Milan MI 20122
This project invites Converso’s community to consider the prominent lexicon associated with Covid-19 and aims to translate these pervasive words and phrases—such as social distancing, herd immunity, and ripple effect—into a meditative study on contemporary visual culture.
THE TASK OF THE TRANSLATOR
Fondazione Converso presents a new ongoing digital initiative titled “The Task of the Translator.” This project invites Converso’s community to consider the prominent lexicon associated with Covid-19 and aims to translate these pervasive words and phrases—such as social distancing, herd immunity, and ripple effect—into a meditative study on contemporary visual culture.
Converso will use its digital channels to publish photo, video, and poetry from contributors in order to cultivate and collage the different perspectives that comprise a global portrait of the pandemic and its vast implications.
FLATTEN THE CURVE
SHELTER IN PLACE
“Whereas content and language form a certain unity in the original, like a fruit and its skin, the language of the translation envelops its content like a royal robe with ample folds. For it signifies a more exalted language than its own and thus remains unsuited to its content, overpowering and alien… Thus, ironically, translation transplants the original into a more definitive linguistic realm, since it can no longer be displaced by a secondary rendering.” Walter Benjamin, The Task of the Translator, 1921
#001 The first contribution is an image by curator and DJ Lhaga Koondhor (@asianayz), inspired by Alvin Lucier, “I Am Sitting in a Room,” composed in 1969.
To be Autumn leaves
Dark National election
Clearly,nothing is clear
Coloris a particular manifestation of light
Everything else is doubtful
We live in imaginery countries
......... (to write )
.......... (to write)
My terror my Soul
#002 Michèle Lamy (@lalamichmich) shares an excerpt from the Lavascar LP “Garden of Memory” made for the exhibition of the same name held at Musèe Yves Saint Laurent, Marrakech (@myslmarrakech), which ran from May 14th to September 16th, 2018. Lavascar is a spoken word/electronic music project by Michèle Lamy, Nico Vascellari and Scarlett Rouge.
“Lavascar” by Michele Lamy, Nico Vascellari and Scarlett Rouge
Music: Nico Vascellari / Rocco Rampino
Lyrics: Poetry of Etel Adnan
Producer: Rocco Rampino
Mastering: Greg Moore at Finyl Tweek
Recorded with The Vinyl Factory at the Strongroom Showroom, London, June 2018
#003 Writer and architect Alessandro Bava (@___bava) shares a repost of Mimi Zhu by Britney Spears via Instagram. Thank you Alessandro!
New consensus and clarity around the realms of fashion/art/media and their apparatus could be of utmost necessity as the speed, cycles and seasons – the very structures these sectors are built upon – now have been completely interrupted. We are used to being constantly stimulated at all times online and to being exposed to a massive amount of data every day. Whereas the online remains as diffused as always, can this forced stillness – or standstill – help us navigate our offline life and the otherwise saturated and oftentimes overwhelming cultural climate? Can it pose new questions, facilitate new discourse and create new consciousnesses? I think it will be increasingly important to rewrite a healthy collective and critical environment to interact with the actual production and historical positioning of the arts, fashion, etc. within the larger intellectual circulation. Why is this or that so important to discuss, exhibit, preserve? The fact that my generation are slowly being guided into becoming almost non-literate – preferring and prioritizing visual content over text and the written word, and moreover, lacking trust in traditional media – illustrates the need for this aspect to be kept not only alive but approachable and digestible for a younger audience, despite elements of rigour and ‘exclusivity’ that criticism is often associated with. Some form of active resistance is required. In quarantine, we are granted the time and space (if not physical, a site for study, thought and creation) to refine the state of 21st century cultural critique.
#004 Publisher and curator Elise by Olsen (@elisebyolsen) shares her self-quarantine thoughts on the role of print media today and tomorrow. This text is an excerpt from "Printed Matter and the Written Word in Times of Trouble,” published this week by IAM Journal via Medium.
