'pas de tête' Yoga

24 February 2024, 10.30–11.30am — mono Lisboa

In the context of the group exhibition 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐭-𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 at mono Lisboa, curated by Jule Kurbjeweit and with works by Anne Büscher, Joana Viveiros, Márcio Vilela, Marco Pires, Pedro Vaz and Sanne Vaassen, we present a yoga class inspired by Michael Marder’s book Plant-Thinking: A Philosophy of Vegetal Life and in dialogue with the works on display.

plant-thinking yoga

pas de tête

Philosopher Michael Marder explores plant-thinking as “the non-cognitive, non-ideational, and non-imagistic mode of thinking proper to plants (hence, what I call ‘thinking without the head’)” (among other things). Plant-thinking can be guided by the principle “pas de tête”, which has a double meaning and can signify:

— “step of the head”, that is, walking on one’s head – turning things upside down, sometimes literally in a yoga class but mostly metaphorically: changing perspective and challenging the ‘superior’ position of the head, or:

— “no head”, that is, losing one’s head, here understood as a meditative practice to detach from purely cognitive thought.

May we learn from plants, question our perspective, ground our thinking in the earth and detach from the hyperfocus on the mind.

“pas de tête can mean ‘no head’ or it can refer to the ‘step of the head,’ given the plurivocity of the French pas de…. The expression’s indeterminate, unstable meaning connotes the act of walking on one’s head, feet up, or losing one’s head altogether, something the author desperately desires following the example of plants: ‘To leave my head, to descend to the knot of being, situated … several centimeters below ground-level’” (Marder 2013, 63).

The Portuguese ‘planta’ comes from the Latin ‘plantare’. Plantare means to put something into the ground, to plant something into the earth. ‘Planta’ can translate to plant or to sole of the foot. Following this double meaning, plant-thinking could refer to the thinking of or like plants or to the thinking with our feet, a grounded thinking and a walking thinking, in touch with the earth, on one level with the vegetal world.

What if we turned things upside down, got out of our heads or walked on our heads (pas de tête) and thought with our feet (plant-thinking)?

Detail of a medieval manuscript about mandrakes.

"the non-cognitive, non-ideational, and non-imagistic mode of thinking proper to plants (hence, what I call 'thinking without the head')."

Michael Marder


When we ask if plants are conscious or sentient, or to what extent, what we ask is whether, or to what extent, they are like us: we attempt to encounter ourselves in them. But could we, instead of projecting our human categories, encounter the plant-other “on their own turf,” as philosopher Michael Marder suggests – yet without invading their space?

While anthropocentric thinking about nature asks what nature is in relation to the human, plant-thinking opens the subject to the other and to otherness and allows human thinking to be “de-humanized and rendered plant-like, altered by [the] encounter.”

Thus, the group exhibition 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐭-𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 proposes an approximation and outlines the conditions for encounter based on an openness to receive, allow and desire the other’s being and unfolding, in the sense of the Latin phrase which Hannah Arendt refers to: “Amo: Volo ut sis” – I love you: I want you to be.

16 February 2024 — 1 March 2024
Wednesday to Saturday, 3pm to 7pm
opening: 16 February, 6pm to 10pm

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