Acts of Self Ruin is a two year research programme at Marabouparken, exploring the struggle for collectivity and equality in an age of individualism. Through a range of activities including exhibitions, residencies and a public programme, we will explore acts in which communities and individuals have put themselves at risk or ruin in the pursuit of other ways of living, or in pursuit of equality and solidarity. Acts that might produce shame or embarrassment in their deviation from existing hierarchies: acts of communal inefficiency, of professional disloyalty, of solidarity with a persecuted colleague or the rejection of national identity. The research investigates not only overtly public political acts but also personal acts of self ruin. In what ways do we unlearn the encouraged subconscious individualistic ideology and its inherent classist, racist and sexist perpetuations? Acts of Self Ruin is a concept explored by Leela Gandhi in her book The Common Cause (2014) and informs this inquiry. The book proposes different forms of solidarity and community developed through acts of self-ruination. Acts aimed at making common the cause between individuals across cultural, political and class divides.
The exhibition Pioneering Women Press Photographers is a presentation of three of the first female press photographers. Despite a sexist society that urged them to not work in what was considered a “male profession” they went beyond those regulated boundaries. They acted outside of their gendered roles, to which there were many consequences, socially, professionally, with family, with relationships. We could call this an act of self-ruination, a determined act to ruin the gendered female ideal that society had carved for them and to forge a new cause, based on equality of the sexes.
The collaboration with Filmform is part of a new phase of Marabouparken’s working that seeks to support other organisations with a common cause. Together, we investigate a feminist approach to curating, collecting and distributing work which will introduce a new way to highlight the critical role women have played since Filmform began, 60 years ago. Women who, like Haag, Dahlberg and Haarstad, practiced self-ruination in order to insist of their place in society, in culture and, importantly, as the producers of it. In addition, the collaboration tries to open up a discussion around cultural working, our labour within public organisations and how this is negotiated within current cultural politics. As cultural funding decreases and our worth as organisations is ever more pressed to be quantifiable, we work together to find common cause, to share our resources, and like Acts of Self Ruin suggests, hope to build community and connection across political divides.