Engaged dis-identifications, NOTES#5: undressing and transmuting fears

1. Po-ethic inquiry: un-fearing fears

Five propositions to decolonize the unconscious (A creative adaptation from a larger list written by Suely Rolnik in her book Esferas da Insurreição, 2018)

1. Activate the vital compass: re-­‐activate the body as a knowing entity that receives and experiences the world as continuous with itself in its living condition and that is affected by the forces of the world in an un-­‐mediated way.

2. Remove the blockages to the difficult experience of making what is strange seem familiar and making what is familiar seem strange in order to register world-­‐interpolations that are always already happeninganyway.

3. Do not interpret the resulting vulnerability and its discomfort as a bad thing and do not project fantastic interpretations onto this state of instability. These interpretations usually come from premature responses of a threatened ego provoked by its helplessness, failures and fears of demotion, rejection, social exclusion and humiliation

4. Allow what is agonizing within you to die without trying to rescue the old state and its sensation of coherence and stability–remember that the vital force needs this space that is being cleared by the death of the old in order to emerge. Stay in this state of uncomfortable instability until the creative imagination can articulate the contours of the new entity that is gestating as a result of the registered encounter with the world. Do not impose limits on the time that the creative imagination needs to support the gestation of the new entity. Do not turn the creative imagination into “creativity” ready for consumption and reproduction of the status quo.

5. Hold on to the life-­‐affirming yearning that keeps life open to being “fertilized”by the world and its difference and endless differentiation. Do not negotiate with what obstructs the possibility of life regenerating itself. Calibrate thinking towards its best behaviour: to reimagine its image of the world every time that life demands it to do so.

Original list by Suely Rolnik

2. Stretching spaces:

  • How are fears harnessed in service of the current colonial-capitalist-cis-hetero-patriarchal System?
  • How do fears and insecurities create feedback loops in our lives?
  • What fears are unconsciously driving our decisions?
  • What fears are limiting our possibilities of imagining otherwise?
  • What do fears do to our relationships?
  • When are fears generative?
  • What can fears teach?
  • What fears can be let go of?
  • How can we give each other anchourage* (courage and anchoring) to release clogged/clogging fears?

*anchourage is a term proposed by the work of AND_Lab collective (translated from the original in portuguese: ancoragem). More info on their work can be found here.

3. Nuancing affectabilities

Harnessed fears…

of Scarcity
of Pain
of Loss
of Emptiness
of Lack
of Nothingness
of Destitution
of Dispossession
of Abandonment
of Loneliness
of Change
of Worthlessness
of Insignificance
of Impotence
of Incompetence
of Belittlement
of Emptiness
of Grief
of Failure
of Causing harm
of Life/Death
of fear itself

4. Incubating performative practices

Offer each other a hug, entering each other’s skin, first frontally then from the back. As your bodies touch, whisper your fears into the ears of the person standing in front of you. How does it feel to release them? How does it feel to hear the fears of another without responsibilizing yourself to offer protection/solution? What can we create from the transmuted shedded skin of our fears?

*The exercise ‘undressing and transmuting fears’ was initially developed as part of the Dis-imunization Practices, a collaboration between Dani d’Emilia and Fernanda Eugenio (AND_Lab). It was later adapted to the context of Dani’s collaboration with Coletiva Chamanas in Chiapas (MX), where the group of participants decided to take the shedded skin out onto the streets as part of the march for the “International day of fighting violence against women”. An article about this collaboration can be read here.

Image credits:

Dis-imunization Practices integrating Andlab summer school #4, facilitated by by Dani d’Emilia and Fernanda Eugenio in Polo Gaivotas (Lisbon – PT, 2019). Photos by Fernanda Eugenio; Workshop The Importance of Bodies and Emotions in Political Action: A Feminist Performance Workshop in Chiapas facilitated by Dani d’Emilia in Kinal Antsetik (Chiapas – MX, 2018). Photos by Gío Leal.    

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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