If a Kunsthalle is in fact terminologically distinguished from other spaces of art by the peculiar soundscape implied by the architectural structure – the hall, bouncing sound waves between roofs and walls – we, inside, may seem caught in crucial contradiction: Art’s regime of visibility, including its growing impact on contemporary society (be it in terms of creative imperatives or mediatization as such) versus the substantial range of other sensorial capacities, largely disabled by the institution of Art (if not spectacularized/sacralized and capitalized on as its constitutive other). We face lazy noses, dried out taste buds, restricted tactility – and, most importantly here (and generally speaking), and audience deprived of audibility.
And so we struggle. An army of educators leading guided tour marches. Tireless sound technicians combating the acoustics of makeshift auditoria. Conference speakers confering over “is this on?” And then there are reading groups. Such as the one founded by the artists Dorota Gaweda and Egle Kulbokaite 2013 in Berlin, named Young Girl Reading Group after the English translation of Tiqqun’s Preliminary Materials for a Theory of a Young-Girl (2012), and hosted every Sunday 7pm at wherever they are.
Hosting it at Kunsthalle Zurich (like we did last Sunday and will do on two more) is meaningful because and beyond the contemporary feminist stakes of Dorota’s and Egle’s practice and the exhibitions by Loretta Fahrenholz and Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz shown here. More fundamentally, it’s about listening to each other – while reading. For reading alone may be a solitary if not structurally asocial outcome of bourgeois educational premises, to say the least, largely at odds with today’s Art World’s social currency – while some struggle for time to read today is by far not limited to institutional labor of course (let alone looking at the uneven distribution of literacy and it’s consequences).
And still, or because of, reading groups rarely read. They talk, look at each other, flip pages, drop names, google it, underline, drink, all that. This one does read. And so:
At first this feels awkward. Reading out loud was most likely everybody’s most hated task in school. Embarrassment, again – mispronounciations, missing lines, sore throats, thick accents, an awfully blurry hard copy too (close to encryption). Thinking while reading, while performing the text, proves to be tricky too. Chapter 2: Meta(l)morphoses: Women, Aliens and Machines, from feminist philosopher Rosi Braidotti’s Nomadic Theory (2012, see above and below). Unlike the ubiquitous reasoning of small scale public programs in particular, Braidotti’s words resonate with or more precisely through us. In our round the bean bag and nut tray intimacy so thoroughly sought for in readers’ circles assumes a peculiar literacy. We chew, inhale, crouch, sip, stretch, read more:
Focusing on the tiny print in the über cozy lightening I installed achingly asks all attention, I forget how the others look, some of their names and backgrounds, entering their sonic identities instead. The body of text becomes our collective body, as they say, one without organs, as Braidotti would add. And yet, we remain distinct voices; the subtle skepticisms, outright bewilderment, well-read referencing, and plethora of other nuances in tonality. A sonar-social architecture of shared curiosity, synchronicity, and fun. An audition for audacity, perhaps.
Next session: Sunday, October 11, 7-9pm. In English. Free entry.