How To Read Story About Burn-out is a research project about women, work and physical burn-out. This project has been commissioned by Het Nieuwe Instituut for architecture, design and digital culture and led by Natalie Dixon. The research examines the experiences of women during the second-wave Portuguese diaspora to South Africa after World War II. Using my family photo archive as a narrative starting point, How to Read a Story About Burn-out challenges existing patriarchal stories about women in migration and the mythologies attached to finding a new life in “Africa”.
Contributing to feminist scholarship, this research aims to elevate individual experiences of burn-out to more collective questions of women’s work in the family. The central method is a form of narrative unearthing, a way of noticing affective moments in family history by using the female body as a source of information. Most significantly, this story is in conversation with emerging research techniques within the field of machine learning that read and assign meaning to body language. This research will benefit from access to a number of collaborators and archives, notably those of Het Nieuwe Instituut and those concerned with women’s work, the body and artificial intelligence.
[Photograph (above) from my family archive: Maria Julia Serra, my grandmother (centre) on holiday in Portugal in 1961 with family.]
Live Performance: How to Read a Story about Burn-out, photos by Ari Snow courtesy of the good people of Verso/Versal at Mezrab.