Abstract: Transplanetary Ecologies
Centre for Outer Space Studies
Institute of Advanced Studies
University College London
7 June 2023.
Transplanetary Ecologies Abstract
In my research I examine the history of varied narratives associated with flight, discovering new ways of looking at how technology, gender and labour have related to one another and in what ways these relationships may be shifting. My research is also my practice, which diverges from conventional, technical analyses of aeronautical design. My approach to research is more personal and emerged from efforts to research the history of my own family’s links to aeroplane design in the 1920’s; by investigating the story of the Shavrov Sh-2 amphibious plane designed by my grandfather, Vadim Shavrov. This study, along with the personal accounts of family members, leads me to scrutinise the gendering of aviation around ‘hard’ technologies and myths of masculine heroism that contrast with earlier imaginings of flight associated with witchcraft and the domain of feminine power.
In my studio work, I use soft sculptural materials and textiles techniques such as sewing, tufting and weaving to explore these questions. I have staged exhibitions of large scale, for example the recent installation of a giant Rover-inspired merino wool parachute soft sculpture entitled ‘Dare Mighty Things’ which was floated inside the new hangar space at the Royal College of Art Battersea. In this work, the soft textile objects that express poetic resonances in the technologies of flight through sculptural installations, challenge us to question how the choice of materials can embody gendered constructs. To date, I have been progressing my objectives through research in the studio and by textual engagement with literature around the subject; in particular the writing of Paul Virilio on Speed And Politics that is seen as proposing a critically new reading of the history of aviation. This work has prompted me to see that many of the questions that I articulate in my research can only be resolved by studying the curatorial methodologies and display techniques of contemporary exhibition-making. Investigation of these methodologies and approaches to flight and its iterations through museums’ interpretations and displays could form the core of the Transplanetary Ecologies Workshop session in June. A selection of smaller scale textile artworks ( Threads of Surveillance. Soft Drones Series, for example) could be shown in a specifically designed space/ context, as part of the Workshops sessions.
Varvara Keidan Shavrova
The Transplanetary Ecologies workshops are part of Space Week organised by the Centre for Outer Space Studies (COSS). To sign up for other COSS Space Week events see the Off_Earth Atlas events: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-off-earth-atlas-workshop-territories-tickets-570831401087
Organisers: Rachel Hill and Makar Tereshin on behalf of the Centre for Outer Space Studies (COSS). COSS was founded in 2019 to promote research and teaching related to the social study of Outer Space and our relationship to the cosmos and the planet. Read more about the Centre for Outer Space Studies (COSS): https://www.ucl.ac.uk/institute-of-advanced-studies/centre-outer-space-studies