On Friday, March 24, 2023 from 10am to 5pm, Critical Materials for Critical Mass, a study session with Amilcar Packer.

This Study Session is proposed in the context of the collective exhibition The Four Cardinal Points are Three: South and North, curated by Amilcar Packer, presented at the CRAC Alsace until March 26, 2023.  

To participate, please register at r.neyroud@cracalsace.com

Critical Matters for Critical Mass is the public program coming with the exhibition The Four Cardinal Points are Three: South and North. This program has already included the screening of the film Pearl Button by Patricio Guzmán, and presented by Emma Malig at Cinema Le Palace, in Mulhouse, as well as the online Tarot Reading proposed by Denise Ferreira da Silva and Arjuna Neuman, in dialogue with their film Soot Breath—Corpus Infinitum, which is currently presented in the exhibition and which can also be watched online on CRAC Alsace website. Critical Matters for Critical Mass marks the end of the exhibition by proposing a study session with Amilcar Packer on Friday, March 24 from 10am to 5pm, followed by a talk and an exhibition tour on Sunday, March 26 at 3pm.

In nuclear physics, the notion of "critical mass" is defined as the smallest amount of fissile material needed to achieve a nuclear chain reaction. In the humanities and social sciences, the term is commonly used to describe, primarily in statistical and quantitative terms, a threshold that determines the sufficient number of people who adopt a term, idea, concept, technology, and/or practice to form communities of collective use and discussion. We will use the notion of "critical mass" neither as something that can be resumed to a threshold, to quantitative and statistical models, nor as notions of development. Rather, it will be used as a way to address the material dimension of epistemology from the perspective of emancipatory social transformations. We hope that the deployment of "critical mass" will also contribute to the completion of the notion of onto-epistemology so as to consider the epistemological shifts required to confront the colonial, racial, and cis-heteropatriarchal matrix of structural and systemic violence.

Our discussions will contextualize and unfold an approach to art as a research-based practice, entangled with philosophy, and engaged in social and political struggles; thus inseparable from the historical theoretical debates and practices in which our studies attempt to contribute. We will also outline the scope and limits of our proposals, to expose poetic and conceptual tools operating in The Four Cardinal Points are Three: South and North. The notion of "critical matters" aims to both make reference to the criticality embedded in the matter and to its intrinsic epistemological quality. We will approach the term matter as study as well as the studies of matter. In particular, by an approach of the foundation of the world in which we live through the colonial, racial, cis-heteropatriarchal matrix and the systemic social violence structuring it. Matter thus remind us that our research is not about subjects/objects but about people, groups, communities, the fabric of life, and their destruction, subjugation and killing. Critical matters imply a critical mass.

The study day will consist in a presentation of the notion of coloniality, especially based on the María Lugones' feminist approach of the concept of  "coloniality of power", as well as Aníbal Quijano's approach, who affirms, among other things, the "inseparability" of modernity with coloniality, the formation of the first modern identity from the process of racialization, and the dependence of the material development of Europe on the exploitation of colonies. Raciality and/or racial violence will be addressed primarily through the writings of Denise Ferreira da Silva and Judith Butler's reading of performativity of gender, which will also complement our approach to matter and onto-epistemology. Our understanding of violence will be informed by readings of Walter Benjamin, particularly from his concept of "constellation" and Jacques Derrida's "iterability". Peter Fitzpatrick infuses our understanding of the mythical foundations of law, justice and the violence inherent to them. Iris Marion Young's work will be fundamental to prototyping our social justice approach, especially beyond the distributive model, through her shaping of the "politics of difference". Karen Barad's understanding of diffraction and entanglement, and her concept of intra-action will also provide important critical tools. The work of Mapuche writer Elicura Chihuailaf Nahuelpan, as well as the works and objects presented in the exhibition, including the work of Ayrson Heráclito, Anita Ekman, Denise Ferreira da Silva and Arjuna Neuman, Ana Mogli Saura, Carla Zaccagnini, Runo Lagomarsino, Emma Malig, Raúl Zurita, Sheroanawe Hakihiiwe, Sérgio Pukimapɨweiteri Yanomamɨ, Mauricio Iximawëteri Yanomamɨ, Arely Amaut and Radio Apu, and the platform Ventres da Mata Atlântica, will combine poetic and critical dimensions that converge to present art as a research-based practice in its entanglement with transformative social justice.