Vocabularies of Exclusion strand

Friday November 17, 10.00–18.00 in the Valand Aula and in Glasshouse.

Vocabularies of Exclusion focuses on forms of exclusion produced through
language as well as embodied and discursive practices. Reflecting on the terms and
conditions of artistic and political work in cross-disciplinary contexts, it explores and
interrogates languages of inclusion, separation, and participation as they are
produced and enacted in the present moment in the field of cultural production and
its context in wider socio-political arenas.

  • 9.30-10.00 Introductory remarks
    Valand, Aula
  • 10.00–11.00 Open session Vocabularies of Assembly, Assembling Vocabulary
    Shannon Jackson, Cyrus and Michelle Hadidi Chair in the Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley
    Valand Aula
  • 13.00–14.00 Lunch, served in Valand
  • 14.00–15.00 Open session “Crises”, Convulsions, Concurrences. About Human Mobility, the European Geography of “Exclusion” and the Postcolonial Dialectics of Subordinate Inclusion
    Nicholas de Genova, scholar of migration, borders, citizenship, race and labour
    HDK, Baula
  • 15.45–16.15 The symbols that have been weighing us down for so long have begun to levitate
    Channa Bianca Hjälmrud
    Valand, the Glasshouse
  • 17.15–18.00 Concluding discussion
    Valand, the Glasshouse


Vocabularies of Assembly, Assembling Vocabulary

Shannon Jackson

This lecture considers the poetics and politics of “assembly,” exploring how linguistic and performative conventions both welcome and exclude.  It draws from an ongoing research project on the use of the “keyword” to create online conversation on performance experiment: http://intermsofperformance.site/  It then sets this linguistic assembly inside a larger conversation about the political, aesthetic, and educational stakes of  “assembly” in a 21st century landscape, including contexts where the ‘right to free speech’ is paradoxically appropriated to perpetuate conditions of exclusion.  Throughout, Jackson considers how artists and critics address these changing conditions with alternative experiments in re-assembly.

Going beyond exclusion: Doing intersectionality differently in theatre for children and youth

Dimen Abdulla, Malin Axelsson, and Anna Lundberg

Throughout the last decades, the question of inclusion and exclusion, based in various intersecting power hierarchies, has been frequently raised and problematized in a range of Swedish theatre productions for children and youth. Given that the issue has been discussed for quite some time amongst artists working with children’s theatre, we ask: Is now the time to move beyond the conception of inclusion and exclusion?

Drawing on our mutual experiences of working with the art form children’s theatre, but also drawing on contemporary feminist and post/de colonial theory, the trialogue will take its point of departure in a hands-on discussion of Dimen Abdulla’s play Revolution, staged 2015 at ung scen/öst (young scene/east) a theatre for children and youth in the Eastern part of Sweden. ung scen/öst has for a number of years held a position as one of the most interesting playhouses in Sweden, producing cutting edge theatre and performance art for children and youth, negotiating intersecting power hierarchies based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, age and class.

Discussing the production and staging of Revolution, playwright Abdulla, director/artistic leader Axelsson and in-house researcher Lundberg will consider how we can work with onstage representations and presentations in order to move beyond structures of inclusion and exclusion in theatre for children and youth. How can theatre, as a multi-sensory form of art which draws on other artistic genres such as poetry, cinema, and music, open up for moving beyond exclusion and inclusion?

Revolution is a production where power is negotiated through poetic, emotional and generative means, rather than traditionally rational political and reactive/critical interventions. How is this artistic choice to be understood in relation to current repressive power structures?

The symbols that have been weighing us down for so long begin to levitate

Channa Bianca Hjälmrud

This paper posits representation as the sensation of inhabiting at once the realms of hypervisibility and invisibility in the context of a cultural obsession with depicting females, to question what traditions we want to write ourselves into, and to ask of ourselves what we can develop for the future. In other words: what can we learn about being excluded from the massive and mundane representation of females, which is perpetuated in visual culture?

In 1975 Hélène Cixous proposed an exclusively female way of writing, urging us to write ourselves into history, suggesting that we must write ourselves, and that we must bring women to writing. Mara Lee’s The Writing of Others (2015), written in the tradition of écriture féminine, considers how we can develop this tradition by including a post-colonial analysis:

”…We must also take into account the (feminist) postcolonial theory in approximation to the ambivalences, contradictions, conflicts and emotions that are made visible when the word ’woman’ is torn apart by white and widespread interests.”

