The following page presents a lexicon of words, people and places related to this project.
Even though in our societies the independent individual is the most valued, we’re all embedded in interdependent networks of care – whether we acknowledge it or not. In fact, for many these networks – mostly constituted by family and friends – are fundamental as they provide for:
• Moral support (for example, by listening to each other’s problems and desires, offering comfort in difficult situations, and sharing good moments)
• Social support (for example, by helping out with child care, skills, labour-power)
• Material support (for example, by being granted free or cheap rent, by using other people’s cars)
• Financial support (for example, lending money without interest)
In networks of care, a constant give and take is key – even if this takes place across different registers. How can we contribute to the development of our own networks of care? How can we make them more inclusive, beyond families and close friends? Can we activate them locally as well as trans-locally?
“Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. When you recognize uncertainty, you recognise that you may be able to influence the outcomes – you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others. Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists”. Rebecca Solnit, in The Guardian, 2016 https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jul/15/rebecca-solnit-hope-in-the-dark-new-essay-embrace-unknown
“Critical thinking without hope is cynicism. Hope without critical thinking is naïveté.” - Maria Popova
Working in the cultural realm is an ongoing process of political positioning which engages, though its own mediums, language and discursive site, in the larger forces at work. Negotiation is understood as the opposite of principle. It it the most repressed element of the idea of democracy, as it inevitably contains some compromise, and compromise is usually seen as a declaration of weakness. Negotiation offers a process of articulation, and the acknowledgement of often antagonistic positions in order to come out with productive modes of commonality-a being-in-common towards further dialogues and complexifications. A support structure is in a certain sense a questioning structure, a supplement, a somehow external organization, at least with a certain autonomy form the situation it addresses; this allows it to pose, expose and revise questions in relationship to its context and how to operate within it. Support is negotiation, not the application of principle but a conversation towards something that it does not define.
Support, participation, and relationships to equity.
Conversation between Celine Condorelli (Support Structure) and Eyal Weizman, August 2007
Many approaches to the concept of ‘power’ have been built around the idea of institutional and governmental control (Krippendorf1), 1995). Despite these stances being useful to under-stand the complex web of power relations in the context of a project, for us ‘power’ finds special relevance as something referring to the individual and collective capabilities present and distributed throughout society (Foucault2), 1980; Holloway3), 2002). This implies taking into consideration situations of domination within society, yet focusing on and highlighting the capabilities of individuals and groups as means to break free from them. Following Holloway and Foucault, the focus on power is made on the ‘power-to’, as it is related to doing, instead of the ‘power-over’, which refers to conditions of domination: “Whereas power-to is a uniting, a bringing together of my doing with the doing of others, the exercise of power-over is a separation.” (Holloway, 2002, p. 29). The power-to is about my doing (action), but embedded within the doing of others, which brings forth the collective potential of power. Social and citizen movements are a clear example of how power can be exercised and not only resisted. Similar arguments seem to have driven the final speech of Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator (1940), when he said that the real power resides in men, not in one man, but in all men (human beings), for we are the ones who “have the power to build machines, to build happiness and to make life free and beautiful” (Chaplin4), 1940).
We do not believe in spectacles. They revolve around activities with a clear outcome, often taking place in a very short timeframe, without engaging with the actors and context.
In art and design practice, plenty of attention has been put on the produced objects (painting, product, project, performance, etc.), but very little has been said about the conditions that support them, that which allows them to stand. Celine Condorelli and Gavin Wade (2009) have precisely attempted to unpack the concept of ‘support’ (structures) by generating an archive of different initiatives and cases that illustrate the foregrounding of support in art and design (architecture) practices, as well as drafting a taxonomy to speak about it. Further exploring the concept of support in art and design practices (and research) may allow to foreground the role and agency of previously invisible actors (e.g. construction workers of a building, factory workers of a given product, etc.), shifting the focus away from the ‘object’ to the ‘relationships to context’. This means understanding and approaching the interconnected web of relations necessary for a given project to take place, as well as nurturing them to allow the project ‘to stand’ (Condorelli & Wade5), 2009). The lens of support also allows shifting the focus away from art and design practitioners and researchers as the central actors of a given project, to the networks of trust within specific neighbourhoods or communities. In such case, projects take place thanks to a complex web of relations rather than to a single empowered person. This distribution of agency throughout a network results in “sustainable mutual support structures in the form of physical spaces, services, economic funds” and other resources that its members can rely on (Yank6), 2015, p. 153).