Collective Futures Second Meeting – 10th July 2023

A photograph of Jessica El Mal's Cyanotype images of rain presented at Castlefield Gallery.
Installation View: Jessica El Mal, Spring Rain 09.12.2022. Photography by Jules Lister.

The second introduction to Collective Futures incorporated a curator and artist-led tour of The Poetics of Water, an exhibition by Jessica El Mal and Parham Ghalamdar at Castlefield Gallery, Manchester.  Curator Matthew Pendergast situated the exhibition in the context of Castlefield Gallery’s origins as an artist-led space with a purpose of supporting artists in the North West and as part of Hybrid Futures – a pilot project which explores how artwork is cared for, collected, commissioned, acquired and transported.  Exhibiting artists, Parham Ghalamdar described the overlap between his practice and the climate collapse in terms of the existential concerns he has experienced as an asylum seeker and the fragility of democracy and life standards that could immediately change through the unfolding of political unrest or a threat to national/ individual security.  Parham spoke about his new departure into ceramics  – a material that can be both wet and dry at the same time, gloopy and solid or both dirty and beautiful. Parham hopes to reveal the ‘social, collective way to think outside the binaries’, to be conscious of our own carbon footprint and create space for conversation.

The Collective shared a meal together prepared by the Open Kitchen –  a catering company who are committed to producing food in the most sustainable and ethical way. Dinner conversation included singing the praises of domestic spiders whose webs act as natural air filters and a call to do less cleaning, Louise Bourgeois’ spiders – stitching, weaving, mending, the emergence of mosquitos specific to the London Underground, red earthworm sausages found in the Philippines, climate-aware photography, presenting data connected artistically/creatively, utopian and dystopian futures and personal and collective responsibilities.  Discussion was expansive covering the failing education system compared with the regenerative activism of children through cultivation of sphagnum moss set against play, art, culture as vehicles for learning.

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