“Working with resistance towards a non-dual ‘poetry’ – and politics – ‘of truth’“
The words “work”, “resistance”, and indeed “truth”, tend to connote difficult terrain. As such, they evoke associated practices which, at best, are taken to require a fighting spirit, closed fists, and gestures of opposition. Or, at worst, responses characterised by fright, flight or frozenness. But to what degree is this due to the dualistic conceptual frameworks in which these terms are constantly positioned, particularly at the levels of everyday speech and experience (work versus leisure or laziness; resistance versus compromise; truth versus lies), frameworks that so often immerse us in polarising double binds?
What happens to “work”, “resistance”, and “truth” when non-dual, transcontextual models are foregrounded, with their attendant ambiguities, their detours/detournements, and their hospitality to what the French realist author Stendahl called “true little incidents”? Particularly within contexts of public space and public discourse? This lecture will consider these questions by foregrounding expressions of “paraconsistent logics” and pictorial rationalities discoverable in the work of phenomenological, (new) materialist, and indigenous thinkers. Specifically, I will foreground insights from the French phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s short essay “On New Items” from 1954, in which [competing] aesthetic/anaesthetic approaches to the stewardship of public space are identified and untangled. I will also reflect on a personal, informal example of object-making involving the delicate intra-actions of clay, a support, air, and sandpaper – my Holdings (2020-23) which offer a material meditation on the politics of open-handedness. They were exhibited in a group show about touch, Behold, at Hypha Studios, London, 2023.
“Extravagance, Liveliness, Livelihood: Intertwining Body, Materials, and Action: A Conversation with Jorella Andrews and Leah Durner”
Feb 9, 2024
Is there a way to invent a new way of life and a word that identifies human action and effort as joyful?
Andrews and Durner will discuss possibilities for opening up new ideas and paradigms for livelihood and liveliness, for the fully provisioning all human beings and caring for, preserving,and restoring what we call the environment. The workshop aims to examine “work’ and to imagine new structures for human action and provisioning – to transform what we have been calling “work,’ for millennia.
Since “work” has been based on concepts of suffering, difficulty, and human value for millennia, how can we ask new questions now?
One possibility is to envision a new word/concept to emerge during the course of the workshop is that will replace “work,” and its various alternates including “labor,” “toil,”“travail,” – all of which have roots in ideas of suffering, torment and constriction – with a new, open, loving, and kind concept that includes human action, agency, and joy.
The workshop will also be informed by Painting, Largesse, and Life: A Conversation with Leah Durner, a wide-ranging, illustrated conversation Andrews and Durner on Durner’s oeuvre from 1983-2018 and its relation to practices and histories of painting in the context of Durner’s involvement with phenomenology.
“Working with resistance – What can textile teach us?”
Feb 12, 2024
In “The Challenge of Constraints,” a chapter in E. H. Gombrich’s The Sense of Order: A Study in the Psychology of Decorative Art (1979), Gombrich presents encounters with material resistance, with natural and mathematical laws experienced as limiting, and with forms of learned psychological constraint, as threshold scenarios capable of enabling creative practitioners to enter fresh imaginative and stylistic terrain. More recently, in her 2021 essay “William Morris: The Poetics of Indigo Discharge Printing” the scholar Caroline Arscott addresses analogous terrain by thinking with and through textile lessons she sees Morris to have learned as he navigated the practical problematics of dying and printing with pigments and fibres that were, naturally, and differently, resistant to one another. Arscott is interested in how, along with the visual and symbolic content of his textiles, he allegorised these technical processes to elicit insights that informed his approach to politics and the politics of change.
In this workshop, we will work with a range of textiles that overtly utilise resist techniques to produce their patterns, most obviously blocking (with wax or paste) winding with thread or fibre, and resist- and mordant-dyeing. To this, we might add the role of textile resistance in the production of stitched work such as embroidery (piercing and knotting) and pulled and drawn thread work. The workshop will include a short, practical “extreme list-making” exercise, allowing participants space for individual reflection before we turn to a period of experience- and insight-sharing.
Jorella Andrews is Professor of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. Having trained as a fine artist, worked in media, and re-trained as an art theorist, her work examines the relations between philosophical inquiry, the image-world, and art practice. Her current focus is on the practical potential of aesthetics and image-based phenomenological research to intervene in key areas of contemporary concern such as the development of non-ego-centric approaches to personal and collective identity, the importance of self-directed, situated learning in academic and non-academic contexts, and the development of non-coercive approaches to change-making in personal and public life. A key publication on this topic is the essay ‘Interviewing Images: How Visual Research Using IPA (Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis) Can Illuminate the Change-Making Possibilities of Place, Space, and Dwelling (2020). She is the author of several monographs including The Question of Painting: Rethinking Thought with Merleau-Ponty and Showing Off! A Philosophy of Image (2018 and 2014, both Bloomsbury) and series editor for the Sternberg Press/MIT series Visual Cultures as … Jorella is a Trustee for the Association for Art History in the UK and in her spare time is Chair of a Trust that cares for a Public Open Green Space in London. Link: https://www.gold.ac.uk/visual-cultures/j-andrews/