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.
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 thisisavirtualspace.co.uk.
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.
Where 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.
What’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.
Simple 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 https://www.radicalphilosophyarchive.com/wp-content/files_mf/rp137_article4_dreambirdofexperience_osborne.pdf.
Zomorodi, M., 2017, Bored and brilliant: How spacing out can unlock your most productive and creative self, Macmillan. London.