(in)xclusion

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On Monday we told you about Alex Herod’s amazing project as part of the arts project (in)xclusion, taking place for 24 hours from 6pm on February 25th at the Patrick Studios in Leeds. Today we get to put some questions to Adam Young, one of the people behin the event.

(in)xclusion looks at and challenges issues of exclusion in all shapes and sizes and as such is something we’re very interested in seeing succeed. If you’re anywhere near Leeds during the 24 hours it’s running, please go along and take part and help make it the vibrant, joyous, and provocative event it deserves to be.


DH: A couple of years ago I put on a show called Open-armed and Outcast (http://yearzerowriters.wordpress.com/2010/04/18/open-armed-embrace/) that I wanted to look at and celebrate the concept of outsiderdom. The problem I came up against immediately and continually was that by celebrating the outsider I felt I was involved in my own act of exclusion. Would I be right in saying the title, (in)xclusion acknowledges that ambiguity?

AY: It’s important to begin by pointing out that the work presented at (in)Xclusion has been chosen from an open call. We got 80 applications so from the offset we were forced to exclude certain ideas from the final programme! This is reality. It would have been impossible to say yes to everyone. I point this out to highlight the dichotomy of inclusion and exclusion. Decisions have to be made and in a binary process you fall one way or the other. However I personally believe that there is always a third way in any given situation. For this project we hope that the artists who’s work was not chosen still want to engage with the project and maybe even attend the event.
Inclusion and exclusion are really one and the same just from different stand points. Our mission is to (as it sounds like your show “Open-armed…” did) rethink the position of the excluded. It is about taking ownership. We do not however wish to seem naive. We are not trying to make a change in the political sense. (in)Xclusion is not a protest, it is a research project. We offer no answers.

DH: To expand, how do you create the balance between creating a safe space for outsiders and inclusion of those elements that make the space unsafe, and would it be fair to say that this boundary and its permeability is the thing you are most keen to explore?

AY: The most fallible aspect of this project will be judged on how accessible we have been. Inclusive arts can sometimes thrust values and ideas upon its participants. We have all had experience of this I am sure. Our audience will be predominantly a perfoming arts crowd, so in this sense we are preaching to the choir. The challenge is to create an atmosphere where the few participants who are unfamiliar with the histories and etiquettes of witnessing Live Art works do not feel out of place. We want the boundaries to be clear but also to let people know that what is happening is a simple offering of good will. Not speaking of the individual works; (in)Xclusion is a reACTION to the propaganda of the 99% movement. I can only speak about the politics of the event as a whole; our aim has been to open up new dialogues, create a platform for new work and keep the festival free.
We have commissioned 38 works and two publications that will all be free to those who attend. We are also able to offer free food and hot drinks to all who attend because of the belief and good will of East Street Arts who are paying for our catering. This brings me to another of our Partnering organisations. Emmaus (less than 100 yards away from Patrick Studios) is a charitable business dedicated to helping ex-homless people rebuild their lives by providing a place of work and a live-in community. Emmaus will be providing our catering for (in)Xclusion and several Companions have also been active in generating content for our newspaper ‘Stand”.
Taking the 99% view that we have commonality in the fact we are all excluded, our hope is that ‘unsafe’ spaces become more palatable because of the frame we have allowed. Nothing is forced, no one is captive, there will be a hand to hold if you need it but you will be given the benefit of being treated like an adult.

DH: Your mission statement acknowledges geographic exclusion – how can people who are unable to travel to the studios get involved?

AY:One of the best ways for those who have internet access is to take up Bess Martins offer to control Webcamhead! We will be streaming as much of the event as possible and also utilising the instantaneousness of Social Media.

DH: The internet is an incredibly exciting place that is breaking down barriers every day. I wouldn’t have met Alex, or any of my literary collaborators in fact, without it. But it has always bothered me that technology is building as many (arguably) barriers as it is bringing down but that these are far less well acknowledged than “physical” exclusions. I wrote a piece a two and a half years ago about digital exclusion in the publishing industry (http://agnieszkasshoes.blogspot.com/2009/08/from-pitch-to-perpetuationof-privilege.html) but it seems to me if anything that the problem has worsened as more creativity takes place not only online – thereby excluding whole swathes of the world without internet access, but using technologies with mechanisms such as regular, required updates as well as initial expense, that seem designed to exclude not include. Do you think digital exclusion is taken seriously enough as a structural issue, and what can be done to counter it?

AY: Don’t shy away from the big questions Dan!

I am by no means an authority on Tech but I will try answer your question(s) with my own concerns.

I am concerned that you assume all humankind would benefit from technology or that all humankind wants it.

I am also reminded of Susan Blackmore’s TED talk on “temes” http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_blackmore_on_memes_and_temes.html If we think of technology as an organism then we can also consider humankind as having God status. AC based electrical Technology is man made. New life has been created. Our ultimate creative achievement(?)
To answer your question on regulatory mechanisms in software/hardware – In a perfect world I would like to see all intellectual property come under Creative Commons license or something to that effect. But when it comes to technology I admit I am a consumer and not a producer of it.
Reading you sited article on publishing I can only say that we are publishing a printed newspaper as part of (in)Xclusion. The contributors all submitted from an open call and no one was edited or turned down for submission. This paper will be digitised onto Scribd post event and made available for free.
This whole thing overwhelms me as it is beyond my comprehension so I feel I have misunderstood/not answered your question.
DH: How will you measure the success of (in)xclusion?

AY: We are already measuring that success and so far so good! We are humbled by the interest, time and goodwill everyone has put into the project to this point. Already 100’s of people are direct participants/contributors/collaborators and were still two weeks away from the festival. We do not expect to come away from this with a manifesto for the future but instead to look back and say. Conversations were had. Questions asked. New work was made. Connections have flourished.
This is our pilot year. We hope there is a will for another 24hrs!
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