Summer University Reboot

Roya Zahra Shadmand

Alternative Narcotics, Not Anonymous

18 August

Harm Reduction is a set of holistic practices and ideas aimed at reducing the negative social and physical consequences associated with an entire spectrum of both legal and illegal human behaviours, from sex work/‘transgressive’ sexual behaviours to the use of drugs and alcohol. In the case of substance use or dependancy, it can be an alternative to traditional church-run 12-step programs which require participants to abstain completely from using, and allows each individual participant to determine their own criteria for well-being.

This workshop aims to open a conversation based on one of the six principles of Harm Reduction: ‘Recognising Inequalities and Injustices’. We will start by discussing such questions as; how are the use of certain substances considered within artistic institutions like PAF? What repercussions could behaviours like this have on institutions like PAF and can we ask people to be mindful of this without creating a culture of repression? Is there a wider acceptance of certain substances than others and why could that be? Finally, and perhaps most importantly in the context of the facilitator’s research, we will ask how we can recognise the impact and complexity of poverty, class, racism, isolation, past trauma, sex-based discrimination and other inequalities that affect people’s vulnerability to or capacity fordealing with behaviour-related harm within artistic spaces and the ways in which this practice might be necessary in the years to come if we are to envisage performer bases that are more representative, both of wider society and of large parts of the artistic scene’s subconscious.