Event series "Body Matters"
dedicated to unified human intelligence, its tangible and intangible nature
Introducing the idea of the series
In the context of contemporary Western society human body is usually looked at from the aesthetic, performative, or health-related angles. What drives us to create events and research labs dedicated to a more embodied culture is an interest in the intelligence of the body connected to lived life, in the relationship between physical states and states of mind, in the body as our perceiving, thinking, feeling, moving, and acting in the world. We look at the body as a process and a totality of our lived experiences, as a mediator between external forces: events, expectations, cultural beliefs; and inner forces: internal drives, conscious or unconscious desires, and invisible currents that move us. Body is an encounter between these socio-cultural, phenomenological, biological, intuitive and embodied cognitive conscious and unconscious phenomena — all taking part in orchestrating our engagement with life. To put it simply, we are interested in the body as a place where life happens and where we find out what is real and true for us, where our multiple intelligences meet (emotional, intellectual, somatic, intuitive, etc). We decided to set off on a journey to contribute towards a more embodied culture by writing stories and organising this event series in the context of global contemporary culture and its crisis.
Our path is rooted in the journey towards cultural transformation, where values guiding human life are shifting: personal enlivening and purposeful living replace the traditional ideas of success, relationships grow to be mutually aware partnerships; attention to life around and within, balance and respect of differences, and holistic mindset become unifying embodied principles. This event series is our wish to create a meeting space for encounters and exchange where true collaboration becomes possible. We believe in collective intelligence beyond one-method-approach developed by an individual or an established school of thought, in sharing knowledge without the necessity to make others believe in something, whether in esoteric ideas or complex scientific concepts. We want to collaborate with people who are serious about their work and search for meaningful exchange with other people who care. We are interested in sharing experiences and knowledge in ways that relate to direct experiences of lived life and that can be understood by anyone independently of their background. There are no secrets, just different perspectives, different things we notice and experiences we live through; so we come together to share them. We also believe in artistic expression being equally important as lectures and conversations, therefore artists and a variety of ways of expression and interpretation are part of all our events.
Mini-symposium: A Language for the New Era.
We borrowed the name for the autumn edition of “Body Matters” from this year’s literature festival in Berlin. The incredible variety of different languages and ways of expression (those of different cultures and disciplines) created by humanity worldwide enunciate the variety of talents people have. Each carries their intangible values. Languages we communicate in provide a conceptual map, a lens through which we see the world. This map determines what we pay attention to, what is significant, what is taboo, what is “normal”, what is valuable. Any language classifies the world around, and selectively orders it in a particular way. It’s not only a representational tool — it also shapes our reality. So what different ways and means of communication can learn from each other? How can intercultural perspectives enhance our perception of language? What does embodied culture have to do with it, anchored in embodied awareness, sensory experiences and presence?
This event is about remembering our multi-lingual nature. About learning from ways of expression and communication other than our own. Each language creates its own universe of values. Without being shared languages run into danger of solidifying our perspectives, rigidifying and turning into a prison, only allowing us to see things in a specific way. This get-together is a creation of a contact zone that aims to contribute to the better understanding of oneself and more elusive aspects of our own experience, as well as other people, whose languages shaped their world in a way different from ours.
The challenge then could be a creation of a new common discourse, a fresh paradigm, and a new system of its symbolic representation, where we could realize the potentials from these different cultural and disciplinary perspectives, where each could be contributing to a holistic progress in human development. There are many roads to truth. Artists of all kinds, poets, scholars, language anthropologists, embodied awareness practitioners, writers and philosophers will be part of this edition of “Body Matters”, to share their perspectives on expression of tangible and intangible realities and to co-create a language for the new era.
Sources of inspiration: poetry, aboriginal languages, visual arts, body languages, cultural anthropology, music, philosophy (in particular the work of Jacque Derrida, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann, Chuang Tzu, and others)
When: 3rd and 4th of November 10h-16h
Where: cocreation.loft in Berlin
Vilém Flusser and Philosophy of Language
The Czech cultural theorist and media philosopher Vilém Flusser is well known for his media- and communication-related thought. However, in his early works he was mostly discussing philosophical questions of language. There are two distinct periods in Flusser’s work: 1) his early period in Brazil, when he developed his theories and philosophy of language; and 2) his later period in Europe, focusing on media and communication theories. Even though Flusser did not write about the relationship between these periods, there are important correlations among them. The aim of this talk is to highlight Flusser’s most important concepts of language and to see their correlations to his later media theories. To mention some examples of the discussed topics: language and/vs reality, difficulties of translation, gestures, dialogue vs. discourse, language as a driving force for projecting worlds. Flusser worked together with different artists during his lifetime — the presentation will also discuss some of these related collaborations (e.g. Fred Forest’s video project “Gestures” and “Vidéo et Phénoménologie”).
Gods and Flâneurs
Poetry was called by Russian literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin “the language of the gods.” Gods can shape-shift, but we mere mortals are contained inside our bodies, and that’s what we have to write poetry with. How does the body contain, as well as generate, poems, especially in relation to the built environment around it? My work has often been placed in the lineage of the flâneur—Baudelaire’s nineteenth-century figure strolling the streets of Paris, part of and yet apart from the city, both embodied and disembodied. My best poems are written when I listen to my body, when a certain feeling I’ve learned to recognize manifests itself—then it is time to set pen to paper. I’ll read some of my recent poems; we’ll talk about the relationship between poetry, the body, and subjective and objective space; and we’ll also do some exercises.
Dancing as Embodied Hermeneutics and the Case Study of Gaga
Building on contemporary philosophies of embodiment, phenomenology, pragmatism, social theories of the body, and the felt experience of dancing, the presentation will foster dancing as embodied hermeneutics. As I will argue and examine, to dance is a personal experience, a cultural practice, and an aesthetic labor. Thus, while dancing the body is not merely culturally embedded, and perception is not merely embodied. Rather, perception and culture are worked through and manifested, and therefore they are reflected upon. These attributes of dancing enable us to think of dancing in terms of hermeneutical activity. During the workshop, we will shorty practice and reflect the sensual and the mental emphases of Gaga, the movement research of Ohad Naharin and Batsheva Dance Company. Gaga, as I examine it, is a research method, which explicitly approaches the embodied, yet reflective, understanding of dancers.
Exploring how we are touched and how we are touching by speech, words, metaphors and images, sensitizes our embodied awareness to the fascinating interplay between the mental and the bodily, between thinking and sensing and between reflections and impressions, our communication skills can go beyond mere content into the fullness of context, intention and complex meanings. Embodiment serves as a foundation for all our experiences, including our communicative and linguistic skills and when given the place for it, can also benefit and contribute to our ability to exchange with our surroundings.
Amnium Instar and Oracle Bones
Being drawn to artists and arts movements that worked in the overlapping fields of painting, drawing, literature and music, Werner’s contribution will come in two parts — 2 nigiri’s as part of his such lectures series. Part one is called “Amnium Instar” and will be about various ways to approach James Joyce’s „Finnegans Wake“ with insights on why you should read this work at least twice. Werner’s own copy of it has been transformed into a multidimensional book-object with colouring, smells and drawings on the margins. Part two is “Oracle Bones” and offers a selection of prototypal of Chinese signs from the Shang Dynasty (ca. 1700 – 1100 B.C), the surprisingly comic-like picture writing of the Na-xi (approx. 2000 years old, Yunnan/China), which inspired Werner’s own “one-shot-drawings” and doodles.
Between Speculation and Codification – Integrating Languages of “Woo Woo” in Daily Practice
To many, the term “woo-woo” brings to mind a fuzzy, purple realm of irrationality populated by fairies, angels, magic charms and free-range spirituality. Yet for myself, and many others numerology, astrology, feng shui, intuition and many other seemingly esoteric practices are simply different languages spoken in the subtle, yet powerful, realm of frequency. Though practiced throughout the ages, these occult (hidden) modalities have long been dismissed in western mainstream thought as irrational hocus-pocus and charlatanism. Yet recent scientific research has begun to reveal the wisdom of the woo-woo. In light of findings in quantum physics, consciousness and other sciences, we can begin to better understand and re-shape our relationship with these modalities. Through legitimization and practice, perhaps we can learn to better integrate these languages into our toolkit – creating pathways to a more integrated, insightful and inspired life. In my talk we will explore the science behind some of the “woo-woo” languages I work with and discuss how I apply these in my professional and creative practices, demonstrating simple tools that participants can begin using immediately.
Samuele Huynh Hong Son
The Language of Light
Further info coming soon.
Research Lab: Embodiment for Improved Learning Abilities.
This research lab will be dedicated to the question of embodied learning and its capacities to increase the potential for human thinking, learning, and knowledge sharing. Join us in an afternoon dedicated to explore these horizons in various ways and by diverse means of discussion, movement and awareness training.
16h-18h how the human body learns. theory and practice.
18h-19h dinner break
19h-21h modes of embodied and disembodied knowledge
Where: Space for Personal Development, Greifswalder Straße 208, 10405 Berlin
When: 12th of July 2018 16h-21h
With: Eylam Langotsy and Sabina Abdulajeva
Impressions from the Lab
Mini-symposium: Introduction to Embodied Culture.
