POSSIBLE ARTS OF CRITIQUE – UNRULY KNOWLEDGE PRODUCTION THAT GOES BEYOND CRITICAL THEORY

Lecture by RUTH SONDEREGGER

27th of November 2013, Node Gallery

My talk is devoted to forms of unruly knowledge production that are activist as opposed to neutral and detached. Or, to be more precise, I am interested in forms of knowledge production that contribute to addressing and destabilizing if not subverting structures of domination. At the same time, I want to engage with the critique that unruly activists have levelled against critical theories. In their critique activists have pointed out e.g. that they have difficulties to access the theories and forms of knowledge allegedly produced for them. Additionally, activists have raised doubts as to whether critical theory and unruly knowledge production serve anybody except their (academic) producers. On the other hand, many activists no less than theorists and artists have contested the division of labour between critical theorists (who produce unruly knowledge) and activists who are supposed to put such knowledge into practice.

Against the backdrop of such questioning of the dividing line between theory and praxis and in search for forms of unruly knowledge production that are not developed for but, rather, in collaboration with activists and as part of activist practices, I will engage in a dialogue with the writings of Gloria Anzaldúa. For, on the one hand, Gloria Anzaldúa has developed a poetics of research practices that questions the division between critical theory and unruly praxis. Moreover, she conceived of the dissemination of (unruly) knowledge as being an integral art of unruly knowledge production.

After my engagement with Gloria Anzaldúa I would like to discuss with the audience questions such as: How and when can unruly knowledge production succeed in building bridges and alliances against various forms dominations? What kind of (seemingly) unruly forms of knowledge production serve the reproduction of academia in its current form, i.e. structures of ranking, logics of competition and exclusion, and principles of the market? Which forms of (artistic) research contribute to unruly knowledge production that address and / or transgress the division of labour between critical theorists and activists?

– Ruth Sonderegger