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(Updating the) Project Description
The BodyBuilding Project is a shared inquiry into the sensibilities, subjectivities and relational capacities we, as interdependent beings, might beneficially develop in response to the planetary urgencies we currently face. It encourages us to reimagine the propensities currently identified as “human”, and to begin building bodies capable of prefiguring life beyond our collapsing horizons.
This paragraph is the conceptual layout. At the moment, it is extremely dense: it attempts to describe both the aim and context of the project in a few short sentences. Originally, the description was much longer and more detailed: it described the manifold crisis condition we are in, as well as our relation towards it. Also, it focused on the somewhat pompous idea of us being able (or at least willing) to develop ways of imagining a future for us as a species, and to propose ways of getting there.
In the current version, the crisis condition is already taken for granted, as if it was something everyone was familiar with; also, the idea of us launching ourselves towards a possible future has been dropped. The emphasis is on the reimagination and reevaluation of the human, which seems to be at the core of the project. It is fundamentally a speculative project, and thus remains continuously on the move, on the verge of the possible. The open speculation enables the integration of various, possibly contradictory elements and attitudes into one whole, which seems to be important for us; even if we share the same values, our approaches and ways of relating to both the project and the questions it is addressing are different from each other.
The project consists of a perennial artistic research process and a series of public events created collaboratively by a growing body of artists, theorists and practitioners. Our aim is to develop a series of embodied practices that can be sustained both individually and collectively and transmitted in a variety of ways.
This paragraph is very practical and concrete, which makes it both necessary and enjoyable. The concrecy can manifest in various ways, and develop along the way.
We are currently taking part in a group exhibition at HIAP Gallery Augusta on Suomenlinna Island. The exhibition, titled Excavations, opened on June 12 and will continue until the end of August. Our participation manifests mainly in the form of weekly practice sessions and discussions, as well as intensive workshops and events.
This paragraph represents the local aspect of the project – it describes the events that are happening right now.
I’ve now read “The Foreigner Question”, which is the first part of Derrida’s “On Hospitality”. I keep pondering over the question of the host. To begin with, I find myself wondering whether or not the whole concept of a host only reinforces the divide, and the hierarchy, between the “inhabitant” and the “guest”, or the “native” and the “immigrant”. To host is to make space for another, to allow them in, to care for them – while remaining separate from them through that very act of taking care. To take care, or responsibility, for something or someone often translates into subtle (or less subtle) forms of governance and micro-management – wanting the other to be well and assuming to know what they need.
Is it really possible to host without any conditions or agreements? Is it possible to host while allowing the other in completely; while exposing and opening oneself to the contingency and unpredictability of this relation, as well as the possibility of being undone or radically altered by it? Would it not be more hospitable to not intentionally host the other, and instead simply allow them to be there? Would this allow for a more equal relation to emerge? When does hosting and being hosted transform into living together, as equals?
Perhaps the problem of hosting has to do with our tendency to hold back in order to make space. There’s an underlying assumption that to make space for someone else, and to accommodate them, I need to withdraw and pull back, as if space was limited and measurable. However, it seems to me that by pulling back, I’m actually making the space and its potentiality smaller rather than more ample. The potentiality of being is diminished through withdrawal, by my not allowing myself to flood and fill the space, and to share this state of abundance with another. Doesn’t my withdrawal signal that the other should also do the same – i.e. not flood or leak freely, but rather regulate and contain themselves? Perhaps my greatest gift to the other could be that of following and expressing my own desire, making myself as comfortable and apparent as possible, and thus giving them space to do the same. Not holding back due to a fear of overstepping, crowding, or hurting the other by being everything one can be.
I’ve now moved onto the second seminar, “Step of Hospitality / No Hospitality”. The following paragraph makes me think (or reminds me of the fact) that the potentiality of the host, and the home, is actually activated through the entrance of the guest. That to become, to move, to enter a state of potentiality, I need the other, and the state of indetermination (s)he brings with her. I am dependent on her.
It’s as if (and an as if always lays down the law here) the stranger – some Oedipus, in fact, in other words the one whose guarded secret about the place of death was going to save the city or promise it salvation through the contract we have just read – as if, then, the stranger could save the master and liberate the power of his host; it’s as if the master, qua master, were prisoner of his place and his power, of his ipseity, of his subjectivity (his subjectivity is hostage). So it is indeed the master the one who invites, the inviting host, who becomes the hostage – and who really always has been. And the guest, the invited hostage, becomes the one who invites the one who invites, the master of the host. The guest becomes the host’s host. The guest (hôte) becomes the host (hôte) of the host (hôte).
