A lot can happen in three weeks!

New Immortals A4

Three weeks have gone by since we achieved the  amazing target we set for our Kickstarter campaign, raising £2500 towards the cost of putting on The New Immortals exhibition. Since then it has been a period of full-on planning – getting together with the artists who are making new installation work for the show, meeting with the team at Phoenix, drawing up plans for the gallery build, defining the size and proportions of individual artists’ spaces, talking to the technicians who will do the build, costing materials and drawing up the final plans. It’s been great to be able to finalise these plans at last, now that I know that there are sufficient funds to pay for all the materials we will need to construct the gallery lay-out that we want. So I’ve got a bumper shopping list of £1000 worth of timber, MDF sheets, paint and screws all ready to order next week!

It has also been a period of intense activity putting arrangements in place for the events programme which will accompany the exhibition. We’ve got a great range of events planned including a symposium in partnership with Brighton & Sussex Medical School, an artists’ talk and networking event with Blue Monkey Network and artist Anna Dumitriu, a book launch for Murray Ballard who is one of the artists taking part in the exhibition, and events in the gallery every Saturday throughout the show including a drawing workshop with artist Angela Smith and some really interesting guests dropping in to our informal Saturday Lab gallery events. The first two Saturdays, the 20th and 27th of February are going to be run in partnership with scientists from The Centre for Regenerative Medicine, part of the University of Brighton, as part of Brighton Science Festival, and I’ll be meeting with them next week to talk about the sort of things we’ll be doing in the gallery for those two Saturdays.

It was exciting today to get the first drafts for the exhibition flyers and posters which are looking great and will be going to print next week!.Details of the gallery events are already appearing on the Phoenix website too at http://www.phoenixbrighton.org/events/the-new-immortals/ so do have a look there for more details and put some dates in your diary for a visit if you can!

This week I’m hoping to put some finishing touches to my new video, In Praise of Renewal, working with film-maker Sam Sharples on Monday to complete the final edit. After that I’m looking forward to freeing up a bit of time to concentrate on developing the installation parts of the show. Time is going very quickly now! Watch this space for another update later in the month.

The New Immortals Kickstarter campaign – a big push for the last few days!

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With 25% of our Kickstarter crowdfunding target achieved, support for The New Immortals project has been heartwarming and very much appreciated. It is an amazing feeling that people care enough to back our project and I hope it’s as good a feeling for those of you who have pledged to it, to know that you’ve done something really worthwhile by supporting artists who are making challenging and thought provoking new work.

With eight days to go and £1800 still to raise please will you help spread the word far and wide to people you think might want to play a part in helping support artists. Here is the link to our New Immortals Kickstarter campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/80128555/the-new-immortals – please feel free to share it and to invite others to join us in supporting the artists taking part in The New Immortals exhibition.

Thank you!

Judith

YOU CAN HELP SUPPORT THE NEW IMMORTALS EXHIBITION

mouse - life's too short

The New Immortals Kickstarter campaign launched this week with a target of £2500 to raise in 20 days and a range of suitably tempting rewards in place for New Immortals patrons, from a simple public thank you on this website for donations of £2, to limited edition artworks, personal tours of the exhibition, individually selected gifts and the promise of eternal gratitude for donations from £5 to £500 (or more if you wish!)

If you feel you can support artists by pledging an amount, however small, please visit our Kickstarter page at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/80128555/the-new-immortals

A WAITING GAME

1.J.Alder_In Praise of Renewal_dual screen testImage above: Judith Alder. Still from new video work, In Praise of Renewal (working title).

It really has been a waiting game for weeks now. No final decisions or definite plans for the exhibition can go ahead until I know whether my funding application has been successful and whether I will be able to go ahead with Plan WB (With Budget) or will have to reformulate with a Plan WOB (WithOut Budget), so it’s a case of gritting teeth and sitting tight with the clock ticking and the exhibition date coming ever closer.

The good thing is though that I have at least  been able to get on with developing my own new work for the exhibition, and two amazing things have happened. First, I was incredibly fortunate to be given a grant by the Artists Benevolent Fund to enable me to realise some ambitious new video works, working with film-maker Sam Sharples and composer/musician Clive Whitburn. Then, just in the last couple of days, I received the very exciting news that Brighton Festival Chorus have agreed to perform the choral piece which is to be the soundtrack to one of those videos. This is really an amazing development and I can’t wait to hear the outcome!

