My submission letter (with some modifications) explains how this work fits into the theme of the VIS--the Nordic Journal for Artistic Research issue on Risk in Artistic Research: jeopardy or opportunity?
re: VIS Journal Issue 1 Selection Committee,
In the call for submissions, you have presented us with a wonderful (and timely!) provocation, to think of risk not only in the subjective sense, reflecting upon our art making, but in terms of a practice-led research that is entangled in the world, that responds in lively ways to the “[embedded] elements of risk within the matter and material of art-making itself”. It is precisely from such a framework that I would like to suggest part of the artworks I have been developing with my proposed notion of Poetic Forensics for your exposition, particularly the series of videos (Not so) Casual Conversations. Testimony X (2018) which supplementary are accompanied by the series At the Archives.Testimony C (2017)
My practice-led art research project Poetic Forensics inherently dwells on your essential questions about risks. Furthermore, it troubles itself in risk that is concern with deep care, and in many ways intends to effect “the birthright of being able to take care of other people” (Spivak, 2011) and it does so, from an approach to the practice as research that is oblique and finds strength in gentleness (Dufourmantelle, 2018), but also, inevitably, is vulnerable.
I welcome your provocation to think about risk— as it becomes an ethical call— as it is one that profoundly drives my own artistic research which is centered on my father’s political disappearance, and it does so while exploring the idea that witnesses to this event, could be constituted by non-human—land, trees, rocks, and animals—assembled with human ones, to effect possible claims and give attention to human rights abuses committed during the nominal democratic period of Leoni 1964 to 1969 in Venezuela, and particularly, in the rural area of the Lara State in the northwestern region of the country.
May 28, 2018
My research engages in 'poetics' as an activity particular to art making, in the sense of the ancient Greek poiesis, referring to bringing into being what did not exist before, but most importantly 'poetics' as it pertains to igniting the imagination in integrative ways as consistently used in the practice of SRT. My research proposes that this engagement in poetics might itself to a path for a forensic claim—that is, 'poetics as an 'activity' becomes useful in suggesting a different kind of knowledge outside the limits of the hard material evidence of forensic science. Poetic metaphors when they emerge from attunement states can be insightful leads for understanding what is nuanced in relation to the politically disappeared and notions of body, peoples and land.
Attunement facilitates meaning-making from my own advantage point as an artist with involved emotions in the subject matter on what is also elusive and difficult to grasp. Attunement also plays a role from a perspective on forensics within investigative contemporary art in my work, and with its close relation to the approach to poetics in my practice, it does not try to figure things out; rather, it guides me, the researcher, to enter into what may be happening through attunement between human and nonhuman participants.
More specifically, in this process of attunement, I let myself wonder, guided by my extensive training and practice in the Skinner Releasing Technique (SRT), on the extensions of my matter with the environment while investigating the connections surrounding the disappearance of my father. It may be that something emerges, attuned in lively ways to referential dynamics between me and the world. My initial work with attunement (before I was even familiar with the concept) was through my senses, my body, and the environment. Later, the video camera was incorporated into the practice with the intention to document evidence from these revelatory encounters, in an effort to generate, what Kathleen Stewart refers to as “possibilities that come into view” (2007, 5), and in this research particularly relevant, as much has been made to disappear by the state.
In my early introduction to art making through alternative dance training studies, especially with my studies with Joan Skinner and her Skinner releasing dance technique, I found myself learning about and in a poetic kinaesthetics of imagery-based processes of discovery. In its multi-directionality and awareness of everything that happens while rooted in improvisation, I have come to intuit that SRT is akin to attunement. The intriguing notion that my movement improvisational background with SRT might have something new to offer to the practice of attunement, indicates possible directions for deeper experimentation in further research. SRT imparts motion towards an attunement practice that might grasp meaning from what happens in the moment, but as suggested by Alÿs (2015), “how does one describes a concept that can only be enacted in time?”. And this enacting of the elusive concept of attunement in my practice, goes beyond notions of movement as it engages oneself and the environment, with human and nonhuman participants with receptivity.
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