What if the feel of a poem was not just emotional, but tactile? How do we sense entanglement? Can the knotting of ropes according to a poem’s rhythm make the social pulse of language matter?
Gravitational Feel is a sculpture-performance by Fred Moten and Wu Tsang, who together cohabit the roles of poet and performance artist. The work continues their collaboration on the poetics of intimacy and is a research-experiment into how to sense entanglement. Using fabric and sound, Gravitational Feel produces a series of ‘chance events’ as an experiment in blurring the social and physical significance of touch and voice, as well as questions of space and time in matter.
Gravitational Feel is part of Arika’s Episode 10: A Means Without End running Wed 20 – Sun 24 Nov. MORE>
Tangentially: Gravitational Feel makes you wonder about Incan Khipu. When they first encountered them, European colonists thought Khipu (also known as ‘talking knots’: collections of multi-coloured, knotted ropes) were number systems used for administrative purposes like taxation or census, or in military campaigns. Indigenous scholars now believe they had a much richer, more linguistic use of number, capable of transmitting administrative information but also mapping pilgrimage routes or acting as memory tools in retelling oral histories. In movement, the knotted ropes of Gravitational Feel allude toward these differences between how Western and Indigenous minds understood number, matter and language.
"Friendship is a series of ‘spooky actions at a distance’ – the smaller the distance, the spookier the actions become.”
If you ask him, Fred Moten might say that what people often think of as his poetic and philosophical thinking and writing — about fugitivity, blackness, and blur — isn’t his at all. It’s better conceived as a temporary and fleeting emanation of open-ended friendships within the black radical tradition, queer and indigenous worldviews, the music of blackness, and sites of care. Most often, these have included Stefano Harney, Laura Harris or Wu Tsang, but also hundreds of others.
Wu Tsang is a filmmaker and performance artist who combines documentary and narrative techniques with fantastical detours into the imaginary in works that explore hidden histories, marginalised narratives, and the act of performing itself. Tsang re-imagines racialised, gendered representations beyond the visible frame to encompass the multiple and shifting perspectives through which we experience the social realm.
Poet, critic and cultural scholar Fred Moten, features throughout this Episode, contributing key ideas to the nuanced connections between poetics, particles and maths. Fred Moten co-authored The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning ">in a talk on Wed 20 Nov.
Gravitational Feel was commissioned by If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution, as part of Corpus, network for performance practice. Corpus is Bulegoa z/b (Bilbao), Contemporary Art Centre (Vilnius), If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution (Amsterdam), KW Institute for Contemporary Art (Berlin), Playground (STUK Kunstencentrum & M-Museum, Leuven) and Tate Modern (London). Corpus is co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.