COOP ~ The Covent of the Care-full from Month to Month
Seminar 5: 13 - 16 June 2022
“ Institutionalized rejection of difference is an absolute necessity in a profit economy which needs outsiders as surplus people. As members of such an economy, we have all been programmed to respond to the human differences between us with fear and loathing and to handle that difference in one of three ways: ignore it, and if that’s not possible, copy it if we think it is dominant, or destroy it if we think it is subordinate. But we have no patterns for relating across our human differences as equals. As a result, those differences have been misnamed and misused in the service of separation and confusion.
Certainly, there are very real differences between us of race, age, and sex. But it is not those differences between us that are separating us. It is rather our refusal to recognize those differences, and to examine the distortions which result from our misnaming them and their effects upon human behavior and expectation.
You do not have to be me in order to fight alongside each other. I do not have to be you to recognize that our wars are the same. What we must do is commit ourselves to some future that can include each other and to work toward that future with the particular strengths of our individual identities. And in order to do this, we must allow each other our differences at the same time as we recognize our sameness.”
In the spirit of the words of Audre Lorde we will focus on mapping our differences in order to be able to flesh out the core of what we will be working on. To form a new kinship.
Monday evening: mapping workshop
Tuesday: morning: work groups
Tuesday afternoon & evening: sketching/planning/testing
Seminar 4: 3 - 6 May 2022
Breathing together again
Meeting in the french countryside to move and activate our bodies and our minds, to flex our reflexes.. so as to slowly start formulating our final project. In the aftermath of the results of the French elections, Laura Huertas Millan, brings to the group an excerpt of the book by Didier Erimbon, Returning to Rheims, a book that has left an imprint in French society, which is discussing class struggle and homosexuality in the suburban working classes of France during the later seventies.
How do we care for our selves and others if we are not conscious of our roots, legacies and ancestors? In the words of Gramsci “The starting point of critical elaboration is the consciousness of what one really is, and is ‘knowing thyself’ as a product of the historical process to date, which has deposited in you an infinity of traces, without leaving an inventory... therefore it is imperative at the outset to compile such an inventory.”
This session will be an inventory. Beginning to map out all that we have worked on so far, we will now aim to bring in the experiences, thoughts and practices of these last months on the table to find what drives us and what will be carefully chosen as our common breath, tune, image, sound….
Tuesday 3rd of May: evening session: screening
Wednesday 4th of May: morning session: everyone brings in their work so far, notes, material, recordings etc. afternoon session: workshops + group game and evening session :an assembly for the group project further discussions
Thursday 5th of May: Exercises, walks and discussions for the practicals of the group project evening: student led activity
Friday 6th of May: morning session: reading text + walk afternoon session: everyone brings in their notes, impressions discussion + evening session: screening (tbc)
Seminar 3: 28 - 31 March 2022
In this 3-day study group on More than Human Care, Sara and Aliya will explore, together with the students, art in connection with ecology and mysticism, rewilding curatorial practices, indigenous ecocriticism, collectivity, care and repair in and beyond the arts.
We will engage with a wide range of theoretical and practical examples of more than human care: from indigenous practices, to contemporary art and curatorial projects in relation to ecology and healing. We will pay particular attention to more than human ontologies and ways of inhabitation of the planet, and to the wide range of rituals, myths, artistic and activist practices that speak to our interconnectedness with all living beings. How can we engage with ways of being and thinking, and with forms of care in the nonhuman world (e.g. plants)? How can we belong in a more than human community? How are communal practices themselves shaped and transformed by encounters with the nonhuman?
Through the combination of lectures, workshops, screenings, walks and healing rituals, we will explore the ways in which ecologic thinking, art, activism and spiritual practices co-exist, inform, and shape each other, both historically and today. The programme will feature contributions from artists, thinkers, and healing practitioners, to discuss how practices of self-care and care about the nonhuman other – planetary and psychosomatic healing – may just be two sides of the same coin.
March 28, 2022 Travel
Session 00: Introductions and Welcome
- 8pm - 9.30pm Introductions and welcome: getting to know the students
March 29, 2022
Session 1 Introductions and Welcome continued
- 10:30 - 12:00 DAI Guest talk: Sara Benaglia’s Intro to Bergamo
- 12:00-1pm Art and Ecological Thinking. Part 1.
Aliya’s lecture: Climate and environmental emergencies delineate a specific set of social, historical, political and economic conditions – ecology is inextricable from questions of social justice, technology, and gender. Thinking ecologically is thinking across these socio-political interstices. Thinking ecologically also asks us to consider aesthetic, sensorial, and mythopoetic encounters with the nonhuman world, and pay attention to their multi-dimensional and intra-connected nonhuman agencies.
