Elastic Lives


Crucial to every society is the kind of union and solidarity it fosters and the kind it can further, under the given conditions of its socioeconomic structure (Fromm, p108).

Building on our earlier work – Elastic Learning Tools – we seek to create a model for how a range of voluntary practices can contribute to crisis situations by developing a deeper understanding of how social relations are constituted through and by the material world in specific contexts. The authors intend to provide a common intellectual space for reflective thought and empirical action through three voluntary projects: collecting donations, sorting and distributing used clothing, and developing capacities for maintenance and repair. These are understood to have potential as politically radical activities in a capitalist economy (Graeber 2012), yet are themselves constantly subject to tensions and ambiguities, exposed through face-to-face exchanges and the materiality of the gift.

An artistic installation will include the (re)creation of collection bags and using visual analysis methods, donation typologies will be identified, in order to further understand our behaviours and expectations around giving (time and materials) and our relationship with those receiving. An ethnography of kleiderkammern in Berlin will focus upon the perceptions of refugees amongst those involved in Germany’s Willkommenskultur and the tensions revealed.