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Marie Kølbæk Iversen

Affiliated AURA PhD researcher

Project description:

Neo-worlds: the transformative potentialities of fright

The conceptual complex for my research is fright. A strong affect encountered in the face of life-threatening events, we are not accustomed to think of fright as an agent of futurity and betterment. Yet this is the way it has been understood in various pre-industrial ritual cultures, unfolding (through) the liminal phase of the rite of passage.

Fright is the response to a life-threatening event as it is happening, leading to altered states of consciousness producing dissociative visions that transport the person away from the traumatic event ­– a feature possibly also underlying shamanistic vision quests. In shamanist cultures fright is thought to hold transformative and visionary powers if one is capable of facing it. Yet rather than exploring foreign cultures’ rituality, I investigate fright and fright-handling practices in a contemporary mainstream Western context through what has been – is – in many cultures a significant rite of passage: labour.

Through fieldwork among Danish labouring women and new mothers – whose visions will serve as the basis for sci-fi artworks – I explore whether labouring women, facing fright and daring death, might serve as an unexpected reservoir of visionary thought at a point in time when Western thinking has led to a dead end?