• How not to return to normal

Candela, Emily and Cavallo, Francesca, 2020, Conference or Workshop, How not to return to normal at College Art Association 109th Annual Conference, online, 10-13 Feb 2021.

Abstract or Description:

In a March 2020 article published in Le Monde, Bruno Latour defined the Covid-19 emergency as "the big rehearsal" for the larger disaster to come: one that extends to all forms of life on Earth. The ongoing crisis, in his eyes, becomes both a risk and an opportunity to trial and develop new action plans necessary for the continuation of life. "The pandemic is a portal," wrote author Arundhati Roy a few days later, calling for a more equitable and sustainable post-pandemic future. The pandemic is an opportunity for un-learning and changing direction, particularly in how we approach risk and disaster. The dominant narrative for politicians and the media, however, is one of “returning to normal” as soon as possible, bouncing back, relying on established models of resilience based on the management of economic risk. They are also rehearsing, or modelling, worst- or best-case scenarios.

Artists, designers, and institutions are shaping discourses around the growing extinguishment of our resources, but also performing, visualising, simulating and modelling responses to possible risks and imagining resilience differently. Design and art can foster new visions, pilot new modes of communication and knowledge sharing, and drive the interdisciplinary collaborations necessary to address common issues. This panel explores ways in which art and design practices can be mobilized to transform current approaches to risk and disaster in imaginative, sustainable and equitable ways.

The papers selected for this session reflect a need to reassess, reframe, and reimagine the roles of museums, art and design, and thus contribute to a space for critical reflection to inform action, strategy, and practices. It is important to remember that our fields are far from immune from being complicit in the creation and reinforcement of the kinds of inequalities and injustices that have been made even more unmistakably clear in the last year: as Sasha Costanza-Shock, author of the book Design Justice, has pointed out, designers are ‘often unwittingly reproducing the existing structure of [...] who's going to benefit the most and who's going to be harmed the most by the tools or the objects or the systems or the buildings or spaces that we're designing.’ The urge to respond in an emergency, whether it's a design challenge in the context of COVID 19 or exhibition on climate change, requires space for critical thinking, inclusive conversation and production. This necessity comes across on the three papers brought together for this panel, and in the opening presentation by Emily Candela and Francesca Cavallo.

ContributorSyperek, Pandora
ContributorKabukala, Rachel
ContributorMeliande, Clara
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W900 Others in Creative Arts and Design > W990 Creative Arts and Design not elsewhere classified
School or Centre: School of Communication
Uncontrolled Keywords: COVID-19; risk
Date Deposited: 18 Aug 2021 09:31
Last Modified: 18 Aug 2021 09:31
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/4854
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