EMERGENT WALKING STRATEGY - George Square to Pollokshields East booklet
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I, as a graduating student at the Glasgow School of Art, wish to express support of Pause or Pay and G$A MFA campaigns. Pause or Pay demand Visa extensions, pastoral support and financial compensation for the loss of teaching and access to facilities due to 2019 and 2020 UCU strikes and Covid-19.
Before Covid-19, staff and students were feeling the effects of financialisation of education, which were expressed by two UCU strikes in one year. We protested against universities and governments that prioritise profits and growth over people, with the GSA being no exception. Covid-19 has exacerbated this situation whereby those most vulnerable are the hardest hit. For many of us, a postgraduate degree is a once in a lifetime opportunity for which we have made significant financial and personal sacrifices to undertake our degrees. Zamzam Ibrahim, National Union of Students president, argues that “the current crisis has shown that students occupy the worst of all possible worlds – with the majority paying extortionate fees for their education and treated as consumers but left out in the cold when the product cannot be delivered as described.”(1)
The GSA is part of the lifeblood of Glasgow with GSA graduates becoming leaders of the arts nationally and internationally, and contributing hugely to the culture and economy of the UK. However, the GSA has increasingly become a player in the neoliberal system that perpetuates unequal access to education. Many of us are struggling to survive during the pandemic, all the while the GSA is repeatedly telling us to “adapt”. Those who are able to “adapt” to the current circumstances are the privileged ones. The rest of us are being put at a disadvantage, with the most vulnerable being left behind.
I call upon you, practitioners of the art industry, to join the fight against universities and governments that are perpetuating inequality and a lack of diversity. When you look at our work, throw your usual assessment criteria out the window and instead look with real empathy and care. Remember that an online grad show is not appropriate for everyone. Please use your platform to boost those who are disadvantaged. Do everything you can to strengthen the future of our art world.
My curatorial project, emergent walking strategy, began in 2020. Due to the impact of Covid-19, the project is still in its early stages. I have extended my studies until December 2020 during which time I will concentrate on pursuing this project.
Emergent walking strategy facilitates the creation of strategies for social transformation, with a focus on small-scale interactions that strengthen relationships with ourselves, our community and our environment.(1) The starting point of forming an emergent walking strategy is the act of walking, independently or as a group. A sensing and moving body is fundamental to learning, by stimulating our mind through all our senses. We can use the idea of “walking-with” human and non-human beings to allow our bodies to guide us in engaging a deeper connection with the places we inhabit.(2) The project is developing strategies to improve democracy and inclusion at a grass-roots level in regards to, but not limited to, land ownership, privatisation and finacialisation of land, vacant and derelict land, environmentalism and sustainability. The strategies seek to mobilise alternatives to current systems of authority and decision-making when it comes to land, for a radical shift of power away from neoliberal private interest and onto the human and non-human beings who inhabit the land.
(1) The core concepts of emergence are inspired by adrienne maree brown, emergent strategy (Edinburgh, AK Press, 2017) and Nick Obolesnky, Complex Adaptive Leadership: Embracing Paradox and Uncertainty, (Burlington, VT: Gower, 2014)
(2) “Walking-with” is a term from: Stephanie Springgay and Sarah E Truman, Walking Methodologies in a More-than-Human-World: WalkingLab (Oxon, Routledge, 2018)
Grace (b. 1992) is an Australian curator-artist-coach, living and working in Glasgow since 2017 with Australian/British dual citizenship.
Selected education and training: Masters of Literature in Curatorial Practice (Contemporary Art), Glasgow School of Art and University of Glasgow, UK; Bachelor of Fine Art, Monash University, Australia; Double Diploma of Marketing and Management, Open Training & Education Network, Australia; Sparqs Student Representative Training; Scottish Mental Health First Aid Training; Grade 8 Saxophone, Australian Music Examinations Board, Australia.