Habitus: Potential Realities

Rule, Britannia!

Britannia, rule the waves.
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.

- From The works of James Thomson, 1763

Habitus: Potential Realities was a community intervention project documenting the stories of young people, airing their concerns and hopes for British identity after we exit the EU. 

In partnership with Photoworks and Brighton & Hove Libraries, the project set out to re-imagine our idea of what it means to be British, turning current anxieties and fears concerning Brexit into a cathartic and optimistic outlook for the future of the young. Through an open call, participants were challenged to imagine potential new realities, using creative tools and cultural engagement to re-examine their perspectives.

An estimated 75% of young people voted remain in the EU referendum. Studies indicate a strong sense of anxiety within this demographic as they look towards the future. Recent LSE research reports widespread fears and concern about rising inequality, racism, intolerance, and declining multiculturalism.

As a British-Ghanaian artist who has dealt with mental health issues, I am keen to address some of these anxieties. I have found that a useful exercise in addressing an anxious, voiceless or unheard sense of self is to develop a creative platform through which to re-imagine possible healthy, constructive outcomes, promoting a positive sense of empowerment, confronting the face of political chaos. Despite their fears, the majority of young people in the LSE study were adamant that they want post-Brexit Britain to be a better place than it is now. 

Through this participatory photography project with workshops facilitated by artist  Becky Warnock, I unpack and challenge participants’ current perspectives, and share the perspectives of marginalised communities, especially those that often feel displaced by default, struggling to identify where home truly is.

Britannia, the female personification of Britain, warrior and caretaker of the sea, embodies the perspectives, values and ideals of the new Britain that the young people would like to see.

Commissioned by Photoworks for Brighton Photo Biennial 2018

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