Happenings

Reading Excercises

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.

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Happenings

If We Carry On Speaking the Same Language to Each Other, We Are Going to End Up Repeating the Same History

Extract from Syklus 2013, Michala Paludan, image courtesy of Abejderbevægelsens Arkiv og Bibliotek.

Extract from “Syklus,” 2013, Michala Paludan, image courtesy of Abejderbevægelsens Arkiv og Bibliotek.

This Monday, 10 November 2014, I am going to lock myself in a room with eight other people overnight in the spirit of feminist consciousness-raising sessions of the 1970s. Organized by Mikaela Assolent and Flora Katz, the experiment is part of a larger project entitled If We Carry On Speaking the Same Language to Each Other, We Are Going to End Up Repeating the Same History. The title is incredible; the sentiment sharp. What is the shape of change? And what do we agitate for? And what form do our tools take? In an exciting way, I have no idea what to expect, but here’s how Assolent and Katz have framed it:

***

At the end of her book This Sex Which Is Not One (1976), Luce Irigaray addresses another woman and imagines what their experience could be outside of a social construction created by men, for men. She observes, “If we carry on speaking the same language to each other, we are going to end up repeating the same history.” For Irigaray, women’s liberation is not only about deconstructing imposed roles and identities, but also re-appropriating and/or inventing a language of our very own, that allows us to invent and live entirely new stories. To do so, we must start from scratch and independently rebuild what was previously confiscated.

In the spirit of  collective encounters, as conceived by Lois Weaver (The Long Table) and Malin Arnell (The Oncoming Corner) and inspired by texts which reflect on art as a space for a community to come (John Roberts, Art, ‘Enclave Theory’ and the Communist Imaginary, Third Text, July 2009) we will further investigate the questions evoked above through a series of collaborative evenings taking place at PARMER in November 2014. We would like to experiment using the sharing of experiences and knowledge to undo the inherent power dynamics of the groups assembled. Thus, we aim to consider these sessions as a space for the collective production and exchange of singularities.

Participants in the November sessions include: Maia Asshaq, Arlen Austin, Corrie Baldauf  & Megan Heeres, Lindsay Benedict, Amber Berson, Maibritt Borgen, Sara Constantino & Rochelle Goldberg, Catherine Czacki, Leah DeVun, Alaina Claire Feldman, Ariel Goldberg, Saisha Grayson, Joseph Imhauser, Liz Linden, Kylie Lockwood, Jane Long, Jordan Lord, Jacqueline Mabey, Trista Mallory, Anna Ostoya, Michala Paludan, Rit Premnath, Chloé Rossetti, Julia Trotta, cheyanne turions and Wendy Vogel.

Each person is invited to bring an element, prepared beforehand, that is as close as possible to their own area of expertise. The element, such as a text, anecdote, performance, video, object, et cetera, will be up for discussion according to the conversation format and staging chosen by its presenter. Listening, commenting, and contributing will be open, with participants being free to speak spontaneously, whenever possible. Each individual will thus be able to negotiate their own contribution to the session.

With the aim of questioning even the parameters of  these sessions themselves, the procedure used to compose the participant groups will also be discussed. As a space open by invitation, PARMER seeks other strategies of  inclusiveness to redefine the boundaries of  what is public. What defines the level of accessibility of  an artistic space? How this ephemeral community that we will constitute during the session can have strong common grounds and the right level of openness?

The sessions will conclude with a public reception on November 23rd that will include material collected and developed over the course of the sessions.

For more information please visit the website.

A series of  sessions following the same protocol took place in Paris, France, at the artspace Chez Treize, in Fall 2013. 
See documentation here (in French).

This project is supported in part by the Danish Arts Foundation and the Visual Arts Department at the University of California San Diego.

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My contribution will depart from my on-going project No Reading After the Internet and its concern with collective forms of knowledge production. My interest specifically is in non-institutionalized learning, particularly methods that de-emphasize scholarship and prioritize improvisation, intimacy and a multiplicity of meanings. Given the notion of expertise at the heart of If We Carry On…, I wonder if these methods are in opposition to one another, or if there is the potential for a productive, mutual implication between a stance of knowing and a stance of engaged not-knowing. There’s something also about the way that ideas move, about translation and adaptation, that I hope to bring to the conversation by way No Reading’s history: an itinerant project now collectively supported and transformed, rhizomatic, producing strange but related fruit in many places around the world. How does knowledge begin and end? Inspired by the different forms that the No Reading project has produced—like its life in Vancouver with Amy Lynn Kazymerchyk and Alex Muir out of VIVO Media Arts or its translation into No Looking after the Internet with Gabrielle Moser—I will use the opportunity of If We Carry On… to think through methodology as substance. Quite aside from any of our singular fields of expertise, I imagine the result of our evening of *not* carrying on will be a thing that none of us can yet anticipate and hopefully that the orientation of No Reading will be one way of registering whatever collective thing will transpire.

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