Photo: Image from Gravitational Feel, by Fred Moten & Wu Tsang

Fred Moten & Wu Tsang

Exhibition: Gravitational Feel

Gravitational Feel is a sculpture-performance by Fred Moten and Wu Tsang, who together cohabit the roles of poet and performance artist. The work continues their collaboration on the poetics of intimacy and is a research-experiment into how to sense entanglement. Using fabric and sound, Gravitational Feel produces a series of ‘chance events’ as an experiment in blurring the social and physical significance of touch and voice, as well as questions of space and time in matter. 
What if the feel of a poem was not just emotional, but tactile? How do we sense entanglement? Can the knotting of ropes according to a poem’s rhythm make the social pulse of language matter? 
Tangentially: Gravitational Feel makes you wonder about Incan Khipu. When they first encountered them, European colonists thought Khipu (also known as ‘talking knots’: collections of multi-coloured, knotted ropes) were number systems used for administrative purposes like taxation or census, or in military campaigns. Indigenous scholars now believe they had a much richer, more linguistic use of number, capable of transmitting administrative information but also mapping pilgrimage routes or acting as memory tools in retelling oral histories. In movement, the knotted ropes of Gravitational Feel allude toward these differences between how Western and Indigenous minds understood number, matter and language.

Friendship is a series of ‘spooky actions at a distance’1  – the smaller the distance, the spookier the actions become.”
Fred Moten
If you ask him, Fred Moten might say that what people often think of as his poetic and philosophical thinking and writing — about fugitivity, blackness, and blur — isn’t his at all. It’s better conceived as a temporary and fleeting emanation of open-ended friendships within the black radical tradition, queer and indigenous worldviews, the music of blackness, and sites of care. Most often, these have included Stefano Harney, Laura Harris or Wu Tsang, but also hundreds of others. 
Wu Tsang is a filmmaker and performance artist who combines documentary and narrative techniques with fantastical detours into the imaginary in works that explore hidden histories, marginalised narratives, and the act of performing itself. Tsang re-imagines racialised, gendered representations beyond the visible frame to encompass the multiple and shifting perspectives through which we experience the social realm.
Wu took part in Episode 9: Other World’s Already Exist and presented an iteration of their ongoing performance cycle, Moved by the Motion.
Gravitational Feel was commissioned by If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution, as part of Corpus, network for performance practice. Corpus is Bulegoa z/b (Bilbao), Contemporary Art Centre (Vilnius), If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution (Amsterdam), KW Institute for Contemporary Art (Berlin), Playground (STUK Kunstencentrum & M-Museum, Leuven) and Tate Modern (London). Corpus is co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.

Image Description: 30 or 40 different ropes, mostly blue but some in gold and black, maybe half are 1 centimetre in diameter, with knots tied in them at irregular intervals, fill the image. They hang top to bottom.

  • 1. ‘Spooky actions at a distance’ was the term coined by Einstein to describe and reject what he thought of as the impossibility of quantum entanglement, and the upending of cause and effect, about which he was proved to be wrong.