The Body-Forest was a programme of engagement activities and public events devised by Jack Young, recipient of the 2022 Spike Island Engagement Fellowship for South West-based Curators.
The programme explored how thinking of the body as an interconnected ecosystem rather than as a machine – a metaphor developed under capitalism – might shift the way we think about our human connection to the world. Drawing on the work of biologists Pierre Sonigo and Shrese, among others, the Body-Forest included participatory workshops, discussions, reading groups, a summer school in Leigh Woods, the publication of Jack Young’s hybrid chapbook of interspecies intimacies URTH and more. The programme interrogated how the concept of the Body-Forest might de-centre the human, and change the way we think about time, language, desire and community in an age of overlapping social and ecological crises.
On this page you will find information about all the aspects of the Body-Forest programme, with further reading, resources and links, including:
Public events included discussions on land justice, featuring work by writers Zakiya McKenzie, Rebecca Tamás and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson; hybrid events on contagion and desire co-facilitated with artist Veronica Vickery and featuring work from artists and writers Jenny Hval, Adham Faramawy, Octavia Butler and Paul Samuel White; a participatory discussion on all things Body-Forest with evolutionary biologist Shrese; and a workshop led by Zakiya McKenzie on how to work creatively to decolonise and reanimate forgotten archives.
The Body-Forest summer school invited a group of young people from Hartcliffe Club for Young People and Heart of BS13 to explore the histories connecting Hartcliffe, Leigh Woods and the tobacco industry, and our relationship to the more-than-human world. The summer school was led by Jack Young, artist Rebecca Beinart and Kirsty Hammond of Heart of BS13.
This podcast episode created by the Body-Forest Summer School ranges from speculative fictions, to exploring the gaps in the archives connecting Hartcliffe, Leigh Woods and the tobacco industry, from games interrogating what an archaeology of the future might look like, to the ways in which the young people connect to these various geographies in Bristol and beyond.
Have a look inside the zine to see some of the art and explorations developed by the young people during the Body-Forest Summer School.View the zine
Jack Young is a writer, educator and participatory artist living in Bristol. He writes experimental fiction and non-fiction with a focus on queer ecologies, and his hybrid chapbook URTH was published by Big White Shed in 2022. He co-hosts the literary podcast Tender Buttons in partnership with Storysmith bookshop in Bedminster. As an educator, he works with young people using arts-based critical pedagogy, with a particular emphasis on multilingual filmmaking, applied theatre and creative writing, to explore themes ranging from fabulist approaches to reanimating historical archives, to queer ecologies and speculative fiction. He has worked with schools and institutions in Barcelona, London and Bristol, including MACBA, Institut Broggi, the Royal Academy, Horniman Museum, Tate, Gasworks, Spike Island, UWE Bristol, Acta Theatre and Artspace Lifespace. Find out more at www.jackmyoung.net.
Part of the West of England Visual Arts Alliance programme, supported by Arts Council England.