Across six sessions, the study group Conjugating Worlds: Multi-Species Corporealities seeks to investigate alternative models in cultural and art theory, and in artistic practices, which radically challenge the relationship between animals and humans.
Underpinned by a cultural rather than biological reasoning, these relationships have gone through different stages in Western culture, in which animals have been perceived as a direct threat or possible predator, a sacred, mythological or superhuman figure, a food source, resource, ally or energy support for work, an object of entertainment and, finally, a pet or a companion that is progressively humanised. With advances in the observation of microscopic life forms, our notions of the animal kingdom expand as they are also thrown into crisis: living microscopic creatures, viruses and bacteria or the chemical compounds of living beings are today still a threat to life (infection, plagues) and a support for it (vaccines); a quasi-sacred figure which invokes our sexual identity (hormones) a food prosthesis of human well-being (vitamins, probiotics) or a possible direct source of energy (phytoplankton or algae). The list of possibilities is almost endless, but in all cases the asymmetric relationship between humans and animals built on every scale for centuries remains virtually intact.
Research into animals’ spatial environment by German biologist Jakob von Uexküll, conducted in the early decades of the twentieth century, and converging fully with developments in historical avant-garde art movements, were sufficiently reflexive, transversal and long-lasting to directly impact thinkers of the human condition like Martin Heidegger, Ortega y Gasset, Gilles Deleuze and Giorgio Agamben. The substantial legacy of Uexküll spread across the century and connected animals’ space to the human communication system: language. Uexküll’s descriptive semiotic model on the environment clashes, however, with proposals by Anthropocene researchers such as Donna Haraway, Vinciane Despret and Rosi Braidotti. With the notions of wild thought, human-animal coproduction and the between-zone core topics for discussion, this study group puts forward research around the said clash via sessions moderated by guest researchers María Auxiliadora Gálvez, Ana Harcha Cortés, María Jerez, María Teresa Muñoz, Susana Velasco and Silvia Zayas.
Conjugating Worlds: Multi-Species Corporealities is the continuation of the study group Body, Territory and Conflict, which took place from October 2020 to March 2021. The study group will be coordinated by Fernando Quesada, a member of the collective ARTEA, with its thematic programme linked to the research project The New Loss of Centre. Critical Practices in Live Arts and Architecture in the Anthropocene, funded by Spain’s Ministry of Science and Innovation.
Thursday, 10 February 2022
People say a couple of Eurasian magpies dominate the Museo Reina Sofía Garden, and, at most, a few Passer domesticus and Turdus merula also live with them
—Moderated by María Jerez
Thursday, 24 February 2022
—Moderated by María Auxiliadora Gálvez
Thursday, 17 March 2022
—Moderated by Susana Velasco
Thursday, 7 April 2022
Cages and Traps, Between Social Construct and Architectural Form
—Moderated by María Teresa Muñoz
Thursday, 21 April 2022
Their Mouths Are the Head for the Dark
—Moderated by Silvia Zayas
Thursday, 26 May 2022
Pluriverse Corporealities: How to Create Wild Lives?
—Moderated by Ana Harcha Cortés
María Auxiliadora Gálvez holds a PhD in Architecture and is a landscapist who teaches the Feldenkrais method. Between 2006 and 2010, she was a coordinator for Panama in the International Cooperation Project for Social Housing developed by the Andalusian Government. In 2016, she founded the Applied Somatics Platform for Architecture and Landscape (PSAAP). She is a lecturer at the Advanced Polytechnic School of the CEU San Pablo University in Madrid, and on two occasions she has been selected for the Venice Biennale and has received different international awards, most notably in the 6th, 7th and 9th editions of EUROPAN. Her research into the use of somatics as a tool and place of discovery has resulted in the books Espacio somático. Cuerpos múltiples (Ediciones asimétricas, 2019) and Descampados: caminando la ciudad somática (2022).
