DIY: 2004 – John Jordan – RESPONSE-ABILITY: Building bridges between art and activism

A three day retreat for rebellious tricksters, fools and buffoons hosted by John Jordan

Friday 5, Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 March 2004

Participants will meet at 10.00 on Friday 5 March in central London and be taken to a secret location outside London for the duration of the project. Participants will be dropped off in central London on the evening of Sunday 7 March.

The Project

The poverty of creativity within the sphere of political activism is astonishing, the same old forms are churned out – the mass marches from a-to-b, the die-ins, the sit-downs and pickets -new forms of resistance rarely emerge.   Yet at the heart of most politically engaged artists practices lies a similar poverty, their forms may demonstrate great creativity, but the level of actual engagement with the public sphere is often lacking.

The activists have the punch but lack the poetry; the artists can build the beautiful, but are often disconnected from contexts where real social change can take place. Finding this space in-between the poetic and the political is never easy, many artists find it difficult to engage and embedded themselves in social movements which they perceive as dogmatic and lacking creativity and activists often find art irrelevant to their campaigns.

RESPONSE-ABILITY will bring together a group of artists and activists on a three day retreat where they can share skills and ideas and begin to build new methodologies of creative resistance which involve applying creativity directly to social movements while trying to develop a methodology of creative resistance that takes its aesthetics as seriously as its politics and may in the end will neither look like art or politics.

The retreat will involve intensive processes including performance workshops and games with a particular emphasis on popular theatre and fairground forms. The carnivalesque role of the trickster, buffoon and clown as a powerful art activist strategy will be a key theme of the retreat.

Application procedure

Places on the retreat are limited to 20 and participants will be selected by application.   Due to the nature of the project and the expectation that demand for places will be high there will be a rigorous selection process.

For application forms please email John Jordan on [email protected]. The closing date for applications is Monday 9 February 2004.

All participants must commit to remaining on the retreat for the entire duration of the project.


Accommodation, meals and transport (from and to London) will be provided but participants will be asked for a contribution of £20 towards costs.

The Organiser

John Jordan, spends his time trying to find a space where the imagination of art and the social engagement of politics can be brought together. For 10 years he was a co-director of Platform, the London based art and social science group. Since 1994 he has worked in the direct action movements, principally with Reclaim the Streets (1995-2001). He has just co-edited “We Are Everywhere: The irresistible rise of global anticapitalism” Notes From Nowhere (eds.), Verso, London/New York, 2003 and is presently working on a new live art project the “Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army.”

Part of DIY: 2004

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