Beginnings

Questions on beginnings, ethics and commonalities.

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Firstly, the texts were from several books. See as follows; Moments of Excess: movements, protest and everyday life, The Free Association p. 11-21 (one chapter). Crack Capitalism, John Holloway, p .20 final paragraph – p. 26. A Postcapitalist Politics, JK Gibson-Graham. Intro to The Makings of an Imaginary xxiii – xxxvii and finally Alternative Economic Spaces (quick definition of alterity using alternative economic institutions) Edited by Leyshon, Lee and Williams, p. 56-57. I hope this helps, the extracts are perhaps the most useful parts of the texts. However, they are all interesting. I agree that there are different contexts which shape the way in which relationships develop. ‘Assemble was formed out of a collective project that aimed to do something, ourselves (build, develop, create, design, program, run). We shared the experience and skills we had and used each other’s energy and enthusiasm to make a project that was a social public thing in the city.’ I’m really interested in how and when you decided to join forces collectively to change/ make something? I wondered if you could outline some key moments from your own perspective? Yes, I can understand that sense of freedom and excitement in starting a new project. I really like that analogy of ‘falling in love’ it’s like something more than yourself, not a purpose, but a sense of action occurs. This emotional labour and sense of common ownership is really important! I really believe that in an age of institutions and intense hierarchy- this aspect- is lost or often seen as irrelevant. Its almost the ethics of this form of relational human behaviour needs to be re-positioned. I am doing some work on this as part of the collective of which I am a member. We are trying to create a series of interventional works about governing emotions or #G.E 18, which is a play on general elections, but one which would completely realign the current state of the neoliberal agenda.
From Assemble questions continued by JohnWrightArt

I think the foundational moments are seeing other people who are like you (non-professionals, young) doing something together. Making it seem possible. There is a European group called Exyst who did self-build projects on Union St in London for a number of years. This is in turn inspired people – some of whom are now members of Assemble – to start trying to start self-initiated projects themselves.

Some people talk about first deciding to do a project at a party. Another group – practice architecture – were also the contemporaries of most members of Assemble and they were probably the inspiration for that conversation.

For me a key moment was going to Rural Studio and seeing the extent of the responsibility and trust given to young students in their capacity to make physical change in the world.

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There is a lot of discourse on mental health which is positive, but it often misses the point about a societal change which is needed before things become irreversible. This includes how we re-imagine the city and the welfare system. Its not some leftist bullshit or utopian dream of democracy but a rational need to drag the conversation to something positive, a systemic change in how we live. I wondered if this line of thought maybe present within Assemble? Elinor Ostrom, I’ve actually been doing some light reading on the ‘commons’ and co-operation between communities with finite resources. It looks really interesting, I wondered if you could tell me a little bit about how you deal with such issues when you start projects etc.? ‘I think our practice, where it is interesting, is fundamentally interested in architecture as self-determination - that is why we set up Blackhorse workshop, Baltic street adventure playground, and originally the idea behind Granby workshop. The level at which these ideas are realised in reality varies greatly at different points through time’. This is really interesting and I think these projects may be a useful ‘site’ for my research. I think your idea of volunteering would be excellent. I will definitely like to visit these sights for my case study. We can discuss logistics over email regarding this and the volunteering. Also, the collective I was thinking about in Delhi was Maraa http://maraa.in/. Really interesting thoughts on gender politics. I guess for now, I am really interested in hearing about how you formed and the problems , things that worked well? Best John
From Assemble questions continued by JohnWrightArt

People should be mobile, questioning and social, but we have developed a culture that doesn’t encourage or support either of these. Inequality and racism are rife. I think systemic change is present within individuals within Assemble, but not necessarily within the collective. We operate within certain worlds where we are complicit in – even while being critical of – the status quo.

It depends on who in the practice is managing a project as to whether we even acknowledge such issues, even less try to consider them. Personally it’s something I’ve tried to talk to students about in relation to their negotiation of institutions.

I hope your time volunteering was of interest and more fruitful than your time with me has been.

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