Summer School 2024
26.08.2024 — 30.08.2024
Summer School
26.08.2024 — 30.08.2024

An eco-feminist summer school at West Den Haag. The social contact and the felt world - care, labour, touch, togetherness and symbiosis

Instructors: Suzana Milevska (MK), Sibylle Peters (DE), Melissa Steckbauer (US/DE) , The Zangles (BE), Ji Yoon Yang (KR), Baruch Gottlieb (CA/DE)

Applications + info:

The summer school is open to artists, theorists, and others of all ages from 18-75 who are interested in developing their practices in a radically transdisciplinary framework, working through their own bodily sensibilities and their social imbrications in an environment of mutual respect and support. This school is convened by Baruch Gottlieb and Ji Yoon Yang.

Learning goals: The 6th in our series of radically transdisciplinary summer schools transforming theory into practice through embodied thinking, situated knowledge and engaged criticality. This year we will explore the physical dimension of care, care for oneself, for Others, in groups and in modes that transcend social urgency.

Vision: Touching and being touched, takes place on touchy territory. The expression 'touchy-feely' verbalizes the vexed and complex feelings associated with physical closeness and contact in a world of modern individuals. At once, touch is desired and needed, but preferably under conditions that one oneself determines. Touch can also arouse unexpected or inconvenient feelings which need time and space to feel out and learn from. Or, the desired touch is not available, or inhibited by socio-political conventions or conditions, and can become awkward, shamed, or emotionally overloaded.

The pandemic brought an acute awareness of the importance of touch. Artists are responding to this new urgency and need. Physical care is stigmatised in its relation to persistent capitalist extraction and becomes, one one hand disdained and disparaged, and on the other fetishizes and hypersexualized. As Amia Srinivasan has described it, physical intimacy is conditioned by prevailing distributions of power, what bell hooks has named ‘white-supremacist-capitalist-patriarchy'. No matter where one finds oneself in the prevailing hierarchy, Srinivasan argues, one’s perceived desires and needs are not fully one’s own as long as one does not recognize this political conditioning.

Troubled and alienated, physical touch, contact, care become commodities. Care work undergirds hypermodernity, often overlooked and unpaid, happening close at hand and around the world. Historian Silvia Federici argues that without this component of human productivity, which she calls 'reproductive labour', all societies would cease to function. Reproductive labour is practised throughout society, from workplaces to the home, comforting, caring and sustaining the productivity of the labour force. Reproductive labour has become a global commodity that exploits households from the Global South to sustain the households from the Global North. Today it is professionalized and outsourced and subjected to the pressures of the labour market. Working with the concept of 'captive maternal' from Joy James we will examine how care takes place even under the most dire and hopeless circumstances.

In this summer school we will care about the tactile, somatic, felt dimensions of reproductive labour and its significance for contemporary art practices. We aim to share art practices as prototype transgressive modes of attending to urgent social unease around physical care which threatens to destabilise and debilitate communities.

Through methods from visual arts, performance, theater, therapeutic methods such as Reiki, and more, we will resonate our impressions through new disciplinary frameworks and approaches. Some sessions feature performative exercises designed to provide an opportunity for participants to feel out and synthesise their ideas and thoughts and share with the group. There will also be sessions designed to provisionally externalise new knowledge and ideas individually and in groups.

References: Sara Ahmed, Lauren Berlant, bell hooks, Jane Elizabeth Fisher, Virginia Wolff, Silvia Federici, Joy James, Amia Srinivasan

Keywords: Somatic thinking, reproductive labour, feminist art practice, new institutionality, voice, touch, intimacy, care

The West Summer School 2024 is limited to 25 participants. There is a participant fee of € 175,- incl. lunches (student € 95,-). The program will be held in English. We will gather in the garden and auditorium at West in The Hague.

To apply, please e-mail Kevin Jansen: before July 15th with a short motivation letter. If successful, you will receive a confirmation before the end of July. The Summer School is for participants only. For more info about the application process email: