Engaged dis-identifications, NOTES#10: un-storying selves

1. Po-ethic inquiry: the thing thinging

Stories are useful and interesting, but they cannot describe a shape-shifting living thing. Hence, we are not the stories we like to tell ourselves. We are not the stories others can tell about us. Our existence cannot be captured by endless chains of concepts.

As a human and non-human collective, we are the mass of a metabolism metabolizing: an unknowable “thing” “thinging”.

Thus, we are not inviting you to cut open your  belly to expose your guts to the contamination of the world. We are inviting you to open your belly to find the whole world – past present and future, the good the bad and the ugly – already in your guts. Then you will see that the world has been there all along in the same way that you have always been in the world’s belly too.

In the belly of the world and with the world in our belly, we are always already “in relation”, constantly interpolated and fertilized by other entities, whether we like or not, whether we know it or not, whether we have a story about it, or not.

Relatively recently, we have created a perverse protective filter where we only acknowledge relationships if these relationships can fit in categories of meaning.  If something is meaning-ful, it is important, if not, it is irrelevant.

But what if the re-calibration of our vital compass requires sense-fullness rather than meaning-fullness?

2. Stretching spaces

How can we break the habits of either over-codifying the world to control it or wishing to withdraw from the world when it does not fit our codifications?

How can we interrupt the desire to relate to the world through the filters of knowledge, identity and understanding?

How can we retrain our intellectual compass away from the obsession with representation?

3. Nuancing affectabilities

Who are you?

beyond the stories you tell
beyond stories told about you
beyond imposed categories
beyond self-identified categories
beyond imposed social roles
beyond resistance to imposed social roles
beyond ancestral blood lines
beyond the temporality of this body
beyond physical form
beyond time
beyond representation

beyond self-image, self-authorship, self-centeredness?

4. Incubating performative practices

Sitting across a partner, each holding a piece of charcoal, draw each other on a piece of paper placed in front of you. The invitation for this drawing is that you will only look at each other’s face, never at the paper. For the duration of 10 mins engage with the gaze as a form of touch, carress, loving attention. Travel slowly through each detail  of your partner’s face. Resist the impulse to ‘draw it well’, ‘finish the task properly’ and allow yourself to just be immersed in the experience of each detail of their skin, as if travelling an unknown landscape for the first time. Then join with another couple to form groups of four. Expand the circuit. You are now drawing your partner through the eyes of someone else. Close your own eyes and just feel your partner through the touch of another onto your back. From cosmovision to cosmosensation. What surfaces on the paper is between and beyond me, you, us.

Image credits:

Des-imunization Practices facilitated by  Dani d’Emilia and Fernanda Eugenio as part of the 4th edition of the AND_Lab summer school, in Polo Gaivotas (Lisbon).  Photos by Dani d’Emilia, Fernanda Eugenio and Ana Dinger.

Engaged dis-identifications is an artistic-pedagogic collaboration between Dani d’Emilia and Vanessa Andreotti that explores the workings of non-notional possibilities of co-existence through performative practices. It attempts to translate post-representational modes of engagement into embodied experiments that reconfigure the connections between reason, affect and relationality.


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