In this introductory session we will explore the way art engages with ecological issues, and how artists addressed the idea of uninterrupted continuums and entangled lives of all earthly inhabitants, of thinking ecologically and thinking with the nonhuman.
Session 2: Art, Ecology and More than Human
- 14:00 - 15:00 Art and Ecological Thinking. Part 2
Projects showcase: Lawrence Lek, Olga Grotova, Jakob Kudsk-Steensen
- 15:15 - 16:45 One and oneness: learning from the plant
Aliya’s talk on vegetal theory based on the ideas around plant intelligence, plant-thinking, vegetal collectivity.
Including a short reading on Plant theory and vegetal minds and a podcast excerpt.
- 17:00 - 18:0 Collective hypnosis session with Michele Ocelli (online)
Hypnosis is a powerful way to access unmediated creative resources, which can be often tarnished by our tendency to over-reflect, by our exposure to stress, and many other factors which detract from the creative impulse or from the capacity to fully immerse in the creative process itself. In this session focused on finding a sense of connection with creative forces and their foundation in the natural, botanical, more than human world, we will find a level of focus which quietens our perception of the dualistic mind, allowing us to surrender to the experience of being in, and with, the world, which can starkly regenerate the sense of nature-connectedness and creative thrust.
Session 3 Mushroom, mutuality, multiplicity.
- 20:00 - 22:00 Watching Fantastic Fungi & Group Discussion
March 30, 2022
Session 1: Rewilding (indigenizing) artistic Practices and the Materialities of Care
- Sara’s Lecture:
This inquiry about the influence that indigenous social philosophies can have to paradigmatically transform art institutions led us to ask how can artistic and curatorial practices become sites for repair and mutual support in the face of the multiple emergencies that we face? How can we yield practices oriented towards other modalities of knowledge that help us to rethink the perspective of a single world, the world that the West and modernity at large, have hegemonized as the only possible one.
Through this session we will get acquainted with the notion of 'worlding' that arises from non-representational theories and how these can provide a useful lens through which processes of human-non-human entanglements can be considered. Worlding the world means building relational epistemologies that remove the boundaries between subject and nature so that we can inhabit multiple realities, human, non-human, ancestral, and others. It is, in other words, a weaving of connectivities, so that worlding, ultimately affords us the opportunity for the cessation of habitual temporalities and modes of being.
- 14:00-15:30pm From the Plantationocene to the Planthropocene
- This session will entail readings, a workshop, and listening exercises that can serve as the foundations for a conversation around the questions: How can plants and vegetal terrains historically used in contexts of subjugation, control and domestication, become sources of liberation?
- 15:30-18:30pm - The Abolitionist’s Field Guide - Online talk and tea party led by artist and activist jackie sumell.
- Jackie Sumell will talk about her work on prison abolition, permaculture, contemplative practices, and transformative justice to facilitate exchanges that can help people better understand the carceral state and police violence. The workshop titled The Tea Party seeks to explore how alternative definitions of justice can be overpowered by plant life, proving that nature—like hope, love, and imagination—can ultimately triumph over the harm humans impose on ourselves and on the planet.
Session 3: Group performance: Embodying the vegetal and other practices of liberation with Chilean artist Patricia Domínguez Claro.
- This workshop consists of an experimental session of plant representation, looking to connect with other minds and other ways of seeing and perceiving, beyond the rational gaze. It proposes a series of critical references to break down the botanical scientific language and the western point of view, along with experiments of connection and representation of the plant world, reviewing referents of plant representation from artistic, indigenous and spiritual points of view. The session will consist of a presentation on decolonial language and a session of experimental plant drawing.
March 31, 2022:
Session 1: Aliya’s talk: Cultivating the Vegetal Within: on art, spirituality, and mystical practices, with a particular focus on Hilma af Klint and other 20th century artists-mystics.
In my research, I am interested in visionary works and practices that draw upon or channel profound mystical experiences in order to produce alternative ways of seeing the world, specifically on seeing and building our relationship with plants and other nonhumans. In this talk, I will consider the work of artist-mystics, with a particular focus on Hilma af Klint, viewing their work and spiritual practice in combination with, and inextricable from, their botanical interests and inquiries.
As I argue, af Klint’s practice and artistic-cum-spiritual journey can be understood through the prism of vegetal thinking. While spiritual work can generate space for creative and aesthetic experimentation – arguably, it can also generate space for the mode of caring cohabitation with other species, where the two reinvigorate one another. We will explore and discuss how the artist’s spiritual journey and their ecstatic, mystical, altered experiences inform their practice, what kinds of relationships with plants and other nonhumans they foster, and vice versa, and what is the healing potential of those experiences and experiments that the vegetal thought can help uncover.
