Performing DNA; Social Prescription and Mental Health

Vivian Chinasa Ezugha will be presenting an extract online from her current project, Performing DNA; social prescription and mental health on Saturday 2 November 2019. She is an international artist whose work has been commissioned by festivals such as SPILL Festival, In Between Time, Pittsburgh Performance Art Festival and so on.

She says “My work sits within a space of flux, I make work that are my acts of protest. As an artist I work with the ethos of sharing to care, what I have to bring is myself and the knowledge of sharing to care. My current research questions relate to mental health, the performance of health and the politics of living within a body marginalised within the care system.”

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Interview with August Davis, Curator of Laboratory of Dissent 2015

18 August 2019

What is Dissent?

Dissent at its barest minimum is objection. It’s also about difference. So it isn’t just about negation or rejection, it’s also about having an alternative.
It’s very much engaged with questions of orthodoxy and having an alternative doxa. So you are not just a naysayer, you are not just someone who is a contrarian, but you have a different point of view and you have an alternative reading or an alternative perspective that you want to proceed with.

Why is Dissent a good focus? 

I think it’s because we live in a world that is constantly trying to push for artificial consensus. That can actually, rather than being a unifying point, be a divisive point in society. Dissent is is a word that accommodates difference, and respecting the right for there to be different points of view.

If you look at geopolitical crisis right now, having the right to dissent is crucial. It shouldn’t just be a case of claiming to embrace dissenters, it needs to fundamentally and structurally be there to allow people to put forward their dissent.

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An Urban Rural Exchange

Artists Karen Wood and James Aldridge will present how different viewpoints, practices and working environments can support a developing awareness of what exists ‘beyond the binary’. 

Between November 2018 and November 2019 artists James Aldridge (Wiltshire) and Karen Wood (London) have collaborated as Urban Rural Exchange.

Meeting for bi-monthly walks in Wiltshire and London, and maintaining a dialogue online via instagram, James and Karen have documented their experiences of where they live and work, through collections, bundles, tape drawings and photographs. 

‘For me our collaboration is about taking these identities, that we, our work, and our home environments have been given, and exploring them. Blurring the boundaries between them and by doing so deconstructing the labels.’

James Aldridge

On November 2nd Karen and James will talk about how place-based arts practices can support a developing awareness of what exists ‘beyond the binary’. Their short talk will take place at our Inside / Outside Symposium at Winchester School of Art.

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The Whisper Cell

Participating Artists: Julia Keenan . Maija Liepins . Kimvi Nguyen

With presence and site-responsive curiosity we will use the surfaces such as windows and floor to investigate our relationship with dissent.

Maija, Day 1

We recognise that to stand alone, to stand out, to be the only one who says no, or calls it out, takes great courage and personal conviction. So we will use the Laboratory of Dissent as an incubator for creative dissent. 

When our group were initially offered a site at the school, it came with the proviso that we be quiet during classes (shhhh!) Consequently, our attention turned to how we could occupy space and work with sound in direct response to the limitations of ‘quiet space’.

Julia Keenan, Listening

In a series of whispered monologues and recorded conversations the artists will explore the ways they see, feel, or think differently and how they can be themselves, with particular attention to documenting what arises internally and between them and their environment.

Day 1, The Dissent Incubator

The Soapbox Experiment

Objective : Making meaning from the unknown – being ourselves

Julia Keenan, Kimvi Nguyen and Maija Liepins (the whisperers) present The Soapbox. A live art experiment which asks how comfortable we are with sharing space with alternative points of view. We will create a space / zone where we are allowed to be ourselves: a version of a ‘soap box’, a space for meditation, hold workshop, rest . . .

A 1.5m x 1.5m white square will set the perimeters of our actions. We are welcome to do anything inside this square, be ourselves, work, sleep, eat experiment, bring things in etc. We can share the space at the same time. Interesting to record and to watch our constraints and behaviour. What will manifest in a restricted space?

@maijaliepins @litlLinden

There will be a chance to come to the square and see us get on our soapbox.

Will the soap box concentrate, amplify, and contain our internal energy? 

We want to understand what our personal dissent is, and what meanings we can co-create when meeting the unknown.

The responses of “the other” are unknown. 

How will the location of our experiment provoke, inspire and confuse our understanding of Dissent? 

Our willingness to practice ‘being ourselves’ without giving way to social or institutional pressure will inform the tension and creativity that is generated in the space between self and other.

