Are you looking for partners in crime to upheave the imaginary? Our Open Call for Deviant Bodies is extended until July 19th!
Join the congress from the internets!
Surf me to the Shellscapes!
Choose your portal
and find out how you like to relate to the Shell!
The Shell is a surface where bodies meet. It is woven of shared imagination. Emergent patterns erase its binary codes and invite deviant and dissident corporealities.
Activism, arts, dance and (post-)humanities all touch upon the Shell. The Congress on Shells invites you to leave your field behind and engage in dialogue with the fellow Shell practitioners, to confront the physicality of common imagination in derision of normality, and to nurture a nest for fruitful co-operation across boundaries.
Masks as Shells
"That 's the way it is for the outer shell left of Himher, a copious skin subject to the process of incarnation. What is happening inside this sensitive shell, all ears, still and inhabited?"
Brian Massumi describes how "a transfiguration comes into the bare shell". Devoid of identity, self, worry, memory, the actor enters the mask and a new being comes into the world. Not as a fabricated character—"a simulacrum cannot last".
In the frame of the co.lab festival at floating (Berlin), Meröe and Flupsi invited the participants to cross a threshold and create a collective Shell out of fabrics. Then, we did a ritual with it where the land meets the water: everyone asked the Shell one question they could not answer themselves, and the Shell would respond to it.
The figure of the Shell here insists on the materiality and wisdom of what is between us. It was also great to experience the coming-together of artist-activists around a handcraft task without a defined success criterion. For the participants, it opened a precious space to reflect on their conflicts, desires and interconnections in a safe and nurturing environment.
The co.lab festival is the major inspiration for us to facilitate the Shell congress.
Donna Haraway's Cyborgs dwell on the 🐚
This explosive manifesto ushered a branch of feminist inquiry including cyberfeminism. In the cyborg, both the brainchild and unfaithful bastard of military-industrial patriarchy, Haraway finds a culmination of those effects of technology that feminists and socialists had hitherto ignored. Amidst the bleak era of nuclear doom, she enthusiastically outlines how the integrated circuits of technopower inspire and enable emerging forms of hybrid activism, of pleasurable play and unprecedented affinities among marginalized subjects, merging sci-fi imagination with united front strategies and posthuman, post-individual sensibilities for an amazing future.
I nest SHELL within this web of thoughts: as the figure which is found in the abutting surfaces that we write on and read from in our daily artistic practices: the screens, stages, streets and cozy corners, the sci-fi bodies, diaries, souvenirs and fetish objects that carry the shared imagination of another future. From Haraway's rethinking of the demaged body under neoliberalism, let's shift our focus to this body's hybrid surroundings: the liminal space we can perceive and dance. With this figure, we can approach the objects of our artistic, embodied practice in their rich interconnectedness and find new pathways of connection among each other, across fields and categories, and in confidently joyful irreverence to patriarchal norms.
Like Donna Haraway's Cyborg, the Shell is both a figure that helps understand our subjectivities and positionalities in the feminist vein, it is a rallying cry for united front politics in the age of mechanized class war, and it is a choreographic score for body-fabrics: an invitation to dance.
Through a mere focus shift, a world appears, a world of images-to-be. Enter this space without fear for we are many, enter it without reverence for out of binary code emerge monsters.
Rosi Braidotti describes a transdisciplinary feminist position:
"The feminist theorician today can only be 'in transit', moving on, passing through, creating connections where previously things were dis-connected or seemingly un-related, where there seemed to be 'nothing to see'".
This is exactly the location and environment of Shells: not extending either their inside or their outside, they constitute a virtual space, expressly tangible yet only accessible in-motion.
Shell and Queer Theory
"Is queer theory a reflection on being queer or does queerness change how we theorize?", asks Chrysanthi Nigianni, and suggests to break away from representational thought—only what exists can be known— towards ways of knowing the Virtual, i.e. "open futurity". This kind of queer thinking, "expressive of non/extra-linguistic forces", expands notions of body and reality beyond the referential: nature, matter and embodiment don't need to mean anything.
Nigianni's queer epistemics politicise the Imaginaries and grant matter its own agency in order to theorize richer desires and intensities. As the subject is decentered (no longer origin, but matter among matter), so tangible becomes the materiality of the surface on which desires emerge: qualities of Shell.
I took her quotes here from an amazing book on the beautiful mutual impulses between movements that are conventionally known (in the U.S.A.) as Queer Theory (Butler) and as French Theory (Deleuze). The book was present in the workshop at co.lab.
