Instigating Collaborative Study (ICS)

community building/self-publishing program, 2020
Instigating Collaborative Study (ICS) is an attempt to create space for the forming of a temporary community that will come together to explore ‘thoughts in flux’, and the ways one might give voice to them. The project will take as departure points; a series of dinners where everyone cooks together and shares a meal, a zine archive, a series of curated texts, discussions, workshops and weekend residencies as frameworks to structure this community space. It invited 9 young and emerging art practitioners in Sri Lanka to spend 3 months in a regular community process varying from self-publishing to cooking together.

Pro Helvetia New Delhi’s Now On grant was an invitation to further experiment with new formats for artistic creation and collaboration under the conditions of restricted mobility brought on by the pandemic. For the Packet, however, the ‘current’ was inextricable from the future. We had been experimenting with a different way of working and speaking that only intensified under the conditions of the pandemic. The ‘Now On’ call, therefore, felt like an appropriate opportunity to reflect, expand and put further into practice what had been swirling in and around our group practice. In the current framework of our world, we feel it is liberatory to continue to speak from the intimate, and to think in public through the vehicle of ‘what you do with other people’ and ‘time spent with each other’ (Fred Moten).   

For us, the question was less about how to promote artistic work despite the pandemic, and rather what the current conditions brought about by the pandemic might reveal to us about our ‘always already’ existing ways of working, speaking and being together. While this time has brought out incessant calls to theorize about the future and about what might become of the world, we are interested in refusing this rush to theorize. What we are aware of, is that artistic communities are working from within limited capacities, much of which existed pre-pandemic. It is precisely in response to these conditions (that may have intensified under the pandemic) that we hope ICS will be an opportunity to work collectively on art forms that circumvent traditional means of artist work. How can this turn toward community and the hyper-local open up possibilities for the future, and expose the failings of our present?