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Cosa Bella Mortal: A Work of Friction

An artwork-essay: read here

Graphic design: Martin Stoecklin and Melina Wilson, Zurich

Web development: Daniel Massey, Malmö

Typeface: Cerial, by Theetat Thunkijjanukij

Commissioned for Experimenting, Experiencing, Reflecting (EER), an art-science research project funded by the Carlsberg Foundation, Denmark


Cosa Bella Mortal: A Work of Friction (2023) was developed within the art-science research project Experimenting, Experiencing, Reflecting (EER) and published as an artwork-essay bringing together method and form. It comprises 20 sections that jump across times and spaces, each marked with a date and geographical coordinates to emphasize links to memory and situated experience. All examining friction from different angles, the sections themselves rub up against each other with their own narrative frictions and life-rhymes. The themes of the essay braid reflections and experiments about: friction-driven world-building, resistance, mortality, grief, twinning temporalities, shifting material identities, and more-than-human (re)compositions. The narratives toggle back and forth between the science of friction, studio experiments with materials, intimate recollections, multilayered ecologies, and ‘cold’ encounters with measurements at science laboratories in Paris and Berlin. 


From this work, I developed an interdisciplinary group experiment, titled ‘Works of Friction: A Reading and Heap Experiment’. In EER, we hold regular workshops to test relational methods. Soon after the publication, I was invited to develop an experiment, which ran as follows: After reading excerpts from my essay to the group, participants joined me outside for the pouring of heaps. In a quasi-ceremonial way, I poured various materials onto different spots, gave participants time to record their observations, and measured the heaps with makeshift tools. During the experiment and the larger workshop, friction within a heap became a form to describe the social and creative dynamics of the group when thinking and doing together: how participants from myriad fields come together, get caught on each other, re-individuate, and come together again in different configurations.

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