The exhibition at The NewBridge Project is the second showing of the work after its initial installation at Res. Gallery in London in autumn 2017. The work on show is the result of an eighteen-month process of collaborative research between the artists, attendees of public research groups, ‘The Future is a Collective Project’, and selected communities, into latent knowledge that is archived within the present in half forgotten rituals, myths, traditions, the landscape and our own bodies. The art works within Our House of Common Weeds pull together a constellation suggestive of alternative futures built from the suppressed knowledge, needs and desires that, in belonging to the realms of women, folk and indigenous cultures, pre-history, the non-human, and the ‘irrational’, have been left out of the grand design of our world.
The forms of collaboration through which each artist has developed their ideas are directly reflective of the content of the work – Birt’s sound, video and sculptural pieces exploring feminine collectivity and prehistoric rock art have been realized through vocal workshops with Newcastle-based women’s choir, SHE, at Neolithic rock art sites, Lordenshaw Channel and Roughting Lynn in Northumberland. Anna FC Smith’s work on the collective potential of communal intoxication, singing and revelry has developed in collaboration with regular karaoke-goers at The Bowling Green pub in Wigan and its landlady, Nancy Jones. Fourthland have worked with Xenia, an English language and friendship group for migrant women learning English and English speaking women, in Hackney, London. Williamson has developed her work in collaboration with the public archive of Canadian endangered species and the online subReddit community, r/Dreams, and Gent’s work has grown through their conversations with the cunning folk and storytelling duo, Sheaf+Barley. The works in the exhibition therefore all bear traces of lived experience that the artists have identified as potent ingredients for other possible futures. Our House of Common Weeds proposes the aesthetic experience of the art works as a set of tools for activating disenfranchised knowledge and interrupting the singular version of the future that is currently unfolding.