Reading Bodies! Corpoliteracy in Arts, Education and Everyday Life

© Human Rights Tattoo. 

Bodies are complex sign systems. They convey intentional and unintentional messages and reflect traditions and current trends, which are interpreted – often unconsciously – by others. During Berlin Art Week – based on the term “corpoliteracy” – Reading Bodies! explores the multilayered backgrounds of the perceptions of our own and others’ bodies in panels, workshops and performances.

Corpoliteracy reflects value systems, social practices and the mechanisms that lead to attributions, constraints and exclusion. Can Corpoliteracy help to develop new forms of cultural education that accommodate the intersectional realities of many people? Can reading bodies help break down prejudices and resentments, can it help us judge others with more nuance than binary systems of old/young, dis/abled, homo/hetero, black/white? Does corpoliteracy enable us to gain new interpretive powers about our own bodies? The program probes these and many other questions through contributions from artistic, academic and pedagogical research.

The artist duo of Lucie Strecker and Klaus Spiess experiment with the linguistic determinacy of the biochemistry of human saliva, in Don’t Draw a Penis, the Studio Moniker artist collective verifies the censoring power of AI. Jeremy Wade, in his performance Technologies of Impossible Repair, questions normalizing practices of care by means of art, social work and activism. In addition to these and more artistic, performative interventions, guests can actively take part. For instance, Human Rights Tattoo pricks the Human Rights Declaration letter by letter onto the skins of interested visitors, artist Nadja Buttendorf offers Hot Phone massages as well as experimental prosthetics and political body enhancements in her Magnetic Nail Art Studio. Workshop by Feministische Gesundheitsrecherchegruppe develops feminist perspectives on health and explores examples of radical health care. The program will be supplemented by physical exercises and guided meditation sessions.

Trans Opera | © Thijs Adriaans

The word “corpoliteracy” was coined by SAVVY Contemporary. Reading Bodies! further develops the theories and opens them up to discuss new aspects. In the book for documenta 14 aneducation, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung writes that “with the concept of corpoliteracy I mean to contextualize the body as a platform and medium of learning, a structure or organ that acquires, stores and disseminates knowledge. This concept would imply that the body, in sync, but also independent of the brain, has the potential of memorizing and passing on/down acquired knowledge through performativity.”

As part of the long-term project The New Alphabet, since January 2019 HKW has been investigating the knowledge systems that are crucial for navigating today’s world. In its Cultural Education work, HKW is interested in how this knowledge is produced, shared, used and by whom.

With Reading Bodies! Daniel Neugebauer and Eva Stein, who are responsible for the program, dare to take a sweeping blow: The contributions deal, for example, with political and educational aspects of corporeality, with peer pressure and ideals of beauty, with the role played by social media and with the question of how digital life and technologies actually change the human physique. For Reading Bodies! contributors from the arts, education and mediation, science, activism and everyday life examine the transformational potentials of the concept of corpoliteracy for a pluralistic and inclusive society.

With Magda Albrecht, Aral Balkan, Maaike Bleeker, Mai-Anh Julia Boger, Sander van Bussel & Human Rights Tatoo, Nadja Buttendorf & Theresa Mosebach, Dynno Dada,  Ahmet Derecik, Bogomir Doringer, Eva Egermann, Educated Body, Nemi El-Hassan, Gila Kolb, Raul Krauthausen, Ali Lacin, Anisha Muller, Olave Nduwanje, Regine Rapp, Imke Schmincke, Klaus Spiess & Lucie Strecker, Jules Sturm & Angelo Custodio, Studio Moniker, Sabina Énea Téari, Mavi Veloso, Sanni Est & Tina Escarlatina, Matthias Vernaldi, Jeremy Wade, Sabine Zahn, Inga Zimprich, Yvonne Zindel and many others.

Reading Bodies!
Corpoliteracy in Arts, Education and Everyday Life
Performances, discourse, workshops
John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10, 10557 Berlin
Sep 14&15, 2019
(Sep 14, 4pm–midnight/Sep 15, 10am–7pm)
Free admission
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