The course will be taught jointly by Eduardo Staszowski (Parsons School of Design) and Virginia Tassinari (Politecnico di Milano / LUCA / KU Leuven) and offered simultaneously to graduate students at the different institutions. We welcome graduate students from all fields including fine arts and design, creative writing, performance, public policy and the social sciences.
In order to respond to the current and wide-ranging systemic, social, economic, political, and environmental challenges and interrupt the narrative of catastrophe, we need to open up other possibilities of thinking and acting in the world. The old division between the theoretical focus of the social sciences and the practical stance integral to art and design practices is dissolving. Apart, they are simply not capacious enough to curtail disaster let alone to do what is equally necessarily required, i.e., engender processes of transformation towards less destructive ways of being. All this prompts the necessity of new transdisciplinary models which attempt to think what-is and what-could-be not in terms of a struggle between irreconcilable moments—“theory” and “practice”—but in terms of what lies, relationally between. The aim of this course is in part to overcome this gap and open up a space for inquiry on how to think/act in dark times. A space that gives form to discourses that are radical in its criticism and affirm other possibilities through proposition and aesthetic discovery: a critical praxis which acts as an operational critique. We see this course as a dialogue between students and faculty. Classes are structured around a series of readings, discussions and exercises engaging with key issues from contemporary philosophy, sociology and anthropology (e.g. Haraway, Badiou, Tsing, Rancière, Ingold, Arendt, Viveiros de Castro, Stengers, Latour, Puig de la Bellacasa, etc.) stressing where those discourses interplay with those currently developed through artistic and design practices. Learning from these, students work in groups to curate and examine situations, modes of life, ways of dealing with material and social human needs and discuss new potentialities, categories, models and capacities to transform our relationship with socio-technical and natural systems.