F.I.R.E.
Christina Della Giustina and Gabriel Paiuk
10 till 12 Jun 2022
Opening: Friday 10 Jun 2022 — 14:00 hrs

F.I.R.E. is flicker-flash-spark-flame-blaze-light-heat-smell-smoke-glow-coal-embers-ash; a mysterious agent, simultaneously destructive, cleansing, and regenerative. At puntWG it is an invitation for dialogue: a strange medium, emerging occasionally, beyond notions of right and wrong; beyond identifying tags, beyond what was my idea or yours.

On a global scale, the indispensably vital significance of fire within numerous local livelihoods is overshadowed by discourses emphasizing fire's destructive effects. An example of this generalizing misconception is the inability to contextualize and recognize the Kayapo’s sustainable fire use.[1] With their traditional fire use techniques, the Kayapo are suspected of creating wildfires, and paradoxically their ancient and elaborate fire practices regularly become accused of modifying the climate of the Brazilian Rainforest.[2]

As a starting point for reconsidering paradigms of engagement with the world, we investigate basic alternatives, attending to forms of sensing and knowing. For such encounters to take place we propose dialogue as a method; not merely understood as exchange, but rather as a series of improvisations and dissociations that bring about modulations to our forms of involvement.

We are working together with Prof. Mistry, geographer at the Leverhulme Centre for Wildfires, who together with Brazilian and Kayapo researchers studied the Kayapo’s fire-practices. In this context, the Kayapo made a series of videos that serve as communication tools. It is these videos and their complex call for communication amongst different languages, sciences and cosmologies that we engage with and take as incentive to come together,  practice attention, and exercise listening, seeing and sensing by means and for the sake of dialogue. To do so, we enter into conversation with further input that addresses how forms and techniques of sensing are tied into diverse cosmologies, such as can be found in the research of ethnomusicologist Ana María Ochoa Gautier.

We are curious about dialogue as a methodology without knowing where it leads to, whose practice challenges the status of what is assumed as knowledge. We can only extend this invitation to join. All welcome!

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Over the course of three days, a range of public sessions at puntWG will bring complex, critical and subversive content to an unlikely audience, who in this active space are not called upon as “visitor”, “spectator” or “public”, but as participant: you are invited to receive, sense, and think together.

We attend to three videos and related texts, while paying attention to the material, each other and ourselves. What is important in the first instance is that the readings take place relationally: as an active participant you are asked to attend to the videos, to open yourself up to your own responsiveness, associations and memories and to share what the material incites in you.

What is important in the follow up is how the diverse effects relate, intersect, entangle and come alive again when placed side-by-side to sensations, memories and responses of others.

In the final assembly on Sunday, we compile the insights, encounters and dialogues towards an online/onsite assemblage that rehearses, dares and shares being together otherwise.

Public Programme:

Location:  puntWG, directly opposite WG Plein 80, 1054 RC Amsterdam, NL on Sunday, June 12, also online via zoom (link  to follow).

Times: All times indicated are CEST, though the schedule is subject to change. 

Friday 10th and Saturday 11th June: 

  • 14:00 - 15:30 – video reading sessions
  • 15:30 - 17:00 – text reading session (reading group)
  • 17:00 - 18:00 – open conversations

The reading group focuses mainly on the book Aurality by Ana Maria Ochoa Gautier, while also incorporating other texts on main topics. To join this reading group please write an e-mail to: f.i.r.e.vol.01@gmail.com

Sunday 12th June:

  • 14:00 - 15:00 – video reading sessions
  • 15:00 - 17:00 – onsite and online conversations (F.I.R.E. assembly)
  • 17:00 - 18:00 – closing event

If you cannot be present onsite and would like to participate online, please write an e-mail to: f.i.r.e.vol.01@gmail.com and we send you the link to access the conversation online.

Organized in the form of conversations, the first panel of the assembly will touch upon modes of attention through vision(s): with contributors Anna Daučíková (artist, Prague, CZ), Milo van der Maaden (artist, Rotterdam, NL), Jay Mistry (Associate Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Wildfires, Environment, and Society, and Professor of Environmental Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK; with research on fire across the natural and social sciences), and Gabriel Paiuk (composer and sound artist, Amsterdam, NL).

In a second panel the assembly approaches modes of attention within experiences of sensing: with contributors Emilia Ferraro, antopologist, Dundee, SCT, Ana Maria Ochoa Gautier (Prof. of Music and Ethnomusicology at Columbia University), Jay Mistry  (geographer, London, UK), Gabriel Paiuk (composer and sound artist, Amsterdam, NL), Silvia Sedoc (therapist, Amsterdam, NL) and Karen Vanvelt (artist, Kontich, BE).

These onsite and online conversations conclude with Wildfire, one of the recent, process-led editorials and repositories of Arts Cabinet, featuring research collaborations between artists and scientists on the topic of Wildfires, with herein the launch of the web-project Tongues of Fire, a collaboration between Jay Mistry and Cathy Smith (Leverhulme Centre for Wildfires, Environment, and Society, based at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK), Oscar Orton (web developer, Amsterdam, NL) and Christina Della Giustina (artist, Amsterdam, NL): Svetlana Sequeira Costa (curator, London, UK) in conversation with Jay Mistry and Christina Della Giustina.

F.I.R.E. concludes with a performance by HKU MAFA researchers Yuxuan Cui, István Hutter, Jeehae Kim, and Meshkat Talebii.

F.I.R.E. is part of the atelierWG series at puntWG and is supported by the Leverhulme Centre for Wildfire, atelierWG, puntWG and all contributors involved.

Video still image Credit: Chun-Yao Lin, 2022.

Photography by Ilya Rabinovich.

[1] Kayapo (Portuguese: Caiapó) are Indigenous peoples living in nowadays Brazil inhabiting the area spreading across the states of Pará and Mato Grosso, south of the Amazon River and along Xingu River and its tributaries. The Kayapo are one of the various subgroups of the Mebêngôkre nation, the people from the water’s source.

[2] Fire is a vital, common and venerated agent in the Kayapo's cosmology: it is used for cooking, cleaning, fertilizing, collecting vegetables and animals, hunting, celebrating; fire is also used to stop fire and is an integral part of their spiritual practices.

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