Emma Watson (she/her)
Emma Watson is an emerging curator, writer and researcher currently pursuing an MLitt in Curatorial Practice (Contemporary Art), jointly delivered by the Glasgow School of Art and the University of Glasgow. She grew up in the UK and South Africa and is currently based between Perthshire, Scotland and Charleston, South Carolina. She holds a BA (Hons) in English and Art History from the University of Sussex (2020) where she was awarded the Mary Dove Prize for Literature. She has previously held internships at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, Charleston (2018), and more recently at the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow (2022). She is currently completing an MLitt Curatorial Practice (Contemporary Art) jointly delivered by the Glasgow School of Art and the University of Glasgow.
Emma-Caitlin Watson’s curatorial practice is founded on awareness of the socio-cultural responsibilities of curating, viewing the role of curator to be intimately entangled with social justice. Tending to the notion of abolition as curatorial practice her recent work thinks with/in/through a Black feminist poethics in order to imagine the world otherwise. Aligned with theories and practices that decentre post-Enlightenment thought, she looks to develop a practice that is fluid and iterative, a never-ending process of (un)learning and (un)knowing.
Often concerned with the relationship between the onto-epistemological and the aesthetics, the written/poetic and the visual, Emma’s practice explores the relationship between curating and art writing. Influenced by the ways in which words can carry and labour beyond their capacity, she is drawn to projects that challenge and expand the exhibition form. As such, her practice is invested in programming that makes propositions, explores the impossibility of completeness, and critically evades comprehension.
Emma’s research and curatorial interests include feminist theories and practices, the abstract and the speculative, the quantum and the cosmic, theories of entanglement and leakiness, the capacities of language and grammar, encounters and convergences, creative knowledge production, tangents, and the notion of the end as the continual beginning.
As Matter is an online publication that explores the theory of poethics through creative practice. Framed as an encounter, the publication features artworks by artists Désirée Coral and Fairouz El Tom and writing that corresponds with and writes to these artworks, with design by Freddie Guthrie.
Informed by the writing of theorist Denise Ferreira da Silva, As Matter engages a Black feminist poethics to speculate how to exist otherwise, an unthinking of the world towards its end – decolonisation. As an ethics and a grammar of possibility – an articulation of the future as it will have had to be – poethics offers a disruption of the modern political order of racial subjugation, refusing the limitations of post-Enlightenment thought and its construction of the human.
Exploring multiple ways of knowing and being in the world, Coral and El Tom reflect on the ways we connect and relate to one another, to nature, to the more-than-human and the cosmos. Engaging with the knowledge and the life of materials, Désirée Coral’s practice considers the process of making as thinking, understanding the importance of generating contextual material knowledge. Working in photography, Fairouz El Tom presents semi abstract images of the world, blurring the line between the familiar and the new, creating a visual language that attends to new and endless possibilities for imagining the world.
Through the included artworks, As Matter explores the potential for artistic practice and aesthetics to iterate a radically different future. This notion of imagining otherwise entangles As Matter with the expansive discourse of feminist abolitionists. As such, As Matter seeks to explore the propositions and questions that are raised by the discourse of both a Black feminist poethics and of feminist abolitionists: what would the world and existence look like if it was no longer defined by determinacy, but rather an expression of infinite possibilities, an always coming into being? How would this redefine and reorientate our relationship with the human, the more-than-human, the earth and beyond, towards a more equitable future? By reading and thinking with, in, and through a Black feminist poethics, As Matter invites the reader to depart from the World into the worlds of possibility.
To mark the launch of the publication a conversation with Désirée Coral and Fairouz El Tom was hosted on Zoom on the 3 August 2022 at 7pm. In polyphony with the publication, the artist talk created a space in which to open the conversations that were had throughout the production of As Matter to a wider audience. As an extension of the publication the event created a convergence between artists, curator and audience and demonstrated the iterative nature of the practices and theories around which this project centres and sprawls out from, a constellatory gesture that invited the reader to engage with multiple ways of knowing and being in and of the world.
As Matter, the name
The name of the publication, As Matter, is a phrase taken from Rizvana Bradley and Denise Ferreira da Silva’s co-authored article, ‘Four Theses on Aesthetics,’ which was published in e-flux Journal in 2021. The use of the word “matter” in this context can be found in Denise Ferreira da Silva’s writing on the equation of value, ‘1 (life) ÷ 0 (blackness) = ∞ − ∞ or ∞ / ∞: On Matter Beyond the Equation of Value’, published in e-flux Journal in 2017.