Adding Insult to Injury: Bodies and their Objects

Salwa Aleryani
Adding Insult to Injury: Bodies and their Objects

Online seminar, English, 2 SWS, 2 ECTS
Mondays, 14-17:30 h, bi-weekly, 7 video sessions: 19.4., 3.5., 17.5., 31.5., 14.6., 28.6., 12.7.2021
Mixture of video sessions, solo/group activities, and excursion if permitted.

For as long as human bodies have endured crises, objects have followed suit — sometimes ahead. In the last few years, bodies and their objects have been at the center of theoretical and political debate. From restitution to deportation, to cultural appropriation and self-representation, to toppled monuments and renamed streets.

During a talk held in Berlin in 2016, anthropologist Arjun Appadurai argued that objects are not often discussed in terms of their journey from their sites of origin to their current destinations, but rather are made into tools of representation and relics of other ways of living. A vital part of their biography is lost through this journey of passage. Their agency is stripped away and they are placed under a microscope, valued for certain histories while erasing others.

In this course we will explore this topic through a combination of discussions and creative exercises —guided by readings (e.g. excerpts from Ines and Eyal Weizman’s “Before and After”, T. J. Demo’s “The Migrant Image”), artworks (e.g. Shadi Abdel Salam’s “The Night of Counting the Years”, Ulay’s “There is a Criminal Touch to Art”), recent events, as well as our own practices. Examples of exercises include, among others, choosing an object (of any medium or form, of our own making or found) and imagining it as having undergone a ‘before’ and ‘after’ transformation and attaching a story or explanation.

We will consider speculative and real conditions, as well as the many lives — potential and interrupted — that objects move through. The course will address ‘objects’ in their expanded sense, crossing occasionally into images, music, fashion, and design. Students are encouraged to bring in examples from their own positions, fields of practice, and experiences. Altogether we will reflect on how, across our various creative disciplines, we might contribute to questions of human and non-human agency.

Requirements for the ungraded Studium Generale credits:  Active and regular participation in discussions and activities as well as engagement with the group. There are no prerequisites to taking this course.

Salwa Aleryani is a visual artist working primarily with found and made objects. Her work follows an interest in sites and infrastructures, and in notions of hope and promise in building and rebuilding. In the past years, she has been a fellow at the Home Workspace Program at Ashkal Alwan (Beirut), and an artist in residence at Künstlerhaus Bethanien (Berlin), MASS (Alexandria), and Dar al-Ma’mûn (Marrakesh). Her work has been shown at MMAG (Amman), Savvy Contemporary (Berlin), Werkleitz Festival (Halle), and Jogja Biennale XII (Yogyakarta), among others. Salwa holds an MFA from Savannah College of Art and Design. Currently she is a fellow at the Berlin Center for Advanced Studies in Arts and Sciences at UdK Berlin where she is working on Variations on pressure, or a thought for your penny.