More than a workshop

APRIL 2020. I’m scrolling through my Instagram feed and I see a post from @ofcommoninterest offering a free-of-charge 5-weeks long remote workshop. It’s a collective research looking into feminist periodicals in collaboration with @lesigne_cndg. The possibility of taking part in something exciting is plutôt rare these days! I applied immediately. A few days later my participation in the workshop is confirmed.

For the first online meet-up, we all join. The hosts introduce the project, we introduce ourselves. In total, we are 27 womxn from across the globe: designers, researchers, writers, artists… What an inspiring bunch already! We will be all together again for the final meeting. Until then, we split in small groups to facilitate the discussions.

Each participant has to pick a periodical which, for some us, is a journey in itself. Nina Paim, Madeleine Morley and Corin Gisel, the curators now operating as Futuress, are immensely supportive and kind, sharing the joy of our weekly findings and giving their input with graceful energy.

I’m studying Leïla, published in Tunisia between 1936 and 1940 when the country was under French protectorate. Eugénie Zuccarelli researches Les Carnets des Nanas Beurs, published in France in the early 1990s by a collective of French North African women. Together with our group we criticize the (post) colonial secular obsession on unveiling Muslim female bodies. Through crossing research, we become the ventriloquists of conversations happening between the different editors of the publications we investigate; sharing stories and fights that have persisted across generations and borders.

During the last session we connect all the dots of our collective research. As we listen to each other’s texts, we travel to different times and places, reviving the communities around the periodicals we studied.

More than a workshop, this has been an opportunity to reconcile with time at a moment where life felt stuck in a numb endless present. As I reflect back I’m humbled by this healing experience.
I’m still meditating on a few takeaways: the importance of creating warm digital spaces; the impact of placing care at the heart of your work and collaborations.

With the nostalgia of endings comes the joy of new beginnings; Futuress recently launched their website which already constitutes an essential resource. There you can read the articles from our research.

Eternal thanks to Nina, Maddie, Corin and the L.i.P collective.

Bette(r) Days celebrates the things that did not suck in 2020. Each day in December, we’ll be posting about the highlights of our collective garbage fire of a year, type-related or not.