Banner image by Sarah Amsler.
Radical Tenderness is called upon by the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures (GTDF) collective as a political practice of healing that invites us to attune ourselves to the living metabolism of the planet, which has an intelligence far 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.
The invitation to “reattune to metabolic entanglement” through radical tenderness consists of making ourselves more available to re-learn, to co-sense our inseparability from all other living beings on the planet, and from the planet itself. We are part of a very complex and multi-layered web of relations which are in constant movement and which require continuous care and digestion. It’s not only about connecting to/through the “good stuff,” but also about composting individual and systemic shit that is part of the metabolic cycles we are part of. Facing the unsustainability of modernity and its interconnected violences is not easy. It hurts our multiple and interdependent bodies in so many different ways, a reality that is being further exposed by the covid-19 pandemic as well as the many other emergencies related to the climate crisis.
Through the pedagogical-affective invitations of Radical Tenderness, the GTDF 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.
We have chosen to begin this curatorial experiment by working with Brazilian artists. As Brazilian curators of the series, we thought this was a good place to start because the modern system’s false promises have long been shattered by the country’s ongoing inequalities and violence towards Indigenous, POC, and LGBTQIA+ communities and the Earth itself, currently amplified by the far-right government of Bolsonaro. In this scenario it has become viscerally clear to many 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 performance collective La Pocha Nostra (MX/US), in a time and context also very influenced by the radical work with tenderness of the trans artist, activist, and educator Lia La Novia Sirena (DF, MX). Since then, Dani 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.
Plants and resilient Indigenous people on the walls spoke to me. I listened to them. I still try to silence myself to learn more from them. This was my first primer on how to rise as an Indigenous person and ‘bleed the stone’, transforming bodies (human and non-human) towards life and liberation.
When I am not is when I exist, I expand, I see.
Perceiving myself as a part of a biome means being aware that there is a scene full of human and non-human bodies, that wrapped in sunlight and moon sap, transmute the ways of catching the eye, the flesh, and the destructive future.