Benedetta Crippa
graphic design
& visual interventions
PLENARY BEAUTY




Plenary Beauty is a performative talk conceived and curated for Kunsthall Stavanger (NO) on the many forms sustainability can take within and through visual communication, and the ways they intersect.

The talk was followed by a 2-day workshop for young adults on beauty and norms around our visual surroundings, as part of the program Mobilizing Citizenship. The program aims at engaging young adults challenging notions of art mediation and formal art education. I was invited by assistant curator and design critic Kristina Ketola Bore



THE TALK: PLENARY BEAUTY

“As we collectively recognise the urgency of radically rethinking the ways we relate to the environment and ourselves, we are also called to reflect on how visuality can contribute to harmonious co-existence. How can sustainability unfold through visual work and our visual surroundings? What questions on visuality we can investigate, and act upon? Proposing an expanded view of sustainability, the talk unfolds through an exploration of form, visions and methods for a plenary beauty – one that celebrates, and responds to complexity.”

The talk presented new research and formulations on the urgency of rethinking our approach to sustainability to include those expressions of it that impact our visual surroundings and visual culture(s). I spoke about visual work as holistic work of compassion, that calls for profound, structural changes.

As I believe research on visuality can and should be demonstrated through visual work, a performative talk is a format developed for my own lectures, expanding from the traditional set up to include a high amount of specifically developed sensory and aesthetic experiences. For this case, as the talk speaks about imaginary futures of yet-to-be beauty, I have presented a new series of animated 3D fractals in space, functioning as evocative interludes in-between spoken parts of the talk. 



WORKSHOP

For the workshop, aimed at age group of 12–16, I prepared a hands-on exercise with the goal of stimulating critical reflections on image making, self-image, beauty, technology, agency and activism through visual work. I wished for the participants to challenge their own assumptions on beauty and aesthetics, as well as engage with visual experiments and expand their own sense of ownership of their visual surroundings. 

During the weekend we created a giant collective backdrop using images generated through artificial intelligence starting from self-portraits. The final result is a collage of prints on fabric of ca. 4x3 meters functioning as backdrop for collective and individual portraits. The participants were in charge of the production and selection of their own images.

We spent the first day experimenting with image production mainly in digital environments, while the second day focused on physical work that included printing, collage making, composition and photography. We ended with individual, careful portraits session.




The workshop was run giving space to different styles of learning and making, and through feminist pedagogy – a mix of visible, invisible, subtle and explicit strategies aimed at making everyone in the room (and especially the most vulnerable) feel seen, safe and valid. But also in the position of shaping the best version of themselves, in harmony with one another, through the making. It is my observation that such conditions are what enable profound growth and participation and engaged, meaningful creative work. 

My gratitude goes to the team and staff at Kunsthall Stavanger for their support. Pictures of underage participants are used with their permission.


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