Interdisciplinary Conference


in Art & Science

27-29 September 2023, Malta Society of Arts, Valletta

Teaching Contamination - A Bestiary Guide from Empirical Philosophy
Event Hours: 27/09/2023 (12:45)
Location: Concert Hall [H]
Agnieszka Wolodzko
Keywords: contamination, teaching, risk, precariousness, ethology

Based on my work at the art academy, where I have built a biolab space and an artistic research program around it, I will map problems, intimacies, principles and failures of how to work with precariousness: with that what escapes capture. This paper will thus derive from a pedagogical practice but also disciplinary and existential struggles of experimentation that betrays masters.
Within the Art Academy I teach, there is a deep rooted ideology that art is autonomous. It derives from a cultural belief and value of an importance of art to stand alone, to not be influenced by governments, society and politics. Nevertheless, that what allows to define and to declare what art is, is a powerful act: it states and creates a reality, but it is also a boundary making event - a border line that marks the reality as separate and stable.
To start to declare art as autonomous first, can make art appear as a fixed phenomenon, giving it a sense of indifference and immutability within changing societies and cultures. When taking autonomy as a first condition and defining moment of action, regardless of living bodies and their environments, it becomes a word that shields against all, namely constrains but also accountability. In my practice as a teacher and researcher thus, I struggle to overcome the disciplinary belief in autonomy, that derives for the longing for purity and imperial imagination of control. Instead, I learn how to teach risk and uncertainty that emerges from being uncomfortable because not knowing. The shame and frustration are the elements that guides, as they crack the habits of mastery. As such, this paper will discuss the arts of attentiveness elaborated by Deborah Bird Rose, how her ethological practices of care can be part of art and ecological teaching. The notion of contamination will be discussed as an onto- epistemological tool that shapes practices of encounter and teaching, but not only.
In this way, I will elaborate on the notion of contamination as precariousness that is an already ethical event, way of attentive encounter with bodies that needs to be not only acknowledged but learned and unlearned. This paper will thus draw on ethology to discuss further possibility of contamination that resist what Isabell Lorey defined as precarization. The form of the paper will have theoretical and personal tone, woven by the mutating personas of a witch, a ghost, and a demon – they will navigate contaminating and mutating character of the problems encountered. 

Agnieszka Wolodzko

Agnieszka Anna Wołodźko, received her PhD at Leiden University in 2018. She is a lecturer and researcher teaching contemporary philosophy and art-science at AKI Academy of Art and Design ArtEZ since 2017. At AKI she has initiated a biolab space where she runs a BIOMATTERs, an artistic research programme that explores how to work with living matters. Her research focuses on post-humanism, ecocriticism, affect theory and new materialism at the intersection of art, ethics and biotechnology. Selected recent publications include: “Ars Demones*2022*Manifesto,” in Footprint. Delft Architecture Theory Journal; “Demonological re-enchantments – or how to contaminate through intimate stories of commons without consensus,” in Technoetic Arts: A Journal of Speculative Research; ‘Living Within Affect As Contamination: Breathing In Between Numbers’ in Capacious: Journal for Emerging Affect Inquiry; ‘Materiality of Affect: How Art Can Reveal the More Subtle Realities of an Encounter’, in This Deleuzian Century: Art, Activism, Life, edited by Rosi Braidotti and Rick Dolphijn; Affect as Contamination. Embodiment in Bioart and Biotechnology, Bloomsbury, 2023.


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