What lives in the growing distance between the power and the people? How could the unoccupied negative space between us be transformed into a positive space of empathy, emotion and connection?
Campaign for Empathy is the world’s first community-centred campaign for empathy set in the London borough of Newham, initiated by empathy artist and designer Enni-Kukka Tuomala over her five-month long residency at Bow Arts’ RAW Labs space in Royal Albert Wharf. The campaign aims to uncover and understand what lives in the growing distance between the power (the local politicians) and the people (the local community), taking RAW Labs as its headquarters from March to July 2019.
The distance between the power and the people is growing, and people feel increasingly disconnected from political decision making and distant from the decision makers both on a national and a local level. In the borough of Newham voter turnout is declining: Campaign for Empathy marks the 1 year anniversary of the last local election in Newham, when voter turnout fell to 35.84% in 2018 from 50% in 2014. Also launching at the time of the UK’s initial planned withdrawal from the European Union, at a time when political debate has never been more polarised, the campaign explores empathy as a powerful tool to initiate a more human and more equal civic dialogue and political debate on a local level between politicians and community members in order to solve complex future challenges.
Working closely with elected members of the local council, activists and members of the community in Newham, Campaign for Empathy adopts the familiar language of political campaigns and reimagines it in a local, non-politically-affiliated context to engage local decision makers and the community alike in the hope of starting new conversations and bridging the distance between us. Over a five month period the campaign explores the evolving power structures, dynamics and hierarchies in Newham, one of London’s youngest and most multicultural boroughs, through a programme of public events and exhibitions, workshops, consultations and debates. RAW Labs will serve as the campaign headquarters throughout, decorated and branded to bring the campaign to life.
The campaign will result in Enni developing new “empathy tools for citizens” - an empathy toolkit for 21st century citizenship - as an evolution of her existing “empathy tools for politics”, an empathy toolkit created for politicians focussing on new forms of communicating through fun and play. These empathy tools will be put back into the hands of the community as the residency concludes.
Please join Enni-Kukka at the Campaign Headquarters at RAW Labs on Friday 29 March from 6.30 – 10pm for the campaign launch!
Programme of Events
- Friday 29 March – Campaign Launch
- Tuesday 4 to Tuesday 11 June – exhibition: Does Empathy Have Boundaries? - Exhibition (part of LFA)
- Saturday 8 June – Empathy Rally - reclaiming the public realm (part of LFA)
- Monday 22 to Friday 26 July – Public Empathy Artwork
- Friday 2 - Saturday 18 August – The Campaign for Empathy - Final Exhibition
- Saturday 10 August – Empathy Tools for Citizenship - Playtime
Enni-Kukka Tuomala is a London-based, Finland-born empathy artist and designer. Enni-Kukka’s practice is focused on creating for empathy as the end goal and not only with empathy as a part of the process of creation. To do this she has launched the Akin Kollektiv, a series of installations, experiences, performances, games and tools, to transform empathy from an individual feeling to a collective power across age, gender, race and culture. Having worked and studied in London, Tokyo, New York and Helsinki, Enni-Kukka’s work builds upon understanding and investigating the delicate relationships between empathy, culture, space and systems. Enni-Kukka is currently working on an ongoing collaboration with the Finnish Parliament to bring empathy into politics, and recently created a bespoke empathy experience for LIFT as a commission for Virgin. Enni-Kukka has a joint M.A. and M.Sc. in “Global Innovation Design” from the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London and is a Trustee for LIFT.
RAW Labs has step-free access from the street to the ground level of the building, including to the accessible toilet, and is service animal friendly. There is no step-free access to the mezzanine level. This venue does not have a hearing loop system.
There is permit parking directly outside RAW Labs, but please call ahead to request a permit.
If you have any questions regarding accessibility at this venue or event, would like to make us aware of any access requirements that you have in advance of visiting, or would like this information in an alternate format including Easy Read, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07806 733 914
Nearest station(s): Gallions Reach DLR
Bus: 101, 262, 366, 474, N551
Parking: Please contact a member of staff to request a parking permit
Image: Campaign by Empathy. Photo by Rachel Cherry