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Visual Arts

Let 100 Reading Groups Bloom Season II


Session I
Date: October 16 & October 23, 2022, 2-4 pm
Venue: Special edition Project, Shanghai
Theme: The Architectural Uncanny, Treatise on the Whole-World
Led by: Jenny CHEN Jiaying, Suchao Li

Curator: Jenny CHEN Jiaying
Initiator: Pro Helvetia Shanghai, Swiss Arts Council

Meeting Others Halfway

Because truths we don’t suspect have a hard time
making themselves felt, as when thirteen species
of whiptail lizards composed entirely of females
stay undiscovered due to bias against such things existing,
we have to meet the universe halfway.
Nothing will unfold for us unless we move toward what looks to us like nothing:
faith is a cascade.

Group reading gathers people together over texts and exchanges intellect and emotion in an intimate atmosphere. It also extends a path encountering the others, along which the text and the reality, the speaker and the listener, you and I, the ordinary and the absurd, will all arduously journey. Therefore, the group reading is an attempt to explore the un-intersected part of our situation, embody the untouched emptiness of the other, and make emotions, words, and speech present, perceived, and heard.

This imagination of reading communion more or less links to ‘pockets’ discovered on a rainy day shortly after Samuel Delany’s marriage.

On that day, his wife returned home dripping wet. Delany hastily handed her a pair of his own jeans (the nearest thing he had at the time). As she quickly changed into the jeans and slid her hands into the pockets, she instantly exclaimed: “The Pockets! …… They’re so big!”

This triviality records a moment of the pocket at dawn. Before then, the idea that pockets in men’s clothes were functional had never occurred to Delany’s wife. The idea that pockets in women’s clothing were basically decorative had never occurred to Delany. They are pockets that matter, and the unisexual reproductive lizards in verse once rejected by bigotry, hiding in the darkness in unimaginable plural numbers.

While the performativity of cyberfeminism, anti-identity, and ecologism, almost convince us that the future is within our reach, the world grows in reverse, challenging our ‘post-world’ with one uncanny event after another. They turn out to be many ‘pocket’ moments in 2022, reminding us of the existence of ‘pockets’ hidden beneath our arguments.

Then, can an art project based around group readings approach ‘pockets’ or ‘whip-tailed lizards’? For this edition of “Let 100 Reading Groups Bloom”, we hope to make a small effort to do so under the title “Meeting Others Halfway.” We have invited three Swiss artists to share their book lists and plan to read them together in different cities. The on-site display revolves around the artists, the book list, and the Cahiers d’Artistes artist book supported by Pro Helvetia Shanghai, Swiss Arts Council.

We begin with a book list from artist Marie Matusz, meeting you with The Architectural Uncanny and Treatise on the Whole-World. The first reading will take us back to our memories of homes from March to June, revisiting the uncanny of modern architecture and the unhomely of being stuck in a home that is unhome. Then we meet Edouard Glissant’s poetic words, which transform the gnawing wounds of the uncanny into the hinterland where the world’s archipelago grows within. The project hopes to let the context and the site, the strangers who encounter, and the situation of others meet halfway. In this way, we may be able to carve out a space in the intelligible domain, creolizing, cross-fertilizing, and compromising dissent.

Text by Jenny CHEN Jiaying

Session I DAY I
The Architectural Uncanny

Time: October 16, 2022, 2-4 pm
Venue: Special edition Project, Shanghai
Books: Architectural Uncanny: Essays in the Modern Unhomely, Anthony Vidler

Architectural Uncanny poses a series of thought-provoking and original questions at the core of the current debate on architectural theory. Vidler uses “uncanny” to analyze contemporary architecture and projects as a metaphor for a fundamentally “unhomely” situation. These essays are both historical and theoretical, opening the complex and challenging relationship between politics, social thought, and architectural design at a time when the reality of homelessness and the idealism of the neo-avant-garde have never seemed so far away.




Session I DAY II

Treatise on the Whole-World

Time: October 23, 2022, 2-4 pm
Venue: Special edition Project, Shanghai
Book: Treatise on the Whole-World, Édouard Glissant

In her Cahier d’Artistes, Marie Matusz presents black-and-white photographs of her great-grandmother’s home, a richly decorated house containing countless reproductions of classical paintings. The year printed on the photos implies that they were taken in 1994 – a technical error that fascinates the artist. For she is not only interested in sociology and linguistics, but also in philosophy and questions regarding the dissolution of time and space. Other groups of works by Marie Matusz depicted in the Cahier d’Artistes deal with topics such as historical and contemporary power structures, nature and justice. Alan Longino describes the mood in her work with a term borrowed from Thomas Gray, leucocholy, meaning a “good easy sort of state”, a “white melancholy”. Terms with which Marie Matusz can identify. Marie Matusz *1994 Toulouse, lives and works in Basel and Geneva.

This book links the different themes through the fundamental concepts of diversity and’ Relation.’ It sees the modern world, shaped by migration and colonial history, as a plurality of different communities interacting and developing together and rejects all political and philosophical attempts to impose uniformity, universality, or absolute values. This is the ‘whole world,’ which includes objective phenomena and our consciousness. Our identity is not fixed and self-sufficient but is formed in Relation through contact with others. Continually emphasizing the world’s unpredictable and ‘chaotic’ nature, Glissant claims that we must adapt to it rather than try to limit or control it.


Led by

Jenny CHEN Jiaying lives and works in Shanghai and New York. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Western Philosophy at East China Normal University and an independent writer and curator. Chen’s early practice revolves around technological reality and its permeating humanistic landscape. She recently turned to the question of the mind and body radicalized by technology and was inspired by Turing to delve into the inquiry of sexuality. Her Ph.D. thesis, More than Sex? –Feminist Reflections on Body- Matter focuses on the frontiers of the body, new materialism, and the metaphysics of sex. At the same time, she sees art as a concrete means of subverting the existing partition of the sensible and frames of intelligibility. She is currently a member of the Longlati Foundation Writer’s Acquisition Committee and the Board of Advisors of the SPM (Society for Phenomenology and Media).

Suchao Li, graduated from the University of Glasgow with a Master’s Degree in History of Art, currently lives and works in Shanghai, and actively engaged in contemporary art writing, research and exhibition. She is a contributing researcher at Macalline Art Center and a member of the Writers’ Acquisition Committee of Longlati Foundation. Her most recent research interests lie on the landscapes of the Anthropocene, explicitly drawn the humanities into conversation with ecology to explore entanglements of human and nonhuman, life and nonlife.

Cahiers d’Artistes

With its Collection Cahiers d’Artistes, the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia enables aspiring Swiss artists the publication of an initial monograph to their name. Once every two years, based on the recommendation of a jury, the Swiss Arts Council selects eight artists out of those who have followed a call for applications. The Cahiers d’Artistes series was launched by the Arts Council in 1984. This online platform makes all the monographs published over the past 30 years available in digitised form.


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