Who are we:
Ishwari Bhalerao & Leonie Rousham
We are artists in our final year of university. At this point, our context for the first half of 2020 is very much centred at the intersection of systems and institutions of arts and education. Ideas of Kneed are rooted in trying to find understand (and cope with) the state of arts/education in the face of the University having now become a space which prioritises and emphasises the neoliberal production of art. Drawing on a wealth of artists, educators and practitioners to collectively imagine and practise sustainable and de-colonial ways of making
What is Kneed?
Kneed is a resource made by Leonie Rousham and Ishwari Bhalerao to support and encourage art and cultural workers who are trying to work collectively, sustainably and with accountability. We call this ‘Collective Sustenance’. Kneed explores and questions forms of ‘kneading’; as process, labour, physicality and time and ‘needing’; as nourishment, sustenance or an expression of obligation, in order to try and imagine an alternative work/life balance. Nancy Fraser reminds us that ‘Capitalist economic production is not self-sustaining, but relies on social reproduction [care]. However, its drive to unlimited accumulation threatens to destabilize the very reproductive processes and capacities that capital and the rest of us - need’.
In light of this, through building networks, running workshops in the form of ‘silent conversations’ and a podcast series, we attempt to reflect honest and realist representations of how culture is currently sustained and what it is exhausting. On temporary billboards, dissolvable tablecloths, picket-lines and protest banners we focus on imagining an alternative trajectory of making that supplements us with what we need. Our ideas are currently rooted in trying to understand (and cope with) the state of art and architecture education under neoliberalism, creating a space which prioritises care, conversations, food and process, as a form of resistance.
In many ways Kneed is an experiment in politicising our understanding of friendship. Friendship beyond the compartmentalised realm of ‘organising’ and into our daily lives. . .experiments in creating new modes and rhythms of being and material social networks rooted in the reproduction of everyday life.
Inspired by Jackie Wang’s Carceral Capitalism, Introduction page 11-12
"Although artists and arts professionals operating in this age of rampant deregulation, privatisation, and race to the bottom tax breaks (i.e. neoliberalism), might understandably feel totally unable to effect change in the wider world, doing so within their own field is both feasible and entirely possible. This is because the system (that is the art world) is totally dependent on their participation in it to survive. By simply withdrawing their affective labour, their cultural and symbolic capital, their work from circulation within exploitative inter-institutional networks, artists and arts professionals could reclaim that power and finally torch the tired myth that moral or political compromise is always, at some level, the fundamental structural inevitability of creative practice."
An ode to the monumental; the art of forgetting/remembering; the art of fragmentation; intentionally dissolving; not saved in time; Not held. but left to loosen and be malleable. The art of being radically submissive.
Kneed acknowledges that we are moving away from pervasive and colonising western modernist ideas of time stamping, memorialising, permanence and cement. Where we once concretised ideas, histories, powers and ideologies, physically into space and a ‘forever’ into time, now we plant seeds, ones of aversion. Where we once forced the Earths exhaustion and extinction, now we make space for the soil to breath again. This is a new trajectory, that does not want a single moment/individual/space/thought to be owned, time stamped and canonised. We must rethink the materials in our hands and how we intend to use them, no longer scorching a signature into sheets of metal, longstanding representations of capitalisms current development of thought; instead we reconsider making as the art of disappearing. Kneed understands that the most sustainable thing, the thing that speaks about the future, is not the thing that lasts forever! It is the thing that has built its own dissolution, fragmentation and evolution into its existence, its close and its momentary. Its intentional, enticing and thought provoking, its radically generous, its urgent, and its powerfully submissive. The art of repurposing, reusing and the immaterial.
This shift of thought, this new trajectory, will take a new course soon, so that kneed can start to fragment; we exist within the fringe and we keep moving, malleable, loose, until we are needed no longer. We happen now and for this moment we were important, to dissolve with the knowledge that - a memory outlasts the things that forces us to remember.
