talks n talks

So lucky there are so many good, free (or close to free, less than a cup of tea) talks around.

A few months ago I went to hear Orlan talk at Goldsmiths. It was so nice to hear someone with a great sense of humour speaking French, but sad that her young translator lost so much of it.

Orlan looked fabulous. I don't think I could say that word out loud, but I'll write it down anyway. She had 80s style Corbusier glasses, and Cruella-ish hair. And her nodes were all glittery:

Orlan was talking about baroque and religion in her work and put some words on the screen: THIS IS MY BODY, THIS IS MY SOFTWARE.

Here are some aspects of her work that she said, and I like:

+ the living and the fake, side by side. (Which Jordan/Katie Price was talking about in the paper yesterday. I think they'd get on)
+ exploration of excess.
+ every representation of the self being pseudo.
+ a flood, explosion, dysentery of images.
+ re/dis/figuration.
+ life as a recoverable aesthetic phenomenon.

Here are some artists that she referenced:
+ John Cage
+ Artaud
+ Cronenberg
+ Kristeva
+ Freud
+ Plato

She also read from her manifesto about Carnal Art.

"Carnal Art transforms the body into language, reversing the Christian principle of 'the word made flesh', the flesh is made word. Only the voice of Orlan remains unchanged."
I think it was the week after that I went to see Madelon Vriesendorp talk. It wasn't so much a talk, it was a game. It seemed like a lot of people there were her friends and family. It was a bit like being in her living room, everyone was nice and chatty and laughed a lot. Here's a close up of her collection, she calls it a city.

The game was about moving the objects around, and when a person is finished, everyone else has to analyze what it means - you go round in a circle. At first it was a bit intimidating - we were strangers at the party - but we goofed around and James said some things that made Madelon call him an expert. I discovered that anything about men and power goes down well. It would be nice to have regular moments in time to host these intellectual silly games with lots of different people, not just AA folk.

There's a new edition of "Life, A User's Manual" (3rd cover down)

This is why a bunch of French and English Oulipo members got together to read from Perec's books, and share anecdotes about their friendships. Vowels, lateral dichotomies and cats all heavily featured. We found out that the name of the famous cat is Duchat, and the child of Duchat is Duchatton, and the child of Duchatton is Douche.

Maybe the nicest moment was the simultaneous reading of Perec's 35 variations sur un thème de Marcel Proust, and Harry Matthews' 35 Variations On A Theme By Shakespeare which apparently he wrote on a transatlantic flight.

One person asked the table what they think Perec would be doing now, with a computer. They said they were pretty sure he'd be exploring word games as usual, programming his constraints, but trying to find the solutions that the computer missed out.


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