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20–22 June (20 & 21 June in London, 22 June at Wysing)

The Rural Assembly will take place at Whitechapel Gallery, London, and Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge.

The Rural Assembly draws on a series of public programmes and research that developed throughout 2018. It looks at contemporary artists and creative practitioners who are challenging the assumptions made about rural life and culture, providing a new vision of the countryside grounded in everyday experience and a critique of the rural-urban binary. This culminating assembly considers how artists respond to the established and imposed divides between the rural and the urban. From re-imagined farming practices and food systems to architecture, community projects and transnational local networks, this three-day assembly brings together artists, curators, historians and critics to discuss the role of art in a rural context, inviting a critical outlook at our relationships with the rural today.

For more information about the programme and for bookings, please click here.

Keynote Lecture: Whitechapel Gallery, Thursday 20 June, 7pm

The Rural Assembly will open with a key note lecture from Taiwanese artist and curator Wu Mali. Wali has developed a distinctive approach to working with communities across Taiwan, in projects that consider rural culture, land use, environmental concerns, and the shifting relationship between the rural and urban in Asia. .

Day 1: Whitechapel Gallery, Friday 21 June, 11.30am – 6pm

A full day of panels and seminars on embedded artistic practice in the rural, translocal networks, decolonising the rural and rural representations. To see the full schedule at Whitechapel Gallery, click here.

Day 2: Wysing Arts Centre, Saturday 22 June, 11am – 7.00pm 

With a focus on artistic practice and experience in the rural, the second day provides a slower pace with walks, a collective lunch and performances, screenings and seminars.

Coach Departs Kings Cross. Arrives at Wysing 10.30am

11am Welcome and Introduction by Donna Lynas, Director, Wysing Arts Centre

11.15am Walks and Seminar (choice of three)

A) Open Ramble East - Ian Giles A walk led by artist Ian Giles and members of the Open Ramble East Project, considering the complex and often invisible experience of queer identities in rural places and landscapes. Open Ramble East members contributing to the Wysing walk include: Rachel Pimm, James McDermott, Alison Graham, Alice d'Lumiere and Graham Innes.

B) Caroline Wendling Together with locally based farmer William Bevan, Wendling leads a tour of his farm and other sites in Bourn, connecting to local histories, exchanges and experiences.

C)Seminar: Farmer to Farmer - Artist Asunción Molinos Gordo shares her project "De Campesino A Campesino " (Farmer to Farmer), in dialogue with farmer Simon Diss, to address questions of agroecology and peer-to-peer agricultural innovation across informal global networks.

1.30pm Lunch

2.30pm Artistic Utopias? Experimental practice from the Rural

This panel invites artists who self-organise projects from and for rural places, challenging the idea that the rural is a site for artists to ‘escape’ to. From an artist-run space in a remote part of Indonesia, to an experimental farm, to alternative communities around the world, how do artists experiment outside of ‘cultural centres’? Panelists: Ismal Muntaha (Artist, Jatiwangi Art Factory), Léonore Bonaccini and Xavier Fourt (Artists,Bureau d’Etudes) - Grace Ndiritu (Artist), chaired by Lotte Juul Petersen.

4pm Break (15 mins)

4.15pm Possibilities of Rural Belongings: Embodying Liminality

In advance of their performances later in the day, this conversation between artists Jade Monserrat and Harold Offeh, considers critical approaches and practices from the position of being Black British artists in rural environments. Chaired by curator Hansi Momodu Gordon.

5.30pm Performance – Jade Monserrat: Love. Love?

Developed as part of Montserrat’s ongoing Rainbow Tribe project, Love. Love?, emphasises renewal and a renewing of energy and materials against the backdrop of the rural. The works seeks to unsettle representational space, physical privilege, gendered connections of sexuality and empowerment. A somatic response to trauma and healing, the performance is a continuation of Montserrat's work to create transitional spaces and strategies of survival for the body.

6pm Performance – Harold Offeh: BodyLandscapeMemory

The second performance focusses on the presentation of Black bodies in the landscape. Moving away from stereotypes of the labouring or victimised body, the work will explore leisure, play and connections to the physical environment. Taking source material from popular culture: fashion photography, album covers and advertising, the piece presents a series of poses and gestures. Harold Offeh will be performing with collaborators Ebun Sodipo and Samra Mayanja.

6.45pm Coach Departs – arrive at King’s Cross at 8 – 8.30pm 

The Rural Assembly is in collaboration with Whitechapel Gallery, th University of Aberystwyth, Manchester Metropolitan University, Myvillages and Istanbul Biennial. The Rural Assembly also forms part of the East Contemporary Visual Arts Network’s project New Geographies, chaired and coordinated by Wysing Arts Centre and supported by an Ambition for Excellence grant from Arts Council England.