CRITICAL SYMPOSIUM
Artistic Research Forum
London, U.K.
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Critical Symposium is an artistic research forum that convenes once a month virtually to engage in critical discourse with multidisciplinary artists and creative practitioners from around the globe within the premise of critical, responsive and research-based art practices to locate practice with research and to foster interdisciplinary knowledge, collaboration and exchange.︎︎︎

Review Publication︎︎︎
Session Recordings︎︎︎
Research Repository︎︎︎
Speakers︎︎︎
Open Call︎︎︎

Our second Critical Symposium, entitled Politics and Poetics of Care︎︎︎ considered the defining and blurring of boundaries in relation to these two terms. Does our current political attitude to care negate the poetic or can the poetic cause a shift in the political? We considered care when enacted as part of a paid or unpaid ‘job’, care as something we might enact and consume: a cyclical symbiotic interaction. We spoke too, on the categorisation of the bodies that have care bestowed upon them and those that are left without it and finally, care in the aftermath of trauma: how it might heal, bring anew and make space for growth....(read more)︎︎︎

- Text by Alice Harry






criticalsymposium@gmail.com
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24 February 2024
13:00 - 14:30 GMT
CS4: Temporal Planes (upcoming session)︎︎︎
Hazel Yizhuo Jiao,
Lauric Mahé-Stephenson, Eileen White


30 September 2023 
13:00 - 15:00 BST
CS3: Haptic Tendencies︎︎︎
Carolina Estrada, Najah Rizvi, Ran Zhou, Laura Selby

19 August 2023
10:00 - 12:00 BST
CS2: Politics & Poetics of Care︎︎︎

Alice Harry, Deb Fitch-Daniels, Mujtaba Asif, Julie Heaton

30 July 2023
11:00 - 12:30 BST
CS1: Choreographic Practices + Recap of RCA2023 Degree Show at Truman Brewery (13-16 July 2023)︎︎︎
Mujtaba Asif, Junshu Gu, Tony Jacob, Priysha Rajvanshi, Laura Selby, Ran Zhou




Mark
CS2: Politics & Poetics of Care (19 August 2023)

Our second Critical Symposium, entitled Politics and Poetics of Care considered the defining and blurring of boundaries in relation to these two terms. Does our current political attitude to care negate the poetic or can the poetic cause a shift in the political? We considered care when enacted as part of a paid or unpaid ‘job’, care as something we might enact and consume: a cyclical symbiotic interaction. We spoke too, on the categorisation of the bodies that have care bestowed upon them and those that are left without it and finally, care in the aftermath of trauma: how it might heal, bring anew and make space for growth.

Deb Fitch began the symposium with a text ruminating on care and lack of care within public spaces. Spaces shared can provide respite and inter-generational commune but they can also become fraught, dangerous places that can become unsafe due to neglect. Deb presented the question of what it might mean for a community to take on this duty; a form of activism through communal care and cleaning. A seemingly idyllic conception and one that feels particularly pertinent in our cities right now; whether this be in relation to the popularity of communal gardening projects or the rise in artist collectives. Yet, what does this bubbling counter-culture mean for our institutions? Does it help to put pressure on Governmental bodies, those that have a duty to their citizens, or does it do their job for them?

I was honoured to be the second speaker for this month’s Critical Symposium. I presented my research and thoughts on the notion of an expanded conception of ‘reading’ and what this might mean for our understanding of care. I take the term reading to mean a way of coming to knowledge and wonder how a ‘complicated’ reading might enforce a reader/listener/viewer to actively use more care in their interpretation. This research is framed within feminist and queer discourse and considers how the embodiment of a multi or choral approach to communication (primarily through artworks) might fracture a linear, chrononormative approach to understanding. Such an approach might inhibit a ‘full’ understanding and therefore if we are to attempt to understand then we must be active in our pursuit to listening. (Perhaps for me, the greatest act of care is to actively listen).

Mujtaba Asif presented a difficult but necessary examination into the lack of care for bodies rendered less ‘important’ by the Western, Capitalist narrative. Examining clips of recent news broadcasts in relation to migrants he exposed the biases in our conceptions of care. Which bodies are deemed worthy of our attention and which are we happy to ignore? This somewhat harrowing depiction of disregard was presented alongside a physical rumination and performance regarding his hair care regime. One might consider this a bizarre duality, perhaps a self-care, beauty, regime might seem trivial in relation to such horrors. Yet we know the importance of hair and its care in many global majority cultures and how it speaks to histories and ancestries robbed of their voice and space throughout the Western world.

Finally, Julie Heaton presented her approaches to making in relation to healing. The work and research were deeply personal and considered, whilst also leaving space for chance happening. Considering the interplay between form and control or happenstance she considers what it means to work with and through the aftermath of an event. This is both in relation to the physical element of an artwork; how to incorporate spilt ink stains and smudges but also the conception or reasoning behind its creation. Why did this happen, what choices or chances occurred and what does it mean that it is now permanently here, woven into the fabric? This too, she considers for moments beyond our control throughout our lives. And so Julie beautifully rounded up the symposium by showing us how in working through and beyond, by bestowing time and care upon a work, an event, ourselves - we might heal, grow and create new space.

Text by Alice Harry

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CS1: Choreographic Practices + Recap of RCA2023 Degree Show at Truman Brewery (13-16 July 2023) (30 July 2023)

The introductory forum of Critical Symposium approached ‘Choreographic Practices’ in its broadest sense. Looking at existing ideas with relation to choreography, the panelists consisting of artists Mujtaba Asif, Junshu Gu, Tony Jacob, Priysha Rajvanshi, Laura Selby and Ran Zhou reflected on their own individual multidisciplinary practices to forge new ways of thinking about choreography, choreographer and the choreographic.

Mujtaba Asif’s presentation of his latest body of work that comprised of installation, performance, somatic and sonic interventions examined the meaning and value of bodies and artefacts displaced through wars, injustice, migration and crisis. Junshu Gu’s flaneur-practice explored the capacity and limitations of the body with relation to its occupation of the public space and the public sphere. Tony Jacob examined the choreography of bodies with relation to the gaze of the photographic apparatus in establishing systems of racial and gendered hierarchies through a looking of colonial historical archives. Priysha Rajvanshi’s approach to Choreographic Practice was an examination of supposed ‘duality’ between various integral cognitive and mental capacities as actualised and explored through the reflective nature of her photographic practice. Laura Selby explored choreography through ‘sonic contamination’, an exploration of sonic productions at the nano and micro-scales by ecological entities, specifically at sites in Epping Forest that included human sonic interventions as well. Ran Zhou exemplified the choreographic practices articulated through the body when examined through lens of history, race, memory and health through a looking at the historical archives of diseased and racialised bodies.

Chartering discourse around contemporary notions of choreography as an approach or strategy that is rooted in the abstract or the uncertain, the forum raised diverse questions including the capacity of the choreographic to be present in any practice, as well as the ways and ethics in which the choreographic extends beyond the corporeal confines of the human or the non-human to the sensorial and the affective conditions of the somatic or material systems.

Text by Tony Jacob