Cédric Fauq, Laura Harford, Elspeth Mitchell, Lara Ratnaraja, Rommi Smith & Alex WiddowsonRepresented: Platforms not compromise

Photo by Fiona Allen.

Represented: Platforms not compromise is a programme of talks, workshops, screenings and discussions highlighting an urgency for equality in representation and critiquing misrepresentation, under-representation and misinterpretation. Events will take place between – 17 October 2019.

In a climate statistically defined by structural inequality the programme will include artists who call upon their own personal experiences of identity, gender, addiction, mental health, age, race, class, sexuality or disability, to highlight truth, equality and authenticity. We will look at how these artists and cultural producers represent the complexities of identities, individuals, communities and perspectives in their work, and question whether or not they need to have had personal experiences akin to those experienced by a group in order to represent that group fairly? This will allow us to consider how we benefit from seeing rich representations of our own experiences projected back at us through art and how such work can develop our understanding of groups that we do not identify with. With this in mind we must also consider how we look beyond simple gestures.

In conversation with artists, illustrators, writers, curators, performers, activists and Lincoln communities, the programme aims to welcome, acknowledge and present a growing plurality of voices. Speaking to and with a contemporary multicultural reality we will critique platforms, mechanisms and tools seeking to change, disrupt and dismantle how institutions and organisations establish and grow minority audiences for projects – affording genuine experiences of work with and without a focus on the representation of artists of colour, womxn, queer, trans, intersex and non- binary artists.

Represented: Platforms not compromise will bring together artists and communities to share cultures and identities that strive for just representation. Contributors include: artistic director Kerry Campbell, curator Cédric Fauq, participation curator Laura Harford, researcher and producer Elspeth Mitchell, cultural consultant Lara Ratnaraja, poet Rommi Smith and illustrator Alex Widdowson.

The Oscar Wilde Temple: Rethinking platforms for artists & communities with Laura Harford
Wednesday 9 October, 5.30pm—6.30pm

For the programme’s opening event curator Laura Harford spoke about her work with reference to recent installation The Oscar Wilde Temple, by McDermott & McGough. During the exhibition Studio Voltaire’s gallery became a space of sanctuary and celebration, used by LGBTQ+ communities for ceremonies, reading groups, community meetings and other special events.

Approaches to representing neurodiversity: Screening & talk with Alex Widdowson
Thursday 10 October, 5.30pm—7.00pm

In his talk and screening event Alex Widdowson spoke about creating authentic and ethical representations of people and the world. He creates animated documentaries about the diverse mechanisms that cause people to think in particular ways, covering topics such as cognitive disabilities, addiction and mental suffering. Alex shared recent works including Music & Clowns, a short-animated documentary about his brother, Jamie, who has a profound learning disability.

Platforms Not Compromise: Panel discussion with Cédric Fauq, Elspeth Mitchell, Lara Ratnaraja & Rommi Smith
Saturday 12 October, 1.30pm—3.00pm

During an open panel discussion chaired by Lara Ratnaraja, guests Cédric Fauq, Elspeth Mitchell and Rommi Smith spoke about the development, delivery and maintenance of platforms for artists, performers and cultural producers from diverse backgrounds.

Representation, Reflection, Resistance with Rommi Smith
Saturday 12 October, 3.30pm—5.00pm

The panel concluded with a writing workshop delivered by Rommi, examining the themes and ideas that had emerged in the discussion. Via a series of short writing-based prompts, the group explored concepts of sensation, presence and reaction, moving through into ideas of manifesto and change.

Class Inequality and Curating: Talk & discussion with Kerry Campbell
Wednesday 16 October, 5.30pm—7.00pm

For her talk Kerry Campbell shared previous projects in Luton and Sheffield as well as her intentions for Mansions of the Future’s legacy year. With an emphasis on the impact of social class, she considered both statistical and more nuanced structural inequality and consider the capacity of curatorial practice to intervene – necessarily affording dignity and representation to diverse voices.

Communal Lunch: Equality, Disability & Diversity with Jo Tolley
Thursday 17 October, 12.00pm—2.00pm

The programme concluded with a Communal Lunch delivered by public speaker, writer and activist Jo Tolley. Over a shared meal we discussed our awareness and understanding of equality, disability and diversity in contemporary society, considering conversation as a tool for positive change.

In March 2021 Mansions of the Future will host Innovation in Engagement, a two-day conference delivered in partnership with the University of Lincoln. This conference will promote cross-organisational learning and share exemplary creative practices which nurture diverse participation, meaningful engagement and afford agency to underrepresented groups.

Burdened by Mansions of the Future’s temporary reality (2018 – 2020), the individual and collective learning afforded by Represented: Platforms not compromise will inform approaches for both Innovation in Engagement and urgent conversations with partners and communities, considering what’s next for the city.

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