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The Art of Slowness

It is mid-August and the skies are oily with smog. A handful of galleries have pressed pause on their exhibition cycle, the city streets half-buzz, half-empty as vacationers exit the city for reprieve. If we want to talk about seasonal slowness, August is the month when structures loosen and demands slacken. So, perhaps it comes as no surprise that in the sluggish heat of August, where we are forced to slow our bodies to accommodate the environment that I, too, am thinking about slowness in the context of art writing and practice. I’m interested in the ways that slowness is thought of, implied, and practiced in processes of art making and viewership.

Using the Slow Movement as my starting point for thinking about slowness and its many intersections, we can see that slowness works to dismantle normative ideas of production and consumption and exchanges measured and quantitative temporality with affective, qualitative experience. As slowness becomes suffixed to many sectors threatened by corporatization and capitalist acceleration, it may too be a method of critique and embodied thinking in art practice and writing to articulate spaces of ambiguity and poetics and make way for looser structures of thinking and making.

However, the relation between art and slowness is more intimate than a coupled term: art is fundamentally slow. It both embodies and invites slowness, distancing itself from the accelerated flows of production, distribution, and consumption and inviting interaction without aim or definitive result. Art is an anachronistic, slow object that stages itself against time and instead opens itself to multiple temporalities. Art objects are not static representations but objects open to activation by subjective, cultural, and historical interpretation. These next instalments of writing, produced during my stay at Xpace Culture Centre through the Writer-in-Residency program, expand on art’s slowness and the art of slowness to consider temporality and movement in art writing and practice.

-Sara England