Delirium & Destiny

A Tale of a Tub, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
8 September 2017 - 5 November 2017 
Exhibition and public program inspired by Maria Zambrano (1904-1991), a Spanish philosopher and political writer, curated by Suzanne Wallinga and Eloise Sweetman
With Apichatpong Weerasethakul & Chai Siris, K.r.m. Mooney, Nicoline Timmer, Etel Adnan, Lee Kit, Sofia Caesar, Tamar Guimarães & Kasper Akhøj, Basma Alsharif, Himali Singh Soin & David Soin Tappeser and Mia You
Sovereignty, alternative histories of rationalism, poetic reason, societal progress, intimacy

Delirium & Destiny is the collaboration of Suzanne Wallinga (co-founder & director A Tale of a Tub) and guest curator Eloise Sweetman that traverses through the Justus van Effen complex in Rotterdam. The efflorescent program engages with the complexity of the surrounding modernist architecture by drawing it together with the work of Maria Zambrano (1904-1991), a Spanish philosopher and political writer. Zambrano employs fictional, autobiographical, and poetic devices in her writing to engage with themes of dreams, time, spirituality, nationality, exile, emotion, and difference. In a time of fear and geopolitical uncertainty—when we are searching for meaning and for ways to actively position ourselves within our complex realities—Zambrano’s work is necessary. Her thinking connects the personal to the political, linking a path of self-development to social and political engagement.

Delirium & Destiny, installation views A Tale of a Tub, 2017. Photos by studio-pw and LNDWstudio.

Rather than creating an exhibition that uses Zambrano’s work as a tool or as an illustration, Delirium & Destiny is influenced by a few of Zambrano’s concepts, in particular, the dream and poetic reason. Dreams, Maria Zambrano says, are ‘not the rehearsal of a past we have already lived, […] but an opportunity to fashion the future’. The dream, whether it be in sleep or in hope gives the opportunity for personal development to rise to civic development. Now is the time to ask ourselves: how do we take account of our own aspirations and recount our actions? The position that the program takes is not to present a political exhibition as a result but rather to reflect on our processes that engage politically in everyday life. How do we employ of emotional, aesthetic, and economic labour at the cost of those around us?

Etel Adnan, Trees, 2012, installation view A Tale of a Tub. Courtesy Sfeir-Semler Gallery. Photo: studio-pw.

Zambrano’s concept ‘poetic reason’ moreover plays a large part in the program draws together the ethics of exhibition making and community engagement. Poetic reason engages with dreams, silence, and spirituality and includes a diversity of thinking. As a result, Delirium & Destiny includes the feminist, the emotional, and the creaturely. Bringing to mind the Australian eco-feminist Val Plumwood who said that there needs to be a convergence of poetry and philosophy to make room for others. These ideas are inclusive allowing for an interchange between people, cultures, languages and it provides a porosity or a fluid transition between apparently fixed binaries. Such a perspective can be turned to the role of art and the nature of exhibitions to give voice and space.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul & Chai Siris, Dilbar, 2013, video still. 

Delirium & Destiny reflects this porosity by inviting artists, poets, and philosophers whose works are often transitory, unstable, and in flux, while connecting to themes of dreams & supernatural phenomena, philosophy & politics, poetics & poetry, narrative & identity, nature & ecology. A Tale of A Tub transforms itself into a place of momentary gathering for talks, collective readings, screenings, and performances, intended to make the interior of the Delirium & Destiny exterior. The program plaits together the different mediums and approaches. Due to the generosity of the Justus van Effencomplex residents, the exhibition continues in the homes of four surrounding apartments. As a whole, the program reflects a multitude of ways of coming together that does not evict one voice, opinion, or perspective, through which the exhibition stays true to the work of Maria Zambrano.

Delirium & Destiny is supported by the City of Rotterdam, the Mondriaan Fund, the VSB Fund and the H.M.A. Schadee Fund and includes collaborations with the Rotterdam Library and the Society for Women in Philosophy.