Piet Devos

writer and literary theorist


‘Entering the skinscapes of blindness’, Amsterdam

04 May 2019

The skin, as an unstable boundary and space of encounter, will be the central theme of this interdisciplinary event organized by Absurd Beings, a platform for young artists. In my lecture, I would like to suggest that blindness invites us to re-imagine the intercorporeal relations with living beings and the built/natural environment. As we may learn from the autobiographical writings of blind authors such as Georgina Kleege and Jacques Lusseyran, the blind person’s skin is not restricted to tactile perception, but tends to function as a multisensory organ.


Location: Kunstkapel, Prinses Irenestraat 19, Amsterdam

Please check the Facebook page for the event 'Absurd Beings on Skin' for further practical details.

‘Unexpected smells’, ArtScience Preview Exhibition, Den Haag

12 May 2019

From 10 to 12 May 2019, the graduating students of the ArtScience Interfaculty will present: 'Unexpected Smells' - a three day fully immersive art exhibition involving all the senses.

The collective exhibition will consist of interdisciplinary works that combine sight, smell, taste, touch and sound to create multi-dimensional environments which engulf the viewer as a whole. The focus is on the sensorial, the immaterial, the ephemeral, the time-based, the shape-shifting, the hybrid – operating at the intersection between art, science and technology.

Together with some other colleagues, like scent historian Caro Verbeek, I will be very pleased to participate in this event’s final day of reflection.

When? 10-12 May
Where? De Electriciteitsfabriek, De Constant Rebecqueplein 20, 2518 RA Den Haag

Please check out the event’s Facebook page for further practical details!

Bio-cultural diversity and hegemonic power, Groningen

04 June 2019

Discussions about sustainability often focus on questions of health, technology, and economic value. Ecological diversity plays an important role in these discussions as well. However, questions of bio-cultural diversity are still underrepresented in political and public debates. This event, co-organized by the Groningen Research Institute for the Study of Culture (ICOG) and Counterpoint: Navigating Knowledge, provides a platform for reflection on what “bio-cultural diversity” means in the context of the humanities.

This event is envisioned as a true encounter of perspectives and knowledge systems. In my contribution, I will focus more specifically on the multisensory alternatives to ocularcentric and ableist forms of knowledge production - as in the case of Wanda Díaz-Merced, a blind astronomer who listens to the stars!


Time: 9AM - 5PM


Location: University of Groningen, Harmony Complex (Marie Lokezaal), Oude Kijk in ‘t Jatstraat 26, 9712 EK Groningen


The full program and practical details are available on the Counterpoint website.

Intervention lors du colloque ‘Synesthésies’, Sorbonne Université (Paris)

04 October 2019

Le colloque international ‘Les synesthésies : entre esthétique de la perception et phénomène intermédial’, organisé par Irène Gayraud et Bernard Franco, aura lieu les 4 et 5 octobre à la Sorbonne. Quant à ma conférence, intitulée « L’électricité qui fait changer les mots de couleur et de dimension », je tenterai de démontrer qu’une importante théorie artistique de la synesthésie remonte à l’esthétique scientifique de la fin du XIXe siècle. Je combinerai cette analyse historico-culturelle avec une réflexion plus personnelle sur ma propre ‘audition colorée’.
Les informations pratiques concernant le colloque seront communiquées sous peu.

Lecture: ‘Blindness or the complex layers of touch’, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

13 March 2020

It is often believed that a sensory disability like blindness leads to a compensatory sharpening of the remaining senses. I would rather speak of a creative reorganization of the entire sensorium, resulting in a whole set of uncommon, multisensory practices. To illustrate this ‘blind knowledge’, I will draw on my own experience as a blind person but also on examples from literature and art. I will thereby mainly focus on the complex uses of touch – often interacting with hearing - in e.g. tactile reading, ‘facial vision’ and ‘echolocation’ in spatial navigation.

This guest lecture is part of the ‘Knowing by Sensing’ Master Course organized by the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam. More practical details will follow soon.