“In The Treaty of Finsbury Park 2025, we are catapulted several years into the future where all the species of the park have risen up to demand equal rights with humans. After much unrest, it has been agreed that a treaty will be drawn up, designating these rights, but first humans must learn to better relate to and understand non-humans so they can cooperate better together. Thankfully there has been a new invention – The Sentience Dial – which allows humans to tune into all the flora and fauna of Finsbury Park.”
The Treaty of Finsbury Park 2025 is a collaborative project that depicts the story of the dawning of interspecies democracy. It’s a new era of equal rights for all living beings, where all species come together to organise and shape the environments and cultures they inhabit, in Finsbury Park (and urban green spaces across the UK, the world, and beyond!) Like many urban parks, Finsbury Park is fraught with environmental issues from noxious gasses and traffic noises to governance struggles and financial sustainability. If colonial systems of dominance and control over living beings continue we all face an apocalypse.
Based around a set of LARPs – or live action role play games – the Treaty of Finsbury Park 2025 is played from more-than-human perspectives to encourage the blooming of a bountiful biodiversity and interspecies political action. Think like a dog, bee or even grass and help change the way we all see and participate in our local urban green spaces forever.
There are 3 parts to the story.
Part 1. 2022. The Interspecies Assemblies – these are games where everyone gets to plan the Interspecies Festival of Finsbury Park 2023 – an event which will celebrate the drawing up of the treaty itself.
Part 2. 2023. The Vote – once artists have had a chance to gather everyone’s input they’ll present 3 proposals for the Interspecies Festival and everyone will be invited to choose the one they want to participate in.
Part 3. 2023. The Interspecies Festival of Finsbury Park – all the species of Finsbury Park will be invited to join the festival in Summer 2023.
The Interspecies Festival will be a gathering for all species to showcase their cultures, their interests and talents. Like a World’s Fair or an Olympic Games, it will be a place of discovery, marvels and broadened horizons. But it can only be planned if you help all the species of the park present their ideas.
By planning the Interspecies Festival together, human people from the locality and around the world will build empathy pathways to other beings. They will learn about what matters to them and their habitats. They will explore what it would mean to acknowledge the equal rights of more-than-human beings to the same range of freedoms they expect for themselves. They will draft the Treaty and they will decide how to connect even more deeply with all the species of the park through a festival for all. From September 2022 scannable hoardings will wrap the Furtherfield Gallery in Finsbury Park with an exhibition featuring stories about the new knowledge and relationships formed by assembly members for the benefit of biodiversity locally and world wide.
Part 1. 2022 The Interspecies Assemblies games
In the PUBLIC game of ‘Interspecies Assemblies’, human players will be partnered with a mentor representing one of 7 species based in Finsbury Park. These include a tree, a bee, a goose, grass, a squirrel, a stag beetle and a dog. Players will be tuned into the mentor’s needs and experiences1 and will then represent them at a series of online assemblies being held to choose the events and the location in the park for the first ever Interspecies Festival of Finsbury Park.
Part 2. 2022-23 The Interspecies Artists Forum and the Public Vote.
In Spring 2022 The Interspecies Artists Forum will be commissioned to design a set of festival activities for 3 biodiversity habitats based on everything learned and proposed through the Assemblies. For example, the dogs might lead on the Sniffathon followed by Barkeoke, Name that Honk for the Geese, and the Squirrels present the Antique Nut Show. Different activities for different habitats will then be presented as immersive scenes for mobile phones for a public vote.
There will be a PUBLIC vote to decide which biodiversity habitat in the park will host the festival, based on the interspecies activities designed for it. We already know that the bees are abuzz for the wildflower meadows, the stag beetles dig the ancient forest, while the squirrels squeak for the new forests. But the winning habitat will need to appeal to all the species. From April 2022 scannable hoarding will wrap the Furtherfield Gallery in Finsbury Park. Everyone – human or otherwise – is invited to attend, scan, and explore activities in the proposed habitats and decide where the Interspecies Festival should be held to best serve the bountiful biodiversity of the park.
Part 3. The Interspecies Festival and Treaty of Finsbury Park and the Treaty
The final Interspecies Festival activities will take place in the chosen habitat to be further developed and enjoyed by the park’s public in the summer. These will take place alongside the presentation of the draft Treaty for discussion by all the human and more-than-human people of the park.
Read the concept paper here.
The Treaty of Finsbury Park 2025 is a major new project exploring new ways to build empathy pathways to non-human lifeforms through play.
It represents a major undertaking to do long-term work exploring how an arts organisation based in the heart of an urban green space can support a deeper understanding of that green space and ALL its inhabitants. Beginning in 2020 and spanning a minimum of 5 years, the work was originally developed in a collaboration between Furtherfield and The New Design Congress. The first 3 years are being supported by CreaTures Creative Practices for Transformational Futures. CreaTures project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870759. The content presented represents the views of the authors, and the European Commission has no liability in respect of the content.
Artistic Direction by Ruth Catlow
Concept by Cade Diem and Ruth Catlow
Visual design by Cade Diem
Illustrations by Sajan Rai
LARP Design and Hosting by Ruth Catlow, Bea Xu and Max Dovey
LARP Player Assistance by Yejide Cordner
LARP Player Support by Lekey Leideker and Tanya Boyarkina
Writing by Ruth Catlow and Dr Charlotte Frost
Music by Matt Catlow
Digital Mask animation by PopulAR
Research by CreaTures, stewarded by Dr Lara Houston and Dr Ann Light
Production support for prototype LARPs by Tanya Boyarkina
Outreach for prototype LARPs by Pita Arreola
Thanks to our first players: Shawn, Carien, Anne, Tom and Ricard.
Special thanks to Ricard, Finsbury Park Ranger for introducing us to all the different lives of the park
Thanks to all online Interspecies Assemblies players – you know who you are – 🐶 WOOF!