Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Peckham Experiment

Well, that and a whole bunch of other things, too.

So much to talk about! I had an appointment with the assessment centre for disabled students' allowance to ask if there's anything that they could offer to help with making notes in lectures and such like. I half expected them to tell me to piss off, but they were enormously helpful and I left feeling a little bit like I'd won on the Generation Game or something. Now to see if Student Finance England can sort it all out before I finish the course. One thing that stuck in my mind was that as we were saying goodbye and once I'd told the assessor about Plant Food, he said, "I've really enjoyed meeting you. Good luck with your course; it's so good to see someone doing something useful for a change."

At first I thought he was making fun of me, but it was an honest comment. Comics and illustration are useful, are they, compared to business studies degrees and such like? Interesting.

I'd spent the weekend helping Pom Pom International teach (literally) hundreds of people to make pom-poms for peace to the point where I'd been dreaming about the things. It was an amazing weekend, and I'm still really pleased I'm able to be involved in the project, using something whimsical to bring people together. There were some lovely moments, watching a little girl teaching her dad to make one, watching strangers talk and help one another while making something. It might seem like a silly idea, and there were silly elements - my gingham pinny being one - but it helped people to connect through craft and that was all that mattered.

So, instead of being able to think about how the art I like is socially engaged practice, I was too tired from making pom-poms with strangers. Ah!

I've started poking around the bowels of the art school to learn about the letter press and I'm planning on going in to a load of workshops to learn how to use them properly over the next few weeks. I'm also going to get in on lots of computer courses to learn a bit more about Illustrator, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, InDesign and maybe even some animation stuff, too, so beware.

This morning, I got up to find this in among all the twitter post:

BNP free phone line(from landlines only) 0800 0086191.Call from a pay phone, leave off the hook. Deflate their resources.

So, I shared it with friends and thought I'd keep an eye out for any pay phones I passed during the day and headed out to have lunch with Caroline and to take her photo for the Glastonbury registration system. All the pictures have her trying not to giggle, so she looks really sulky, so they're amazing in my book. Bought some more toe glove socks and a scarf in another slightly disappointing Westfield trek and went to the gym to make the mistake of showing the 5x5 stuff to Ilmar and Felipe. I'm going to regret that tomorrow, I think!

Anyway, after that I headed down to Camberwell again where all my life seems to happen at the moment and went to the launch of The Peckham Experiment, curated by the utterly beautiful Rachael House and Jo David (I mean, they're both beautiful, not that she is and he isn't) and I really loved the experience of artists acting as curators (or vice versa?) in socially-engaged thinking, where the exhibitions (not just the one I saw) respond to the original Peckham Experiment which was an inspired bit of social engineering where people who wanted to understand health as more than just the absence of disease and created what looks like an idyllic communal life for the people in the project before, sadly, the building was taken into the newly-formed NHS in 1950 as part of a much wider and more ambitious social experiment into understanding health.

At the same time as all of this was going on, I'd downloaded Grindr for the iPhone, an app that apparently you're meant to use for phone sex or arranging to have anonymous sex with strangers but so far I've been using it to talk to art students at other colleges who've just started using their phones and are baffled by them as much as I am and to chat to an old friend I used to meet at demonstrations. I think there's something quite amusing about trying to fit a discussion about the distinction between socialism and communism and to discuss perceived notions of class and about power over means of production and its rewards into a screen format that's quite clearly designed for conversations that start (and end, if they're with me) with "nice tatts m8, got more pix?"

Perhaps I'm not quite using it properly.

So, I should probably end this post and stop going through the BNP website telling them where they're making incorrect use of English in their posts because I think their moderators won't allow the comments past their irony filters. I quite like sending them all these emails with snippy corrections in, though. Perhaps tomorrow I'll start telling them they should reword their whole website to remove words that aren't of English origin, because, damn it, those migrant words, they come over here and they take all our sentences or something. There really wouldn't be much left, would there? English is a mish-mash of creolised German, French, Latin and Norse peppered with words from pretty much every country in the world. As English is, so is Britain and so should it continue to be.

Etymology as activism?

Yes, Labour are a train wreck on top of a car crash in the pit of a plane disaster at the moment and the rape of social services, education and every other socially-engaged practice in order to repay the billions and billions lost in the fiscal vortices of greed is inexcusable and unforgivable, but the swing to the right we're likely to see in their wake is every bit as troubling.

But I'm digressing when I should go to bed. I'll blog again soon, chances are, with a story of trying to get the men in the showers at the gym to stop wanking over each other and instead to start to show that they care for their fellow man through some kind of socially-engaged practice. Perhaps I'll tell them about the exhibition I went to see and see if politics gets them hard as much as nice tatts m8 does.

Or maybe I'll stare awkwardly at their willies and run off, which is what I did today.

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