COOP ~ ReSituating and ReCalibrating Hostipitality from Month to Month
Seminar 3: 20 - 21 February 2021
Last time, we left off with an attempt to read, interpret, transpose and think through the words of Tsitsi Jaji, and her take on the concept of Decanonization as a Method. In our February encounter, and in the next few months to come, we would like to further unpack certain notions we brought forth onto our tables, and by re-reading a few these texts we attempt to ReCalibrate notions of hospitality, hostility and hospitality. In February, we attempt to unpack the visual through ways of working with Decanonization as a Method in relation to images (still/moving), in the way we make them, engage with them, relate to them, distribute them and archive them, but also in relation to other possibilities of sensing. We ask: What is an image? Can we decanonize the image of an image? How to do things with an image?
MORNING SESSION: 10:00 - 13:00:
For our first focused session on sensing sight, we have invited Abhishek Nilamber, an independent filmmaker, and the curator of an ongoing research project - and an independent film network platform and collective - United Screens. With Nilamber we will be unfolding the multiplicities of reading, sensing, viewing and listening to images, by engaging with the recurring questions of this COOP. We will enter this space of reflection through the lens of the Senegalese film director Djibril Diop Mambety and his seminal work Touki Bouki, and focus on the image and constructs associated with image making, reading, experiencing, archiving, through the positionionality of the gaze, but also through concepts such as access and distribution.
“Style is a word that I do not like. I have never pursued a single style, and the others haven't done that, either.” ---- Djibril Diop Mambety
United Screens is a long term research that intends to create a platform through which independent filmmakers, exhibitors and distributors can activate a network of co-ordinated and programmed exhibition spaces. The platform becomes a space of distribution of films produced across the Indian subcontinent, African and Asian continent at large, Latin America and Eastern Europe. We also look to the past to revisit efforts made and claims raised in the process of decolonizing forms of film distribution, in order to furthermore engage with the formation of decentralized distribution channels of film that exist beyond bodies of censorship, agencies of control and institutions in position of power. We aim to understand postcolonial ties to current formats of film distribution because only with an historical register can we pave the path to a broader understanding of modes of censorship, state control of screens, and processes of othering through cinema. We hope that with this research project, we can collectively propose and form a more inclusive understanding of film distri- bution beyond its normative socio–and geo–political contexts and barriers.
14:00 - 17:00: THINKING TOGETHER SESSION: we will look through the archives and content shared on platforms such as www.858.ma - https://indiancine.ma - https://pad.ma/about, and we invite Nilamber to curate and select a few works from these archives to watch and discuss after each screening;
14:00 - 17:30 One on Ones: this month each student will switch to the other tutor for their one on one sessions with Bode and Kamila; each session will be about 30-45 minutes, and simultaneously the rest of the time each student will be matched with another student, and another student, and another student, to discuss, reflect and share their processes with;
18:00 - 19:30: Single Shot Sessions:
a) Taking inspiration from the work of Antje Ehmann and Harun Farocki Labor in a Single Shot, we would like to glimpse through this project and discuss student made single shot works (which will engage both with image and the sonic separately and in a form of a conversation between students through the year); The Single Shot Format will become our attempt to work with our hands during and through the lockdown we are collectively experiencing these days (about 45 minutes);
- b) Next months planning and in general reflection session on ways of moving forward with our sessions online and in person (about 30 minutes);
What do you need to watch?
We would like to ask all students to pre-watch the film Touki Bouki by Djibril Diop Mambety;
What do you need to read?
We would like to re-read the below texts from our January sessions:
- Tsitsi Jaji lecture in “Decanonisation method”
- Shifting the geography of reason by Gordon Lewis:
Seminar 2: 18 - 19 January 2021
A COLLECTIVE ATTEMPT. ON WAYS TO DECONDITION HOSPITALITY.
In this COOP encounter we engage with the possibility of “deconditioning hospitality”.
What is hospitality?
What do we mean when we say deconditioning?
Is there such a thing as unconditional hospitality?
In this sense, we engage with debates questioning the conditions bound to hospitality, and relationships found therein, between the “host” and the “guest”, understood as a power-based relationship in Jacques Derrida’s understanding. In doing so, we will look into the story of a philosopher who has for too-long lived in the neglected fringes of what we know to be the domain of the philosophical canon today: the Ghanaian-German Anton Wilhem Amo(1).
These few days will be dedicated to Amo’s thoughts on the body and the mind, and it’s embodied practice as a both a spiritual and physical experience and exchange of knowledge. Thus, we will specifically reflect on THE FACULTY OF SENSING - THINKING WITH, THROUGH, AND BY ANTON WILHELM AMO - an exhibition (without an audience(2)), currently showing at SAVVY Contemporary in Berlin - which is dedicated to the “outstanding philosopher of the 18th century. The traced themes are focused on, but not limited to, Amo’s writings and their reception, politics of referencing, erasure, and canonization”, all while problematizing knowledge production in Westernized terms.
