Self-Service 

Glasgow International 2018, CCA and GOMA

Self-Service was a collaborative project produced in response to the archives of The Peckham Pioneer Health Centre. The title derives directly from the archives of the Peckham Experiment, which not only exists in the Wellcome Trust and RIBA but has strangely found its home in an unofficial private archive in Glasgow.

 

 

With collaborator Kirsty Hendry, Ilona Sagar came across a leaflet in the Glasgow archive with the caption: ‘Self-service not an expedient but a principle.’ The statement reads as a provocative foretelling. The hyphen of self-service troubles the position of ‘self’ within this transaction. Does it refer to self-in- service, self-serving or self-determining, self-sufficiency or self-care? Taking the form of an event series and publication, Self-Service bought together new works, and a range of invited collaborators and contributors to explore the history, design, and social context of welfare – examining our increasingly uneasy and technology infused relationship to health, wellbeing, and labour.

The publication included newly commissioned text by Ilona Sagar, Emma Balkind, Clara Crivellaro & Alex Taylor, Luke Frost, Kirsty Hendry, Alberta Whittle and Gary Zhexi Zhang. On the 26th April 2018 there was a screening programme that was the first of two events, developed as a companion to the publication. The event brought together artists’ moving image works by Liz Magic Laser, Julien Previeux, Gary Zhexi Zhang, Alberta Whittle, Leeds Animation Workshop, Ilona Sagar and Kirsty Hendry. Selected works explored how the politics of health are tangled with ideas of compliance, prosperity, and control.

The second event, Lab-oratory launched on the 6th May 2018 and was inspired by a serial publication authored by the members of the Peckham Experiment and titled ‘The Guinea Pig’. Through talks, discussion, and working directly with the archive, we collectively generated new responses to the original materials. Lab-oratory was a public event that considered questions of voice, agency, and authority in relation to the archive.

 

Contributors included Dr Elsa Richardson (Historian and Chancellor's Fellow University of Strathclyde), Dr Lisa Curtice (The Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland and Research Fellow in Health Policy University of Strathclyde and chair of the Pioneer Health Foundation), Henrietta Trotter (who worked as a student biologist at the Pioneer Health Centre), John Curtice (political scientist and BBC journalist), and Christopher Trotter (member of the Pioneer Health Foundation).