The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction by Ursula K Le Guin, lead by Elena
- the human aspect- not sure if we agree that heroes are the driver of a story, necessarily- people in the modern day enjoy watching people do mundane everyday activities- i.e. ASMR videos, or the TV show Gogglebox
- the container as the most important human invention
- collecting and storing v.s. the spear and violence
- you harvest something but you need to get the excess home, the excess that you cannot eat then and there
- the container being more important than what is inside
- if capitalism is the container- there might be one or two good things inside the container, but the container still needs to be changed/remade
- oppressive systems and structures could be seen as containers
- the work we make, as marginalised groups, might not be as meaningful or important if not for the “containers” we are in
- are we submitting to the container by being part of it, by taking part- i.e. being working class and going to uni- are we becoming part of the problem (container)?
- can we spread the knowledge and power we have acquired?
- are we forgetting and leaving behind our original communities (containers)?
- you carry everything with you- you are the container for your memories, experiences, ect
- personally I think this text needs to be handled carefully lest it be spun and used for TERF (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist) rhetoric with the undercurrents of how the container is inherently female (Read: womb, the act of harvesting, home, childcare) juxtaposed with the spear- violence, thrusting, penetrative, adventure, male
- I am not saying this text is inherently transphobic, just that we need to discuss these interpretations and be aware of them
- this text is a product of the times- in the 80s Science Fiction was dominated by men, the “hero” role of fighting aliens, so as a woman Science Fiction writer at the time this must have been how she felt trying to write her stories at the time
- Also in that era trans people had much less of a voice and presence, which is important to note
- “It is the story that makes the difference”
- the idea that people only want to see the extremes- easier to turn into a narrative, to simplify something and make it easier to digest, but doesn’t show the full nuance and scope of a situation. It is easier to visualise a hero saving a village than a mum feeding her kids, and you don’t have to learn from it or put yourself in it- because no one is that extreme
- It’s easier to focus on one or two individuals rather than the whole system they are propping up and are part of- i.e. the current Dominic Cummings scandal- what he did was wrong and he should be fired, but the media focusing on him means that we aren’t looking at the wider issues- that the whole political party in power are corrupt and doing a huge amount of terrible things, that getting rid of him won’t really make that much difference to the bigger picture, he would just be replaced by someone else equally (or more) corrupt
- the human connection can be really important; it can make a story feel more real, more relatable, you are more likely to learn something
- “It is a strange realism, but it is a strange reality”
- science fiction as an extension or mirror to reality, rather than a mythological tale of heroism
- the book or novel as a container for a story, rather than a spear travelling in a linear direction
- not relating to this violent hero narrative and deciding to create your own narrative
- you don’t always have to be the hero of the story, you can be a villain, or just a person- not a hero or a villain, just a human being
- the best stories are where things go wrong, or you expect something to happen and it doesn’t (or not quite in the way you planned/thought) and where life happens
- life is messy and doesn’t always have a clear conclusion, needing a conclusion can be reductive
- the world will always need saving somehow, there will always be things that need to change, there is no clearly defined finish line in real life
Anna Suggested this podcast, linked below:
EXCERPT 3 IMPOSTER SYNDROME
(there are a few pages missing)
Notes made during the 3rd reading group The Problem With Impostor Syndrome is a chapter from a book called Steal As Much As You Can by Nathalie Olah:
- the writing style uses a lot of academic language to make it more palatable to academia
- the way it portrays mental health in the workplace is very centred on middle class white collar working environments- it is wildly different in working class workplaces
- the dissonance between big brands and companies pumping out mental health slogans who at the same time pay their workers minimum (i.e. not liveable wages) which is a large factor in poor mental health amongst the working class
- “Advertorials”- editorials in magazines that are meant to subtly advertise a product or brand they want you to buy into
- M&S LGBTQ sandwiches- they could donate to LGBTQ charities any time of the year but they did this during Pride for publicity, made into a meme/sell-able novelty/joke/gimmick for clout – banks/companies at Pride ect
- Brands co-opt marginalised people’s narratives and then toss them away when it’s no longer profitable
- Kim Kardashian and her white saviour complex
- appropriation of platforms- safe spaces are taken over and appropriated by brands and the media
- “Advertising that masquerades as activism, whose tactics go a long way in corrupting our language and stripping our lives of a certain sensitivity; because no sooner have we found a way to articulate our feelings, then it’s commandeered by an advertsing industry which by default reduces it to cliche, leaving us once again unable to articulate ourselves…becoming emotionally impotent”
- allies need to know when to step back and listen
- placing responsibilities with the individual rather than the systems in place that cause the difficulties they are facing via phrases like “reach out” and “love yourself” than brands pump out
- social mobility- forcing people to perform and change things about themselves in order to move up the social ladder
- people forget or ignore their privileges and assume that because they have been successful that anyone from their background or similar can too
- “radical education” – Radical to who???