Material Memory Practices
From 2019 till 20, Flupsi facilitated a movement practice around "material memory": an investigation into the rich extralingual exchange happening between bodies, and its connection to memory, understood as something that exists before it is put in words and concepts and images. The body surface would become a Shell that was readable and relatable to others.
After each session, we would reflect on our experiences and find new words in an ongoing conversation around embodied memory and knowledge, and the ways of touching and accessing it.
This is just one example of how bodies are Shells, how information is material and spatial and invites us to enter it, and doesn't need to be a "text" to be readable and tangible.
Shell ! some sort of shelter .
Flesh and bone covered in skin .
How does it look like ?
How does it feel when you touch ?
How does the environment shape it ?
How many layers does it have ?
Composition of the shells on the city shore !
Soft or hard ?
Breakable or repairable ?
The smell !
A container !
how long will it hold ?
it’ll change .
wearing the inside out
just by how it looks like !
is it heavy ?
move it by moving in the shell .
can you come out of your shell ?
would you like to change it !?
By deforming !?
Is it washable ?
Hand wash or ?
don’t send it to the dry-cleaning .
risk trying out with wash machine though .
Bilder sind wie Muschelschalen.
Sie hüllen Gegenstände ein, geben ihnen ein Außen, aber sie hüllen auch uns Menschen ein, geben uns Flächen, auf denen wir unsere gemeinsame Vorstellungswelt miteinander teilen. Was folgt daraus?
Seit Januar forsche ich dank eines Stipendiums an der Materialität der Vorstellungswelt. Und vor allem, wie wir sie berühren, wie wir mit unserer ganzen Bewegungsfreiheit durch die Falten dieser Hüllen tanzen können und sie zum Schwingen bringen. Dabei arbeite ich mit Texten aus der Kritischen Theorie, der Apparatus- und Dispositiv-Theorien, und vor allem mit cyberfeministischen Texten. Aber mein Ziel ist nicht, die Bilder besser zu verstehen. Ich glaube nicht, dass in Worten ausgedrückte Theorie viel über Bilder und Vorstellungswelten aussagt. Was mich anfeuert, ist mein sehr persönliches Bedürfnis, aus dem Käfig meines Körperbildes zu entkommen: meinen abweichenden Körper in einen subversiven Körper zu verwandeln.
Denn wie ich meinen Körper wahrnehme, hat viel damit zu tun, welche Funktion sein Abbild in der Gesellschaft einnimmt. Wenn ich mich als depressiv, autistisch, oder angstgestört wahrnehme, dann mache ich mir nicht nur Begriffe zu eigen, die, der Konjunkturkurve folgend, den Körper auf seine Verwertbarkeit hin beurteilen, sondern auch die dazugehörigen Bilder. Hautfarbe, Geschlecht, und das, was man jetzt Neurodiversität nennt— das sind Kategorien, anhand derer Körper klassifiziert und wirtschaftlich ausgebeutet werden. Wir entwickeln unter diesem Eindruck ein feines Sensorium, wir sehen also den Leuten schon von Weitem an, ob sie “abweichen”, wie privilegiert oder erfolgreich sie sind. Ich übernehme auch die assoziierten Bilder, ich verorte mich and Andere auf einer normierten Landkarte der Körper, einem Raster, das immer differenzierter wird, auf dem die Körper sich voneinander entfernen. Diese Einordnung findet allerdings in der Imagination statt, in der Welt der Bilder, und die Vorstellungskraft ist sehr flexibel. Ein Bild lässt sich—mangels Grammatik—nie auf eine einzelne Bedeutung reduzieren: es beinhaltet immer viel mehr. Dieses Zuviel macht die Bilder widerständig gegen Deutungshoheit. In der feministischen Kunst gibt es diese Strategie, sie greift das Zuviel auf und macht es explizit, um zu irritieren, um das ‘normale’ Bild-Verständnis zu stören.
Das motiviert mich. Ich habe also in diesem Jahr Aktivist*innen der Vorstellungswelt eingeladen, um gemeinsam die Bilder zu bereisen und zu ‘queeren’. Wir haben uns online und in Berlin getroffen, Aktionen veranstaltet, philosophiert, geträumt, getanzt. Und jetzt planen wir einen Kongress. Am 29. und 30. Juli soll er in Berlin stattfinden. Wer dazustoßen möchte, schickt uns eine Idee zu und wird dann von uns materiell und inhaltlich unterstützt, diese Idee zu einem Beitrag für den Kongress zu entfalten: zu einem Vortrag, einem Experiment, einem Spiel oder einem Workshop. Wir möchten den Aktivist*innen einen Rahmen frei von ökonomischem und institutionellem Druck zu bieten, um ergebnisoffen zusammenarbeiten zu können, auch langfristig nach dem Kongress, und die erarbeiteten Ansätze öffentlich machen. Wir sind gespannt auf deine Perspektive, deine Erfahrungen mit Körper-Bildern, und wie du sie aufwirbelst.
