Across The Way With
August 30, 2021

Shimmer (Rotterdam) and PUBLICS (Helsinki) present Across The Way With... an informal online reading aloud program on intimacy in the public domain. Launched in May 2020, with a growing list of readers from Finland, The Netherlands and across the world.

In Lauren Berlant’s essay Intimacy: A Special Issue, she tells us that everyone thinks they know how to do intimacy, but it is something that is quickly misinterpreted. Intimacy is troubling, fleeting, and challenging to speak about— and more especially to enact. Shimmer and PUBLICS explore intimacy’s obscurity by welcoming words of artists, poets, philosophers, curators, and others from Finland, The Netherlands and around the world. To bring our guests and audience together through multifaceted subjects in a time where racism, war, and greed infiltrates our lives, public intimacy becomes a political act of openness. We intend to challenge intimacy and go beyond the conventional understanding of intimacy as ‘only’ the ‘personal’. Instead, the program considers intimacy as a means to re-think the community and how ‘we’ modern humans in a digitized society engage in the care of one another.

We’re thinking about the texture of the voice, the rhythm of a body, the poetic and artistic methods of writing and how these forms of intimacy can be ‘voiced’ publically. Together we will create a space that is both public and intimate, digital and analogue, distant and in proximity. We choose to create an online platform as a support for the act of reading aloud for others and with others. For the audience it is the intimate act of being read to, it is the intimacy of the texture of the voice, the rhythms of breathing, the digitised voice streaming to you. In this way, rather than creating a ‘reading group’ for discussion, we will create a space of the phone in the pocket, heard on the tram, the laptop taken to bed, at work, in the kitchen. We’re thinking about the platform as a resource, a place available to contemplate, to flesh out the possibilities of access, a site that goes beyond our networks, and walls.

PUBLICS is a curatorial agency with a dedicated library, event space and reading room in Vallila Helsinki, known for its industrial working class histories and, more recently, for its influx of divergent artistic and academic communities. Under the artistic direction of curator Paul O’Neill, with program manager and curator Eliisa Suvanto, PUBLICS explores a “work together” institutional model with multiple overlapping objectives, thematic strands and collaborations. PUBLICS is a constellation of practices, projects and productions. As such, PUBLICS proposes the term “Public” as always plural—as a concept; as a group of people (imagined, actualized or real); and as a contested spatio-temporal location/discourse in the world. The on-going project strands of PUBLICS are: PUBLICS Library; PUBLICS Talks; and PUBLICS Events and Performances. These initiatives will evolve in time and in parallel with the project’s longer-term curatorial programmes, PUBLICS Public Art Commissions. IN @publicsfi FB @Publicsfi W www.publics.fi

RUTH BUCHANAN is an artist from Aotearoa New Zealand who lives in Berlin. She works across exhibition making, writing, design, publishing, and teaching. Her work draws out the contested and dynamic relationship between the body, power, language and the archive. This process of contesting often relates closely to the types of relationships that standardised infrastructures, such as archives, libraries and museums create between our bodies and society at large and actively asks how these relationships could be otherwise. Recent and forthcoming projects include exhibitions Heute nacht getraumt, Kunstmuseum Basel | Gegenwart, and The scene in which I find myself / Or, where does my body belong, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, Ngamotu New Plymouth; editorial projects Uneven Bodies (reader) including contributions from Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Gabi Ngcobo, and Tina Barton, and www.evacuationtapes.net including contributions from Anna Gritz and Sriwhana Spong; and MIDNIGHT / WORKER a sculpture in public space realised with the Neue Afftrageber.
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