Friday, 11 December 2020, 20.00 - 21.30 Brussels time
Join us online for an informal reading group dinner, marking year one of the Syllabus reading group. We will read text fragments by Rebecca Solnit, Audre Lorde, Amiri Baraka, Silvia Federici - and we invite you to bring a text or a poem that reminds us poetry can be a political act. Of course you can also just join and listen in. Don’t forget to serve yourself with food and drinks. Welcome!
In her recent lecture in Ghent, Silvia Federici reminded us of the necessity to ‘reconnect with those who struggled before us’, to reconnect with the body, with nature, with history. Therefore, while sharing a dinner, we will start the night with a fragment from Rebecca Solnit’s essay Hope in the Dark. Through ‘untold histories’ of protesters, writers and workers from the mid 20th century to the present, Solnit looks back at the past and argues that hope is a catalyst for action. Connecting political action to poetics, she ends the essay with the metaphor of rowing:
“You row forward looking back, and telling this history is part of helping people navigate toward the future. We need a litany, a rosary, a sutra, a mantra, a war chant for our victories. The past is set in daylight, and it can become a torch we can carry into the night that is the future.”
The Syllabus Reading Group is organized by Kunsthal Gent around the work 'Syllabus' by the Irish artist Jesse Jones: a monumental curtain with the left arm of Silvia Federici, creating a space for (activist) gathering. In collaboration with Jesse Jones, Carla Besora, Elien Ronse and Sigrid Vertommen.
Silvia Federici is a feminist, writer, teacher, and activist. Her research and political organizing accompany a long list of publications on philosophy and feminist theory, women’s history, education, culture, international politics, and the worldwide struggle against capitalist globalisation and for a feminist reconstruction of the commons.
Jesse Jones is a Dublin-based artist and teaches visual arts at the TU Dublin School of Creative Arts. Her practice crosses the media of film, performance and installation. She often works in collaborative structures and investigates how historical examples of shared culture can play a role in our current social and political experiences.
Until the summer of 2020, Carla Besora organised Other Women’s Flowers: a beehive, a book-club and an artistic playground. It was born out of the wish to share, discover and discuss the written work of women, and to do so in a celebratory, playful way. Our dinner gatherings are a moment to share literary enthusiasm, debate contemporary challenges and rethink solidarity, one book at a time. Everyone is welcome to join the gatherings.
Sigrid Vertommen is conducting postdoctoral research on the political economy of global fertility chains at the Department of Conflict and Development Studies at Ghent University. She is particularly interested in understanding women's role and participation in the bio-economy as egg vendors and surrogates through the lens of reproductive labour.
Syllabus: In January 2020, Jesse Jones’ work Syllabus opened in Kunsthal Gent: a monumental curtain that when pulled, fills the space with an image of Silvia Federici’s left arm. As agreed in a contract signed on the opening, the work is to stay in the exhibition space for 5 years, on the condition that Kunsthal Gent will host a monthly reading group or related event inside the circle that is created by the work. The contract foresees that ‘Events may be postponed where necessary due to unforeseen circumstances including, but not limited to, acts of God or enemy, earthquake, fire, or flood, riot, war or civil commotion, trials, examinations, pestilence, epidemic or accusations of demonic possession.’ A facsimile of the contract is available from Kunsthal Gent.
Image: Jesse Jones, Syllabus