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What a body is | An evening of performances and screenings, Nov 26, 2022

For this evening of performances and screenings, four artists (Caitlin Berrigan, Cia Rinne, Rike Scheffler, Sophie Seita) presented some recent works that reflected their ongoing preoccupation with language as sonic, embodied, relational and interdependent matter. In their respective pieces, they asked how we can think about bodies — politically, ecologically and sensorially. Each artist was also interested in publishing practices that emerge out of a wider ecology of performance, installation, and an engaged and playful dialogue with other voices.

EXC Dorothea Schlegel Artist-in-Residence Sophie Seita, who curated the event, performed Reading the Rock, a response to her 2021 installation and sound piece My Contact Aureoles, whose setting is the Big Bend State Park, which runs along the Rio Grande and divides West Texas and Mexico. The performance, in turn, bends into and around different body-and rock-formations—quite literally through the metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary rock that can be found in the region. Thinking about geologic time and geophilosophical processes, other stepping-stones or touchstones are Valie Export’s Körperkonfigurationen (Body Configurations), John Ruskin’s ‘Of the Material of Mountains’ in Modern Painters; Laura Aguilar’s self-portrait Grounded #114 (2006), Dana Luciano and Mel Chen’s ‘Queer Inhumanisms’; Yoko Ono’s Stone Piece, William Empson’s Some Versions of Pastoral; and other materials and voices that tease out the complex from the simple and vice versa, all pivoting around some questions that animate Seita’s work: How can a work hold a moment, translate it, make it tangible and yet remain ultimately unknowable? Or more simply: How can I experience this enough?

Cia Rinne performed a version of her conceptual text piece sentences, based on her reflections on Gertrude Stein’s poetic writing, and shared a video version of the same project, available to view here.

Rike Scheffler presented her experimental video piece based on the surround sound installation Lava. Ritual—containing queer poetic reflections from or to a speculative future interspecies community, asking audiences to think about new forms of listening and being-with other life-forms. The video was made in collaboration with the sound artist CROOK, the Icelandic photographer Gunnlöð Jóna, and the digital artist Arna Beth.

Caitlin Berrigan read her speculative science fiction piece ‘A voice becomes a mirror plane becomes a holohedral wand’, accompanied by a soundscape containing tones from hydrothermal vents sampled by T. Crone, et al, “The Sound Generated by Mid-Ocean Ridge Black Smoker Hydrothermal Vents,” Plos One (2006), doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0000133; as well as impulse responses generated from mineral crystallographies modeled by M. Aristov using VESTA: K. Momma and F. Izumi, “VESTA 3 for three-dimensional visualization of crystal, volumetric and morphology data,” J. Appl. Crystallogr., 44, 1272-1276 (2011), doi.org/10.1107/S0021889811038970.’