TERNURA RADICAL / RADICAL TENDERNESS

xbracos tenderness

Dani d’Emilia, 2018. Photo Angela Alegria

Radical tenderness is a term that I first encountered while working as part of the performance collective La Pocha Nostra (2009-2016), where it was used in the context of the radical performance-pedagogy workshops we facilitated. The term resonated with me very intimately as I recognized in it a force that I had always felt but had not previously found language to name. I also felt how it resonated with many others within and beyond the collective, calling us into another form of engagement with political practices that involved hightening our sense of care for the many bodies we inhabit and are in relationship with. When I initially asked the more senior members of La Pocha about where and when the term Radical Tenderness had originated no one had any clear answers, but throughout the years I have understood its roots to be in the transfeminist community of Mexico. One of La Pocha’s bases is in Mexico City, where the radical work with tenderness of trans artist, activist and educator Lia La Novia Sirena has been very powerful and influential so it is crucial that we particularly honour her in the genealogy and dissemination of the term and its different modes of activation as an embodied practice.

From this initial contact with the term, I continued on a personal journey to investigate Radical Tenderness as a force. This became the focus of my performance-pedagogy work, my artistic collaborations and my every day life, constantly teaching me about the importance of increasing care in proportion to risk, and vice-versa.

My work with radical tenderness over the last decade has involved embodied investigation of its intimate, political, and metabolic movements, which has included creating performances, workshops and writings that attempt to nurture radically tender ways of being.

Please refer to the different sections of my website for more info on some of these artistic and pedagogical (un/re)learnings.

You may also be interested in accessing directly the following links:

Co-sensing with Radical Tenderness (2020) is a text I began to write with Vanessa Andreotti in 2018, based on thoughts expressed by the collective Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures [GTDF]. Initially called “An Invitation to Radical Tenderness”, this text has been shape-shifting alongside our artistic-pedagogic collaboration “Engaged Dis-identications”, which attempts to translate post-representational modes of engagement into embodied experiments that reconfigure the connections between reason, affect and relationality. The current version of the text has been revised in June 2020 and is available in two formats (printed booklet and online flickbook), both curated by Laura Daviña from Publication Studios São Paulo.

Radical Tenderness Manifesto, was created through an online poetic jam I started in 2014 with Daniel B. Chavez (Currently Daniel B. Coleman). It was first published in Spanish in Hysteria Magazine (MX, 2015) and has since been translated into 8 languages and circulated in hundreds of independent publications. At the time of writing, Daniel and I were both part of the performance collective La Pocha Nostra, who first introduced me to this term and with whom I worked between 2009-2016. As part of my research on Radical Tenderness within the context of an MA program I was undertaking in PEI/MACBA (Barcelona), as well as the transfeminist networks we were engaged with – particularly in Spain and Mexico – in this embodied poetic exercise of resistance we dived into this seemingly oxy-moronic term asking ourselves: ‘how can radical be tender – and tenderness be radical – in our alliances, our communities, and our interpersonal relationships?’

Radical Tenderness Workshops: Making use of the potential of performance/art as a field for the expansion of a visceral sense of intimacy (also known as relational responsibility) in these workshops I combine performance-pedagogy (performance practice as a pedagogical process of un/re-learning), radical tenderness (a mode of political-affective re-existence), transfeminism (intersectional and trans* inclusive feminism) and decoloniality (interrogating colonial legacies on our bodies, subjectivities and relationships) to explore ways in which we can create and nurture ways of being that face – and attempt to interrupt – different forms of violence inherent in our construction as modern subjects. Working from the body I explore our ability to perceive and relate through multiple senses and modes of knowing, inhabiting the contradictions, incoherences and vulnerabilities that arise in the process of daring to live through and beyond identity, working with tension and trust by increasing care in proportion to risk.