BODY TEXT is a conversation series with practitioners across graphic design, performance, publishing, choreography and somatic work. It wonders about the alphabet as a score, how words move through bodies, paper as a space for desire, what desire does to reading, how publishing technologies meets flesh, and a million other things.
Despite the public-seeming form of this website, BODY TEXT is not ready to go public public just yet. This page is a placeholder, for your eyes only ♥‿♥. It includes short excerpts from transcriptions of the three conversations done so far. In a future the recordings will be edited and shared in audio form, along with transcriptions.
Micaela Terk is a writer-publisher, designer, and artist based in Amsterdam. In 2018, she founded Goodbye Books, a performative publishing platform which explores the role of the body in the 21st century. In 2022 she co-initiated the Embodied Knowledge Bureau at the Sandberg Instituut in Amsterdam, a space for investigating, reclaiming, and engaging the body within artistic education. See more:http://goodbyebooks.org/https://embodiedknowledgebureau.goodbyebooks.org/
We talked over zoom on Friday December 9 at 14.00. Micaela was in her home in Amsterdam and I was in a conference room at Brinellvägen 58.
CONVERSATION KEYWORDS ACCORDING TO THE A.I.-RUN TRANSCRIPTION SERVICE:
graphic design, somatic, practices, graphic designer, workshop, performance, body, lexicon, word, publication, performative, work, movement, moving, experience, space, knowledge, creating, book, embodied
EXCERPT FROM 65 MINS CONVERSATION:
S: As graphic designers we work in close collaboration with machines, and this work, and our bodies, are choreographed by machines. How has that relationship affected your body?
M: I would say it had a very big impact on my body. I began developing pain in my shoulder blades at the beginning of my studies as a graphic design student. And that pain was something that was really present during those years, and didn't at all get better. It also accompanied me well into my working life, when I took my first job at a graphic design studio. It reached a point where I was really suffering, and I wasn't sure how to continue working. And it didn't seem like a kind of situation where, you know, doing yoga after my job was going to help me. I was very fortunate at the time to be able to afford somatic treatments, those aren't usually covered by healthcare. I have been through a myriad of different somatic approaches to learning and to healing. It really transformed my experience of that pain. It became like a point of no return, I realized that I need to find ways to integrate this into my day to day life, all day.
My pain became a research lens. I learned more and more about how my body finds focus and how that way of finding focus is divergent from what we're taught, you know, working nine to five and the demands of the industry of graphic design. I think I've been practicing trusting this sense of focus and learning to work in a way that suits my physical needs. It can be extremely frustrating at times. It takes a lot of attention and a lot of adjustment and a lot of checking in. But it's something that has become non negotiable for me.
S: I’m curious about the description of Goodbye Books; what does 'a performative publishing platform' mean to you? M: I’ve never felt comfortable with creating a publication that is final. That’s a funny thing to say for someone who makes books, since books historically have come to represent an accumulation of information. There is no such thing as “drafts” in publishing, to the best of my knowledge. But this inability to commit to knowledge that is “final” or “more real than lived experience” has informed how I publish. What this means is that I believe in creating publications that are not expensive to produce, and do not take too much time either. I put at least as much emphasis on the community building that occurs during the making of the publication as I do on the printed object. And I try my best to use the book as a catalyst for further community-building, through events and workshops. I care so much more for the interpersonal connections that evolve around a book than the object itself, but luckily I think that care shows up in the object too.
Nat Pyper is an alphabet artist. In their work and writing, they use language as a sieve and they push the body through it. They also maintain ongoing research on queer anarcho-punk zines of the late 80s and early 90s. Their practice extends from this unruly history and its embodied politics of refusal. See more: https://www.natpyper.com/
I talked to Nat on Friday December 16 from a storage room at Brinellvägen 58. Time was 4 pm for me in Stockholm and 10 am for Nat in New York.
performance, people, body, feel, relationship, work, graphic design, publishing, alphabet, thinking, literacy, reading, bit, desire, artists, space, object, movement, legibility, language
EXCERPT FROM 85 MINS RECORDING:
S: What moved you towards using your own body and voice in your work?
