Re-Directing: East x Empathic Pedagogies. Future Intimacies.

This website is an online archive of the practices which emerged from the online seminar Re-directing: East x Empathic Pedagogies: Future Intimacies (October 2020). Re-directing: East seminars are the flagship project of Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art - Residency Department, held annually since 2013. Since then, they have been one of the rare and precious spaces for meetings between professionals of various trades: arts, curating, education. Meetings held under the conditions of a collective residency.

2020 edition was the fruit of collaboration between curators Marianna Dobkowska and Julia Harasimowicz, on behalf of U-jazdowski, and Aisel Wicab, María Paola Malavasi, and Amado Cabrales, members of the Empathic Pedagogies network. The network brings together art practitioners engaged in empathy-focused informal education who are eager to use its potential in an attempt to bring about social change. We also partnered with Biennale Warszawa and TEOR/ética, Costa Rica.

Until recently, it was self-evident that the very foundations of the Re-directing: East seminars were the participants’ physical presence and the intimacy resulting from it. And yet, in light of the worldwide pandemic and the imposed lockdown, we were forced to rethink a number of even the most fundamental aspects. We decided to take the 2020 edition online. We chose to see it as a laboratory for practices at the intersection of art, education and activism, which have come about as a response to the new reality.

The motto of our laboratory, Future Intimacies, reflected our burning urge to think of forms of cooperation in a reality defined by physical distance. While we were aware of certain risks connected with the online space, on the horizon we also saw the potential of new practices that could come into being in those new circumstances. We saw the online space as being often mindlessly abused, but at the same time, we witnessed the birth of new forms of intimacy. Tired from endless hours in front of screens, together with the invited residents we wanted to use and deepen those practices that researched distanced intimacy through the use of educational tools and artistic strategies. Among the people we invited were members of the Empathic Pedagogies network and Polish practitioners. All these people apply informal, horizontal educational solutions on a daily basis, searching for new ways of learning and un-learning.

During the seminar we were analysing and trying out practices that sought out ways of creating intimacy despite physical distance; ones that, without exhausting our body, mind, and emotions, would lead from online actions to offline ones, while at the same time respecting the equilibrium between ways of thinking and ways of acting, and stimulating an experimental approach to learning, both individually and collectively.

Over five weeks, we met up online. We came up with a horizontal structure that, in time, became a safe haven for practices in which, in turn, we played hosts to one another. We thus suspended the usual host-guest (institution-resident) distribution. The online space enabled us to freely interchange roles. In that way our seminar became a non-hierarchical, self-learning group. We all contributed to it some kind of practice from the intersection of art and education: various solutions stimulating the imagination, drawing on work with dreams, meditation or self-organisation, as well as those derived from choreography, performance art, artistic research, and visual arts.

We met in October 2020 as a group of strangers. Several weeks of working together turned us into friends and allies. Together, we managed to turn something that was originally an obstacle into a source of inspiration: while remaining physically remote, we were able to create intimacy, find new areas for practical research, and learn that it is possible to inspire genuine care in each other while in the process of learning from one another and about one another. This online archive is an attempt to share these practices with you.

Digitally, together we stand!