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art experience ash Body collaboration conversational practice conversational storytelling Conversation through encounters cross-pollination cultural dissent Dialogue Dissensus dissent methodology experiment fluidity going against the grain hair island Karen Wood learning lily pad live-art Mindchatter Notes Noticing not knowing observing performance Place Play poetry Questioning ranting rebellious Reflection responding Rotunda sound in the landscape Spacebetween tower uncertainty Unplanned Response Water Whispers words yellow

The Observers

The Observers are all Associate Artists who will operate ‘Outside’ the agendas of the working groups, but they are also have an ‘Insider’ perspective as members of the CAS Associate group.

What functions and dynamics will emerge as the participating artists are observed?

The Observers have been tasked with documenting what occurs during the five week Laboratory of Dissent using whatever creative methodology they individually choose.

Welcome Group 4
As you add blog posts, remember to select the Category “Group 4”. They will then appear on your group blog page, and in the list below.

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Intro: Unplanned Response

Participating Artists:

Karen Wood
Tina Sanchez
James Aldridge

We will focus on relationships with space and place, on encounters with each other and anyone else we meet. Where our on-site explorations and conversations inform events/work offsite, we will weave those in too.

What Will We Do?

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We will be drawing on the following values/ideas:

  • Opening up the focus on dissent, to explore creative dialogue as a way of sharing and representing multiple viewpoints across perceptual divides (e.g. inside/outside)
  • Space as potential
  • Infectiousness. The excitement that stems from experimentation and openness within the group radiating out to people we encounter.
  • Embodied ways of knowing
  • Sensory awareness vs disturbance/disruption

You can follow us on instagram at @UnplannedResponse


Dissensus; Exhibit A

30 September 2019

As if the feet cannot agree, the socks present a difference between two sides.

How might we express our points of difference constructively whilst also choosing to move as one body?

Group name: Mermaids and Pirates

Title; ‘Adrift in the more than human’

(inspired by Astrida Neimanis’ text ‘Hydrofeminism…’, 2012)

Participating Artists:


Four years after the Laboratory of Dissent 1, we , artists, explorers of dissent, teachers and simply humans, are coming back to face the consequences of our actions. Now in a different group settings, we will face the challenges attached to  revisiting the tensions and resistance experienced in our past undertakings. Laurence Dube-Rushby, spent a month as a British Council research fellow in Venice Biennale in August, and offered a text to the group to reflect on, work and diffract from, to perhaps find new consensus. An opportunity to  consider the possibilities of setting new conditions within which one works as much against the grain as  one moves with the flow in creative undertakings. Facing the challenges of new conditions and parameters originally dominated by political, economical and social criteria, we are now having to rethink our positions within a  state of emergency where we consider ourselves as survivors in of the near future in the context of rising tensions around climate change.

Recent Posts

‘The water is coming! No matter what we do, the water is coming!’ (extract of our recent group conversation)

Within this realisation, group 1 invites to consider how we may become ‘more than human’ and  evolve beyond ourselves? How can we build from ‘relational beings’ towards relational ‘doings’ and ‘becomings’?How our environment and spatial awareness, our own bodies will be shaped by our minds through water?  How can our artistic endeavor inform new relational concepts beyond a binary conditioning, through ‘hydrofeminism’, inspired by Astrida Neimanis’ text; (‘Hydrofeminims Or, on becoming a Body of Water’ , in Undutiful daughers: Mobilizing Future Concepts, Bodies and Subjectivities in Feminist Thought and Practice, eds, henirette Gunkel, Chrysanthi Nigianni and Fanny Soderback, NY., Palgrave Macmilllan 2012.)

@teaboy4life @andy_jones1970
@smdoula @susan_merrick

[Publication] Dissent: A Creative Practice (2018)

CAS’ first publication in the
Chapter 1. Dissent series reflects on the 2015 Laboratory of Dissent to consider ‘dissent’ as a creative methodology.

  1. Susan considers ‘the relational self’ and how it might create an interstice for a constructive dissent.
  2. Maija focuses on ‘individual dissent for collective change’ exploring how dissent is part of a non-linear process of mutual creativity.
  3. Yonat asks whether the performative act (including mis-performance) can be understood as a link between a painting and that “outside it”.

An exploration of theory and practice, this is an anthology of three very different essays by artists Susan Francis, Yonat Nitzan-Green and Maija Liepins.

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Symposium offer:
30% off your printed copy

buy now
from the event page

* Offer excludes postage, pick up on 2nd November at The Laboratory of Dissent Symposium in Winchester or from CAS by arrangement.

Questions? Contact Maija on 07828 870 841