Age-ism 2022

AGE-ISM 2022

The symspoium will take place in Klub Elsker, Oslo, 8. and 9. May 2022

Due to ageism, there is today a considerable range of artistic quality that has been made invisible. First Supper Symposium wants to highlight this problem by organizing a performative event and symposium titled "Age-ism" that explores age as a power-related concept and an oppressive societal norm. We are inviting visual artists and performers to contribute with works that demonstrate and challenge the situation in various ways to create engagement around the topic of age discrimination.

Gerontologist Robert Butler started mapping the problem of age discrimination with the book Human Aging in 1969 and was the first to coin the term ageism. The topic of ageism is discussed widely in relation to work and professional life, yet has had little impact in the art field. We believe that an artist's voice should be heard throughout a lifelong career. Our project takes inspiration from author Ashton Applewhite's 2019 book This Chair Rocks - A Manifesto Against Ageism. Her TED talk on ageism has more than 1.6 million views. Applewhite is the keynote speaker at our symposium, together with the American art historian Nancy Princenthal. The symposium is to be held in Oslo, hopefully with a co-present audience (depending on the current COVID-19 restrictions). 

In the art field, where most practitioners operate as freelancers, one is extra vulnerable to age discrimination since commissions, exhibition opportunities and sales/earnings are often related to visibility. This is how creativity is stifled. During the pandemic and its lockdowns, the problem of ageism in the gig economy and the art field became even more discernible, which tells us how dangerous ageism is for freelancers. Ageism is a challenge for artists of both sexes, but especially for female artists. The gender perspective is therefore essential.

FSS wants to initiate processes that make the problem of ageism more widely known and wishes to spread awareness around the fact that ageism causes us to discriminate against ourselves in the future. The participants in the symposium represent different fields and backgrounds and together they will contribute to productive conversations where experiences are exchanged across disciplines, age groups and nationalities. In brief, the myths about older artists are socially constructed, which means that they can be challenged. These myths and stereotypes have a direct, negative impact on older artists who are no longer offered important commissions in the public sphere or exhibition spaces, so addressing this situation is crucial.

The symposium is going to explore the following questions: What is ageism? What are the cultural and social structures that underlie age discrimination, and what strategies can we develop to challenge and change these structures? What strategies may we invent to improve the dissemination and visibility of the practices of mid and late-career artists? How can we foreground the artistic quality that is invisible today due to ageism? What potential does the idea of an alternative economy for artists have in relation to ageism? These are some of the main themes and problems that will be discussed in the symposium.

The symposium will explore age discrimination in the field of visual art in detail through the contribution of the speakers listed in the overview. These voices will help us map out how ageism manifests in the art world. The goal is to start a conversation about the consequences of ageism for the audience and the artists themselves. Change starts with acknowledging the problem. The financial situation for artists and their right to pension will also be a major topic of discussion. Artists are those in society who earn the least according to statistics and are also the most vulnerable to financial instability as freelancers.

Event April 30th 2022: Catwalk show

On April 30th, 2022, FSS will organise a catwalk show to draw attention to the fact that society must and can be more inclusive for all. The age of the models ranges from 5 to 75. We will also organise a ride on a ”Russebuss” for "retired russ". A “russebuss” is a form of rolling “theatre” and our use of the bus may foreground the opportunities for age mixing in a fun way. The models will parade out of the bus onto a red carpet in front of The Nobel Peace Center and Kunstnernes Hus. There will be banners on the bus describing our involvement in highlighting the problem of ageism and our partner Pensjonistforbundet, who supports the project, will help circulate information about their contribution to the symposium. This is a way for us to reach out to the public in a fun but at the same time serious way.

Symposium May 8th and 9th 2022

On the 8th and 9th of May, 2022, FSS will organise the symposium at the nightclub Elsker in Oslo, which is known for being an alternative venue for cabaret, queer audiences etc. Nightclubs will often welcome a limited age segment as their guests, which excludes many of us, but this time everyone is welcome – artists, academics, researchers and politicians of all ages are all invited to participate in the symposium to start a conversation on the topic, in a playful environment. Through music, performances, theatre and dance, mixed with presentations of essential facts and statistics on age discrimination, we hope to engage the audience and disseminate our ideas to the wider public.

The symposium on May 8th and 9th is free and open to all, but we are offering the possibility for making donations to support the cause of combating ageism. There will be around 5 to 6 hours of programming over two days (including scene shifts, breaks and dining), and each day consists of a mixture of artistic and academic contributions. During the symposium, the artist group “Verdensrommet” will present their alternative financial solution for artists, which will be a topic of discussion also in future symposiums held by FSS. Everything is going to be documented in video and photos, and the symposium is streamed online for those who cannot attend the event in person. Written documentation and edited video footage will be published on our website:

http://firstsuppersymposium.org/ and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FirstSupperSymposium