Introduction to S A L O N - L O N D O N, Parasol Unit Foundation for contemporary art, Friday 03 November, 2017, 7:00-9:00pm /
Good evening and a very warm welcome to the launch of S A L O N-London, a real and virtual space for responding to the contemporary through experimental women's writing.
S A L O N-London is the result of Susan and I meeting at dinner after a performance by Caroline Bergvall in September 2016. We started talking about our research in experimental women's writing and feminisms and through this exchange realised that we both had a desire to create a salon-style series of events, and a salon space in London. In light of our shared vision, we decided to collaborate.
Taking inspiration from modernist salons and avant-garde little magazines, SALON is a real and a virtual space for experimental women writers, performance artists, and theorists to come together and share their work, ideas, and activism.
S A L O N - LONDON takes the real and interactive virtual salon as a place of confluence, a radical feminist environment. Solidarity is the basis of the platform. The site is a place for groups and individuals to meet and exchange ideas productively, with a shared vision of bringing about change and coming together through new forms of feminist kinship.
We see S A L O N - LONDON as a starting point for artists and writers, an opening, a site of participation and plurality.
S A L O N - London has a particular focus on bringing experimental women writers into dialogue with contemporary feminist thinkers.
In this vein to launch S A L O N tonight, we are delighted to welcome Redell Olsen and Caroline Pedwell.
Redell Olsen’s poetic practice comprises poetry as well as texts for performance, film and installation. Her publications include Film Poems (Les Figues, 2014), 'Punk Faun: a bar rock pastel' (Subpress, 2012), 'Secure Portable Space' (Reality Street, 2004) and 'Book of the Fur' (rem press 2000). In 2017 she published two bookworks: Smock and Mox Nox. Her work is included in Infinite Difference: Other Poetries by UK Women Poets (Shearsman, 2010), I’ll Drown My Book: 'Conceptual Writing by Women' (Les Figues Press, 2011) and Out of Everywhere 2: Linguistically Innovative Poetry by Women in North America & the UK (Reality Street Press, 2016). From 2006 - 2010 she was the editor of How2, the international online journal for Modernist and contemporary writing by women. In 2013-14 she was the visiting Judith E. Wilson fellow at the University of Cambridge. She is Director of the Poetics Research Centre at Royal Holloway.
Carolyn Pedwell is Associate Professor in Cultural Studies at the University of Kent, where she is Head of Cultural Studies and Media. Carolyn has been Visiting Fellow at the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies, University of Sydney; the Centre for the History of Emotions, Queen Mary University of London; and the Gender Institute, London School of Economics. She is the author of Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy (Palgrave, 2014) and Feminism, Culture and Embodied Practice (Routledge, 2010). Her new book, Transforming Habit: Revolution, Routine and Social Change, is under contract with McGill-Queen’s University Press. Carolyn is also an Editor of Feminist Theory journal.
Redell and Carolyn will be reading from their works and then joining one another in conversation and taking questions from you, the audience.
S A L O N events are designed to bring our speakers together but also our audience together. At 8:15 we will continue our discussions at the drinks reception in one of the adjacent spaces.
So to begin the evening, please join me in extending a warm welcome to Redell Olsen.
With the rise of new digital and smart technologies, it has been claimed, ‘the human’ itself has been fundamentally re-mediated. For some, this is problematic: digitally colonized by global capitalism at the level of affect, gesture and habit, it is argued, we are now locked into cycles of mindless consumption and thus increasingly politically disaffected and disengaged.
There are also, however, more hopeful visions of these new digital modes of personhood and their latent potentialities: Michael Serres (2015), for example, argues that,in delegating habits of mental synthesizing and processing to digital technologies, millennials have cleared cognitive space for the development of a more ‘inventive’ and ‘intuitive’ mode of being-in-the-world.
A key term in both early twentieth-century philosophies of habit and more recent theories of affect, intuition offers a form of sensorial engagement with 'the pre-emergent’ or that which is in process – it is ‘a moment of our own duration that enables us to connect with a wider one’ (Kember and Zylynska, 2012: 15).
While there is no necessary link between intuition and progressive social transformation, there are, I want to suggest, significant resonances between the ‘intuitive digital subjects’ that Serres imagines and the logics and sensibilities of new movements for social justice - from Occupy, to Black Lives Matter to the various forms of feminist, queer, trans and anti-fascist mobilisation gaining momentum in the wake of Trumpism.
Vitally enabled by digital technologies and forms of technè, these overlapping activisms each, in different ways, practice‘pre-figurative politics’: Led by a tendency to oppose various forms of exploitation and oppression, they also seek to become attuned to change as it is happening and thus remain radically open to the alternative forms that different futures might take.
Hear the full paper, entitled "Habits of Solidarity: Digital Culture, Intuition and New Social Movements," at the launch of S A L O N - LONDON on November 3rd, 2017.