Learning Behaviour, Learnt Action, Unlearning Knowledge, OFFSITE at Serpentine Gallery

Learning Behaviour, Learnt Action, Unlearning Knowledge, offsite at Serpentine Gallery, London

A weekend of thinking and acting.

Studio Voltaire has been collaborating with artist and writer Emma Hedditch, who maintains the women’s film and video distributor, Cinenova. Discussions have followed a shared interest in self-organising and organisational politics, feminist and queer politics, representation/visibility and the artist’s position in society. The weekend will include screenings and discussions with guest speakers, whilst considering the Local Operations proposition as an autonomous space, asking: can we or do we want to act autonomously?

Cinenova is a non-profit organisation dedicated to distributing films and videos made by women.


This is part of Local Operations (23 May – 01 July 2007) is a free series of self- organised events, talks, screenings and workshops by writers, curators, theorists, independent groups, not-for-profit spaces and students at The Sackler Centre of Arts Education at the Serpentine Gallery. All discussions will be available as free podcasts from serpentinegallery.org after the events take place.


Saturday 23 June 2007

Meeting and reading together.

Exploration and Unlearning
, Henriette Heise and Jakob Jakobsen, Copenhagen Free University

Exploration and Unlearning is the title of a series of videos we have produced together with the daughter of Henriette Heise and Jakob Jakobsen, Solvej between 2004 and 2006. The first video was produced when she was just turning five years old and the last one when she was six. The series was produced for television and the reflection in the videos upon this mode of distribution developed and changed from production to production, for Solvej as well as for us. The technologies of representation, from the camera to the screen, were continually an object of contestation during the production of the videos. Sometimes it was the object of play and happy transgression, at other times an object of dispute and outright war. With one camera we had only one ‘eye’ to share between us, and what kind of ‘eye’ was going to become ‘the camera eye’?

In the Exploration and Unlearning Series we are moving through a series of themes around these conflicts between play and social meaning. Hamburg Town, which was the first production, is thematising the use of the camera as a tool of communication, as well as an object of investigative play. In the Blackbird the focus moves to the medium of television as the main subject; it uses the news broadcast as a genre for a playful investigation. Heise and Solvej will be here to introduce the screening.

Jimmy Robert, Metallica (title in progress), 10mins

A minimalist yet baroque intervention. This piece is initially a sculpture it comes directly from a formal study made of sheets of paper, following my concerns with movement and representation, the different manifestations and ways of recording performativity it somehow felt necessary to attempt a collaboration with a dancer: Werner Nigg conceived the movements with the object in mind. To further the juxtapositions, layering of readings, like a futurist origami, the body of the performer will follow the movements of the sculpture and find its own balance/place in relation to the lines of the object, creating some sort of drawing in space, the piece will be performed in the metal workshop where the metal sheets were folded to achieve their final shape, commenting at once on masculinity and the idea of work force versus fragility, manual labour against mannerism.

Jimmy Robert is a Brussels-based artist who’s works create a dialogue between various elements, bringing together film, drawing, text, collage, installation and performance to explore the performative potential of materials, amongst which the body becomes an applicable object.


How to tell when the Rebels have won

Emily Roysdon reads from her introduction to ‘Revolutionary Warfare: How to tell when the rebels have won’ by Eqbal Ahmed, which first appeared in The Nation (New York) August 30, 1965 and has been re-published in conjunction with LTTR V Positively Nasty, 2006. Roysdon is a New York-based artist and member of the feminist gender queer artist collective LTTR. LTTR was founded in 2001 and produces an annual independent art journal, performance series, events, screenings and collaborations.

Sunday 24 June 2007


Meeting and reading together.


Jo Spence, Face Value, 1981, 20mins
‘I started looking through my old photographs and realised what a pack of lies they were, that they just constructed a view of me that was a fiction and most of the things that ever happened in our family or to me weren’t there in the photographs… You can build an image of yourself in your head in which it’s only the good things that are valuable about you, and that’s absolutely epitomised in the photos you keep.’ (Jo Spence) Questioning why we value these images – contrived as they are – Spence talks of how she saw herself as a young woman and the effects of ageing. ‘How you look is crucial in our culture … photographs collude to keep this myth going – that unless you’re young and beautiful, you’re a non-starter.’ Spence takes us through photographs from her ‘family album’, blowing the dust off and looking a bit harder at the things society ignores so that we may confront ourselves and accept what we usually cover up.

D. Chasnoff, K. Klausner, Choosing Children,  1984, 45mins
A video which focuses on interviews with six lesbian-led families, living in different parts of the USA; the women are African-American, white, Latino; the families include couples, single women, a lesbian and gay man co-parenting, and a group of women who share parenting responsibilities. All the women in the film became parents after coming out as lesbians. They talk of how ways of getting pregnant: some used artificial insemination, some children were conceived in what one mother refers to as ‘the old fashioned way’ – sleeping with a man; and one woman preferred to adopt.

Tara Mateik and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Toilet Training, 2003, 30mins
Toilet Training is a documentary video and collaboration between transgender videomaker Tara Mateik and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, an organization dedicated to ending poverty and gender identity discrimination. The video addresses the persistent discrimination, harassment, and violence that people who transgress gender norms face in gender segregated bathrooms. Using the stories of people who have been harassed, arrested or beaten for trying to use bathrooms, Toilet Training focuses on bathroom access in public space, in schools, and at work.

David W. Lawson
, Human Evolutionary Ecology Group, Department of Anthropology, University College London

Homosexual behaviour is widespread across human cultures, where it takes up many different forms, wrapped up in different conceptualisations and identities. This presents a puzzle to researchers who take a Darwinian approach to the study of human behaviour, as why would evolution by natural selection favour a phenotype that at face value would seem to dramatically decrease the likelihood of leaving direct genetic descendants. In a short presentation, Lawson will communicate the key tenets of the Darwinian approach to human behaviour and then apply this model to the evolution of homosexual behaviour, covering the main hypotheses and highlighting some recent studies. This talk will be followed by a group discussion, where participants are invited to voice their response to the work presented. A list of suggested further readings for those interested in learning more about evolutionary approaches to human behaviour in general, and homosexual behaviour specifically, will be available.

Debi Withers will be leading you through a collective lesbian rebirth journey as she takes you, by the hand, through the epic movement of Kate Bush’s ‘9th wave.’ the journey takes a humorous look at heteronormative socialisation, feminist and lesbian critical theory. No previous experience is necessary & all are welcome.

Withers is an academic/ activist/ artist. She is currently finishing her PhD which uses the work of Kate Bush as a vehicle for exploring ideas about subjectivity and the body. She hopes to write many more exciting things in the future.

You might also like

Act Out

Emma Hedditch, Jimmy Roberts and Emily Roysdon