The Affirmative Project:
“Affirmative ethics is not about the avoidance of pain, but rather about transcending the resignation and passivity that ensue from being hurt, lost and dispossessed ... Taking pain into account is the starting point, the aim of the process, however – is the quest for ways of overcoming the effects of passivity, the paralysis brought about by pain. The internal disarray, fracture and pain are also the conditions of possibility for ethical transformation ... This [sic] constructs hope as a social project.”
➽ Rosi Braidotti, Affirmation, Pain and Empowerment
The Affirmative Project is a Social Practice Arts Initiative in Western New York directed by University at Buffalo Master’s in Fine Arts Candidate Galia Binder. The project began as a disability arts initiative in the Spring of 2017, and transformed in the Summer of 2017 to become a community-based arts initiative dedicated to radical inclusivity and accessibility.
Social Practice Art is a form of Participatory, Relational, and Public Art. It is the art of our lived social experience. Social Practice artists create interactive aesthetic worlds, and dynamic social environments for audience members to experience and participate in. Such artists value the process of making a work together over any object, “outcome,” or finished product. The act of engaging and collaborating produces an aesthetic in and of itself.
Social Practice projects are predicated upon collaborative engagement with a specific community, located in a specific environment. Each project is uniquely tailored to its collaborative elements—the community members and environment. Social Practice artists can use any number of mediums in a work, such as visual art, or performance art, but it is the collaborators, their environment, and their relationships that form the primary medium of such works. The other mediums serve as modes of production for the primary medium.
Social Practice artists affect their communities in real ways to facilitate personal, social, and political change for collaborators and audience members.
On June 1st of 2017, The Affirmative Project put out an open call for all Western New Yorkers ages 18+, to become “creators,” joining a temporary community slated to collaboratively generate a multidisciplinary performance art piece emphasizing the intersection of the arts, activism, and healing.
This open call for “creators” was directed towards folks passionate about ritual, community-based knowledge systems, social movements, activism, healing arts & modalities, somatic therapies & movements, self-awareness and empowerment, music/sound, movement/dance, visual art, writing, theatre arts, performance art, social practice art, public art, mixed media art, digital art, media art, film/video, photography, sculpture, carpentry, architecture, design, inclusive/universal design, accessible/assistive technology, lighting, scenography, makeup & costume design. Caregivers, spouses, family members, assistants, friends, colleagues, and other supporters of Creators were invited to attend rehearsals/creation times, and to join the project as Creators if they wished.
The creators assembled for the first on Jim Bush Studios on September 1st and have been hard at work in the space ever since creating the structure for Between People from the ground up, together. Between People was not scripted or devised in any way before entering into the space. Between People was created using a collective consensus process, incorporating the creative ideas, needs, limitations, and abilities of each creator separately, and then each creator as part of a collective.