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Interviews: Proboscis

Updated Wednesday, 5th July 2006

When considering interdependence, you can't underestimate the importance of listening.

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Listen to an interview with Alice Angus of Proboscis, which is an artist led cultural organisation, looking at how interdependence can work at a local level as well as an international one.

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Copyright The Open University

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Alice Angus: I’m one of the directors of Proboscis. We’re a cultural organisation and I think one of the reasons we’re here is that a lot of our work brings together organisations from different disciplines and different sectors, so that might be civil society, that might be industry, that might be NGO community. So whilst we’re a group of artists, and it’s an artist led organisation, we work right across the board, and one of our projects Social tapestries is in itself a metaphor for interdependence on a local level with communities. So that’s, I think that’s what connects us to interdependence. So that’s why we would want to be here.

Interviewer: What does interdependence mean to you?

Alice Angus: Well, it means to me that relationships, I mean actually I know that it means, people use it to talk about global interdependence, but for me it’s very much about the interdependence people have within their own communities and how that, and how those communities are interdependent on each other globally. I have to think about it in a really tangible way to be able to feel that I have agency and voice to kind of change things in the world that I might want to change, and I think a lot of people probably feel like that. So I think it’s really important not to think of it as a big overarching issue but to see how it meets with your own life and your local community.

Interviewer: And what have you been doing in your workshops today?

Alice Angus: This morning we held a workshop discussing or exploring cultures of listening, which seems to us to be really important when we’re talking about issues of interdependence, the ability to listen and the ability to have a voice. But what we decided to do was take it out of the more sterile environment of the board room, and when we were thinking about cultures of listening, it occurred to us that the most interesting part of a seminar or a discussion group or a meeting round a board table is actually when it ends and people are able to chat to each other, so we started back to front.

So we took people over to the park and people chatted for about an hour amongst themselves whilst we listened in and introduced people to each other where there was common areas of interest, and after about an hour we kind of all gathered together and people fed back and that ended up in a really very interesting discussion about the more kind of political aspects of cultures of listening and how we listen and how people can have a voice within a society and how across cultures people can be listened to and have a voice. We also talked about archives and memory. So it was a really good morning actually and it was very relaxing which I think it quite important for exchange of ideas, and we’ve also commissioned an artist, Camilla Brueton, to make an artwork that’s a response to that conversation, so then there’s going to be another level from that, and the whole thing feeds into our project, Human Echo, which is about listening.

So that will manifest itself probably over the next two or three years, you’ll see ideas from these conversations coming out in different works that we do, and that tends to be how we work. And it was very important to us to create a situation that was in itself a culture of listening and to bring people together that, we were very careful about who we invited thinking that people would be interested in meeting each other, so one of our hopes would be that we’ll see relationships started here that aren’t necessarily anything specifically to do with us but that allow people to make collaborations in other areas.

Interviewer: What do you think the legacy will be from today?

Alice Angus: It’s really hard to tell, I mean for people like me, and actually from an individual standpoint as an artist it’s about the connections I might make with other people, and I think for a lot of people participating that will be it. And those kinds of connections are the ones that I think empower people to be able to collaborate with others and to I suppose make change in their communities and lives.

 

 

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