block information, research center
1 September-12 December 2020 / a.pass
Research Center Block 2020/III
There, we go on…
The Associate Researchers are sitting together again physically. Sometimes masked, hands well disinfected and -as usually, hosted by the institutional care of a.pass. This care might be physical as never before. After several months under the lockdown’s separating conditions and a half-suspended block, live meetings seem to be a real relief! It feels like re-starting the real. Of course, this feeling is not justified. However locked away from the real-‘live’ and however difficult the Corona-spring was, the productivity of the online collaborations was astonishing! A new online working-site has been filled with masses of texts, notes, and plans. It might be difficult to document live working processes with the same intensity. Last block ended with a residency in Zsenne Art Lab in July, when physical meetings were possible again. Workshops were proposed by each researcher as a way to share and exchange. This residency stayed contained within a small group of people, that for the first time came together physically.
Now, the autumn block has started with a new constellation of people and new conditions – the conditions of the post-lockdown-yet-infectious-city-life. The associate researchers Pia Louwerens, Breg Horemans, Davide Tidoni, Lili Rampre, Esteban Donoso, and block curator Nicolas Galeazzi meet again regularly. More or less every second Thursday one of us is hosting the others in their research ‘field’.
When we meet, half of the meeting, we are guests in the field of the other. We think-with, take part, and relate to whatever is proposed to be practiced. The second half of the meeting is explicitly not pre-conditioned by us. We relate to what is there, to what comes up, or what is needed at the moment. The possible plays of guest and host – amongst bodies and viruses, parasites, and hosts – are multiple, and allow us to experience our relational dependencies.
There, we are again…
Again and again, it is necessary to think through the relational field we are working with. Not only the forced physical distancing, the prohibited hugs, and the masked faces, but also the role of the institutional and individual responsibilities, the new urgencies for presence and absence, and a new mix of carefulness and caring, are tinted the relational questions at a.pass with the Corona crisis.
What and who are we to each other in a research group? What does the research group do for us? What does it mean to be Associate Researchers – what does it mean to be a host? What is the institutional framework – what does it allow, and what does it problematize? What kind of projections are made into the institutional, and what kind of speculations could we unleash on them?
The virus highlights these questions in a very special way. Bodily distanced, we are still physically related. It feels like a real-time training in relational ontology. Donna Haraway manifests it as “beings do not pre-exist their relating” and therefore relations do produce us, not the other way round. This way to see ontology is into our face any time we have to say hello to somebody and hesitate whether to show the elbow, to hug, or just to stay still at 1,5m apart. Anyway, or specifically now, it’s worth putting the focus more on shaping relations around us rather than to shape ourselves. If this is true, attitudes of hosting, being it places, practices, contexts, and perspectives is an approach we will explore.
“We are going”..
Derrida starts his article on Steps of Hospitality / No Hospitality with this ontological statement about being guest, always! “We are moving around: from transgression to transgression but also from digression to digression.” What does that mean in the contemporary context? “This step too many.” These days we are crossing lines at any moment. Unavoidably. The lines of the subject are massively shaken, enforced, penetrated, and transgressed or at least put in question by a multitude of crisis – Crisis of trust (replaced by control), a crisis of care (replaced by security), a crisis of mattering (denied by ignorance).
Derrida invites us to practice unconditional hospitality and sets out the conditions for it: to go on, step by step, to put oneself in a constant not-knowing the lines guest/host-hood.
What can that mean with respect to Haraway’s relational ontology?
Probably we can explore this by speaking out invitations. Let’s challenge unconditional hospitality and ask how to shape relations as a conditioning factor to deepen our understanding of the specific relational fields we find ourselves in.
We are going on a walk..
As a starting ‚seminar’ in this block, we invite ourselves for a walk in the Ardennes. We will be hosted by Elke Van Campenhout at her new residence and invite her to join our ‘going on’.
Originated in the wish to give attention to all the physical and social side-processes around our research in focus, which inform our relations, trajectories, and perceptions, we want to share an experience of time besides the habitual working patterns. A hike seemed to be a simple push out of habits into a habitat where we are guests per se. Let’s see how this attention infects us and our research.