Live reading/performance and screening programme presented at Cubitt, London
Taking Serena Lee’s ‘Second Tongues’ exhibition at Cubitt into account, curator Erik Martinson has been invited to programme an evening of film and readings. ‘Self does not understand’ derives its title from a phrase spoken by the character Warlock in the 1980’s comic ‘The New Mutants’. Warlock is an alien with the power to meta-morph into any shape or form, though he has a difficult time understanding our world, needing to constantly learn about how humans communicate with each other. He identifies as ‘Self’ and his teammates are his ‘Self-friends’. One teammate in particular called Doug Ramsey, codenamed Cypher, has the mutant power to innately learn and understand languages rapidly, whether they are human, machinic, or alien in nature. These two characters’ lives are intertwined, from first encounter of communicating through patterned light, in the vein of ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind,’ to a complicated mutually symbiotic relationship. Through tragedy Warlock must come to terms with death, something his kind experiences and understands in some fundamentally different ways, prompting this programme’s title.
‘Self does not understand’ considers tiny translations between: ‘self’ and ‘self’, ‘self’ and ‘other self’, ‘self’ and ‘other’, ‘other’ and ‘other’, and various permutations or these arbitrary structures. When fluency and comprehension are closely examined, the solid ground they present is quickly revealed as ongoing, fragile calculations. Like a decimal place rounded-up, they are an approximation, even within the same language set. Fluency and comprehension are made up of so many encounters, of so many oscillations between understanding and not, until one seems to win out.
The event features a selection of live reading and artists’ moving image. Artists presented include: Stephanie Comilang, Jessa Mockridge, Shanzhai Lyric, Lana Lin, Anastasia Sosunova, with a guest appearance by Vrillon.
Supported by Canada House, Canada Council for the Arts, Arts Council England and Outset Contemporary Art Fund.
Q!hosa, afterword from Exercises: xhosa textbook fiction (unpublished), Jessa Mockridge, 2015, 15:00, ZA/UK (Reading)
The Endless Garment: I am an enemy of fantasy. A Group Poetry Reading by Shanzhai Lyric, 2016 – ongoing, 15:00, US
The 1977 Southern Television Alien Broadcast Interruption, NowYouKnow (Youtube), 2017, 7:42 (excerpt)
Demikhov Dog, Anastasia Sosunova, 2017, 7:24, LT
Stranger Baby, Lana Lin, 1995, 13:54, US (Cinenova Distribution)
Lumapit Sa Akin, Paraiso (Come To Me, Paradise), Stephanie Comilang, 2016, 25:46, CA
*Programme notes available here.