Anti-checklist for “alterities”

October 9, 2013

2

Given whom we are – individuals tightly bound together in a network of norms and power structures that are inseparable from our view of the world – alteration is hard. Trying to break free from our point of view, I am immediately faced with the question of new reference points, directions and goals. This is challenging, partly because anything designed, planned or conceived still will reference where I come from, but also because I, as an any individual but particularly as a person with the qualifications to become a part of the heart of the patriarchal system, am used to the comparative convenience of leaning against habitual structures. I also have an even strengthened set of norms: I do not only carry with me what an individual with my background would normally have; I have also passed through a normative education, In one way making me more less suited for the job I am educated to do than most.

Even if I write this text from my point of view, I find it hard to point out an absolute direction for my practising in order to avoid conformation with the norm. Telling someone what to do, I feel, is just the wrong way of creating the unexpected. Instead I suggest the opposite approach: an anti-checklist for my “alterity”. It is easier to recognise what I need to change, to point out the most obvious traps, instead of precisely defining the exact methods of my practice and thereby excluding what I do not yet know. I see this not as a tool of correction or an absolute template; I think a feminist practice needs to be nuanced and open to discover new relations. Rather it is an indication that a practice with too many checks might need a rethinking.

  1. Is there no engendered subject, or an imprecise subject with no private body-relation to the space?
  2. Have I found a solution to a known problem?
  3. Does my practice or the result of it integrate seamlessly with the spatial, organisational, procedural, juridical and economical context?
  4. Does my practice retain power relations in my context?
  5. Do I know the context, or do I assume I knew it?
  6. Do I copy or paraphrase known ideas?
  7. Is my practise free of contradiction?
  8. Did I do what I was expected to do?
  9. Could I control the whole process, or were all the actors known by me?
  10. Did I have the intention of equity, such as equal sharing of recourses and space?
  11. Does my practice have an appealing image to the general public?
  12. Is my practice large in scale in relation to my context?
  13. Is my process characterized by rare or one-way communication with the client?
  14. Do I have a clear picture of the consequences of my practice?
  15. Do I generally feel comfortable?
  16. Have I done this before?

This list could be used for any level of design: on a practice, a project or on a single design decision.
The convention is one, the possibilities are infinite.

/Johan

Inspired by ‘Altering Practices’ in Altering Practices: Feminist Politics and Poetics of Space, London: Routledge, 2007, pp 1-7, 10-15

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