Against Ordinary Language at Tate Exchange, Liverpool

November 2017
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Transforming Tate Exchange Liverpool into a gym-like environment, Browne will introduce sculptures that can be touched, handled and used. Made and constructed from gym equipment and disability aids, they have been produced to be used as training tools, even if their purpose is not obvious.

This one week project at Tate Exchange, Liverpool takes its title from an essay of the same name by Kathy Acker. In this essay, Acker – known for her feminist & queer approach to literature and for her appropriation of existing language in particular – attempts to find words to talk about her experience of bodybuilding, in a gym. She describes the gym as a 'geography of no language' as the bodies that work there tend to be vocal without being verbally articulate:

I am in the gym three out of every four days. What happens there? What does language look like in this place? According to cliché, athletes are stupid. Meaning: they are inarticulate... but my experience when I am in the gym is that I am immersed in a rich and complex world.

Much like a gym, the programme for the week’s activities is fixed:

Monday 20 November, 10.00 – 16.50

Sarah Browne, Report to an Academy, 2016

28 minutes, HD video, Colour, Stereo

Report to an Academy is an adaptation of the Kafka story of the same title, exploring the contemporary academic environment as a neoliberal workplace. Where in Kafka's story, an ape delivers an address to a gathering on his transition into human life, this video features an octopus who speaks of her motivation to escape and transform herself from human material in search of new forms of articulacy and agility.

Tuesday 21 November, 10.00 – 16.50

Imogen Stidworthy, Barrabackslarrabang, 2010

9 minutes, 13 seconds, HD video, Colour, Stereo

With Donna Berry, Cliff Higgins, George “Buster” Swaby and Christine Quarless

Barrabackslarrabang was shot in two Liverpool pubs (The Vines and The Lion Tavern), both locations strongly associated with informal chat and the birth of the railway and local underground slang, Backslang. The film interweaves tropes of class and race, trade and desire in the hidden backwaters and idealised forms of the voice.

Wednesday 22 November, 10.00 – 16.50

Jenny Brady, Going to the Mountain, 2015

10 minutes, HD video, Colour, Stereo

Brady is interested in subjects who don’t have a coherent language and with Going to the Mountain, came to look at pre-verbal babies in thinking about how we become a subject in the world through our entrance into language.

Thursday 23 November, 10.00 – 16.50

Stuart Marshall and Neil Bartlett, Pedagogue, 1988

10 minutes, SD video, Colour, Sound

Pedagogue was made in 1988 as a response to a law known as Clause 28. This law banned the “promotion of homosexuality” by anyone working in education or local government. No one was ever prosecuted under Clause 28 yet it remained in British Law until 2003.

Friday 24 November, 10.00 – 15.00

Fearghus Ó Conchúir, Match, 2006

6 minutes, HD video, Colour, Stereo

Match is a choreography for two men set against the backdrop of Croke Park, Ireland’s iconic stadium of traditional Gaelic games. The film was commissioned by the Arts Council of Ireland and by RTÉ, Ireland’s national broadcaster, and was an opportunity to make strangely familiar bodily experiences that are often unacknowledged.

Friday 24 November, 15.00 - 16.30

Letting the Body Speak for Itself: on Autistic Presence

Discussion with Dr. Stuart Murray.

This talk will focus on autism in terms of an idea embodied difference. It will explore how we might think of the condition in terms of sensory and proprioceptive responses to the external environment, and how the expression of these can suggest an idea of presence and agency. It will also discuss the ways in which autism is characterised in other settings - whether clinical/diagnostic or cultural narrative - and how this creates other ideas of bodies and subjectivity.

Saturday 25 – Sunday 26 November, 10.00 – 16.50

Sarah Browne and dance artist Leah Marojevic will be working together to develop movement in response to the objects in the space.