Public assemblies on the space and time of epidemics
First assembly – Tuning In: 29/10 to 31/10/2021
Second assembly – Sounding Out: 26/11 to 28/11/2021
“Is there a way,” Judith Butler asked in 2003, “that we might struggle for autonomy in many spheres, yet also consider the demands that are imposed upon us by living in a world of beings who are, by definition, physically dependent on one another?” Epidemics make us vulnerable – but recognizing the political nature of this condition is a way toward imagining a different existence along other humans and non-humans.
Vulnerable Beings builds on long-term research by Andrea Bagnato and Ivan L. Munuera, taking infectious diseases as a lens to think about space and cohabitation. In a two-part public assembly at maat, guests from different disciplines and backgrounds will come together, for a dense sequence of lectures, dialogues, performances, screenings, and music.
Contagion is always a function of proximity – a proximity that is starting to be uncomfortable, as capitalist ecological devastation makes epidemics more frequent. Protocols to control contagion – what is defined as public health – have historically reshaped buildings and cities. But outside the West, public health was also a tool of colonial oppression, violence, and segregation. Even within the West, subjects and social groups that did not follow the “norm” were structurally excluded, as the ongoing HIV/AIDS pandemic made visible.
Vulnerable Beings will ask how epidemiological knowledge is produced and spatialized, and whom it excludes; how the language around illness and health can be re-signified, to do away with oppressive metaphors; and how to learn from past and present forms of collective organizing in the face of suffering.
This is the first part of a multi-sited project curated by Andrea Bagnato and Ivan L. Munuera, which will continue with Contact Zones, an exhibition opening in the summer 2022 at La Casa Encendida.
Some of the outcomes and proceedings will be available on maat ext. (extended) and on the museum’s youtube channel.
Andrea Bagnato has been researching architecture, ecology, and epidemiology since 2013, under the long-term project Terra Infecta. Among the project's outcomes are a book on infected landscapes in Mediterranean Italy (with Anna Positano; forthcoming by Humboldt Books), the book A Moving Border: Alpine Cartographies of Climate Change (with Marco Ferrari and Elisa Pasqual; Columbia/ZKM, 2019), as well as lectures and an essay series. Andrea has been teaching on these subjects at Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam and at the Architectural Association in London. As a book editor, he worked for the Sharjah Architecture Triennial, Forensic Architecture, and the Chicago Architecture Biennial.
Ivan L. Munuera is a New York-based scholar, critic, and curator working at the intersection of culture, technology, politics, and bodily practices in the modern period and on the global stage. In 2020, he was awarded the Harold W. Dodds Fellowship at Princeton University. This fellowship recognises scholars displaying the highest academic excellence and professional promise. He has curated exhibitions at Museo Reina Sofía (The Schizos, 2009), Ludwig Museum (ACAX Residency, 2010), and CA2M (Pop Politics, 2012-2013); and developed a series of projects, including The Restroom Pavilion / Your Restroom is a Battleground (Venice Architecture Biennale, 2021), Bauhauswelle (Floating University Berlin, 2018) and Chromanoids (Istanbul Design Biennale, 2016; Seoul Biennial of Architecture and Urbanism, 2017).