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Diversity and Disruption

On the 14th February ‘Diversity and disruption’ took place at the University of Kent as an ‘alternative love event’. The day aimed to bring together short, interdisciplinary workshops that ‘provoke questions on the diversity of images, diversity in themes and the making of visual and online cultures‘.

The morning workshops were nestled within an amazing exhibition and protest from the Precaricats, a group of precariously employed workers at the University of Kent. Themes around exploitation, work, education and the neoliberal university were explored throughout the studio. It was an invigorating space to host the day’s activities.

There were a whole host of different types of workshops going on, from Amanda Perry-Kessaris (University of Kent) using lego to discuss research to ‘a slow terror walk’ with Shiva Zarabadi (University College London). In the latter session we mapped and collaged an everyday walk in the underground to the sounds of the tube, tannoy systems and the general rustle and bustle of tube life. Through this workshop we could also “speak back” to problematic ‘see it, say it, sorted’ announcements and images on the tube (see Shiva’s work on ‘pre-emptive counter-terrorism’ and media).

In the afternoon, Jessica Ringrose (University College London), Kaitlyn Rehger (University of Kent), Shiva Zarabadi (University College London) and Amelia Jenkinson (Sexplain) drew on their Mayor of London ‘The Women We See’ project on advertising to run a session on ‘crafting-back’, whereby we were able to speak back to advertising messages through craft. Amelia also explained how the project shaped the activities she did with schoolgirls through Sexplain UK.

Christina Kim (University of Kent) then unpacked perspective, noting that perspective is always contingent on context, and highlighted the value in multiple and diverse perspectives.

Lastly, I ended the day by considering how ‘period poverty’ is being represented in mainstream news and challenged attendees to think of ways to visually disrupt such dominant imagery of ‘period poverty’, if only momentarily.

By rocor on flickr

The workshop briefly looked to the visual significance of badges from Free Angela badges to GirlGuiding badges and in the spirit of Welfare Imaginaries zine-making attendees were asked to create imagery that tells a different story about ‘period poverty’ in the face of dominant narratives told in mainstream news. A hard task to achieve in badge form, but nonetheless some interesting images and narratives were created.

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