Peckham Space presents Network, a specially commissioned film from artist Sonia Boyce, which explores how forms of social communication such as mobile phones and social networking sites like Facebook have become the most popular ways for young people to maintain their relationships with friends and family.
The artist worked with Southwark Council’s Visual And Performing Arts (VAPA) Young Women’s Group to chart the nature of these relationships and the languages that have formed around these technologies. The exhibition comprises a series of films, choreographed in the gallery space as an installation: a set of dialogues featuring the young people in front of as well as behind the camera.
Shot in cinematic high definition, the Network film follows the journeys of four young women from their homes to their weekly VAPA group meeting through the different street systems of South East London. Once there, the young women explain their networks and friendship groups, previously mapped out in collaboration with oral historian Verusca Calabria. The conversations happen face to face and on mobile phones, but the identity of their partner is not revealed: all four young women are involved in the same discussion, bypassing the boundaries of the concurrent discussions.
Sonia Boyce said: “I was particularly interested in the type of conversations that are generated amongst groups of young people. I wanted to explore their inter-connected micro-communities, and that boundary between the public and the private that is bridged online and through personal mobile phones. It’s fascinating to me that young people’s communities can reach geographically and culturally distant areas through the use of new technology, and how this can challenge traditional notions of the concept of ‘community.”
For this commission, Peckham Space worked with VAPA to draft the project brief and invited two of its young women members to join the selection panel that interviewed and commissioned the artist. Fahmeeda Khan, a member of the VAPA Young Women’s Group said: “We wanted to work with artist Sonia Boyce for this project because we liked that she wanted to make a film which looked at social networking and mobile phones from our point of view: at school and at home we often face negative opinions of these technologies. I hope that Network shows how these ways of communicating are important to us, and gives people an insight into the way young people today stay in touch with their friends, classmates and family members.”
Visual and performing arts (VAPA) is a Southwark Integrated Youth Support Service arts provision for young people aged 11-19. VAPA offers local young people access to training and facilities in a variety of visual and performing arts activities in both an evening and after-schools setting. Young Women’s Group is one of their regular sessions and delivered in partnership with Groundwork. To find out more about VAPA sessions and initiatives, please visit “www.southwark.gov.uk/vapa”