N: I think there's a couple factors that led to me wanting to explore that kind of work. One important part for me was coming from having lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It's a small town. Maybe like 400,000, or... I think that's wrong. I don't know. I think it's possibly bigger than that. Anyways, I really, really love that city. And I love the people there. A big part of my love comes from the scrappiness of the city, this DIY, make do with what you have attitude that infuses a lot of the work that people do. Not just in art, but in everything. It can also lead to burnout, obviously, because the resources that you need are aren't there, I don't want to romanticize that. But also, there was a lot of beauty that came out of it. And something that I really appreciated about the art scene, specifically Milwaukee was that the city is too small to have any sort of sustainable art market for artists. Obviously, people were making all kinds of work in Milwaukee, but there was no incentive to sell your work, or to condense it into this object, because there was no market for it. No one is gonna buy this thing. I think that freed people up to think outside of those modes if it wasn't serving them. So there was a lot of really interesting performance and video work. A lot of really interesting food based work, community based work, and I was really molded by that. That was my formative years, living in this city for several years. I was really, really just impressed by how people were making work there. So I think I went into this situation of going back to school with that in mind.
Another big part of it was, the fall of 2016. It's the election and the new president comes to power. And there was this school-wide what the fuck moment of “Okay, what am I doing here? What are we doing here together? Why art? Why design? Why now?” These kinds of questions. That was another big push for me, away from the things that I thought didn't do it for me. I felt like there were limits to the design mediums that I had been working in before. The traditional mediums of design, towards exploring ideas that that emerged from that rupture. I think there's something about the body that I really appreciate, which is that it's very immediate. It's the thing that that's there with you all the time when you're working through urgent ideas, immediate, evolving ideas and thoughts and confusion. And so the body is that medium that you can use to explore those things. I think that was another big part, the immediacy of the body? That was something I knew I could bring to these ideas that I was trying to work through.
Pontus Pettersson is a choreographer and artist based in Stockholm working in the intersection of visual arts, the expanded field of choreography and contemporary dance. Their work ranges from fortune telling, cat practicing, writing poetry, making festivals to dancing. See more: https://www.mynameisocean.com/https://www.mynameisocean.com/writing-wounds-to-heal
Me and Pontus met over fika on Tuesday December 20th at 1 pm in his studio at Höjden in Stockholm.
dance, project, terms, create, poetry, part, choreographic, relate, space, thinking, words, writing, people, world, choreography, exist, cat, score, relation, choreographer
EXCERPT FROM 120 MINS RECORDING:
P: A letter is a choreographic inscription, maybe...
S: Can you expand on that?
P: Okay, I'm making this up so let's see if it makes sense. I think when I'm writing it [the letterforms called Pancor], I really just see it as movements. That's one thing that I'm busy with. But parallel to that, of course, it's the letter itself. Pancor exists because of an interest in poetry, and poetry in relation to objects. So for me, letters becomes movements – a straight line, a curved line, acceleration or length or time. But then, because they're part of language in terms meaning, the understanding of something we move according to, in terms of choreography as being bodies that moves, I think it relates. But then, of course, one can also think of choreography as something that starts a dance. And then maybe this is also a start of a word? I don't know. Through how Pancor is designed, different kinds of poetry would emerge, rather than using any kind of typeface or writing poetry in any other way. A specific poetry is emerging through a specific letterform.
Future and T.B.C. inteviewees could possibly include Brooke Palmieri, Litó Walkey, Mette Edvardsen, Will Rawls, Moa Franzén, nicole killian, Riley Hooker, Kyla Arsadjaja, Bryana Fritz, Xia Lin, Emily Smith, Joana Chicau, Paul Soulellis, and and and and and. Also, I am open to suggestions <3