Across The Way With
July 26, 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

DR. MKWESHA is currently a researcher and teaches a Contemporary Research: Decolonising Knowledge at Helsinki University, Swedish School of Social Sciences, Centre of Ethnic Relations and Nationalism (CEREN), Finland. Her PhD is on gender and the nation in Africa from Stellenbosch university, South Africa. She is an expert on representation and discourse analysis in African literature and culture and society. Her research interests are African studies, literary and cultural studies, race and ethnic relations, from a decolonial, postcolonial, black feminist and gender perspectives. She also teaches Black and African feminisms, African sexuality, Decolonial feminisms and Decolonising Development in Africa. She is also a social justice activist who founded Sahwira Africa International NGO working with migrant and Finnish youth on culture and arts from an anti/racist approach focusing on resistance, survival, thriving and transformation. She does anti/racism activism launching online petitions to influence policy and initiate discussions on representation and racism. She initiated and led successful campaigns against racism, discrimination, problematic and stereotypical representation of black people and Africa to advocate for change and influence policy in these successful online campaigns. She has worked in universities in Zimbabwe and South Africa as a lecturer and administrator. She is an African, Zimbabwean living and working in Finland.

SASHA HUBER (1975, CH/FI) is a visual artist of Swiss-Haitian heritage, born in Zurich, Switzerland. She lives and works in Helsinki, Finland together with her family. Huber's work is primarily concerned with the politics of memory and belonging, particularly in relation to colonial residue left in the environment. Sensitive to the subtle threads connecting history and the present, she uses and responds to archival material within a layered creative practice that encompasses performance-based interventions, video, photography, and collaborations. Huber is also claiming the compressed-air staple gun, aware of its symbolic significance as a weapon while offering the potential to renegotiate unequal power dynamics, and started to refer to those artworks as pain-things. She is known for her artistic research contribution to the Demounting Louis Agassiz campaign, aiming at dismantling the glaciologist’s lesser-known but contentious racist heritage. This long-term project (since 2008) has been concerned with unearthing and redressing the little-known history and cultural legacies of the Swiss-born naturalist and glaciologist Louis Agassiz (1807-1873), an influential proponent of “scientific” racism who advocated for segregation and “racial hygiene”. Huber has participated in numerous international exhibitions, including the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015, the 19th Sydney Biennial in 2014. Huber will start her first solo exhibition tour under the title You Name It. The tour begins at Kunstinstituut Melly in Rotterdam. The exhibition tour is commissioned by The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery in Toronto and Autograph in London.