Reading Circle 03, curated by Malou Solfjeld

“Long Distance Relationships and Imaginary Traveling
The title of the third reading circle is inspired by our current situation of experiencing quite some distance in-between us, and the urge to travel that leads us to re-visit our power of imagination through storytelling and reading together, as an alternative way of coming together. “May you live in interesting times” Ralf Rugoff named the 58th Venice biennale, that opened a year ago in 2019. The title was quoting a curse, that never existed in the first place, however today, people are talking about the “Rugoff Prophecy”. We for sure do live in very interesting times, and as a curator, I’m trying to make the best out of it by doing what I can, namely curating from a distance.
Reading list 03

Kolja Missal reads
“An Nachteule von Sternhai”, written by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer
The title of this episode was inspired by this book, a friend of mine sent his reading recordings from. The story is build up as an e-mail correspondence between two girls, whose fathers are dating. The girls live in NYC respectively in California, and have never met each other. So their only communication is e-mail, and throughout the book they’re developing a friendship, most likely, but haven’t read the whole book yet. I liked this set-up very much, and therefore I decided to mirror this concept in our own current reality – where we’re all in touch through online channels.

Kate Fahey reads
“Offerings”, written by Mason Leaver-Yap
During this one hour episode we meet Kate who’s reading about the “unshared elements of the secret self”, becoming “other” and teaches us how friendships derive from unstable elements, language and a gaze witnessing of a mutual intra-action: “I see you, I feel you. Of course, looking is never enough, but it is an acknowledgment of intersubjectivity, where intersubjectivity is the promise of friendship. Solitude is temporarily abated.”

Aline Lenzhofer reads
“Journey to the Center of the Earth”, written by Jules Verne
Then Aline takes us on a journey to the center of the Earth, where we get to witness the battle of the elements and what I’m especially interested in here, is how the narrator shares the loss of language, the incapability of words coming out of his mouth while in the midst of the storm. Also, I like how it ends: “Are we still upon the sea? Yes, and being carried along with incredible velocity. We have passed under England, under the Channel, under France, probably under the whole extent of Europe. Another awful clamor in the distance. This time it is certain that the sea is breaking upon the rocks at no great distance.” It reminds me of the journey this little virus has taken maybe starting in China and now living everywhere, elsewhere, in “all the elsewheres of the world”, as Michel Foucault says in his “Utopias and Heterotopias”, if I remember correctly. Inside of us, around us, between us. Keeping us at distance. It’s ironic how our closeness has created an eternal carrier bag (to phrase Ursula K. Le Guin) and caused our current long distance relationships, which I’m sure we will overcome at some point. Longing to be close, and to be touched again, I asked Kate to read the text by Karen Barad called “On touching – the inhuman, therefore I am”. She decided to read about friendship instead, which I’m happy about, but still, I recommend Barads text for reading at home!

Shane Bradford reads
“Luscious Liquid of Equilibrium” written and curated by Shane Bradford
But one can be touched in many ways – receiving the reading from Shane touched me deeply. He told me he wasn’t satisfied with it, he said: “You can hear the anxiety in my voice and in my words and in everything in-between”, but he also allowed me to keep it as it is, to stick to the rule of 1st take that I’ve encouraged all the way. To share our vulnerability and grow stronger in that togetherness of exposing oneself in the container of sound, or as Jun’s book “Too loud a Solitude”, taught me: in a format of “obsessive collection of knowledge”.

Filip Vest reads
“Invisible Cities”, written by Italo Calvino
Finally, we are taken on a journey to the universe of invisible cities by Filip, who invites us to the city of memory trading where one can exchange memories to survive the long journey home. I found this truly magical and felt like being drawn into a fairytale. This memory trade happens only at solstice and equinox, and I remembered that equinox happened just about a week ago, on March 19th (EST) and 20th (CET) – two days before we came out with our first #readingcontinuesathome podcast. Despite my dislike of Kublai Khan & Marco Polo’s conversations around “possessing” places (like the imperialists they were), I really enjoy listening to their tales of imaginary traveling, and especially the part where they talk about getting lost and how one’s path would never have been the same, I interpret as meaning: we would never have arrived to where we are today, if we hadn’t got lost on the way. One of them, referring to the storytelling of traveling, rephrases “reliving your past” into “rescuing your future” and this part stayed with me ever since I heard it for the first time. Then it ends: “elsewhere is a negative mirror” and I was like: “wauw!” Of course thinking about the myth of Ekko and Narcissos, which I’m looking forward to include in the podcast one day in the near future, but also about how looking elsewhere may or may not influence what we see, when we look ourselves in the mirror, during these weeks of quarantine, or even after – what do we see? What will we see on the other side? Do and will we see (changes) elsewhere or do we see (changes within) ourselves – elsewhere?