WAYS of KNOWING

What is knowledge? What are the dominant structures and established ways of building and sharing knowledge?

But knowledge is not just about what we know. It’s also about what we don’t know that we don’t know. What is not being considered? Which narratives are ignored, and why? Who decides what knowledge is and isn’t of value? And who even decides what counts as knowledge and who’s allowed access to it?

In autumn 2021, the editorial Advisory Board of the online platform APRIA of ArtEZ University of the Arts sent out an open call entitled ‘Ways of Knowing.’ The call was an invitation to the ArtEZ community and beyond. We wanted to question the knowledge on which we have built our society—how knowledge is created, shared and used. By striving to be able to sharE knowledge in a way that does justice to diverse voices and viewpoints, our ultimate aim is to uncover new ways of living together.

In this search for what counts as knowledge and who can access it, the advisory board acknowledges that art and design must not just ask how we can complement existing knowledge. We must go further and explore how can we radically transform knowledge by creating and sharing what has thus far been left unsaid.

The Advisory Board selected various contributions from ArtEZ students and alumni, as well as other creatives and researchers. The open call elicited a broad and exciting spectrum of insights. These ranged from witchcraft and ancestral knowledge to digital literacy and educational structures.

The Board is proud to introduce contributions by (in order of appearance): Martine van Lubeek, Allie E.S. Wist, Benjamin Schoonenberg, Claire Matthews, Julka Walkowiak, Karla Paredes de Krentel, Maica Gugolati, Marsha Bruinen, Nadine Botha, Natalia Sliwinska, Tomaž Simatovic, one research collective , projektado collective, Alvarx del Fresno and H.Q. Lê.

Martine van Lubeek is an artist based in Arnhem and a recent graduate of BEAR (Base for Experiment, Art and Research) at ArtEZ. She lives on the Rhine river, which is also the focal point of her essay. Martine’s piece explores how listening to bodies of water can be a world-making practice that fosters plurality and entanglement.

Allie E.S. Wist is an artist-scholar with a focus on sensory futures, food, and the Anthropocene. In her essay, she proposes material encounters and embodied experiences with food and recipes as critical ways of ‘knowing’ changing landscapes in the Anthropocene. Her work encompasses photography, radio broadcasts, artefacts, dinners, and writing that render timescales and futuristic speculation accessible through material and sensory narratives.

Benjamin Schoonenberg reflects on the conceptualisation of study—not study in general, but in the particular way Stefano Harney and Fred Moten use and theorise it in their work (most notably, in their well-known collaboration The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study). For Harney and Moten, study is not just the effort of devoting time and attention in order to gain knowledge. Rather, it is located in the simple act of ‘coming together and defining what needs to be studied.’

In their essay ‘The Sound of a Cycle of Thought,’ Claire Matthews poetically poses questions around the dissemination of knowledge(s), access and power in cyberspace, and what these mostly unnoticed dynamics in the commercialised digital space that we use daily might sound like. Matthews is an Amsterdam-based artist and design researcher who holds an M.A. in Information Design.

Julka Walkowiak, a bio- and hydro-feminist artist, sings a song ‘I remember my love our knowledge’ that opens up the scope of embodied knowledge. Through the viscerally vibrating waves of sounds and words that are sung because they cannot be spoken, Walkowiak shares the knowledge gathered in midst of violence, resistance and longing for love.

Karla Paredes de Krentel’s work combines sculpture, paintings, videos, and collected objects. In her contribution, Karla shares the one-and-a-half-year journey through her artistic research project that questioned what and how she knows. She explores the contrast between her cultural background (Peru) and her Western education.

Maica Gugolati, a researcher and art curator, shares the embodied knowledge of pain and the experience of its nonexistence in the logic of medical identification and visual representation. Through visual-poetry, Gugolati explores ways of vocalising something that can only be felt. The piece also looks at how feelings and experiences of something that cannot be identified because of its movement and transformation shape a body and sense of self.

In her essay ‘Whispers in the Margins—On Gossip as Democracy’s Most Fertile Contradiction,’ Marsha Bruinen takes up activist and writer Silvia Federici’s research to explore: How come ‘gossip’ has ‘turned from a word of friendship and affection into a word of denigration and ridicule’? She follows Federici and other feminist scholars back to the historical meaning of gossip as companionship. There is an increasing interest in reviving the forgotten figure of the female friend and her promise of bonding and belonging. This essay attempts to reflect on this search and all the contradictions it entails.

Nadine Botha, a research designer, writer and curator from South Africa currently based in Rotterdam, investigated the history of zombie mythology in connection with infectious disease, modernity and coloniality. She exhibits her results in a video essay.

Natalia Sliwinska made a film out of the untold stories of the women who produce panama hats. Born in Poland, she is a designer and visual researcher. She lives and works in Rotterdam.

Slovenian-born choreographer, dancer and performing artist Tomaž Simatovic explores the notion of solidarity as ancient wisdom and knowledge, using the work of Margaret Mead to do so.

one research collective, which consists of five recent graduates from the Centre for Architecture Research at Goldsmith University in London, chose the form of an image essay, ‘Cultivating Waste.’ Their piece critically addresses highly standardised academic knowledge production that emphasises the idea of the singular, genius author. Their image essay explores the process of working progressively and collectively and considers edits, errors and commentary as valuable traces of thinking and writing together.

projektado collective does not reveal its individual members. They are against the glorification of individual knowledge production, preferring to use instead a methodology that center process, collaboration and companionship. In keeping with this philosophy, they contribute an exploratory conversation on identity, authorship, and ownership within design practice and knowledge production. 

With their experimental text ‘Tornado Theory; thinking around a hole,’ Alvarx del Fresno draws attention to the (un)intelligibility of violence and the role of aesthetics within this tension. They search for ways of writing with absence, employing loops and holes, pointing to listening and acoustic practices as ways of knowing.

H.Q. Lê/ Kwinnie Lê is a poet and artist currently finishing her M.A. in Artistic Research at the University of Amsterdam. Lê contributed the essay ‘Whispers from the Past: Tattooing Histories & the Transformative Power of Knowledge.’ This piece takes tattooing as a kaleidoscopic entry point to explore the violent attempts by European colonisers to erase and appropriate indigenous knowledge(s), as well as the resilient efforts to revive non-hegemonic methodologies and ways of knowing.