The Boredom Project

by Annie Higgen in Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom

Not quite
Unfortunately this project was not successful.

This project is about boredom. And it’s going to be exciting.

by Annie Higgen in Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom

The Boredom Project (in under 50 words):

This is a 3-year PhD research project about activist art and boredom. Unlike other PhDs, this one will not just create a pile of paperwork but also art exhibitions, performances, sound art installations, poetry readings, and much, much more. But I need some help to make it happen.

1534094160_annie-2018.jpgAnnie, who?

My name is Annie Higgen. I am an artist and poet based in Glasgow. I completed my Master’s Degree in Poetic Practice at Royal Holloway, University of London in 2014. In 2017 I was shortlisted for the Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award in the category poetry. But I do more than just poetry. My sound art has been exhibited and broadcast in Glasgow and beyond and I have also done performances at events like the 2016 Hidden Door Festival in Edinburgh and the international poetry festival Outside-in/Inside-out in Glasgow. You can find out more about my work at

Why Boredom?

Boredom is everywhere. It has been called the “disease of modernity” and it doesn’t look like we are close to finding a cure. Actually, research suggests that it’s on the rise (Mann 2007), despite the fact that entertainment is now readily available anywhere we go at just the tap of a finger. Or is boredom so ubiquitous because of all the entertainment technology surrounding us? Some people think so (Mann 2016).

But it’s not all bad news. Some researchers actually suggest that boredom is important – even essential for change. Already in the 1930s, the cultural critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin saw boredom as the “threshold to great deeds”, and many theorists that followed him share this view (e.g., Barbalet 1999, Osborne 2006, Gardiner 2012, Zomorodi 2017). Boredom, it seems, opens the door to progress as it forces a critical reflection on the status quo. Faced with the painful monotony and pointlessness of the present, boredom can spur people into action, push them to make a change and find a more rewarding route to go down.

How does art and poetry come in?

As an artist and poet, I aim to make work which is socially engaged, which has something to say about the world we live in and which makes people think and see the world in a new light. This kind of activist art will be the focus of my research project and it struck me that boredom could be a great tool for creating this kind of work. After all – if boredom can push people towards critical reflection and positive action, wouldn’t it be great if one could harvest this potential for activist art?

In my research I will therefore try to answer the question: Could there be some kind of ‘utopian potential’ in boredom and how could creative practice as activism make use of this potential?

Fancy finding out about all the nitty-gritty? You can read my research proposal here.

1534093445_2018-07-16%2014.31.17.jpgWhere will the research take place?

I have been accepted as a PhD research student at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD) which is part of the University of Dundee. DJCAD is one of the UK’s leading schools for art and design and has an outstanding research environment which was rated in last UK Higher Education research assessment (The REF2014) with 100% at either 3 or 4-star levels.

But this does not mean that I will disappear for 3 years in my academic ivory tower and hide behind a pile of books. My research will actually take place in gallery spaces and performances, in installation and online content. It is a practice-led research project which will have results you can see, listen to, read, watch, click, scroll, and touch.

Updates on exhibitions, events and performances as well as plenty of online materials and documentation will be available on the project website.

What is this campaign for?

I am raising the fees for the first year of my PhD research degree at DJCAD. I originally made my application in November 2017 in order to be able to apply for external funding. Sadly, because of the slightly unusual research topic the application process has been dragging on for several months which meant that I missed all the deadlines for official scholarships. I am on track to apply for AHRC funding for my second year but am left to self-fund the first year.

This campaign is designed to help with the costs of the tuition fees.

With the minimum project target of £2875 I will be able to cover 50% of my university fees for the first year.

The full campaign target of £5750 will be enough to cover the full amount.

In the case of any additional funds, these will be used to cover other project-related costs such as materials and travel costs.

1534094473_Space%20Tote.jpgWhat’s in it for supporters?

In addition to the warm and fuzzy feeling of benevolence and true charity, supporters will have exclusive access to a range of arty rewards.

There are two types of reward categories:

The Boredom Project Network

With these rewards you have the opportunity to get directly involved in the Boredom Project. They include invitations to events, creative inspiration to spark your own activism, contributions to artworks, and a unique kind of subscription service.

1534094508_Crime-Tshirt.jpgSimple Thank You’s

These rewards are simply designed to say thank you (without the hassle of having to get involved in the project). I have created bookmarks, tote bags, and t-shirts with some of my poetry and matching original designs. It is a mix of thought-provoking, fun, and quirky accessories to remind you of the project and my eternal gratitude.

Have a look at the reward section to find out more.

For more pictures of the rewards on offers visit the project's Instagram page.

Short on cash?

Think this project is worth supporting but can’t spare the money? Share it!

Want to stay in touch?

Updates are available via:

/thisistheboredomproject on Facebook

@boredom_project on Twitter

@the_boredom_project on Instagram


Barbalet, J.M., 1999, ‘Boredom and Social Meaning’, The British Journal of Sociology 50(4), 631–646.

Gardiner, M.E., 2012, ‘Henri Lefebvre and the ‘Sociology of Boredom’’, Theory, Culture & Society 29(2), 37–62.

Mann, S., 2007, ‘The Boredom Boom’, The Psychologist 20(2), 90–93, viewed 12 June 2018.

Mann, S., 2016, The upside of downtime: Why boredom is good / Sandi Mann, Robinson. London.

Osborne, P., 2006, ‘The dreambird of experience: Utopia, possibility, boredom’, Radical Philosophy May/June(137), 36–44, viewed 23 July 2018, from

Zomorodi, M., 2017, Bored and brilliant: How spacing out can unlock your most productive and creative self, Macmillan. London.


This project offers rewards in return for your donation. Please select a reward below.

£3 or more

Become a named supporter

Your name will be listed among the project supporters on the project website.

£7 or more

Bookmark Reward

In addition to becoming a named supporter, you will also receive a bookmark with one of my original poems and matching design. The full colour double-sided bookmark is printed on 400gsm board with a matte laminate finish. Dimensions: 17.3 cm x 5.5 cm.

£7 or more

Be the BoreMob

Participate in flashmob-style events about boredom. Receive invitations to bi-monthly BoreMobs to help raise awareness about boredom. Participate on your own or with a group of friends. BoreMob participants will also become named supporters.

£10 or more

0 of 30 claimed

One-Off Artefact

In addition to becoming a named supporter, you will also receive a one-off artefact linked to my research project. One-off artefacts will be accompanied by a handwritten letter explaining their significance for the project and may be posted at any point in the next three years. Get ready to be surprised by a little part of the Boredom Project.

£15 or more

Tote Bag Reward

In addition to my eternal gratitude and the bookmark reward, you will also receive a screen-printed tote bag with one of my original poems and matching design. The bag is made of 100% 140gsm weight cotton fabric with 38cm handles. Choose one of four designs.

£15 or more

The Activist Colouring Book

In addition to my eternal gratitude and the bookmark reward, you will also receive the Activist Colouring Book. The colouring book is A5 and contains 12 pages of colouring fun which will unlock access to online inspirations to fire up your inner activist.

£25 or more

T-Shirt Reward

In addition to my eternal gratitude and the bookmark reward, you will also receive a screen-printed t-shirt with one of my original poems and matching design. The t-shirt is a unisex crew neck made from 100% organic cotton. Available sizes: S – 34-36” // M – 36-38” // L – 38-40” // XL – 40-42” // XXL – 43-44” // XXXL – 45-47” Choose one of four designs.

£50 or more

0 of 10 claimed

Be the SoundCrowd

In addition to my eternal gratitude and becoming a named supporter, you will be one of only ten supporters who can contribute to one of my original sound artworks. Discover your inner sound artist by contributing a sound recording of up to 30 seconds which will become part of one of my sound artworks. I am aiming to submit this work for broadcast at Radiophrenia Glasgow or similar opportunities in the next year.

£50 or more

T-shirt and Tote Bag Reward

In addition to my eternal gratitude and the bookmark reward, you will also receive both the screen-printed t-shirt and screen-printed tote bag with one of my original poems and matching design. Choose one of four tote bag designs and one of four t-shirt designs.

£100 or more

Get named in my PhD thesis

In addition to my eternal gratitude and the bookmark, tote bag and t-shirt, a personal thank to you will be included in the acknowledgements section of my thesis.

£125 or more

0 of 25 claimed

The Boredom Project Scrapbook Subscription

Subscribers will receive an empty scrapbook at the beginning of the project. Throughout the next 2.5 years, you will then receive monthly post from me. Each month you will get a new little artefact to add to the scrapbook. Subscribers can simply collect my contributions or add their own boredom-related elements to the book. All subscribers will be invited to loan their books to me at the end of the project for exhibition at my final show at DJCAD

£500 or more

0 of 5 claimed

Your Custom Poem or Sound Artwork

On the basis of your choice of topic I will create an original poem or sound work for you. You will also be named in my PhD thesis. Delivery of poem or sound work in digital format (PDF / MP3).

£1,000 or more

0 of 5 claimed

Exclusive Event Access

You will receive an invitation to attend an exclusive art event in Glasgow or Dundee to celebrate the conclusion of my PhD project. The event will feature the most important artworks created during the project as well as performances, readings and installations by fellow artists and poets. You will also be named in my PhD thesis.

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