Text contribution for
What’s Ahead, What’s Known
Transmission Gallery, 2020

In early 2018 I was invited to submit three policy proposals to an arts organisation I was working with. Three policies aggregated with those by four other artists that would speak to transformative change. I wrote them in a tired hotel room in Glasgow, following the opening of a show, following a week of breastfeeding, art making, installing, a moment with an ex not seen for many years who would pass away the following year, a week of Ibis breakfasts and tense interactions with my partner’s mother. A bad sitcom, a sitcom in bad taste. I’m not sure what happened to these policies in the end. Were they published? Or did the deliberation on whether to publish them make them forgettable?
If 2018 was all about labour then these intruded on a rarely designated weekend of rest. I still yearn for that rest. Deep rest. Feel it in your bones type rest. We tried to make a show about rest that was rest. In that same city, the following year. To fill a gallery space with beds and chairs. My collaborator Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski and I, crafting a space for Black womxn and Womxn of Colour to replenish, watch, read, make and share. Aspirations of setting in spiral a transatlantic dialogue with Amoke Kubat and her Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired rocking chairs. The show stalled, the show was under resourced, the show was not a show. The bonds of ally-ship too brittle to support a stop. A real stop. Something that might actually interrupt the flow.

These days I’m communing with spirits.

Email thread 11th Feb 2018

Hi Everyone

So nice to read these - Here are mine. I've tried to give them teeth. also once I got going I felt i could really start to dream. thanks for pushing us to pen these x


This policy seeks to challenge the legacies of colonialism and racism within the arts by

1.a) Dismantling structural inequalities - in the first instance within the institution of XXX itself through employment procedures and XXX's organisational structure. We will invite Dr Karen Salt as a consultant to assist us in engaging with the far-reaching consequences of this aim.

1. b) Through the promotion of global intellectual traditions of artmaking that extend beyond Europe and US. We acknowledge that our own research interests and experiences may be limited in this capacity therefore we will seek to develop partnerships with individuals and groups that express this expertise through lived experience or academic study. We commit to sharing resources that we have been privileged to receive (where others have not been so lucky) and will remain vigilant towards the creeping effects of white supremacy that have become ossified and largely unchecked within so many of our 'progressive' institutions.

1. c) Through a sustained and sensitive engagement with local communities of Black, Minority Ethnic and working-class backgrounds in the city and beyond. Our commitment towards this aim will be demonstrated by centreing this work as the main activity of the gallery rather than peripheral or satellite activity that exists at the margins through an education programme, public programme or offsite project. In order to create longevity and real impact within our local community we will invite members of this community to become part of our organisation at board level or in an advisory capacity (this role must be at least living wage paid employment to acknowledge the precarity often faced by people of BME and working-class background who increasingly have little access to the elite academic routes that afford one a paid career within the arts)


This organisation XXX sees childcare as a political act and hopes to play a part in building a movement that prioritizes the voices and political agendas of womxn and mothers, especially Black womxn and womxn of colour, low-income womxn, and migrants.

2. a) XXX will initiate a radical and collective approach to childcare within a broader campaign of transformative justice. This will entail providing free childcare to grassroots organisations composed of and led by m/others (mothers and other caregivers) who face multiple oppression primarily by providing competent and politicized childcare to low/no income migrant m/others and m/others of color. The practical application of this policy will be inspired by radical childcare collectives around the world - as mapped on the Intergalactic Conspiracy of Childcare Collectives website.

An example structure is suggested below:

- a base of volunteer providers commit to provide childcare at least once a month. The collective is organized by the Core, which meets 1-2x per month. Collective members and interested community members are invited to attend and participate in Core meetings (as in the Bay Area Childcare collective). XXX could provide the venue and also staff members would commit to each providing care once a month having undergone Collective training.

2. b) XXX will appraise its maternity leave package for ALL employees from full time members of staff employed on permanent contracts to freelance workers on temporary contracts and commissioned artists. It will provide 12 months (pro rata where necessary) fully paid maternity or paternity leave to ALL employees.


