Not One / To Be Two Statement
Not One / To Be Two was created, and has featured in all LEP workplayshops, as a response to the marketised and hypermasculine environment of the academic institution. Not One / To Be Two is an enclosed art installation that is exhibited within the clinical and hierarchical spaces of the academic institution. These spaces not only express the corporate institutional processes that capture social spaces and create the conditions for the production of a capitalistic subjectivity, they also express the hypermasculine environment of the academic institution that produces a subjectivity which is aligned with the interests of patriarchy. With the aim to challenge these conditions, Not One / To Be Two was created as a feminist artistic encounter. It was inspired by Irigaray’s feminist approach to the canon of Western philosophy, which aims to problematise and reinvent it by articulating and promoting a space for the feminine within it through an exploration of the labial as the potential for a counter-discourse of plurality and difference. Not One / To Be Two is constructed as a large labial installation that aims to problematise and reinvent the hypermasculine environment of the academic institution by creating a feminine space within it. To the extent that it is constructed within the academic institution, it also aims to cause a disruption to the marketised environment of the academic institution by constructing an enclosed space within the corporate captured space. As an enclosed art installation, it could be argued that it is operating in a similar way to the hypermasculine and corporate institutional processes that capture social spaces. However, I argue that Not One / To Be Two captures social spaces in its enclosed space with the purpose of liberating it from its patriarchal and capitalist conditions.
Faced with an opening that symbolises the two labial lips, two participants are invited to crawl one by one through the opening into the dark inside. The inside space contrasts the cold clinical and hierarchical space of the academic institution outside, as it offers dim warm lighting and a soft inflatable ground. The two participants are asked to sit in the enclosed space and exchange eye contact for five to 10 minutes. Through this silent non-instrumentalised exercise, the engaged participants are encouraged to enact an unspoken exchange with one another. The purpose of this silent exchange is motivated by Irigaray’s suggestion that teaching does not have to only consist in ‘speaking, but in being capable of remaining silent too, of withdrawing in order to let the other be, become and discover his or her path, his or her language’ (2008). She suggests building dwellings so that we can protect ourselves in our differences, whilst being open to encountering other differences. Not One / To Be Two was built as an Irigarayan inspired dwelling to protect ourselves in our differences, whilst forming bonds with others. This silent exchange is encouraged as an experiment in bond formation, and is an attempt at inciting a common experience that counters the normal experience of the academic institution.