For We chose the earth, artist duo Webb-Ellis are working with secondary school students at Northfleet Technical College and Northfleet School for Girls over a period of two years, collectively re-imagining ways of being and learning together through the methods of philosophical enquiry, radical listening, dance, movement, and film making.
Eschewing competition in favour of care, the artists are working alongside the students to co-create an alternative environment for learning, where tacit knowledge, imagination and autonomous thinking are central. Drawing from ethics, history, pop culture and science fiction, Webb-Ellis are developing the direction of the sessions in collaboration with the students; listening and responding to what is most interesting, important and urgent to them, and sharing in a genuine quest.
Students are becoming familiar with the methods of philosophical enquiry, a learning technique that enables the formulation and expression of thoughts through collective questioning, dialogue and reflection. This practice provides young people with intellectual strategies better equipping them to navigate a complex world which might not always make sense to them.
In collaboration with dance artist Lucy Suggate and experimental vocalist Phil Minton, Webb-Ellis are using movement and voice in the sessions as a means to explore different kinds of knowledge: inherited, cultural, subconscious and embodied. Where language breaks down, the artists harness dance and singing as alternative tools of expression and understanding, and make space for the body to speak, protest, and disobey.
We chose the earth workshops are also a form of living research, gathering and sifting ideas and material to build towards a new film installation. The film will be collagic in nature and is growing directly out of Webb-Ellis’ engagement with the young people, taking its lead from adolescent experience, and including materials created in collaboration.
The Film Producer is Laura Shacham.
This project is supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. With thanks to Northfleet Technical College and Northfleet School for Girls.