This winter, in collaboration with #ReadTheTRCReport, No Reading After the Internet will be participating in Reading Exercises, an exhibition organized by Katrie Chagnon at Montréal’s Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery. For the past many years, No Reading has been a project of the collective efforts of myself, Amy Kazymerchyk and Alex Muir.
Whereas No Reading would usually work with an artist to read aloud and discuss texts that had informed their practice, here, instead, we took the opportunity of the exhibition to put No Reading in dialogue with another project that is also concerned with the embodied politic of reading aloud.
#ReadTheTRCReport is a citizen’s initiative generated by Zoe Todd, Erica Violet Lee and Joseph Murdoch-Flowers. This project was developed as a means of making the entire Executive Summary of the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada available online in video format. The report acts as a testament to the “cultural genocide”1 perpetrated by the Canadian state and Canadians upon Indigenous communities, notably by means of the residential school system. The document is meant to shed light on our complex collective history and “to lay the foundation for the important question of reconciliation.”2
In reaction to the publication of the report in June 2015, Métis activist, writer and teacher Chelsea Vowel, launched a call on her blog, âpihtawikosisân, for people to read the document in order to educate themselves on the permanent damages caused by Canada’s colonial history and to critically engage with the TRC’s findings. The video reading project initiated by Todd, Lee and Murdoch-Flowers, serves as a direct response to Vowel’s call, as well as a means to increase the report’s accessibility, to grant it life and to honour residential school survivors. Using social media (Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, et cetera), the trio has invited individuals from throughout Canada and elsewhere (Indigenous and non-Indigenous), to record themselves reading through one of 140 sections of the report, and to share their videos on YouTube. Accessible by searching #ReadTheTRCReport, the videos are integrated within a playlist containing the complete English version of the document.
A productive political exercise, this project is rooted within the current Canadian understanding of the existing relations with Indigenous communities. It testifies to the possibility—or rather the necessity—for each of us to exercise agency through the act of reading.
The dialogue between these two projects will be presented through a series of public readings and discussions that examine the process, structure and form of the report, histories of oral and textual testimony, and the role of literacy in political engagement, scheduled to take place in January 2016.
Within this context, No Reading and #ReadTheTRCReport will think out-loud and collectively about the politics of reading aloud, of political action more generally, and will consider what our projects can learn from each other. Visitors will be invited to contribute to the production of the yet to be undertaken French video edition of the #ReadTheTRCReport.
The exhibition opens on 18 November 2015, and we hope to see you in January, when folks from both projects gather together in Montréal to think + talk + celebrate + share.
1. Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future. Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015, 1. Online :http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/index.php?p=890 (accessed October 29, 2015)
2. Ibid., VI.