Exercises in Exchange was a programme of engagement activities and public events devised by Fiona Irene Graf, recipient of the 2023 Spike Island Engagement Fellowship for South West-based Curators.
Concerned with alternative economies and notions of reciprocity, Exercises in Exchange explored the possibilities of inter-mutual relationships and transboundary networks, asking how we can establish more nurturing, sustainable ways of being and interrelating within both human and non-human communities. In the face of ongoing economic and climate crises, the programme stressed the urgency to generate more equal economic structures based on kinship, collaboration, co-governance and circularity.
On this page you will find information about all the aspects of the Exercises in Exchange programme, with resources and links.
Public events included discussions on alternative economic models, possibilities of non-monetary exchange, practices of care and ideas of belonging, featuring work by artists and writers including Shama Khanna, Rehana Zaman, Lucy Lopez, Dot Zhihan Jia and Nina Mingya Powles.
As part of the Exercises in Exchange programme, we invited various artists to facilitate workshops with young people across Bristol. These artists were Aislinn Evans, Raju Rage and Josh Adam Jones, Alesha Hickmans, Callum O’Keefe and Laura Foster from the Bristol-based collective Look & Learn.
Raju Rage led a creative workshop with a group from Hartcliffe Club for Young People, encouraging participants to create artworks for each other, or for someone else, to explore sharing as an act of kindness, and reciprocity and exchange as an energetic gift-economy.
Raju Rage is proactive about using art, education and activism to forge creative survival. Born in Kenya, raised in London, and living and working beyond, they explore the spaces and relationships between dis/connected bodies, theory and practice, text and aesthetics and political substance. Their current interests are around sustainability, economies, care and resistance. Raju has a history in individual and collective activism, focussing on the politics of queer and transgender people and people of colour.
PHOTOGRAPHY WALK AND WORKSHOP
LOOK & LEARN
This 2-day workshop series with Creative Youth Network explored how creativity can be used to develop interconnections between people and places. During an analogue photography walk and zine-making workshop, participants were encouraged to think about how photographic techniques can help us make relationships with others and our environment.
Look & Learn is a community focused photography organisation, facilitating workshops in lens-based and alternative photographic processes in and around Bristol. Place-making, exploration and play are central to their ethos, as well as the importance of mental wellbeing. The motivation behind Look & Learn stems from the founder’s lived experience of depression and discovering solace in walking and photography. Creativity and shared experiences have been pivotal for so many people, even more so following the pandemic. Look & Learn is a platform to learn new skills, meet different people from the community and fundamentally enjoy the process of making.
REHEARSAL FOR THE REVOLUTION
Aislinn Evans led an interactive game session with OTR Bristol’s Freedom group, inviting participants to re-imagine Bristol after a riot, in which the city is barricaded and has been taken over by the people. From the viewpoint of an autonomous local commune, the players collectively thought about how Bristol might change and what agency its people could have in creating new, more just systems.
Aislinn Evans is an interdisciplinary writer exploring cultural narratives, trauma and belonging as it relates to class, family and place. Their practice exists at the peripheries between art and writing, encompassing publication, performance and participatory practice. They appropriate, deconstruct and reinvent dominant folklore, myths and stereotypes to bring underlying tensions to the surface. They mix accessible popular art forms – such as comics and games – with the experimental and avant-garde.
Fiona Irene Graf is a cultural worker living in the UK and Germany. Her practice focuses on participatory and collaborative modes of working, alternative economic systems, notions of reciprocity and entanglements between human and more-than-human ecologies. Graf holds an MFA in Curating from Goldsmiths, University of London, and has co-curated a variety of projects including In the Open, an exhibition negotiating the boundaries of public space at Kunsthalle Exnergasse in Vienna (2023), LVAN: Relay!, a series of walking tours in collaboration with Lewisham Visual Art Network, part of Lewisham Borough of Culture (2022), and Regroundings, a film programme and online artist conversation, Goldsmiths CCA (2021). As a member of the curatorial collective and research group Mapping Local Ecologies, she co-organised a programme of public events whilst in residency at Goldsmith CCA (2021-22).
Partners and Supporters
Part of the West of England Visual Arts Alliance programme, supported by Arts Council England.