To address being excluded, we must talk about what inclusion might offer. It is widely recognized that representation in visual communication is such a powerful source of identification that we seek to mimic the values on display. In today’s society, the means and expectations of ”self”-representation unfold against a neoliberal back-drop. This situation delivers a scenario best described in the words of Hito Steyerl: ”hegemony is increasingly internalized, along with the pressure to conform and perform, as is the pressure to represent and be represented.”

To address being included, we must talk about what exclusion might offer. As Chantal Mouffe argues, every hegemonic order is predicated on the exclusion of other possibilities. Thus, everything that is excluded is potentially the formation of other orders. How do we imagine, practice and argue for being excluded?

Sound Art’s Disability Aesthetics

Heather Warren-Crow

In Disability Aesthetics (2010), Tobin Siebers claims that disability is central to 20th century visual art, which gives us images of “disfigured” bodies as a rejection of conventional standards of beauty. Likewise, I argue, the history of sound art has been shaped by conceptions of speech-language pathology. Indeed, communication impairment (especially, stuttering) is frequently invoked by practitioners of sound art and the theorists that attempt to explain it.

If 20th century visual art “move[s] us because of its refusal of harmony, bodily integrity, and perfect health,” then perhaps the success of vocally-oriented sound art is based on its refusal of harmony, linguistic integrity, and perfect articulation (5). Surprisingly, Siebers does not address a common concern of disability scholars: the use of disability as a metaphor.

One could argue that the “deformed” bodies of modern art do not effectively challenge traditional aesthetics, but instead stand for the transformation of the subject under modernity, especially as a result of socio-technological change. The deployment of metaphor can be problematic, however, deflecting attention away from disability as lived experience and towards its symbolic value for the able-bodied to conceptualize the human condition.

When such an argument is extended to sound art’s obsession with the stutter as the body’s resistance to the tyranny of logos, we might ask ourselves: when the specificity of communication disability is bypassed in favor of an exploration of the pleasures/perils of the linguistic subject most generally, is sound art ableist?

This presentation traces a genealogy of sound art focusing on speech-language pathology, while considering the ethics of such work vis-à-vis debates within disability studies. My approach is equally informed by my research on communication disability and my experience as a sound artist who often uses disfluency to emphasize the physical toll of affective labor.

A case of exclusion: Bodily writing and textual acting – the lesbian letters on stage

Hanna Hallgren (with Petra Fransson)

This presentation is a transdisciplinary trans art collaboration between performing arts and literary composition. It circles around a visionary research question: through which texts and performances can excluded historical voices and bodies be materialised? I.e. can some of the complexities of their experiences be shaped through a processual and methodological intra-action between performative writing and performing arts? Since the opposite of truth (Greek alethia) is not non-truth, but forgetfulness (Greek lethe), our ambition is as well to remember and include forgotten voices and bodies as a means to create an aesthetic truth.

Thus, we orient ourselves towards a bodily writing and a textual acting. We will investigate the renegotiating potential in the relation body – literary/dramatic text, and how bodies normally excluded from subjectivity in the public space with the theatrical line as a position can insist on ambiguous states of desire and thus enter into a becoming as existential and ethical subjects.

We will use writing and performing as our experimental methods of inquiry, and our methodological aim is to blend, re-shape, interrupt, diffract and extend our different art and research forms. We are working with the theme “excluded voices/bodies” though focusing on letters from Swedish lesbian women sent to the writer and translator Eva Alexanderson (1911-1994) in the 1960s and 1970s as our main source of material. Alexanderson was the first lesbian woman who came out on a national level in Sweden.

As a response to her novel Kontradans [Square dance] (1969), which tells the love story of two women, Alexanderson received a lot of letters from women all around Sweden. The letters, that are preserved at KvinnSam – National Resource Library for Gender Studies at University of Gothenburg, tells about lesbian everyday life; fear, hope, love and feelings of exclusion connected to one’s sexual orientation.

Alexanderson’s archive also contains materials such as “Novel about a lesbian woman in the 1950s” and extended writing on sex liberalism. These materials will also be taken into account in our bodily and textual trans art work of remembrance.

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