#005 Mitchell Anderson (@mitchellwanderson) shares a still from a long film on Netflix. “The entr’acte seemed like an equivalent to now. I think a lot about being in a pause, which is cinematic.” Anderson’s solo exhibition “Moon Piece, The Apostle and Related Works” ran at Converso from June 27th to July 27th, 2019.
#006 Charles Teyssou (@charlesteyssou) and Pierre-Alexandre Mateos (@pierreamateos) share the trailer, as well as a sequence filmed with iPhone, of "O Fantasma" (2000), a film by João Pedro Rodrigues. “When thinking about the first thing we will do after quarantine, what came to mind was the idea of wandering through our city at night again and exploiting all of its sensual contingencies. In O Fantasma, the main protagonist Sergio lives in Lisbon, and spends most of his nights outside looking for sexual partners while working as a garbage collector. The spectators follows his progressive transformation into a creature led by an inextinguishable desire for men, metamorphosis and domination.”
#007 Interested in the recurrent term “Ripple Effect,” Brazilian artist Adriano Costa (@adrianocostaluis) shares two images and a cartoon sequence which he titles “LICK ME DOWN DJ SET.” Costa lives and works in São Paulo.
#009 Jeff Mills (@jeff_mills_official) shares a video highlighting the ubiquitous and precautionary ecstasy of using hand sanitizer. So much so, we may look at it in the hypnotic sense. Artwork, video and music by Jeff Mills. Courtesy of Axis Records.
#010 For our tenth contribution, Copenhagen-based artist Rasmus Myrup (@rasmusmyrup), who shares a translation from Hans Christian Andersen’s 1862 fairytale “The Butterfly.”
#011 Tommaso Protti (@tomprotti) shares a selection of photographs from a forthcoming series which began during his quarantine in São Paulo.
#012 “Have you noticed how many more lights in the buildings are on when walking down the street?” Davide Stucchi (@davidestucchi) shares installation views from his exhibition “Light Switch (Entrance)” at Galerie Gregor Staiger (@galeriegregorstaiger), Zurich, which ran November 23rd, 2019, to January 25th, 2020. The switches portray hands so as to create a misleading haptic touch. It’s home, but it’s missing a touch.
#013 Harley Weir (@harleyweir) shares a fluid photo painting titled “Calling Emilie Kareh.”
#014 Felix Burrichter (@febubufe) shares a picture of The Sun, courtesy of NASA. “It is the theme of @pinupmagazine’s Spring/Summer issue, which we produced during lockdown, sequestered in our homes,, communicating on zoom, uber conference, FaceTime, and via Fedex, etc. The Sun is our transmitter – of heat and energy, the promise of summer, but also of potential danger. (Not to mention its role as a natural disinfectant.)”
#015 Cobertura (@cob.ertura) emerged from an encounter between São Paulo-based photographer Cassia Tabatini and Berlin/Paris-based art director Marcelo Alcaide. The artist duo share a short recording from a series of videos and sounds recorded in São Paulo since the beginning of quarantine in protest against the presidential response to the major health crisis. Original soundtrack and video by Cobertura - Alcaide Tabatini.
#016 Anna Franceschini (@a_cinema_verite_kind_of_girl) alternates stills from her 16mm film transferred to HD video, “BEFORE THEY BREAK, BEFORE THEY DIE, THEY FLY!” with excerpts from Frederick Kiesler, “On Correalism and Biotechnique: A Definition and Test of a New Approach to Building Design”, 1939.
The video ironically comments on the Roman architectural and historical heritage in light of Object Oriented Ontology while Kiesler’s text distinguishes between the building techniques of nature and of man (biotechniques), and observes the “needs” which define functionalism as always evolving.
The two works presented together call upon a suspension of disbelief in the existing systems that govern nature and artifice, and echo Kiesler’s case that biotechnology can eliminate the arbitrary divisions of architecture into: Art, Technology and Economy, and make architecture a socially constructive factor in man’s daily activities.
