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Empathy and Risk

To explore the potential for collaboration around the themes of empathy and risk across the participants skill sets and disciplines through a series of practical workshops.

Empathy and risk arose from the Belief and conflict in the UK series of salons that took place October - November 2014 and January 2015. The programme drew together artists, academics, activists and commentators to consider the role of art in exploring the relationship between belief and conflict in the UK.

This project organised a series of workshops involving a number of dancers recruited and led by Rebecca Manley in her capacity as a drama practitioner to look at the possibilities of developing concepts for a future live art installation work. Penelope Quinton and David Cotterrell documented this process and contributed aspects of their research in the form of video and photography as creative stimuli for the dancers to work with throughout the workshop. 

The workshops were intended to function as an experimental space to build a collaboration framework between the skills of the three partners and the dancers who, under the guidance of Rebecca Manley, brought their own interpretation of empathy and risk and experimented with exercises, movements and choreographic pieces to embody these concepts. David shared his experiences as a war artist with the British army in Afghanistan and of the sensation of being separated from Afghani civilians while travelling in armoured personnel carriers.

By the end of the first session the group had bonded and were ready for further in depth work on the themes of empathy and risk. The project team had prepared some visual experiments for working with the dancers including a video from Penelope's research in Palestine to explore how the dancers might interpret the impact of day to day risk on civilians in times of war, much more time was needed than the workshop allowed to pursue these exercises but overall the afternoon’s session laid a strong foundation for further development.

Following the workshop, inspired by the various experiences shared by the team, Penelope interviewed a former peace activist in the West Bank who had been a witness in an Israeli military investigation. The investigation was into a shooting of another unarmed peace activist and was transcribed and used in a follow up meeting where the project team invited a colleague to attend who was seeking to gain experience as a dramaturge and to contribute to developing the project framework. 

The project highlighted a number of creative possibilities for working with collaborators from different disciplines. It enabled the exploration into the integration of technology with live performance work and how such intersections as narrative/perspective/audience/experience can  facilitate a live, dynamic encounter with our themes of empathy and risk.

As artists and activists, the team each had a fundamentally different way of approaching the subject and to articulate understandings of the themes of empathy and risk. The project allowed the distinct disciplines to collaboarte and interact whilst still allowing their differences to breathe independently.

Project Team

Penelope Quinton

Penelope joined King's in 2012 in the Institute of Middle East studies. She then transferred during the during of the project to complete her PhD in the Department of  Social Science, Health & Medicine. Her thesis is titled 'Idioms of injustice: Palestinians women's narratives around the effects of Israeli military occupation on their housing, health and well being in the South Hebron hills.'

Professor David Cotterrell

David is an installation artist working across varied media including video, audio, interactive media, artificial intelligence, device control and hybrid technology. His work exhibits political, social and behavioural analyses of the environments and contexts, which he and his work inhabit. David is also Professor of Fine Art and Director of Research and Development for the College of Arts and Humanities, University of Brighton. He was the recipient of the Philip Leverhulme Prize for research. 

Rebecca Manley

Rebecca is an award-winning writer/director, specialising in animation. She works in a variety of areas including short film and commercials, having had over ten years experience in directing commercials for some of the world’s top brands. Rebecca has written and directed a number of short films, which have been screened at countless national and international festivals. Her latest short, realized this time in live action, is the stylish and experimental ‘A Mountain to Climb’. The film was launched on NOWNESS and screened at LSFF 2016.

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