Today, Dr Agnes Czajka, Lecturer in Politics and International Studies at the OU talks about her recent Open Forum collaboration as part of the Milton Keynes International Festival that took place at the end of July.
The topical question of what makes a ‘home’ was explored through a participatory short film event and an accompanying discussion commissioned by The Open University for IF: Milton Keynes International Festival 2018.
OU Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Studies Dr Agnes Czajka joined forces with artist and film maker Richard DeDomenici and Australia’s Back to Back Theatre to lead an open forum discussion where members of the public shared their personal experiences of home.
Dr Czajka said: “The aim was to explore how people make a home: is it necessary to be rooted somewhere for a significant period of time, or in this globalised, fast-moving world are there other ways to create home?
“This may not seem a controversial question, but in the context of issues like migration, homelessness and Brexit, questions of belonging and feeling at home and how one becomes part of a community are important to address, and cut across several areas of public policy.”
Home? kicked off with visual presentations reflecting on and previewing themes and questions raised by The Democratic Set MK - a short film made up of a series of performances and video portraits of people from Milton Keynes created by Back to Back Theatre.
Material from the Home? event and The Democratic Set MK will feed into Open University research and courses.
The OU’s involvement in IF: 2018 builds on its growing engagement with arts and culture, spearheaded by the university’s contribution to the Tate Exchange programme at Tate Modern.
For the past two years the OU and its partners have organised Who are we?, a week of experimental arts and participatory events highlighting questions of belonging and identity in relationship to refugees and migrants.
Involvement with cultural activities is helping promote public engagement with the university’s research, says Dr Czajka.
Using art and photography, in particular, makes topics more accessible and in many ways has a greater impact, because it engages people at a different level from traditional research methodologies and presentations.
It can reach people who would otherwise find it difficult to open up and talk about controversial issues.Dr Czajka
In her presentation at the event, Dr Czajka reflected on her own experiences of moving during childhood, recounted around family photographs.
The Democratic Set MK was commissioned by The Open University for IF: Milton Keynes International Festival 2018 and produced by The Stables with Independent Cinema Milton Keynes.