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Responses to ‘Politics of Intimacy in Practice’

Politics of Intimacy in Practice was an online DIY led by the artist Raju Rage, and supported by ]performance s p a c e[.

Taking place between 14 Dec 2020 ~ 11 Jan 2021, the DIY comprised of 8 participants across the globe – UK, EUR, USA and Mexico – with varied creative practices.


The DIY focussed on processes in a non judgemental environment where participants could bring our authentic selves and hold space for each other, whether through chronic illness, disability, Covid 19, exhaustion, states of being overwhelmed or restless, as well as various marginalised identities.

Counter to the hierarchy and performativity of art industries and the social worlds we survive, resist and exist in, we set out to think~feel through s/pace, what we need in order to live and create and the boundaries we need to set for ourselves and each other whilst doing so. Negotiating self and collective care, inspired by our talismans and wisdom resources, our inherited and learned rituals of care, rigour, rest and reflection.

-Raju Rage


The basis for the DIY was a ‘care package’ devised by Raju Rage, as well as guided prompts, self initiated engagement, collective conversations, activities and personal research.

Raju has made the Care Package available as a download, on a sliding price scale, through Unbound.

Following the completion of the DIY, participants shared elements of their personal explorations of and responses to this expansive theme, from their own worlds and realms, on the ]performance s p a c e[ instagram. These sharings are archived there as story highlights (here and here) and on the main feed.

We are pleased to host further reflections on the DIY, by Raju Rage, Kyla Harris, Andre Medina, Rabindranath A Bhose, Vanessa Young, Kelly Emelle, Hannah Fisenne, Kaiya Waerea, and Joseph Funnell.

A Response by Raju Rage

“Self preservation is an act of political warfare for marginalised people, according to Audre Lorde. First and foremost we need to be OK with ourselves to be able to be part of any collective. However, we are interdependent and part of community, whether family or friends, origin or chosen, activist or art, a solo artist or within a collective, our selves and our audiences. Whether we are social or in isolation.

Navigating between self and the collective is extremely challenging, boundaries being incredibly important, but also knowing what those are even before you can assert or implement them, for ourselves and then with others.

During our residency we delved into individual and collective intimacy, what that meant for us in our personal and professional lives. The acts of care involved, and what they revealed about us in relationship.

Lama Rod Owens (@lamarodowens), a Black radical Buddhist teacher states (in his current book Love and Rage) that he gives himself the same care he offers to community as a strategy of resilience and resistance. I found that incredibly powerful. For me this allows accountability, to the self but also the collective, it alleviates hierarchy and creates equality of priority. It undoes any burnout or martyr syndrome where we neglect ourselves, the micro, for a macro. He teaches the importance of both self preservation and collective organisation and how they work in relationship to/with each other. Can we really take care of others when we neglect our own needs (in contract, in care for others, in production, in duty), verses when we feed ourselves while we feed others or we drink as we pour.

What we discovered on our residency, that’s part of this process, is managing expectations and resentments, negotiating giving and receiving and all the emotions that go along with that.”

-Raju Rage

A partial selfie of the artist in their room, with texts reflecting on 'living in a body' Screenshot of post by Kelly Emelle. DIY2020: The Politics of Intimacy in Practice, by Raju Rage.
17:53:17 From Andre Medina (they/them) : "This your work terrifies me. There is no further response beyond this feeling; terror does not move like that. Everything is contained within it, everything is explained by it. It becomes inextricable from desire, the desire is terror and the terror is desire. Or the desire is terrifying and the terror is desirous. Either way, it is not a terror that leads to flight. It does not want to move away from its source. It is an immobilized terror, vibrating wildly in a fixed spot, a millimetre of flesh pressed between panes of raw glass. It wants to be closer."
'Se Te Subio El Santo' by Akwaeke Emezi & Tiona Nekkia McClodden, cited by participant Andre Medina.


Today I have been thinking about generosity and mutuality as foundations for interpersonal intimacy and I and wanted to share something bell hooks quotes in 'All About Love'. It is a quote from Sharon Salzberg's 'A heart as wide as the world': "the practice of generosity frees us from the sense of isolation that arises from clinging and attachment".
Joseph Funnell, participant


“I would like to share a few things that have stayed with me from taking part in this residency.

First of all, the “care package” provided and created by Raju Rage is so rich with a wide range of resources, that I am still looking at and listening to, and look forward to dipping into. It is great news that Raju will share it soon with a wider audience. This leads me to generosity, which is one of the elements that have stayed with me. Sharing resources is so nourishing and in turn made me want to share what I was reading and discovering during that time.

The second element that Raju Rage demonstrated was great honesty in their communication. This honesty moved me and in turn set the tone for a residency on Intimacy where taking the risk to be honest and vulnerable could  be empowering and political. It is possible to allow yourself to be vulnerable and experience strength and empowerment from this stance. But it is also not always easy. At times, I had to face my expectations and needs, which were different from other members of the group.

