Resulting from the conversation we had on care as value and thoughts on gifts, exchange and reciprocity (PIRG session 20 April 2020), Luisa suggested the group to conduct a small 'exchange' art project. The project asked each participant to create an original piece of artwork that would then continue to be worked on as it got passed on (via email) to the other group members. The finished artworks resemble a palimpsest of sorts, capturing the unique interpretation of each of the participants.
Below are images of the 'before' and 'after' of the artworks:
Image 1: Luisa - Jane - Yvonne - Noriko - Yonat - Luisa
Luisa - I initiated my image because I heard that a colleague of mine lost her husband because of Covid-19. I chose these geometric shapes to represent the world and its ‘shadow’ the lines represent the net/ connections, emotions/communications…
Yvonne - Felt disconnected, with the isolation and sadness we are all in currently. I needed to connect them, to sense we are all in this together.
Noriko - The image that I received had green and purple oval shapes, some texts and a bright pink squiggly line. The text read ‘the husband of a colleague just passed away’. I wondered whether the death was due to Coronavirus. During one of my early morning walks (one exercise a day allowed during the lockdown) I happened to come across a field of ‘forget-me-nots’. The dainty but intense blue of the flowers in the local churchyard had caught my eyes and I took a picture. I decided to offer the flowers to the sad text. There is so much ‘death’ in the air at the moment. I thought about all the people who had been affected by it recently. The pink squiggly line seemed to disrupt the clean edges of the purple and green shapes and it reminded me of the steps going up St Catherine’s Hill and its mizmaze. I have a whole collection of ‘sky’ pictures that I had taken on top of St Catherine’s Hill. The addition of the semi-translucent sky, I hoped, captured the atmosphere of the strange times we are all living through at the moment.
Image 2: Noriko - Yvonne - Jane - Yonat - Luisa - Noriko
Noriko - Over the Easter break, the PhD students were asked to take part in a Easter Challenge activity. One of the challenges involved making a drawing of the view from our desks. I liked the pink almond tree and made a drawing using oil pastel and tracing paper. I taped the drawing on to the window to create a layer of the ‘actual view’ and my interpretation of it. The process of photographing 'flattened' the layers. A laughably analogue process. I decided to reuse this image for the Gentle Act in Isolation activity. I thought it would be interesting to see how the image would become further processed digitally.
Yvonne - Came across to me as both isolated yet with an oppressive sky bearing down., so I chopped it all up, offering some clear spaces, to breath.
Yonat - This group drawing was initiated by Noriko. By the time it reached my inbox it already went through Yvonne’s and Jane’s interventions. I knew that after my intervention the drawing will continue its morphing journey with Luisa’s final intervention. I was thinking of being between, as well as being part of a chain. I was also thinking about change; I remembered a collaboration long time ago with Noriko where cultural particularities (Japan, Israel) surfaced; but most of all I was thinking about the screen as a medium of communication and expression. The latter got more prominent with COVID 19 and lockdown here in the UK since March 2020, as well as in many other countries. Looking at the etymology of the word ‘prominent’: ‘Latin … from pro- forward + -minēre (akin to mont-, mons mountain) ...’ Also ‘standing out or projecting beyond a surface or line’ (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prominent). As this group drawing was done through screens I wanted to make the screen visible in the drawing. After playing with different possibilities, I finally attached a lamp to my desk, positioning the screen to get the reflection within the drawing. I then filmed and edit it, playing with the effects of appearance and disappearance. The moving image’s undertone was determined by its structure: a second for each still. This evoked an association of the Japanese flag where the red circle in the middle of a white rectangle represents the sun, a strange interpretation where, rather than a slow, organic movement of the sun rising there is a mechanical movement. Luisa’s intervention – positioning a ticking clock partly covering the projection – intuitively responded to this mechanical rhythm. How could we carry on thinking about what is now simply described as a ‘group drawing’ with ideas that were discussed at PIRG’s sessions? Ideas such as relationship between image, line and word; care, time and thinking; care as value and gift; autoethnography methodology; and material thinking, amongst others.
Luisa - I inserted the clock in the video that I have received because there was a ‘light’ that was ‘disturbing’ the balance of the image… I felt that the clock meant time, order and space.