NEW IMMORTALS BRING AND BUY

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For two weekends Blue Monkey Studio in Eastbourne was the venue for The New Immortals Bring and Buy Sale. Visitors were invited to bring books with the words, mortal, immortal and death in the title, immortal superhero figures and cuttings and excerpts from articles about anti-ageing remedies and life extending miracles of science and medicine. In return I offered for sale my New Immortals badges and stickers, handmade concertina books containing excerpts from The New Immortals conversation events, my framed collages and even some bottles of “Water from the Fountain of Youth” which I thought were a bargain at a fiver a bottle!

The sale resulted in some great acquisitions including “The Big Book of Death” and a superb Wonderwoman doll complete with headpiece, boots and alternative costume. It also raised the first £100 towards my target of £1000 which I need to raise as match funding for a grant towards production costs for The New Immortals exhibition next year.

BRING AND BUY FUNDRAISER AT BLUE MONKEY OPEN STUDIO

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I’m delighted to be taking part in the Blue Monkey Open Studio+1 event this year. I’ll be showing some new work made especially for this event and I’m also going to be running a Bring and Buy Stall. However, this is not just any old Bring and Buy Stall – I’m asking people to bring very specific things for The New Immortals project including:

  • books with the words “Mortal”, “Immortal” and “Death” in the title
  • immortal superhero figures
  • magazine, internet and newspaper articles or cuttings about rejuvenating or life-prolonging myths, miracles, remedies, therapies and treatments

Anything brought can be donated as a gift, or as a long loan to be returned after The New Immortals exhibition.

I’m also hoping that people might like to buy some of my wares such as New Immortals badges and stickers, little books containing excerpts from conversations from The New Immortals events held last year, sketchbook collages bringing together ideas from my research, Water from The Fountain of Youth collected in Florida in 1936 (it’s not real…) and some of my Everlasting Cake.

I am  currently fundraising for The New Immortals exhibition to enable me to pay participating artists and to fund the technical support and production costs involved in this ambitious exhibition. In order to have the best possible chance of receiving grants from funders, I need to raise a percentage of the budget from other sources. To this end, all sales of my work at Blue Monkey+1, and from a crowdfunding campaign to be launched later this month, will go towards this match funding, meaning that every £10 I raise from sales of work could potentially be topped up to £100 by Arts Council England.

BLUE MONKEY+1 OPEN STUDIO OPENING TIMES:

Saturday 18th July*, Sunday 19th July, Saturday 25th July, Sunday 26th July, 10.30am to 5.30pm.

Blue Monkey Studio is at the end of the yard behind numbers 46 – 52 Commercial Road, Eastbourne, BN22 3XF. Entrance to the yard is between nos 45 and 46 Commercial Road.

*Unfortunately I won’t personally be in the studio between 12 noon and 5pm on Saturday 18th as I’ll be leading a Blue Monkey Network Walking Tour of exhibitions and Open Studios, but I will be there all the rest of the time to meet visitors and run my Bring & Buy stall.

QUESTIONS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU SHOULD ASK

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So phase one of the project which began with the question “What difference would it make if we never died?” has come to an end. Meanwhile, the question has changed several times and has been joined by many more, during a process of searching for “answers you can’t find on your own” and “questions you didn’t know you should ask” – phrases used yesterday by Rosamund Scott at the LABTEC event in Brighton, to neatly describe the benefits of interdisciplinary research and collaboration. The ongoing challenge for me now is how to bring some of those questions to the surface by drawing together a collection of art and artists for The New Immortals exhibition at Phoenix Brighton next spring.

While reflecting on what has been achieved during the first phase of the project it seemed like a good idea to make a list. I like lists. Here are a few items from my list of good things which happened during phase one of the project:

I visited museums and galleries in Cardiff, Liverpool, Manchester, Folkestone, Sheffield, London and Cambridge, looking at places, spaces, art and artifacts and learning all the time.

I got to know so very many interesting people including (in no particular order) artists, scientists, ethicists, Transhumanists, Christians, students, gerontologists, doctors, philosophers and a mouse-keeper.

More than 80 people came along to four events and talked about everything from assisted dying and visions of the afterlife to the sad loss to the world of Freddie Mercury.

Over 170 artists submitted work to be considered for the exhibition and some of them will work with me towards production of The New Immortals exhibition.

Film-maker Sam Sharples worked with me to help me start to develop three new short films for the exhibition.

Five, yes FIVE sketchbook/workbooks are gradually filling up with names, ideas, mind-maps, lists, cuttings, notes, timetables, scribbled budgets, sums and even a few drawings.

