fold #08 on Spirit

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fold #08 on Spirit

Graphics by Scienthya Elona

Full programme

Dates:
July 2023 – October
2023

 

Fold #08 on Spirit
Ambassador
Cynthia Montier (FR)

 

August 2023
artist in residence
Chantal van Rijt (NL)

14.08. – 28.09.2023
WARP #11
Chantal van Rijt (NL)

March – October 2023
Exchanges, residencies, events
Acts of Care: Solidarity and Empowerment
with Off the Gird | Cas-co, Leuven, Belgium

23.09. – 15.10.2023
WARP #12
Joran van Soest (NL)

28.09.2023
Reading on Spirit with Pam Virada
Online and on-site 7 – 8 pm

06.10.2023
Sundus Abdul Hadi
commissioned text Intuition as Creative Force

26.10.2023
Reading on Spirit with Barbora Trnková ft. Vašulka Kitchen Brno
Online and on-site 5 – 6 pm

October 2023
Epilogue on Spirit exhibition for the ears with: Venus Patel (UK), Costin Chioreanu (RO), Caz Egelie a.k.a Menu Menu (NL), Susana Lopez a.k.a. Susan Drone (ES), Irene de Boer (NL), Bernice Nauta (NL), Pei-Hsuan Wang (TW/BE), and Ophelie Naessens (FR),

 

 

 

This research text is
part of our long-term programme
on art and sustainability in fold #08
on Spirit

 

Find the full reading list on Spirit here

Research

We have chosen each other

and the edge of each others battles

the war is the same

if we lose someday women’s blood will congeal

upon a dead planet

if we win

there is no telling

we seek beyond history

for a new and more possible meeting.

‘Outlines’, unpublished poem in Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde (1984)

Unpacking ideas on Spirit

fold #08 explores spirit as a notion inherent in the arts and beyond. A hard-to-define element, transcendent and essential in its core, spirit manifests and sustains determination, having the capacity to influence change. It is at the heart of the quest for self-transcendence and the attendant feeling of interconnectedness with all beings. This is the fundamental assumption on spirituality that underlies the world’s spiritual and religious traditions. fold #08 investigates spirit in space and time, in rituals, feminist practices and perspectives of ‘otherness’.

Because sustainability is a complex, multifaceted concept with deep spiritual roots, building strategies to incorporate it in our daily life requires developing intangible spiritual capabilities that are valuable, rare, holistic, socially complex, and causally ambiguous.

The contemporary use of the word “spirit” in Western culture is sometimes vague and complex in its expression. Where it was traditionally considered purely religious, it has now become ideological-philosophical, psycho-biological and socio-cultural. The broad understanding of ‘spirit’ as a term that shifts from the monolithic conception of a higher power, called god, opens up an interesting focus on contemplation and our relationship with the environment and time.

Practice of divination

As a practice of rediscovering the knowledge of the unknown, spirituality is recasting reality and cramping our time and space sensing. We could argue that it is merging with the practice of divinatory arts, the future telling. Divinatory arts possess the transformative power of know-how and are able to redefine our perception via the employment of pagan traditions, symbols and witchcraft. 

For example, Rasheeda Phillips (2015) of the Black Quantum Futurism collective writes about envisioning the future while building upon quantum physics and African traditions of understanding time. Instead of following the linear concept of time, closer to the Western logic, according to which the present follows the past and predates the future, Black Quantum Futurism acknowledges time as a changing pattern that can be foreseen or back-seen. By a practice of visioning, altering or manifesting, the future has an effect on the present and the present further affects the past.

Artist Cynthia Montier, whose practice is a starting point for the manifestation of the fold on Spirit, is using divination methods such as oracles, esoteric geography, vernacular, and creative and socially engaged practices. She is especially working with the activation of public space. Her esoteric vandalism and dialogical graffiti, as she describes it, is the symbolic appropriation of the place which leads to the emancipation of individuals or a group. In her case, spiritual activism as a ritual connected to the public space traverses between artistic expression and magic and extends into the social dimension where participants are actively reclaiming their position within society and the public sphere.

