Throughout 2019 we will be looking into the notions of "power" and "power relations". We will interrogate the contemporary concepts of power: that can be at once understood as a productive flow, and restraining controlling force; as something that reveals itself in the production of our subjectivity and knowledge, and enables the ongoing creative transformation of various agents that make the world. We will address power as residing in - and emerging from - our social structures, institutions, systems of beliefs, and orders of things: bringing about a particular knowledge about the world, and a limited number of "livable" subject positions in this world for us to enact.
As we undo 'the powerful-vs-powerless dualism', we will go further and redefine the notion of vulnerability: not as determining the passive receptive existence of an individual, but rather as enacting one’s capability to open up, expose herself and to be affected. As a state of being exposed to the possibility of being affected (either physically or emotionally), vulnerability, paradoxically, would entail a position of power: the one that relies on selflessness, response-ability and indeterminacy of a subject.
In this way, the state of “being affected” would correspond to one's deliberate rejection of passivity and perceiving one’s vulnerabilities as disempowering — and instead, opening up to the possibilities of indeterminate alteration in response that what happens to oneself. In this sense, while the making of “victims”, “heroes” and “villains” is in itself a unidirectional process (characterised by specific anticipated effects for a subject’s configuration), it would always remain unclear what may becoming-affected imply. Namely, where the effects of this state begin or end, and what could these possibly be: for different individuals, in different situations. There would be no expectations or hopes attached; no borders and limitations established in advance; and consequently, there would be by definition no precedent to a subject’s capacities. To bring in the words of artist Maria Garcés, “[the] spectator can only condemn the bomb attack and feel the horror of that vision. The victim can only suffer pain and expect reparation. But what is an affected person capable of? What can the affected do?” (Garcés, 2014:113). We do not know; and there is the empowering knowledge in this uncertainty for us to explore.
Format-wise, Empowerments is a multilogue: a conversation of many to many, aimed at undoing the common roles, hierarchies and protocols that divide the (art) world today. It proceeds as a multiform discussion that brings together opposing views, different interpretations and conflicting perspectives; where each new statement begins with “yes, but...”, so that cons and pros of each perspective are honestly exposed and looked into. In this discussion, the antagonistic way of co-existence is at the very core. At the times like today, when vulnerability to the political and natural forces is sensed most vividly, it will be crucial to understand: "powerlessness" is not a given condition, but a deliberate self-positioning. How else can we regard our relation to power, if not through the 'victims-villains' dualism? The powerless versus the powerful? What shifts in self-perception would empower us? It is time to pose the right questions.
31 JAN / 8 MAR
TOUCHING DISTANCE is the research project by Alyona Larionova and Terry Ryu Kim (ft. Sophia Al Maria), which explores the relationship between control, dependence and vulnerability in the context of the current climate of mass migration and hyper-connectivity.
"STAYING WITH THE TROUBLE" AS A RESEARCH METHODOLOGY?
reading and discussion of Chapter 7 ("A Curious Practice") from D.Haraway's book.
21 MAR / 20 MAY
EQUINOX: LIGHT CURE
is an exploration of the transformative power of self-mythologising, launched by Margo Trushina, Elisa Carutti, Zoe Marden, and Hannah Campion on the day of Vernal Equinox.
13 APR (PART I) // 14 MAY (PART II)
ARTIST'S WAY WORKSHOP
inspired by Julia Cameron’s book, the artists Margo Trushina and Zoe Marden propose an experimental course of encountering and nurturing one's 'inner artist' that departs from “Artist’s Way” (1992) — and further embarks on the contemporary philosophies, social agendas and individual drives of the participants.
2 MAY // 19:00
'BODIES OF WATER' READING GROUP
Close reading and discussion of a chapter from the book by a contemporary posthumanist feminist thinker Astrida Neimanis.
20 MAY // 20:00
In this lecture-performance, Zoë Marden presented her current research into the figure of a mermaid that blurs boundaries between women and fish, manifesting a gender-fluid figure for the queer imagination.
12 JUN // 19:00 - 21:30
'SAUSAGES' FILM SCREENING AND INSTALLATION
Created by Phillip Reeves and curated by Tonya Wechsler, the project explores storytelling, dark humour and the power of strange, as subversive ways to challenge conventional order of things.
14 JUN // 12:00 - 17:00
STUDIO-LAB OF ART AND SCIENCE: CRIT AND POP-UP EXHIBITION
SLoAS is a group of interdisciplinary practitioners seeking to redefine the boundaries between art and science and explore the possibilities for purposeful change when these two ant-disciplinary fields meet. Exposed hosted their first WIP exhibition, followed by a critique session.
11 SEP - 22 OCT
NEO NORTE 2.0 addresses self-empowering as a geographic construct: it looks critically into the dominance of Eurocentric curatorial practices around the world, interrogates why the 'North' is traditionally seen as superior to the 'South' and brings together a group of Latino-American artists and academics to propose an alternative history. Curated by Tere Chad.
2 OCT - 13 DEC
BLANK SPACE LIBRARY SERIES: first edition. Jointly organised by curator Daniela Amolini and multi-media artist Alexander Burgess from the Blank_Space Gallery, the exhibition will feature an installation of selected artists books, the Ketty La Rocca Video Works, audio poetry traces from the Poesia Visiva movement and early electronic compositions from Italian pioneering artists. Together with a contemporary sculpture piece by Johanna Tagada.