With artist and educator Gabo Camnitzer
Filipe de Sousa reviews Aesthetic Behavior for The Avery Review
Aesthetic Behavior; Developmental Sequences is a collaboration by Gabo Camnitzer and Lluís Alexandre Casanovas Blanco, that uses the avatar of the child to reflect upon current modes of spectatorship and subjectivity. The project engages with the analysis of perception and knowledge acquisition as codified by developmental psychology, subverting the ways this field has denied agency to its research subjects through processes of objectification, individualization, and ultimately, essentialization.
In the gallery, Aesthetic Behavior; Developmental Sequences manifests as a repertoire of objects and props which rethink procedures and instruments drawn from the history of child psychology. Amongst them, stands out a recreation of the observation dome designed by Arnold Gesell for his experiments on babies at Yale University during the early 20th Century. These props, situated at the intersection of surveillance mechanisms, tools for documentation, and clinical devices, sought to reduce experience and learning into mappable numbers.
The props and instruments were activated through a series of performative workshops with children from local schools. The children were engaged in a dialogue about the history of child psychology and tasked with developing new modes of experimental research using the objects in the exhibition on an adult test subject.
These workshops aimed to invert the power asymmetry permeating much of these studies by subjecting an adult’s experience to the disciplinary gaze of children.