Tender Alembicians: Dialogic Sympoiesis


In Her Interior, Her Eyes Were As Black As Coal…(still), 2019. Mixed media installation and video, 9 min. Courtesy of the artists.


Tender Alembicians: Dialogic Sympoiesis

Clinic presented by In Her Interior

Date: Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Times: 2 x 3-hour clinics

Location: Eyebeam, 199 Cook St, Brooklyn, NY 11206


For further details and RSVP, please contact Lola at [email protected]


This free clinic is offered in the spirit of the social production of knowledge and reframing traditional power dynamics between “experts” and “client/patient/student”.


Clinic description:

The consultation/dialogic Sympoiesis will take place between In Her Interior and others who have a history of working collectively as artists and/or writers.


In a co-constitutive process of exchange in a semi-structured/semi-performative 3 hour appointment, artists working with collaborative practices bring us – from a project which is either incipient, in-progress or completed – a knot that needs to be unravelled or made knottier, or one that needs its strings reconfigured. We are calling this process “dialogic sympoieisis”. Based on Beth Dempster’s ideas of sympoiesis, the conversation turns to how open systems of co-creation are generative, perpetually regenerative, “evolutionary, distributively controlled, unpredictable and adaptive.” In a material and meta-methodological move, we pass the strings from hand to hand – weaving – our way into and out of knotty propositions.


This dialogic process is based on trust (a trust in the clinic setting and with one another that must be quickly formed, even if only on a provisional basis) and exchanges as peers. What are the tacit knowledges that we bring to bear on how and what we create? Drawing upon knowledges and experiences of cross-sector inter-group mutual support practices, participants will explore philosophies and methodologies around co-creation, anti-authorial production, philosopoeisis, risk, failure, tenderness and playfulness. The following prompts invite people to share exemplars of practices, along with (perhaps) spectacular failures and minor disasters from which important learnings emerged.


Prompts for dialogic sympoiesis:

  • How do we deal with conflict within our groups, whether these be over ideas, ideologies, ways of communicating, decision-making, and so forth?
  • Is ‘deep listening’ a thing?
  • How might principles of peer-to-peer sharing and skilling be further extended within and across groups?
  • An going problem of the experimental: how to avoid becoming an exclusive space (and does it matter)?
  • Surviving in precarity: is collaboration a way to survive?
  • Open (art/tech/subjectivity) platforming.
  • Horizontal/diagonal practices of creativity and resistance
  • Autonomy and/or parasitic, non-compromising relationships with funders.
  • Questions of value (production of the useless, anti-capitalist approaches)
  • Collaboration across timespace?
  • When is it time to turn off the machines and turn to mirth and merrymaking?


Reading List:

Beth Dempster: Sympoietic and Autopoietic Systems: a new distinction for self-organizing systems


Beth Dempster: Sympoietic and Autopoietic Systems: a new distinction for self-organizing systems


The Invisible Committee: The Coming Insurrection


What to bring:

An object that can become a prompt for play or discussion.


In Her Interior:

Formed in 2015, IHI co-creates and performs live works of spoken, sung, and recorded text and video within site-specific installation environments. As two of the four cofounders of cyber-feminist group VNS Matrix (est. 1991), da Rimini and Barratt have contributed to critiques of gender and technology for over three decades. In 2016, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of VNS Matrix’s A Cyberfeminist Manifesto for the 21st Century, the group wrote and performed a new text, titled “A Tender Hex for the Anthropocene,” and curated a special section on affective labor for Runway magazine.