DAD at WOW Folkestone

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At the start of the WOW Folkestone women of the world Festival, DAD hosted a conversation entitled Empowering the Individual through the Collective to mark the opening of Stitched Time, produced and curated by Clare Smith. All the artists who had shared in the making of Stitched Time were there, in their white boiler suits, the work uniform marking a certain anonymity and a collective presence, while at the same time like the rest of the participants each was present as an individual with a personal voice.

The evening opened with the popping of Prosecco corks and Joanna introducing the conversation topic and procedure for the evening.

“it could be argued that neo-liberal feminism operating within today’s model of capitalism privileges the individual over the collective and is disenfranchising women artists by placing too much emphasis on autonomous agency rather than political agency as a group”

Everyone around the table introduced themselves, saying something of their particular interest in the topic. Only one rule for the evening,  not more than one person should speak at any one time and Clare started off the conversation:

“When I started to think about Stitched Time as a collective project, initially I thought it would be one which might involve the general public as participants as well as artists. However, I soon realised that it was going to be a process involving artists in an experiential way of working that involved open dialogue and to some extent open outcomes, although there was an objective in that I wanted to produce at least 10 stitched scrolls and there were some minimal rules. So not as open as a fully collaborative project might be – hence shared making.”

Clare also referred to the ethics of acknowledgement, how artists’ labour might be organised, acknowledged and valued within a project and the tension between the desire for autonomous agency and the need to be part of a community as well as issues around single and multiple authorship.

“It seems entirely fitting that Stitched Time in Folkestone should open with a DAD hosted discourse  as DAD is a true collaboration between myself and Joanna – allowing our individual voices and our combined voice to be heard.”

The conversation continued for over an hour with most of the 24 around the table contributing.

The comments we received include:
  • I just wanted to reiterate my thanks for and engagement with Mon evening’s event – it both contextualised the Stitched Time work and opened an artistic discourse around collaborative practice, the like of which I have not heard done in that way. A collaboration to discuss collaborative work… (Audrey Green Oakes)
  • Upon entering the gallery (ah the art of surprise!) we were bounced into a relational aesthetics installation/performance which explored the concepts of this exhibition – individual v collective art. Factory like conditions or a common activity generate communication of feelings and ideas. This PV was a paradigm of this theme.
    A stimulating and worthwhile evening! More of it please! (Chris Burke)

The stitched time artists, Gwen Hedley, Rosie James, Joanna Jones, Claire Manning, Ruth Payne, Linda Simon, Bev Williams and Clare Smith shared the invigilation over the week, stitching and inviting others to join in. The lunchtime bites took place in the venue, enlivening the installation with conversation in a way reminiscent of the making process.

Saturday was a day of conversations with inspirational women for Clare with visitors in the  Stitched time exhibition and for Joanna  at the DAD organised drawing workshop in Sandwich in the morning followed by the wonderfully energised WOW Mentor Mentee session of amazing women in the Quarterhouse.

And what better way to round off a fantastic week celebrating women’s achievements than to listen to the powerful voices of Libbi Jaeggi, Carol Grimes and singer songwriter Maiuko at the Folkestone Quarterhouse concert. The co-curators of this year’s WOW have vowed to be back next year and to continue with events during the year, to quote Leah Thorn “Why should there be only one International Women’s Day?

WOW Folkestone 2015 was co-curated by Allegra Galvin, Diane Dever and Leah Thorn.

Thank you WOW Folkestone for inviting us to be part of this wonderful Festival.

The photos taken at the DAD hosted conversation are by Diane Dever.

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