ESR 11 Blog November 2021: Fabiola Fiocco

This November, I started the month in a different setting as I moved to Friedrichshafen to begin my secondment at Zeppelin University, where I plan to stay until the end of January. It was quite a remarkable change to say goodbye to my newfound community of colleagues and friends in Edinburgh to settle in this southern German city. Nonetheless, I finally met Bilge and Marteinn, two other FEINART researchers, and it is nice to see how every new encounter makes this network of brilliant people and professionals more real.

Weeks have passed by in a heartbeat, marked by a number of bureaucratic and academic deadlines, and I find myself having my head full of things to say and dwell on but not able to put all of that into words just yet. Hence, for this month, I am going to share some particularly enjoyable and interesting events and experiences.

On November 10th, Dr Marina Vishmidt held a very compelling talk, titled Structuring Feeling: On Some Modes of Writing About Contemporary Art, as part of Edinburgh College of Art’s History of Art Research Seminar. During the talk, Vishmidt dwelt on recent research strands as she engages with the field of writing in contemporary art as a strategy or ‘as a movement between the abstract and concrete’. She considered the political use of language and the performativity of writing, discussing the work of the American artist Cameron Rowland as exemplary of such a practice that aims at materialising the abstraction of capitalism in the written form. It would be hard to properly summarise the content of the talk, but I would say it really gave me a whole new perspective on some issues I am trying to address in my research. Furthermore, Vishmidt’s work is a major reference, and I was thrilled to be able to listen to her, especially as she shared a theoretical work still in process. It is a precious experience to listen to scholars as they share the ways in which they deal with open research questions, possible blind spots as well as all the potential directions their research might take.

On November 19th, I participated to the workshop Neoliberalism and The Imagination, led by The Alternative School of Economics and artist Marcus Coates as part of the Roaming Symposium, a research event on socially engaged practices and radical education organised by the research platform Decentralising Political Economies. Starting with a guided meditation, in the workshop we discussed neoliberalism and its ramifications in our personal and professional life, and it was particularly fascinating to observe how this methodology managed to unfold primarily unconscious paths to then recontextualise individual abstractions to structural political-economic issues. Though operating all in the same sector, each one with their own specific interests and practices, I found it very exciting to disengage from the academic language traditionally used to deal with such issues and talk through completely unrelated scenarios, hence relocating our common ground in an unexpected linguistic-theoretical realm and appreciating how the two areas mutually influenced each other over the discussion.

Finally, this month I had my first teaching experience, giving two lectures on feminist curating in the context of the ‘Theory & History of Curating’ seminar, held by Prof. Dr. Karen van den Berg at Zeppelin University. Having always been on the other side of the classroom, I was a bit nervous, and I wondered how to connect and share aspects of my research so to make them equally compelling for other people. At the end, I was very happy with the outcome and the great engagement of the students, who shared interesting remarks and made unexpected critical associations. It was a stimulating experience having to put myself in their shoes and reflect on the subject through their perspective, (academic) needs, and interests. While deploying a similar terminology, it reminded me of the guided meditation experienced in the Roaming Symposium workshop as I recontextualised certain words and thoughts in a new space and in relation to new questions.

In conclusion, I want to leave an old photo here for this year, the year I was unable to partake in the national Feminist March, which takes place every November 27th in Rome, organised by the feminist network Non Una Di Meno. It was sad not being there with my friends, sisters, and co-conspirators but I want to share something to recall the power of these moments ~ siamo marea

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