Image 3: Jane - Luisa - Yonat - Yvonne - Noriko - Jane
Luisa - When I received this drawing, from Jane, I wanted to print it out to play with it in the space, as it came with instructions; instead, I decided to use it electronically. I started drawing on the top of the flowers, but then decided to use the empty squares and wrote some letters, forming words that are imperceptible to read. (heart; care; love; lone; gone) all these words represent my feelings, at this isolation period. (I do regret not have print out this work and played with it).
Yvonne - I could see the flat box and how to construct it, the image moving around the space frustrated me, I wanted it to stop and to balance somewhere on the page. I also wanted to set it free, I played with abstract shapes until it felt free.
Noriko - The colourful artwork that came my way contained large circular shapes, a purple star and some pixelated images of plants or some kind of vegetation. The image looked more or less complete…I just felt that it needed something on the right hand side to finish it off. I had been working on a ‘self-assigned’ project of creating an A to Z list of words from the daily Guardian Opinion section. The list of words seemed the perfect thing to fill the strip of pale purple space. Although the words have no correlation to the shapes and colours that already occupied the image, it was interesting, nonetheless, to observe how they start to influence the ‘reading’ of the artwork.
Image 4: Yonat - Noriko - Luisa - Jane - Yvonne - Yonat
Noriko - I was intrigued with the various qualities of the marks on the image that I received. I started to crop and enlarge them to see if I could see them better, like inspecting with a magnifying glass. I wondered what would happen if I were to sandwich the marks by layering the images. The resulting picture reminds me of gazing into a pond and seeing leaves and other materials floating in water.
Luisa - The drawing that I’ve received was very gentle and reminded me of the refection of the water. I wrote a few words, using the colours of the painting: “the nature of; emotions; Empathy; feelings; VOICE; isolation; culture; thrashed; vision; gift; thinking”.
Yvonne - This image felt complete in itself, it was profound. I chose to make an intervention, a gentle, grey line that weaved quietly across the circles. Bringing gentle influence of its being into to the energy of the circles and benefiting from its visit through the circles being able to take something ‘good’ with it as it meanders on its way.
Image 5: Yvonne - Yonat - Noriko - Luisa - Jane - Yvonne
Yvonne - As the author of this beginning, I played, what I saw when I looked at the played scribbles were bluebell flowers, an unintentional field of bluebells. I had been looking at the bluebells in the garden.
Noriko - The expanse of creamy white and the dots made me think of the Milky Way, which then made me think of stars and constellations. Using the drawing facility in Photoshop, I tried to connect the dots to make my own star signs. The lines are awkward and clumsy but I was happy with the way I was able to create new images within the existing image, connecting different elements together.
Luisa - This time, I decided to print out the work sent to me. I went to pick up some threads and stitched it onto the paper, using colours to match the lines that were transparent when I received it.
Jane - Initially, I was procrastinating about making interventions into the images passed on to me. I hate to change other people’s work and get too precious about my own work. The only way I could get around it was to treat it as a game and be a bit playful, but still in a gentle way.
In the last PIRG session (23 March 2020), the group discussed broadly around the topic of 'care', which Lisa Baraitser describes as 'the ardous temporal practice of maintaining ongoing relations with others and the world' (Baraitser, 2017, p.4). There was one particular paragraph that Yonat had chosen where Baraitser comments on care as 'often assumed to be a value' (ibid., p.14). I was curious to reflect further on this notion of 'care as value'. What kind of value are we talking about?
I introduced the text: 'Mothering, Co-muni-cation, and the Gifts of Language' by Genevieve Vaughan, in The Engima of Gift and Sacrifice, Edith Wyschogrod (ed.), New York: Fordham University Press, 2002, pp.91 - 113. I thought it would be interesting to reflect on what Vaughan talks about as 'unilateral gift giving' in relation to ideas of care as value.
Text: Lisa Baraitser (2017), Enduring Time, London: Bloomsbury Publishing, pp.14-15.
Session led by Yonat.
