The matters of our stories, and how our stories matter
by Helen Torres
All stories have a beginning, usually more than one, but not necessarily an ending. Much less a happy ending. But, who needs a happy ending? Certainly not the ones who need to practice the arts of living on a damaged planet. For such a mundane and difficult task, we need stories of ongoingness, connection, articulation, becoming; like the ones Donna Haraway calls “multispecies stories”— tales narrated by many hands, pawns, spores, tentacles, told in a myriad of languages.
We need to practice storytelling as a methodology for making other worlds probable, because stories are like the mycelium, those invisible threads that connect trees in the forest through an underground network, transporting the stuff of living, knitting life together.
Written by Helen Torres, social scientist, translator, writer and educator.
At Metàfora Helen gives Critical Theory classes in Feminist Theory & Politics, Queer Theory, Thinking with Donna Haraway and is currently giving a series of classes on Art, fabulation and narratives for worlds to come.
Photo credit: Portrait of Helen Torres by Lucas Guerra
(Above) Still from “Letters from the forest” by Bárbara Sánchez Barroso, (Bottom) Bárbara Sánchez Barroso, photo credit: Blanco y Caramelo (Right) Still from “Botanical Dream” by Bárbara Sánchez Barroso
Philosopher Isabelle Stengers says something like “Tell me which stories you are telling, and I’ll tell
you what kind of world you are worlding.”
Throughout our course Art, fabulation and narratives for worlds to come, we explore different narratives about monsters and the de/construction of otherness, old stories about responsibilities over our creations, and speculative fabulations about possible futures through the writings and artworks of various novelists and artists.
We all share a search for connection with non-humans, and embraced “nature” not as a place where we can go for a walk, nor as a resource or something to save or preserve, but as an imaginary place, a topic, a construction in which humans are not the main characters, much less the heroes of the story. These are some of the concerns that define the artistic practice of visual artist Bárbara Sánchez Barroso.
“Working mainly with moving image and video installation, I’m interested in empathy and connection towards coexistence, thinking about the relations of nature-culture and agency.”
Re-telling stories from a speculative perspective, Bárbara uses video installation as “a portal to other worlds, an experience through which the audience can become other once they have gone through it, not remaining unchanged but entering in a state of becoming”.
In her site-specific video installation called The Holobiont that Therefore I Am, she presents a series of videos and images inspired in the concept of “holobiont”. A holobiont is a biotic community, a multispecies consortia, an ecological community—for example, what we call “humans” when we consider ourselves as independent, autonomous organisms. But the earthly fact is that we are made of bones and flesh, as well as microplastic and bacteria, microchips and fungus, language and memories.
Holobionts, monsters, bees, forests and fire will be some of our companions in this conversation about storytelling, arts and worlds to come.
About the participants
Join us! IN CONVERSATION
on Thursday 5th October between 19:30-21:00 at Metàfora Studio Arts, Carrer de Papin 29, Barcelona
Helen Torres is a versatile professional, encompassing roles as a social scientist, translator, author, and educator. Her primary area of expertise revolves around the intersection of language, arts, and politics. As an independent researcher, she conducts seminars, delivers lectures, and facilitates workshops.
Influenced by the ideas of Donna Haraway, whom she has skillfully translated into Spanish, Helen has forged a comprehensive theoretical framework. Her work spans various domains, including exploring the experiences of women with functional diversity, crafting geographically anchored audio narratives, creating interactive installations, contributing to collaborative publications, and engaging in speculative writing.
For more information, visit her websites:
You can also connect with her on Instagram: @helenlafloresta.
Bárbara Sánchez Barroso is primarily engaged in the realm of moving image and video installation, where her focus lies in exploring empathy, connectivity, and the nuances of coexistence. Her work delves into the intricate relationships between nature and culture, as well as notions of agency. With her camera, she constantly seeks avenues to connect with others and to delve into the realms of human and non-human otherness.
Bárbara firmly believes in the political significance of personal vulnerability and the compelling force of narrative and storytelling. Her artistic practice employs various approaches, ranging from ethnographic documentaries to essay films and fictional cinema, all the while transparently revealing their underlying structures while skillfully playing with them.
She identifies herself as a storyteller and a seeker of narratives, endeavoring to transcend the boundaries between reality and fiction from a perspective rooted in her own experiences and understanding.
For more information, you can visit her website: https://barbarawong.info/About
Connect with her on Instagram: @barbara_wong.