What Shall We Build Here is a festival of art, climate and community at Artsadmin’s Toynbee Studios in Aldgate East, across East London and in your local supermarket.
From mini golf for dogs to a drag performance for earthly survival, a party on how to survive the end of the world to an audio tour of your local supermarket about the politics of food production, distribution and consumption, the festival invites audiences to events that imagine ways of living together that are just and sustainable for people and the planet.
Over five days, the festival features works by artists Selina Thompson, Aisha Mirza & Aaks B, Kaajal Modi, Ama Josephine Budge, Oozing Gloop, Alicja Rogalksa, the dream(ing) field lab and Nigel Barrett & Louise Mari. There are opportunities to take part in person or online, with live events either taking place outside or indoors with limited capacity and social distancing in place. The festival culminates with a celebration of dog walking in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, including a mini golf course for dogs and an audio work to watch dogs play by.
The festival is part UK-wide cultural programme Season for Change, inspiring urgent and inclusive action on climate change, and showing UK’s climate leadership in the run up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), which is hosted by the UK in November 2021. Season for Change is led by Artsadmin and Julie’s Bicycle, and supported by Arts Council England and Paul Hamlyn Foundation.
The Season is a platform for underrepresented voices in the climate movement, inspiring new perspectives on the most important issue of our time.
What Shall We Build Here features two of the 16 commissioned works as part of Season for Change. These projects centre Black womxn and womxn of colour:
Immersion by Selina Thompson
10 September, free performances in four locations across Tower Hamlets at 2pm, 4pm, 6pm and 8pm at Toynbee Studios
Artist Selina Thompson invites audiences to listen to a chorus of breath from an intergenerational group of women of colour, collected from across Tower Hamlets, one of London’s most polluted boroughs, and tuning into the beauty of breath at a time when breathing has never felt so loaded.
another garden ((will be our city) by the dream(ing) field lab
12 September, 12-4pm, immersive installation at Toynbee Studios
An installation that re-visions the relationship between women and femmes of the African diaspora and land in the context of climate breakdown, by Jennifer Farmer and Zoe Palmer ( from the dream(ing) field lab), drawing inspiration from the radical Black imagination and afro-futurist movements.
Farmer and Palmer say: “We use acts of radical self-care and joy to nurture and encourage a time to dream and re-imagine our relationship with land, rural spaces and each other. For Zoë, who has long been an environmentalist, the project is a way to weave together her art and ecological activism on the subject of climate justice. For Jennifer, it’s also an extension of her work in terms of exploring their relationship with land and growing in relation to being the great-great-granddaughter of enslaved people forced into agricultural labour.”
Róise Goan, Artistic Director, Artsadmin says:
“What Shall We Build Here is a celebration of artists whose work playfully and provocatively challenges us to imagine different ways of living that are more just and sustainable for people and our planet. As we present our first live and in-person festival programme at Toynbee Studios, Artsadmin is proud to present audiences with a range of performances that offer a space for grief, for healing, for pushing back and questioning the status quo, for joy, for new visions.”
Salome Wagaine, Programme Manager, Season for Change says:
“The Season for Change programme is an opportunity to engage and activate individuals and communities using arts as a tool to communicate possibilities of a brighter future, rather than use the negative rhetoric that often surrounds the climate crisis. COP26 is our moment to make the vital and urgent changes needed to redirect our future.”
The festival programme, including two Season for Change commissions, also features:
The Apocalypse Reading Room
Ama Josephine Budge
Until 30 September, free, Toynbee Studios
An installation of books for all ages, an on-site library, a world of talking stories in the face of environmental and social transformation, a gathering of all the books we might need to change the end of the world…
Pretend You’ve Got No Money
8 September, audio download, listen in your local supermarket
Download and listen to this audio tour in your local supermarket, conceived to introduce disruption into daily shopping habits and make you think about the politics of food production, distribution and consumption.
Going to Glooptopia – 8 September, Toynbee Studios
Cafe Glooptopia – 10-11 September, Toynbee Studios
Two events by the world’s premiere autistic drag queen, Oozing Gloop. A 4-hour outdoor performance with poetry, costume changes and storytelling for earthly survival on 8 September and a relaxed coffee morning devoted to discussion and divinations for political hope on 10-11 September.
Sharings from the Apocalypse Reading Room
Ama Josephine Budge
9 September, 7-9.30pm, Toynbee Studios
An intimate evening of conversations and conjurings, exploring climate justice, queer ecology, speculative possibilities and creating our own apocalypse survival guides.
HOW TO SURVIVE THE END OF THE WORLD
Aisha Mirza & Aaks B
10 September, 7–11pm, Toynbee Studios
A playful, gentle evening of installations and creative workshops exploring ecological grief. This event is for people of the global majority only. Queer/Trans people particularly welcome.
Kitchen Cultures: eating (as) ecology
11 September, 3-5pm, Toynbee Studios
A sensory workshop exploring food, climate and colonialism.
Dog Ballet: Dog Mini-Golf & Listening Party
Nigel Barrett and Louise Mari
12 September, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, 11am-8pm
The festival culminates with a sound celebration of London’s dogs and their owners in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, presented in collaboration with LIFT and part of LIFT LOVES LONDON.
This project is inspired by how the pandemic has prompted people to reconnect with their local area through dog walking and frequenting their local park. The artists have collected conversations with people in the parks of London about their dogs and created a soundscape to watch dogs play by.
If you are a dog owner, bring your dog for a very special round of dog mini-golf. If you don’t have a dog or would prefer to watch and listen, join us for a Listening Party in the park to listen to the audio while you watch dogs play.
Let the everyday act of dog walking be transformed into something poetic and playful!
Engage with Dog Ballet Solo online and from anywhere in the world: After the festival, from Monday 13 September to Thursday 28 October, the audio work will be made available online Artsadmin’s website, and free for you to download or stream in your own local park.
What Shall We Build Here is supported by BE PART and ACT, through the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund, and Season for Change, which is led by Artsadmin and Julie’s Bicycle, and supported by Arts Council England and Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Immersion is also supported by the Foundation for Future London and City of London.
Participate in the Season for Change Open Programme
Season for Change invites any artist, creative or arts organisation to plan an event, discussion or artwork related to climate action or the environment. Registered events will be promoted via communication channels. Activities can take place in any location, be that arts venues, streets, festivals or home. Explore Season for Change’s free online resources from toolkits on running sustainable events and creating green artworks to step-by-step guides for cultural organisations.