20–22 June 2019

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: 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.

Day 2: Wysing Arts Centre, Saturday 22 June, 11.00am – 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


Welcome and Introduction by Lotte Juul Petersen, Wysing Arts Centre

11.15 Walks (choice of two)

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.

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) On site session TBC 

13.30 Lunch

15.00 Panels / Seminars (choice of two) 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)

15.00 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.

16.30 Break (20 mins)

16.50 Performance – Jade Monserrat: Contagion

The first of two performances exploring the question of ‘rural belongings’, Contagion refuses containment or control in a performance that considers landscape, specifically marsh, swamp, peat bogs; mycology; care; and places where boundaries between the earth and heavens become more porous. Contagion emphasis renewal and renewing, spreading earthy mycological spores with complete disregard for segregated lands, concepts of terrain or ownership, or erasures of history and memory.

17.35 Screening Programme

18.15 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.

19.00 Coach Departs - arrive King’s Cross at 20.00-20.30 

The Rural Assembly is in collaboration with Whitechapel Gallery, the 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.