- solidarity is a choice- you can choose to act or not act, whereas people you are in “solidarity” with don’t necessarily have a choice
- “code switching”
- “Whilst it might go against the ideas peddled by most self-help and management books, I would suggest that rather than internalising the structural shame imposed by the corporate workplace, as well as by certain seats of learning and social circles, it is important for all of us to remain vigilant to the many ways in which is dehumanises and strips us of our identity” we are always told it’s our fault for not being good enough, not the systems failing us, is the message we’re fed- we just need to try harder! We need to realise that these are lies and stay vigilant to these messages we are being fed as they impact how we treat ourselves and others
- we are sold the idea that the “working class dream” is to no longer be working class
- discussion around accents and how it can change how we are perceived, understood and treated; and how we change our accents to fit different situations or as a way to distance ourselves from where we are from
- “To do this, it’s essential to remember that in the market economy, you- your body and your mind- are no more than a commodity in the eyes of your employer, and that any attempt they make to improve your wellbeing is for the sake of securing profit” CORPORATIONS AND BRANDS ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS!!! YOU ARE A COMMODITY TO THEM
- “…find ways of putting that experience as an imposter to good use: writing about your experiences, harnessing the dynamics you witness to mount political movements to create a more empowered workforce” this bit kind of doesn’t match up to the rest of the text in my opinion- it takes a lot of mental energy to be able to do these things, on top of already working probably full time and trying to manage your life. When you are already mentally ill/a person of colour/working class/trans/gay/under privileged in some other way being expected to then be an activist and fight for your rights on top of all this is a really big ask! Yes we are angry, but we’re too exhausted to constantly be fighting it on top of the everyday battles we face.
- Allies need to step up and help marginalised people in this and support them- stepping in when you can see your friends struggling under the weight of their marginalisations
- An example: If you are cis and in a meeting rather than waiting for your trans/non-binary friends to announce their pronouns, jump in and introduce yourself with your pronouns! This takes the pressure off of them, normalises the conversation, and gets everyone else to share their pronouns without making your trans/non-binary friends feel awkward or uncomfortable and making them feel like they have to out themselves just to have their pronouns respected
Notes made during the second BABEWORLD3000 reading group, reading the introduction to Taking Up Space:
- the expectations placed on minorities- remembering where you come from, but not allowing yourself to be tokenised
- the pressure to succeed that others who are not marginalised will not experience, or at least not to the same degree
- being black and British as a unique experience
- “For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved the fact that no one could pin down my identity. I never wanted to have one defining characteristic. I wanted people to see that I could be all of them at once. I wanted to be complex, be able to change my mind, have opinions and interests that didn’t necessarily make sense all the time. My identity was never just me: it was perfect distillation of everyone around me.”
- the quote above particularly spoke to me as I have Borderline Personality Disorder- I find my personality becoming defined by different aspects of my identity, because I don’t know what else “I” am, and it often feels like my personality is made up of bits I have stolen from other people- certain opinions, likes, dislikes, that belong to people I know, rather than being my own
- already exhausted by microaggressions and you then have to educate your peers every time your marginalised group is mentioned or discussed
- reductive- reducing people down to one single aspect of their identity- i.e. being black, or working class, or disabled- you are a “black artist”, or “disabled artist”, ect- you become an involuntary spokesperson for that whole group of people
- a lot of us talking about how to our families and friends we sound “posh” or “well spoken” but in the art world we never feel good enough, people point out our accents, ask where we are from, we have to change parts of ourselves to fit in, dilute our identities and break ourselves down into bite-size digestible chunks
- maintaining the effort of being “presentable”
- discussing how in the media black British people are rarely called British, despite being born here or having spent the majority of their lives here- for example the recent thing with the Windrush Generation, compare this to African Americans who are considered “American”. Also discussing the COVID19 pandemic currently happening and how the media is reporting the fact that British people of colour are dying at higher rates but skirting round the reasons why this is happening- institutionalised racism- and still refusing to call these people British. One example is a BBC News headline from a few days ago: “Coronavirus: Black African deaths three times higher than white Britons- study” – Why is it worded this way, as if to imply that they are not British?
