Banner image by Sarah Amsler.
Radical Tenderness is a political practice of healing that invites us to attune ourselves to the living metabolism of the planet, which has an intelligence way beyond what humans can fathom. We systemically deny our entanglement with the Earth—the land, the water, its many beings and spirits, cycles and trauma—and separate ourselves from its bio-intelligence. The limits of human understanding of this cannot be overcome through business-as-usual approaches that are readily offered in modern society, but by opening ourselves to what we refer to as “reattunement to metabolic entanglement.” It’s not a unidirectional or singular connection to the planet, but one of continual digestion, movement, and co-sensing. It’s not only about swimming with the whales, but also composting the shit that is part of metabolic cycles. This has been made even more vivid by the unsustainability of modernity that Covid-19 further exposed.
Through the pedagogical-affective invitation of Radical Tenderness, the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures collective has been nurturing an affective space for confronting the complexity of the problems we are implicated in. This approach invites us to move away from the prescriptive politics that are usually encouraged and rewarded within modernity/coloniality. These politics of intellectual certainty, human exceptionalism, false securities, and consumptive entitlement deepen our separation from the planet’s metabolism. Radical Tenderness, as a healing practice, asks us to disinvest from such politics and to try to listen to what is beyond what we can understand or even imagine.
Experimenting with this healing practice to reattune to metabolic entanglement, the collective has been creating a poetic landscape of its intimate and collective (un)learnings, yearnings, and challenges, which have been collected in the text, Co-sensing with Radical Tenderness. This series invites artists to experiment with Radical Tenderness as a sensed-experience in their daily lives by creating performative rituals based on an encounter between the text and their own embodied poetics. Each artist chooses between 3-6 phrases in the text to create two ritual actions. The first is experienced locally by the artist and presented here in a format and duration of their choice. The second is created by the artist as an invitation to be experienced by others.
For the first cycle of six art-life ritual actions, we have invited six Brazilian artists. As Brazilian curators of this series, we thought this was a good place to start. The current moment in Brazil is marked by ongoing inequalities and violence towards Indigenous, POC, and LGBTQIA+ communities and the earth, amplified by the far-right government of Bolsonaro. This has shattered the illusion of the modern system and made clear that the affective sensibility that can be summoned as resilience must be anchored in other realms of metabolic intelligence.
The articles in this series are featured in English, with Portuguese versions downloadable as PDFs.
About Radical Tenderness
Radical Tenderness is a term that Dani first encountered while working as part of the transnational performance collective La Pocha Nostra. Since then, she has been engaged in a multi-layered embodied investigation of radical tenderness’ intimate, political, and metabolic movements, which includes creating performances, workshops and writings that attempt to nurture radically tender ways of being. Joining the GTDF collective in 2017, Dani began working closely with Vanessa Andreotti to mobilize Radical Tenderness as one of the medicines the collective uses to help reconfigure connections between reason, affect, and relationality. The text Co-sensing Radical Tenderness has been shape-shifting along this process.
For the online edition of the Arts Everywhere Festival (June 2021) Dani activated the text as a performative reading. The event happened over Zoom, during a period in which many of us were facing various degrees of lockdowns and lack of physical touch. The session invited audiences into the text through an experiment of how to enlarge fields of intimacy across and beyond our screens and physical bodies, being politically and critically alert while also affectively attuned to—and held by—the wider metabolism we are all part of. A recording of this event can be seen in the video above.
Co-sensing with Radical Tenderness – a performative reading by Dani d’Emilia for the 2021 ArtsEverywhere Festival
Working with indirect and non-human languages, telepathy, noise, spectrums of light, and material residues of vibrant matter that keep occult memories from others’ point of view, Rubiane creates visibility for the lines of forces and (almost) invisible energies acting in the gaps.