Creative Centre for Fluid Territories (CCFT), is a peripatetic international research group that contributes to discussions about interdisciplinary practices and how they articulate critical insights about place making, belonging and occupation. The core participants in CCFT are a group of researchers – artists, architects, designers and cultural theorists – from England, Scotland, Norway and Cyprus whose practices, individually and collectively, seek to consider the role of creative research in shaping narratives of place. The Centre’s approach is both theoretical, focused on such topics as the aesthetics, cultural archaeology and representation (historical and current) of space and place, and practical in the consideration of how public and marginal spaces might actually be represented and transformed through human engagement and interaction.
We are interested in how creative practices can play a significant part in constructing, questioning and negotiating ideas of cultural and social memory, modes of understanding and the representation of place identity. Our working process builds on mutual respect and shared insights, rooted in an ongoing collaborative relationship that has emerged through trust and dialogue. We focus on practice-based research methods, exploiting the creative intersection between image and text, presented as performance, publication, exhibition, architectural and design interventions, and socially engaged practices. We believe that culture (whether defined in the terms of community, place or landscape) should not be reduced to a state of homogeneity, but should be allowed to express difference as a dynamic aspect of positive exchange.
We have adopted a methodological practice that involves a combination of fieldwork, empirical research, phenomenological and, ultimately, auto-ethnographic methods, underpinned by theoretical understanding and practice-led processes. We use two key qualitative methods in our meetings: Travelling Colloquia and Nomadic Dialogues. Travelling Colloquia provide a means of exploring the meaning(s) of ‘place’ from different locations and perspectives. The research identifies this as a dialectic method – a place for knowledge to be expanded and the tension between conflicting ideas and investigations to be explored through formal discussion. The dialogical nature of the Travelling Colloquia is further enhanced by the fluidity of the concept of Nomadic Dialogues to explore exhibitions, meetings, journeys and conversational walks in process and between points and places.
A key element in each colloquium, is the introduction of new voices which is managed by the host CCFT member, folding into the discussion individuals with local and specialist knowledge. This gives rise to knowledge exchange and transfer between participating individuals; amongst creative practitioners and between everyone involved. The colloquia therefore become a formal mechanism by which CCFT can be party to expertise about the particular places in which we undertake research. In addition to this, activities such as related exhibitions and interventions provide an arena for valuable informal exchanges with audiences and local people that, in turn, bring new insights and new voices to those places. The more informal and discursive nature of Nomadic dialogues borrows from the trope of the nomad in European thinking, and acknowledges both the fluidity of ideas flowing between places and the itinerant nature of the art object and its own state of liminality and exile (in the case of non-site-specific works) from its place of origin. Both of these forms of dialogic encounter – Travelling Colloquia and Nomadic Dialogues – with other place(s) nuance our cultural, philosophical and political understanding of them through situated knowledge.
To date, the extended studies in relation to place identity involving repeated site visits have focused on locations with difficult histories, whether hidden or overt, that CCFT members have direct relationship with. For example, sites in the divided island Cyprus, Western Norway, and locations with inter-related European histories. Each site raises both particular and generic questions about how the complex histories and the palimpsest of memories held in the landscapes of such places might be voiced and represented, and how authoritative histories might be contested.
Rather than recording in detail the socially engaged projects that the group have initiated and taken part in from 2016-2019, which are documented elsewhere,‘Fluid Territories’ captures, through the creative practices that are at the heart of our research, the expertise and approaches that the individual practitioners have brought to the overall project of CCF. ‘Fluid Territories’ presents here work made by 9 members of the group to specifically form a ‘nomadic dialogue’ as an expression and collective interwoven discussion in the form of a book as a container of dialectic thoughts. Our intention is that ‘Fluid Territories’ is presented without any fixed thematic, rather that the book is read as a series of inter-related ideas, critical positions and visual relationships intended to be considered as an ongoing responsive proposition exploring CCFT’s aims.
People - places – processes
belonging and occupation.