September 2020

Suely Rolnik: Micropolitical Conceptual Tools for Decolonizing the Unconscious (Notes on Caring and Repairing Life)

Care, Caring, and Repair in Cognitive Capitalism

The colonial-racializing-capitalistic regime strongly intervenes in micropolitics, the sphere within which the existential consistency of any regime is produced. Its specific type of violence in this sphere consists in the abuse of the vital forces of all elements composing the biosphere. In the human species, this means the abuse of the (vital) drive, its diversion from its ethical destiny: the creation of an environmental, social, and mental ecology that restores vital balance, whenever it is needed for life’s perseverance. Instead of creating new modes of existence to recover life’s potency, desire acts in order to produce the accumulation of economic, political, and narcissistic capital. In the contemporary financialized fold of this regime, within which its colonial operation was extended throughout the planet, it refined its power strategies, complexifying its micropolitical apparatus. From this result the limit situation we are living in today, everywhere, and also the difficulty in deciphering it in order to move away from it. It becomes urgent to undo the dominant unconscious regime that is based on a split subject, shielded from its experience as a living being: an element among others that compose the ecosystem in which it is implicated. To do so, it is necessary to leave behind the social scenarios resulting from this unconscious regime, especially our characters in these scenarios, through the performance of new characters, their bodies, and their relational field—in sum, their ways of living. In this process, the boundaries between art, therapeutics, and politics become indiscernible.

Suely Rolnik is a Brazilian psychoanalyst, writer, and, since 1979, full professor at Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo, where she founded the Subjectivity Studies Centre (PhD Program on Clinical Psychology), and is a guest professor of the Interdisciplinary Master of Theatre and Living Arts program at the National University of Colombia (since 2013). She was guest professor of the Independent Studies Program (PEI) of Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) from the program’s founding in 2007 to its interruption in 2015, and an invited researcher of the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art (INHA) in Paris (2007). Her research is dedicated to micropolitics, the sphere where the existential consistency of a regime is produced. Her main focus is the dominant mode of subjectivation under what she calls “the colonial-racializing-capitalistic unconscious regime,” the ways to escape our characters structured by it, and the social scenes their performance belongs to—in order to perform new characters which necessarily draw together those scenes. To do so, her theoretical perspective has always been transdisciplinary, inextricably linked to clinical-political-cultural pragmatics. She has authored several books and essays in different languages. Her translated books in German or English include: Zombie Anthropophagie: Zur neoliberalen Subjektivität (Turia + Kant, Vienna/Berlin, 2018), Archive Mania (Hatje Cantz/Documenta 13, 2011), and The Spheres of Insurrection: Suggestions for Combating the Pimping of Life, forthcoming in English (Verso Books, New York). She coauthored (with Félix Guattari) Molecular Revolution in Brazil (Semiotexte, New York, 2006). She is the creator of the Archive for a Work-Event, on the Brazilian artist Lygia Clark’s oeuvre (sixty-five film interviews), from which a selection was produced by Carte Blanche, Cinemateca Brasileira, and Sesc São Paulo in 2011. Alongside Corinne Diserens, she was the curator of the exhibition “Nous sommes le moule. A vous de donner le souffle. Lygia Clark, de l’œuvre à l’événement” (Musée de Beaux-arts de Nantes, 2005 and Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, 2006). She is the translator into Portuguese of Deleuze and Guattari’s Mille Plateaux (Ed. 34, 1997), among others. She is a founding member of the South Conceptualisms Network, today including more than sixty Latin American researchers on conceptual artistic practices that took place in the continent during the 1960s and ’70s. She was member of the Advisory Board for the 31th São Paulo Biennial (2014) and jury of the Casa de las Americas Prize (Cuba, 2014) and Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development (The Netherlands, 2015–16).

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