A Social Assemblage

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Robert Bubp and Richard Reddaway A Social Assemblage
the Engine Room, Wellington, 15th – 31st May 2019

With participants: Sexton Brown, Louie Neale, Barbara Fuchs, Chanette Buttner, Caroline Hollow, Suzy Costello, Nicole Galvin, Tevaine Purdie-Timoteo.

A Social Assemblage began with a provocation offered by two artworks made subsequent to fortuitously concurrent residencies at Arquetopia, Puebla, Mexico in 2015: Massey University Senior Lecturer Richard Reddaway’s “Ahora, Vea Aqui” and Wichita State University Associate Professor Robert Bubp’s Las Callas Públicas. At a point in Bubp’s video installation, a Mexican street protester “flips the bird” at the artist recording the scene, and his, and by extension our, comfort crashes into uncertainty. He, we, become “othered”, our white, male, neo-colonial privilege revealed. And this mirrors the staging of the event Ahora, Vea Aqui with a group of young, working-class, mostly indigenous Pueblans. Where they audience or participants? How were the hierarchies at play in both works disrupted, transformed, by the possibilities of exchange?

This developed into One’s Own and Others’ Otherness in 2018, workshops collaboratively undertaken with students from Wichita State University that combined the participants’ particular expertise: Richard’s in making wearable, noisemaking objects and Robert’s in teasing out and collecting with sound and video people’s experiences.

Now, in the Engine Room, collaborating participants have been invited to consider the dynamics at play in socially engaged practice.  The invitation is to explore through making ways of understanding power and its lack: for some the possibility of losing privilege through others’ empowerment, and for others the dismal prospect of “business as usual” decaying further into the grim reality of racism, sexual abuse and other expressions of power. How can, how does, making things together work to construct community, even a community of difference? And particularly one that recognises the importance of the “promotion of an ecology of knowledges combined with intercultural translation” in the recognition of the significance of our own and others otherness, to cite Boaventura de Sousa Santos Epistemologies of the South?

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