Engaged Dis-Identifications Fellowship Overview

Dani d’Emilia was the first artist to receive a creative fellowship to deepen threading practices in association with the work Towards Braiding supported by the Musagestes Foundation. The theme of the fellowship was “Engaged Dis-identifications” and was developed and carried out in collaboration with Vanessa Andreotti and the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures collective.

“My work during this fellowship was based on one urgency and many uncertainties. The urgency came from a sense that ‘we cannot simply think ourselves out of this mess’, that coloniality cannot be disrupted by only engaging with frameworks that place a hierarchy between cognitive and affective knowledges, a perversely reductionist strategy of modernity. As part of many different attempts to balance these knowledges in a generative way within the work we are doing within the GTDF collective, this fellowship allowed me to have the time to draw from my work with ‘radical tenderness’, a concept/practice that I have been experimenting with as part of my engagement in different artistic and activist communities, in order to create and test a range of embodied practices that invite us to trust our body’s capacity to relate beyond identification and understanding. Searching for the relationships between physical, social and metabolical bodies the uncertainties were – and still are – many. In this work we are constantly faced, or immersed, in the contradiction of holding at once the material and existential impact of our identitary intersections in our experiences of the world, as well as the yearning to tune into a much wider realm of possibilities for relationality. The title Vanessa and I chose for the fellowship, ‘Engaged Dis-Identifications’, arose as an attempt to visibilize this paradox.” – Dani

The fellowship ran from February 2018 to September 2019 and focused on the creation of a set of embodied practices that could invite the interruption of colonial patterns of knowing and being and tap capacities for sensing and relating that have been exiled by modernity. The investigations during this period built on Dani’s work related to performance art and contemporary queer ethico-political concerns/practices, but also sought to open different horizons and political possibilities towards a metabolic pedagogy based on decentering human protagonism, disarming separability, decluttering existence and developing discernment towards more generative relations between and within communities affected by historical, systemic and on-going violence.

The following pedagogical notes offer a glimpse of the collaborative learning process in the course of the fellowship:

During the fellowship period Dani facilitated a variety of different workshops, including:

-A workshop in Kinal Antsetik, San Cristobal de Las Casas (MX), November 2018: building on an ongoing relationship Dani has been nurturing with ‘Las Chamanas, a local collective of indigenous lesbian women, this workshop focused on the body as a landsdscape of political emotions. An article about this workshop can be read HERE.

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– Five workshops in Roundabout.lx (PT), between May 2018 and May 2019: these sessions began as ‘transfeminist (un)learnings’ and gradually shifted into the “Dis-Imunization Practices”, a collaboration with the artist and anthropologist Fernanda Eugenio (director of AND Lab – Research Centre for Art-Thinking & Politics of Togetherness), focusing on the relationship between radical intimacies, relational and affective justices.

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– A workshop at University of British Columbia, UBC (CA), June 2019: this workshop took place withing the context of With/Out Modernity Congress, organized by Vanessa Andreotti and the GTDF collective. It focused on exploring antidotes to indifference through radical tenderness and co(m)passion and was a sharing of the methodology of the Dis-immunization Practices in the context of GTDF’s work with UBC students. More info about the congress can be accessed HERE.

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– An intensive 2 week summer school in Polo das Gaivotas, Lisbon (PT), July 2019: this was the 4th edition of the AND Lab summer School, which this year was co-designed and co-facilitated by Dani and Fernanda Eugenio. It involved putting the ‘Dis-imunization Practices’ in conversation with the methodology developed by the AND Lab collective around the politics of togetherness. More info about the summer school can be accessed HERE and a video trailer can be viewed HERE.

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Below is a video about the Dis-Imunization Practices, featuring footage from both the AND Lab summer school and the GTDF With/out Modernity congress

Dis-Immunisation Practices / Práticas de Des-Imunização from Dani d’Emilia on Vimeo.

“The Dis-imunization Practices arose from some of the intersections of the work I have been doing around/through Radical Tenderness within our collective Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures and the work of AND Lab, a collective with which I began collaborating with in Lisbon during the first year of the fellowship. Putting Radical Tenderness in conversation with the politics of co(m)passionment, proposed by Fernanda Eugenio (director of ANDlab), we began creating embodied exercises to explore the relations between radical intimacies and social justice, searching for practices that could help us continue to move through the complexities, uncertainties, paradoxes, frustrations and failures that are inherent to this work. We mapped a main underlying concern which we felt was a resonance between the exercises we were creating and the broader work of the two collectives – the concern with modernity’s fundational premise of separablity – and followed this as our guideline. As the practices developed we realized that there are great differences on how this can be addressed from each of the specific contexts in which the collectives and each of their members are situated. Despite the shared concerns with the visibilization and interruption of systemic violence, the colonial wounds are felt and dealt with very differently according to the different embodiments of indigeneity, queerness and other identity markers that largely affect our sensiblity of the world within and around us.  To some, a collective practice of stretching the field of intimacy can serve as an antidote to indifference, a political excercise of attunement and un-numbing to a broader field of relations; to others, it can re-iterate the ways in which desires can be proliferated and manipulated into another weapon of the colonial project. I keep these contradictions alive in my heart as I continue to explore ways in which this work can move and be moved beyond the frame of the fellowship.” – Dani

Workshops as part of two editions of the Gorca Earthcare summer program, Gorca (SLO), August 2018 and August 2019: these were sessions interspersed in the activities of the educational programs hosted by the GTDF collective. More info con Gorca Earthcare can be accessed HERE

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During the fellowship period Dani also created two further works:

– A video entitled ‘Social Ego’, which adresses issues around toxic whiteness and white fragility. It was inspired by the work developed within the context of the collective GTDF as well as the book Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love and Liberation, in which Rev. angel Kyodo williams uses the term ‘social ego’ in reference to the psychic, epistemic and social barriers that white people inherit and reproduce, feeding the operating system which prevents us from seeing, hearing and feeling whiteness including our own. The video can be seen HERE.

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– A poetic text entitled ‘Invitation to Radical Tenderness’, co-written by Dani and Vanessa Andreotti and including thoughts expressed by the GTDF collective. The text can be accessed HERE and the printed version, published by publication studio São Paulo (2019), can be ordered online HERE.

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Cover image: Composting Expectations. Photo-performance by Dani d’Emilia in collaboration with Manuel Vason. San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, 2016. An embodiment of some of the concerns of the fellowship prior to its official/linear time frame.

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