DIY 13: 2016 - Season Butler ‘Stet* - Performative Writing and Doing History’


*Stet |stɛt| [imperative verb]: let it stand; an instruction on a printed proof to indicate that a marked alteration should be ignored; a performative writing retreat on commemoration and constructive forgetting. 

Project summary

This retreat is an opportunity to explore the forms and genres of performative writing, and experiment intensively with radical methods of making histories. When should we conserve and when should we allow things to degrade? How should we remember and what should we forget? Are there elements of our archive that could benefit from tampering, tweaking and interfering?

Over four days, seven artists will tap our global, national and collective histories as a vehicle to explore the politics and practice of performative writing. We’ll look at history as an act of agency; (un)making the past, we’ll overwrite, redact, erase, edit, highlight, conserve. Participants will be invited to experiment with materials from handmade paper and ink, wood and metal, and code, finding befitting ways to commemorate and forget. Evocative meals and rustic accommodation provided.


The application requires answers to the following questions:

  • Please describe your current practice and how this retreat might benefit your work?
  • Choose a sidekick and a nemesis from history, and tell me a bit about your selections.
  • Tell me about either a forgotten piece of history which should be restored, or something historical that we’d be better off forgetting.

Dates, times and location

Dates: 13-16 August 2016
Times: Over the four-day retreat we will work together for six hours in each day, but never the same six: 12-6pm, 6pm-midnight, midnight-6am, 6am-noon.
Location: Edinburgh (exact location TBC)
This DIY is supported by Forest Fringe

The artist

Season Butler is a writer, artist, academic and activist. She teaches performance and critical theory, and spent several years running creative writing workshops for visual and performing artists. In 2014, Season won second place in the Soroptimists International Prize for novels by black and Asian women, and continues to write literary and experimental fiction. Her current practice is focused on taking narratives beyond the body and the page, starting to employ simple materials and machines, innovative forms and techniques, and the “soft” spaces offered by digital technology. She is also an associate producer of I’m With You, a loose little collective concerned with queer domesticity.

Part of DIY 13: 2016 Project List