For many artists writing is a central practice to generate and process ideas or create text-based work. Yet, it's been very little discussed, taught, or highlighted as an artistic practice as such. Writing is often limited to being an intellectual practice. This course is about unlearning what writing is, exploring its embodied dimensions, and transgressing the visual and performative boundaries that shape our understanding of the text, type, books, etc. The course explores the techniques of "writing beyond writing", their political potential, and the artist writing scene in Berlin.
In order to write, we first need to forget thinking about it and access a cognitive space untethered from inhibition and pretension. Through a number of methods, games, (easy) body and performance exercises and experimental writing prompts, we will approach the conscious and unconscious parts of both, reading and writing on an individual and collaborative level.
Opening up to new techniques means also to break with the hierarchies of discourse. Hence, we will look into the long history of re-appropriating writing as a creative and political cultural technique and the various poetics and forms that resulted from that. Discussing these along with works from the field of artists’ books, live coding, and text-objects in a broad sense we will overwrite our (visual) memory of writing, text, and type and invent new ways of written expression.
The second part of the course is a one-day “writing ashram”. Participants will elaborate ideas from the course and experience a guided day dedicated to writing. The instructors will be available for one-on-one consultation in order to reflect together on questions regarding the participants’ artistic writing practice and their course projects.
We will take a day to explore specialized bookshops, galleries and other places of writing in Berlin together. We will also meet some special guests and attend a reading event in order to reflect upon the manifold ways of presenting works of artist writing in performative, visual, acoustic ways, to name but a few.
The course will close with an internal presentation of the participants’ works and a reflection on what we have (un)learned about writing.
August 1–2, 10:00–16:00
Movement, experiment and play: review of historical and contemporary writing techniques and strategies.
August 3, 10:00–16:00
August 4, 10:00–16:00
Berlin site visits and guest speaker (TBA)
August 5, 10:00–16:00
Review of participants’ work, close readings and group feedback.
If writing plays a role in your studio practice, if you would like to explore and develop that more deeply in the context of Berlin’s vibrant artist writing scene, or if you would just like to figure out the sweet spot that makes you write and try new techniques of writing as well as its presentation, this course is for you.
The course language will be in English. Students are not required to produce work in English but should feel comfortable participating in the course and group discussion in English.
Annika Haas is a researcher based in Berlin, where she also serves on the faculty of the Department of Design at the University of the Arts Berlin. She has a background in media theory (B. A.) and media art (MFA). Her doctoral research investigates Hélène Cixous’s writing practice at the intersection of literature and philosophy. She is also a writer of art criticism, e.g., for Texte zur Kunst, and a co-editor of interdisciplinary publications such as “How to Relate: Knowledge, Arts, Practices” (2021). In her essays and teaching she connects postmodern philosophy and cultural and media studies with practical approaches to writing within and beyond the implicit boundaries of academic writing. Recently, her innovative teaching (e.g. via letters) has been covered in the German national radio broadcast, and involved a cooperation with the Klosterruine gallery Berlin.
Anna M. Szaflarski is a Polish-Canadian visual artist, performer, publisher and writer based in Berlin. Her work intertwines autobiographical and historical narratives, exploring such topics as the social anxieties of sharing space, the feminist politics of bodily boundaries, domestic violence, and the dynamics of hierarchical power structures. In 2019 and 2016 respectively she published the artist books and collection of essays, “Very Normal People” and “Letters to the Editors”, both co-published by AKV Berlin and Bom Dia Boa Tarde Boa Noite Verlag. She has led several experimental writing workshops including at the Museo de Arte Zapopan in Mexico and at Elgarafi Bom Dia in Berlin and was the creator of the Letters to the Editors Podcast. Her recent projects have included exhibitions at the Klosterruine, Berlin; Kunstverein Göttingen; Reutligen Kunstverein, Vernacular Institute (Mexico City), and Ashley Berlin.