We invite thinkers and doers, academics and practitioners to get together and create a space for discussion, exchange, and reflection on the intelligence of the body. It will be a meeting between theory and practice. Beside starting a conversation with each other and an inquiry into body intelligence from different perspectives, we also want to develop ideas that reach further and might give us a starting point to work together on bringing the body back into different areas where it’s been left out: classrooms, offices, museums, etc. Are you a professional working towards a similar vision? Would you like to join us in this adventure?
The event took place on the 2 and 3 June 2018 in Berlin. On both days different professionals presented their work between 10h and 17h. These sessions are open to interested audience and participants. On both days the afternoons turn into an open space for contributors of the symposium to engage in a deeper conversation on the subject of intelligence of the body, exchange ideas, come up with new formats to work in the future, and so on.
Day 1 June 2
10-11h Welcome and Sabina Abdulajeva intro ‘Embodied Culture’
11-12h Eylam Langotsky ‘Embodiment Lost’
12-13h Michael Häfner ‘When body and mind are talking’
14-15h Pierre Goirand ‘Embodied Presence’
15h> open space for contributors only
Visual interpretation of the day by the artist Liza Ostrovska
Day 2 June 3
10-12h Nitsan Margaliot ‘What If?’
12-13h Mauro Sacchi ‘Physical Presence’
14-15h Hanna Nordqvist ‘Exploring boundaries as bodily experience’
15h> open space for contributors only
Visual interpretation of the day by the artist Alice Baillaud
Embodied culture is rooted in the journey towards cultural transformation, where the values guiding human life are shifting: personal enlivening and purposeful living replace the traditional ideas of success, relationships grow to be mutually aware partnerships, attention to life around and within, balance and respect of differences, and holistic mindset become unifying embodied principles. In the context of contemporary Western society human body is usually looked at from the aesthetic, performative, or health-related angles. In the context of embodied culture human body is an integral part of our intelligence connected to lived life. Body is our perceiving, thinking, feeling, moving, and acting in the world. It’s a process and a totality of our lived experiences. How and why can the body come back into many areas of life it has been drawn away from?
‘Embodiment Lost’. The untold story of the human body through the major Epochs of our civilisation
Where ancient religions saw a rift between the ‘spirit’ and the ‘flesh’ and where Modernity saw a split between the ‘Body’ and the ‘Mind’, the challenge of our times is to bring a practice of holistic healing and to create a unifying approach to what Embodiment can become.
When body and mind are talking: On the relationship between body-awareness and psychological functioning.
In this talk I will try to give a brief overview over the research I have been doing in the field of embodiment. Moreover, I will try to sketch my theoretical view on embodiment, body-awareness and psychological processes. Last, but not least, I shall try to give an outlook on where I would like to take this research (e.g., aesthetic pleasure) and where I could imagine interfaces to the ideas of the other contributors.
Exploring boundaries as bodily experience
In this project and the workshops that have grown out of it we reflect on what it means to have and to set personal boundaries and limits, and what effect this has on our lives and relationships.
- Why is it often so difficult for us to set clear boundaries or to say “No”?
- How can we find the balance between going too far over our limits, and staying so firmly within them that we don’t even give ourselves the chance to GROW beyond them?
- And how can we even know or feel where our boundaries are?
The body offers a beautiful possibility to explore these questions and to find our own answers. The discovery session and the talks during the "Body-Matters" will be used to explore the topic of boundaries and limits through movement, touch, personal reflection and shared experience.
Openness and presence are not intellectual endeavours, nor final states that can be acquired once and for all. They stem form an active experiencing of one’s whole being in the moment. In a state of openness, one experiences the connection between the rational mind, the emotions, the body and the mysterious source of inspiration.
In the presentation/workshop we will go through a journey where we will explore a range of qualities, states, moods and vibrations. We would refer to the body as an organic being which will influence and allow us to act and behave from an intuitive and profound place. We will connect to our abilities to sense and express ourselves by investigating ways to communicate and relate to another body as a landscape in space with a generous use of use of creativity, playfulness, and imagination.
We will explore physical techniques of embodiment, with a focus on breath, gravity, tension and relaxation.
Visual Artists Interpreting the Event
Alice follows her everyday emotions like the thread of Ariane, out of which her art is born. Throughout the event Alice will be with us, sharing and following our processes, experimentation and exchange, accompanied by her artistic tools: paper, pens, colours. What will come out of this will be a surprise, a process of unfolding.
Liza is interested in human imagination, in playing with words, lines and colours. She enjoys early morning walks and browsing libraries of the world.
Space: CoCreation Loft, Schinkestrasse 9, 12047 Berlin
Documentation: The event will be documented in drawing, painting, video and photo. By Liza Ostrovska (visual artist), Egor Sviridenko (photographer), Johan Planefeldt (film-maker), Alice Baillaud (visual artist).
Insights from Body Matters Edition 1