Saturday 10 december, 14.30, Kunsthal Gent
Syllabus Workshop with Jesse Jones and Sara O’Rourke
Institutional commoning: an exploratory Meitheal conversation
From 18.00: launch of Sheela’s Stout
Artist Jesse Jones and Anthropologist Sara O’Rourke will return to Kunsthal Gent this December to host an exploratory Meitheal* conversation, a workshop discussing ideas of re-enchantment and institutional commoning initiated with the Syllabus project in 2020.
Syllabus began with a legal and social contract between the Kunsthal Gent and the artist, that for as long as the Syllabus curtain remains on the grounds on Kunsthal Gent so it shall be used by the community as a shared common space according to Silvia Federici’s explorations of commoning and re enchantment.
For the next phase of this commoning we will turn our collective task to the drafting of a trustee pact of keyholderships. The proposal is to create 8 keys to the institution that will be divided among a keyholdership collective. These keyholders may be artists, community members, activists who wish to imagine a use of the Kunsthal space as common and a site of mutually reciprocal labour.
To Launch this 'meitheal' enquiry, Jones and O Rourke will conduct a workshop that will explore possibilities of keyholderships and some of the historic modules and rituals of communal ownership of public space.
Exploring further the idea that ‘wisdom sits in places’, we will situate ourselves in the past and potential future relations between the Kunsthal, wider Patershol and collective Syllabus imaginary. In a meitheal brainstorm - through drawing, writing, movement and gesture - we will also craft a ritual and rite of passage to mark the transition to keyholdership.
We finalise the workshop at 18.00 and move over to the bar for the launch of a new beer: Sheela’s Stout, developed by Jesse Jones for Kunsthal Gent’s bar Sheela’s to celebrate the Celtic goddess of fertility Sheelagh na Gig, a medieval female figure that is also a potentient symbol of the feminist movement in Ireland. To launch this black beer, Jones will discuss its origins and issue a toasting spell for the return of the Irish Sheela statue. The statue was taken from Ireland to become part of the collection of the British Museum, where it is now housed with catalogue number WITT.258
* In Irish the word ‘Meitheal' translates as “collective work, a gang, or party'' and denotes the co-operative labour system in Ireland where groups of neighbours help each other in turn with farming work, such as harvesting crops. Neighbours who give their work to others are helped in turn with their own heavy seasonal tasks. To the heart of the concept is community unity through cooperative work and mutually reciprocal support. ‘Meitheal’ is the Irish expression of the ancient and universal appliance of cooperation to social need.