#017 Marie Karlberg (@marie_karlberg_) shares photos of quarantine drawings and a Soundcloud mix of heavenly pop which can be streamed below.
List of drawings
i. Human Failure I
ii. Cursed Freedom I
iii. Death I
iv. Death II
v. Mirror Pain You I
vi. Death III
vii. Brain Gone I
viii. Brutal Truth I
ix. Silly Animal I
x. Brain Gone II
xi. Cursed Freedom II
xii. Silly Animal II
xiii. Mirror Pain You II
xiv. Human Failure II
xv. Mirror Pain You III
#018 Olympia Scarry (@olympiascarry) shares a view of “Saliva” (2013), a sculpture made shortly after she moved to New York. “Soap, during the present state of affairs, has become a vital agent for change. “Saliva” is made from 500 pounds of soap: fats, palm oil, water, lye and copper expose the active ingredient of its materiality through corrosion upon the skin, like the copper upon which it rests. Saliva and soap, a process of purification and protection; a process of temporary preservation.”
#019 Estelle Hanania (@estellehanania) translates words from our glossary into three photographs. “In this ongoing series, I open my eyes to things around me and transform them slightly as visionary moments of distorted reality, sometimes grotesque or more subtle. Isolation becomes an endless source of possibilities. These images are an attempt to progress and transform what’s around me; an inside call to transform the « after » which awaits us.” Hanania’s exhibition, “IT’S ALIVE!” was scheduled to open this week at the MEP in Paris (@mep.paris).
#020 Fiorucci Art Trust (@fiorucciartrust) considers the term 'Dark Times' with a video made at the beginning of confinement in the UK and shared informally via text messages between its members. The video is by Grekaandfriends in collaboration with Goshka Macuga.
“Dogs have become the unfortunate protagonists of the Covid-19 chain of contagion. Although it is believed that the virus originates in bats, the infectious agent has apparently been passed through an intermediate animal, and then hopped from the animal to humans. Dogs have been on the list of potential candidates, yet the corpus delicti is still unknown. Humans, in the meantime, toy with the laws of the planet, placing themselves above other species, perhaps forgetting to reevaluate their presence. While the mystery remains unsolved we may take this dog as an oracle, which will lead us through the dark times, and help us unmask 'the beast’.”
#021 Liz Johnson Artur’s (@lizjohnsonartur) work offers an intimate look at individuals and communities across the African diaspora. For Converso, Artur shares a photograph–without words–from her garden series. Her solo exhibition, “Dusha” (“soul” in Russian), opened at the Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis (@camstl) on January 17th, 2020, after premiering last year at the Brooklyn Museum (@brooklynmuseum). Artur lives and works in London.
#022 Artist and sexual icon Peter Berlin recently shared his definition of comrade with me: “Comrade is kinship. It doesn’t need to be about sex, just great fun, great humor, great understanding.”
For a generation of gay New Yorkers Nashom Wooden embodied comradeship. Shockingly and tragically he was also among the first New Yorkers to succumb to COVID-19. In his role as manager/bartender of NYC cruising institution The Cock (from 1998 until his untimely death at the age of 50) he was the mayor to a community, a champion of an unspoken ethos: sex, drugs, entertainment. Flawless butch glamour. Nashom injected each night with flamboyance, bravado, testosterone, and lunacy. At the bewitching hour his voice would soften and the handsome masculine flirt would transform into Joan Collins as Alexis Carrington (he loved “Dynasty” so much that he named his cat Claudia Blasdale). In that mode, he kept the room on their toes with campy, cutting, over-the-top reads: “Hey Michael! Remember when you were FIERCE?”
