“We no more make a world by putting symbols together at random than a carpenter makes a chair by putting together pieces of wood at random.”
Today, ‘worlding’ is synonymous with feminist writer and theorist Donna Haraway. She refers to it as the co-operative and clashing ways of ‘world-making’ in which distinct species, technologies and forms of knowledge interact. When philosopher Martin Heidegger first conceived of the word he fashioned the noun (world) into the active verb (worlding) in hopes that it could be used in describing the process of worldmaking and how we experience ‘a world’ as familiar. He considered worlding as an outcome of Dasein’s being. Dasein is a German philosophic term that is used to explain the experience of being that is particular to humankind; having the awareness of mortality, of being ultimately alone while still needing to navigate living and existing alongside other humans. Analytic philosopher Nelson Goodman follows this line of thought further when he proposed that art, philosophy, and the various sciences all make statements about the nature of reality through the creation of “worlds” and defended that these worlds may be concurrently true and yet incommensurate.
Eighty years after ‘worlding’ was originally coined, the term has been appropriated countless times, signifying diverse discourses from economic ontology to proprioception, kinaesthesia and touch; to name but a few.6 Despite all it’s critical transformations, the concept of ‘worlding’ has retained one crucial aspect: it links the ‘world’ and ‘worldliness’ to an act - something we do.
My own definition of worlding, while acknowledging these predecessors, also focuses on the act, something many other artists and I do as a way to communicate with our audiences.
I decided on an experiment in worldmaking and writing so I could explore the strategies and methodologies of worlding belonging to three artists; Meredith Monk, Marianna Simnett and Tacita Dean. To do so, I have claimed a small world for us. Our conversations carry on like any conversation between artists would; shooting back and forth between autobiographical confessions, research references and occasional academic terminology. Quotations from the artists themselves are coloured green, and sources are end-noted so the discussion can flow uninterrupted. Through dialogue and storytelling, we unravel their practices and some of the strategies that emerge that drive these women to share their visions of worlds with others.
This worlding trip begins the moment when I first realised it was possible for other worlds to exist.
The time my cousin ate my goldfish.
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