In 2008, ecoartspace co-curated an exhibition for Exit Art in NYC entitled Environmental Performance Actions, which included a video documentation of Agents of Change, a Unit Earth Agenda project developed by Shelley Sacks and James Reed of the Social Sculpture Research Unit, Oxford Brookes University (UK). Although I was familiar with the work, yesterday I had the opportunity to meet Reed in San Francisco and to experience first hand what it might be like to be an "official" agent of change.
A group of five participants met at noon at the new Intersection 5M gallery, located in the San Francisco Chronicle building at Mission Street and 5th, where we spent three hours in an open discussion on what is agency and sharing personal experiences that catalyzed change in our lives. We then heading down to 4th at Mission Bay where we put on customized Agents of Change life preserver vests and held large wooden measuring sticks that illustrated the depth of several meters of potential water encroachment due to climate change. Each participant stood on their own along the waterway and was encourage to reflect on our own sense of agency in this situation, the site, and to record others concerns. Attached to the life preserver was a booklet where we could register and offer a receipt to passersby, confirming their concerns about climate change.
Reed studied under Shelley Sacks, a former student and collaborator of Joseph Beuys at Oxford Brookes from 2005-2007. It was during this time that they developed the Agents of Change climate change kits and began what has become a series of workshops and public interventions initiated at the Social Sculpture Today exhibition in Basel, Switzerland in April 2007.
Questions this project asks are:
How do we develop a wider personal and philosophical framework that cultivates a deep sense of personal and shared meanings?
How do we develop a culture of transforming our mode of consciousness?
How can we begin to realize our full potential as human beings and work as transformers of the materialist thought systems that shape our world?
How do we excavate the insights of the heart?