The beginning of phase two is a time of slight anxiety, while I wait to hear news of funding applications for the exhibition and the events programme which will be such an important part of the project. Meanwhile, I’m making some new collage work and some New Immortals stickers, badges and booklets to sell as part of a crowdfunding campaign and sale of work next month. Look out for news of that coming soon…

…and in case you’re wondering about the pics at the top of the page, I’ve been enjoying Stephen Cave‘s book, Immortality, and have become interested in his theory that now, in the 21st century, human faith in a god is slowly being replaced by our faith in science, so I’m collecting images from churches, hospitals and labs and putting them together while I think about this.

EVENTS FOR MARCH

It’s been a busy few weeks for The New Immortals project. To all the artists who have sent proposals and submissions of work, thank you. I have received more than 170 applications which are interesting, poignant, personal, scientific, rigorous, crazy,  complex, imaginative and exciting. I can only apologise to everyone who is waiting patiently for a response. The curatorial process is going to be a long one, as I spend time reading everyone’s proposals, and think about dialogues that might develop between the works as they are put together in an exhibition. I promise that I will get back to you all eventually, but it is going to take some time.

Meanwhile, I’m planning two New Immortals events which will take place in the next two weeks. The first, a workshop for 6th form Ethics & Philosophy and Art scholars, will feature a presentation of works which demonstrate some of the intriguing ways which artists make work about complex and difficult subjects. We’ll be thinking about some of the questions prompted by The New Immortals project such as questions around population, sustainability, quality of life and euthanasia and we’ll be looking at a selection of artists’ work as well as watching videos like the one above of Julijonas Urbonas’ talking about his Euthanasia Coaster.

On the 12th March, I’ll be holding a public talk at Phoenix Brighton called, The New Immortals: Myths and Miracles. In this illustrated talk, I will present a selection of myths and miracles, from past and present, which can inform the way we think about human immortality. From tales of ancient civilisations, elixirs and rejuvenation machines to modern day resurrection stories and regenerative therapies, I’ll be talking about just a few of the multitude of myth and miracle stories which chart the progress of humanity’s sometimes bizarre attempts to outwit death.

The Myths and Miracles talk is one of several fundraising activities which I’ll be initiating for production of The New Immortals exhibition. Tickets for the talk are £5 each (+ 95p booking fee). Book via Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-new-immortals-myths-and-miracles-tickets-15860735888. All proceeds of ticket sales will go towards production costs of The New Immortals exhibition which will open at Phoenix Brighton in 2016.

CALL FOR ARTISTS

The New Immortals home pageProposals or submissions of work are invited for a curated exhibition, The New Immortals, to take place in 2016 at Phoenix Brighton.

Artists are invited to submit expressions of interest for inclusion in the exhibition, responding to or interpreting the themes outlined in the brief.

E-mail thenewimmortals@gmail.com with enquiries or to arrange a phone appointment if you want to talk about the project. To submit work for consideration please complete The New Immortals submission form at https://thenewimmortals.wufoo.com/forms/zipb0rh0wg5744/

INFORMATION FOR ARTISTS: The New Immortals is a research project exploring man’s quest for immortality, from the historic search for eternal life through spirituality, magic and medicine, to the modern miracles of contemporary biomedical science. We live in an age where scientists can create, manipulate, alter and sustain life to an extent once unimaginable, so could there be a time when indefinite lifespan might become a reality?

  • Author and theoretician on ageing, Aubrey De Grey speculates that the first 1000 year old man may have already been born
  • Renowned gerontologist Tom Kirkwood began his Reith Lecture series in 2001 by saying that we now know that ageing (the greatest cause of death) is “neither inevitable nor necessary”

In 2001 the BBC commissioned a Gallup poll which discovered that nearly 45% of people wanted to live to be 100; but what about a life of 200 years? Or 500? Or 1000? Assuming that science and medicine could “stretch” our middle years to give us a reasonably healthy long life, how would we feel about that? And what difference would super-longevity make to us as individuals and as a society? With life expectancy already almost double what it was 200 years ago, where will it all end?

Bioethicist and philosopher, Professor John Harris says, “…scientific advances could lead to significantly extended life-spans… The development of these technologies may be far in the future, but the moral and social issues raised by them should be discussed now… Scanning future horizons will enable us to choose and prepare for the futures that we want, or arm us against futures that, while undesired, we cannot prevent.”

The New Immortals exhibition will aim to open up some of these issues for further discussion and will be accompanied by a programme of events, discussions and talks.

DOWNLOAD THE BRIEF HERE: The New Immortals_Call for artists full brief