I am also now remembering the small inklings of practice I introduced at CARPA. The second one of the exercises was based on the idea of inviting oneself into what is already happening. I was suggesting that the invitation happens through inclusion – that to invite oneself in, or to be invited in, one needs to include the one who invites (the host), which makes the invitation a two-way movement. The inclusion needs to be mutual for it to happen.
How does the inclusion happen, then? What changes in me, and in the space, when I include another in it, and invite them to enter “me”? Does the “me” change already at the threshold, through the act of inviting the other in? What does the intimacy of sharing the space that once was “mine” do to us? Allowing the other to enter also means that there is no going back, to what I was before. I am permanently disturbed and shaken, moved by the other’s entrance and inhabitation.
Desire measures time since its abolition in the stranger’s entering movement: the stranger, here the awaited guest, is not only someone to whom you say “come,” but “enter,” enter without waiting, make a pause in our home without waiting, hurry up and come in, “come inside,” “come within me,” not only toward me, but within me: occupy me, take place in me, which means, by the same token, also take my place, don’t content yourself with coming to meet me or “into my home.” Crossing the threshold is entering and not only approaching or coming.
The group splits in half. Group A enters the room, group B stays outside.
Instructions for group A:
1. Find the spot in the room that feels the most attractive or comfortable for you at the moment.
2. Begin inhabiting the spot by finding a position or a way of moving that feels good to you.
3. Someone will come and visit your home-space. Your task is to allow them in and share your space with them for a while.
Instructions for group B:
1. Enter the space. Choose the person that you feel most drawn to or intrigued by at the moment.
2. Go to the person and find a suitable way of approaching them. You can use different levels and movement qualities, such as walking, crawling or rolling.
3. Spend a moment with the person and let yourself be affected by them. Inhabit their space together with them.
4. Leave the space when it feels right.
Let us say yes to who or what turns up, before any determination, before any anticipation, before any identification, whether or not it has to do with a foreigner, an immigrant, an invited guest, or an unexpected visitor, whether or not the new arrival is the citizen of another country, a human, animal, or divine creature, a living or dead thing, male or female.
Jacques Derrida: On Hospitality
To consider adversity, affliction, as a friend and poison as invaluable influence. If we don’t produce our own rituals of terror, terrorism will come from the outside as though unwanted and as if not of our own making. I know I can speak for the country I come from; we really think it’s not us. That’s insane. We’re way beyond complicit with the way we’re being attacked. We created that, and it’s the last thing United States wants to look at. That’s the medicine we can’t swallow, there.
to accommodate, accommodation
foreign, foreigner, foreignness
hostis (host or enemy)
to include, inclusion/exclusion
to (be) open, openness
to own, ownership
to visit, visitor
Among the serious problems we are dealing with here is that of the foreigner, who, inept at speaking the language, always risks being without defense before the law of the country that welcomes or expels him; the foreigner IS first of all foreign to the legal language in which the duty of hospitality is formulated, the right to asylum, its limits, norms, policing, etc. He has to ask for hospitality in a language which by definition is not his own, the one imposed on him by the master of the house, the host, the king, the lord, the authorities, the nation, the State, the father, etc. This personage imposes on him translation into their own language, and that’s the first act of violence. That is where the question of hospitality begins: must we ask the foreigner to understand us, to speak our language, in all the senses of this term, in all its possible extensions, before being able and so as to be able to welcome him into our country? If he was already speaking our language, with all that that implies, if we already shared everything that is shared with a language, would the foreigner still be a foreigner and could we speak of asylum or hospitality in regard to him?
Derrida: On Hospitality, p. 15
If we wanted to pause for a moment on this significant fact, we would have to note once again a paradox or a contradiction: this right to hospitality offered to a foreigner “as a family,” represented and protected by his or her family name, is at once what makes hospitality possible, or the hospitable relationship to the foreigner possible, but by the same token what limits and prohibits it. Because hospitality, in this situation, is not offered to an anonymous new arrival and someone who has neither name, nor patronym, nor family, nor social status, and who is therefore treated not as a foreigner but as another barbarian. We have alluded to this: the difference, one of the subtle and sometimes ungraspable differences between the foreigner and the absolute other is that the latter cannot have a name or a family name; the absolute or unconditional hospitality I would like to offer him or her presupposes a break with hospitality in the ordinary sense, with conditional hospitality, with the right to or pact of hospitality. — To put it in different terms, absolute hospitality requires that I open up my home and that I give not only to the foreigner (provided with a family name, with the social status of being a foreigner, etc.), but to the absolute, unknown, anonymous other, and that I give place to them, that I let them come, that I let them arrive, and take place in the place I offer them, without asking of them either reciprocity (entering into a pact) or even their names.
