In the Curve reading and watercolour drawings by Joseph Walsh
I first heard of Carrier Bag Theory in Donna Haraway’s 2016 book ‘Staying With the Trouble’. Grieving for species extinction, she writes, ‘It matters what stories we tell to tell other stories with’. In attempting to make thinkable our co-existence with nature, where humans are posthumus in a multi-species co-mingling on this earth, she quotes Le Guin’s theory as a way of storytelling avoiding the heroic protagonist.
Flatness presents new works and words by artists Lucy Clout, Adam Farah, Natasha Lall, Ulijona Odišarija, TextaQueen, Tom Richards, Nikhil Vettukattil, Joseph Walsh, Dan Walwin and Rehana Zaman and writers Taylor Le Melle, Nisha Ramayya and Hannah Satz.
This long-term research and commissioning project addresses the conditions of working semi-digitally whilst exploring the potentials of art distributed via networked screens to express and share subjective and collective desires within the professionalised art world.
The attempt of this multi-format project is to reconstitute the relations under which artworks are produced and framed: aiming to reduce feelings of exhaustion, overexposure and compulsion and increase opportunities for inclusion, as much as possible on the contributors’ own terms. Drawing on pre-Web 2.0, decentralised online histories combined with a reflexivity towards the motivations of artists working semi-digitally, Flatness presents a porous context for artworks to be shared as part of a genuinely networked culture.
The aim of the website’s interactive elements – the calendar and comments feed – is to build a community around these works, in support of their critical and social contextualisation. Feel free to add your news and on- and offline events.
For Flatness there is no way back to how things were before the pandemic. Horizons have opened up as we have witnessed how change – d i s m a n t l i n g – can be achieved through direct action. Our voices are clear and powerful and being heard. We need to support each other to keep energies strong. QTIBPOC lead the way in this urgent work.
During the COVID 19 epidemic:
We hope readers are managing to keep well body and soul.
Notwithstanding the pain and hardship brought on by the catastrophe we are watching the internet come alive in this period as sharing becomes more focused on connecting. This drive could potentially recontextualise what it means to be isolated in the widest sense – whether through mental, physical and financial impairment and discrimination, to the isolation of work or the studio – beyond the immediate confines of lockdown. Following the strengthened impetus (towards mutual aid, and towards recovering the health of the planet) to break the loop of crisis capitalism and nurture the bonds between us, Flatness invited contributions for work which corresponded either to:
– the ‘situation’,
– stillness and liveness (signals from rituals/ practice),
– the ‘future’.
There is a high chance that astrology is a load of bollocks but there are a few things I get out of it. Actually one or two things are very useful.
The first is a sense of belonging because for some reason astrology is a predominant part of lesbian culture. Don’t ask me why. I don’t really care why. Why not? I mean I was forced to study Christianity for a lot longer…lmao.
Anyway, I also find that regular horoscopes give me a sense of focus. That’s super useful for me. I find a lot of truth, or at least correlation, in my chart.
Notebook Score #2: The line of the hand throws the mind out of the body
This notebook practice represents a release of thought and feeling, in some sense counter to the control or fixity of Writing. It’s flighty – the motion of writing long-hand is another way of running – but the connection from hand to gut is also grounding; it earths me. I read fragments from the end of February to the end of April 2020, here and there; paragraphs, lines, or words from flicked through pages, self-censoring as I stumble and flow. It is meant, even in its inward-looking, to be a form of opening, an offering.
Trinh T. Minh-ha, Woman, Native, Other
Nisha Ramayya, States of the Body Produced by Love
Fanny Howe, “Purgatory”
… There are so many more south Asians I’ve connected with whose lives are on tangents to mine here in London than back ‘home’. I’ve felt part of a cluster of brown and black artists working with care and integrity here, and have made more intergenerational connections. My parents migrated, and I was born, not long after the White Australia policies ended, there aren’t elder second generation POC migrants and I have very few peers my age at my intersections. …
… A decolonial practice for me is, during the creative process, letting go of imagining the white liberal audience reaction to the work and keeping present in mind myself and an audience who will feel empowerment through the work.
I first met TextaQueen at an event held during their exhibition, ‘The Empire’s New Clothes’ at 198 Gallery in Brixton in Spring this year. Surrounded by their monumental marker pen drawings I was struck by the work’s power along with the rich insights Texta shared about processing, and purging hate and oppression through their work as well as their ambitions to create sustainable contexts for theirs and others’ work.
Excerpt from an interview with Henry Broome for Spike Art Magazine:
How did Flatness first come about and what made you relaunch the platform this year?
… The new 2019 programme developed out of the political ruptures of 2016, also #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter and the Arab Spring, movements mobilised by the internet. It’s also a reflection of my lived experience of the art industry where people of colour are in token ways hypervisible but structurally disempowered.
The platform provides a critical framework to understand social media’s empowering potential against its ultimately extractive and manipulative business models, as shown by Zuckerberg’s infamous hearing in late 2018. I think Flatness offers a mouldable alternative: You don’t need to log in or pay to view works and the site is free and open to all. It’s still possible to build your own spaces rather than succumb to the format of big monopoly platforms. As the founder of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners Lee said, the future of the internet relies on individuals making and adding to their own sites, and keeping control of their data.
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Web design & programming by Gailė Pranckūnaitė & Andrius Zupkus.
Supported by public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
All texts, works and images either belong to the artist, author or photographer named or are licensed under the terms of this CC 4.00 certificate.