Merel Smitt
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Filed under 2020, 2021

How To Start A Movement – The Mail-Art Project

 

HOW TO START A MOVEMENT (the mail-art project) is a three-week durational experience with a closing collective event containing a zine-workshop and a dinner. The entire project is meant to fit within the frame of your everyday life and therefore connects to each individual in a different way. By joining the movement, participants shift their gaze and engage with their everyday life and surroundings in a different way. During their participation they individually map, discover and explore the hidden rules of society while at the same time forming a temporary gang with the other participants.

Over the course of 19 days, each participant receives 15 envelopes in their physical mailbox at home. In each envelope they find instructions, readings, messages, workshops, games, notes, material and traces that they will have to look at, follow or engage with. The time they commit to it varies each day from 10 minutes to an hour. Some days require them to just look at the material while other days require them to go outside and go on a mission. For example; to follow a stranger, infiltrate an institution and write a script about what happens in this institution, plant seeds and flowers to take care of a spot in your city or slap stickers to claim a public space. All the material is designed to be integrated in the participants’ daily life; while working or at school, on their daily commute in public transport, the supermarket, while picking up your passport in a city office or on their daily walk. The content of the envelopes varies depending on the context in which it is taking place and the topic we want to address, for example dismantling social norms, questioning the institution of a family life or creating awareness around female violence in the street.

The envelopes have a certain dramaturgy designed to not overwhelm the participants and to motivate them to create their own path within the movement, to make their own decisions, form their own opinions, try new things and to not be able to look away. During their journey, they are constantly aware, if not, reminded, that they are part of a collective and that other strangers somewhere in another place are doing the exact same missions on the exact same days. They experience the impact of the movement on themselves while at the same time becoming the impact on others, whether these are fellow participants taking part in the movement or other citizens crossing their paths. During the entire project, they are asked to collect traces from their individual path in the form of text, photos, audio recordings, drawings or however they want to express themselves. Every trace they collect are uploaded by the participants themselves in a digital and collective archive: www.howtostartamovement.nl allowing them to follow each others discoveries.

At the end of the three weeks, all the participants come together to meet each other for the first time to share and reflect together through a collective zine workshop. They exchange their experiences, thoughts and stories with each other by talking and using scissors, colours, pens, glue, glitters, paper, copy machines, stickers and tape to express their views. As a collective they re-write, re- arrange and re-contextualize their stories to create one final collective trace to leave behind.

about how to start a movement

HOW TO START A MOVEMENT is a series of public interventions and missions in which different individuals get the opportunity to explore, question and disrupt the protocols, dynamics and rules of (semi) public spaces, institutions and venues. The missions consist of instructions you receive and execute together or individually. You can receive these instructions through printed cards, digital channels, verbally and so on. Some of the missions are role-playing games with specific roles and instructions, others are workshops, multi- interpretable assignments or instructions you can do on your own whenever you feel the need to raise your voice or respond to the harsh reality. how to start a movement is an artistic practice and a methodology and a toolbox at the same time that can respond to different contexts and centralise different subjects. This practice consists out of many different performative set-ups that can be shuffled or moved around, combined or taken apart depending on what it needs to respond to.

www.howtostartamovement.nl 

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