Derrida: On Hospitality, p. 25
That, following one of the directions it takes, is the question of the foreigner as the question of the question. Does hospitality consist in interrogating the new arrival? Does it begin with the question addressed to the newcomer (which seems very human and sometimes loving, assuming that hospitality should be linked to love – an enigma that we will leave in reserve for the moment): what is your name? tell me your name, what should I call you, I who am calling on you, I who want to call you by your name? What am I going to call you? It is also what we sometimes tenderly ask children and those we love. Or else does hospitality begin with the unquestioning welcome, in a double effacement, the effacement of the question and the name? Is it more just and more loving to question or not to question? to call by the name or without the name? to give or to learn a name already given? Does one give hospitality to a subject? to an identifiable subject? to a subject identifiable by name? to a legal subject? Or is hospitality rendered, is it given to the other before they are identified, even before they are (posited as or supposed to be) a subject, legal subject and subject nameable by their family name, etc.?
Ibid., p. 27
Now if my “home,” in principle inviolable, is also constituted, and in a more and more essential, interior way, by my phone line, but also by my e-mail, but also by my fax, but also by my access to the Internet, then the intervention of the State becomes a violation of the inviolable, in the place where inviolable immunity remains the condition of hospitality. — All these techno-scientific possibilities threaten the interiority of the home (“we are no longer at home!”) and really the very integrity of the self, of ipseity. These possibilities are experienced as threats bearing down on the particular territory of one’s own and on the law of private property. They are obviously behind all the purifYing reactions and feelings of resentment. Wherever the “home” is violated, wherever at any rate a violation is felt as such, you can foresee a privatizing and even familialist reaction, by widening the ethnocentric and nationalist, and thus xenophobic, circle: not directed against the foreigner as such, but, paradoxically, against the anonymous technological power (foreign to the language or the religion, as much as to the family and the nation), which threatens, with the “home,” the traditional conditions of hospitality. The perversion and pervertibility of this law (which is also a law of hospitality) is that one can become virtually xenophobic in order to protect or claim to protect one’s own hospitality, the own home that makes possible one’s own hospitality. (Remember as well the xenotransplantation we were talking about last time.) I want to be master at home (ipse, potis, potens, head of house, we have seen all that), to be able to receive whomever I like there. Anyone who encroaches on my “at home,” on my ipseity, on my power of hospitality, on my sovereignty as host, I start to regard as an undesirable foreigner, and virtually as an enemy. This other becomes a hostile subject, and I risk becoming their hostage.
Ibid., p. 51-54
No hospitality, in the classic sense, without sovereignty of oneself over one’s home, but since there is also no hospitality without finitude, sovereignty can only be exercised by filtering, choosing, and thus by excluding and doing violence. Injustice, a certain injustice, and even a certain perjury, begins right away, from the very threshold of the right to hospitality.
Ibid., p. 55
But current technological developments are restructuring space in such a way that what constitutes a space of controlled and circumscribed property is just what opens it to intrusion. That, once again, is not absolutely new: in order to constitute the space of a habitable house and a home, you also need an opening, a door and windows, you have to give up a passage to the outside world [/’etrangerl. There is no house or interior without a door or windows. The monad of home has to be hospitable in order to be ipse, itself at home, habitable at-home in the relation of the self to itself.
Ibid., p. 61
Where do these strange processes of hospitality lead? These interminable, uncrossable thresholds, and these aporias? It is as though we were going from one difficulty to another. Better or worse, and more seriously, from impossibility to impossibility. It is as though hospitality were the impossible: as though the law of hospitality defined this very impossibility, as if it were only possible to transgress it, as though the law of absolute, unconditional, hyperbolical hospitality, as though the categorical imperative of hospitality commanded that we transgress all the laws (in the plutal) of hospitality, namely, the conditions, the norms, the rights and the duties that are imposed on hosts and hostesses, on the men or women who give a welcome as well as the men or women who receive it. And vice versa, it is as though the laws (plural) of hospitality, in marking limits, powers, rights, and duties, consisted in challenging and transgressing the law of hospitality, the one that would command that the “new arrival” be offered an unconditional welcome.
Ibid., p. 77
“Enter quickly,” quickly, in other words, without delay and without waiting. Desire is waiting for what does not wait. The guest must make haste. Desire measures time since its abolition in the stranger’s entering movement: the stranger, here the awaited guest, is not only someone to whom you say “come,” but “enter,” enter without waiting, make a pause in our home without waiting, hurry up and come in, “come inside,” “come within me,” not only toward me, but within me: occupy me, take place in me, which means, by the same token, also take my place, don’t content yourself with coming to meet me or “into my home.” Crossing the threshold is entering and not only approaching or coming. — This is always the situation of the foreigner, in politics too, that of coming as a legislator to lay down the law and liberate the people or the nation by coming from outside, by entering into the nation or the house, into the home that lets him enter after having appealed to him. It’s as if (and an as if always lays down the law here) the stranger – some Oedipus, in fact, in other words the one whose guarded secret about the place of death was going to save the city or promise it salvation through the contract we have just read-as if, then, the stranger could save the master and liberate the power of his host; it’s as if the master, qua master, were prisoner of his place and his power, of his ipseity, of his subjectivity (his subjectivity is hostage). So it is indeed the master the one who invites, the inviting host, who becomes the hostage – and who really always has been. And the guest, the invited hostage, becomes the one who invites the one who invites, the master of the host. The guest becomes the host’s host. The guest (hôte) becomes the host (hôte) of the host (hôte).
Ibid., p. 123
First let us consider the distinction between unconditional hospitality and, on the other hand, the rights and duties that are the conditions of hospitality. Far from paralyzing this desire or destroying the requirements of hospitality, this distinction requires us to determine what could be called, in Kantian language (in an approximate and analogical way, since in the strict sense they are in fact excluded in this case, and this exclusion needs to be thought about), intermediate schemas. Between an unconditional law or an absolute desire for hospitality on the one hand and, on the other, a law, a politics, a conditional ethics, there is distinction, radical heterogeneity, but also indissociability. One calls forth, involves, or prescribes the other. In giving a right, if I can put it like that, to unconditional hospitality, how can one give place to a determined, limitable, and delimitable – in a word, to a calculable – right or law? How can one give place to a concrete politics and ethics, including a history, evolutions, actual revolutions, advances – in short, a perfectibility?
Ibid., p. 147
Should one hand over one’s guests to criminals, rapists, murderers? or lie to them so as to save the people one is putting up and for whom one feels responsible? In Genesis (I9:Iff), this is the moment when Lot seems to put the laws of hospitality above all, in particular the ethical obligations that link him to his relatives and family, first of all his daughters. The men of Sodom demand to see the guests whom Lot is putting up, those who came to his home that night. The men of Sodom want to see these guests in order to “penetrate” them, says one translation (Chouraqui’s: “Get them to come out to us: let’s penetrate them!”), to “get to know” them, another modestly puts it (Dhorme’s in the Pleiade collection: “Get them to come out to us so that we can get to know them”).
Ibid., p. 151
Yesterday we were working with the idea of hospitality, hostility, openness, welcoming and exclusion. We started with some exercises that lead us to discussion.
Anonymous Material / Strange stranger
1. Walking in the space. Sensing the space and your own body, feelings, emotions, state you’re in.
2. Perceiving and observing things/beings in the space. See how they affect your being at the moment.
3. Finding a non-human partner. Something that feels appealing to you at the moment.
4. Position yourself next to it. Observing it closer.
5. Think through different questions next to it:
What is it? How do you know?
Where has it come from?
How do you relate to it?
How do you use it?
What material is it?
Where has the material came from?
How have you came here beside it?
3. Now try to let go of everything that you know or think that you know about it. Try to ”forget” or turn down your foreknowledge about the other. Can you now meet the other somehow differently? How do you relate to it without knowing anything about it?
Find a place/space where you feel welcomed. Be there. See what it is that welcomes you.
Not being welcomed
Find a place/space where you don’t feel welcomed. Be there. See what it is that is not welcoming you.
Being-with / Opening space
1. Position yourself next to a being or thing.
2. Observe the way the being/thing is and attune/relate to it through your position, attitude & quality of being.
3. Change your position in order to make space for it in your world / in yourself. Share your space and world with the other.
