Fortnightly Highlight 4: There Is No Alternative

Dear Friends,

For this edition of The Showroom’s Fortnightly Highlights we turn an attentive eye towards past, present and future collaborations with artist Navine G. Dossos.

In June 2019 we opened There Is No Alternative, Navine’s first solo commission in a UK public institution. One year on, together with Navine we revisit the project in the light of the present moment, opening up her ongoing research into the complex context of the UK government’s development of pre-crime and surveillance policies, particularly the Prevent strategy.

We invite you to read, listen to and watch a selection of materials generated through and as part of the project’s integral programme of workshops, talks and screenings. These include collaborations with filmmaker Kate Stonehill and artist, writer, activist and curator Hamja Ahsan.

We also revisit our first commission with Navine as part of the Communal Knowledge programme, POLYCHROMY PLAYS; and look forward to a new publication currently in development with independent publisher Chateau International.

From different angles and perspectives, each of Navine’s projects continue to resonate as we consider potential futures during and beyond the pandemic; addressing the complexities surrounding the politics of care whilst offering up tools and proposing possibilities towards conceiving and collectively enacting alternatives to the status quo.

Take care,

Lily Hall
Assistant Curator, The Showroom


Navine G. Dossos

Image: Navine G. Dossos, There Is No Alternative, installation view, 2019. Photo: Dan Weill

Bibliography and Reading List

There Is No Alternative was a performative, durational installation combining live painting, a research archive, and a series of workshops, talks, and events. The Showroom became a site of production, organisation and exchange, taking the visual narratives surrounding the government’s Prevent strategy as the point of departure through which to reconsider this contested policy and the role it plays in society.

This discursive programme was shaped in relation to a growing research archive gathered by Navine in dialogue with The Showroom team and a network of new and long-term peers and collaborators, including those who are affected by and developing critical responses to Prevent nationwide.

Especially for Fortnightly Highlights ## 4, Navine selected one article from the research archive bibliography to be available to download from The Library. Read We Are Completely Independent, a key report about Prevent published by independent grass roots advocacy organisation CAGE.

Documents in the archive range from The Preventing Prevent Handbook by Hareem Ghani, Zamzam Ibrahim and Illyas Nagdee to Born Radicals? Prevent, Positivism, and ‘Race-Thinking’ by Katy Sian. Digital copies are all available upon request.

Books in the There Is No Alternative reading list include Island by Aldous Huxley, Orientalism by Edward Said, and Shy Radicals: Anti-systemic Politics of the Militant Introvert by Hamja Ahsan (published by Book Works, 2017 / Third Edition, 2019). Download the full Book List from The Library.

Image: Kate StonehillUnspeakable, film still, 2017. Courtesy of Kate Stonehill

Kate Stonehill: Unspeakable

Filmmaker Kate Stonehill’s documentary Unspeakable (2017, 22 minutes) is exclusively available to watch in The Library for the duration of this edition of Fortnightly Highlights, 18–31 May 2020.

Unspeakable is a short documentary that hybridly combines verbatim performance techniques and intersecting interviews to tell the stories of three men publicly labelled as non-violent extremists. The film explores the legality of the processes by which they were named, the responsibility of the media in their representation, and questions the infringement of free speech in relation to identity and extremism in Britain today.

Building upon the series of workshops and talks that constituted an integral part of There Is No Alternative, a screening of Unspeakable activated Navine’s wall paintings, contributing further to the collective production of the space.

Image: Navine G. Dossos, There Is No Alternative: Wellbeing and Freedom of Expression in a Prevent Culture, panel discussion, June 2019. Photo: Dan Weill

Professor Lisa Downing and Navine G. Dossos in conversation

Watch a short video of Navine G. Dossos and Professor Lisa Downing in conversation, filmed on the occasion of Wellbeing and Freedom of Expression in a Prevent Culture, a panel discussion convened by Professor Downing with contributing speakers Shazad Amin, Jonathan Hurlow and Basia Spalek, as part of There Is No Alternative on 17 July 2019.


Image: Navine G. Dossos, There Is No Alternative, installation view, 2019. Photo: Dan Weill

Prevent: A Critical Approach

Listen to a recording of the very first event within There Is No Alternative, led by contributors to the core research behind the exhibition. Navine G. Dossos, Dr Rob Faure Walker, Dr Layla Hadj and Dr Tarek Younis introduce the history, role and wider implications of Prevent across different areas of civic space in the UK.

Image: Hamja Ahsan and Navine G. Dossos, Zines Vs the State, 2019. Courtesy of The Showroom

Zines Versus the State

How do zines, as small-circulation, hand-made and self-published work, create spaces of solidarity? Zines Versus the State was made as a collaboration between Navine G. Dossos and artist, writer, activist and curator Hamja Ahsan during a workshop held at The Showroom in response to Navine’s research archive.

The process of selecting, photocopying, cutting and re-compiling the research documents into new formats as handmade zines offered an opportunity to cut through the content of the core Prevent policy documents, and collage these fragments into new configurations.

Follow Shy Radicals on Instagram for links to create your own zines or to download the recently published Quarantzine, focused on mental health and neurodiversity in times of solitude and quarantine.

Read an interview between Hamja and Navine in Ceasefire magazine.

Image: Navine G. Dossos, POLYCHROMY PLAYS, 2018. Courtesy of the artist

POLYCHROMY PLAYS was a collaborative project led by Navine G. Dossos within the Communal Knowledge programme in 2018. Over six months Navine held workshops with patients of the Paediatric department at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, as well as at The Showroom.

Together, they made a series of collages looking at the relationship between colours, and thought about which they would like to see on the hospital walls, ceilings, doors and furniture. POLYCHROMY PLAYS is a functional colour palette generated from these discussions, collages and paintings. It was made by giving patients agency in their environment, and allowing them to imagine ways to improve the spaces in which they found themselves for short, long, or intermittent stays.

LOOK: download a copy of the POLYCHROMY PLAYS colour palette from The Library

READ: an interview between Navine and Billie Muraben as they discuss POLYCHROMY PLAYS in It’s Nice That

The Showroom is currently working in collaboration with independent publisher Chateau International and Navine G. Dossos on a new publication which builds upon the research generated throughout There Is No Alternative.

The book gathers together newly commissioned essays and call-and-response conversations between key research contributors who explore the continuing urgencies surrounding Prevent. The publication is edited by Navine G. Dossos and Dr Rob Faure-Walker, and is designed by Mark Hurrell.


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