First Edition (July 29-31, 2021)
Frank Bready Trejo
Rio & Valki
Are you looking for comrades to queer the imaginary?
For a supportive space to share and connect practices of embodied dissidence?
The 🐚 invites deviant bodies:
- to practice irreverence towards oppressive norms
- to delve into the excess and dissonances within body-images
- unfolding the unknown to enter it together and find unexpected connections with each other there
☟ Scroll down for the Open Call.
Let’s care for each other and embrace and nurture the diversity of
thought, feeling and rhythm. We are deviant bodies.
Bring your curiosity, presence, unease and friction, irreverence, anger, eroticism, softness, and your amazing witchcraft skills. Interest in queer/feminist and intersectional theory and terms will be great.
Bring one contribution: this can be an investigation you are doing, a warmup
score you find
engaging, a technique or experience that needs to be shared, or an experiment that requires
accommodating space or participants. In our schedule, we prepared blocks of 1, 2 and 3
hours, but if your contribution requires a different frame, we make it happen so.
In an advance individual meeting (or group meeting, if you are part of a collective), the ShellCongress team will support you develop and unfold this contribution. During July, contributors can decide collectively to buy, share or rent equipment and material, for which some budget has been allocated. Additionally, we have scheduled one gathering for everyone involved to come together before the congress.
Physical presence and one contribution during the two-days festival (with a negative CoVid test) in Berlin, and online presence to the evaluation meeting one week after — we strive to remove any economic barrier, and to share resources among us.
You agree in appearing in the documentation and archive. During the congress, some (marked) spaces will be filmed.
You may want to stay in touch after the congress for potential future co-operations (“Shellcubator” process) and an ongoing, semi-public “Shellversation”.
Contributions for the First International Shell Congress, 2021
Application period: June 22 — July 12
Congress: July 29 & 30
The Shell Congress aims to bring together practicioners across disciplines to nurture co-operations outside of any institution. Within the tangible expanses of image-surfaces, we find and embrace open futurities for dissident and divergent bodies.
We will support your contribution to the Congress, be it a conversation, a workshop, a lab, or any other impulse, and in the subsequent Shellcubator, you can find your partners in crime to queer the Virtual and make it Physical!
This is an invitation to seize the abundance that lies in the imaginaries beyond superficial economies of scarcity and competition. Are you queering body-images, challenging norms, resisting imperatives of consumerism and (self-) exploitation? Do you need a safe, caring and supportive space to further your practices, connect with fellow activists, and link in with unapologetic conversations? Whether you are a curator, a community activist, a scholar, an artist, or all of the above, you may find new impulses to your work and new lateral connection here, while sharing your experiences and strategies of dealing with common imag(inari)es.
We will remove economic barriers, and provide in-kind resources to materialize your contribution. If you are outside of Berlin, we may be able to finance your travel here.
We will select 7-12 practicioners in July, aiming for a complementory combination. Don't hesitate to ask us anything (e-Mail address below). We'll do our best to answer each e-mail quickly.
You can apply as an individual or as a group with a common contribution. Just answer some of following questions in your application e-Mail:
- Which investigations, practices or causes do you connect with?
- What brought you to your current practice?
- Which circumstances and structures are putting pressure on you? What strategies do you find to carry on with your work?
- How do body-images affect your legal status, your desires, boundaries, subjectivity, affinities?
- Do you have a contribution in mind that you'd love to bring to the Congress?
- Is there a question you'd like to bring to the Shellversations?
- Which resources would help you expand your practices and connections?
Feel free to use any medium you like —video, text, drawing, audio, poetry— and please keep your answers very short! We're also happy to check out your website or insta.
If you have any questions or
ideas, or if you prefer not to use the Google Form, just send us electronic mail :-)
Looking forward to your presence!
Write to shellcongress[at]gmail.com
if you have any question or idea ♡
- across and against the fields of art, activism, academia
- with o.k. material means
A spacetime bubble...
- ...for going far outside the 'normal'
- ...unfolding as a nurturing nest
- ...for professionals seeking connection, co-operation, companionship.
Walk through the water, then get your feet washed and oiled.
|10:00-11:50||1||Contributor t.b.a.||Contributor t.b.a.|
|12:00-12:50||2||Contributor t.b.a.||Contributor t.b.a.|
Everyone faces everyone for 1 minute each.
