in Curating, Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK)
Metabolic Art Criticism
Lecturer: Rosalyn D’Mello
This course attests to and celebrates the empowering potential of a genre of art criticism that embraces the centrality of the self as receiver and synthesiser of the diverse external stimuli that infuse the context within which art is conceived of, produced, exhibited and critiqued. It is rooted in the rigorous practice of continually examining our consciousness as a way of presencing our emotional response to art, thus revealing our individual subjective biases and tendencies. For instance, what compels us to be drawn to or moved by some art, what drives our repulsion towards others; what prompts us to feel triggered by certain artworks and overjoyed by others? What is the role of patriarchal, capitalist and race-based conditioning in unwittingly determining mainstream aesthetics, inevitably informing our gaze.
The course proposes an immersive, performative methodology focussed on (re)building one’s capacity for radical sensual attentiveness. Through carefully selected readings and exercises, we will examine the intersecting political structures that frame how we see what we see, if and when we see; thus better understanding what occasions our witness by interrogating and challenging prevailing norms about what is validly considered art; who is allowed to be an artist, and our agency, as art critics, in shaping these questions. Metabolic art criticism is invested in generating theory from lived experience by processing the orality of the anecdotal and dwelling on possible orthographical renderings of the incidental. By reimagining art criticism as an act of bearing witness through the narrativising of the self, the course will offer participants an opportunity to reflect on what constitutes their current mode of art criticism and whether it can be enhanced through a re-situating of selfhood; through a vital consideration of the reader as an active recipient of this experiential rendering; and by provocatively espousing criticism as a way of locating and translating sensual aesthetic pleasure. The course champions alternative forms of art criticism, from memoir to the epistolary to poetry and exposes participants to an unconventional, cross-cultural reading list with various forms of texts that will allow us to fine-tune our capacity for empathy and empower us with tools by which to access the recesses of our critical subjectivity.
Rosalyn D’Mello (she/her) is a feminist writer, art critic, columnist, essayist, editor and researcher. She is the author of A Handbook for My Lover. She writes a weekly feminist column for mid-day, a fortnightly one on contemporary art for STIR, and regularly contributes to OPEN. She is an Ocean Fellowship Mentor for 2021. She is presently working on a book for Oxford University Press based on her visits to South Asian artists’ studios, thanks to an India Foundation for the Arts research grant. Her freelance writing has been internationally published and anthologised. She is represented by David Godwin Associates.
Having grown up in Mumbai and having lived in Delhi for almost a decade, Rosalyn is now based in South Tyrol, Italy, where she braves harsh alpine winters by harnessing her sensual memories of Goan sunshine.
Preparation for the course:
Please use a headset (or headphones) and stay in a quiet place with a stable internet connection. Please read the texts which you will get access to once you have booked the course.
This intensive two-part direct live teaching course will be held over Zoom on two consecutive Saturdays, 2–6pm CET. Please prepare a very short introduction of yourself. The first session will be used for an in-depth introduction to the topic, and workshop research. Assignments will be given for the second session. Feedback and evaluation will be given in the second session. After successful completion, a certificate with 1 ECTS point will be handed out.
Download the Zoom application. You will find a detailed installation guide here. Zoom can be also used in a browser window on a Mac, PC, iPad, iPhone, Android tablet or Android phone. You will find a Zoom invitation with a link to access the workshop.