An ‘experiment in communal living’, this event offered one hundred participants the unique opportunity to stay the night in the great hall of the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow as part of a pop-up community.
At the start of 2014, the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) in Glasgow ‘adopted’ one of Harrison’s four Early Warning Signs, agreeing to keep it on public display outside the gallery for the whole of the year. Since the beginning of the life-long tour of Early Warning Signs in 2011, the project has sought to challenge arts venues to think about and address the reality of climate change in both their operations and programmes. GoMA took this responsibility seriously and, as a result, invited Harrison and fellow artist Rachel Duckhouse to work with them as Associate Artists on issues of sustainability all year.
Harrison developed the idea for Dark Days over the course of the year. In response to her 2014 performance / event Transition Community of One, Dark Days aimed to be an ‘experiment in communal living’ – highlighting our need to find more sustainable ways of living together as climate change takes hold. Borrowing its title from a phrase used in the theatre to refer to the period in-between shows, the event aimed to create a vision of a time in the future when our big municipal buildings may need to be re-imagined / re-used for alternative purposes.
By inviting one hundred people to stay the night in GoMA’s great hall as part of this new, pop-up community, Dark Days created a spectacle – captured by the event’s Documentation Team (from LUYD Filmmaking) for a secondary audience – as well as providing a fun and meaningful experience for those who took part. With the help of a trained Facilitation Team (from Tripod Training) participants were encouraged to explore ways to negotiate the politics of communal living and collectively decide how best to set up and run the camp. By examining the short-term practical questions facing their new community – how to spend the evening, and when and where to eat and sleep – Dark Days aimed to begin to address the fundamental long-term question of politics: How Will We Live Together?
Whilst offering the illusion of freedom and autonomy, many of the camp’s rules had been defined in advance and were printed in the Camp Manual, issued to all participants in advance of their arrival. The format and much of the content of the manual was inspired by the Camp Guide Harrison received at the Reclaim the Power Action Camp in Blackpool, which she attended in August 2014 (where she met activist Ewa Jasiewicz).
The Dark Days event proved hugely popular when the invitation to apply to participate was launched online in January 2015, with Harrison receiving 880 applications in just two weeks. The event was covered extensively in local press: the Daily Record and an interview in the Evening Times. On the morning of the event itself Harrison gave and interview to BBC Radio Scotland, and the Evening Times interviewed participants queuing to get through the doors.
Many participants found it a profound and thought-provoking experience and so opportunities were created for follow-up discussion. Firstly, at the premiere of the short film by the event’s Documentation Team (above) at GoMA when Harrison gave a talk and took part in a Q&A chaired by participant, artist and human geographer Anna McLauchlan, and then at a discussion event at Tramway as part of Creative Carbon Scotland’s Glasgow’s Green: Imaging a Sustainable City event on 14 March 2015 (both pictured below). Two other event participants: Caren Gilbert and Neil Scott, also wrote reviews which were published on Central Station and Furtherfield respectively. Harrison also discussed Dark Days in her talk at Camden Art Centre on 18 March 2015.
Dark Days was produced by Katie Bruce with assistance from Rhona MacGuire. It was supported by Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Life as part of the Glasgow Green Year 2015.
The participants were: Justyna Ataman, Finlay Bain Kerr, Esther Balbas, Jamie Barton, Jack Batchelor, Jonathan Baxter, Manon Benlolo, Oliver Braid, Anna Brown, Laurie Brown, Misha Bruml, Ned Buijs, Daniel Butcher, Kate Clayton, Kurt Cleary, Ian Craddock, Fraser Curran, Lukas Dagilis, Sally Dempsey, Thomas Dixon, Patrick Farnon, Androo Faulkner, Hayden Foreman-Smith, Joanna Foster, Evelina Gelezinyte, Rosie Giblin, Caren Gilbert, Sarah Gittins, Laura Gonzalez, Carol Anne Grady, Paul Hamill, David Hasson, Ash Higginson, Aimi Houston, Kirsten Hunter, Adam James, Smita Kheria, Julie Laing, Mark Langdon, Gemma Lawrence, John Edward Lightbody, Oliver Lurz, Ian Macbeth, Brenda Mackay, Alex Mackay, Sam Macleod, Colbyn MacPhail, Petko Marinov, Shelaine McCormick, David McDiarmid, Anna McLauchlan, Lesley McMillan, Roslyn Mitchell, David John Mitchell, Harriet Morley, Ailsa Morrant, Peter Moug, Francis Mulholland, Saskia Neupert, Stuart Noble, Jackie O’Mara, Myra Ostacchini, David Patterson, Louise Phin, Julie Price, Angela Quinn, Thulani Rachia, Tiffany Richards, Georgia Riungu, Ailie Rutherford, Christina Schofield, Karen Scott, Neil Scott, Alastair Semple, Sophie Sexon, Luke Shaw, Emily Shepherd, Brent Shewell, Konrad Siller, David Simister, Stanley Smith, Georgia Thornton, Andrea Wallace, Tola Ward, Jenny Ward, Lani Watson, John White, Shari Wilson and Caspar Wilson.