Taboo - Transgression - Transcendence: Dalila Honorato
Dalila Honorato (PT/GR), Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in Media Aesthetics and Semiotics at the Department of Audio and Visual Arts of the Ionian University in Greece. She is a founding member of their Interactive Arts Lab. In 2017, she organized the “Taboo-Transgression-Transcendence in Art & Science" conference.
The following is a transcript from the conversation between Dalila Honorato and Hege Tapio in Corfu on May 27th, 2017.
Hege Tapio (HT): What inspired you to organize the conference “Taboo - Transgression - Transcendence in Art & Science”? (1) How did it come to life?
Dalila Honorato (DH): It is an act of necessity to do something provocative in a moment when everything seems prohibited, forbidden. In Greece, we are not supposed to have money to do anything that is not saving the population, solving some sort of (economic) difficulty. We are denied all sorts of support for research and art production. When things are really hard you have two options - you can hide and kill yourself, or you do an act of madness and passion. I choose to say: "I want to do this. I am alive. And I have the right to do it." The conference is revenge against all the negative mood around. It keeps getting harder, but we have growing support from people who want to participate. The conference is more an act of activism than anything else.
You can hide and kill yourself,
or you do an act of
madness and passion
HT: Have there ever been works left out because they were too far over the edge?
DH: No. But, of course, we cannot accept everybody. This year, we cut two-thirds of the proposals that were not directly connected to the subject. But many people would like to attend. That gives me fuel. You are not able to see the results (of the conference) immediately, but it eventually comes with time.
HT: What are the limits of art that explore taboos, transgressions, and transcendence?
DH: They expand. This is the good thing about limits. We start with the taboo, a limit that -socially speaking- we do not want to pass over. Then, there is transgression, when someone does not accept what everybody else seems to agree with, for example, that you are not supposed to eat French fries. If someone says: "I can eat French fries, let me try one," then that is a moment of transcendence. Through the act of expanding and pushing limits a little further, others might follow. Or not. Or you might even die doing it. This is the story of science, the story of Galileo. The story of every visionary. You might die for your vision. You might die by pushing the limits - but everybody else might follow.
They expand. This is the
good thing about limits.
We were not trying to get killed at the conference. Things are just so foggy at this moment, socially, politically, economically, everywhere, not just Greece. Everybody is compromised, so I think we need to review our taboos and measure the possibilities of transgression. And if transgression works, and if it is a holistic act of transgression, you should go through transcendence.
Others might follow. Or not.
Or you might even die doing it.
HT: We live in dangerous times. Is art getting more dangerous as well?
DH: I hope so. Talking about art and design, I appreciate an effective way of presenting things and symmetrical designs. But the thing is, we are crooked. We are monsters, we are a mixture of things, we are not pure, we are a lot of things. We are here to get mixed with the environment, and there is no such thing as stability. Stability is a dangerous act, or it is getting dangerous, because it is something that cannot be sustained. One of my favourite political thinkers, Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527), talked about that; you can invest a lot of energy trying to keep things in a certain state, but the simple act of keeping things in a certain state brings pollution to it, forcing things into an unstable state of being. This can be seen in anything, including art. I am a social scientist, so this is my feedback from a person that follows what is happening in art.
We are monsters,
we are a mixture of things
HT: Do you think society will ever run out of taboos?
DH: No, that is the thing. After transcendence, when you pass over that taboo, there is a new limitation. And after finding that new border, we need to get a little stable for a certain time. It is like, when you go up or down the steps, you always stop for a second. So that is what comes after transgression. Once you have reached it, once you have pushed the border, you will find a new limit. And that limit will be called taboo, and it will give birth to reactions, and that will be the new transgression and new transcendence. Some things go back and forth. If you push too much and too fast in a certain direction, you might have the opposite effect. I think, if you check history, you can see we go back and forth a lot of times. But that movement is the important part. So, fuel it!
But that movement is the important part.
So, fuel it!
(1): Interdisciplinary Conference - TABOO - TRANSGRESSION - TRANSCENDENCE
in Art & Science.