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Image Credit: Nina Jäger I continent, Untitled (détente), Videostill (2022)

Dorothea Schlegel Artist in Residence, Research Area 4: "Literary Currencies"

March 2024

Raw Materials. What We Bring to the Table

The table had been spread with a solemn abundance. Piled on the white tablecloth were stalks of wheat. And red apples, enormous yellow carrots, plump tomatoes nearly bursting their skin, watery-green chayote, pineapples malignant in their savagery, calm and orangey oranges, gherkins spiky like porcupines, cucumbers wrapped taut round their watery flesh, hollow red peppers that stung our eyes— all entangled with strands and strands of corn silk, reddish as near a mouth. And all those grapes. They were the deepest shade of purple grape and could hardly wait for the moment they’d be crushed. And they didn’t care who crushed them. The tomatoes were plump to please no one: for the air, for the plump air. […] We kept eating. Like a horde of living beings, we gradually covered the earth. Busy like people who plow for their existence, and plant, and harvest, and kill, and live, and die, and eat.
                               —  Clarice Lispector, "The Sharing of Loaves"

The experimental publishing collective continent. engages with the notion of temporal communities through its continuous attachments, examining how food and writing, eating and reading, cooking and creating can be critical and enchanting means of recasting the value of publishing. Writing and reading, like preparing and eating food, call us all toward integrative, incorporative acts, and substrates for the conveyance of meaning are always at once metaphorical and material. Planetary transformations drive new relations between metabolic sustenance and acts of creation, ideation, transmission and communication through language and other media. As we make, make public, distribute and circulate ‘cultural productions’, we also circulate through meshes of material global systems of every other kind of production.

In that crossing, in the rub it bears, we’ll raise the city. We are the engine that will raze this city. What neither begins nor ends is that we are the engine that will raise this city. On Earth, where we read the worlds he makes in force against song and dance, we are instruments at work and play, in touch and taste, of tongue and roof, for mouth and bridge. Just a taste, and our amusement, and it’s gone. This is our invitation to dance—out of nothing, till there’s nothing at all.
                               — Fred Moten, "Black and Blur (consent not to be a single being)"

This collaborative, collective project aims to rub up against both the raw and the cooked, the messy and refined, the unprocessed and prepared, the profane and the sacred. It will do so by creating collective encounters, reading and eating groups, a very special issue of its journal and a mode of metabolic publishing that will inform and interact with the Annual Conference Literary Value: Artistic, Academic and Critical Practices at Literarisches Colloquium Berlin in July 2024. The project’s stakes are aleatory and alimentary, as the strange conveyance of meaning through publishing always demands that they ask who and what is being served, and served up, in faithful acts of communication. 

But my kingdom is not the clamorous transparency of the soul of the bells. To the contrary: tenebrous I feed off the black bitter roots of the trees, reaching them by digging into the earth with knotty hard fingers and dirty nails: I eat and chew and swallow the earth.
                               —  Clarice Lispector, "A Breath of Life"

Please bring strange things. Please come bringing new things. Let very old things come into your hands. Let what you do not know come into your eyes. Let desert sand harden your feet. Let the arch of your feet be the mountains. Let the paths of your fingertips be your maps
And the ways you go be the lines of your palms. Let there be deep snow in your inbreathing
And your outbreath be the shining of ice. May your mouth contain the shapes of strange words. May you smell food cooking you have not eaten. May the spring of a foreign river be your navel. May your soul be at home where there are no houses. Walk carefully, well-loved one, Walk mindfully, well-loved one, Walk fearlessly, well-loved one. Return with us, return to us, Be always coming home.
                               ― Ursula K. Le Guin

continent. is an experiment in collective public-making, a slow-media platform exploring the notion of détente. continent. opens and examines, transforms and affects contemporary conditions of creative labour and critical love in philosophy, media, art, science, thought, politics and planetary ecologies. continent. produces events, series, special editions, and experimental and research-driven publications, carefully, purposefully infrequently and somewhat irregularly. At time of writing the group comprises Jamie Allen, Paul Boshears, Mela Dávila Freire, Catarina de Almeida Brito, Niklas Egberts, Alicia Escobio, Mayssa Fattouh, Brendan Howell, Nina Jäger, Rebekka Kiesewetter, Maxime Le Calvé, Isaac Linder, Anna-Luise Lorenz, Maite Muñoz, Abbéy Odunlami, Paula Vélez Bravo and Elvia Wilk, with varying degrees of engagement and through their various interests and perspectives. 

Over its more than ten-year continuation, continent. has been… a public-making partner in the Anthropocene Curriculum projects of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (for example, through the Temporary continent. project along the Mississippi River)... an invited special guests for physical book-hacking sessions for the R3pair Volume special issue derived through The Maintainers conference in New Jersey, U.S.A.… a contributor to public tour projects at documenta14 in Athens. continent. has also initiated reading and discussion communities around topics relating to reproductive labour, motherhood and creative production with friends at L’Automatica, Barcelona… and developed events and collections on how friendship can be a model and misgiving in collectivised cultural production.