May 2nd 2018

Yael Davids (1968) examines the capacities in which the body operates as a documentary vessel: as much a registry of the present, intrinsically connected to collective heritage and political narratives, as it is a receptacle in which a private biography is compacted and a finite, unique voice is contoured. By orchestrating an associative constellation of performative, sculptural, and archival elements, framed in the form of choreographic assemblages.

In her recent presentation at Documenta 14 (Kassel/Athens), Davids excavates the prospect for establishing a dimension in which voices that have been historically marginalised or otherwise sealed may emerge. This manifested a research into the legacies surrounding four females figures who had in their respective eras found themselves subject to displacement, either literally or in a more socio-intellectual capacity, namely: Else Lasker-Schüler, Rachel Varnhagen, Cornelia Gurlitt, and Julia Aquila Severa. Fundamental to the research is the urgency to exert a practice of finely-tuned receptiveness, formulating a deeper understanding of the nuances of each of these women and the connections to be made between them, traversing a vast cultural and chronological span.

Davids is the first candidate for the new research trajectory Creator Doctus, initiated by Gerrit Rietveld Academy (Amsterdam) in collaboration with The Van Abbe Museum
(Eindhoven). Inspired by the work of Dr Moshé Feldenkrais, whose methodology seeks to cultivate acute bodily and mental awareness, Davids deploys weekly Feldenkrais sessions as a meditation on the potential for an institution to exert a refined, heightened sense of listening towards its inner-workings, its collection, and its transactions with artists and the public. With each session taking place on the floor and with all members of the institution invited to participate, these sessions operate as an exercise in horizontality, unity and democracy.

Extending the research to the institutional framework of pedagogy, the forthcoming phase in the trajectory places emphasis on locating a connection between established systems of pedagogy and hermeneutic methods of knowledge production. Here, the question posed is how to integrate (self-)awareness around limitations within a pedagogical context and how can both student and teacher reorientate the value placed on limitations? How can the perceived limitation acquire a certain legibility that like a compass may reveal an
alternative route towards (self-)understanding?

Image Credit: “Learning to imitate in Absentia” (2011), Performance view at Kunsthalle Basel.
Photo: Eva Flury. Courtesy of the artist and Kunsthalle Basel


Parlor Room gratefully acknowledges financial assistance for this project from SAIC Student Government.

Parlor Room is a visiting artist program and lecture series created, run, budgeted and curated by graduate students of photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Parlor Room provokes dialogue and connections with artists, curators, thinkers and critics engaged with photography. Through public presentations, one-on-one studio visits, and informal group events with graduate students and faculty, Parlor Room seeks a diversity of thought and practice.

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