The Politics of intimacy residency embedded in me a wish/need to commit on a daily basis to my own rituals of self care, and to invite my physical body to be with me. As the voice of Audrey Lorde reminded us, rituals of self-care are acts of self preservation and not self indulgence. Being introduced to Lama Rod Owens was also a great gift in reinforcing the idea that our individual needs matter, and if these are neglected, we can enter places of lack and violence, which reduces our capacity to care for others and to empathise. I am noticing that a practice of self-care has actually given me more space inside myself to experience gratitude for elements beyond and bigger than myself, such as the earth and the ground I stand on, as well as the vastness of the sky above me.

Thank you Raju for bringing our group together and holding the space for us in such a caring way, respecting what we could offer during that time and keeping things open.

The above image to the left is the work of Evan Ifekoya Ritual Without Belief – from a show I saw in 2018 at GASWORKS in London.”

-Vanessa Young

A close-up of a person in a white mesh hoodie holding flowers. They are a black person with a tattoo showing on their wrist and fingers. A work by Evan Ifekoya, photographed by Vanessa Young. DIY2020: The Politics of Intimacy in Practice, by Raju Rage.
Yesterday I read 'The Uses of the Erotic'... it really resonated with me. When I reached for my copy of 'Your Silence Will Not Protect You', I saw that I had actually read it already, years ago, & annotated it. It felt strange to think I connected with this text and then forgot it, but that perhaps it had been operating in the background. To try and not forget, I have printed it out and stuck it on my wall. I bought some yellow paper, to use for things relating to this residency, to identify it as a 'place' that I enter and exit.
Kaiya Waerea, participant


“I am ​Rabindranath A Bhose (he/him). I am an artist, performer, writer and organiser and I recently took part in the Politics of Intimacy residency and found it to be a truly nourishing, transformative and thought-provoking experience. Here are some of my reflections from the 4 weeks of the residency.


One of the deepest ways I envision intimacy with myself and others is on a spiritual level. I am slowly exploring what prayer looks like for someone like me and figuring out ways to access it. During the residency, I created an altar around my testosterone gel, with talismans that would bless the substance which is slowly transforming my chemical makeup and outward appearance like magic.

I also developed a prayer grounding me in a fellowship in the past, present and future to say daily as I apply the t-gel, which I shared on the ]performance s p a c e[ instagram as part of the Politics of Intimacy takeover. Doing this communally wrestles this process outside of a medical context. It reminds me that this is a spiritual transformation as well as a material one, it precedes and goes beyond the action of taking hormones, and it is one grounded in compassion, community and a deep listening to desire.


I thought a lot about ego during the residency. I want to show up to collective activities sincerely, in a grounded way that feels like I’m ready to listen, to ask thoughtful questions, and to share my experience with vulnerability and dignity. I thought doing this meant turning off my ‘ego’. Through some explorations, I am thinking that it actually means paying attention to it, using it as a barometer of how I’m feeling, what I want to share, and what’s being sparked in me by the contributions of others.

I am exploring an idea of ego as the way you present yourself and your internal experience to the world. I started to think, how can I nurture my ego? How can I let my ego show up in ways that are compassionate and generous and joyful? And what might that look-feel like? I drew these little nipples and scars on this picture of me one evening when I suddenly felt curious and playful about whether I could depict myself post top surgery, and to see how I would feel about embodying that physicality. It felt pretty incredible.


Coming into this residency, I asked to explore intimacy as a process of being transformed again and again by those around you, being in a constant state of becoming. But I was also seeking pleasure in closeness and community with others. Through this process, I am learning that intimacy with others and with yourself is messy and doesn’t always feel amazing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to stop doing it. In fact it might be vital to continue, with good boundaries, conviction, and investment of energy and time. I want to hold space for difficult feelings by being intentionally messy & doing the work for collective intimacy that might at times feel challenging, complicated, draining. I hope I will be able to do this work with those around me, and that we keep growing and evolving and contributing to each other’s ongoing transformations.”

-Rabindranath A Bhose


A selfie of Rabi, standing in a white-tiled bathroom topless making muscles in the mirror. He is a young, mixed-race, fair-skinned, transmasc guy with short floppy black hair with gay blonde streaks. He has a playful pout and wet hair, fresh from a bath. He is wearing a heavy silver chain. Self portrait, Rabindranath A Bhose. DIY2020: The Politics of Intimacy in Practice, by Raju Rage.
An alter: a bottle of testogel on a thin window ledge with either side of it various small bottles and crystals. Below is a blue towel on a radiator, weighted down by two blue free weights. The image is sunny, and out the window at the top you can see a terrace garden below with a wooden bench and some greenery. Altar, Rabindranath A Bhose. DIY2020: The Politics of Intimacy in Practice, by Raju Rage.
A selfie of Rabi lying on a colourful geometric carpet. He is a young, mixed-race, fair-skinned, transmasc guy with floppy hair with gay blonde streaks framing my face. He is wearing grey sweatpants and a black hoodie pulled up to show his chest and belly. His chest has small dark pink nipples carefully drawn on, with red scars underneath simulating a post top surgery chest. You can see half of his face looking happy and relaxed. There is a mostly empty glass of red wine to the side. Ego manifesting, Rabindranath A Bhose. DIY2020: The Politics of Intimacy in Practice, by Raju Rage.

Banner image credit:

An image of a Felix Gonzales Torres work, taken by Vannesa Young. DIY2020: The Politics of Intimacy in Practice, by Raju Rage.

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