We Only Want the Earth is a 12-month programme of awards, exhibitions, and events that seeks to interrogate the goals and strategies of social change: what kind of society do we want and how should we get there?
We are living through a time of sudden and unpredictable societal change caused by interlinked issues of global warming, the collapse of the neoliberal order, a resurgence of violent misogyny and nationalism, growing inequality, housing and homelessness crises, and the growth of ecofascism. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that we have until 2030 to overhaul society in order to mitigate some of the worst effects of climate change. Whether or not we heed this warning, broad social changes will accelerate over the coming decade. If these changes are to lead to a just society, it is essential that voices that are often ignored, or whose very existence is treated as debatable, are instead prioritised. The arts play a fundamental role in supporting or challenging cultural hegemony, and therefore have a moral obligation to attend to voices that have been silenced.
A4 Sounds and partners including Create have identified four communities whose voices will be given priority: transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming artists; artists seeking or who have sought asylum in Ireland; migrant and ethnic minority artists, including members of the traveling community; and artists affected by the housing and homelessness crisis. In each case, the priority community does not necessarily define the subject matter of the artwork; rather, the goal is to ensure representation and material support for selected artists from these communities to respond however they see fit to the theme We Only Want the Earth.
During 2020 we will facilitate a programme of socially-engaged arts activities under the theme We Only Want the Earth. This title, taken from a 1907 song by James Connolly, is meant here both in its original sense of demanding the impossible, and in a literal sense related to humanity’s necessary life support systems. We Only Want the Earth is intended as a broad conversation about the goals and strategies of social change: what kind of society do we want and how should we get there?
Programme for We Only Want The Earth
Exhibition Award | Feb 2020 | A4 Sounds and Create
Residency 1 | Jan – Apr 2020 | A4 Sounds, Create and Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI)
Residency 2 | May – Aug 2020 | A4 Sounds, Create and Movement of Asylum Seekers Ireland (MASI)
Supported Project 1 | Jan – Jun 2020 | A4 Sounds, Firestation Artists’ Studios and Dublin Central Housing Action (DCHA)
Supported Project 2 | May – Oct 2020 | A4 Sounds, Firestation Artists’ Studios and Migrant and Ethic Minorities for Reproductive Justice (MERJ)
A4 Members’ Show | Nov 2020 | A4 Sounds and Firestation Artists’ Studios
A4 Graduate Award | Dec 2020 | A4 Sounds and Firestation Artists’ Studio
About the Partners
A4 Sounds is a non-profit artist-run workspace and gallery in north-inner-city Dublin. It is one of the biggest artist-led spaces in Ireland, currently providing facilities and professional development supports to 80 artists. Its mission is to transform the means by which cultural works are produced, accessed, and understood in Ireland, and by doing so to contribute to the development of a more just society. Guided by feminist, anti-racist, anti-capitalist, and LGBT-inclusive politics, A4 Sounds supports artists and activists who fight for change.
Create is the national development agency for collaborative arts. Our work initiates cross-sectoral national and international partnerships which support artists and communities to co-create work of depth, ambition and excellence. Our mission is to lead the development of collaborative arts practice by enabling artists and communities to create exceptional art together. As a resource organisation we offer supports for artists working in social and community contexts. These include professional development, mentoring, project development support, commissioning and project opportunities as well as research and training. We also manage the Artist in the Community Scheme for the Arts Council. Create believes that by working together, artists and communities can purposefully explore how collaborative arts engage in distinct, relevant and powerful ways with the urgent social, cultural and political issues of our times.
Located in north-east inner city Dublin, Fire Station Artists’ Studios was established in 1993 to provide support for professional visual artists. Fire Station Artists’ Studios is a living and working environment where communities of professional practice, place and interest meet to develop art practices of quality and integrity. A key policy of the Fire Station is to contribute to the debate on collaborative and socially engaged arts practice, through processes that incorporate critique and commission . As an organisation they have a deep commitment to collaborative and socially-engaged practice that has developed sophisticated models of contextual art practice.
TENI (Transgender Equality Network Ireland) is a non-profit organisation supporting the trans community in Ireland. TENI seeks to improve the situation and advance the rights and equality of trans people and their families. Their vision is an Ireland where trans people are understood, accepted and respected, and can participate fully in all aspects of Irish society. Ireland remains a place where it can be difficult for trans people to lead safe, healthy and full lives. TENI is dedicated to ending transphobia, including stigma, discrimination and inequality and continues in the struggle for social, political and legal recognition of trans people in Ireland.
MASI (Movement of Asylum Seekers Ireland) seeks justice, freedom and dignity for all asylum seekers. MASI is a platform for us as asylum seekers to join together in unity and purpose. MASI came together after the protests in the Direct Provision centres in 2014. They believe that speaking together in one voice, moving together in one direction, they are much stronger, their voices much louder and more difficult to ignore and dismiss. For them, MASI is a way to take back their power and demand freedom, justice and dignity for all asylum seekers. MASI demands an end to direct provision, the right to work and education, residency for all in the system, and an end to the brutal deportation regime.
MERJ (Migrants and Ethnic-minorities for Reproductive Justice) are a group of migrants and ethnic-minorities living in Ireland fighting for reproductive justice for all people. MERJ was founded in September 2017 by migrant women of colour who had been actively involved in the campaign for abortion rights in Ireland for years. MERJ was started to create a platform for the often hidden faces and voices of migrants and ethnic minorities in Ireland that were all but missing from Irish feminism. They want to challenge the whiteness, maleness and settledness of the left and fight for their place in the movement. They want to fully participate in radical politics in Ireland on their own terms. And most importantly, they want to create a space where migrant and ethnic minority women, non-binary and trans people could come together and share their politics and experiences, learn from each other and support one another in the struggle.
Dublin Central Housing Action organise in the Dublin 1, Dublin 3 and Dublin 7 areas, to support those affected by the housing crisis and communities to fight back. Over 3 years, Dublin Central Housing Action has been involved in local housing and homeless support, organising and action, as well as working with other groups around the country as part of the Irish Housing Network. Central to all their work has been the setup of a Support Group for anyone facing homelessness or housing problems. They have supported tenants taking their landlord to the RTB, challenged letting agents and management companies, supported sit-ins at the council, challenged the homeless services over conditions and care, supported tenants in emergency accommodation to occupy their homes on Mountjoy St, challenged slum landlords in Mountjoy Sq and Ballybough/Summerhill, worked in other groups as part of the Apollo House occupation and supported campaigns on public land and fair and affordable communities.
We Only Want the Earth is kindly supported by The Arts Council’s Art Grant Funding 2020.