This presentation will examine the polysemic overlap of two Halq’emeylem concepts: sqwálewel (thoughts, feelings) and xwélalà:m (listening, witnessing), and the ways in such concepts might impact the creation of written spaces for gathering. Drawing on David Garneau’s concept of Irreconcilable spaces of Aboriginality, artists/curators who employ Indigenous methodologies of visiting (Cheryl L’Hirondelle; Jordan Wilson), and Indigenous-led gatherings I have organized over the past two years, the presentation will outline the ways in which the physical and material aspects of Indigenous gathering might be translated upon the page. What forms of writing enable us to move beyond the colonial extraction of concepts and voices that writing habitually enacts? Defining a decolonial politics of inscription here involves moving beyond settler colonial logics of writing as well as a mere emphasis upon Indigenous citational community. Indeed, a decolonial politics of inscription asks that we reorient the page as a space where Indigenous epistemology, protocol, and legal orders might be witnessed, listened to, and felt.
Silver: site-writing/reading, composed of a fictionella and a script for a courthouse drama
In January 2013 I questioned my employer, UCL’s, decision to accept $10 million of funding from the Anglo-Australian multinational mining company BHP Billiton to create an International Energy Policy Institute in Adelaide, and an Institute for Sustainable Resources at the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, London. At the time, I was Vice Dean of Research at the Bartlett, and my questioning of the funding arrangement started a process of self and institutional critique figured here as Silver – a site-writing (Rendell, 2010) and site-reading. Silver (2016) is both a fictionella in the series Lost Rocks, curated by artists Justy Clarke and Margaret Woodward of A Published Event, and A Courthouse Drama (2017) performed at the Zeehan West Coast Heritage Centre, Tasmania, as part of Sites of Love and Neglect. Silver is structured according to the composition of the metallic element with its 47 electrons arranged on 5 shells of 2, 8, 18, 18, and 1. Silver deals with ethical issues connected to the sites of mining, including university meetings, sleepless nights, a desert journey to Broken Hill – the birthplace of BHP Billiton, and the bursting of a tailings dam in Brazil in November 2015.
That Sparkly Feeling: Collective Knowledge and Feminist Duration
Helena Reckitt discusses the process of collective learning and exploration that the London-based Feminist Reading Group has undertaken since 2015. Starting with a focus on under-known Italian feminisms, which emphasize relational politics that starts from the self, the group has explored other undervalued feminisms from beyond the Anglo-American tradition. Just as Italian domestic workers experienced the reawakening of agency, desire and political consciousness through returning to education in the 1970s/1980s – which one described as the "sparkly feeling” (Melchiori, 2006) – Reckitt evokes how the group’s activities have aimed to revitalize subjectivities and stimulate feminist energies.
White Page / Black Text
Reclaiming occupied space was one of the founding principles of groundbreaking art journals such as Third Text, ArtAsiaPacific and Bidoun. These journals created a space for the dissemination of critical art and ideas presented by international and diaspora artists who were largely absent from mainstream art journals. The art and histories presented within these publications grappled with complex ideas pertaining to post-colonialism and provided an intellectual forum for artists residing in spaces of multiplicity and difference. Positioned as alternative critical journals, these publications challenged a predominantly Euro-American perspective of geographies and visual culture. Mainstream art writing has subsequently over the last decade shifted gears in light of a "culture follows commerce" model that has extended over the art world, which now actively makes an effort to embrace art from existing and new emerging centers that were once deemed too peripheral to be reported and written about. Within the context of this particular symposium Sara Raza’s presentation White Page / Black Text critically explores cosmopolitanism and multiculturalism in the mainstream art press, focusing on ways in which art writing can challenge both physical and conceptual spaces of occupation through nuanced understandings of the global within a local context.