Monday, 29 October 2007


A Spoken Word Exhibition, and a Series of Spoken Word Retrospectives
Nov 1 - Nov7 2007

Guest curator Mathieu Copeland presents a spoken word exhibition at the Swiss Institute. The exhibition consists of artworks repeated by the Institute‘s staff. By leaving the gallery space empty and making works available only on demand, Copeland initiates an exchange between spectators and gallery staff.

Artists contributing to A Spoken Words Exhibition include Vito Acconci, Robert Barry, James Lee Byars, Nick Currie (aka Momus), Douglas Coupland, Karl Holmqvist, Maurizio Nannucci, Yoko Ono, Mai-Thu Perret, Emilio Prini, Tomas Vanek, Lawrence Weiner, and Ian Wilson. Artists contributing to A Series of Spoken Words Retrospectives include David Medalla and Gustav Metzger.

During the exhibition the Swiss Institute opens from noon to midnight. A Series of Spoken Word Events will take place every evening at 6pm.

Schedule for live performances :

1) OPENING : Nov 1 Karl Holmqvist
Karl Holmqvist's use of the spoken word goes back to early nineties New York (St Marks Poetry Project, Pyramid Club, ABC No Rio). He believes in the communal and emotive aspects of the spoken and the act of listening as a counter balance to the more isolatory and authoritative qualities of the written word. Transformatory potentials can be said to be explored through the spoken word as it allows the entering of a text through stage performance.

2) Nov 2 Michael Portnoy - A Seminar in Sublingual Carnage.
“It will last approximately 30 minutes and will instruct viewers in all manner of atrocities that may be waged against (and occasionally with) the Word. This event may be seen as a thoracic scrub brush, diaphragmatic mud-dancing, a Word Jock energy session...”

3) Nov 3 An evening of the book(s)
18.00 : A Reading from Mai-Thu Perret’s the Crystal Frontier
“For the past few years, Mai-Thu Perret has been writing The Crystal Frontier, a fictional account of a feminist commune founded by five women in the Southwestern United States. In no way, shape or form a finished document, The Crystal Frontier consists of diary entries by its female protagonists who reflect on the lives they left behind, the reasons they left, and their personal hopes and hardships in pioneering a utopian community. Perret, who studied English literature at Cambridge, is more interested in character development than setting. No More City, an extract from The Crystal Frontier, reveals the escapist impulse motivating the women. Whereas one journal entry may be reminiscent of Willa Cather, another may come across as the delightfully convoluted, ideological rant of a disgruntled graduate student frustrated by her inability to translate, say, Monique Wittig into a meaningful “praxis.””.
Extracts from Hamza Walker

18.30 : 2 or 3 things I know about books, an event by Raimundas Malasauskas
‘2 or 3 things I know about books’ is based on the famous scene from Jean Luc Godard’s ‘2 or 3 things I know about her’, where two readers are seated on a table covered with books, randomly reading sentences and paragraphs from randomly selected books.
In this performance, a reader selects randomly from the pile of books present on the table paragraphs to be read, whilst the other protagonist is writing on a laptop, not handwriting, the text transmitted online in real time.
Assuming that the person who is reading (as well as the one that is writing) is doing some reinterpretation of the text while adding bits and pieces from the memory or from the heart, and the same applying to the person writing, this performance becomes an artistic act on the part of the both, generating live a composite new text based on chance, movement and knowledge.

4) Nov 4 Robert Barry
A live performance by Robert Barry. In an extract to a discussion held with Holger Weh in 1995, Barry developed on his use of the word : “And from the projections then I started making sound pieces. In a room where there’s a projection it's usually dark, and you focus on one image in front of you, and that’s a certain kind of situation. But with a sound piece, where you hear the words spoken every 30 seconds or so, you’re in a lit room and you’re surrounded by the environment. You can hear things going on outside the gallery, or people are talking to each other. It's a more social situation – you’re not focused on one thing. So it's kind of the opposite of the projections. This is the way I was working”.

5) Nov 5 King Mob
Began in 1998, King Mob is a label sporting only the Spoken Word, and has released readings by the likes as Nick Cave, Charles Bukowski, Stewart Home, or Ian Sinclair. The Swiss Institute will pay its respect to the king in an evening devoted to these recordings and will welcome a special guest to do a live reading.
It’s proclamation reads: “Music begone! (it’s good to talk). All music is dead, reduced to nothing more than competing background noise. Only the human voice can save you, sooth you, encompass & ignite your dreams. The King Mob is forced therefore to declare a war on musics / curfew the musician / silence the Din. Seize the rehearsal room, padlock it shut. Good folk demand passage of a bill for a 200 fold tax on every ownership of strings, picks, amplifiers, and that bloody banging drum (acoustic or mechanical). A license shall be required to consume any music & shall be refused with no recourse. We call for the shipping forecast to replace the national anthem. Poets & Writers become the new pop stars & exceed our expectations. Anyone caught grooving will be shot (there’s a kind of hush all over the world tonight). THE LOST CHORD IS THE VOCAL CHORD”.
The King Mob (A.D 98)

6) Nov 6 David Medalla - "Four Aces: Towards a nano theatre of Utter Meaninglessness".
Duration of my performance: exactly 60 minutes.
My performance is a participatory art event. I am looking forward to the collaboration of sixteen handsome young men of different nationalities. I will instruct them on simple movements to make in the course of the performance. They have to be lithe and agile and able to make graceful actions that also relate to break-dancing movements. They don't have to be dancers, although dancers are welcome.
Incidentally, the 16 young men will have to perform with naked torsos and on bare feet. They will wear a simple costume similar to the breech-cloth of Native Americans. Alas, there will be no fee, but I will give each of the 16 young men an original art work which I will make in New York. And there will be refreshments. Spectators at the performance will also be invited to inter-act, by means of sounds, hand gestures (kinetic mudras) and spoken words with the 16 young men and myself.

7) Nov 7 Vito Acconci
A live reading by Vito Acconci.

Swiss Institute [SI] - 495 Broadway 3rd Floor - New York NY 10012

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