2013 - 2015 Laila Torres Mendieta : "In a global geopolitical context, which would be your role as cultural workers, to try to comprehend and give form to the world in which we live as “human, non-human”?"

| tag: Arnhem

Excerpt from Laila's 20 minute presentation for Do The Right Thing ! ~ DAI's 3 day graduation lectures marathon, July 2015.

The Mythical Xeno-Droids


Laila Torres Mendieta’s cyborgian performance-lecture took the form of a dialogue dealing with gender politics in a post-human world. Standing center stage, but without acknowledging the audience, the figure of the artist’s post-human form spoke to an automated voice, defiantly disobeying the commands of the disembodied master’s voice.

Dealing with memory fragments and the human mediation of an immense database, Mendieta looks into notions of the archive, the post-human, databases, and the future. Who will be the ‘master-builders’ of the future? Do they control the past (archives or databases)? What are ‘human tendencies’? The artist quotes the Xeno-feminist manifesto of the Laboria Cuboniks group, “If nature is unjust, we must change it.”

Maria Hlavajova remarked that what is most interesting about the post-human condition is what occurs in the moment we realize that the things we thought we controlled eventually start to control us. In relation to Mendieta’s performance she asks what new media is now, and suggests that, “in the 20th century it is that which we cannot perceive with our brains.” Hlavajova recognized a “relatively dystopian proposition in the performance” and seeks to try to “understand the space and agency of human.”

Marina Vishmidt recognizes that the autonomization of technology, capital, and nature are no longer human-mediated forces and she questions “how nature became an object in the first place.” She is interested in the “narration of emergent intelligences through gender” which might also exceed gender, and additionally, the “relationship of the sublime to the sea of data.”

For Bassam el Baroni the “history of feminism coupled with peculiar notion of transcendence is evident as a human thematic throughout history.” In response to Mendieta’s work, he found an interesting thought trajectory in the transcendence of self. Going back to the problem of the sublime, he says that he is incapable of understanding the sublime as a positive, and asks, “What would a kind of reworking the access of sublimity in your work lead to? To horror? To positive freedom? Here the sublime functions as a cap of an experimental yet recognizable territory.”

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