Since 2020, the Syllabus reading Group is organized by Kunsthal Gent around the work ‘Syllabus’ by Irish artist Jesse Jones: a monumental curtain with the arm of Silvia Federici, creating a space for (activist) gathering.
This season's reading groups, organized in collaboration with Jesse Jones and feminist researcher Barbara Mahlknecht, worked towards a live Syllabus Summer School Retreat in Kunsthal Gent, from Thursday 21 July to Sunday 24 July, around the central theme: How can we return to a space of shared cultural communality after two years of isolation?
With Jesse Jones, Sara O'Rourke, Barbara Mahlknecht, Fiona Hallinan, Marianne Schapmans, Lieve Van Stappen, Danielle van Zuijlen and others
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In preparation of the Summer School Retreat, Kunsthal Gent welcomes artist Jesse Jones en researcher Sara O’Rourke. During their stay, they will take up a studio (het Oud Huis) to further explore how this project might evolve in a post pandemic future.
The reading group has looked at how the Covid19 pandemic has created a sense of ongoing insecurity, exhaustion and isolation. But some have shared how we have experienced opportunities opening up for us to care for ourselves and others. More than ever, we need to develop tools for collective care. Based on Barbara Mahlknecht's research into the struggles of Wages for Housework in 1970s Italy, she offers a series of curatorial frameworks that invite us into embodied and collective exercises and explorations. These revolve around stillness and movement, proposed in dialogue with artist and educator Shabari Rao, and include collective reflections of the conditions, limitations and potentials of (health) care in the wake of the pandemic.
Jesse Jones lives and works in Dublin, she studied sculpture at the National College of Art and design and completed a Masters in IADT in 2005. Her work consists of multidisciplinary video installations, using film, sculpture, performance and print. She represented Ireland at the 2017 Venice Biennale with "Tremble Tremble", which explored the archetype of the witch as a political and symbolic figure. Her current exhibition "The Tower" is on view at Rua Red Gallery. This film installation focuses on medieval mystics as proto-feminists who seek to resonate with our contemporary struggle to deal with vestiges of shame and patriarchy through surrealism and affect. Jones' work consists of emersive film experiences that explore our shared, unconscious and symbolic world through archetype and ritual. International solo shows include; Guggenheim Bilbao and most recently Samstag Museum Australia, Artsonje Seoul, Her work is currently on display at "Come Alive" Utrecht.
Sara O'Rourke is a PhD researcher in the Department of Anthropology at Maynooth University, Ireland. Her work explores feminist symbolism in contemporary art in Ireland, with a particular focus on the witch, the body and performance. Her research practice includes performance and collaborations with various artists. O'Rourke holds a Masters degree in Anthropology and Poetics. She also currently works at the literary magazine The Stinging Fly. She starred in: Jesse Jones' "Tremble Tremble" (Venice Biennale, 2017), Project Arts Centre (2018) and "The Tower" (Rua Red Art Gallery, 2022). She was Anthropologist in Residence in artist Rachel Fallon's project "The Mother City" (Cork Midsummer Festival, 2022).
Fiona Hallinan is an artist and researcher based between Belgium and Ireland. She is interested in themes of hospitality, traces, thresholds, care and critical pedagogy and often works with food as part of her practice, cooking and organising meals. Through a doctoral project and artistic practice, she explores the coming-into-being of Ultimology, the study of that which is dead or dying (death here encompassing both the end of life and the passing into irrelevance, redundancy or extinction of material and immaterial entities), as a tool for transformative discourse.
Barbara Mahlknecht is a feminist researcher, curator and educator. Mahlknecht focuses on the history and possibilities of feminist politics around social reproduction and care. She has worked as a lecturer at the Institute for Education in the Arts (2014-2019) and recently as a senior researcher at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (2020-22). Mahlknecht was appointed Graduate Research Tutor and Supervisor at the master's programme in the arts at the Piet Zwart Institute / Willem De Kooning Academy, Rotterdam (2017-2019). Recent projects include: How to Change Everything. The Politics of Feminist Strike, Radical Care and Artivism (Fluc/Vienna, 2022); the panel Activating the Archive. Artistic Politics, Feminist Viewpoints (Goldsmith University London, 2019) and the collaborative workshop Lying Down & Looking Upwards Queer Dis/orientations, Embodied Collective Practices, led with Jessie McLaughlin and Romeo Gongora (Goldsmith University London, 2018.) She is an associate editor for the upcoming publication Hungry for Time by Raqs Media Collective / Shveta Sarda, Spector Books, Leipzig 2022.