First Skype session due to the Covid-19 lockdown. Two paragraphs from Lisa Baraitser's book, Enduring Time, were chosen for this session. Jane started the conversation by questioning Baraitser's interpretation of Tronto's understanding of care as an action that goes ‘beyond the limits of the relational self to include forms of action not limited to human action…’. What did Baraitser mean by 'not limited to human action?' Isn't care primarily associated with human action? Yonat felt that both human and non-human can have access to agency (referencing concepts such as 'agential realism' that Karen Barad talks about).
According Baraitser, one of the actions that can be understood as care is 'maintenance'. Yonat created an additional list of actions that she felt could be considered as 'care': listen to, respond, response-ability, communicate, feed, support, protect, love. It makes reflect on Elizabeth Povinelli articulation of care as a 'small theatrical gesture'
'...an "object of knolwege" is no longer a resource, ground, matrix, object, material or instrument to be sued by humans as a means to an end. Rather an object of knowledge is an "active, meaning-generating axis of the appratus of bodily production"'. (Haraway, 1991, p.200)*.
Yonat's texts for the session included paragraphs from Barbara Bolt's 'Material Thinking and the Agency of Matter', in Studies in Material Thinking, Vol. 1, No. 1 (April, 2007), p.2 (www.materialthinking.org), Jackie Goode, ‘On Autoethnography’ (Chapter 3) in Jackie Goode (ed.) (2019), Clever Girls: Auotoethnograpies of Class, Gender and Ethnicity, New York, US: Palgrave Macmillan and Tim Ingold (2016), Lines: A Brief History, London and New York: Routledge.
* Donna Haraway (1991), Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, London: Free Association Books.
At the beginning of December, PIRG met in Rawberry cafe, Winchester to reflect on what the group had achieved so far and to think about 'what next'? To mark the occasion I offered to create an artists' book. I asked everyone to choose a word/sentence/paragraph from Gaston Bachelard's The Poetics of Space and bring it to the session so that we could form a conversation around it. PIRG started in 2013 as a loosely defined 'reading group' that explored the notion of phenomenology through Bachelard's book. I thought it would be a nice gesture to revisit the text as we reflected on the group's past, present and, hopefully, the future.
The finished book captures the conversations that took place that day. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. We carried on as we have always done, listening, commenting and sharing.
At the end of the session we came to a conclusion that we needed to continue to meet once a month, to use PIRG as a platform to keep developing and exchanging ideas 'slowly' in a gentle and caring environment, which has always been so unique about PIRG. We will explore new methodologies and entertain new research topics. But for now, it is good to know that PIRG will be starting a new chapter in the coming new year.
Below are images of the finished book.
posted by Noriko Suzuki-Bosco
PIRG's exhibition 'In Dialogue: Material Imagination', The Link Gallery, Winchester University, 2015
'In Dialogue: Material Imagination' was 'an exhibition exploring ideas around French Phenomenologist Gaston Bachelard's notions of material imagination, cultural complex and sublimation, through art works and written text. The exhibition attempted to extend the discussion of Bachelard's ideas and open them to a wider audience. Each of the seven artist-researchers incorporated works from diverse research areas to explore, interpret and expand Bachelard's ideas through the dialogue between material and theoretical practices.' From: The Phenomenology and Imagination Research Group poster, 2017.
PIRG preparation session for 'In Dialogue: Material Imagination' exhibition, The Link Gallery, Winchester University, 2015
'Sites of Conversation'
17 - 31 July 2017
Winchester Gallery, Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton
Jane Bennett | Bevis Fenner | Yvonne Jones | Belinda Mitchell | Yonat Nitzan-Green | Noriko Suzuki-Bosco
'Sites of Conversation is an exhibition and symposium by the Phenomenology and Imagination Research Group (PIRG), exploring the notion of material practices and contexts as sites of expanded conversation. The works represent process, contingency and the unfolding dialogue between materials and phenomenological thinking, which expands the possibilities of what conversation can be and can become. In the light of these ideas, the exhibition and symposium center on works – and the wider practices and contexts that surround them – as ‘sites’, not only on and around which conversation can take place, but also as conversations in and amongst themselves.' Written by Bevis Fenner. (To read more please go to 'News & Feeds').