I (still) Dream of Resting Spaces - A Crash Course in Cloudspotting

 

A Crash Course In Cloudspotting, as part of our #ReformTheNorm and #Greenfutures programme, will be landing in October, where we focus on the theme of Utopia. A Crash Course In Cloudspotting is funded by Unlimited, The Space, National Lottery Heritage Fund and Spirit of 2012.

In this blog, artist Raquel Meseguer Zafe of Uncharted Collective shares stories of resting and needing to lay down in public, which in our society, is not yet considered the 'norm'.

As part of sharing this blog Raquel would like to hear from Coventrians who have invisible disabilities, live with chronic pain or are neurodiverse. See the links at the end of this blog to attend workshops and share your stories between 20 - 31 July 2021.

I (still) Dream of Resting Spaces

I’ve lived with chronic pain for 14 years, and that means I need to lie down (a lot). For a while my world got really small. And so in 2016 I began to play with lying down in public so I could be out in the world more: I lay down on trains, in galleries, on benches.

I was beginning to feel bold about this ‘practice’ of public rest, and the shame I’d felt at having different needs and needing to navigate the world differently was beginning to fall away...and then I set off a security alert by lying down on the 6th Floor of the Southbank Centre (during a disability arts festival!).

Since then I have gathered over 250 stories, from people like me who need to navigate the world differently: people with invisible disabilities, disabilities or who are neurodiverse (which is 1 in 5 of us). A Crash Course in Cloudspotting is an installation and live performance that tells some of those stories.

People have sent us stories from as far away as Mexico, Argentina, and Australia.
People have sent us stories from all over the UK and Europe.
And now we are inviting and gathering stories from the people of Coventry.

For those people far away and close by, the things that inhibit our public rest are so similar we might as well be neighbours:

  • The way culture views rest and non-normative bodies (or chooses not to see them)
  • The way cities are designed for verticality and movement, rather than rest or pause,
  • The way we police one another’s behaviour, rather than taking the time to

Our world is at once vast, and small.

This project has taken me to Brussels to talk to museums & galleries from all over the world about resting spaces and horizontal formats. And it’s taken me down the road to my local independent cinema to make it possible to lie down and watch a movie (which has completely changed my sense of belonging to a place).

It’s taken me to London to record a talk for Radio 4 Four Thought, and into zoom rooms with Dis/Ordinary Architecture to talk to budding young architects in an attempt to interrupt their assumptions about good design.

Image: Raquel Meseguer lying down in the street, looking to the right by Paul Samuel White

Image: Raquel Meseguer lying down in the street, looking to the right by Paul Samuel White

But what I feel most touched by, most often, is meeting other people with invisible disabilities and sharing our experiences of navigating a culture not versed in rest, or softness. Not versed in different experiences of time, or unstable bodies. Because it’s not the Brussels or Radio 4’s of this journey that have helped me feel less alone, it’s been in connecting with a community of people who ‘get it’, and it’s been in sharing my most vulnerable, or difficult or laughable moments.

Like the time I lay down to rest on the sofa of a local theatre, unbeknownst to me, in the middle of a tour for funders; they came down the corridor in a wave of expensive frocks and big glasses of wine and I lay there with my legs crossed over an armrest and my shoes kicked off on the floor beside me. Like the time I lay down in a consulting room of a hospital while waiting for my appointment, and when the doctor came in they thought I was dead. Like the time lay down at a Spanish airport and a security guard asked me if I was drunk, I wasn’t, and then told me to move on - I didn’t argue. Like the time I lay down at Wimbledon Court Number 1!

Those last 3 stories aren’t actually mine (although they could be), they are stories people have told me. And knowing them makes me feel far less alone when I need to draw on courage, take a deep breath, and lie down somewhere in public I know it’s not gonna go down well.

Because our world is at once vast, and small.
And I know somewhere out there, someone is resting is with me.

In this project I have the privilege of connecting and amplifying our stories and our voices; of making it possible for us to connect effortlessly when we rest via a bespoke App; and of making it possible for us to communicate our rest live with an audience, if we choose to.

Because our world is at once vast, and small.
And in connection, we don’t have to be alone.

Get Involved

Workshops

A Crash Course in Cloudspotting is a bespoke artwork for Coventry 2021 developed in partnership with Grapevine. The project explores the lived experience of disability, and how we navigate the city in creative and artful ways.

Ways to participate: 

  • Join a workshop & share a story (for a full list of dates see workshop info below)

  • Join our conversation at Collaboration Station on 21st July.

  • Join us for a large-scale provocation in association with Grapevine entitled Walk + Talk + Rest: Now You See Me on 3rd Oct.

Workshops for 16 - 26 year olds

We invite you to help us map the city on your terms

How do you move around Coventry city centre? What spaces do you love? What spaces bring you joy? Where do you have fun? Where do you rest?

All participants will also get the chance to join a network of other creatives, and to become an ambassador for the project.

Workshop Dates:

6pm Tuesday 20th July via zoom

2pm Saturday 24th July via zoom

2pm Monday 26th July via zoom

JOIN A WORKSHOP

Workshops open to all

We invite you to an informal workshop to share your experiences of Coventry and to share a story about a time you tried to rest in public. Do you have a story to tell?

All participants will get the chance to join a network of other creative people, and to engage in guided creative writing exercises.

Workshop dates:

11am Friday 23rd July via zoom

5pm Wednesday 28th July via zoom

1pm Saturday 31st July via zoom

JOIN A WORKSHOP

SHARE A RESTING STORY ONLINE TODAY