‘an ethics of exteriority’

Suzie Attiwill
RMIT University

I have borrowed this phrase from philosopher Jon Roffe’s entry on ‘exteriority/interiority’, for the Deleuze Dictionary, to use as a working title.1 My practice-based research experiments with productions of interior and interiority through the practice of design – specifically exhibition and curatorial practice. I work with ‘a toolbox’2 of ideas gathered from reading Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, Michel Foucault, Rosi Braidotti, Irit Rogoff and John Rajchman.3 In different ways, each brings into question the concept of interiority as a pre-given, isolated and autonomous entity; re-posing interiority in relation with exteriority.

The creative practice research of the art and design candidates I supervise, as well as my own, ply epistemology and ontology together in a desire to find alternatives to reflective-based PhDs as a mode of knowing that reifies a centred, conscious subject as knower. Inspired by the thinking of those cited above where the self is posed as an on-going production – as a matter of practice – and with an aim to ‘learn to think differently about ourselves’,4 different issues regarding ethical conduct become foregrounded.

Current guidelines for ethical research are based on an understanding of participants as autonomous individuals and information as personal and private; one could call this an ‘ethics of interiority’. In this presentation ‘an ethics of exteriority’ is offered as a provocation to think through the implications of a different orientation to ‘the self’ and ‘knowledge’ in relation to ethical conduct in creative practice research.


Suzie Attiwill is associate professor, Interior Design and deputy dean learning + teaching, in the School of Architecture and Design, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. Since 1991, her practice has involved exhibition design, curatorial work, writing and teaching. Projects pose questions of interior and interiority in relation to contemporary conditions of living, inhabitation, subjectivity, pedagogy and creative practice. Research is conducted through a practice of designing with a curatorial inflection attending to arrangements (and re-arrangements) of spatial, temporal and material relations. Creative practice research outcomes include curated exhibitions and symposiums, book chapters, conference presentations, edited journals, and journal and magazine articles.



  1. Jonathan Roffe, ‘Exteriority/Interiority’, ed. Adrian Parr, The Deleuze Dictionary (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005) 95.
  2. Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault, ‘Intellectuals and Power. A Conversation between Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze’, in Michel Foucault. Language, Counter-Memory, Practice. Selected Essays and Interviews, ed. Donald Bouchard F (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977), 205–17. 208.
  3. Examples of specific readings related to this research include: Gilles Deleuze, Empiricism and Subjectivity. An Essay on Hume’s Theory of Human Nature, trans. Constantin V Boundas (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991); Félix Guattari, The Three Ecologies, trans. Ian Pindar and Paul Sutton (London: Continuum, 2008); Michel Foucault, ‘The Ethics of the Concern of the Self as a Practice of Freedom’, in Ethics, Subjectivity and Truth, ed. Paul Rabinow (London: The Penguin Press, 1997); Rosi Braidotti, ‘Affirming the Affirmative: On Nomadic Affectivity’, Rhizomes, fall /spring 2006 2005,; Irit Rogoff, ‘We – Collectivities, Mutualities, Participations’, Kein.Org, 2004,; John Rajchman, ‘A Portrait of Deleuze-Foucault for Contemporary Art’, in Deleuze, Guattari and the Production of the New, ed. Simon O’Sullivan and Stephen Zepke (London & New York: Continuum, 2008), 80–90.
  4. Rosi Braidotti, The Posthuman (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2013). 12.