Date of Publishing:
February 16, 2024

Introduction: Leo Hosp

Assembled Reflection: Ruth Anderwald + Leonhard Grond, Leo Hosp, Yuliia Strykovska

Image credits: Leo Hosp

Dizziness Workshop for the ASF hub, an Assembled Reflection

Ruth Anderwald + Leonhard Grond, Leo Hosp, Yuliia Strykovska

During the past year and a half, part of the artistic research project Navigating Dizziness Together was conducting accompanying artistic research to the Action for Sustainable Future (ASF) hub, a funding and support organisation for diverse projects that aim for increased sustainability at the intersections of art, science, and society. In doing so, the ASF hub provides financial funding and offerings, such as counselling or project management. The ASF hub’s aim is to encourage the involvement of society in research while rethinking how research is being done: Rather than merely involving citizen actors in research, it supports citizen-led projects from the very beginning. The overarching goal of the ASF hub is to foster the transition to a sustainable society, and, as indicated in its name “Action for Sustainable Future”, breaking this down into smaller, collective actions. The ASF hub in itself can be considered such an action, providing the framework for further actions by supporting the projects.

The ASF hub’s whole structure contains experimental components on different levels: The projects are encouraged to experiment (e.g., by combining artistic and scientific methods, and working playfully); the ASF hub is experimenting with innovative forms of research governance that combines monetary, and often intimate personal, as well as advisory support, and invites creative and artistic elements, such as workshops or meetings with artists. Part of this approach is the artistic research project Navigating Dizziness Together. It accompanied the ASF hub from the perspectives of dizziness (Ruth Anderwald + Leonhard Grond) and queering (Leo Hosp). The goal was to support, make sense of, and learn from/with/for the structures of, and processes within, the ASF hub. The methodology included offering space and tools for reflection and analysis through artistic and creative practices—coming together, amongst others, in three so-called Dizziness Workshops often aimed at the organisational board of the ASF hub. One of the workshops took place on December 13, 2022, at Zentrum Fokus Forschung. It combined not only the perspectives of dizziness and queering but also expertise on the establishment of a dialogue between the practice of art and law (Yuliia Strykovska). The workshop included a theoretical and artistic introduction to the concepts, collective balance training, visualisation and mapping of roles, and exercises to experience togetherness. One example of such a space for reflection was opened up as follows: First, all participants were invited to go on an “inspirational walk” (developed by Yuliia Strykovska). Everyone enjoyed a stroll around the space and collected things they wanted to bring back into the round of participants—anything from leaves or stones to pieces of trash. Afterward, through bisociative thinking, the elements were brought together with the initial goals of the ASF hub, highlighting how/if they had developed and transformed over time.

The following text is an assembled reflection on the workshop, building up a chain of thoughts and perspectives by Yuliia Strykovska (YUST), Leo Hosp (LEHO), and Ruth Anderwald + Leonhard Grond (RALG). It has been written during the process of accompanying the ASF hub, thus, it is not a final reflection, but rather unpolished collage-like notes.

YUST: The Dizziness workshop served as a platform for participants, primarily representatives of various innovative projects funded by the ASF hub, to engage in a reflection on the project’s sustainability and the cohesion of the ASF hub as a unified entity. It evolved into a space where collective practices were acknowledged and their impact on fostering solidarity within the community was appreciated.

During the workshop, the bi-sociation activity catalysed a broader discussion about the goals set for the projects and the hub. Through creative thinking and analysis of ASF hub strategic and tactical objectives, participants concluded that ASF hub entity-level goals and processes should encompass and mirror those of specific projects. This includes the establishment of a community of practice with a horizontal approach to management, elevating capabilities through the involvement of civil actors, sharing best practices, and prototyping pioneering projects.

Reflection on project objectives and perspectives brought to light the need for projects to gain agency within the ASF hub, necessitating inter-project communication. This involves envisioning and mapping a shared future, nurturing open processes, and cultivating a sense of community through collaborative efforts and mutual support.

The adoption of a bottom-up approach in goal setting emerged as a robust indicator of the so-called Growth Culture within the ASF hub. Actively contributing to goal-setting, providing valued feedback, or having a stake in decision-making contributes to the collaborative setup of the ASF hub.

The logical progression from this workshop involves communicating these goals, ideas, and tasks to the ASF hub leadership. Subsequently, the ASF hub board initiates communication with projects to address the collective sustainability of the ASF hub, considering each project as an integral part. This signifies a significant step toward a more horizontal approach in ASF hub management, firmly anchoring the perspective of sustainable development for the innovative hub.

