Thuistezien 126 — 24.12.2020

Femke Snelting
Making Matters

In her artist talk for the 2019 Making Matters symposium, Femke Snelting explains the practice and intentions of the Brussels based non-profit artist-run organization Constant, with the focus on how Constant deals with criticality, matter, and practice. Since 1997, Constant has worked on the intersections of feminism, collective practice, and free software: this conjunction gives rise to a special place in which the focus is on collectivity rather than individuality, carried out through the use of free software. While collectivity usually is understood as an equals practice, Constant develops methods to live, work and make with collectivity through difference, creating what they refer to as complex collectivities. Through their work sessions, these complex collective spaces are created in which people with different states, intensities, locations, etc. can work and think together. The work sessions start to operate as intellectual infrastructures where persons meet, start networks and find tools. This space is special, and highly needed because it allows participants to always come in and out — it is a porous space, not fixed by a specific endpoint or institutional borders. The knowledge they acquire in the space can rather be shared on many levels.

To give an insight in how diversely their practice outreaches Snelting discusses in brief a number of these work sessions they have held since the past 15 years. To name a few, The Techno-Galactic Software observatory, was a work session where the participants were trying to be in touch with software, thinking in a transfeminist way how things are happening by being aware that we are always entangled; In the workspace Promiscuous Pipelines, participants examined leaky pipelines while asking the question what happens when unexpected things get connected; The work session Networks with an Attitude tried to rethink network infrastructure from all kind of protocols, for example understanding what it means to communicating in federating networks.

The project ‘Bridging Art, Design and Technology through Critical Making’ investigates how Critical Making — a notion originally developed in the context of social research, design and technology — can be adopted and developed in relation to artistic research and (post)critical theory.
In 2017, the Critical Making consortium received a grant for the four-year project ‘Bridging Art, Design and Technology through Critical Making’ from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) as part of the research programme Smart Culture – Art and Culture. The project has its origin in a prolonged exchange between representatives of Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, West Den Haag, Waag Society in Amsterdam, knowledge center Creating 010 at Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam and PhDArts / Academy of Creative and Performing Arts (ACPA) at Leiden University.

Text: Rosa Zangenberg