4. Attune to the other’s way of being and let it affect your body and way of being. Allow yourself to change.
5. See what emerges.
Here are some notes on the discussion afterwards:
Being welcomed is a condition, which is mostly created by the surroundings: is the area/the space/the place originally made for humans to be in? My own knowledge about the use of the space affects how welcomed I feel in it. Roads, paths, houses, parks etc. are all made for humans to spend their time: I know this – or I assume this – and I can feel myself welcomed there.
Whereas not-being-welcomed is a condition or a state, which I am in when I know the space is not meant for me. Being on someones way…aren’t we always on someone’s way? (Sings saying: PRIVATE or NO TRESSPASSING. Shooing accidently a snake away when stepping aside from the path…) Also the feeling of someone else/something else trying to drive you away, creates an experience of not being welcomed. Is a smell of mold a sign of not-welcoming? Or a cold wind? My body is giving me signs or orders to not to go somewhere: body is reacting to it’s environment and sensing if it is hostile.
Encountering the other with or without foreknowledge. Not knowing anything even though you would think you know something. The other as ultimately strange and unknown.
Welcoming others/opening space for others: when and if I let something “in me” or “in my body”, do I always exclude something else? Can I be open to everyhting at once? Is being open different than being hospitable? Can you oppose something even if you would be open to it? Can I be open and opposing at the same time? Maybe being open is more truthful than being hospitable? Are we somehow diminishing ourselves when we are being hospitable and/or are we diminishing others? Being open means that you are also being fragile and vulnerable. When we are open we can still negotiate with others – positive conflict.
These themes definitely need some more thinking: repeating exercises and developing them further.
Yesterday i was leading an exercise(s) somehow connected to themes which are important to me at at the moment. I’m thinking themes like infrastructure, speed and disruption, layered with images of compressed and deformed fossils flowing down a pipeline, plastic manufacturers downstream that pipeline ignoring the origins of the material they use, and animals or geological entities which more or less accidentally happen to be on a way of those linear processes.
We started by tuning our selves into the gallery space, directing our attention to anonymous and de-naturalized (thank you Robert!) materials we could find there. To objects, materials and surfaces we cannot really grasp; know how they are made, what they are made of, who made them, how we could do them our selves or how they change the biosphere of Earth in a longer than sprint -run.
We also did the same tuning in with our eyes closed.
The second part of the exercise took us outside.
We started by walking around as a group, trying to find our common stream. In the beginning we were slow and closed group (observing for example lichen like blue plastic ropes which seemed to be growing from the soccer court.)
Then, slowly we increased the speed (or flow, or volume) of our stream. First so that we would not stop, then to steady constant walking, to fast walking and finally to running. (we were at this point in the banks behind the court so full on running was not really an option.) At this point the stream had the possibility to break loose and find its own ways. (we didn’t have to stay together as a group anymore…)
It obviously (but partly unintentionally) got a bit out of control, and not all of us could get the instructions for the final (and the main) exercise. (I could not find Robert so he spent the res of the exercise wondering and i looking for him…)
The concluding exercise was a snail in a cycle path -simulation which is nevertheless really simple. Snails often like to hang out in cycle paths which make cycling an adventure. (it often requires a lot of concentration to not to ride over them.)
So in this exercise you would just find any nice and comfy spot, or any kind of slow and steady movement in which you can be aware of what’s happening around you. The aim is to become aware of the various flows which go over or under or trough you, for which you are like those snails on a cycle path: (more or less violently) blocking or disturbing their linear ways.
We had a really good discussion (at least I enjoyed it very much) about the experiences.
Some random notes i have and what i can remember from that exchange:
-not knowing anything about anything, overwhelming layers of unknowing. Starting from the bacteria in our own bodies.
Can there be something calming in not/unknowing?
-The fastness of the stream-walking exercise took some of us to places island we hadn’t been before. At the same time the speed was violence, an inability to be aware of ones own actions. It encourages selfish human behaviour.
-It was the speed which was leading and not human awareness. (moving in the speed of ones own awareness)
-Is there a way to think of rhythms in a non-linear scales outside fast-slow?
-It’s impossible to not touch the ground, to not be on someones way.
-Walking off road (or off path) on plants (and animals?) felt also violent, in comparison to walking on paved roads or already formed paths.
-How can we create or destroy/modify infrastructures so that they would be less violent (moving more close to the speed of our own awareness)?
