Read about how Flatness is run and moderated
Manifesting by sharing our latest ‘turn’ for the project:
Flatness is a community-led artistic platform. Such community being that of queer people of colour. Currently, the space exists online as a long-running project since 2013. We aim to support development of innovative time-based art projects focusing on cultural activism beyond differences of race, class, gender and ability.
In the near future, following this period of gathering ourselves together and fundraising, Flatness hopes to provide a sustainable model both in terms of economics and mental health especially for folks hit hardest by the pandemic. We will do this through foregrounding process and providing transparent pay structures. Our ethos is to make decisions collectively, flattening hierarchical models of Curator to Artist to User. We hope to redistribute the means of production and presentation so more people can feel inspired to enjoy making art.
Interview with DANIELLE BRAITHWAITE-SHIRLEY
Danielle discusses types of gatekeeping which determines value and erases the presence of Black people from archives, technologies and markets. Through her work she seeks to create a foundation for other Black Trans people to build on top of, including making archives where they are not only centred but embedded in the fabric of her coding. We also speak about her non-linear approach to technology reviving technologies to repurpose them for use by Black Trans people. And how she emphasises accessibility in her work and the importance of setting out terms and conditions as a way of holding people (and gatekeepers) to account.
State of the Union by SHAMA KHANNA (image courtesy EVAN IFEKOYA)
The physical and digital and the spaces in-between by Dr SYLVIA THEURI (image courtesy estate of DONALD RODNEY)
Following Ten Million Dinner Parties by NISHA RAMAYYA
hair folder (video) by ULIJONA ODIŠARIJA
A temporal note introducing Ulijona Odišarija’s hair folder (video) by SHAMA KHANNA
In The Curve by JOSEPH WALSH
Lockdown performance by TOM RICHARDS
The blessing of the Pisces Rising by NATASHA LALL
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 reading by HANNAH SATZ
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.
Peaceful in the rain in the order by DAN WALWIN
Interview with TEXTAQUEEN
… 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.
MEDICATED SUMMERS / BENEFITS TRAP / ENDS PORTALS two-part momentational sequence consisting of a short video and an image dump PDF file by ADAM FARAH
TAYLOR LE MELLE responds to MEDICATED SUMMERS / BENEFITS TRAP / ENDS PORTALS by Adam Farah
An Analog for Listening by NIKHIL VETTUKATTIL
Flatness is a long-running project curated and moderated by Shama Khanna offering artists and audiences a space for creativity away from structurally unjust institutions and market-led forces of the web. Help keep Flatness independent by donating to its supporters’ pool.
In 2019 the project relaunched with a new interactive design and a series of new artist commissions presenting 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.
The first iteration of the Flatness was a screening programme ‘Flatness: Cinema after the Internet’ for Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen in Germany in 2013 (with commissions by Anthea Hamilton, Ed Atkins, Oliver Laric and Gil Leung among several others) and it has been live as a multi-format screening and web platform (flatness.eu and archive.flatness.eu) for artists’ moving image and network culture ever since. Through working with devalued forms of the copy and the web, Flatness has been described as a ‘digital site of resistance’ (Dr Sylvia Theuri) decentering unjust narratives of the arts from the margins of the online. Flatness reflects critically on the current context where freedom of expression on the internet is devalued by social media algorithms which help push hate and misinformation up the agenda. The site presents a porous context for artworks to be shared as part of a genuinely networked culture.
Flatness values artistic experimentation and minor, durational experiences of art on the web. It is curated from the perspective of a queer Brown sick womxn with the aim of uplifting conversations and creative practices which defy intersectional oppression.
The aim of the website’s interactive elements – the calendar and comments feed – is to build an active community around these works, in support of their critical and social contextualisation. All contributions are moderated according to our safer space commitment included below.
This edition of the site has been an ‘unflattening of the screen’ with key elements of works by Rehana Zaman, Adam Farah and Lucy Clout happening outside the frame of the site prompting a further evolution; to recognise the importance of creating safer spaces for marginalised communities to meet, share and heal at a distance from imperatives to produce. Read more about this process of transformation here. 2021 marks a new phase in the project’s long-running history as it embarks on formalising the curatorial connections it has built up with artists and arts workers in the UK and abroad as part of a community-led mutual organisation.
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 taking action (rather than defaulting to critique). 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. Our transcendence of normalcy transforms expectations of transcendence through art. Donate to UK BLM here.
During the COVID 19 pandemic:
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, between April and August Flatness invited contributions for work which corresponded to:
– the ‘situation’;
– stillness and liveness (signals from rituals/ practice); or
– the ‘future’.
Live since 2013, Flatness is a long-running project curated and moderated by Shama Khanna offering artists and audiences a space for creativity away from structurally unjust institutions and market-led forces of the web. Help keep Flatness independent by donating to its supporters’ pool.
Read the latest ‘State of the Union‘ text by Shama Khanna from Autumn 2020.
Excerpt from an interview with Henry Broome for Spike Art Magazine from Autumn 2019:
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.
Creating safer spaces
The web is not a neutral space. From its beginnings as a US defence initiative to improve communication with soldiers in remote places through to the privileged, racial capitalistic understanding of freedom and ‘making the world a better place’ the cis-white male Californian ideologists who continue to structure and profit from it maintain. There has been an equally long history of artists and technologists critiquing this version of its development (and structurally unjust institutions and practices in general) which Flatness supplements.
Flatness is working on becoming a safer and accessible space free from racism, sexism, ableism, ageism, classism, casteism, homophobia, transphobia, fatphobia, or hatefulness. Let us know if there are ways we can do this better.
Subscribe to the Flatness newsletter for project updates.
Web design & programming by Gailė Pranckūnaitė & Andrius Zupkus.
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.
Supported by public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.