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Thinking from, through, with, and against the collection

Week 6
22–28 Aug 2021
Telling the Stories: on Writing, Curating and Sharing
Nina Paim (BR)
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After innumerous months of digital learning, we find ourselves—perhaps for the first time—in a physical workshop. We are in Dresden, Eastern Germany, in a baroque building that houses the Kunstgewerbemuseum and its collection—one of the fourteen collections of Dresden’s Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen. As we land here together, we will use this moment in time and space to ground ourselves in this specific territory and place and use it as a starting point for a critical reflection around the roles of collections in shaping collective memory—as well as collective amnesia.

What kind of things, objects, artifacts, concepts, and constructs are collected here? What are/were their purposes, functions, aesthetics, and histories? Who made them, when, and with what ideas in mind? What typologies are most recurrent in this collection, and what patterns and anomalies can be found within the collection? What is abundant and what is absent? What ideal of a human do these objects suggest? What ideas about work, time, leisure, wealth, love, community, politics can be derived from these objects? What understandings of gender, race, sexuality, ethnicity, or religion can be inferred from these objects? Ultimately, which visions of the world, society, and humanity do these objects suggest and support? Most importantly, what other visions and concepts are missing? 


For you, design is not a demarcated field or discipline but a lens to critically look at the world. In that, you aren’t afraid to question power and privilege. You’re also not afraid to call things by their true names: bias, prejudice, racism, sexism, violence, justice. And you use the F word a lot—Feminism, that is. You’re angry. Angry at the inequalities around you, angry at design history, angry at design academia, angry at the language used to talk about design. But this anger fuels your research and practice, which you see as a modest means to contribute to the dismantling and disruption of white supremacy, heteronormativity, cisnormativity, patriarchy, ableism. You believe in thinking and working collectively, and you genuinely want to learn from and with others. Finally, you can communicate moderately well in English.

Nina Paim (BR)

Nina Paim is a Brazilian curator and design researcher. Her work usually involves many others and revolves around notions of directing, supporting, and collaborating. She was born in Nova Friburgo 168 years after Swiss settler-colonialists displaced the indigenous tribes of the puris, coroados, and guarus. Love and fate brought her to Basel, where she seeks to transmute her daily immigrant anger into care practices for making space. She curated the exhibition Taking a Line for a Walk” at the 2014 Brno Design Biennial and co-curated Department of Non-Binaries” at the 2018 Fikra Design Biennial. She was a program coordinator for the 2018 Swiss Design Network conference Beyond Change.” She’s a two-time recipient of the Swiss Design Award, and co-founder and director Futuress, a feminist platform for design politics.

Nina Paim (BR)