Surrender / Sustain / Support
I have been thinking about…
ability – inability – disability – incapacity – helplessness – unableness
How can we deal with or bear our ignorance and inability? Is it really so that we can not fix, heal, cure or enhance anything/anyone? Are we only tuning our bodies in to phenomena too big to take action against, too prolonged and deep to recuperate, and not actually building anything anymore – maybe building is actually just countervailing/counteracting as stopping or slowing down, surrendering?
How should we deal with fear and terror, that we can not but witness and withstand? How can we practice not letting these things destroy ourselves or deplete us totally? What are the practices of surrenderig, sustaining and supporting? Who/what sustains or supports who/what? And who/what should need to surrender to who/what?
Mutual surrender between human body and the Earth.
Can we support the Earth? Can we support other beings? Can we support ourselves, and what’s more can the Earth support us?
With great ignorance, Anniina
For me, participating in The Body Building Project creates a possibility to deepen my understanding in how I perceive myself as part of my environment and what kind of methods I should gain in order to adjust that to these times of anthropocene. It’s a crisis, and it takes us to new territories in how to understand who we are and how we should inhabit this world. My apologies as this might be a bit of a blurb, but here’s some of my broad starting points concerning the near future with you guys.
I’m currently starting to work with my MA thesis in the MA program of Sound Design in TeaK, and taking part in The Body Building project will most probably have a significant role in what I’m going for in that and of course, in my life in general. In my work, I’m focusing in listening not only in the form of, well, listening, but instead I’ll try to contextualise listening to the broad spectrum of our environment and how we dwell in it. In a way, one could bring the concepts of being-with as well as co-poiesis close to what I’m after here. For me, this means an epistemological approach on the ecology of listening: what kind of social, environmental structures does our forms of listening create? How these structures form our listening? How to see listening as a social being-with, bodily being that creates action? What would be listening through environment, listening through “other” strategies and positions (such as the concept of queer listening etc.)? Listening through the cracks in our political, economical crises? Listening in relation to non-human? The material reality? Listening as hacking?
In addition to these concepts, I’m also thinking about the concrete, medium-tied forms these practices could take (as I find this as sharing, too). The key questions for me right now could be how to document the experiences, how to record and document the listening we do, how to tune the situation, how to share this though sonic approaches?
In my life in general, I think listening (and of course its’ occasional absence) is the main thread in how I am with the world. This means a child-like interest in the vast variety of threads and cause/consequence-relations we produce. Having also background in studying geography I find this multitude of perspectives as a key adjustment in how I want to study the world – the subjectivity of my body being of course the core in this.
My research alongside The BodyBuilding Project is part of my Master’s thesis in Art education programme at Aalto University School of Art, Design and Architecture. My thesis is an artistic research concerning the possibilities of conciouss bodily-artistic practicing to affect on human subjectivity in personal and collective level and further to generate embodied knowledge that exceeds our immediate and primary perception and understanding. Bodily-artistic practicing through which relations between human and nonhuman are defined and redefined, creates the core of my research. I am examining how can we renew and transmit embodied knowledge with and among one another. Furthermore, how does this affect on our being-with others, human and nonhuman?
The term being-with is approached from a perspective of ecological and political theory. I am researching what kind of forms of being-with and co-operation should we envision and put into practice in order to assemble a collective incorporating human and nonhuman. This call for re-examination and redefiniton of relationality between humans, animals, things and matter stems essentially from the distress brought on by the confrontation with undeniable ecological crises and its irreversible effects on environment, climate, species, politics etc. How should we react to it and how can we experience and comprehend its emergency and impact on us profoundly, on a bodily level? It seems that as long as the emergency of the environmental crises is responded with a great angst over nature perceived external to society, we are only sustaining the idea that human civilization is detached from some kind of divine and fundamental substance of earth: the nature. This in my view does not make any progress in our ecological politicization. Dichotomies between human/nonhuman and society/nature lie in the very core of my research and base the main ethical challenges for it: how to rethink our being in the world as part of an interrelational collective where environmental changes are posing significant threats for life on earth? How can we learn to engage with this state of emergency and react to it? Processing these questions on a bodily level through composing and developing practices as well as creating space for sharing them, are the main functions for my research during this spring and summer.
My research question is: How can one redefine human subjectivity and learn being-with through bodily-artistic research and practice? Additionally I am interested in the question, what kind of modes of being should we start to engage ourselves in at the present time and in the future?
