Tangible Voice, Censorship, Mythical Tales

November 3rd, 2011.

On November the 3rd at the novel location of Spike Island. New time also – 6pm. This isn’t a permanent change. Rather, we’re going to be tenants of both Spike and the ‘fini. Spread the love, etc.

There were presentations from Mercedes Aguirre, a Spanish classicist and short story writer, Ella Finer, a doctoral candidate at Roehampton investigating interpretations of the female voice on record, and Helen Kaplinsky, curator and recent artist in residence at 501 Art Centre, Chongqing, China.


Ella Finer introduced her practice based in gender, sound and performance with an annotated extended play through a selection of records made during and alongside her doctoral study. Ranging widely in their content: from reformed broken vinyl to a chapter from her “audio thesis”, the records chart a process of experimenting with the relationship between the female voice and body. The talk will focus on how the voice may be handled or imagined as a tangible material, especially when in the attempts to preserve voice on record, it might be altered by the material of the document itself.

Ella Finer is a London based artist. Her MPhil (2008) at the University of Glasgow focused on the female body in photographic space, and culminated in the transformation of a theatre into a working camera and dark-room. Her current practice concerns gender and sound and the materialising of female voice and presence in Theatre. Ella’s recent projects include producing the Building Sound symposium (www.buildingsound.org) at the National Theatre, London; live and radio performances of her voice-scores A Play for Offstage Voices, Playing Host and 1974; and a live, choreographed voicing of her doctoral thesis: Material Voice in Pitch Black.

Helen Kaplinsky curated and commissioned a solo exhibition in China at Ceiling Space this summer with London/Berlin-based artist/DJ collective psychoanalYSL(Christopher Thomas, Benjamin Orlow and Joey Holder).  This was part of curatorial residency in association with 501 Contemporary Art Centre, Chongqing and Chinese Art Centre, UK. The artists planned to exhibit an artwork, which responded to the market’s dependence on political cache in Chinese contemporary art; however, the project faced two levels of censorship from both hosts in China and platforms in the UK. The main commission was nine metre neon text which reverberates these prohibitions, using over-identification as a strategy.

Mercedes Aguirre spoke as a university teacher and as a writer of fiction, comparing both styles of writing, but focussing on her last book of fiction and the way she has used Greek myths for the fictional stories which compose her book: ‘Mythical Tales of the Everyday World’.

“Aguirre’s latest work is a collection of short stories with echoes of classical mythology, a field in which she specialises. She employs remarkable ingenuity and originality, making the tales more than just a straightforward reproduction of classical models. Popular locations so often used in mythology, such as Argos, Athena or Troy, are cunningly transposed to the urban landscapes of romantic Madrid, gritty Bilbao or glamourous Los Angeles. The themes are undoubtedly contemporary, but also recognisable as issues with which classical heroes grapple. One can draw a parallel between the complexities of sexuality in The Race, set in Madrid in 2006AD, and the relationship between Iante and Iphis in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, set in Rome in 8AD. Another allusion is to the struggle of women to assert their own identity in a male-dominated world, which is apparent in The Quest and Let Me Die For You. Aguirre has skillfully updated her theme to create an innovative, engaging, and entertaining collection.” Harriet Smart, InMadrid, August, 2011


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