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Let 100 Reading Groups Bloom Season II

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

CURATOR

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).

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.

Schedule

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

Session I DAY I
Book: 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

Book: Cahier d’Artistes, Marie Matusz

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.

Book: Treatise on the Whole-World, Édouard Glissant

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 &

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.

 

Schedule

Session II
Date: November 19, 2022, 3-5 pm
Venue: By Art Matter, Hangzhou
Theme: Meet Us After Dark
Led by: Jenny CHEN Jiaying, Sun Man
Guest speaker: Marie Matusz

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

Session II

It is probably communication if you wonder what art museums and clubs have in common. Surrounded by loneliness and separated by virtual isolation, we are desperate for intimacy. In this activity, we hope that sharing and exchanging between individuals will happen again in the form of co-reading.

“Meet Us After Dark” Let 100 Reading Groups Bloom will host a temporary reading club at the By Art Matters Museum, based on a book recommended by Swiss artist Marie Matusz and in conjunction with the exhibition. We will talk with Matusz about the commonalities between the reader and artistic creation, hoping to realize the connection between people in physical space again in the field of co-reading and open more possibilities to observe and contemplate life.

Book: Action in Perception, Alva Noë

“Perception is not something that happens to us, or in us. It is something we do.” In Action in Perception, Alva Noë argues that perception is a kind of thoughtful activity. Touch, not vision, should be our model for perception. Perception is not a process in the brain but a kind of skillful activity of the body as a whole. Noë begins by arguing, on both phenomenological and empirical grounds, that the content of perception is not like the content of a picture; the world is not given to consciousness all at once but is gained gradually by active inquiry and exploration. Perceptual experience acquires content thanks to our possession and exercise of practical bodily knowledge. Finally, he explores the implications of the enactive approach for our understanding of the neuroscience of perception. This is a book written for philosophers and cognitive scientists but also for artists and anyone interested in how we manage to make sensory contact with the world around us.

Book: Cahier d’Artistes, Marie Matusz

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.

Led by

Jenny CHEN Jiaying &

Sun Man (b. 1988 in Wuhan, China) lives and works in Hangzhou since 2018 as curator in BY ART MATTERS, Hangzhou. Organized the ESTRAN translation group and completed the translation of The Curator’s Handbook in 2016.

(Courtesy of By Art Matters. Photographer: Shu Yewen)

 

 

Meeting Others on Foodlines

On the occasion of the TCCA (Topred Center for Contemporary Art)  presenting its annual project ‘Thinking Through Ocean,’ the ‘Let 100 Reading Groups Bloom’ hopes to read together with people who have gathered and explored the food culture and identity as it evolves with the ocean. It will focus on Swiss artist Sandra Knecht’s artistic practice of “the taste of home” and unfold the collective culinary memory based on the maritime landscape. “Meeting Others on Foodlines” will begin with a reading of the inaugural issue of te“The Lost Society” and Jacqueline Salmon’s photo catalog légumesat the Chizi (赤子) Space in Quanzhou. We invite the public to share their food memories and experience other’s foodlines through their taste buds. It will then travel to the TCCA in Xiamen, where Knecht and writer Xiao Chunlei will montage a culinary journey through Switzerland and southern China, drawing on the fluid memories constructed by food to trace the identity flowing with the river.

Session IIi

Schedule

Session III
Date: December 2, 2022, 7:30-9:30 pm
Venue: Chizi Space, Quanzhou
Theme: Meeting Others on Foodlines
Led by: Jenny CHEN Jiaying, Chen Min

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

Activities:

  1. Reading the inaugural issue of te “The Lost Society”, Jacqueline Salomon’s gumes, Cahier d’Artistes: Sandra Knecht
  2. Sharing “Taste of home” (we invite the audience to bring foods related to their identity and, in between the readings, encourage them to taste the food and share their stories and history).

 

 

 

Book: The inaugural issue of te “The Lost Society” 

te is an annual bilingual publication of contemporary art and cultural anthropology. The inaugural issue of te magazine adopts Ye Wuji’s “The Lost Society” as the central theme. The term “lost” means ephemeral silence and enfeeblement rather than disappearance and extinction. This means that many cultures only dissipated temporarily, and some are metamorphized. Food happens to witness this transition, and the word “society” refers to a collective destiny. In this issue, 13 creative practitioners of different disciplines reflect upon their expertise, knowledge system, and research trajectories from anthropology, sociology, and contemporary art to explore food as a multi-faceted intricacy, while reconstructing the relationship between food and geography.

