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To dance in the dark
To dance in the dark

Wed, 19 Jul



To dance in the dark

HELEN STARR & KINNARI SARAIYA — Session moderated by Astrid Korporaal

Time and Place

19 Jul 2023, 18:30 – 20:00 WEST


About this session

WEBINAR SERIES 2023 | The Indigenous Gaze: decolonising visual cultures

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Helen Starr

Kinnari Saraiya

The paper draws attention to the diversity in the meaning of “the image” beyond Occidental visual culture. Written alongside the interactive animations of the decolonial, feminist, Indian artist Kinnari Saraiya, this text opens up a space for the shared commonalities between the indigenous Carib and the Indian poetics of touch and proprioception.

The importance of interrogating the historical, cultural and ontological injustices embedded within colonial reality, its mentality and gaze cannot be understated. In the sensory scale of races, a hierarchical world structure was created by the natural historian Lorenz Oken (1779 – 1851). Here, the civilised European eye-man who focused on the world with imperial visuality was positioned at the top and at the bottom was the African skin-man who used touch as his primary sensory modality.

This paper focuses on an indigenous concept which is conceptualised here as skin-thinking. Skin-thinking thinksthrough the lesser-known sense of proprioception or kinesthesia - the sense of self-movement, force, and body position. And skin, unlike the eyes which are closed during our sleep, is always thinking, always processing information from the many worlds we inhabit.

We can rethink the concepts of close proximity and co-presence as we use our fingertips to move through worldbuilding artworks such as, किन्नर's prakṛtiḥ, nṛtya, laya (2022 onwards) and Seven Acts of Nature’s Devastating Dance (2023). Finger kinesthesia is a form of haptic perception that relies on the forces experienced during touch. As the rhythm of our fingers dance us, (as informational beings) through these worlds, our mind creates virtual, illusory haptic shapes. Proprioception, our skin-thinking sense is what allows us to see in the dark.

Webinar Session and Q&A moderated by Astrid Korporaal.

About the Speaker

Helen Starr (TT) is an Afro-Carib world-building producer, curator and cultural activist. Carib people are indigenous to Trinidad, WI, where Helen was born. Helen founded The Mechatronic Library in 2010, to give feminist artists with protected characteristics access to cutting edge media technologies. Often working at the intersection of Art, Technology and Social care, Helen has co-commissioned several interactive artworks for public institutions such as, Wysing Art Centre, FACT (Foundation for Art & Creative Technology) and QUAD in Derby. Helen sits on the board of QUAD, Derby and sits on the Computer Animation Jury for Ars Electronica in Linz. Starr is interested in how virtual, AI and digital systems no longer simply model physical reality, but also shape the way we behave and act with or without our knowledge and consent. She is part of the winning team for the Wolfson Economic Prize 2021 and is interested in how virtual, AI and digital systems no longer simply model physical reality, but also shape the way we behave and act with or without our knowledge and consent. The writings of Jamaican philosopher Sylvia Wynter inform her futuristic, de-colonial practice.


Astrid Korporaal is a curator, researcher and writer. She is currently completing an AHRC-funded PhD at Kingston University, in partnership with the Institute of Contemporary Arts London, researching decolonial and distributed co-authorship practices in contemporary moving image production. She is interested in the way these practices call into question notions of authority, authenticity, ownership and allyship and how they can be extended into curatorial strategies.This research project is linked to the Frames of Representation Festival in London. She holds an M.A. in Global Arts from Goldsmiths University in the United Kingdom and a B.A. in Arts, Culture and Media from the University of Groningen in theNetherlands. Previously, she was curator of education partnerships at the ICA, and co-founder and director of Almanac Projects in London and Turin.

Image © Caroline Monnet, History Shall Speak for Itself II, 2018


  • Webinar #5

    This event is free for Archivo members with active membership plans.




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