CultureLab • Seminar

X-Centric Futures – Debate #2

Peter Schuback, Márcia Sá Cavalcante Schuback, Michael Marder – Green Mass: The Ecological Theology of St. Hildegard of Bingen

Discussion and musical performance around the book Green Mass: The Ecological Theology of St. Hildegard of Bingen, with the presence of Peter Schuback, Márcia Sá Cavalcante Schuback and Michael Marder.

Green Mass is a meditation on — and with — twelfth century Christian mystic and polymath Saint Hildegard of Bingen. Attending to Hildegard’s vegetal vision, which greens theological tradition and imbues plant life with spirit, philosopher Michael Marder uncovers a verdant mode of thinking. In a conversation with Márcia Sá Cavalcante Schuback, resonating with music by Peter Schuback, he will stage a fresh encounter between present-day and premodern concerns, ecology and theology, philosophy and mysticism, the material and the spiritual, in word and sound.​

Hildegard’s lush notion of viriditas, the vegetal power of creation, is emblematic of her deeply entwined understanding of physical reality and spiritual elevation. From blossoming flora to burning desert, Schuback and Marder play with the symphonic multiplicity of meanings in her thought, listening to the resonances between the ardency of holy fire and the aridity of a world aflame. Across Hildegard’s cosmos, we hear the anarchic proliferation of her ecological theology, in which both God and greening are circular, without beginning or end.

This event will take place within the scope of the activities of the X-Centric Futures research seminar (CultureLab/IFILNOVA), coordinated by Giovanbattista Tusa, and was developed in collaboration with Centro Cultural Carpintarias de São Lázaro.

This collaborative effort aims to change the generally installed perception that the future is an inescapable and threatening age of social disruption and ecological catastrophes.
It seeks to develop rigorous critical practices and create an open platform for a dialogue between different perspectives in the redefinition of thinking in a planetary age.
Throughout the program of debates we start from the assumption that there is no humanity to come, but rather a multitude of different humanities with different futures and different pasts, whose exploration implies the development of new theoretical and practical frameworks and categories.

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The X-Centric Futures research seminar, coordinated by Giovanbattista Tusa, aims to extend critical thought in the humanities and social sciences and to develop rigorous critical practices that move beyond academic interdisciplinarity. The mission of the program is to deepen different perspectives that concur in the redefinition of critical thinking in a planetary age, and to explore art practices that challenge well-established assumptions of research and the methodologies used for analysis by privileging critical approaches to thinking that have generally not yet entered into academic discussions.

We believe that there is a philosophical vacuum on the subject of futurity other than that imagined as a data visualisation leading to decision-making by corporate, administrative or political bodies. To some extent, it is as if philosophy has abdicated its function and delegated to corporate global think tanks the responsibility for formulating viable paths for the transformation of our present. To explore X-centric, divergent futures means for us to experiment with time, space, and politics. It means to complicate our time with invisible, insurgent, multiple temporalities that fissure the material layers of our history, to reframe global historical narratives that incorporate decolonising processes and climate justice, nurturing ourselves as a community, creating wishful images inhabited by unseen, dissident realities that are coming into being.

Research and dissemination activities have included The X-Centric Futures Monthly Debates Program, a series of public seminars organized by Giovanbattista Tusa and Bartholomew Ryan which took place in 2022 at the Cultural Centre Carpintarias de São Lázaro, featuring the art collective Claire Fontaine on Magical Materialism; the musical performance Green Mass: The Ecological Theology of St. Hildegard of Bingen by Michael Marder, Peter Schuback, and Márcia Sá Cavalcante Schuback; the presentation of Uriel Orlow’s Imbizo Ka Mafavuke; and the screening and discussion of Bahar Noorizadeh’s After Scarcity and The Red City of the Planet Capitalism.

In 2023 the ADVANCED PROGRAMME IN X-CENTRIC FUTURE STUDIES will combine the research seminar with workshops (in presential and remote format)and a student-led reading group in Lisbon to promote the growth of research and artistic projects on emerging social movements, future political constellations, and x-centric communities.