Exercises in Freedom by Something & Son was an idea-generating project centred around the principle of radical trust and freedom towards the young people who attend Art Block.
Exercises in Freedom by artists’ duo Something & Son was an ongoing idea-generating project carried out over 2022. It was centred around the principle of radical trust and freedom towards the young people who attend Art Block.
Something & Son (Andy Merritt and Paul Smyth) developed proposals with young people who attend Art Block. The duo supported local young people to explore the creative projects they would like to see in the world and be empowered to take the steps needed to make them happen.
“After two years of increasing control and restriction into all our lives, and especially young people, we want to put the creative control of the project into the hands of the community of young people who have made Art Block their home away from home.”
The artists started by installing a cave room and an expansive horizon produced from huge photographs by artist Nicol Vizioli. The space supported abstract and conceptual creativity, embracing different ways to experience the world.
After many democratic discussions led by the young people, the first idea they implemented was to re-design the designated ‘cosy room’ and fill it with snacks. The group decorated it themselves by tie-dying bean bags, painting the space blue, installing LED lights and selected a feast of snacks to enjoy in the space. They grew more ambitious as they saw their proposals become a reality. The second project that the young people worked together to realise was a large bespoke indoor swing, designed as a group and built for them to enjoy and play on in Art Block over the summer.
For their final project the young people proposed two concepts – a temporary swimming pool housed in the space or a permanent cinema installed at Art Block. They chose to take a vote to decide. A ballot box was created, votes were counted and the pool won! For one day, a swimming pool was installed at Art Block. The children swam and played in the water, reflected on their choices, enjoyed cupcakes and celebrated the project.
Exercises in Freedom was documented by film-maker and storyteller Anita Safowaa to create a record of the young people’s explorations of creative freedom and shared decision making.
About Something & Son
Something & Son explores social and environmental issues via everyday scenarios. Through permanent installations, functional sculptures and public performance projects they re-imagine the systems required to sustain communities and ecologies existence by building platforms for them to live.
Exhibitions include a solo show at Tate Britain; Tate Modern; V&A Museum; Manchester International Festival; Gwangju Biennale, South Korea; Artangel; Milan Design Week, Italy; Cultural Olympia; Somerset House Trust; Folkestone Art Triennial, UK; Arts Catalyst; Deon Foundation, The Netherlands; The Design Museum, London; MAK/Vienna Biennale, Austria; Kinsale Arts Festival, Ireland; Arts Council Wales; Royal Botanical Gardens Kew; the Wellcome Collection, UK; and Istanbul Design Biennial, Turkey. Upcoming solo exhibitions include Whitstable Biennial, UK; major new permanent sculptures in the River Thames and Milton Keynes, a series of sculptures across Liverpool and a food-based project supported by Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.
About Anita Safowaa
Anita Safowaa is an interdisciplinary artist of British- Ghanaian heritage based in London. Her work focuses on observing and critiquing under-documented cultural experiences and preserving them by re-imagining key moments using a range of mediums including film, reflective writing and new media technologies.
Safowaa’s pieces have been screened at BBC New Creatives, ICA, 2020; London Short Film Festival, 2019; Aesthetica Film Festival, 2018; Playback Festival, ICA, 2018; She Lives film screening, 2018. Her projects have also been published by news platforms including DAZED and London Live.
About Nicol Vizioli
Nicol Vizioli is a multimedia artist who works primarily with photography and film. Coming from a fine art background, Nicol’s imagery is wide ranging, incorporating representational and symbolic motifs, mythology, painting and manifesting a deep interest in the natural and animal world. Her work is the convergence point of these worlds.
Trained in cinema and visual arts in Rome and photography at University of The Arts London, her practice is underlined by a meticulous craftsmanship and significant devotion to raw physicality, creating brutal but subtle imagery.
Art Block is the South London Gallery’s free space on Sceaux Gardens Estate for local young people and families to make things, be creative, and play.
Open Plan is supported by Freelands Foundation, with additional funds from Southwark Council’s Youth and Play Grant Programme and other donors.