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The Womxn’s Center of Excellence

Conceived by Chus Martínez, The Womxn’s Center of Excellence is founded by the Art Institute at the FHNW Academy of Art and Design in Basel and Instituto Susch—a joint venture with Grażyna Kulczyk and Art Stations Foundation CH. The institute is inviting fellow researchers to accentuate priorities for education and decision-making by analysing existing sentiments and preoccupations in the past and present roles of women in arts and science and by this, to define an imaginative way of addressing the languages (visual and non-visual) that will carry a multitude of possible futures beyond genders.

The Womxn’s Center for Excellence is a think tank tasked to assess, develop, and propose new social languages and methods to understand the role of women in the arts, culture, science and technology, as well as in all knowledge areas that are interconnected with the field of culture today. Entangled by a common interest in reviewing the role education in the arts plays to define the language and position of women, the research aims to situate crucial historical and current questions, to produce new forms of teaching and debate around the subject, and to publish and explore how this work can be displayed, shared, implemented and generously developed in future, equal coexistences. 

Affecting our ways of seeing, the conditions of technology, the premises of science, the questions of history and memory, the suggested route of re-evaluating the female factor is a proposition to produce a new social contract and to see in consequence the potential origins of new institutional foundations. It is not about to produce a disciplinary exercise on a subject matter that has been studied much. Instead, it is about the potential and the usage of visual arts as a matrix to give a new sensorial format to a form of intelligence used for testing our (gender) relations.

Using art is the “amniotic fluid” in which we may discover where new social, natural and technological experiments can be made. To address the question of gender is to address the question of affection, the way we condition empathy and understanding through feelings. On this basis, the project aims to create a manual to support implementing change for the present moment — not as a set of statements, but as a series of daring propositions on what affects our affections. And, therefore, on what makes a difference in challenging our set notions of gender relations. It is a speculative exercise on the future based on the study of the conditions of the female gender.

The Womxn’s Center for Excellence initiated a series of symposia since October 2018 in Basel, with the next edition happening in October, 2020. The series of symposia Women in the Arts and Leadership and the podcast series Promise no Promises are the public side of this research project aimed to develop teaching tools, materials and ideas to challenge the curricula, but also to create a sphere where to meet, discuss and foster a new imagination of what is still possible in our fields of work. This ongoing series intends to reach a general audience but also artists in order to create a productive climate of encounter and reflection on the matter.  


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