- having to hide disabilities and mental health issues to get into these institutions
- people who have privilege often don’t want to acknowledge that they have privilege
- “It would soon become my most defining characteristic, in a place in which I had thought I would have licence to explore every facet of my identity.” Obviously the author is talking about being black at uni, but for me it relates to being reduced to a few parts of my identity- i.e. being working class, fat, LGBTQ+ (when I eventually came out) and mentally ill. It felt like the only acceptable bit of identity that I could explore during my degree at uni was being queer, the other things were not seen as acceptable- I shouldn’t flaunt my fatness, or my mental illness, or be “too working class” whatever that means. Even in LGBTQ+ circles though, particularly in the LGBTQ+ society at my uni I was made to feel not “queer enough”- I hadn’t yet dated a woman or other genders apart from cisgender men, and I didn’t and still don’t look stereotypically “non-binary” (i.e. skinny, shaved head, masc clothes, wearing a binder to change my chest)
- I made a conscious decision on my MA to be loud and outspoken about all aspects of my identity, but it is exhausting to always have to be that token person to bring up accessibility, classism, racism, ect
- “As a minority in a predominantly white space, to take up space itself an act of resistance.”
Photo of notes in sketchbook- will probably replace with a better scan when I have the chance.
Notes made during the talk by artist, curator, teacher, writer and consultant Rosalind David
- Managed and curated CORE gallery in Deptford
- Zeitgeist Arts Projects- ZAP- artist run organisation co-founded and ran with Annabell Tilley
- “What They Didn’t Teach You at Art School”- her book
- what other values do you have? “Making it” looks different to everyone
- getting opportunities- meeting people, building contacts, keeping in contact, promotion, research, seizing opportunities, building a good reputation, being polite and memorable, being organised and professional, networking
- design the art and career YOU want
- engage in the process- i.e. exhibitions
- be aware of the different kinds of art spaces/organisations and figure out which work best for you
- apply for opportunities- competitions, open calls, DIY gallery proposals, art fairs, festivals, site specific projects, commissions, awards, ect
- get used to rejection but don’t let it get you down
- don’t be passive- pursue things!
- Why have an exhibition?
– to get feedback
– meeting people
– to see your work in a new context
– working with new people
– learn from others
– professional reputation
– sell work
- email- write a personal intro (show you have researched them) before inviting them to your event go to theirs- build a real connection
- Ways to make money:
– exhibition fees (rare)
– other art jobs
- Oli Epp- residencies- PLOP residency
- Selling your work:
– be realistic
– be present
– be prepared to talk about your work
– price it right
- Virginia Verran
- check contracts and be careful- get legal advice (Art Quest offers an hour free)
- Arts Council funding- “Develop Your Creative Practice”
- artist statements- find 3 powerful words to describe your work, be creative with language, make it engaging, what and why, spellcheck, get someone to proof read, update it regularly, read it out loud
- Shape Shifters Exhibition- 2nd May
- writing about your work- who, what, why, why here, when
- applying for things- possibilities, timing, dates, assistance, ability to engage, support, workshops, talks, collaboration, community, value, networks, organisation, communication
- UKYA- for 18-30 year olds
- website, business cards, press release, newspapers, social media, research people to invite, peers, re-introduce yourself, be realistic, spend time on things
- Art Quest- careers and employability newsletter – sign up!!
This talk was really engaging and full of useful information for the future- as you can see I made a lot of notes!
Notes made during Christian Heaths’ lecture:
- the use of objects and how people use relatively simple objects everyday
- lift up the object (not physically) to see the complexity behind the object and its use
- treat the mundane as highly complex- use it to discover new things about humanity
- get a feel for the intelligence required to use certain objects (seems a bit racist/ableist to me)
- using anthropology and sociology to inform the design of certain objects and interfaces
- ethnography used to analyse people
- Field methods:
– detailed and systematic observation of use- situations, activities and interaction
– drawings, photos, videos, diagrams, notes
– discussions and interviews- not necessarily the best way to find out how people use things
– materials documents, manuals
– immerse yourself in how the participants use and view the objects, disregard your own ideas
– analysing situations and activities
- tacit knowledge- things you know how to do, but can’t explain- i.e. talking
- invisible skills
- familiarity conceals the complexities of use
- render the familiar world strange- investigate these familiar things as if they are new to you
- field studies and systematic observation of use of objects to accomplish a task
- how use is shaped with regard to the activity and situation
- discovering the differences in use between different people
- anticipation of the use of an object
- how long do people interact with the object (s)? What is their experience of using the object (s)?
- he mentioned a gender project at a museum that seemed really iffy – it didn’t take into account trans and non binary people
- how can you take the information you collect, then organise it and use it?
