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What does it mean to collaborate with young people on a contemporary art project? How far can and should creative decision-making be shared? What effect does this have on the young people involved and how does this impact on the role of the artist and gallery in creating artistically remarkable work?

A range of academics, gallery professionals, artists and young people will come together with a range of talks and discussion sessions to explore these issues. Site Gallery and some of the young people involved will present a case study on the Cutting Shapes project, reflecting on the process and roles involved.

“I think I just want to make people… think. And whatever they think about after it, however they interpret the piece, is up to them. I just want people to develop opinions and ideas about things they might never have thought about.” 
Cutting Shapes Young Co-producer

Speakers include:
Rachel Anderson, a freelance creative producer based in London, who works part time as Producer – Collaborative Projects at Artangel developing projects that place an emphasis on a shared process between artists and communities. Projects include: Did you kick the foot that kicked you? by Ruth Ewan which involved the co-ordination of a hundred musicians along the City of London commuter routes; Smother by Sarah Cole, developed with young parents and culminating in a performed installation in a three-sided house in Kings Cross; a tender subject by Mark Storor, who worked with gay prisoners and prison officers across the UK to develop a live, devised performance in a disused cold storage unit below Smithfield meat market.

Emily Druiff, Executive Director at Peckham Platform; a social arts commissioning organisation located in south east London. Since opening in 2010 she has overseen the gallery’s transition to become an independent charity and secure National Portfolio Organisation status from Arts Council England. Her knowledge and belief in the power of social arts practice to make contemporary art more relevant to people’s every day lives is what drives the curatorial vision for the organisation. She will talk about previous commissions: Network by Sonia Boyce, which explores how forms of social communication such as mobile phones and social networking sites like Facebook have become the most popular ways for young people to maintain their relationships with friends and family; and Peckham Heroes by Jessica Voorsanger, which celebrates Peckham’s historical and famous residents by transforming the gallery  into a drop-in day-time karaoke bar that encourages active participation.

Cutting Shapes is part of the AHRC Connected Communities Festival, which takes place from 15 – 29 June 2015. The project is an Arts Enterprise collaboration with the University of Sheffield, and forms part of Site Gallery’s young people’s programme which is supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

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