Resurface: Sustaining Uncertainty

This broadcast event was followed by a Q&A, with questions submitted via YouTube chat, within our Live Channel.

In Sustaining Uncertainty, we’re asking how to nurture and protect space for the unknown within arts institutions. How do we exist within, and subvert, models of production that often require predictability and classification? How do we resist the ‘flattening’ of identities which can so often happen in organisational settings? And how do we navigate the tensions between the uncertainty (and chaos) of our real lives and collaborations with the demands and constraints of cultural production? Cultural practitioners Razia Jordan, Jonathan May and Penny Rafferty join Siddharth Khajuria in a reflective and open-ended conversation to explore these questions.

Following this conversation, the panel reconnected in a live discussion with AND’s Creative Director Luke Moody, where the YouTube chat was used by the audience to pose questions, share own experiences of making culture, and of curating at the edges of classification.

Sustaining Uncertainty – a few links

Here is Where We Meet
An essay by Jonathan May, in which he explores the values which underpin his practice, and his hopes for the future of the cultural sector. This was commissioned as part of a research project, led by Razia Jordan and Siddharth Khajuria, into how cultural producers are becoming more responsive to an increasingly complex world.

The usual tools don’t work: thoughts on working small
Written as part of the same research project, this essay by Siddharth Khajuria & Razia Jordan is a reflection on their experiences of building a public programme for an arts centre’s foyer spaces.

A Speculative White Paper on the Aesthetics of a Black Swan World
An essay by Penny Rafferty, imagining an art world built on different foundations.

Unlikely communities and cultural projects
The transcript of a talk given by Siddharth Khajuria, where he’s thinking about what we gain (and lose) in our conceptions of ‘arts’ and ‘culture’.

Panic! 2018 — It’s an Arts Emergency!
A multi-partner project (for which Razia Jordan was a co-producer) investigating inequalities in the cultural workforce, as well as a public programme to start a more effective conversation within the industry about the subject.

R&D Labyrinths: Black Swan on Cygnet, consensus-building tool
Black Swan (Penny Rafferty, Laura Lotti and Calum Bowden) talk through Cygnet, a tool for peer review and resource allocation that moves with the lunar cycle to disrupt archaic infrastructures in the Artworld.

A brief overview of the first edition of ‘FIELDWORK’, an ongoing project seeking alternative practices for thinking and making in culture (co-produced by Jonathan May, Razia Jordan, Siddharth Khajuria, and others including Quicksand Design Studio).

Case study of a Barbican public programming project, for which Razia Jordan and Siddharth Khajuria were co-producers alongside collaborators Liminal Space.

AltCity São Paulo: photography of the future
Jonathan May writes about the new ArtTechnology Lab AltCity in São Paulo. This video takes you inside the Lab, too.


And a few more links…

COLLECTIVE WISDOM: Co-Creating Media within Communities, across Disciplines and with Algorithms
A first-of-its-kind field study of the media industry, mapping works that live outside the limits of singular authorship.

Congress of Idling Persons (2021)
2020 transmediale resident and exhibition participant Bassem Saad collaborates with DJ and translator Rayyan Abdel Khalek, musical artist Sandy Chamoun, writer Islam Khatib, and organiser Mekdes Yilma⁠ to examine a cartography of protest, humanitarian and mutual aid, migrant labour, and Palestinian outsider status.

Dialogue with the Dead
Essay by Julien Coupat, first published as a postface to the Italian edition of Gianni Carchia’s Orfismo e tragedia. Il mito trasfigurato (Quodlibet, 2019).

Light+ Collective Imaginings – Episode 2
Jamila Prowse leads a three-part series of conversations with young and emerging artists, curators and arts professionals, all of whom face specific barriers to accessing the arts. In this second episode, Prowse and Jemma Desai join the discussion about their experiences of navigating hostile and inhospitable institutions, and ways they have found to protect their imaginations and resist capitalist productivity.


Participant biographies

Razia Jordan is a cultural producer and curator. She’s currently working at Wellcome Collection working on a new gallery space project set to open in 2025/6. Previous to joining Wellcome in 2021, she held roles at the Barbican, Create London, Chisenhale Gallery and Whitechapel Gallery – working to realise socially engaged public programmes.  

Siddharth Khajuria is a cultural producer and programmer. In his role at the Barbican, he’s responsible for a public programme of socially-focused exhibitions, events and research projects. These projects often emerge from new communities of creative practitioners — writers, researchers, artists, curators — co-creating work to explore a specific question or theme of mutual interest. Between 2015 and 2020, he co-led the Barbican Incubator, a hybrid programming and strategy team responsible for the implementation of the Barbican’s strategic plan. He’s also the co-founder of a new charity, Grand Plan, which awards £1,000 grants to artists of colour to realise creative projects. He lives in north-east London with his partner and two children.

Jonathan May is a cultural programmer, facilitator, writer and photographer who lives in the UK. His work spans the live and visual arts, curatorial and social practices. As a programmer and producer Jonathan creates and leads cross-disciplinary teams to realise ambitious cultural events and forge unlikely collaborative communities. He has led international, interdisciplinary programmes with festivals and institutions such as Abandon Normal Devices, British Council and LIFT. As a creative mentor Jonathan has supported artists and curators as part of CPH:DOX, I LIKE NETWORKING and Silbersalz Science & Media Festival. His personal practices include writing, bookmaking and community radio. Jonathan has an MA in Performance from Goldsmiths University of London and is a Clore Fellow. 

Penny Rafferty is a writer and visual theorist based in Berlin. Her theoretical essays and creative texts have been commissioned for Cura, Kaleidoscope Magazine, Keen on, NRW Dusseldorf, Flash Art and Elephant Magazine amongst others. She was the in-house critic at STATISTA, Berlin 2020 and is one of the co-founders of both Ishtar Gate and The Black Swan DAO. She co-developed the think tank series Artworld DAO’s with Ruth Catlow in coordination with Ben Vickers, Serpentine Gallery, Furtherfield Gallery and Goethe Institute 2019 ongoing and continues to work as both a writer, auditor and researcher at the crossroads of art, culture and technology.


This event was part of Resurface, our conversations programme looking at how we work together and reshape the future of art. 

Event info:

  • Sun 4th — Sun 4th Jul 2021
  • Online

Useful links