- consider the structure of the activity and space and how this will affect the interaction, and as such your observations
- if your research is detailed and systematic it should focus on a few or one small thing- this allows for stronger, more powerful research
- how can simple objects provide the most impact?
- interplay between elements of the physical environment
- interaction and collaboration- natural v.s. forced
- hands as primary tools
- economy of action, adjustments to make objects faster/easier to use
- we devalue human action and try to replace it with robotic/computerised tech, when actually if humans do it better we should probably leave it be
I tried to ask Heath about implicit bias and the racist roots of anthropology, and if he was aware of/ tackling implicit biases within himself and his research teams and he brushed me off, which was highly disappointing and frankly, annoying. If these scientists and researchers are allowed to study people and their behaviours as they interact with the world around them I feel they should properly tackle implicit biases within themselves regularly to make sure that they do not unfairly stereotype or make false assumptions. What do I mean by implicit bias?
“Implicit bias… comprises those views and opinions that we may not be aware of. They are evaluations that are automatically triggered when we encounter different people or situations, and commonly function without a person’s full awareness or control”
Taken from this site
Having researchers making judgements on people’s behaviours is highly unethical if they aren’t challenging their unconscious views, because their research could be influenced by them and contain unfair biases towards certain people.
However in terms of my project this talk was very interesting- as I want to explore the object (in this case my bones and the casts of them) and how materials and colours affect the viewers perceptions of them. Of course the key problems I face are:
- how do I get the audience to actually pick up and interact with the objects? Due to the gallery/museum space culture of not being able to touch the art, at the interim show most people wouldn’t pick up my objects until I went over and encouraged them to
- How do I record how people interacting with my objects without it changing the way they naturally interact with my work? In the lecture he talked about how asking people how they interact with objects isn’t the most accurate way to find out how they actually interact with them, so I need to come up with a way to observe the space and track how the audience interacts in a way that doesn’t infringe their privacy or affect their interactions
I need to consider both of these further, and it would be a good idea if I can do some practical tests- i.e. smaller pop up exhibitions at uni- I could try and book a small room out to set up my work and invite other courses or staff to come see my work, and find a way to record what happens. This will obviously still have some biases though- people at art school are more likely to act the way I want them to (.i.e interacting with the objects more readily) than people who aren’t at art school, but I still think it could be a good start for my research.
- Joseph Beuys– “anyone can be an artist”
- Art as communication
- Art is for everyone and should be for everyone
- There should be an inherent value to all art, regardless of monetary value or quality, which is highly subjective
- Can art be used to help people/ bring people together?
- Adolf Loos– ‘Ornament and Crime“- a relatively short read that could be used as a counter argument
- “Social sculptures“- interesting phrase from Joseph Beuys video- using his “social sculptures” to communicate to a larger group of people
– using people’s innate urge to be part of a group or community to get people involved in his projects
– using those projects as a way to influence those people and get them to listen to his ideas
- Using your platform or your skills in a certain medium to engage socially and open up the dialogue- aka musicians using their music to be political, artists using their art to get a message across, writers writing about things they feel strongly about
- Anselm Kiefer– trying to make the people of Germany “feel” again
- Refugees travelling to Greece- graves, life jacket installation
- “History is a material” –regimes can manipulate history as they see fit
- Examining how the societies and times artists live(d) in influence their thinking and work
- You could strengthen the links between post war Germany and the modern day situation with the Middle East?
- Etching idea sounds promising- you could look at Francisco Goya and his etchings of the Spanish Civil War
- I think it would be worth looking at artists making work about refugees and modern conflict (i.e. the Middle East) particularly artists who were or are refugees as they have first hand experience- much like Beuys and Kiefer had first hand experience of WW2 and the aftermath
- Justin Mortimer- wasn’t sure how he relates to the other two at first
- Mortimer creates new mythological narratives through painting collages of seemingly unrelated digital imagery- much like how the first two artists created their own mythologies
- Dream v.s. Hope, the lofty aspiration v.s. the slightly more achievable goal
- How do you take a dream and turn it into a more realistic, but still satisfying, goal?
- “La Mitrailleuse” (“The Machine Gun”) by Christopher .R. Nevinson- artist whose style changed dramatically over time with the changes happening around him- WW1, WW2, ect
- See also Paul Nash
- Have we suppressed the feelings of and memories WW2 too much? Has that allowed the resurgence of Neo-Nazi ideals and the rise of other conflicts and regimes?
On another note, I think you put together a really well thought out presentation- the material was clearly divided into sections, the links were mostly strong, and the videos helped to break it up and make it easier to engage with. You just need to pull this back into your practical work and keep making!