Monday, September 12, 2011

Faster Feminism Spotlight: Helene Vosters

I've been inspired, in part by our own mandate of faster feminism (itself inspired), in part by our friends at University of Venus who recently posed a networking challenge, and in part by good old feminist networking. In the name of inspiration, connection, networking, and getting the word out, I'll be doing periodic Faster Feminism Spotlights. The aim of these spotlights is to shine them on folks doing the positive and often provocative work of inspiration.

I was first introduced to Helene Vosters's work in one of those weird and serendipitous moments of connectivity. After giving a paper from my current research--something I'm calling the Collapsible Commons--several audience members did me the kindness of asking Real Questions. You know, those rare questions that are both supportive of your work and push you to think harder and better about what it is you're trying to say. Dream questions. One asked me about vulnerability. Another asked me to think about layered history and layered space. In the hallway another audience member came up to me and suggested I look at Vosters's work. "I think she's really interesting," she said. She was right.

Helene Vosters is a performer and a performance scholar. She has an MFA in queer and activist performance from the New College in California and is currently pursuing PhD studies in performance at York.

On July 1, 2010 Vosters started Impact Afghanistan War. The concept was simple: fall down in public one hundred times a day for a year. In her artistic statement Vosters writes that each fall represents a death in Afghanistan. Unlike the Canadian military personnel who have lost their lives in Afghanistan there have been no accurate records kept recording Afghani deaths. This is not an oversight.

Impact is an attempt to "reach beyond the numbness produced by abstract numbers, political debates and media spectacularization" she writes. "It is my attempt to register, through my body, the impact of our (Canada's) engagement in Afghanistan. In a larger sense, it is an inquiry into empathy."

You can watch Helene fall here.

3 comments:

  1. Thought-provoking, both your post and Vosters' performance, which I think I'll show in class this week.
    I've been working on connectivity in several ways recently, trying for more integration of the personal and professional, academic and domestic, etc. Twitter's been a great way to do that, but so has, quite simply, faith in people's ability to listen, to hear, if I write or speak effectively, thoughtfully, respectfully (the challenge, of course) working the interesting gaps. . . I love how Vosters takes it back to the body, though, not relying quite so much on words.
    Thank you.

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  2. @materfamilias: I'm so glad you found the post--and more so Vosters--interesting! I too have been thinking/working on connectivity in both personal and professional life. I find with Twitter (& FB and the like) I get exhausted and periodically worried I'm not 'keeping up.' Do you get that feeling at all?

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  3. Absolutely, although I try to chase it (the feeling) away. These new connections are thoroughly enjoyable, exhilarating even, at times, but they trigger my sense of responsibility. It gets goofy -- I have IRL friends I haven't managed to see for weeks and weeks, but I catch myself feeling guilty if I haven't commented on a blogging friend's post. And then the Favourites in my Twitter list waiting to be read start to compete with the tower of books perched by my bed. Yikes! But we'll never get bored, right?

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