It is inevitable to think of Derrida’s notion of Hostipitality with the aforementioned quests, namely: politics of referencing and the hostility therein, historical recognition and reception, and finally how “agnosia”(3) plays a crucial role in the constant erasure of the Other (black artists, philosophers, thinkers in that case) within the Euroamerical canon across various domains of humanities and sciences known to date. We will look into a number of contributors - from the 16 artists invited into the exhibition - who recollect erased memories, and engage with a vast variety of ways of sensing as a body, a body that is alive and organic with memory, testimony, and acts as a witness. By looking into each creative apparatus of artistic work and research, we will exemplify such philosophical domains (as brought forth by Amo in this case), that deal namely with the body, mind, soul and spirituality as inseparable beings and states of sensing this world.
To elucidate Amo’s philosophical significance and its relation to race and - the so called - human difference (based on the power relations found in the agency of the Other as a constructed in the racial, sexual, gendered, physicalized, and neurodivergent Others) we want to engage with Derridian deconstructivism as one way of grounding decanonization, as a means of dismantling the canon of idea(s) propelled by the Western quarter of reason. Therefore, to shift the geography of reason 1, we would like to re-read Amo, both as a philosopher by all means at the forefront of European philosophical domain, but also as a precursor of African philosophical thought and political movements that we can trace today 2. Through both, we want to wander into what it means to conceptualise figures like Amo in an exhibition space, but also, how we can keep such radical conversations afloat.
“The canon of philosophy, like other canons, is a manifestation of power. Intransparent as it seems, we do know the codes that allow certain people into the canon and leave others out. To be subjugated by gender or race, by geography and coloniality all factor into canonization processes.”
Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung writes in the concept note of the exhibition.
In the next few days we will attempt to ask ourselves:
- How does Derrida’s notion of Unconditional Hospitality (what is power) reflect on the manifestation of relations of power therein? Can hospitality (that of the unconditioned host, and that of the conditioned guest) aid us in re-reading and re-engaging with Wilhelm Anton Amo’s history - which includes a continuous refusal of inclusion of the Other as Guest - as subjected to a being as a stranger/guest(4), or as subjected to being a European of a non-European subjectivity?
- What tools do we have at hand today (artists, institutions, audiences etc.) to engage with processes of decanonisation 3 that seek more hospitable futures?
- How can we repudiate the notion of agnosia, the act of conscious deletion of future memory within the knowledge systems we share and know today? And what other action(s) are necessary to engage with different forms of knowledge (lived, embodied, undocumented persay) that can become a scripture for the readings of collective futures?
1. Shifting the geography of reason by Lewis R Gordon, a short interview that could inform you on the subject you can find here: https://www.newframe.com/shifting-geography-reason/
2. Aime Cesaire Negritude movement, for example;
3. We will be reading proposals by Tsisti Jaji into possible forms of decanonisations in conjunction with artistic works partaking in the exhibition;
MORNING SESSION: 10:00 - 13:00:
- Discussion around main concepts of decanonization, delving into Derrida’s notion of conditionality and its paradox found in hospitality;
- Around the second hour, we will be joined by Kelly Krugman, curatorial assistant for the Berlin chapter of The Faculty of Sensing who will bring us closer to Anton Amo’s work through the exhibition currently on display in December. With Krugman, we would like to discuss the positions of the art institution and curatorial practices from the perspective of deconstruction as propelled through feminist and queer thinkers;
- In the final hour we will look into a few works found in the exhibition, and together with one of the artists exhibiting, Akinbode Akinbiyi, we will look into ways artists engage with embodied knowledge systems;
EVENING SESSION: 19:00 - 22:00
- In this session together, Bode and Kamila would like to meet for a duration of 30 minutes in a one on one scenario (one tutor would dedicate around 30 minutes per one student), to discuss each student's work, and the plans they want to develop during their study year in the COOP sessions;
- This should be organized next, to assure that we have 7 student per one tutor and 6 students per the other tutor;
AFTERNOON SESSION: 14:00 - 18:00
With one hour break.
- Listening to the second part of "THE FACULTY OF SENSING. We wholly deny this to the mind and attribute it to the body" - Philosopher and Activist Anton Wilhelm Amo, by SAVVYZAAR Radio (students will be requested to pre-listen to the first part before the sessions on the 18th;
- By asking ourselves: What tools do we have at hand today (artists, institutions etc.) to engage with processes of decanonisation(5) that seek more hospitable futures?
