Autograph presents Freedom and Arts Engagement, Online


Price: £5


An illustration of the inside of the Harmondsworth detention centre in yellow, grey, white and black. Below the image reads Harmondsworth, Capacity 620, West Drayton London.

Autograph’s Rights in Focus Network meets quarterly to discuss the structural powers shaping the context in which arts engagement work is taking place. We explore how approaches based on the legal, civic, and human rights of participants can inform more ethically aware forms of participatory projects – and help initiate systemic change. Join us for an afternoon of online talks, discussion, practice sharing and networking.

For this event, we will reflect on ideas of collaboration and freedom. Our guest speaker is Nicole R. Fleetwood, who will focus on the purpose and ethics of prison art programmes. Nicole is a writer, curator, and professor of American Studies and Art History at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She is the author of Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration (Harvard University Press, 2020). We’ll also hear from network members Elizabeth Kwant and Tina Rowe.

This event is aimed at arts professionals, socially engaged artists, curators, arts commissioners, facilitators creating workshops in arts and community spaces, artist educators, and those working in community settings – regardless of what stage in your career or practice you are at. You’ll be encouraged to share thoughts, learning and resources from your own practice. We welcome newcomers to the Network.

Find out more on our website.

Why do we work with those most marginalised, excluded or discriminated against?
What ethical dilemmas and power dynamics of arts engagement emerge in these relationships?
Can this work advocate for systemic change at personal, community, organisational and societal levels?
How can the rights of participants be central to the design and delivery of arts engagement?

The ticket price for this event is £5. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. If this ticket price is unaffordable for you please get in touch with Livvy at about free ticketing options.
This event will take place online only. Here’s how to join us:
1) Book a ticket on our webpage, on Eventbrite, or the Facebook event. Autograph is a registered charity, if you would like to also make a donation to support our arts and learning programmes, you can do this when you purchase your ticket. If you have any accessibility needs you would like us to be aware of, you can tell us on the booking form.
2) We will send you an email confirmation of your booking.
3) This online event will use Zoom. For the best experience, we recommend using the Zoom app on your computer or mobile device. You can download the free software here. Or, you can access the event through your web browser without a download.
4) On the day of the event we’ll send you an email confirmation with a link to a Zoom video meeting which you will be able to join at 2.20pm (BST).
If you have any questions, we’re here to help. Please get in touch.

2:30 – 2:45 Welcome and introductions
2:45 – 3:45 Guest Speaker Nicole R Fleetwood
3:45 – 3:55 Screen break
3:55 – 4:30 Group discussion and feedback
4:30 – 5:10 Practice sharing by Network member Elizabeth Kwant, followed by discussion and feedback
5:10 – 5:20 Screen break
5:20 – 6:00 Practice sharing by Network member Tina Rowe, followed by discussion and feedback
6:00 – 6:15 Sharing of references and resources
6:15 – 6:30 Networking

We’re always looking for speakers and practitioners to share their work at future Network events. Interested? Contact


Nicole R. Fleetwood is a writer, curator, and professor of American Studies and Art History at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. Her books are Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration (2020), On Racial Icons: Blackness and the Public Imagination (2015), and Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality, and Blackness (2011). She is co-editor of Aperture magazine’s “Prison Nation,” a special issue focusing on photography’s role in documenting mass incarceration, and co-curator of Aperture’s touring exhibition of the same title.

Fleetwood has co/curated exhibitions on art and mass incarceration at Andrew Freedman Home, Aperture Foundation, Cleveland Public Library, MoMA PS1, the Zimmerli Art Museum, and the Urban Justice Center. Her work has been supported by the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, NYPL’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, ACLS, Whiting Foundation, Denniston Hill Residency, Schomburg Center for Scholars-in-Residence, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the NEH.


Elizabeth Kwant is a Manchester based artist who works across film, performance, installation and printmaking. Her work displays an on-going concern with contemporary geo-political and social issues; migration, immigration detention, legacies of colonialism and modern day slavery. In partnership with local charities she has directed and produced a number of contemporary art works, often working collaboratively with participants.
Her latest film Am I not a woman and a sister (2019) was produced in collaboration with female survivors of modern day slavery in partnership with national charity City Hearts and The International Slavery Museum Liverpool, supported by Arts Council England.

Tina Rowe is interested in mark making, the deliberate placing of form on a plane through gesture, through printing, moving something from one space to another. She uses the tools of analogue photography to make marks, literally and figuratively. She do not see this as in any way different to someone with a drawing practice who chooses to use something more (for want of a better word) traditional, such as graphite or charcoal, ink or paint. When you deliberately make a mark, it’s still a mark. The reasons for making the marks are what matter.

Supported using public funding by Arts Council England.
Image: Elizabeth Kwant, from the series Habeas Corpus [detail], 2020

If you have any access needs that you would like us to know about please get in touch with Livvy Murdoch at



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