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Why Matter Matters

PhD Candidate Ane Graff's doctoral project

Academic summary

The artistic research project Why Matter Matters will reflect upon matter through the feminist new materialisms, focusing on notions of identity and touch. The project is informed by feminist new materialisms’ ongoing re-thinking of our material reality, in which a relational and process-oriented approach towards matter and processes of materialization plays an integral part. Karen Barad’s concept of “intra-action” and Donna Haraway’s concept of “naturecultures”, amongst others, dispose of the dualisms that have long dominated the humanities, and instead explore the travelling of fluxes. Contemplating identity and touch as complex fluctuating material relations, Why Matter Matters will explore identity and touch in matter through a (dis)entangled focus on 1. the human body and 2. (in)organic materials. Aiming to examine dualisms such as the human and the inhuman and the material and immaterial, as well as the classification and categorisation of materials (and their potential dualistic use[1]), the project will assume an interdisciplinary approach. The project thus encompasses knowledge from the natural sciences, feminist theory and the arts in its exploration of a range of topics such as feminist science studies, microbiology and matter theory (with an emphasis on quantum mechanics). Drawing inspiration from Karen Barad’s method of diffractive reading, the project will read insights from these different fields through one another in order to build new insights in a non-hierarchical manner. The artistic research will be carried out through a range of media such as sculptural installations, literary texts and performative work.


[1] Manuel DeLanda: “I am not convinced that avoiding dualities is the key to a new way of thinking (particularly if one simply adds new ones: modernism- postmodernism, rhizome-tree, power-resistance). What matters is what categories are used dualistically.”