The other places

Similarly, spirituality has philosophically influenced space perception and experience as much as time. Heterotopia is a combination of the Greek words ‘hetero’ and ‘topia’ which translates as ‘other places’. In Of Other Spaces (1984) Foucault discusses the existence of heterotopic sites as other, disturbing, intense, incompatible or contradictory, transformative or different places. Different cultures establish their own heterotopias, thus making them hard to define universally. Nevertheless, they are places consisting of multiple layers of meanings and relationships. Such a heterotopic environment can be a squat, a library, a garden, a prison or a cemetery. We approach them as a spatial representation of different spiritual dimensions. Heterotopias possess a deviational quality, in some cases they meet the bodies which do not fit into normative places, providing individuals with the parallel space of utopian reality. Heterotopic sites may require a special ritual to enter, such as saunas or baths, or the entry may be compulsory such as a prison; they may signify a start or an end of time such as a cemetery, or accumulate time such as in libraries and museums.

Ritual as Performance

In her book Reckoning with Spirit in the Paradigm of Performance, Donnalee Dox discusses the reasons why performativity is a constitutive feature of both practical spirituality through rituals and the art of performance:

From the critical stance of performativity, spirituality appears as a kind of representation. People perform rituals and ceremonies. […] People re-enact religious stories through theatre, convey religious emotions through music, and describe religious experiences in writing. From this stance, performances are the matter of spirit: performance makes deities, spirits, mystical experiences, religious belief systems, and transcendent wisdom visible in material forms such as myths and rituals.

What ritual (secular or religious) and performance art share in common, is the formation of an indeterminate dimension where process and time become key elements of human transformation. Inside this dimension, we observe a loosening of the requirements of the existing social structure, which invites participants to reconfigure their reality.

Spirit as resistance

In the frame of spirit, we research feminist ideas and reflections that emerged from the accusation of women being related to the magical and the occult.

Assigning specific metaphysical characteristics to feminine presence led to the so-called witch-hunt and centuries of persecution for women. Silvia Federici connects the roots of women’s struggle to the transition from feudalism to capitalism. In the beginnings of this new system of production, seeking to redefine class and gender relations as well as the position of women and their bodies towards a shifted mode of exploitation, women of lower social classes (what would later be working class) were tortured and executed, accused of sorcery and of plotting to corrupt religious and social morals (Caliban & the Witch, 6).

Inspired by women’s struggles, subversive rituals and collective practices come into focus. In Light in the Dark/Luz en Oscuro, Gloria Anzaldúa writes on transformative practices of re-imagination based on the body-spirit relationship and reflects on spirituality as connecting different forms of consciousness and realities. Discussing the practice of chamanas, curanderas, artistas and spiritual activists Anzaldúa proposes a ritualistic approach to creativity to reconstruct ourselves, culture and society through the awareness of multiple realities that exist in the world (pp 13 & 44). The existence of many worlds and the need to inhabit in between them was also discussed in the frame of The Word for World is Still Forest reading, part of fold #01 on empathy. Opening up to the possibilities of expanded knowledge and the making of many worlds is spirited in its core, stands with non-extractivist, feminist and indigenous struggles and proposes other ways of being with(in) our bodies and surroundings.

Reading sources

Anzaldua, G. (2015). Light In The Dark, Luz En Lo Oscuro: Rewriting Identity, Spirituality, Reality. Durham: Duke University Press

Phillips, R. (2015). Black Quantum Futurism. AfroFuturist Affair

Dox, D. (2016). Reckoning with Spirit in the Paradigm of Performance. University of Michigan Press.

Federici, S. (2021). Caliban & the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation. Penguin Classics

Lorde, A. (2019). Sister Outsider. Penguin Classics

Foucault, M. (1984). Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias. in Architecture /Mouvement/ Continuité

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