Ana Harcha Cortés is a performer, playwright, researcher and stage creator. Her work focuses on manifestations of theatres linked to the political, politics and performance, and she is part of the Theatre Department in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Chile, where she coordinates the Nucleus of Research and Art Creation, Politics and Community. She is also a contributor with the research group ARTEA.
María Jerez is an artist whose work is situated between choreography, film and the visual arts. Her recent works question theatre and film conventions and the spectator’s implicit understanding of them, opening potential spaces through encounters with that which the spectator finds strange and alien and establishing blurred edges between that which is known and unknown, between object and subject, the animate and the inanimate. Her work seeks to escape logocentric and anthropocentric logics, where human knowledge becomes something vulnerable before other enigmatic and complex ecosystems.
María Teresa Muñoz is an architect who holds a PhD in Architecture from Madrid’s School of Architecture and an MA in Architecture from the University of Toronto (Canada). She has worked as a professor of Architectural Projects at Madrid’s School of Architecture and is currently professor emeritus at the Polytechnic University of Madrid. She is the author of numerous essays on architecture and art criticism, and her most recent publications include Jaulas y Trampas. Escritos sobre arquitectura y arte 2000-2012 (Lampreave, Madrid, 2013), Textos críticos (Ediciones Asimétricas, Madrid, 2018) and Escritos sobre la invisibilidad (Abada Editores, Madrid, 2018). Furthermore, she has worked as a coordinator and manager of the critical edition of the Aesthetic Interpretation of Megalithic American Statuary. A Letter to the Artists of America. On New Post-War Art by Jorge Oteiza (Fundación Museo Jorge Oteiza, 2007) and in 2008 received the FAD Award for Thought and Critique for the book Juan Daniel Fullaondo. Escritos críticos (Mairea Libros, 2007).
Fernando Quesada is an architect and head lecturer in Architectural Projects at the University of Alcalá de Henares. He has also been part of the research-creation group ARTEA since its inception. His research work focuses on two major fields: the theory and history of modern and contemporary architecture, and its relationship with stage arts and performance, and the main lines of work in this critical framework are the body, biopolitics, spatiality and social theatricality. His most recent publications notably include Tecnopastoralismo. Ensayos y proyectos en torno a la Arcadia tecnificada (Ediciones Asimétricas, 2020) and Mobile Theater. Architectural Counterculture on Stage (Actar Publishers, 2021).
Susana Velasco holds a PhD in Architecture and is an artist and lecturer at the Advanced Technical School of Architecture in Madrid. Her works seek to give materiality to the links between communities and landscapes via projects such as Cámara solar / Ermita del santo Isidro in Herreruela, Cáceres, and the Pequeño Museo Comunal in Almonaster la Real, Huelva. These works are part of a long-term research project which aims to articulate sensitivity and awareness around the interdependent world we inhabit and compiles the testimonies of ancient communities. Her work has been on view at a number of institutions, for instance the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León (MUSAC), Matadero Madrid, La Casa Encendida and the Museo Reina Sofía. Her most recent works notably include research on the Garonne River and the reconstruction of imaginaries which have come together in the work La nave del tiempo: un archivo común. (The Ship of Time: A Common Archive).
Silvia Zayas is an artist who works at the limits of live arts, film and expanded choreography. She searches for hybrid forms of research and artistic production, for instance in her project Jumping Scales (Matadero Madrid, 2018). Her works most notably include Talking pictures (2018), with Esperanza Collado and, from 2021, the films Brilliant Corners, with the collective Orquestina de Pigmeos, Puebla, with María Jerez, and the stage piece U. Recently, she has developed a line of work around the perception of other species and sub-aquatic communication, in collaboration with two marine biologists, Michel André and Claudio Barría, the results of which are displayed in the exhibition ê (in the Depth of Field programme, Matadero Madrid, 2020–2021) and the project ruido ê (Fondation Daniel et Nina Carasso, 2021–2023).
Education programme developed with the sponsorship of the