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Speaking to the City, The Alternative School of Economics, Phytology, 2018-2019, Photographs by Michael Smythe

Speaking to the City, The Alternative School of Economics, Phytology, 2018-2019, Photographs by Michael Smythe

Speaking to the City, The Alternative School of Economics, Phytology, 2018-2019, Photographs by Michael Smythe

Speaking to the City, The Alternative School of Economics, Phytology, 2018-2019, Photographs by Michael Smythe

Speaking to the City, The Alternative School of Economics, Phytology, 2018-2019, Photographs by Michael Smythe

Speaking to the City, The Alternative School of Economics, Phytology, 2018-2019, Photographs by Michael Smythe

Speaking to the City, The Alternative School of Economics, Phytology, 2018-2019, Photographs by Michael Smythe

Speaking to the City, The Alternative School of Economics, Phytology, 2018-2019, Photographs by Michael Smythe

The Alternative School of Economics, run by artists Ruth Beale and Amy Feneck, is an artistic project using the practice of self-education to study economics, creating a framework for investigating political, social and cultural issues.

As an ‘alternative school’, Ruth Beale and Amy Feneck set out to learn together, collaboratively, in a non-hierarchical way. This is a social practice and form of pedagogical critique, questioning ideas through conversations and relationships. They use diverse and creative methodologies, and collaborate with experts from a variety of disciplines, from sociologists to writers. By studying economics through the lens of day-to-day reality and personal experience, they tackle what are often perceived as difficult subjects. For example, for The Story of Money, a project with young people and families exploring philosophical questions about money and its history, the group built a temporary sculpture of a bank which they then collectively destroyed, and giant cardboard coins which raced across the gallery space.

Many of their projects lead to artworks that consolidate a study, or mark a moment in its process - such as books, films, posters, or gallery installations. They use film, graphics, photography, texts and clothing as forms of activation, dissemination and reflection. Conceptually The Alternative School of Economics is a statement – that people who are not economists, can set up an alternative school to reclaim economics as a means to discuss the complexities of history, inequality and political change.

Over the next eight months Ruth Beale and Amy Feneck will develop a project as part of the Gasworks Participatory Residency Programme: Connecting Communities to explore feminist economics with a range of groups and individuals. They plan to initiate workshops and conversations between women-led groups, archives, campaign groups, academics and individuals identifying as women who are interested in these ideas, and actively involved in feminist economic projects. They will produce a series of podcasts of women’s voices that ask questions, make connections and share ideas. They will work closely with the participation evaluators FOTL (Future of the Left) to help develop an evaluation framework for the project.

Connecting Communities is supported by Paul Hamlyn Foundation.