We would like to reflect on notions brought forth in the radio features, and to reflect on previous days' sessions with Kelly Krugman, specifically thinking of the body and the many bodies that we are when thinking of decanonization. We will read a few proposals brought forth by the poet Tsisi Jaji on decanonisation and with students create a documented (danced, spoken, uttered, gestured through the body) series of exercises into Decanonisation as a method.
- In the last hour we will attempt to read parts from Toni Morrison’s Beloved (by Bode and Kamila), to engage with what she refers to as “the complicated and sophisticated ways in which people do interesting things”, and as homework propose letter writing as means of sharing knowledge. The letters and Beloved will become the basis for our February DAI COOP.
- Tsitsi Jaji lecture in “Decanonisation method”
- Shifting the geography of reason by Gordon Lewis:
A short interview that could inform you on the subject you can find here: https://www.newframe.com/shifting-geography-reason/
- SAVVYZAAR: The Faculty of Sensing: we wholly deny this to the mind and attribute it to the body
- Stranger in a village, James Baldwin
Seminar 1: 14-16 November 2020
In the form of a conversation, an improv to some extent, We (Bode and Kamila) will attempt to introduce one another to You (the students, our receptors) and to each other. It is a very special context for Us, since in some way we consider this conversation an open vessel, a space of feeding forth and feeding back one another, weaving stories that resonate with the question of ReSituating and Recalibrating Hostipitality, the subject of our COOP. In that space of sharing, of giving as receiving, we will at times become the hosts, at other times guests, and maybe even ghosts of one another's story.
Following this format of 'presenting' Us and this COOP to You, we would like to invite You to present Your stories, practices and interests to Us - the curious listeners and recipients of Your story.
As we move on together, we want to pose a question around the politics and the very notion of ‘presenting’ or ‘presentation’ of oneself to a new/ another community/public/person and otherwise.
When thinking of the etymology of the word ‘presenting’ we are drawn into questioning the Latin definition of the word stemming from praesent which means ‘being at hand’, the later being transmuted into the notion of ‘placing before’.
How does the notion of placing oneself before others become a question of hostipitality, a question of who is the host and who is the ghost in that moment? How do different forms of presentation also echo a system of hierarchy of the receiver on the one hand, and the emitter on the other, as two distinct dynamics and bodies of power? How do our voices modulate our bodies and souls when confronted by the necessity of placing oneself before others? What voice, language, image, sound do we use? How can we create a multimodality of relations that can carve our histories into the present and future memory to become?
It is interesting to delve into these conversations, especially because we are all players/ are entangled with / the art worlds at large. Those worlds are interconnected through the politics of presentation and re/presentation of hosts, ghosts and guests in contemporary arts today.
In between the conversations, maybe more towards our evening session, we would like to visit a filmic work or the work of the late composer Jacques Coursil who has released his last album on SAVVY RECORDS titled: Hostipitality Suite.
The filmic and the musical will tell us the rest.
“What is my story? Like you, I have many. One way of telling my feminist story would be to begin with a table. Around the table, a family gathers. We are seated in the same place: my father one end, myself the other, my two sisters to one side, my mother to the other. We are seated this way, as if we are trying to secure more than our place. A childhood memory, yes. But it is also a memory of an everyday experience in that quite literal sense of an experience that happened every day.”
--- Sara Ahmed asks herself and us in Feminist Killjoys (and other willful subjects).
Let’s go for a walk in the morning.
Each walk joined by three or four of us, following a different path, a different root and route.
Let’s re-route back in the classroom and meet on an imaginary kitchen table.
Let’s ask ourselves who is the next of ‘my’ kin/ship?
In the form of an exercise, we would like to un/group - in three or four participants - and go for a walk into our hosting habitat. The forest around us that enclaves us and a habitat that can remind us of the breathing organisms that once stretched through Europe and supported us (humans and more-than-humans). Today those habitats are vanishing before and behind our sight so quickly that we can not even recognize the amount of loss we are experiencing in our lifetime, and how it is affecting our breathing, our lives.
We will then regroup and meet on an imaginary kitchen table to talk.
In that exercise, we ask You to get to know one another within that smaller constellation of a group/ A group of three to four students to then re/meet on that imaginary kitchen table to present/represent one another before other groups in the space (each presenter represents another students story in their own voice).
We wish to ask ourselves: How can others voice Us/Me?
What words will they use? What images will they invoke? Who will they invite to my table (living or dead)? What animate and inanimate objects would they bring along? What memories from my childhood will they host? What sounds and echoes will represent my story in their voice? And who is the next of My kin/ship?
We will sit here together waiting for the sounds and whispers - at the same time offering each other the history of a place and its ghosts. We will talk to them and listen to their stories - against the ever present attempts to erase countering whitewashing of its architecture. The dead and the alive will remain unseated, echoing what they bring to the table, “unseated by the table of happiness might be to threaten not simply that table, but what gathers around it, what gathers on it”. (Sara Ahmed)