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04/09/2021 - 04/09/2021

Inter/species Yoga: A Devotional Exploration in Practice
A performative and collaborative yoga session by curator Daniela Zyman

“In tantric tradition the “yogic body” is depicted as a microcosmic manifestation of the macrocosmic universe. It contains oceans, rivers, planets, animals, and seers. The esoteric body guides a visualization system of tradition-specific metaphysics and ritual schemata, that decenters the self and places it within the particles of the cosmos. Through practice and meditation, the self is taught to become universal and form part of what Dana Levin calls “the isness of the is.”

In this class, I invite you to experiment with a series of old and newly imagined poses and dynamic flows that direct Yoga’s “luminous cognition” to animal, vegetal, and mineral entities. I will depart from the canonical visualization of the yogic body and its taxonomy of asanas (poses.) Inter/species Yoga wishes to reignite our devotional attention and imagination to the forms of being that we model and embody. Becoming (like) our kins on the mat might unsettle for a moment the upright exceptionalism of the human. Approaching them as a human requires that we go deep into ourselves and remember what we were a very long time ago. We journey backward in time and downward into the aquatic space, connecting us to the most alien and oldest forms of consciousness. Shapeshifting with the shark, the siphonophore, the eel, the starfish, the megalops larvae, the jellies, and innumerable others; tentacling our digits in air and on the mat, catching prey, and micro-stabilizing eccentric animal postures–allow us to approximate the mutability of life forms, their indeterminacies and the shared commonalities across them. Can we use yogic practicing and imaging, as novices and experimenters, to intimate a mutualistic relationship with the living and nonliving? Mutualism, derived both from Western biology and revolutionary, anarchist theory twists the idea of relationality in two directions: mutuus, being in exchange (as in mutual) and mutare (to change into). Mutualism would thus demand a method of being-in-exchange-with in order to change-into. The “I” is allowed to become mutable. Inter/species Yoga, I want to suggest, could be a (political) practice of hope and care, moving through bodies and with bodies. I hope to discuss these ideas during the workshop with participants.”

Daniela Zyman is a curator, writer, educator, and yogic amateur. She developed the proposal for Inter/species Yoga a few years ago, when invited by the artist group SUPERFLEX to participate in their research expedition in the Pacific. She considers this approach to Yoga as a possibility to redirect the self-centeredness of the Modern practice to forms of planetary stewardship. Fully cognizant that many practitioners are committed to yoga to find some peace and inner quietness in a world of chaos and stress, Daniela worries about the reaffirmation of individualism and self-care and hopes to re-articulate more latent or obscure aspects of the tradition. She is artistic director of Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21), a private foundation established by Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza. She joined TBA21 in 2003 and has played an instrumental role in shaping its exhibitions and commissions program. Between 1995 and 2001 Daniela was chief curator of the MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art in Vienna, which included the founding and programming of the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in Los Angeles. From 2000 to 2003 she worked as the artistic director of the Künstlerhaus, Vienna and as director of A9 Forum Transeuropa. She holds a PhD in artistic research, is lecturing at the University of Art and Industrial Design in Linz, and frequently authors essays for art publications. Currently she is curating “Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation” at Ocean Space in Venice and Walid Raad’s “Cotton under my Feet” at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza In Madrid.

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