LEHO: I would like to continue reflecting on two of the terms you brought up: sustainability and goals. In a way, sustainability, or the pursuit of it, is the context of the ASF hub. Not only is it a vital part of its name (Action for Sustainable Future), but it is also part of main slogans like “Shaping the sustainable transformation of our society!” or “Shaping sustainable societies together.” Thereby, the ASF hub is built on the goal of fostering sustainability. Similarly, the individual projects supported by the hub also work with different forms of sustainability. During the workshop, it was brought up that the goals of the ASF hub feel heavy since wanting to shape sustainable societies seems like a lot to aim for. The participants discussed how important it is to have a mindset of being good enough for now, of being patient, or of practicing making mistakes.

Next to this rather heavy, almost daunting understanding of sustainability as a big goal, it was also discussed directly related to the ASF hub itself, in the sense of the sustainability of the ASF hub and the supported projects. Since the duration of the ASF hub as a support structure for the projects is confined until the end of 2023, there is a certain time pressure and uncertainty about what will happen afterward. While bi-sociating the goals of the ASF hub and the individual projects with souvenirs from inspirational walking, a watering pot became a symbol for growing together and taking roots beyond the restricted project time.

From the outsider perspective of an artistic researcher, it feels like a lot of dizziness comes from both understandings of sustainability. On the one hand, the goal of a sustainable transformation can seem unapproachable. On the other hand, not knowing about what will happen after the end of 2023 creates a precarious situation that potentially leads to a certain crumbling apart even before the project duration has come to an end.

Dizziness was discussed as something deeply human and inherent in collaborative processes. In the end, participants reflected on experiencing dizziness, and one statement was that “Dizziness with support is quite alright.” (“Taumel mit Stütze ist ganz okay.”) This is important when thinking about how understanding dizziness can help in caring for and moving toward each other. The potential of small things was highlighted amongst others by the metaphor of keeping balance easier just by gently touching each other instead of standing on our own.

Coming back to the importance of context: When pursuing sustainability is defined as one context of the ASF hub, dizziness can be a result of the heavy, daunting character. When thinking about the non-sustainability of the ASF hub itself due to its somewhat precarious situation (e.g. limited time), dizziness can be created by uncertainty. I am proposing the following questions: What if the context of the ASF hub and the existing dizziness were care? Can care turn rather negative dizziness into something more pleasant/manageable? Metaphorically speaking, can care turn dizziness into a dance?

Context of the ASF hub #1: pursuing sustainability = heavy, daunting = dizziness
Context of the ASF hub #2: precarious situation (e.g. limited time) = not sustainable, uncertainty = dizziness

RALG: The dizziness workshop creates an “outside” for all participants from the overarching hub structure without shedding its contextualisation. The different tools offered – theoretical and artistic introduction into the concept, individual and collective balance exercises, inspirational walk, bi-sociation, discussion, and development – are selected to provide the various learning and thinking preferences of participants with sufficient stimuli and opportunities to connect. This workshop, as the hub structure itself, opens a spacetime of possibility that we call a “compossible space” where different, even mutually excluding elements, matter, viewpoints, and narratives can be simultaneously present and coexist, but can potentially merge to transform or dissolve. But such a compossible space, a space of altered or added possibility, is notoriously difficult to navigate, as Søren Kierkegaard asserts in his The Concept of Anxiety. Creating mutual support is imperative, as is creating a supportive environment. Nevertheless, sometimes support is necessarily temporary – as a momentary need to balance out a difficulty or suspend a given structure. Such support offers a moment of potential: to reflect,  (co-)create, reorient, or reorganise. The aim of the hub is to facilitate transitions. The projects are also facilitating change on different levels (in a practical sense, increasing awareness, or trying out and opening new imaginary spaces). In this way, they are connected to dizziness and participants are likely to feel its sensory, emotional, communicative, and cognitive impact.

Reflecting together with the dizziness team, the hub board and participants rendered the following thoughts:
  • Reflection in itself, just like transformation, is only a tool, not a goal. It allows for actions and developments to emerge and needs them to be generative.
  • A reassessment of what is deemed productive is needed and becomes especially virulent when thinking in terms of sustainability. Can a start-up mentality, that is notoriously exploitative towards its protagonists really lead to a more sustainable society? How to counter the logic of self-exploitation? When feeling exhausted, what actions, expectations, and ideologies need to be left out?
  • The hub’s Toolkit: financial and management support in the form of care?), added possibility, empowering potential for transformation. Explain what can be expected, care, and support.
  • Communication always! The more experimental the setting and the more pressure for innovation, the more patient communication needs to be part of the process, taking all tensions that may arise into the center of everyone’s attention.
  • The connection between confusion and emergence needs to be foregrounded, allowing confusion to arise and mix up the process within a sustainable and supportive environment. 
  • The temporary aspects of sustainability are as important as the goal for enduring sustainability built into our culture and lifestyle.
  • Support, temporality, sustainability, experiment, desire (motivation, energy, wish), pressure (innovation), futures interconnect.
  • What expertise have we gained in the process and how do we formulate such expertise? Where do we go with it when the hub comes to an end? What needs to change within us?