People Power #8: Dada-Polis

August 2016

Migration and people on the move are, and will be in the future, a major driver of social and cultural change. The way in which this happens will largely depend on the social innovation that will emerge, and on what design, in the broadest sense of the term, will be able to do to trigger and orient these changes.

Year 9 girls at Bow School, Tower Hamlets, have created a multi layered, imaginative community represented in 3d printed architectural collages, architecture, flags and clothing which form the miniature landscape of Dada-polis.

Working with artists Rike Glaser and Namuun Zimmerman they adressed questions arising from discussions about what happens to the culture, identity and knowledge of those who had to leave their country.

How do people keep hold of cultural traditions or store important memories, information and other ‘data,’ when they move from one location to another? How can cultural artefacts promote social interaction and togetherness?

The students chose to celebrate the contributions of migrants to a community and to test ideas around the question: How would you construct a welcoming community in which locals and migrants exchange and embrace diverse cultures?

Dada-polis will be shown in the People Power 2016 exhibition at The White Building in November.

People Power 2016 focuses on girls in art, technology and engineering in response to feedback from schools and to national statistics highlighting the ‘girl gap’.

The year-long programme provides three projects led by artists Adam Blencowe, Thor ter Kulve. Rike Glaser and Namuun Zimmermann.

Women make up less than 9% of engineers in the UK – compared with about 20% in China, Spain and Italy. It’s an issue that can, in part, be traced back to the classroom. A recent report by the Institute of Physics revealed that in half of UK state schools, A-level physics classes are made up entirely of boys. And the arts may be able to help.

Talking to a lot of students it sounded like the demands of the curriculum obliges them to go in one direction or another, towards either art or science. But you don’t have to go back to Leonardo to realise that art and engineering are actually pretty close to one another.
Nicholas Serota, Director / Tate, speaking to the Guardian about the Queen Elizabeth Award for Engineering.