… to expand beyond representation, to conquer an intimacy with the body as a vibratile surface that detects the waves even before they arise, to learn how to surf, establish zones of familiarity within the movement itself – that is “sailing is necessary,” because if we don't, our destiny will probably be shipwreck…
Suely Rolnik, Anthropophagic Subjectivity, 19981
This practice-based research contributes a new perspective to the field of contemporary post-representational curation with the specific angle of examining how the curatorial can activate spaces and conditions for a micropolitical and holistic making of social empathy. The research reconsiders and experiments with what an “ex-hibition” can be, how else ideas can be “ex-hibited” or rather “in-habited” and made to be experienced beyond curatorial forms of display, representation and beyond the mere consumption of the visual. It explores how the curatorial can achieve a more self-determined aesthetic and discursive form of practice, that actively engages and dissolves the on-looking audiences; a practice that instead strives to nurture agency and partaking protagonists. The explorations extend Nora Sternfeld’s notions of the “contact zone” and “asymmetric relations”. It takes guidance in Paulo Freire’s learning approach of “critical consciousness”, and Suely Rolnik’s “micropolitics” and “knowing body” as approaches for the decolonisation and de-subjectivation of the (social) body and its relationality to what is considered as Other, towards a delinking from hegemonic and capitalistic appropriations in the process of subjectivation. Through the practical research of the Radical Empathy Lab (REL), a curation that creates the conditions for holistic and relational–versus informational–learning is explored. REL’s approach emphasises the sensual and experiential in creating conscientization, to sharpen our senses for an “active micropolitics” towards exploring new forms of being together that momentarily allow one to reflect, to re-feel and undo a reactionary an-aesthesia.
The examination concludes with the coinage of new terminology such as “intra-curation” and “affective transformative curation” for considering this specific curatorial approach.
Berit Fischer (PhD) is a transdisciplinary cultural practitioner. She is a curator, scholar, artist, writer, and an editor with focus on experiential and socio-ecological knowledge formation, critical spatial and transformative emancipatory practices, that are often inspired by feminist- and radical pedagogies. 2016 she founded the Radical Empathy Lab, an ongoing nomadic socio-ecological and research laboratory for experiential knowledge formation. She is the founder and curator of the (Re-)Gaining Ecological Futures festival at the Floating University, Berlin.
The present study was accepted as a Ph.D. dissertation at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and the Winchester School of Art/Southampton University, UK. Prof. Dr. August Jordan and Prof. Dr. Ryan Bishop supervised the dissertation; Prof. Dr. Brandon LaBelle advised as an external advisor.
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