For full details about the conference, please visit hastac2023.org
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Thursday, June 8 • 5:00pm - Saturday, June 10 • 7:00pm
You Are Invited

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Using visuals and sound that draw upon our research on whiteness as global and national colonial formation enacted at the interpersonal and structural levels, the video installation ‘You Are Invited’ explores the production and ramifications of hetero-patriarchy, violence, gendered exclusions and marginalization in white spaces, and the embodiment of differently racialized and gendered identities crossed through with discomfort. Through the video/installation, we investigate how feminist decolonial knowing through the body can be produced via critical making and the direct experience of the artwork by the conference participants.

Affecting racialized and gendered bodies in discomfort
‘You Are Invited’ builds on the arts-based research practice of Halász (2017, 2021) such as the performance installations ‘The Blush Machine’ (Bolivia, 2013), ‘Chamber of White’ (Denmark, 2014) and ‘Freeing Up Shame’ (Brazil, 2012) and the exhibition ‘Visualising Affect’ (UK, 2013) [1] and Hunter’s (2015, 2017, 2021) feminist psychosocial work on the affective production of institutional life as fundamental to the enactment of broader national and global coloniality which sustains whiteness as a neoliberal institutional ideal. Both expose the role of bodies and affects in the lived enactment of whiteness as a way of tracing and interrupting the rational-emotional split fundamental to the cis-heteropatriarchal reproduction of coloniality (Lugones 2010, Wynter 2003). Together they are developing ‘imaginactivism’ (Haran 2017) as an interference with white institutional and public life. This installation constitutes the aim of producing one such imaginactivist intervention through “extending critical social reflection (Hertz).

Relationship to the conference theme
With the video installation we zoom in on racial justice and feminist struggles “as intellectual and political force[s] for freedom” (Mama 2020, p. 362) in historically ‘unfair, unequal and corrupt’ global justice systems. We extend the provocation of George Yancy’s question of “How Does it Feel to Be a White Problem?” (2015) with a specific focus on the potential of social justice through reinforced criticality and re-politicizing. The video installation examines Yancy’s question both at the interpersonal and systemic levels, but instead of responding to this question, the artwork opens aesthetic and conceptual spaces to think through how whiteness is known in the body in discomfort, and the epistemological and methodological potentials that ‘staying with’ (Haraway 2016) discomfort holds. The video explores how the relationally produced ‘affective intensity’ and ‘epistemic resource’ of discomfort can open up or close down inquiry on whiteness because of the dis/orientation it induces in differently gendered and racialized people experiencing it (Chadwick 2021). Whereas much of the consideration of white discomfort views it as the property of white people (Diangelo 2018), our approach challenges this via a relational understanding of discomfort as an event produced through/in gendered and racialized bodies entering in relation. The video installation examines the psychosocially embodied experience of discomfort as collectively produced and holding open a dynamic space for a relation of depth rooted in dis-ease which has the potential to disrupt the power of whiteness and the global injustices it is dependent on.

The benefit of this event
As per the deliberately open-ended nature of forms of imaginactivsm, critical making and arts engagement, the individual benefits of this event cannot be assumed in advance, and they will be multiple depending on the positioning of people experiencing it. The anticipated benefits relate to the collective “process relationship between imagining and acting to make a change in the world, and the ways in which it depends on working actively and collaboratively with a shared vision” (Haran 2017, p. 11). We hope that participants will take away the energetic benefits of participating in imaginactivism as a mode of organising as well as increased knowledge around the potential for and confidence in working with discomfort as an intervention into the unequal politics of public life. We also hope the energetic benefits nourish future collaborative activity as an extended network of an academic-intellectual-artistic-activist community of care.

Part of the decolonial contention underpinning this event is that we are all differently and complicatedly entangled in global colonial whiteness (Erasmus 2017, Rodríguez, 2016, la paperson 2017). There are no claims of innocence from within our current global coloniality. However, we recognise the contentious and potentially re-traumatising nature of situating whiteness at the heart of race-resistant activism, including the risks in bolstering white innocence through the critical interrogation of whiteness (Ahmed, 2004). Therefore, the framing will be conducted with care and according to principles of intersectional safety and respect rooted in a combination of learning in practice with and from a range of Black, brown, queer, feminist decolonial and anti-racist activist spaces [2]. Given the focus of our installation on the violence of whiteness, we prioritise attention to the safety of those positioned as marginalised in/through whiteness.

[1] See https://www.katalinhalasz.com/ for details of these and other works. [2] See https://www.whitespaces.org.uk/post/process for details

avatar for Katalin Halasz

Katalin Halasz

Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow, Brunel University London

Shona Hunter

Leeds Beckett University

Thursday June 8, 2023 5:00pm - Saturday June 10, 2023 7:00pm EDT
ARC F-09