The World in Which We Occur

phone session / performance

The World in Which We Occur is an event series co-led by Margarida Mendes and Jennifer Teets, taking place live over the telephone, and formulated around questions addressed by speakers across the world.

Embarking on modern day issues rooted in the history of materiality and flux as well as pertinent politically enmeshed scientific affairs shaping our world today, the series’ premise is one of interrogation and epistemic search.

To date, The World in Which We Occur has hosted sessions on the core debates of the Anthropocene, pharmakons (the body and the earth as a remedy and a poison), molecular colonialism in the reign of microorganisms, grief and climate change, states of reserve and the legality of invisible regimes, and resource fetishism (water politics and earth metabolisms).

Loosely inspired by, and set in the legacy of hybrids growing out of artist James Lee Byars’ 1969 "World Question Centre," The World in Which We Occur underlines the necessity for inquiry over an assertiveness of responses.

“Could you offer us a question that you feel is pertinent in regards to your own evolution of knowledge?” asks Byars at the end of the line.

The World in Which We Occur unveils incentives or queries as to generate further questions to build upon. It also aims to open up other areas of knowledge and speculation stemming from the core exercise of explicating one’s relationship within the current state of nature, in an era of erratic climatic behaviors. As a curation of voices, each session departs from an assisted dialing room set in an auditorium and is shared with an audience of listeners. The sessions are outsourced in the form of a growing archive.

The Underground

Beneath tangible material structures are invisible territories whose infinitesimal processes rule the metabolic circuitry of our ecosystems. Prolific bacteria sojourn in the depths of glacial caves and mycelium networks spread beyond the informational substrates captured by our eyes. Future organisms incubate in the underground, while matter faces permanent transmutation with no sense of decay. Tardean theory has taught us that the human species was forced to travel underground and invent a new way of life in the “interminable honeycomb” of the Earth. How then, should we consider the complex subterranean dimensions of geological forces, matter and energy today? Black goo. Bogs. Liquid-solid indeterminacy. How have these spheres altered our social consciousness and imaginaries?

Margarida Mendes is a writer, curator, and educator, living and working from Lisbon. In 2009, she founded the project space The Barber Shop in Lisbon, where she hosts a programme of seminars and residencies dedicated to artistic and philosophical research. Exploring the overlap between cybernetics, philosophy, sciences, and experimental film, her personal research investigates the dynamic transformations of materialism and their impact on societal structures and cultural production. She is interested in exploring alternative modes of education and political resilience through her collaborative practice, programming, and activism. She recently formed part of the curatorial team of the 11th Gwangju Biennale and curated Matter Fictions at Museu Berardo, Lisbon.

Jennifer Teets is a curator, writer, researcher and performer, living and working from Paris. She is known for her research on cheese, mud, and terra-sigillata – their transitioning towards materiality and entity and their ability to become something else when put in an exhibition or an essay. Her research and writing combines inquiry, sciences studies, philosophy, and fiction-critique, and performs as an interrogative springboard for her curatorial practice. She recently exhibited (with Lorenzo Cirrincione) Elusive Earths III at Parallel, Oaxaca, Mexico.

Confirmed Guests:

Anna Tsing is professor of Anthropology at University of California, Santa Cruz. She is also Niels Bohr professor at Aarhus University in Denmark and director of Aarhus University Research on the Anthropocene (AURA).
Her current research follows the humble trails of mushrooms into the great economic, cultural, and ecological dilemmas of our times. She is the author of The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins, Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection, and In the Realm of the Diamond Queen: Marginality in an Out-of-the-way Place, all from Princeton University Press. She has co-edited numerous volumes, most recently, with Carol Gluck, Words in Motion: Towards a Global Lexicon, from Duke University Press.

Kai Bosworth is a PhD candidate in the department of Geography, Society and Environment at the University of Minnesota, where he researches how public controversy around resource extraction and transportation is changing political conceptions of land, property, and the underground.
Through an examination of oil pipeline infrastructure in North America, Kai’s dissertation examines the ways in which mainstream environmentalist responses to pipeline infrastructure reinforce a liberal and populist conception of agrarian democracy. This research forms part of a broader investigation into feminist and Marxist spatial and environmental theory in the Anthropocene.
Kai holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Macalester College and an M.A. in Geography from the University of Minnesota. His works have appeared in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, The Extractive Industries and Society, and Capitalism and the Earth (forthcoming from Punctum books).

Stuart McLean received a BA in English Literature from the University of Oxford and a PhD in Sociocultural Anthropology from Columbia University. He held fellowships at Johns Hopkins University and the Humanities Institute of Ireland before taking up his current position at the University of Minnesota. His research asks what might happen to anthropology and to the humans it claims to study if it were to take seriously the other than human ‘life’ of the materials from which human worlds are fashioned.

He seeks to learn both from anthropology’s encounters with other, non-Western forms of thought in which distinctions between humans and other kinds of beings are often configured in radically different ways, and from art and literature as engagements with the materiality of media (paint, stone, celluloid, the body if the performer, the rhythmic and phonic ‘substance’ of language) that always have the capacity to exceed or disrupt the human projects enacted through them. To this end his work aims self-consciously to blur distinctions not only between academic and creative writing (including poetry) but also between writing and other expressive genres (audio-visual and performative).

His latest book, Fictionalizing Anthropology: Encounters and Fabulations, Human and Other (forthcoming, University of Minnesota Press, Fall 2017) undertakes a comprehensive revisioning of anthropology as a mode of engaged creative practice carried forward in a world heterogeneously composed of humans and other-than-humans, and concludes that anthropology should understand itself as engaged not only in documenting the worlds others have made but also in the making of new worlds.

7.10. 2016 5 pm
Dittrichova 9, Prague

Margarida Mendes a Jennifer Teets

Held in cooperation with Display, Association for Research and Collective Practice, and Fotograf Festival.

External Links
Fotograf Festival


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