3a) XXX acknowledges the detrimental effects of the current exploitative conditions of work upon the mental health of its employees - that ill mental health is an issue of disempowerment, situated in a context of decimated collectivity. XXX will address its current hierarchical structure and instead implement one of collective ownership with democratic control over the apparatus of the organisation.[i]

3 b) XXX will be the first organisation within the arts in the UK that will critically redress the negative impact of excessive working hours (that often extend into the evening and weekend) and curtail the length of the working week to three days (absolutely no work related activities or admin on the remaining 4 days). The impact of these working hours will require a radical rethink of what constitutes 'excellence' within the arts and a commitment to abandon the insidious professionalisation and corporatisation of art practice. An out of office message will be drafted collectively.

Warm wishes


[i] This particular policy prompted an email thread with the Director:

- Wow, potent stuff, certainly kicks up the dust! Yep, that would certainly change everything. Great to have the propositions so detailed with steps.

The only line I don’t agree with (as a proposition) is the opening sentence of 3a, as we don’t acknowledge that, and it makes us sound terrible! And we’ve never had a case of this happening! Perhaps it wasn’t meant to say that? Is it meant to say that about our own employees? Can we change that?

But all three will make for intense conversations and arguments i’m sure!

There are elements of each that go beyond our boundaries, but brilliant to share them as your propositions and challenges to us (and others).

Thanks so much for putting so much time and care into this Rehana, can’t wait to get these out there and be responding to, working out what/how to incorporate.

Best wishes

The Director

Hi Director

Thanks for feedback and really looking forward to unpacking it all further. The intent was definitely to push at our comfort zones so excited to see where that will take us. In regards to 3a) I’m talking more about the problems with the current conditions of work broadly - in Marxist alienated labour terms - which is why collective ownership and involvement in decision making becomes important. I wanted to reorientate a discussion of ill mental health in the workplace away from treating symptoms to addressing root causes. As XXX is structured around a conventional working week with an organisational structure involving tiered employment (board/ directors/ diff pale scales for diff levels of employment - the cleaner gets paid less than the curator etc) my proposition is to talk about how this organisation of work becomes embodied adversely by its staff and to propose an alternative. I don’t think it makes XXX look bad to talk about the negative impact of a dominant model of work, to acknowledge its complicity (because where has there been the support to explore alternatives?) and now to examine how it might do things differently - to me that’s quite brave and would cause ripples across the art world as your changes affect other organisations and partners.
I hope that makes sense - it’s worded quite strongly as a provocation but also the ‘we’ I’m using and reference to XXX is meant to include myself - a we that implicates us all (rather than a finger pointing you)

Warm wishes


Aha, that makes sense, then I just think it needs to be slightly rejigged and worded from:

XXX acknowledges the detrimental effects of the current exploitative conditions of work upon the mental health of its employees


XXX acknowledges that exploitative conditions of work can have detrimental effects upon the mental health of employees.

Having great conversations with R about this already here in the office!

Showed J the policies earlier also to start thinking about how the P M Supplement looks will compile them all when we have C’s as well. Cheers.


The Director

Thanks Director!

I wonder if it comes down to whether we believe work to be inherently exploitative and whether something that is exploitative is sure to have a negative impact (rather than *can* have a negative impact). I think I'm of the former assumption in both cases but understand if there is a difference of opinion. I suppose I'd like the policy proposition to reflect my opinion but in a way that XXX doesn't feel tied to it if you guys disagree



OK, in that case then I think a statement of that to begin with rather than ‘EP acknowledges’. It just reads wrong to me. It says something untrue from our position.

To me, work is inherently exploitative as it is the result of a series of actions and use of energy and resources to achieve something. In a positive way. Art is work. I.e. exploiting the potential of a situation.

I guess this is labour conditions, labour Structures you are talking about.

Let’s talk through as maybe I’m misunderstanding, sorry.

Best wishes

The Director