, environment, material, and labour as a way to think through energy systems, and where we receive, give out and reclaim our energy.
Image: Sarah Rose, Lilt, Twang, Tremor, CCA 2017
We will come together to share our relationships with and to urban environmental degradation and consider the effects on our everyday lives as artists. We will compose and decompose low-impact activities involving reading, listening and moving that will look to improve our immediate living and working environments. After this we will then sound out and embody an open score made up of successful worker-led environmental histories. This will be recorded and listened back to in the workshop.
As if we have become a barometer, we will reflect on the circular habits of our material bodies (towards lifespans not lifestyles) in our everyday activities in relation to their energy inputs and as determinants of health and wellbeing. Drawing with paper and pen we will attempt to map our own varying and fluctuating energy usages. We will then discuss the possibility of ceasing some flows, whilst contemplating how to prioritise, aid and support others. We will collate these thoughts into a small ad-hoc publication that can be referred back to.
Sarah Rose is an artist based in Glasgow. Sarah Rose’s overall practice engages with processes of translation, abstraction, mutation, and transformation to think through the lifecycles of material resources and information. Sculptures and sound works trace different states, contingent interactions and ways of communicating. Her work has been shown at the Scottish Museum of Modern Art, Centre for Contemporary Art Glasgow, Hospitalfield, Darling Foundry, SWG3 Gallery, Baltic 39, Elizabeth Foundation Project Space. Sarah was artist-in-residence at Little Sparta: the garden of Ian Hamilton Finlay, Hospitalfield, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop and the Banff Centre. Sarah is involved in tenletters, a space in Glasgow that is focused by the representation, expression and circulation of language in its many forms. Sarah moved to Scotland in 2010 from Aotearoa, New Zealand to undertake a masters at Glasgow School of Art.
Image: Sarah Rose, Lilt, Twang, Tremor, CCA 2017
Who is this for?
Open and suitable to all of our members (Graduate, Artist and Associate) who are fed up with an unequal and exploitative art world who don’t want to give up on art completely and want to get involved in union organising and work-based activism. Artists who are making political and/or socially engaged artworks. Artists who are worried about how their creative practice will survive the future and want to develop strategies and alternatives.
Why should I come?
To meet new people to work with and collaborate with, to replenish creative energy, to get new ideas, to tell the union and your fellow members about what you are already doing and how we could help. Lastly, to eat delicious food and enjoy great conversation.
Why is it called the School of Unlearning?
The term "Unlearning" takes cues from Gayatri Spivak's "unlearning one's privileges," where the process of unlearning denotes an active critical investigation of normative structures and practices in order to become aware and get rid of taken-for-granted "truths" of theory and practice in order to tackle inequalities in everyday life.