We form three circles, and in each, everyone can throw somatic exercises in.
|15:00-16:50||3||Contributor t.b.a.||Contributor t.b.a.|
Try out spontaneous rituals or experiments! This is an invitation to all of us to get involved in the now, to play, and to surrender to the stream of dada.
|19:30-22:00||Dinner and Conversation|
Walk through the water, then get your feet washed and oiled.
|10:00-11:50||4||Contributor t.b.a.||Contributor t.b.a.|
|12:00-12:50||5||Contributor t.b.a.||Contributor t.b.a.|
Mashup "Practical Futures"
Contributors conspire in small groups and create ad-hoc contributions
|15:00-16:50||Coffee & Cake
with ad-hoc contributions
|17:00||Do what you like ♡|
Meet a fellow contributor for a One-on-one during the 2-days congress.
This section will open once all contributors are assembled.
- Until Mid July: Coming Together and preparing your contribution
- July 29+30: Congress & Dialogue, physical + live-streamed
- August 6: Evaluation with Dragan (online)
- August: Hybrid Publications
- Ongoing: ShellCubator & ShellVersations
After selecting the contributors, we'll meet online to get to know each other and the Shell dwellers.
In preparation, the congress team will meet each contributor individually and help prepare your workshop or presentation. If you need any material, you may get support through our mutual fund.
Access and Hygiene
We are checking for a very unique venue in the middle of Berlin, connected with the water. Please tell us your mobility and accessibility requirements ♡
For participation, a negative CoVid test or a vaccination is required. The concrete conditions are subject to local laws and we'll keep you updated.
The whole 2-days event will be recorded and published in a hybrid website/zine. By participating, you accept to appearing in this documentation.
Dragan will hold a space for an evaluation meeting (online) one week after the workshop.
Shellcubator for Co-operations
After the congress, you'll be invited to an incubator programme including a co-op fund for further engagement among contributors.
In a series of public sharing sessions, we can discuss our findings, distribute our publication and continue the Shellversation.
The contributors will be assembled by July 20.
Get in touch with the facilitators:
Initiator and producer
My journey into the Shell began with Donna Haraway's Cyborg Manifesto which I used as a choreographic score. In 2021, reading cyberfeminist texts from the 90s, I stumbled upon the figure of the Shell, as it appeared simultaneously in the "Ghost in the Shell" (where the Shell is a cybernetic body that thoroughly disturbs notions of "humanity"), in the 1965 computer language "Shell" (which established a new physical layer between human and machine), and in the Seashell whose calcic carapace, neither alive nor dead matter, turns out the physical reality of an imaginary: of memory, shelter and meaning.
Launching a collective learning group in March, I hope to help make this figure fruitful for transgressing barriers of thought and imagination, and thereby unfold novel and uncharterable spaces of activism.
social media agenda,
Creative producer · Artist · Poet · Performer · Yoga & Meditation coach · Queer cultural wonderer · Activist
Under the dictatorship in Chile, the creation of spaces of vulnerability and love with people helps me to keep moving. My tools of activism are dance, nudism, agroecology, video and zines. How much we think about water/reciprocity? I'm exploring our boundaries in a soft and cute way. The Shell collaboration brings nets, hugs, smiles, laughs.
Art Director, Costume Crafter
I like to make reflect my environment, into costumes that function as nets or pets. In the Shell process, I'm seeking for etymologies of embodiment. I have had very porous skin in the past, now i have implanted a tuning device that allows me to regulate the compactness of different bodycells, and I would like to develop a visual, tactile and ethymologix membrane, frequency filter, or additional shell-body.
Photography, Dance, Space-holding
Moving and creating in the fields of Choreographing-Dancing/ Architecture/ capturing/ illustrating
Reflecting social-psychological matters, drawing lines between here and there, now and then.
Aligning body and mind; composing it in space.
Experimenting Opposition in abstract position year by year adding layers on layers !
Psychologist, Consultant, Supervisor
supervises the project and facilitates the evaluation one week after the congress.
they them theirs
writer, graphics, painter, music
Multi disciplinary artist and explorer Clay joins us remotely from Colorado. Curious to learn and explore Shell. They offer writing skills where needed to continue translating the unknown.
Clara Calero Durán
will join the team in early July and support the exchange with all the contributors.
The Shell project was possible due to Klaus Lederer's generous scholarship programme (Stipendien-Sonderpogramm Berlin).
Research on Cyberfeminism (February 21)
Dancing in the Shell
Coming together (March 27)
Gathering in our Virtual Shellscapes (inspired by Renae Shadler's Moving Across Thresholds)
Collaboration with Teo Vlad (HOLY FreiDAY and the Path of Thorns - PAF edition)
Find more material and thoughts on Shells in our are.na collection!
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