The Field is a terra incognita project. It is life-long, durational and participatory. Originally I called it collaborative. That was before I realised it is not collaborative, being, as with all my participatory artworks, a set of rules or value-propositions within which participants make their own choices.
The art project is aimed at making connections across theory and practice | making, doing and thinking | arts and science | artists and non-artists | human and non-human | urban and rural | practical conservation and ecology. ‘The Field’ is located in a 13 acre meadow and woodland near Stansted airport, Essex.
On the one hand, The Field is just a beautiful location and many participants in the various parts of the project experience it as an opportunity to ‘be in nature’, or work with wood, or fell trees, or build habitats, or be with friends.
For Alana Jelinek, who initiated it, it is an artwork, an art praxis, where theory informs practice which then informs theory. It is an attempt at self-consciously negotiating the other in ethical engagements, where the other is understood as Other in a Levinasian ethics. This includes the human Other and the non-human (and therefore goes well beyond what Levinas himself meant). The Field, as an art project, is an attempt at resolving some of the many legitimate criticisms against much eco-art, such as Romanticism, utopianism and equating humanity with ‘bad’ and nature with ‘good’. Its artistic predecessors include Rikrirt Tiravanija’s The Land project in Thailand and the various feminist live art practices of the 1970s, including Cosi Fanny Tutti’s work, embodying various negotiations within the feminist orthodoxies of the time.