Sarah Cole and Annis Joslin have been working with Joining Hands, Joining Hearts (JHJH) since May 2018. The group supports survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Together they are exploring the theme of Self-Identity…
The first stage of this project has been to get to know each other, to build trust and to develop a way of working using different media and methods. Although we have brought each other into our own projects before this is the first time we, the artists, have collaborated from the very beginning of a project – so we are also getting to know each other’s working processes, testing ourselves and our usual methodologies. We talk a lot, before and after each session, and are enjoying the questions we each throw up, recalling different conversations we’ve had, observations made.
What we share in our approach is to start from the point of departure – the work can’t truly begin until that initial encounter with the people we are working with. The outcomes cannot be pre-determined but there will be digital content as this is an expectation of the commission.
Three weeks in to this project, our thoughts are these:
- This group of women are extraordinary in their compassion for each other and their willingness to trust us.
- For our application we made a video showing how we both work; running with speculative ideas and playing with space, our bodies, props, words, melodrama, the domestic and the absurd. The women of JHJH understood us. And we seem to get them.
- It’s a happy place to be, our Fridays. There are often tears but a lot of laughter too.
- One on-going question to each other is how do we make a work that is political and personal, true to our process and the sensibilities of the group but able to communicate online to a far wider audience without it becoming a form of overly simplistic activism or un-nuanced polemic?
Some food for thought: Why Artistic Activism
Pat Craven devised the Freedom Project that some of the JHJH members now deliver locally and are starting to take in to schools:
“[working as a probation and also a parole office] I sat with groups of men who had assaulted, raped and even killed women. I listened to these men and began to realise several things…there is a very common misapprehension that a woman who has been abused has some understanding of what has happened to her. This is simply not true. When a woman is being subjected to abuse she feels that she is in the middle of a very confusing mess and it must be somehow her fault.” (page 6, Freedom Publishing 2008)