Formats of Care
Formats of Care in Vienna hosts two public evening lectures by Patricia Kaersenhout and Françoise Vergès and is a convening between Vienna and Berlin conceived of and organised by Elke Gaugele, Gilly Karjevsky, Elke Krasny, and Rosario Talevi.
Art, art education, curating, and spatial practices have long shared a pronounced interest in formats, rules, and protocols for working collaboratively. This includes conceptual feminist social practice as it involves large audiences, diverse publics, or intimate encounters. This working symposium seeks to understand how formats can be transformed into formats of care advancing a politics of transversality and a care ethics of social, material, and ecological justice. The symposium seeks to unpack interlinking concerns of formats and care. Formats connect to issues of gendered and racialized dimensions of care. A perspective of care can mobilize counteractions against hegemonic power relations traditional formats are invested with.
Patricia Kaersenhout : The Third dimension, Lecture
In Plantation Memory by Grada Kilomba I read the following quote were she cites Heidi Sofia Mirza and Philomena Essed. Black women inhabit an empty space a space that overlaps the margins of race and gender, the so called third space. We inhabit a kind of vacuum of erasure and contradiction sustained by the polarization of the wold in to blacks on one side and women on the other and us in between. The black female reality is hybrid phenomena. A phenomena that crosses several conceptions of race and gender, our reality can only be approached when these receptive concepts are taken into account.
In my work I like to investigate what this third dimension feels and might look l like. How can we define and occupy this third dimension?, this vacuum and use it to our advantage? ‘I am not afraid to be your strength’ Jill Scott wrote How can we overcome our fears of using our bodies as means of resistance in the public sphere? Because it is as Octavia Butler says: They have no power to improve their lives, but they have the power to make others even more miserable. And the only way to prove to yourself that you have power is to use it! In his essay ‘Cultural Identity and Diaspora’ Stuart Hall emphasizes that we can properly understand the traumatic character of the colonial experience by recognizing the connection between domination and representation. ‘They had the power to make us see and experience ourselves as Other of a dominant discourse.‘ Therefore it’s essential to me to investigate the twilight area between words, feelings and intuition; to sense the unnamable. To investigate the complexity of the meaning of blackness, otherness in a West-European society.
In that sense, when Foucault says that the soul is the prison of the body, I strongly feel that looked upon as black female, being and feeling black as a social and cultural sign is not enough for me. I considers my black body the prison of the soul. It is a limitation of who I truly consider myself to be, namely in a constant state of becoming. When body and skin color aren’t seen as only a substance but a variable boundary, a surface of which it’s impenetrability is politically regulated which language remains to give meaning to a physical determination of race in relation to the soul?
Born in the Netherlands but a descendant from Surinamese parents, Patricia Kaersenhout developed an artistic journey in which she investigates her Surinamese background in relation to her upbringing in a West European culture. The political thread in her work raises questions about the African Diaspora’s movements and it’s relation to feminism, sexuality, racism and the history of slavery. She considers her art practice to be a social one. With her projects she empowers (young) men and women of color and supports un documented refugee women.
Proud Rebels is a project about an important black feminist wave which took place in the 80ties and was funded by CBK Zuidoost and Amsterdam Fund for the arts. In 2015 she went to Dakar invited by the Dutch embassy to do a preventive project on female trafficking. She is a regular lecturer at the Decolonial summerschool in Middelburg, the Black summerschool in Amsterdam and at B.E.B.O.P (Black Europe Body politics). In 2017 she finished a community project citing The Dinner Party of Judy Chicago. Only this time black women and women of color who are erased and forgotten by West European history, are honored. Her solo show Blood Sugar deals with the painful history of enslaved people, blood and sugar.
By revealing forgotten histories she tries to regain dignity. She frequently has shows in the Netherlands and abroad. In November 2017 she participated in Prospects 4, the New Orleans Biennial. In 2018 she participated at Manifesta 12 in Palermo, Italy. Currently she is doing a research fellowship at BAK and her Soloshow Objects of Love and desire runs till March 24 at gallery Wilfried Lentz. Her work is represented by gallery Wilfried Lentz in Rotterdam.
Françoise Vergès: Decolonizing Feminism, Lecture
Françoise Vergès will analyse the connection between the ways in which women’s rights became a card in the hands of neoliberalism and imperialism and the 1980- counter-offensive against revolutionary thought and anticolonialism, particularly in France. She will argue that cleaning/caring work is a terrain of struggle for decolonial feminism because it brings together work, race, gender, migration, pollution, health and a racial/class divide between cleanliness and dirtiness that supports programs of urban gentrification.
How can feminism be decolonized? Françoise Vergès' lastest book Un féminisme décolonial (A Decolonial Feminism, La Fabrique, 2019) is a manifesto for decolonial feminism. The book provides a critique of "civilisational feminism", dominated by institutional complicity with neoliberal governance, nationalist rhetorics, racist discourses and capitalist exploitation. Decolonising feminism is part of a political struggle against racialized and gendered capitalism and patriarchy.
Françoise Vergès is a political scientist, a historian and a feminist activist.
A committed decolonial antiracist feminist, she grew up in an anticolonialist communist and feminist family in Reunion Island before living in Algeria, France, and the United States.
Since 2018, she is the president of the association Decoloniser les arts . She was Chair holder of the Global South(s) Chair at the Fondation maison des sciences de l'homme, Paris, from 2014 to 2018 and the president of the French Committee for the Remembrance and History of Slavery from 2009 to 2012. Her areas of research are: postcolonial and anticolonial feminism, colonial history and anticolonialism, colonial and postcolonial psychiatry, slavery remembrance, creolisation.
As an independent curator, she organized L’esclave au Louvre : une humanité invisible (The slave at the Louvre: an invisible humanity, 2013), at the Louvre Museum, and the exhibitions Dix femmes puissantes (Ten powerful women, 2013) and Haïti, effroi des oppresseurs, espoir des opprimés (Haiti, fear of the oppressors, hope of the oppressed, 2014) for the Mémorial de l’abolition de l’esclavage de Nantes. She has also produced documentaries – Aimé Césaire face aux révoltes du monde (Aimé Césaire against world revolt, 2013) and Maryse Condé. Une voix singulière (Maryse Condé. A singular voice, 2011).
Among her publications are: Monsters and Revolutionaries. Colonial Family Romance (Duke University Press, 1999), Le Ventre des femmes. Capitalisme, Racialisation, Féminisme (Albin Michel, 2017; English Translation: Duke University Press); Exposer l’esclavage : méthodologies et pratiques (Exposing Slavery: Methodologies and Practices, Africultures, 2013); L’Homme prédateur. Ce que nous enseigne l’esclavage sur notre temps (Predatory humans. What slavery tells us about our era, Albin Michel, 2011). Her last book, Un féminisme décolonial (A Decolonial Feminism), came out in France in 2019 (La Fabrique).