The fourth series of ReadingRoom is currently running, discussing un/learning: the p/re/distribution of knowledge. This series asks how we host, organize, and maintain knowledge and, more broadly, will take up questions concerning access to, institutionalization of, and the distribution of knowledge in its many forms. For feminist, decolonial and anti-capitalist struggles, the p/re/distribution of knowledges – linked to un/learning our habits of embodied thinking and acting – is a key tool of critical practice. Who has left what ‘unread’? How can we and what must we unread for the re/distribution of knowledge? And how to p/re/distribute what is or could become common/ing? This series is in part inspired by the exhibition project The Library of Unread Books by Heman Chong and Renée Staal at Casco Art Institute (26 November 2017 – 25 February 2018).
In our first meeting, we discussed un/learning from artistic, decolonizing and feminist angles. In our other meetings, we take ‘phenomena’ – ‘mountains’ (March), ‘waste’ (May) and ‘time’ (June) as topics per session – to un/learn them from different perspectives and for commoning in the anthropocene. Can we un/learn our relations with these phenomena? Tell other stories, relate otherwise?
Session One: Wednesday, 14 February 2018
We started by asking: What does it mean to un/read and un/learn in the present, to not only sense what has remained in the underground, but also un-read old ways of meaning-mattering? We read “Critique as Unlearning” by Sreshta Rit Premnath (2016), “An Interview with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak” by Sara Danius, Stefan Jonsson, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (1993) and the first chapter of Jacques Rancière, The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation (1991).
Artist and founding member of Read-In Annette Krauss joined us as a special guest. She has been working on questions of un/learning for many years (see the artistic research project with the Casco team Site for Unlearning (Art Organization)).
This session followed the screening of the film The Joycean Society by Dora García (2013). According to Brussels-based production and distribution platform Auguste Orts, “‘The Joycean Society’ tells the story of a group of people who have been reading a book together for thirty years. (…) The text appears inexhaustible, its interpretation endless, the inconclusive nature of the reading exciting.”
Session Two: Tuesday, 27 March 2018
This meeting was dedicated to “un/learning” a specific phenomenon: mountains. We were trying to explore the perspectives on mountains along De la Cadena’s notion of divergence which “refers to the coming together of heterogeneous practices that will become other than what they were, while continuing to be the same” (De la Cadena, 2015, 28). We read a selection of “Journey to Mount Tamailpais” (1986) by poet, essayist and artist Etel Adnan, Michael Mardar’s “On the Mountains, or the Aristocracies of Space” (2012) and Marisol de la Cadena’s “Earth Beings. Ecologies of Practice Across Andean Worlds” (2015). A news item on Mount Taranaki (New Zealand) gaining the same legal rights as a person offered yet another perspective on relating to mountains differently.