Haus der Kulturen der Welt in association with Biennale Warsaw.

Feral is what was first changed by humans but is now beyond systems of control and escapes domestication. Ferality can be messy, unruly, the impure realm between the natural and artificial, between technology and imagination, science and art. Humans and nonhuman animals, ecologies, effects, processes, but also theories can be feral in this sense. Few outside of desolate circumstances will choose the feral state, which is often marked by violence, isolation and insecurity. Yet what is the current political, ecological and social situation if not desolate? For this edition of the New Alphabet School modern witches, artists, urban gardeners, storytellers and escapees explore these multidimensional spaces in lectures and workshops, inquiring how to address, create and use feral cartographies as liberating confusions. How can feral spirituality be practiced when connections to certain traditions have been lost? How can we address feral phenomena that cannot be grasped in established categories? Is it possible to feralize one’s thoughts?



Agonal Respirations

Performance by Ania Nowak

in English, without translation

Performans: Ania Nowak

Costume: Grzegorz Matląg

Consultation: Nora Tormann, Julia Plawgo

Breathing, speaking and moving as perishing acts: In Agonal Respirations, Ania Nowak touches on memory and its gradual loss. Over two years into the pandemic and with the ongoing state and military violence in many parts of the world, she works with and against the mental state of brain fog. Brain fog, described by neuroscientists as a decrease in cognitive functions, affects the memory, the capacity to concentrate and be creative, as well as the ability to problem-solve. This work, resulting from a prolonged period of stasis and anxiety, gasps at the ruins of what we thought was unforgettable.



Feralizing Warsaw – storytelling/cinematic contribution

Lecture: Joanna Rajkowska

in English and Polish, with simultaneous translation

A big orange fish is subtly touching a wall in a pond at Grzybowski Square, the former ghetto in Warsaw. This is where the artist Joanna Rajkowska created her installation, the Oxygenator. The image materialized in her head when the question of Feralizing was addressed. In the environment of the historical site where the Warsaw ghetto wall could be part of the division, separation and Nazi ordering of the past, water was establishing its own habitat, naturally, creating a completely new universe, containing and subduing all its entities, including the wall. Fish, curious, were coming closer and swimming further away, examining the wall, looking at it, introducing their fishiness to the human memories that the wall contained. What would the rabbi say? What would the city conservationist officer say? Will they allow the fish to play with the relics? The story telling/cinematic contribution presents the moments of these uncanny encounters between human matter – what has been charged with human being and doing – and the habitats that contain it. The intertwining, the lacing of one through another produces a very different sense of time and an almost ungraspable curving of space in the vision of human presence on this planet.



Survival in situations of urgency

Lecture: Nikita Kadan

in English and Polish, with simultaneous translation

During the period of systematic mass murdering of Ukrainians by the Russian Federation, the sensitivity, thinking and ways to exist changed cardinally. The mode of survival at the zone of devastation influences all relations: between human beings, between the human and non-human, living and artificial, localized and nomadic. They turn into “surviving hybrids” reinventing themselves with the goal to survive, to stay, to not to be erased. Each war zone is a laboratory of invention, in a sense a playground and school where people learn to turn endlessly different. The need to survive provokes creativity.



Unworlding: An Aesthetics of Collapse

Lecture: Jack Halberstam

in English and Polish, with simultaneous translation

How can concepts such as the human, subject, object or animal be tipped out of their hierarchical formations? How can they form new orders of meaning and relations to one another? The major philosophical traditions of the last century, presume a totality of things, a form of being that exists through the sorting of subjects from objects, objects from things and things from unseen forces. And while world” and “life” seem to offer vectors for utopian thinking (“another world is possible”), these totalizing concepts have also been predicated upon anti-Blackness and from the elevation of the human above all other forms of life. Rather than holding out for new worlds, revitalized notions of life, or remade utopian dreams, this lecture begins with the premise that world-making, as currently conceived, can only proceed by way of unworlding or world unmaking. The talk follows a series of aesthetic experiments from the 1970’s to the present that revel in collapse, destruction and ruination.




in English and Polish, with simultaneous translation

Agata Kowalewska is an artist and PhD candidate at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Warsaw. With a special interest in spaces of human-nonhuman conflict, ferity and nonhuman cultures, she often collaborates with researchers from different disciplines. Combining art and research, her work tells stories: of sea fire – toxic glowing dinoflagellates thriving in the dying Baltic, of porcine sex and politics of purity, of beaver cultures in cities and why we should allow some trees to die.

Jacob Eriksen is an artist, researcher and lecturer at Sound Studies and Sonic Arts, Berlin University of the Arts. His research explores how more-than-human relations are addressed through critical posthumanisms in sound art. His own artistic practice is often focused on synthesized drones, ambiances, and noise in the forms of performances, installations, and videos. He is part of the art and theory collective Listening-With and the Berlin research colloquium Sonic Thinking.

Joanna Rajkowska is an artist best known for her work in public space, where she uses real-life situations, energies, organisms and materials to construct sites, installations and ephemeral actions. She utilizes elements as diverse as plants, buildings, found objects, water, smoke or sound. She is interested in the limitations and the limiting of human activities, multiplicity of agencies and human and non-human relations. Her artwork has been presented in the UK, Germany, Poland and elsewhere.

Nikita Kadan is an artist. In 2007, he graduated from the National Academy of Fine Art in Kyiv where he studied in the Department of Monumental Painting. Kadan works with painting, graphics, and installation, often in interdisciplinary collaboration with writers, historians, architects and human rights activists. He is a member of the artist group Revolutionary Experimental Space (REP) and founding member of the curatorial and activist collective Hudrada. He is currently based in Kyiv.


Jack Halberstam is Professor of Gender Studies and English at Columbia University. Halberstam is the author of Female Masculinity (1998), The Queer Art of Failure (Duke UP, 2011), Wild Things: The Disorder of Desire (2020) and other books. Places Journal awarded Halberstam in 2018 for innovative public scholarship on the relationship between gender, sexuality and the built environment. Halberstam is now finishing a second volume on wildness titled: Unworlding: An Aesthetics of Collapse.

Ania Nowak’s choreographic practice approaches vulnerability and desire as ways towards reimagining what bodies and language can do. She develops formats such as live and video performance, performative exhibition and text. Nowak’s overall inquiry is into the political dimension of the body material and its immaterial aspects -affects, feelings and intuition- to think of new, embodied practices of care and companionship. She is especially interested in the latter when taking into account the unstable, transnational character of our lives and labor in the Western world today, accessibility, sexuality and sickness, as well as, ethics of pleasure in times of climate and political urgency. Nowak’s works have been presented at HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Berlinische Galerie and Sophiensæle in Berlin; Nowy Teatr, Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw; La Casa Encendida in Madrid, BWA Wrocław, the Baltic Triennial at CAC Vilnius and M HKA Antwerp a.o. Nowak lives and works in Berlin.

The New Alphabet School is a collaborative self-organised school for practice-based research. Over the course of three-and-a-half years, it will function as a colloquium for practice-based, situated approaches in cultural studies, art and activism.

Assuming that knowledge is not universal, but always located, or bound to a specific context, one’s own position or place, the school aims to explore critical and affirmative forms of knowledge production in order to create solidarity between different approaches in theory and practice.

Each edition of the school is dedicated to a knowledge practice. Departing from these activities, is it possible to imagine multifarious ways of speaking, knowledge production and learning practices beyond one universal matrix? Can common reference points and collective action be enabled without a potentially hegemonic centre? How can knowledge be both locally situated and at the same time produce a new kind of universality?