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Reworlding - Artistic Positions on Decentering the Subject

*Essay first appeared in Kunstforum International, Dec 2022

By Dr. Judith Elizabeth Weiss

If one takes artistic works seriously as indicators of the present and as seismographs of the future, the question arises as to what role art can play in the search for new approaches to the world. In this context, reworlding has become the buzzword of a longing for co-creation - in reflection on what connects us in the face of symptoms of crisis and makes us able to survive. Donna Haraway also coined the term sympoiesis for this: according to this, nothing produces itself, nothing arises autopoietically or self-organizing.

According to this understanding, experiencing the world is an experience of “becoming with”, of “worlding with”. For example, Haraway sees Margaret and Christine Wertheim's crocheted coral reefs as a "sympoietic knot" of mathematics, marine biology, environmental activism, ecological awareness, women's handicrafts, textile arts, museum exhibits, and collaborative art practice. 13 [see the conversation p. 226].

In this sense, reworlding goes hand in hand with an aesthetic reorientation. However, the extent to which art can contribute to redesigning the “world” is up for discussion. To do this, it would have to define its own production principles and constitutions in a fundamentally different way. Because if it stays within its aesthetic framework, it remains attached to its status as a utopia. If it approaches the interfaces of science, politics and society, it all too easily loses its status as an instrument of criticism and acts affirmatively.

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