Engaged dis-identifications, NOTES#6: disburdening lack

1. Po-ethic inquiry: the genealogy of lack

In “Pedagogies of Crossing” (2005) Jacqui Alexander states that colonialism mutilates our visceral sense of entanglement.  This  dismemberment of our collective existence generates in its fragmented units “a yearning for wholeness, often expressed as a yearning to belong, a yearning that is both material and existential, both psychic and physical, and which, when satisfied, can subvert, and ultimately displace the pain of dismemberment” (p. 281). She suggests that strategies of membership in coalitions, like those of citizenship, community, family, political movement, nationalism and solidarity in identity or ideology, although important, have not addressed the source of this yearning. For Alexander, these coalitions have unintentionally reproduced the very fragmentation and separation that she identifies as the root of the problem. She states that the source of this yearning is a “deep knowing that we are in fact interdependent – neither separate, nor autonomous.” (p. 282). She explains:

As human beings we have a sacred connection to each other, and this is why enforced separations wreak havoc in our Souls. There is a great danger then, in living lives of segregation. Racial segregation. Segregation in politics. Segregated frameworks. Segregated and compartmentalised selves. What we have devised as an oppositional politics has been necessary, but it will never sustain us, for a while it may give us some temporary gains (which become more ephemeral the greater the threat, which is not a reason not to fight), it can never ultimately feed that deep place within us: that space of the erotic, that space of the Soul, that space of the Divine. (p. 282)

In this sense, the lacks that surface in society as personal experiences are symptoms of a more fundamental social fracture of separability. Separability creates a normative sense of separation of individuals from the land (earth metabolism). It extracts the intrinsic value of life creating a void that forces us to produce value in different economies to prove our worth and to have the reassurance that we deserve to be alive. Lack can only exist in separability. It manifests as compensation to the depletion caused by separability, where we try to fulfill ourselves with an ‘I’ that brings its individual compensatory (systemically designed) desires on physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual levels.

2. Stretching spaces

  • Can you disburden yourself from lack?
  • Or it is about disburdening from its hold and power over you?
  • Can we unburden lack and its power over us?
  • Can we retrace the genealogy of lack?
  • Is lack a result of separability and/or is it the mechanism that reinforces it?

3. Nuancing affectabilities

Unburdening the inscriptions of lack created
by normative/hegemonic parameters of:

Body shape/size/beauty standard
sexual desire
gender performance
physical performance
intellectual performance
traditional family
romantic love
aesthetic sensibility
linguistic intelligibility
affirmations of individuality
relations based on identification
conditional belonging

4. Incubating performative practices

Form small clusters of people and experiment with a circuit of encounters through which a field of ancestrality can be created. Following the operations of contagious magic, in each encounter let bodies gift each other with forces they carry. Begin a journey of mapping the inscriptions of lack in your body. Enter through your eyes and scan your memories from within, travelling down to your feet and back up. Identify one of the inscriptions of lack and bring its teachings out with you, through your eyes. Following the operations of sympathetic magic, create a mould of your gaze, generating a double of this cosmovision of lack. Create a ritual to empty its powers over you.

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 Joana Maia.

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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