23rd March: 11.00am

Beyond The Now:
Art and Mutual Aid after the Pandemic.

As we try to map a route beyond covid-19, the arts can play an important role in renewing community. But it has to be acknowledged that artists and arts infrastructure has been hard hit by the pandemic.

The return to normality, when it arrives, cannot be the picking up of routines that were curtailed by months of lockdown. Normality now offers itself to be remade. This panel discussion aims for an honest assessment of the challenges encountered in the wake of Covid-19, while affirming art as an agent of social renewal. It asks what role art might take in reconstruction and explores the ethics of ‘mutual aid’ that informs some forms of art activism.

Socially-engaged art has long drawn on activist traditions that developed the theory and practice of mutual aid. This radical perspective aims to foster models of reciprocal care that foster solidarity, value difference and fashion community.

The economic and human effects of the pandemic are so severe that spontaneous forms mutual aid have emerged. Around the world, responding to local conditions and using local knowledge, community-based and grassroots cooperation has played a key role in responses to the pandemic. Often, centralised top-down projects have failed to achieve comparable results, despite lavish funding.

Featuring a range of perspectives, the panel will ask: how should we think about art’s role in a post-pandemic world? What human potentials and new social relations might arise in this situation? How might arts organisations and artists learn from models of mutual aid, long practiced and implemented within community and civic sectors?

This event is held by The Open University and the syndicated social practice platform ‘Beyond the Now’.

The panel:

Dr. Stephen Felmingham works with drawing and social practice, as a mediator of creative forms of social organisation. The relationship of creativity to the wider social realm is a key aspect of both his teaching and drawing research. He lectures in postgraduate studies at Plymouth College of Art, UK.

Dr Majella Clancy is a Belfast based artist who works across a painting and printmaking practice. Her research often involves collaboration and participation as a means for extending dialogue and critical enquiry. She is a part time lecturer at Ulster University.

Dr Kim Charnley is an art theorist and art historian who researches art activism. He is lecturer in Art History at the Open University and has authored a book entitled Sociopolitical Aesthetics: Art, Crisis, Neoliberalism (Bloomsbury) dealing with socially-engaged art.

Sara Greavu is a curator, writer and organiser. She has a particular interest in how art can recognise existing social structures, propose alternative histories and genealogies, and prefigure different social relations. She is the incoming Curator of Visual Arts in Project Arts Centre, Dublin.

Jude Bennett is a curator, cultural producer and activist from Belfast. She has worked in galleries and residency programmes throughout the north of Ireland and the UK and is now based in Denmark where she is Arts & Activism Projects Manager for the not-for-profit Roskilde Festival. In 2015 Jude co-founded Refugee Rescue, a sea rescue NGO in Lesvos, Greece in response to humanitarian crisis on Europe’s shores.

Find out more: beyondthenow.com

date & time

date & time

23rd March
(duration: 60 minutes)




This virtual event is free

event partner