Our mutual friend Scott Ewalt revealed to me that Nashom’s stories were brilliant because he’d always rehearse his delivery before he went out for the night. This is pure Nashom. For him, real life was just as important a performance venue as any stage, all showbiz, always on point. In Nashom’s obituary in the New York Times, they credit him and his beloved, retired drag persona Mona Foot as inventing and hosting Star Search, a drag talent competition that preceded Drag Race. How much richer would gay culture have been if, instead of RuPaul, Mona Foot had ascended into the mainstream? This clip from Charles Atlas’s film “It’s a Jackie Thing” (1999) features Mona Foot’s rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon;” enjoy this sample of the genius that was Nashom Wooden.
Michael Bullock (@michaeljbullock) is a New York-based writer and editor. He is a founding board member of Downtown for Democracy, the associate publisher of PIN–UP magazine, and a contributing editor to Apartamento. He also writes for New York Magazine, Aperture, and Frieze. In 2013 his book “Roman Catholic Jacuzzi” was published by Karma. In 2019 he edited the artist monograph, “Peter Berlin: Artist, Icon, Photosexual” published by Damiani.
“The proposition of universal and public health reinvigorated a socialist imaginary in the US, one that must now wait to become realized as social policy and public commitment in this country. Unfortunately, in the time of the pandemic, none of us can wait. The ideal must now be kept alive in the social movements that are riveted less on the presidential campaign than the long term struggle that lies ahead of us. These courageous and compassionate visions mocked and rejected by capitalist “realists” had enough air time, compelled enough attention, to let increasing numbers – some for the first time – desire a changed world. Hopefully we can keep that desire alive.”
#024 Tom Burr (@burrtomburr) shares an image of his left ear and an excerpt of Judith Butler’s essay, “Capitalism Has Its Limits”, published in March 2020 by Verso Books. The photo and text offer a metaphor for abstract political themes such as (in)visibility, control and resilience amid calls for a revised public healthcare system in the U.S.. Burr’s solo exhibition “Conversions” was scheduled to open at Fondazione Converso on March 12th, 2020, and has been postponed due to lockdown.
#025 Estonian artist Kris Lemsalu translates words from our glossary from her quarantine in New York City.
#026 Eight photographs from Matthew Lutz Kinoy. “These are photographs of the doors in the studio. Some open, some closed. One opening on northern Italy lifted from a painting by Francesco Guardi, extracted from a castle near Udine. An other opens on a Burle Marx designed public plaza in Rio de Janeiro with a white orchid string-fastened to a tree. There is a painting of the patron saint of Palermo receiving a crown of flowers from an angel. The rest of the doors open onto the room itself, one after another.”
#027 James Jeanette (@jamesjeanettewilddaughter) shares an original water colour from lockdown in London. His band, Wild Daughter, navigate punk-romantic notions of desire, mysticism, addiction, androgyny, and the joy of sexuality and gender fuckery.
#028 Jac Leiner shares an interpretation of “Transmission.” Leiner lives and works in São Paulo.
#029 Gigiotto Del Vecchio (@supportico) and Stefania Palumbo are Berlin-based curators from Napoli. They founded Supportico Lopez and are currently Chief Curator and Associate Director of Archivio Conz (@archivioconz), respectively. Del Vecchio and Palumbo have interpreted the majority of Converso's glossary in order to collage a visual story of the pandemic's intimate effects on their life and work.
Reflecting on “Comradeship,” the duo also share an excerpt from Geoffrey Hendrick's text “From Job Interview to FluxLux, a 32 year friendship with Bob Watts” along with the photograph above.
Jill Johnston in her essay, A Fluxus Funeral, about Bob Watts’s memorial celebration FluxLux, speaks of me, “Like Maciunas, and in keeping with one key dress code of Fluxus, Hendricks was in formal gear, however contrarily, to suit his idea of the place and the occasion. With the familiar black derby (a favorite of Maciunas’s), Hendricks wore a black coat that he had bought many years before in Vermont at an antique store. He said it belonged to a farmer who had worn it only once - at a funeral of his brother.” Bob was like my older brother so it seemed appropriate. “Hendricks wore black rubber boots, and during the parade to the pond, as he walked along next to the photo cutout of Bob Watts carried by Larry Miller (in a tuxedo), he held a big black umbrella opened overhead, and had a Mexican death mask, made for Mexico’s Day of the Dead, slung around one shoulder.” That procession was Philip Corner’s Fourth Finale.
