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Vancouver
Steffanie Ling
Sensing Salon at Artspeak
December 06, 2017

Sensing Salon, a collaborative work by Valentina Desideri and Denise Ferreira da Silva at Artspeak, is presented as an index of materials that reference the array of subjects excavated in a program of events. The artists have invited long-term collaborators and local artists (Justine A. Chambers, Amalle Dublon, Stefano Harney, Mariana Marcassas, Constantina Zavitsanos, and Byron Peters) to lead study groups and workshops with allusive titles such as Elemental Panel and Poethical Readings to explore political theory, sound journeys, and the restorative qualities of study. Many of the workshops are concerned with healing practices such as astrology, Reiki, tarot, and herbal remedies. This might reflect an ongoing fascination with New Age practices in contemporary art, but it also invites a critical relationship to the personal self through these familiar modes of therapy.



Valentina Desideri and Denise Ferreira da Silva, Sensing Salon

What is meant by “a critical relationship to the personal self”? Sensing Salon has the shell of a pedagogical structure and includes discursive formats that generate expectations for edification. However, the artists seem to advocate for anti-education, since we know the education system is the fallen prey of marketing consultants and policymakers, built on the dubious virtuosity of personal composure, logistical functionality, transparency, and efficiency. That “virtuosity” stands in opposition to the healing practices the Salon cites. These practices provide a methodology to grapple with the nature of "falling apart" – perhaps to counter the productive virtues that buttress the capitalist present.

The personal self might be the part of us that draws us to rituals like astrology and tarot, but a critical relationship to this self might raise the question of the origins of that attraction. What is it about our material conditions that motivate our identification with these playfully prophetic engagements? In Sensing Salon, that may be enacted by this intuitive and simultaneous study of political consciousness and yes, astrology too.

I’m still not sure what I mean by having a critical relationship to the personal self, but I take it to be a starting point for forgiving ourselves for having a body, as well as a mind fraught with critique and political consciousness. That is something that can be difficult to realize without relenting in our commitment to the non-libidinal tête-à-têtes of conventional rigor.


Valentina Desideri & Denise Ferreira da Silva: Sensing Salon continues until December 17.
Artspeak: http://artspeak.ca/
The gallery is partially accessible.


Steffanie Ling's essays, criticism, and art writing have been published alongside exhibitions, in print, and online in Canada, the United States, and Europe. She is an editor of Charcuterie and co-curator at VIVO Media Arts Centre. Her books are Nascar (Blank Cheque, 2016) and Cuts of Thin Meat (Spare Room, 2015). She is Akimblog’s Vancouver correspondent and can be followed on Twitter and Instagram @steffbao.

 

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