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“Performativity”

There is a space where the ontology of writing opens itself unto the world. Here we find an arena for the “performativity“ of literature. Within this space, an embodiment of languages and pauses exist as powerful gestures for the political, the economic, the feministic and as a celebration of the diverse.

From the exit of orality in Mary Walling Blackburn’s “Sister Apple, Sister Pig” to a female mysticism put forth by Evia Wilk in “The Word Made Fresh,” there are outlines of a radical gesturing. As a consequence of these gestures, there exists a puncture, through which a performativity of literature surges and flows.  

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Compiled by Samuel Barry
8 Essays
Sister Apple, Sister Pig, a book of images and text by Mary Walling Blackburn, emulates a lost literary genre: photo-illustrated children’s books of the 1960s and ’ 70s that cast the child as a protagonist, problem-solver, and model for action in the world. To use this genre is a radical gesture, as modern discourses on abortion have focused largely on the mother’s experience. Nineteenth-century patent medicine companies, for instance, advertised pills for “female irregularity” and...
A few moments from encounters with Harun Farocki materialize in the form of his films and his own texts, passages from emails exchanged with HF over the years, my porous memory of dinners, and our reunions in the years to come. The time-fragments presented below begin long before we met and exceed the factual-temporal event of Harun’s untimely, depressing, and shocking passing on July 30, 2014. Such a method of selecting bits of time refers, first, to HF’s insistence on reflecting on...
People these days lament young people’s disdain for reading and, by extension, writing. Quite a few of today’s young people secretly indulge in writing poetry that will never be published, probably because they seek distraction elsewhere. It seems that in the West, and especially in America, all the best-selling authors are retired celebrities. The list of retirees who write is long, starting with politicians and continuing with businessmen, economists, and the wives of famous baseball...
I. Imagine, if you must, walking into an exhibition space and encountering work so oblique you don’t know what to make of it. You start looking for text. First on the wall, then, by the door or a desk someplace. You scan whatever copy you can find, searching for coordinates, landmarks, bits of conceptual breadcrumbs, or a bright stripe of familiarity amidst the thicket of ideas. You hope to find some meaning in the work in front of you. Sometimes you do. The average museumgoer...
Over the last few monsoons I lived with the dread that the rain would eventually find its ways through my leaky terrace roof and destroy my books. Last August my fears came true when I woke up in the middle of the night to see my room flooded and water leaking from the roof and through the walls. Much of the night was spent rescuing the books and shifting them to a dry room. While timing and speed were essential to the task at hand they were also the key hazards navigating a slippery floor...
Why Learn and Speak a Different Language from One’s Own? I don’t know what “one’s own” means and I’d like to begin with a different question: What is a maternal language? I will then try to understand what happens when you speak more than one language, when you speak several different languages, and how these different languages ultimately draw out different worlds; not incompatible worlds, not radically different worlds, but worlds in resonance with one another and without ever being...
On July 25, 2011, I sat down for a conversation with Egyptian writer, activist, physician and psychiatrist Nawal El Saadawi while she was in London for a workshop as part of the Edgware Road Project at the Serpentine Gallery. It was a beautiful July week in London and an equally bright time for the ongoing revolution in Egypt that had begun only a few months before, and I found Nawal full of the ferocious optimism she is known around the world for. As darker clouds now loom over the horizon...
1. A biologist enters mysterious territory on a mission to comprehend the incomprehensible. Together with three colleagues—an anthropologist, a psychologist, and a surveyor—she crosses an imperceptible border into a region known as Area X. They are the twelfth expedition to cross the border. They are all women. Jeff VanderMeer charts Area X's impossible terrain in his Southern Reach trilogy. The first book of the series, Annihilation , flirts with various genre conventions but...
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