The Den Project
Part of the Cluster Temporary Permanence
Other Projects of the Cluster
Liz Sterling L.Stirling [at} leedsmet.ac.uk
About The Den Project / Motivation
The Den Project is a collaboration between artists/designers Dr Liz Stirling and Laura Robinson. The project initiates the construction of spaces of creativity inviting people to participate and contribute to the design and making of temporary environments, as a means of communicating that does not depend on one common spoken language. It celebrates the potential of temporary structures, a d.i.y aesthetic, assemblage and dis-assemblage, and the reusing of materials. As such the constructions become a focus of discussion that draws on our reflections on individual childhood memories, the political necessity of homemade shelter and somewhere in-between the two that connects a kind of universal experience and activity. As part of the cluster (Spaces of) Temporary Permanence our interest in the value of expanded thinking, interdisciplinary dialogue, social responsibility continues to develop a broader relevance and exciting new research possibilities.
Our recent activities have employed an interdisciplinary approach to the making and discussing of work around the themes of creativity, play and dens with different groups and individuals from school children to the elderly, students and the public, artists, writers. Combining talk and action, presentations are part of the work, always involving collaboration, using a range of materials and methods - performance, projection, audio, web links - integrated with the 'audience' participation. The Summer Camp would be a fantastic opportunity to pursue these approaches and engage the project in an increasingly wider community and to use it as a strategy in discussion and debate around broader themes of the event.
The project draws on Joseph Beuys’ idea of anyone can be an artist, that art can be singular, collaborative, performative, hijacking used and new materials from what’s available and implicitly testing out temporary, permanent and time based production. In The Practice of Everyday Life Michel de Certeau celebrates people’s abilities to customise, adapt and individualise mass culture despite corporate and technological attempts to standardise information and remove the individual experience. We make small detours from the path through desire lines and make do shelters, perhaps out of necessity as homelessness demands shelter through innovation and adaptation.
Proposed Project for Transient Spaces - The Tourist Syndrome
For Transient Spaces we propose constructing an exhibition space (within the designated space or elsewhere) from materials sourced in the city. The structure will focus as a connection point that will challenge assumptions of the migrant and the tourist as viewers and participants of ‘artwork’. Liz and Laura will arrive, and as 'tourists' forage for free, found and donated materials to build the space. In keeping with the temporary and site-specific nature of the exhibition theme this collection of vernacular materials would reflect and reveal the changing culture of the city with its people suggesting what these might be and where we might find them.
With the aid of the organizers we would invite members of different communities to join in the construction of the space, take part in the making of the structure and its contents so it becomes a space of a new common experience, exchanging knowledge and an open ground where migrant and tourist might communicate with each other. Liz and Laura will then initiate a series of activities in the space, making mini spaces, recounting memories of den making, sharing through drawing, words, and celebrating playful making which will continue evolving with new participants/visitors after Liz and Laura return to the UK providing people with a place to create, contribute, display and communicate their own experiences. The foraging of materials will also have publicised the event and encouraged people to participate.
Material from the Summer Camp could also be included in the construction/display that participants would be invited to send or attach personally.
Extending from this the project will utilize ‘bunting’, a traditional method of celebratory festooning in Britain at local fairs and markets extending the work out of the exhibition, celebrating the role of the street and the interior as interconnected. Alongside this and in keeping with the clusters outward looking activities, we would make temporary signage (e.g. signs on sticks, temporary graffiti, other vernacular signage methods), advertising the event and connecting people to the work and exhibition. A website/twitter group would also collect experiences/ encourage exchange as an online archive that people could join. acting as a forerunner to the following two venues.
The structure would be disassembled, material collected and saved and a new one built in each city. The project would be documented and exhibited online.