Producing Change: Bare Minimum Collective upon prioritising laziness

Reading Time: 3 minutes

After conference during their undergraduate degrees from Cambridge University, the group bonded over a hate of work. Here, we talk to members Lola Olufemi plus Christie Costello about what turns into possible when we are sluggish

Bare Minimum is a collective which eludes traditional definitions around function, aspirations and aims. Quite simply, they are not interested in the desire for visibility and prestige which is often associated with the world associated with visual arts.

After conference during their undergraduate degrees from Cambridge University, the group bonded over a hate associated with work. At their core is the resistance to the idea that “leaving university means becoming a person worker who has a singular trajectory that is really alienated from other people”. But being opposed to work under capitalism does not translate into an aversion associated with labour. Instead, Bare Minimum are envisaging a new world where the way we value labour and time is moved to prioritise rest.

Like member Lola Olufemi describes, an organising principle about laziness evolved naturally, away from a desire to do nothing. A getaway route out of what Olufemi terms “this neoliberal hell-scape”, Bare Minimum became a space to keep one another accountable to creation, joy and pleasure. This is unsurprising, given the group is founded first and foremost in pre-existing friendships with fun at their centre.

Within the latest instalment of Creating Change , Jamila Prowse speaks in order to members Lola Olufemi plus Christie Costello about what gets to be possible when we are very lazy.

Jamila Prowse: Would you talk me through how you met, and what encouraged you to definitely form a collective?

Lola: We formed this companionship group, which came from different types of organising in the institution. It was further solidified in finding the queer scene  and lots of meals and parties we would throw. When we were responding using the violence of the institution and struggling against it, we needed places to relaxation and recoup, to voice our dissatisfaction.   We all decided to create that community ourselves.

Christie: We became friends because of Cambridge but it was also in some ways a necessity, since we were all being hurt by the institution that we were in. And we needed each other.

Lola: After graduation, throughout the time we were thinking about making a collective, I remember going to observe shows of collective work and realising that these are simply people who gave themselves authorization to work together. So what’s stopping us from giving ourselves with the same kind of structure; one that understands that our own friendships are not working human relationships, they are relationships that have developed out of love and care and support. So why do not we use that exact same frame to give ourselves the particular permission to make things?

Christie: Yeah and not just permission, but I think it’s also the likelihood, right? Because a lot of us are disabled and want to create things but find that it is really hard to do that on our personal. And if we do things together, then it’s feasible.

JP: How do you get around the tension between a have to survive, both financially plus emotionally, with a prioritisation of being anti capitalist and sluggish?  

Lola: I think the space that allows us to think about that question is that Bare Minimum isn’t a sole source of income for anybody in the collective. And then you can say, fuck work and actually mean it because you can take a break from this collective and your income isn’t jeopardised.

Christie: Bare minimum is a survival project in itself in a lot of ways, because it is us, and some of us are disabled. It’s generally disabled people who have to come through for other disabled individuals, even though we already have no as much capacity as those who aren’t disabled. It can sometimes be hard when you think that shit yourself, to do the material care work for another person but there’s enough of us that we can do that.

JP: What do you think is possible when we prioritise relaxation and laziness over capitalist productivity?

Christie: What wouldn’t be possible, right? I think we’ve experienced some of this, because we’ve tried to generate this different world. What’s possible is space and love. A way of loving that feels like it comes from a place of abundance rather than fear of scarcity.

Lola: When we state laziness and doing nothing at all, we mean, laziness and doing nothing within a politicised frame. In these other worlds we’re imagining we’re performing things but we do, not in service of funds, we do in service of each other.

Christie: There’s that will very tongue in cheek ending of our manifesto, the particular Drake quote, ‘more life’. But that is what we could have, we would have more life. Mainly because how we survive under capitalism isn’t life. We want more life, whatever that is.  

Learn more about Bare Minimum, and read their particular manifesto here.

Jamila Prowse

Jamila Prowse is an designer, writer and researcher just who uses her experiences being a mixed race, disabled person of Black parentage to comprehend and subvert barriers to working in the arts. She actually is currently working on a series of films tracing the history of her ancestry through her partnership with her late pops Russell Herman, a Southern African jazz musician. Jamila holds a studio from Studio Voltaire and was a studio residency artist at Gasworks from January in order to April 2021. She has composed for Frieze, Dazed, Elephant, GRAIN, Art Work Magazine and Photoworks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *