Accepted Paper:

The Field - a project near Stansted  


Alana Jelinek (University of Hertfordshire)

Paper short abstract:

As a self-conscious, reflexive, critical and yet optimistic response to the politics consequent of neoliberalism, terra incognita arts organisation have developed a project called 'The Field'. The Field is located near Stansted airport in 13 acres of woodland and pasture. Established in 2009, it is a real-world attempt at collapsing unhelpful binaries: thinking, doing; practice, theory; us, them; arts, science; rural, urban; majority, minority; practical conservation, ecology; politics, activism; growth, destruction; natural, man-made.

Paper long abstract:

The Field is a project located in a 13acre woodland near Stansted airport. It is a life-long, hopefully generational, collective project that aims at creating connections between those things that are ordinarily understood as unconnected, or disconnected. It is a considered and evolving response to politics, theory, science and art, understanding all action as specific to geography and this moment in time. So far, The Field revolves around a winter programme, involving people from a range of backgrounds in practical conservation, using only hand tools to fell trees, coppice, create and maintain hedges and plant trees. The summer has a range of projects including 'moot point', a weekend event where a group of people camp together, discuss ideas and make things within a theme (2009 Utopia, 2010 String Theory). Other projects bring Londoners (usually young people 16-25s) to the countryside to experience nettles and fire. Tying the seasons together is the allotment project and bee-keeping. The aim of The Field is to be both strategic and yet thoughtful, collective yet considering the safety and needs of the individual. We would like to introduce The Field to the conference, not as a model, but as one response to the questions and thoughts of this moment in time.

Panel P17
"By leaves we live": the vital politics and poetics of the tree