UNITED NEGOTIATION OF OTHERNESS:
With xenophobic sentiments returning to the centre of civil life and political discourse increasingly becoming characterised by polarisation, subtle sense oriented interventions can be a powerful tool for challenging identities and self- perceptions related to the ‘other’. Instead of focusing on preconceptions they emphasise the importance of the body as a point of knowledge which includes how we feel about, and understand, who the ‘other’ is, or what their personal experiences may be.
As such, the rejection of otherness is not only a rational choice that one makes to formulate hatred and intentional discrimination but one that also involves the subconscious – what can be called ‘silent exclusions’. These exclusions are internalised, affecting our bodies without us being aware of it due to the layers of enculturation that reinforce pre-dominant power relations.
The United Negotiation of Otherness addresses the necessity of educating our own bodies through the de-contextualisation of these silent exclusions and the active embodiment of the ‘other’ in choreographed storylines, in order to evoke critical self- reflection and eventually provoke behavioural change. By exploring the possibilities of an embodied form, where the designer as well s the participants become the material and research tool itself, the work seeks to demonstrate that empathy is not only a rational capability, but also a physical state of mind through which we can reshape our connections to people beyond our known scope.
For further details, please visit unotherness.org.
*Copyright: Design Academy Eindhoven
Photograph: Femke Rijerman