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The Right to Explore

October 6, 2010

I found a copy of Keri Smith‘s ‘How to be an Explorer‘ in the A New Direction office last week. In the vein of Learning to Love You More, ‘How to be an Explorer’ is a series of exercises that anyone can do, that help them look at the world with new eyes. It draws on the everyday practices of many great artists and designers. The exercises are a bit like ‘recipes for art.’

Making a sculpture with whatever objects are currently handy, such as paper cups.
Using paint from found sources including crushed berries and mud.
Exploring magic by collecting objects that seem to have magic potential
Explore patterns in nature and manmade objects and collect pattern rubbings.

It helped me to extend a series of creative exercises we have been mulling over that are intended to provide a way for anyone to explore the big questions that the Olympics raises. These build on the report section.

The book also made me think about the politics of the Olympics and why London is and why London should be staging the games. Since London won the Olympics several points have been emphasized in the Olympic brand – most importantly that they will belong ‘to everyone’ and moreover that they will be for young people.

Sometimes this seems a the heart of the 2012 games, sometimes these values feel a bit lost. That’s partly because the primary concern of the Olympics is the budgeted delivery of a spectacle and the buildings and infrastructure it requires – working with & empowering people is a secondary concern.

But it’s also because people don’t have a clear sense of what the Olympics could and should do. This made me think that through these projects and this work we should write a small and simple tract that articulates what the rights of young people in major cultural regeneration projects actually are.

The Right to Explore seems a good place to start.

Off the top of my head.

The right to explore the use of spaces and places in the city
The right to explore relationships to other cultures and people
The right to explore your potential in future work and employment

Was also thinking ‘the right to explore what your body is capable of’ – but that sounds a bit wrong.

Major cultural and sporting events like the Olympics are happening all over the world, all the time. Close to home Derry – Londonderry will be the UKs first Capital of Culture in 2013, Glasgow will host the Commonwealth Games in 2014. Articulating a ‘Right to Explore’ would surely help these cities and how they think about using culture and learning alongside major events. It would also help things like Andy’s project – which are founded on similar principles.

For my part I will, as ever resolve to blog more about it.

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