Change My Mind was born out of that familiar feeling of being stuck; trapped in a collapsing system that promotes fragmentation and materialism, repeating dysfunctional habits that feel impossible to break. The process took the form of an 18-month part-time performance project exploring human capacity for change and its impact on personal wellbeing and society.
Throughout the project six artists undertook a series of tasks set for them by people surrounding their lives, in an attempt to affect positive change in themselves.
The project began as a solo performance experiment for Factoria de Fuegos Performance Festival in the Basque Country. Artist Leo Kay stood on stage, told a short biography and invited the audience to write down a task that he could execute there and then; one they believed could affect his outlook - or change his mind. In the face of this spontaneous challenge, questions and debates sprung up among the audience… what constitutes the self that he wants to change? Who has the right to impose change on anyone else? What does ‘positive’ change mean and how can you monitor it? Aren’t we constantly changing anyway?
Interested in these fundamental questions and inspired by public appetite to debate them, Unfinished Business and a core team of collaborators turned to philosophy, psychology, sociology and neuroscience to devise a process aimed at provoking and questioning change.
The following artists joined the project; visual artist duo Emma Tornero and Chin Keeler; theatre maker Greg McLaren; choreographer Jo Fong, performance artist Ria Hartley and spoken word artist Owen Craven-Griffiths (AKA John Berkavitch).
Over the next 18 months, the group came together for five week-long residencies, where they explored the project’s themes through solo and collaborative exercises and discussions. During each residency they recorded and edited live (in front of an audience) a video biography, which they sent out to a ‘task setter’ (including a family member, a friend/colleague and someone they admired but did not know). The task setter was required to watch the film and set the artist a task, which could last between one minute and one month and aimed to positively change the way the artist experienced the world.
Over the course of the project these autobiographical films continued to evolve and final versions can be seen here. You can also view earlier films on the individual artist’s pages.
In July 2015 the group presented a performance installation as part of Barbican Open Lab at Rich Mix, inviting audiences to come closer to the processes that the artist’s had engaged with over the last 18 months, see pictures here.
Hannah Whelan, Kunal Modi
Greg Mclaren, Jo Fong, Emma Tornero, Chin Keeler, Ria Hartley, John Berkavitch
"A human being is not a unity, not autonomous, but a process, perpetually in construction perpetually contradictory, perpetually open to change."