We can change the way we talk and abandon everything that has come before us. We stand outside of the dominant inventing and reinventing our languages and trajectories. We bend the words in order to shape the way that we will live tomorrow. War, orchestrated by men, dominates the way we think. What happens when we unthinkingly use the language that has been handed to us? Its not the only way? Languages can also be a relic of violence. We have to be careful with how we continue it. One way of writing a new novel is to stop the novel, saying these facts, or removing the fiction or the abstraction; well why can’t the language for creativity be the language of regeneration?
Although artists and arts professionals operating in this age of rampant deregulation, privatisation, and race to the bottom tax breaks (i.e. neoliberalism), might understandably feel totally unable to effect change in the wider world, doing so within their own field is both feasible and entirely possible. This is because the system (that is the art world) is totally dependent on their participation in it to survive. By simply withdrawing their affective labour, their cultural and symbolic capital, their work from circulation within exploitative inter-institutional networks, artists and arts professionals could reclaim that power and finally torch the tired myth that moral or political compromise is always, at some level, the fundamental structural inevitability of creative practice. Morgan Quaintance
Words helped by readings of Ocean Vuong’s novel On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous and his thoughts around this. Words also influenced by Morgan Quaintance’s The New Conservatism: Complicity and the UK Art World’s Performance of Progression.
I wrote this piece coming out of the lecture on Eastern European Cities, we concluded that across the world monuments are being teared down. Post socialist or not. Its marking a time, an end of iconoclasm. In Ocean Vuong’s text they discuss wanting to share an experience about their life as a Viatnames American which is not often heard, but not wanting to do this in a way that replicates old traditions hold up by patriarchy and capitalism. Not wanting to memoralise something in time or speak to the cannon who is dead, but to someone who cannot read the language in which it is written and then that text disintegrates itself, fragments. Everything we touch on in the world is political: who gets to access it, who doesn’t. At an Emergency Summit at the Architectural Association on Friday the 4th of October we discussed the future of forever; architectures current existential crisis and its new trajectory of aversion. To stop building. No more concrete. No more building up and building more and building to last longer. No more forever. No more permanence. What about temporary, what about repurposing - designing a building that dissolves itself if 15 years time and fall back into materials that are reusable, to be altered and adapted for an inevitably changed climate. We are changing how we are thinking, we are not thinking about lasting forever, constant accumulation or production, process or progress. We are reclaiming categorises of ‘failure’, the dissolvable, the fragmented, the changing and movable and loose- using what has always been available to us as intersectional, queer women sitting outside of the hegemony. The most sustainable thing to do, is not to build or make, but to change education, language and thought. And to do this, it is not about the personal, but about the collective, not about the ego, although our questions are incredibly personal, its about understanding that these structures exist beyond around us and are interrelated, we need honest, automised realistic representations of how art is currently sustained, what it is relying upon and how to actually create, sustainable art.
What is the future of art in the face of climate change?
I find it so hard to express myself, I have to say things over again and again, until finally the person next to me understands what I mean. I rewrite the same sentence in three different ways, I re read a text over and over again, its meaning and context changing with every attempt. One piece of paper turns into five as I try to discern what is pouring our of my head but not making it through my mouth or fingers. It takes a real loss of dignity to keep going, to keep on running. No one is listening anymore. Eyes have gone sleepy and heads have turned away but still I keep trying to squeezing the words together as I know there something there, it’s just the long process of oil-ing and loosening the knots. I’m tied, and dirty by the time I’ve untangled but the relief of understanding makes the exhaustion worth while. This small smudge of acknowledgement that tells me its all ok, that fills me with excitement, an energy like no other, a warm satisfaction as I return back to the calm - until the pot boils again. This is just one way of how I would describe my experiences of the tribulations of everyday conversation. The tiresome process of finding of the right words to match the shape of a formless language brewing in my head.
Language and colonialisation- which language do you reach the word in, because of spaces in which the words are craved.
What happens when we unthinkingly use the language that has been handed to us? Its not the only way?
Languages can also be a relic of violence. We have to be careful with how we continue it.
What is the future of art in the face of climate change?
not about permanence; moments held in time, time-stamps, memoralising.