Feel like academia is driven by hegemony and consensus? That every conversation stays on trodden paths, led by the usual few expressive people of a group? Ever wish to hear what other people have to say instead of the usual orators?

 

Equal Voices in the Room? is a socially engaged art project started by students at the Royal College of Art in response to group learning experiences which we felt were not inclusive enough.

The project focuses on the forms used as part of discussions and works to challenge the use of the voice as the primary medium of discussion as well as addressing practices of inequality and power structures that exist in classrooms and seminar rooms.

We strategise and try out new techniques for communicating, interrupting, affirming and supporting each other by drawing on people’s existing knowledge and experiences, as well as trying out a range of practical techniques borrowed from practices such as consensus decision making, body centred methods of working together, and practicing recognising and articulating power dynamics, influenced by Jo Freeman's The Tyranny of Structurelessness. 

We put together a series of exercises for workshops with students and staff. The workshops had a good response and we continued the project over the time of our education at the RCA. The project continues beyond the institution. 

We have run workshops with students and staff at the RCA, Whitefield School, and at the Whitechapel Art Book Fair.

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Equal Voices Exhibition - February 2018

(Flyer designed by Rachel Yalisove)

The exhibition took place at the Dyson Gallery at the Royal College of Art, with artists from the RCA connected to the Equal Voices in the Room? project. The artists collectively organised the exhibition. 

Equal Voices is a training centre and a group exhibition generated by a collective of artists from across the RCA school with diverging practices that intersect ideas of shifting and destabilising the centre ground. Power centres are provoked in a myriad of contexts from the hegemony of western-centred views in contemporary art to questioning why the role of the speaker is so valued and the role of the listener is devalued in educational contexts. With a range of artistic practices, the group investigates the voice through vocal practices as well as non-speaking forms of communication. Whilst borrowing non-hierarchical methods from activist groups we have worked collectively to question power centres through the process of organising as well as the exhibition content. Through developing a fictional scenario, a new boardroom emerges.


Our era is marked by a widespread disillusionment with neo-liberalism despite its influence that seems to have no end. The issue younger generations now grapple with is how to develop and implement a political strategy that is effective and specific to the present cultural context. How, they wonder, can we emancipate ourselves from old ideals while still trapped in the reins of failing governments and institutions?
A collective of ten artists develope an exhibition that brings to light instances of dominance and exclusion in academic environments. Further, it offers a space for positing more egalitarian tactics for discussion amongst people from disparate backgrounds. The physical and programmatic elements of the show are in constant flux, producing a casual but cerebral mindset. It is an opportunity to realise new ideas and prototype them collectively. The title, “Equal Voices,” comes from two artists who began a series of workshops in 2016 to investigate and challenge group dynamics in their post-graduate institution. From the beginning both students and faculty participated, but the turnout rate of tutors and administrators has always been vastly miniscule compared to the attendance rate of students. As the entire institutional makeup must be represented in a conversation that aims at extensive reform, it was decided that this exhibit would place a particular emphasis on tutor and administrator involvement. The hope is that these sectors of people will become key players in the greater initiative. (except from text by Rachel Yalisove, Public Sphere MA programme, RCA)


Artists: Shamma Al Amri, Milagros Bedoya, Alex Parry, Cicilia Östholm, Rachel Yalisove, Sadie Edginton, Nazanin Rahami, Aurora Gazm, Sing Hang Tam, Eleni Papazoglou and Sofya Chibisguleva

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Equal Voices in the Room? 

Riso printed workshop instructions

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Equal Voices in the Room? 

The Pluralist, Issue 1, October 2017

https://thepluralist.info/Equal-Voices-in-the-Room

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Equal Voices in the Room? 

Workshops with Whitefield School

As part of ReachOut RCA

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Equal Voices in the Room? 

Bapor Tabo(o) curated by _inventory

(Rhine Bernardino & Linda Rocco)

2017

Equal Voices in the Room? 

Map of power structures at the RCA

Made with participants of the workshop 

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Equal Voices in the Room? 

Manifesto

Equal Voices in the Room? 

Training Videos

2018