#030 Christen Mooney (@thugpop) shares images from his new series entitled “Nymph” which relate to his attempt at smart working in lockdown. “Meditation has inspired me to create a space for my art to exist in this quarantine via OnlyFans. Uninhibited, uncensored, and all originals are the words I hold close during self-isolation.”
Artist, subject and creative director: Christen Mooney
Photographer: Isaac Benyamin
Art Director: Ryan Cardoso & Denzel Amoah
#031 AVAF (@assumevividastrofocus) share a moving image and collage of pop culture iconography. AVAF is an international artist collective founded by Eli Sudbrack and Christophe Hamaide-Pierson in 2001.
#032 Anna Uddenberg (@filet_minion_thong): “Rona´s Revenge” is a new take on a work I made in 2016 titled “Journey of Self Discovery”. Now everything has a new meaning. “Rona´s Revenge” is a play on military terms such as LOCKDOWN while contemplating the libidinal aspects of fear.
#033 Independent curator, editor and writer Kiki Mazzuchelli (@kmazzucchelli) shares a photograph of actresses Eva Harms and Olga Walewska walking on Flávio de Carvalho's Amazon expedition “Experience n.4”, held in 1958.
“In 1956, after having published numerous articles on the history and evolution of fashion, polymath avant-garde artist Flávio de Carvalho publicly launched his “Experience n. 3” or “New Look”, a provocative summer outfit for the tropical man that consisted of a short skirt, blouson, and sandals to be worn with or without fishnet tights.
Two years later, Flávio de Carvalho joined an Amazonian expedition launched to establish first contact with a Native Brazilian tribe on the upper Rio Negro. His idea was to take this opportunity to produce a travelogue documentary / feature film based on the supposedly true story of a white girl that had been abducted by an indigenous group and lived in their tribe for 20 years before returning to civilisation. The project, known as “Experiência n.4”, was never completed and today only fragments and photographs of Flávio de Carvalho’s Amazonian adventure remain.
This photograph shows the two actresses recruited by Carvalho - Eva Harms and Olga Walewska - wearing mosquito net hats during the expedition. I came across this picture while doing research for the Flávio de Carvalho exhibitions I organised last year in London and São Paulo, and thought there was something very appealing about the image of these two veiled women holding hands against the backdrop of the Amazonian jungle.
Looking back at it today, I am reminded of one of Flávio de Carvalho’s main conclusions drawn from his extensive research on the evolution of fashion: “Fashion – as a product of the ‘magic of history’ – announces future events.””
#034 In “LIFEINWORDPRISON”, Karl Holmqvist (@karl.holmqvist) uses text to represent eight wndows that interpret Converso’s online glossary.
#035 Brazilian artist Jup Do Bairro (@jupdobairro) shares photographs of flowers collected throughout quarantine in São Paulo.
Jup Do Bairro is a multimedia artist whose work deals in externalizing her experiences as a “transvestite, black, and peripheral body.” During her career, she has worked as a self-taught educator, speaker, stylist, actress, singer, performer and event producer, and is a close collaborator of Brazilian artist Linn da Quebrada, providing vocal accompaniment on her “Pajubá” and “Trava Línguas” tours in Brazil and internationally. She is currently working under her music moniker Bad do Bairro with DJ and producer BADSISTA (Pantera Cartel), and is a presenter for “TransMission” on Canal Brasil.
