* Feminist: meaning trans-inclusive ** Sweatiness: meaning gutsy, authentic, excluding Prince Andrew and his ilk
Pro-Perspirant Provocations (Kai Syng Tan 2022) is a new performance-lecture or masterclass/workshop on taking up space through running as a feminist (trans-inclusive), sweaty, gutsy, intersectional creative intervention (ie, not something that Prince Andrew and the likes would be capable of). PPP premiered in 7th July 2022 at Newcastle Contemporary Art Gallery, PPP was created at the invitation of architect and University of Newcastle Architecture PhD candidate Sarah Ackland to celebrate her new show Taking Space as part of the Matrix Feminist Design Collective (born in 1981). Two things were key before I said yes – the inclusion of trans-women in the discussion of ‘feminism’, and the sharing of the space/platform with other minoritised co-runners and forerunners. As part of accepting Sarah’s invitation, I set her the task of seeking out and inviting a local wellbeing/fitness/running group for migrants and refugees to join us. This was my response to the UK government’s immoral decision to send asylum seekers to Rwanda. Happily, after much effort and discussion with myself, Sarah successfully made contact with the West End Refugee Services, whose Abi Knowles joined us (pictured below). I encouraged participants of the talk to engage with West End Refugee Services, and will be donating a part of my honorarium to the Services too. Our modest efforts paid off – on that same day the disgraced UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigned!
‘Your work has inspired me from the inception of my PhD study. You really brought incredible energy to what was a really important event I have been working on for some time. The films you showed have really inspired me further and your talk cut into the core of the discourse of running, it was exactly what we needed’Architect sarah Ackland
Gallery: Includes photographs by Sarah Ackland and Katie Lloyd Thomas. Banner at top: Slide from powerpoint presentation. Click below to learn more about PPP and more:
Pro Perspirant Provocations
PPP runs through some of my own efforts in taking up and making space over the years as artist, curator and academic through re-purposing running as an arts and humanities discourse, by activating the running body as site and sight of protest (Tan 2014). Through examples from how I have initiated liminal, new spaces such as RUN! RUN! RUN! Biennale which I founded in 2014 and which clinched my title as the person ‘who has done the most’ to advance Running Studies (Filmer 2021). Key in this performance-lecture cum workshop was to share my privilege and space. I did so by discussing the importance to include trans-women in sport. I also discussed the efforts of some of my co-runners and that of forerunners before me and the importance of interrogating structures, that paralyse minorities bodies and minds, not just in terms of patriarchy but how that entangles and interacts with privileges of race, class and more, given the deeply-entrenched historical racism in white feminism (see Obasi’s powerful discussions about how black women reject ‘feminism’ and instead embrace sista-hood, for instance in this). I shared a few film clips, including my own Hand in Hand created just before the horrors of the referendum results (2016), and a few from films curated for the Running Artfully Network launch (2021) including the beautiful work of Taey Iohe and Manjeet Mann, both winners of the three small inaugural prize of £250 each distributed.
Marxist Feminist Design Collective and passing the baton
It is great to be pass the Running Studies baton to researchers and practitioners from diverse disciplines and perspectives over the years. Sarah Ackland is PhD researcher at Newcastle University. She is a designer, feminist and ARB architect. She investigates transformational spaces for women-running in the city. Taking Space, which took place at in the Newcastle Contemporary Art Gallery, was a collaboration with the Farrell Centre and Newcastle University. Prior to the performance-lecture, Sarah took people for a 5km run through Newcastle City. Sarah’s installation is in the ‘project space’ of the How We Live Now exhibition, which is on tour from the Barbican. The exhibition focusses on the work of the radical 1980s feminist architecture co-operative Matrix Feminist Design Collective, which Sarah’s Principal Supervisor Prof Katie Lloyd Thomas.