Future Collect artist Jade Montserrat invites fellow creative practitioners Hamja Ahsan, Emma Dabiri and No Matter to join her in a conversation centred on the idea of publishing radical constitutions. Exploring the slippage between performativity and documentation, performance and document, the discussion will consider the potential of what a publication can be, what writing can do, and the notion of publishing as a political act. Montserrat is in the process of creating new work for her Future Collect commission at Manchester Art Gallery, encompassing performance, works on paper and a publication, as she explores questions of care in relation to both objects and people in the context of the gallery’s collection and collecting practices. As part of her research, she has initiated a series of public events in collaboration with creative practitioners working across a variety of media. Act 3 will inform the making of her publication, which as well as documenting aspects of her process will make reference to political pamphlets and acknowledge the lineage of public lectures and debates that Manchester Art Gallery has fostered as the original ‘useful museum’.
Hamja Ahsan is an artist, writer, curator and activist currently based in Maastricht, The Netherlands and London, UK. Ahsan’s book Shy Radicals: The Antisystemic Politics of the Militant Introvert, published in 2017 by Book Works has been adopted by the neurodiversity movement and was adapted into a film in 2020. In 2019, he adapted the book into Aspergistan Referendum, a commissioned artwork for the Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts where it received the Grand Prize. He was shortlisted for the Liberty Human Rights Award for organising the Free Talha Ahsan campaign, and founded the DIY Cultures Festival 2013-2017 of zines and creative activism.
Emma Dabiri is an author, academic and broadcaster. She is a teaching fellow at SOAS and a Visual Sociology PhD researcher at Goldsmiths. Her writing has been published in a number of anthologies, academic journals and the national press, and she has presented ‘Back in Time Brixton’ (BBC2) and ‘Britain’s Lost Masterpieces’ (BBC4), as well as hosting Radio 4’s critically-acclaimed documentary ‘Journeys into Afro-futurism’. Dabiri’s debut book, Don’t Touch My Hair, was published by Penguin in 2019, and her forthcoming book What White People Can Do Next, is due to be published in March 2021.
No Matter is a poetry collective based in Manchester. They run a bi-monthly feminist poetry and performance reading series for poetic and performative experiments, and publish work through No Matter Press. In 2019 they were awarded Arts Council England funding for New Matter, a series of events with specially commissioned performances from poets and artists.
Image: Jade Montserrat /// No Need for Clothing /// Performance /// Two Night Stands /// Cooper Gallery DJCAD /// 7 April 2017. Photography by Jacquetta Clark