Jessica El Mal, Speculative Proposal for a New Normal in Oldham


About the work

While everyone is wishing for a hasty return back to normality, In this ​Speculative Proposal for a New Normal in Oldham​ – the artist’s beloved hometown – we take this moment as an opportunity to consider what kind of normal we actually want to return back to. With cars off the road, buildings repurposed and local green spaces now proven to be so crucial to our wellbeing, this artwork challenges the old frameworks of city planning in favour of a fairer and more planetary, imaginary design model.

You are invited to create a “Speculative Proposal” for your own town or city.

Here is how to get involved:

1. Check out our reading list here – try to read, watch or listen to at least one thing from each of the four main branches. What did you like or dislike? Did anything inspire you?

2. Image search the name of your area next to the words ‘plan’, ‘development’ or ‘map’ and choose one to be your base image.

3. Then find or create images to represent the changes you’d like to see and collage them onto your base. For this step you can either print out and collage on top of your base, use a computer software like photoshop, or even draw using microsoft word or paint! The more resourceful the better!

TIP: be as creative as you’d like – or not! You can be silly and collage wolves onto a golf course that your dog always wants to run on for example, or be very practical by rebuilding a housing estate that was knocked down, or you could simply draw lines where you’d like an extra bus lane. The choice is yours.

4. If you want your design to be included in a collection of speculative proposals from around the country, email a scan or photo of it along with any comments you may have to

About the artist

Jessica El Mal is a multidisciplinary artist, writer and curator addressing global structures of power through critical research, participatory projects and speculative future imaginaries. Often centered around collaboration, co-curation and collective knowledge systems, projects usually include research, workshops and artwork project intended to have a lasting effect past the point of production. Previous projects have been with Manchester International Festival, Journey’s Festival International, Signal Film and Media and MAMA Rotterdam, as well as many collaborations with non-arts organizations too such as the Collegium for Language in a Changing Society, Lets Keep Growing and many more.

Artist links