Knowledge does not simply consist of abstract thought; it is embedded within material,
gestures, feelings, narratives and practical routines. As lived experience, knowledge and competences are written into our bodies as embodied experience. As such it can be accessed and rehearsed through bodily action – these insights into the foundations of knowledge belong to the central understandings of 20th century philosophy, epistemology and the sociology of science. The seminar Creativity & Performance takes these understandings as its starting point.
To our students the seminar offers a new approach, one that responds to the fact that what is often called “embodied” or “implicit” knowledge has become increasingly relevant not only for science, but also to the emergent post-industrial work environment. While traditional seminar forms only have limited access to this kind of knowledge and conceptual analysis is often insufficient or inappropriate, implicit knowledge is accessed best through intuitive and situational approaches. It is neither enough to be informed, to observe, nor to analyze – implicit forms of knowledge need to be experienced and practiced through the body. The arts provide an appropriate field of practice, one in which a kind of thinking that is articulated through observing, creating, improvising, acting and feeling can be undertaken.
There are four aspects within this extended field of knowledge that can be accessed through artistic practices and techniques:
Aesthetic experience and emotional knowledge: body techniques (such as yoga, dance or theatre) raise awareness of spatial and social atmospherics.
Action-based knowledge: when we draw, write or are involved in music, we develop ways of thinking that arise from action. These ways follow a causality of propositional thought rather than the logic of the material or specific rhythms of movements.
Imaginative and creative techniques: while filming, drawing, designing, composing and experimenting with materials, we generate images, narratives and symbols and through these create something surprising and unforeseen. Associations and assertions are picked up, traced and transformed playfully.
Narrative knowledge: knowing and understanding oneself and others; designing and inventing identities, situations, and possibilities of action depend to a large extent on narrations: in understanding oneself and our relation to others, our current position as well as our chances and limitations, we depend on narrations. It is the temporality of any narration that allows us not only to understand our experiences over time, but to reach an understanding of its structures and potential.
With the form of our program ‘Creativity & Performance’, Zeppelin University has developed a sustained and mature study concept, one which is unique in Germany and reflects the latest developments in the understanding of research and science.
For the course ‘Creativity & Performance' students are asked to choose two artistic disciplines, which should correspond to their own interests and affinities. Accompanied by experienced artists, their perception is sharpened as they get to explore their environment in an experimental manner. Signs and sign systems, images and narrations form a process of engagement with reality which is not understood as representation, but rather as the bodily experience of construction and criticism.
The Laboratory for Implicit and Artistic Knowledge (LIKWI) is a research unit at Zeppelin University that analyses the results of the Creativity & Performance courses. Together with a network of partners from other universities, its purpose is to draw out and investigate the epistemological, aesthetic and pedagogical insights gained from this format. LIKWI is part of the Center for Cultural Production with some of workshops being held in cooperation with Zeppelin University's artsprogram.
As part of this year's annual theme of the Center for Cultural Production entitled 'Radical Dreaming', the two three-day workshops by Vishnu Vardahani Rajan and Jeanne van Heeswijk, as well as Armen Avanessian and Maciej Chmara, explore the potential of radical dreaming to open up a different, possible world of living.
Vardahani Rajan and Jeanne van Heeswijk
The collective exercise crafting space to imagine and move toward a more just world with artists Vishnu Vardahani Rajan and Jeanne van Heeswijk asks: What do you invest your time and care in? If you were part of a space of daring political dreaming, what would you want the space to hold?
and many other questions, the Dreamscaping exercise builds a “stewardship
curriculum” for the use of Toward Sanctuary Dome (Philadelphia Assembled, 2017)
through collective thinking and training in what it means to offer and receive
sanctuary for imagining and enacting a more just world. The exercise explores
collective movement and imagining ways out of the never-ending crises, so as to
get “un-stuck,” to common the uncertainties through learning the potentials of
interdependence and collaboration, and to find rest together. Through working
on multiple ways of “belonging,” learning to understand how various urgencies
are intertwined, holding space for difference, and making community agreements,
a series of potential pathways is drafted for weaving dreams from which to
craft new realities.
Vardhani Rajan (Hyderabad,
Helsinki) is a body-philosopher and performance artist. A hyphenated identity,
multidisciplinary practices and building connections between art, science,
witchcraft, history and cultures define them. Vishnu’s work spans, dance,
non-performance-performance, performing arts, performance poetry, stand-up
comedy, moving images, punk-architecture and cultural poetics of community
building. Quilting as a methodology centering topics of conflict, sleep and
shame, Infinite Playlist Afterisms (IPA) centering politics of pleasure and joy
and ‘Convivial Complaint Cell’ are their ongoing work. Vishnu’s persona, Vamp
Master Brown, is the first Indian drag king in Helsinki. They are currently
researching on how to combine various disciplines to achieve a new visual
vocabulary and language in performance, and storytelling. They are currently
reading Sara Ahmed’s Complaint with a reading-circle. Vishnu’s guerilla
curatorial praxis aims to address Multi-Scalar social challenges.
Jeanne van Heeswijk (Rotterdam) is an artist who facilitates the creation of dynamic and diversified public spaces in order to “radicalize the local”. Her long-scale community-embedded projects question art’s autonomy by combining performative actions, discussions, and other forms of organizing and pedagogy to assist communities to take control of their own futures. Noted projects include: Het Blauwe Huis (The Blue House) in Amsterdam (May 2005 - December 2009); Public Faculty (2015-ongoing), Homebaked in Liverpool (November 2011 - present); Freehouse, Radicalizing the Local in Rotterdam (September 2008- present), Philadelphia Assembled, Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia (2014-2017) and Trainings for the Not-Yet, BAK, Basis voor Actuele Kunst in Utrecht (2018-2019). Her work has been featured in numerous books and publications worldwide, as well as internationally renowned biennials such as those of Liverpool, Shanghai, and Venice. She was the 2018-19 BAK Fellow, the 2014-2015 Keith Haring Fellow in Art and Activism at Bard College and she has received the 2012 Curry Stone Prize for Social Design Pioneers, and in 2011, the Leonore Annenberg Prize for Art and Social Change.
Avanessian and Maciej Chmara
is dedicated to cooking as an aesthetic and poetic practice based on
theoretical and practical examples from the history of culinary arts. Referring
to the basic culinary triangle according to Lévi-Strauss, an overall picture of
nutrition and its economic as well as ecological connections will be drawn.
Starting with the example of bread, which has not only been the most important basic
food for thousands of years, but which is, continuing Claude Levi-Strauss'
culinary triangle of raw-cooked-rotted, understood as a symbiosis of culture
and nature that can be prepared and enjoyed, we will study the basics of new
food technologies and schools of thought such as precision fermentation and
solar punk. This will be done both in terms of opportunities for an ecological
food transition and in the service of developing a new spectrum of enjoyment.
to practicing such basic performative activities as baking bread and preparing
simple meals, students will learn to think about still under-discussed topics
such as basic foods and food technologies in complex economic and ecological
contexts. Apart from gaining a better understanding of new food technologies
(or of little-known foods from startups or established companies), we also want
to practice and perform enjoyment and pleasure, not least in the context of the
social aspects of cooking and eating.
Maciej Chmara is a product designer and works as artistic assistant at UDK Berlin.
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