I run a module called Designing our Ways out of Design at St Joost Master Institute and Visual Culture in Den Bosch, NL, where I am trying to advocate for post-anthropocentric ethics in design pedagogy by introducing ‘human-animal relations’ as an example in which we can see the role of design in the making and unmaking of Worlds.

During the first semester, the module seeks to engage in investigative modes of design through research – industrial factory farming – to materialize cartographies of counter-positions. The second semester attempts to empower safe and ‘brave’ spaces to emerge for collective healing, through an affirmative reading of radical caring practices, such as farm animal sanctuaries.

On the ruins of design, we may find each other

A project by Márton Kabai. All videos are subject to copyright, 2021.

The video essay borrows the structure and attitude of the Lunch Table 19 series created by the group in the second semester of the study year 2020/21. As a response to issues amplified by COVID-19, the project for that semester revolved around the concept of ‘the sanctuary’, so the group come up with the idea of meeting online during lunchtime. They subsequently turned the project into four acts: Care, Nature, Logistics and Collaboration. Each time, they agreed on what they were going to eat, so they had to prepare for the meal in order not to let each other down. They turned their laptop camera towards the meal, so in fact, the conversation was animated by the food they were eating as a speaking ‘material witness’.

I wasn’t involved in these sessions; it was their own space to take care of. It was their research sanctuary, a way of reclaiming social life, agency and their bodily existence that needed care and nurturing. I have used original footage and their publication texts as a source, and also new materials based on a written script that attempt to juxtapose some excerpts from our online tour of the Freedom Farm Animal Sanctuary at the beginning of the module. The students’ openness, respect and honesty towards each other made these sessions go beyond a simple class assignment, because they could truly connect in times of disconnection. Lunch Table 19 is a beautiful metaphor for an affirmative, post-critical pedagogical practice.

Designing our Ways out of Design
Elena Lupoiu, Niké Dolman, Qi Zhang, Sixin Zeng, Valeria Ferone, Vanessa Sekacova, Xiduo Zhang, Yang Yu (class of 2020/2021)

Freedom Farm Sanctuary Guide
Ruth Levy
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St Joost Master Institute of Visual Cultures
Piet Zwart Institute – Master Education of in Arts

A project by Márton Kabai. All videos are subject to copyright, 2021.