Session 2: Visit to Botanical Garden of Bergamo and Anti-manuals for healing. More than human (self) care.
Session 3 Closing and Guest performative workshop: Regenerative Rituals and Architecture of Healing
HYDRA phygital programme exploring the artist’s research and ideas around personal and collective trauma, healing, care, and the experience of cosmic womb – the collective body.
Format: performative workshop.
Point of focus: systematic and subjective trauma and its relation to consumption, compulsion and addiction.
Objectives: collective healing and self-repair via Interspatial integration and transpersonal intimacy.
Tools: paradigm shift of the stream of consciousness, with the application of accessible technology for mindful body tracking.
Seminar 2: 23 - 28 February 2022
FILL IN THE PLF FORM WITHIN 48hs BEFORE DEPARTURE AND SAVE IT TO YOUR MOBILE (registration required)
Student Accommodation: Athenian niche in Plaka, Lisiou 20, Athens
Accompanied by Nikos Doulos (DAI, 2008)
The Nature and Culture Divide or the Paradoxes of Conservation as Care:
Culture and care, care towards nature? Water politics and violence (failure and limitations of care), forest fires, elemental imaginaries, critical examination of culture conservation as care through architecture, nature resorts, tourism, spatiality, and environmentally.
Attending to the relationship between ecological and cultural heritage and conservation in our sessions we will think and engage with practices of environmental conservation, repair, and prevention. Through different media from sound, critical fiction writing practices, as well as embodied approaches to walking as practice we will consider the elements of fire, wood, water, and stone to think about repair and regrowth within the context of the devastating forest fires around Athens in recent years. We will do so to meaningfully contribute to situated practices of re-generation. By critically engaging with conservation we will address the role of ecological conservation in bordering practices in parallel with cultural conservation - the museum and its colonial legacies. By doing so we trace the absences between the museum and the environment within which cultural institutions are situated.
To help us in this journey we will read, listen, watch, and act along with impetus from Can Bilsel, Jack Halberstam, Gabriella Hirst, Rolando Vàzques, Michael Taussig, Sylvia Wynter, Olga Tokarczuk, Donna Haraway, Timothy Morton, Maria Puig Della Bellacasa, Kathryn Yussof & Nigel Clarke, Michelle Murphy.
Setting the tone for our time in Athens we will start the week with a reading of Vistas of Modernity, by Rolando Vàzques under consideration of iLiana’s eflux article Redistribution via Appropriation: Whitewashing Marbles, introducing the discursive context of the sites we will visit over the week.
We will spend the afternoon on a walk-shop led by Ameli to explore our surroundings: visiting sites that highlight the palimpsest of Athen’s urban fabric, the tension between fragmentation, and seamless integration of historic sites in the current cityscape. We are mapping the site through our walking, to understand the community we are currently “inhabiting”. What is our responsibility here, how did we travel to get here, and what is our role as visitors/spectators as we move through this space?
We will spend the evening in a session of “Consciousness Raising” led by Ameli: engaging with themes of hospitality, the extractivist of tourism, and our complicity as a group. Setting a glossary for the week - spectatorship | anachronism | extractivism | etc.
Possible attendance of the opening at State of Concept
Unpacking the paradox of “care” within the 19th and 20th century understanding of preservation and archeological practices, Ameli will lead a shared reading of Can Bilsel’s “Antiquity on display: regimes of the authentic in Berlin's Pergamon Museum”.
To further engage with Bilsel’s writing, Ameli will lead an excursion to spend the afternoon visiting the original Acropolis Museum, and its predecessors, as well as the surrounding “excavation” sites.
Ifor is sharing a narrative construction and storytelling workshop with us in the evening, introducing Vignette as a method to allow for an understanding of the multiple strategies that can be deployed or developed to gain greater proximity to the objects/problems of practice, while considering excerpts from literature, theory, and art.
The morning session of the day is led by Bronwyn Bailey-Charteris, online. She is introducing systems of care through her methodology on ethical collaborations with non-humans and the term of the “Hydrocene”.
As Bronwyn has introduced the system of the “Hydrocene'' through her morning session, Ameli will lead the afternoon to visit one site of the Athens underground Water-System. The site visit allows us to directly engage with the interconnectivity of built structures and environmental concerns we have addressed in the past two days.
Questioning modernity's claim of human “control” over different bodies of water throughout the city, such as the re-routing of rivers underground, the visit will highlight the current consequences of droughts and floods within Athens. How do we “care” for the elements, and how do the elements care for us?
