Art-Life Ritual Actions for Radical Tenderness

The Series Art-Life Ritual Actions for Radical Tenderness, launched in 2020, takes place on the online platform, with the support of the Musagetes Foundation.


Radical Tenderness is a political practice of healing which is rooted in the need to re-attune to metabolic entanglement: the fact that we are part of the living metabolism of the planet with an intelligence way beyond what humans can fathom. Over this past year, the impact of covid-19 has made the unsustainability of the modern system even more explicitly undeniable. We are both part of its violence and the vital force that it desensitizes us to. Through the pedagogical-affective invitation of Radical Tenderness, the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures collective has been working to nurture more affective space for confronting the complexity of the problems we are implicated in. It invites us to move away from the prescriptive politics that are usually encouraged and rewarded within modernity/coloniality so that we might gradually disinvest from its false securities and self-centered desires to try to listen to what is beyond what we can understand—and even imagine—from where we stand.

As part of this work, we have been creating a poetic landscape of some of our intimate and collective (un)learnings, yearnings and challenges in this process, which in 2020 began circulating in the form of the text Co-sensing with Radical Tenderness. Continuing our search for ways to activate the offerings, invitations and provocations of Radical Tenderness as a sensed-experience in our daily lives, this series asks different artists to help us mobilize “alternative ways of engaging with alternatives”, by creating performative rituals based on the encounter between the text and their own embodied poetics. Each artist will choose between 3-6 phrases in the text to create two ritual actions of “metabolic re-attunement through Radical Tenderness.” The first will be experienced by the artist, in the format, duration and location of their choice. The second will be created by the artist to be experienced (also) by others.

How can artistic processes help us move through and potentially overcome some of our social habits and biochemical responses (narratives, egos, narcissism, attachments, fears, anxieties, etc.) to activate a sense of visceral intertwining, responsibility, compassion, humility, generosity and maturity (not dependent on our will or intellectual choice), opening viable but unimaginable or inarticulable possibilities within our current reference systems?

For this first cycle of invitations (taking place between August and December 2021), we are working with five Brazilian artists. Being Brazilian ourselves we felt that this was a good place to start. The specific complexity the country is immersed in at the moment—ongoing inequalities and violence towards Indigenous, POC and LGBTQIA+ communities and the earth, heightened by the right-wing government of Bolsonaro—has shattered the illusion of the modern system and made clear that the affective sensibility that can be summoned as resilience must be anchored in other realms of metabolic intelligence.

The articles in this series are featured in English, with Portuguese versions downloadable as PDFs.

Full series available here:

Banner image by Sarah Amsler

+ info about my writings and workshops around Radical Tenderness