How to find potential in states of inaction?
We have entered collective burnout.
It feels as though we are exhausted by lurching from crisis to crisis: climate change, racial injustice, Covid-19, war and energy shortages.
The readiness to find immediate solutions becomes worn out and we wonder if the system is broken. There seems to be no one-size-fits-all response.
But perhaps, instead of despair and looking for quick fixes, what if we reflected on the potential that could grow from this feeling of exhaustion? What becomes possible when slowing down the tendency to reach for ready-made old solutions that do not solve new problems? What happens if we don’t act to fix things, but wait, refuse, and/or turn to something else?
What happens when we move into the liminal space1 of not knowing how to respond, when the in-betweenness of things is stretched so it can be embodied? What happens when we listen to our exhausted bodies, when we enter the thresholds of unconscious processes as resting, sleeping, grieving, waiting. Do we find creative opportunities there?
We acknowledge that the opportunity to not act is a privilege in and of itself. We are not condoning inaction in the face of injustice. Instead, we are looking for new answers and new ways of approaching the future. For example, artist and theologian Tricia Hersey, author of Rest Is Resistance: A Manifesto (forthcoming 2022) 2, draws on Black liberation and womanism to reframe napping or rest as a form of political resistance to grind and hustle culture.
Similarly, philosopher and feminist theorist Rosi Braidotti writes in her book Posthuman Knowledge (2019): ‘Let me dare to suggest that there is a creative potential here, which means that exhaustion is not a pathological state that needs to be cured, as an actual disorder, but a threshold of transformation of forces, that is to say a virtual state of creative becoming.’3
Sleepers, from the serie Fragments, 3 video-channel on monitors, 7min, 2022, by Sebastián Díaz Morales & Simon Danang Anggoro. Serie produced with financial support of the Mondriaan Fonds and Documenta fifteen
This Open Call seeks contributions from artists and researchers (in the arts) that address questions such as:
- How feelings of exhaustion or the experience of liminal space can (or cannot) contribute to transformation, to shaping other practices and systems.
- Is being able to move from being in action to a state of inaction a privilege? Who is that privilege granted to and why?
- How does exhaustion or the experience of liminal space affect creativity?
- Can art itself be exhausted and do we need different forms of creative living?
- How do practices of resting, sleeping, dreaming and grieving function as transformative forces?
- How do we respond to the normalisation of burnout as sickness? Is burnout an expression of capitalist violence? Can burnout be a possibility of refusal?
Keywords: exhaustion, liminality (liminal spaces, liminal bodies, liminal feelings, liminal states), aesthetics of liminality, inaction, grieving, processes of resting, importance of slowing down, not knowing, waiting
What’s in it for you?
- Your contribution will be reviewed by our editorial board
- Selected contributions will be professionally edited and published on APRIA
- APRIA contributions will be shared in the networks of the ArtEZ Research Collective
How to Submit?
The deadline for sending your submission to email@example.com is 19 January 2023.
All submissions must be accompanied by a filled-in submission form, which you can download below. APRIA offers the possibility to publish your contribution in varied formats. Your research can be published as a text, but also as an image essay, film or sound contribution. If you submit a text, it must consist of a maximum of 5000 words. If you submit your contribution in another format (audio or image), it has to be accompanied by an explanation of at least 50 words and maximum 300 words. We accept written contributions in Dutch or English. Your contribution will be subject to a process of selection and assessment by the Advisory Board members of APRIA Platform based on the theme of the call, affiliation with the APRIA statement, and criteria of engagement, accessibility and originality.
Advisory Board members
Caroline Barmentlo (lecturer at the Theater in Education program), Alia Mascia (student at the MA Critical Fashion Practices), Cassandra Onck (alumna ArtEZ Music Theatre, and researcher at the AeCT professorship), Liza Rinkema Rapuš (alumni of the Dutch Art Institute at ArtEZ University of the Arts), Hanka van der Voet (senior lecturer at MA Fashion Strategy), Agnieszka Wolodźko (coordinator and lecturer at AKI BIO MATTERs artistic research program), ArtEZ studium generale (chair), ArtEZ Press (publisher)
The word liminal comes from the Latin word ‘limen’, meaning threshold—any point or place of entering or beginning. A liminal space is the time between the ‘what was’ and the ‘next.’ It is a place of transition, a season of waiting, and not knowing.
Rosi Braidotti, Posthuman Knowledge (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2019), p. 17.