The symposium Object Abuse: Who’s looking at Who? –  Took place on the 23rd March 2012 at the Centre for Creative Collaboration in London.

The event considered a less-explored reading of objects and things, questioning our relation with them and exploring the potential of other forms of address.

Does a new intention need to be employed to interrogate our role in relations with objects? – That in object abuse there lies the question of who or what is abused.

Could co-presence allow another position, redressing our intentions and interactions? – Who’s looking at who?

Might the animistic gaze reveal objects to be more than tools or resources? –  Or are we blinded by our fetishes?*

Provocations – three speakers; Dr Fiona Candlin, Prof. Dale Russell & Gabriel Gbadamosi each presented ten-minute provocations in response to this question.

Discussions – an Open Space process was employed to engage the assembled audience and speakers to set up a dynamic structure of discussions. A diverse range of discussions took place across five rooms over that day.

*’They (the Moderns) do have a fetish, the strangest one of all: they deny to the objects they fabricate the autonomy they have given them. They pretend they are not surpassed, outstripped by events. They want to keep their mastery, and they find its source within the human subject, the origin of action’.

Bruno Latour, On the Modern Cult of the Factish Gods

The Object Abuse symposium was made possible by Transmission, a project convened by Dr Jaspar Joseph-Lester and Dr Sharon Kivland, with the support of the ADRC, Sheffield Hallam University, and HARC (Humanities and Arts Research Committee), Royal Holloway, University of London, with thanks to Ahuvia Kahane and the Centre for Creative Collaboration.

Object abuse asks the question:
who or what is being abused?

Object Abuse has been set up to provide a platform for people to discuss, provoke and question the very nature and orientation of objects. The aim is to readdress the unquestioned drives of our collective pursuits, to turn the tables on the object-subject dynamic.

This investigation’s relevance is reflected in recent developments in philosophy, shifts in our socio-cultural landscape and is finding expression in the visual arts. This questioning of our human-centric perspective is reflected through current ideas found in the works of Bruno Latour, Graham Harman, Quentin Meillassoux, Anselm Franke and others.

The question: what exactly is object abuse is by no means obvious, when you think about it, who is to say the object in question is passive and not active? Also it is worth asking where does the form of abuse originate from? What qualifies abuse, is it quantifiable, can we identify subtler variations? And for that matter; what is an object, or rather can we say what is not an object…with any real certainty?

OA‘s function is to invite a multidisciplinary engagement; to be a forum, a curatorial framework and an archival space.

We welcome expressions of interest and contributions to the ongoing debate.