Book: Légumes by Jacqueline Salmon

The photographs catalog Légumes were inspired by the book ‘Cai Gen Tan’《菜根谭》 by Hong Zicheng of the Ming Dynasty. The technical complexity of the series lies in the photographer’s desire to present these vegetables as they were originally intended rigorously. As the photographer says, this series is almost an ‘autobiographical essay,’ expressing a deeply hidden but essential part of the living body. The philosophical dimension of this series seems to be confirmed by the comparison with “Cai Gen Tan,” a collection of aphorisms and ramblings. By devoting herself to the unique shape of each vegetable, the photographer attempts to make the features of each one completely bare. She borrows from Western drawing expressions in her quest to ‘paint’ beyond the everyday visual experience to ‘transform’ the image of a plant and give it a portrait-like appeal. With a concrete backdrop, cabbage, blue leek, and courgette unfold their arboreal richness, dance-like leaf layers, and smooth, soft textures. Unlike the posed shots of natural still life, the plants under Jacqueline’s lens come to life, just like the German painter Dürer’s work The Large Piece of Turf, exploring the true meaning of art from the most natural appearance of plants and creating a new perception of the commonplace. Since the early Renaissance, the ancient symbolism of allegory has been the metaphysical backdrop shared by the symbolism of still life and portraiture, such as the popular ‘Vanitas.’ However, what remains in our memories today is the uniqueness of portraiture in representing individual qualities and a curious meditation on these fleeting and unreal qualities. (Jacques Defert)

Led by

Jenny CHEN Jiaying &

Chen Min is a curator and critic, a Ph.D. of Art. Her research directions come from the problematic fields of History & Iconology, Games & Arts, Surrealism & European Avant-Garde Movements. She has curated “Play Societies: wolf, lynx and ants” (Hyundai Blue Prize-winning exhibition 2020), participated in curating for « Inter-World-View 2019 », « Zhijiang International Youth Art Festival 2019 » in Hangzhou, and « Je vous salue, Hypnos ― Un voyage en Poesie-performance vers la nuit » at McaM. She published in “New Arts,” “China photography,” “LEAP,” “The Thinker,” “Art China,” “Pengpai,” “Heichi” magazine, etc.

session iV

Schedule

Session IV
Date: December 3, 2022, 3-5 pm
Venue: Topred Center for Contemporary Art (TCCA)
Theme: Meeting Others on Foodlines
Led by: Sandra Knecht, Xiao Chunlei, Jenny CHEN Jiaying and Chen Min

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

Activities:

  1. Reading Cahier d’Artistes: Sandra Knecht
  2. Talk among Sandra Knecht, Xiao Chunlei, Jenny CHEN Jiaying and Chen Min

 

 

 

 

 

Book: Cahier d’Artistes: Sandra Knecht

Sandra Knecht is well-known for Immer wieder sonntags [Always on Sundays], her unique culinary creations and hosting at “Chnächt,” a barn she transported from the Jura region to the banks of the Rhine in Basel. Her artistic cooking practice is at the heart of the Cahier d’Artistes and the text by Koyo Kouoh. This practice includes the preservation of her “homeland” as well as a quest for identity through fragrances and taste, hospitality and the exploration of the transformative potential of preparing food and eating together. The monograph also shows how Sandra Knecht uses photography, video, sculpture, and installation as means of processing and expressing key concerns of hers – responsibility, equality and transformation.

Led by

Jenny CHEN Jiaying & Chen Min &

Sandra Knecht (*1968) lives in Buus, a small village in the Swiss canton of Basel Land, together with her many animals. From 2016 to 2019, she hosted a dinner series at her restaurant Chnächt in Basel, called Immer wieder sonntags (Again Every Sunday).  After working as a social educator for many years, she completed an MFA at the University of the Arts in Zurich.

Xiao Chunlei is a writer and journalist. He is a native of Taining, Fujian Province, and is engaged in writing literature, art criticism, and human geography. He is a contributor to China National Geographic and Huaxia Geographic (the Chinese version of National Geographic magazine). He has received the China Journalism Award and the Hundred Flowers Literary Award of Fujian Province. He has published 22 books of poetry, including The Sands of Time; a collection of essays, The Biography of the Sea Peoples: Essays on the Marine Life of China; a collection of art essays, Humanity if Oviparous; and The Palm Lines of China. He now lives in Xiamen.

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