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FORMATIONS

FORMATIONS is an experimental working group, consisting of practitioners from varying disciplines, including the arts, philosophy, climate change research, computational biology, yoga, urban design, cultural and literary studies, and political activism, led by Melanie Sehgal and Alex Martinis Roe. The experimental set-up of this group aims at a practical response to the insufficiency of modern categories of thought and practice in the face of our contemporary condition. Modern bifurcations – of nature and culture, body and mind, sex and gender – have been subject to extensive theoretical critique, but they persist, nevertheless, particularly in institutionalized spaces. Starting out from this diagnosis FORMATIONS is an attempt to re-learn to speak with one another across disciplinary divides and to create meaningful responses to the world, which traverse specialized habits of thought and action. However, our point is not to get rid of disciplines and specialization, rather to contribute to reshaping them in relation to the problems that force us to think today. Thus in our work of the past year, we have been experimenting with existing methodologies in order to enlarge and transform them while keeping the parts that are productive for our concerns. Working as a closed group over a continuous stretch of time provided a continuity and the possibility for in-depth engagement which we feel to be necessary for a meaningful transdisciplinary conversation. In the past year, we have been meeting for daylong workshops that were structured around two participants’ practices. We began from analyses of each practitioner’s specific methods, focusing on aspects in which the limits of disciplinary and institutionalized boundaries had already become manifest, rather than defining a common project in advance. This commitment to situated knowledges in the structure of our working group was a way to redress the absence of such a space for dialogue in the institutions and industries that frame our various practices. In the workshop set-up we experimented with the dispositive of each of these gatherings, that is their discursive, spatial, temporal and other material conditions and tried to inductively and speculatively find points of convergence and divergence between the two practices in focus, while involving the other practices, too. Félix Guattaris notion of the The Three Ecologies was a helpful tool in order to generate questions that traverse accustomed habits of thought. In this way, FORMATIONS is trying to create a different cartography of our practices of knowledge production, exploring and inventing intersections between them in order to rework our current frames and practices.