#037 Brazilian multimedia artist Linn da Quebrada (@linndaquebrada) shares paintings from her lockdown in São Paulo. In addition to her critically-acclaimed album, “Pajubá” (2017), Quebrada works as a talk show host, actress, and has gained international renown for her work as a social activist for the civil rights of marginalized groups in Brazil. Quedabra’s combative art practice has become known for its disruption of traditional performance spaces, personal narratives, and taboo imagery.
#038 “PHANTASIE/DYNAMISM” is composed of a cover and three poems by Berlin-based publisher TABLOID Press (@tabloidpress), founded in 2014 by Zoe Darsee and Nat Marcus. TABLOID intends to stimulate and integrate poetic environments into social ecologies through poetry, photography, sound and reading.
#039 Berlin-based US-Dominican artist Luis Alberto Rodriguez (@luisalbertorodriguezstudio) shares a self-portrait mummified in black duct tape.
“During this period of quarantine, I had assistance in tightly mummifying myself using duct tape. My skin could barely breathe. My body had no escape and my eyes couldn’t see a future. Confined to my bedroom, I placed a camera on my head to serve as a third eye; a deep desire to use the lens as a tool for documenting and enhancing an unprecedented moment in my life.”
#040 Austrian dancer and choreographer Florentina Holzinger shares two photographs of recent times at home with her family. Holzinger work has enriched the international performance scene with dizzying acrobatics, muscular women’s bodies and martial-arts fight scenes. She studied choreography at the SNDO Amsterdam and received the Prix Jardin d'Europe at Impulstanz in 2011. Her latest work “TANZ” was invited to the 57th Theatertreffen in 2020 and was performed at the Sophiensæle, Berlin, (@sophiensaele) in March.
#041 A selfie from Bruce LaBruce (@brucelabruce).
#042 The video work combines found footage of TV news reporting the presence of animals in urban environments during the Covid-19 lockdown. Paul Cournet (@paulcournet) is an architect at OMA*AMO (@oma.eu).
#043 Akeem Smith (@akeemouch) is a New York-based artist who has been defining fashion’s underground for clients including Helmut Lang and Hood by Air. The artist's first major solo presentation, “Akeem Smith: No Gyal Can Test”, was scheduled to open on April 10th, 2020, at Red Bull Arts, New York (@redbullarts).
#044 Asad Raza shares a concrete, anagrammatic text in original email format. Using the words, "ever," "veer," and "reve" (French for "dream"), the text suggests infinite détournements and imagined worlds. Raza combines experiences, living beings and objects in his artistic practice; his solo exhibition “Untitled (plot for dialogue)” ran at Converso from November 4th to December 16th, 2017.
#045 Electronic artist Asma Maroof (@_asmara_) shares an edit from her “Quarantina Mixtape” on Soundcloud with a sunset desktop background.
#046 Margarida Mendes (@sea_and_fog) shares a photograph and field recording from a rainy evening in Nuquí, Chocó Jungle, Colombian Pacific, in 2019. Mendes is a writer, curator, and educator. In 2009, she founded the project space The Barber Shop in Lisbon, where she hosts a programme of seminars and residencies dedicated to artistic and philosophical research. Exploring the overlap between cybernetics, philosophy, sciences, and experimental film, her personal research investigates the dynamic transformations of materialism and their impact on societal structures and cultural production.
#047 New York-based artist Susanne Oberbeck, aka No Bra (@therealnobra), shares a poem in light of the "transmission" of social unrest currently spreading throughout the United States. Converso stands with all those fighting against police brutality and social inequality. Please share and support the organizations listed on this spreadsheet of May 28 Resistance Funds.
#048 KELSEY LU / TRANSMISSION
“A word that can define the passing of diseases, and the passing of power through machinery. Both are an act of passing. Humans creating machines that create diseases that create machines to study them to better understand how to better control them, to control the passing of them. Microscopes are machines that humans created that pass off such information. This is my throat under such a machine. Millions Of veins, my mycelial network of blood cells. On a constant mission to transmit blood throughout my body.”
The final contribution will be online Friday June 5th, 2020.
20122 - Milano
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