My research comprises three practice areas (learning environments):
– My own weekly practicing and exercise developing + analysis
– Collaborating in The BodyBuilding Project
– Workshops and collaborative artworks with others who are willing to explore human and nonhuman relations through bodily exercising
These areas are affecting, inspiring and communicating with each other. I am interested in the learning processes that happen limited in every specific area but also how ideas, knowledge and learning are circulating between them.
My research scrutinises learning process as a form of advancing conscious presence and becoming sensitive to our surroundings and its effects on us and others. I am interested in observing the learning process detached from objectives directed commonly to it, such as raising awareness and hereby bringing out and putting in operation learners’ potentiality and finally producing ”active citizens” out of them. This aim for politically active and aware subjectives originates from critical pedagogy’s tradition. It forms an important basis for my pedagogical thinking. However, I am interested in moving ”beyond” critical pedagogy’s tradition and see if there can be even more critical ways to understand learning as a process of enabling whatever kind of subjectivities and beings to arise, not only potentially active but also potential in other ways. Nevertheless, I am not demanding on an idea of learning without goals or without values, quite the contrary, since in my case learning is directed towards being-with and that is a considerable goal in itself. As I see it, aiming for whatever subjectivities or singularities, as Agamben would put it, is not about increasing indifference but cultivating empathy. The key issue is, how to bring political ecological theory in to practice through an embodied learning process by focusing on the theme of being-with.
My research questions are approached mainly through bodily-artistic rehearsing and its analysis, which is affected by and reflected on ecological and political theory by Timothy Morton and Bruno Latour, materialist theory by Jane Bennett and Graham Harman and on philosophy of creative practice by Erin Manning and Brian Massumi. The term being-with originates from Jean Luc-Nancy’s philosophy, which is also analysed. Additionally Giorgio Agamben’s idea of whatever singularity is to some extent parallel to my pedagogical thinking, and it is important to take into account.
To be honest i’m not really interested in climate crisis per se. The way it is often narrated by instances like the IPCC, the Anthopocene -project, or climate activists offers me only an unquestionable fact that the biosphere of the planet Earth is changing, and not for good. I have no doubt about this, it’s been clear since the 1980’s! (not for me though i’ve born a year before Limits of Growth/ Our Common Future…)
The style of this creates too often rather human-centered and romantic narrations like: ”crisis will make us or break us, future will be a collapse of our civilization or a new way of living together (in harmony?).” It creates earth rise -style, hard science, extra-planetary global-scale images of our immediate surroundings from a rather hierarchical position (satellites, moon, space…) or ideas of utopian future which has no connections material reality, or people suffering in the developing countries.
These things are important to know but for me as such they offer little or no foundations forwardlooking towards the future. The steps coming after are way more interesting. (to understand the reasons, ideas and infrastructures which have kept us taking those steps for the last 30 years!)
I see (speculative/neo)-materialism, post-humanism and hacking/ hacker-ethics helpful and capable of helping to answer questions which raise from the climate crisis like:
What could global equality and material awareness actually mean?
How should we place ourselves within the planets biosphere/ the universe?
How should we deal with our rather oily and unsustainable past/present?
What if we really want to be sustainable here and now?
And most of all, how to understand the virtual possibilities of nature (information) and limited material resources of our planet simultaneously?
For me the dearest struggle is to understand and deconstruct ideologies, ideas infrastructures and mundane habits which created (and still create) this crisis in the first place. To understand and bring up the hidden constructions which create object/subject, living/nonliving, mind/matter… dichotomies which i believe in my understanding of Deleuze+Guattari+Rosi Braidotti and nomadism are the core of this struggle against idealism.
So, I believe understanding what materialism really means, and how it changes the way we see and do things is a big question! (whether as graphic designers, performers, citizens or as people.)
McKenzie Warks ideas of a hacker, Quentin Meillassouxs and Manuel DeLandas ideas of materialism, Donna Haraways and Karen Barads queer science (beyond the two cultures of hard/soft science), studies of what google/internet is doing to our brains, Reza Negarestanis, Tere Vadens and Georges Batailles ways of deconstructing the affects and effects of fossil-fuels and energy, Benjamin Brattons way of understanding the politics of the infrastructures of today and near future are the main foundation for me at the moment.
My practise is deriving from visual communication (images taught in a very broad way) and how in materialist terms they construct, create or change us humans and the world we live in. Human body is a central anchor in this and my main interest within this research is to understand things better from that perspective.