We will end the day with a film screening and discussion with Ifor: Gabriella Hirst’s “Darling Darling”. Hirst's two-channel video art piece, Darling Darling, presents two contrasting visions of the Barka Darling River in dialogue with each other: the detailed work by art conservators to restore the 19th-century painting, The flood in the Darling, 1890, by WC Piguenit, and the environmental crisis facing the river today. In our discussion, we will consider the way the work considers the cultural preservation of the colonial pastoral landscape against the contemporary conditions of drought and ecological degradation.
Addressing the aftermath of the August 2021 fires that ravaged the countryside around Athens we will spend the day visiting a site near Athens with Stefanos Leivdis, and Ifor: bringing plants to the sites. By enacting a direct impact of repair of an environment devastated by fire, it allows us to consider what strategies can be deployed to help aid the forest's renewal as well as considering the politics that have produced the conditions of fire and the threats of development. The session will bring the critical and theoretical conversations of the week into direct practice in the environment.
We will spend the evening with a Pecha Kucha session led by Ameli, allowing everyone to share a current project, personal interest, or memory.
Bronwyn will open the day through the collaborative exercise ‘Leaky Vessel’ and a shared reading of her score work ‘First Move, Original Rains: Sending the Precipitational’ that forms a gentle introduction into the hydrocommons and reflection on water.
Followed by Ifor’s ‘Sounding the Arcifinious’ podcast episode - considering methodologies of sound and the audio essay format as practice for engaging with interlapping conditions of ecological and humanitarian concern. In doing so we will ask what affective registers sound and aural practices access that the visual cannot? In the session, we will listen to and discuss the podcast episode ‘Sounding the Arcifinious’ from Movement radio and engage with other aural practices, including experimenting with hydrophone and other field recording techniques.
The evening will once again be led by Bronwyn: showing a selection of contemporary video art pieces from the Nordic and Oceanic region that engage with pressing watery matters of care.
We will start the day with a close reading of excerpts from - Jack Halberstam, Wild Things: The Disorder of Desire by Ifor: Reclaiming the wild. Considering the construction of the wild, and the forest as original wild, in relation to our experiences of thinking and practicing ecological repair in the context of wildfire.
As today is the last day in Athens Ameli and Ifor will lead a shared walk-shop exploring sites that highlight the intersection of environmental and cultural fragility - and the intervention of “care” on such fragile constructs.
We will close the week with music screenings and a collective Cocktail/Mocktail making session.
March 1: departure
Seminar 1: 8 - 10 November 2021
This week will be a week of care-full introductions, where we will introduce all to one another, and following that, we will introduce the first topics and questions we will be asking together for this COOP. We will first allow time for the other members of the tutoring team of the CoTC, to introduce their practices and research. We will then begin to discuss together the first parts of what this COOP will be enquiring.
Care as Freedom: What does care mean and can mean for the concept of freedom? Can we think of care as a tool to fight different forms of oppression? Looking into concepts of care and self-care we cannot but think of the body as the site from where these concepts emerged, or on where such concepts can be performed on. Can we think of care and self-care (and social reproduction at large) as a site to free ourselves from capitalist production and reproduction? And what role does collective cultural practice and storytelling play in this process?
8th of November (iLiana)
Morning session: Introduction session Collective Rewilding & Laura Huertas Millan
Afternoon: Assembly: For this session we will be looking into different propositions of methodology for the COOP and we will ask students to discuss their practices and how they see them connected to care
Evening session: Reading and discussion “Caring too much. That is the curse of the working class” by David Graeber AND “Self-care is warfare” by Sarah Ahmed
9th of November (iLiana Fokianaki)
Morning session: Collective film practice as care---> care as a counter-power narrative to oppression. How can we think of care as a force that stands against the racist, neoliberal, capitalist world that we live in? How can collective concepts of care be enacted in cultural practice? In this session we will think together what (if any) are the possibilities and potencies of culture in truly bringing about social justice and change and how does that relate to care-full practice.
Afternoon session: Looking in the work of Muses Insumises, Rojava Film Commune, Mosireen, Abunadara, Forensic Architecture and Karrabing Film Collective
Evening session: Film screening TBC
10th of November (Laura Huertas Millan)
The whole day: Workshop: “I don’t even care. I’m not telling that story”
Loosely based on Ursula Leguin’s The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction, this workshop is a space to formulate which story you are telling, the story you do care about, as opposed to the narrative(s) that you’d rather leave behind, or the narrative that you are supposed to tell. This is a space to imagine the story that disobeys, the story that is undisciplined, the story that makes you the complicated narrator. How to shape that story that liberates, that story that has to carve its own space of singularity, the story that we were told not to tell? What are the conditions for a story that free us?