Across The Way With
maart 29, 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

MERCEDES AZPILICUETA is an Argentine visual and performance artist based in Amsterdam. Her practice has spanned theatrical mises-en-scènes and video installations, textile sculptures and drawing, sound works and 3D animation. With a particular interest in notions of the vulnerable or collective body, and the primal or dissident voice, her works have drawn inspiration from sources as diverse as Baroque painting, text messaging, medieval tapestries, street slang, and literary fiction, as well as singular figures including the Italian art critic and feminist activist Carla Lonzi (1931–1982), the Argentine-French performance artist Lea Lublin (1929–1999), the French futurist Valentine de Saint-Point (1875–1953), and the Costa Rican-born Mexican ranchera singer Chavela Vargas (1919–2012).

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