Watch the full version of this work here. Note: highly recommended to watch in the dark and use headphone.
Note: highly recommended to use headphone

Site’s translation would be, a gated community, but this is one of the not-really-yet-gated ones, so I will refer to it by using the word site /síte/.

It is not that I have any kind of emotional connection with this site, with its monotype buildings, because I lived there in my childhood, but it is more like I want to say to it I acknowledge you and have respect for your being, the way you are. I believe you have gained more or less your grounding in your 30-something years lifetime, which is a commonality between us.

It was not until 2 years ago, that I got to see the other parts of the site for the first time, when I needed a new ID, as I was registered somehow still there.

Since as a kid, I didn’t have much agency to decide to go for a walk and it was something very rare to go for a walk inside the quite big site.

I, in those days, sometimes wondered how other parts of the site would look like, obviously more or less the same, but how same that would be.

I remember having some fantasies about weird and beautiful looking çardaks, the wooden garden furnitures that are put at that time in these kind of sites and I have a memory of sitting in one of them once or twice and feeling like in a very special and exotic place.

Last time, 2 years ago, when I was able to sight its other parts than where we lived, I was surprised that it was still very live, a new living emerged with its markets, Migros, some smaller shops and even a few people hanging outside.

It turned out to be a still living place, and not like the scenario I expected, that no more people would be living there, but keeping their houses to sell sometime when/if they would gain value one day and the buildings are probably lacking maintenance. Except a few younger white collar workers who end up living there because it is still affordable with their low but still middle class income.

In its advertising flyer from 1986, it says, Soyak takes its meaning and characteristics from ‘the nation’ and ‘traditions’; and its technicality from the ‘civilization’ and ‘the epoch’.

It says also, it has been shaped in the architectural sense of the traditional Turkish streets with well balanced cumbalar – the bay windows –.

It surprises me that there is no mention about the main characteristic, the dome-like burgundy rooftops of the buildings, and where they fit in between these concepts. Maybe they think it is too obvious that the rooftops manifest the mixture they wanted to depict.

As I wander through its streets today on Google maps, I see a security guard person, who seems to rush to somewhere. There are people with masks on the streets, it must be taken last summer. People are walking on its narrow streets, almost too narrow for a car to make a turn and the pedestrian walkway barely enough for one person to walk.

Google’s AI has blurred people’s faces, also among them is the head statue of Atatürk that is located in a tiny green area in the middle of the two lanes road, facing the cars passing by towards the exit.

Within a click, I face the communal election posters hanging and see a few people with lots of CHP (the social democrats) flyers in their hands and many more in half-open boxes on the pedestrian next to them, apparently waiting to be spread in the site soon. I firstly think that this must be from the 2019 municipal elections, but it turns out, the photo was taken in 2014. Google’s AI managed to blur the faces in the election posters, which augments the feeling of timelessness and being trapped in the same loop.

One more click brings me back to 2020, people with masks, ‘Migros Sanalmarket’ ‘Migros Virtual Market’ it reads on the partly orange cars gathered around Migros market.

In the next image I am already thrown out of the site, in the middle of the highway all of a sudden, which is because of one of Soyak’s features is that it is not a closed system in itself, unlike many gated communities from the last decade, it has many holes, no walls, allowing leaking totally.

It is possible to enter from these holes in between greens and you can easily find yourself outside of it from one moment to another.

Göztepe Soyak Sitesi is not in Göztepe, the district it is named after, but is located in Ünalan mahallesi, within the borders of Üsküdar. As the adjacent district Göztepe refers to a different class and topography with its much younger housing history accommodating newer houses built for the middle class on the former farms and fields, it was decided to name the site after Göztepe apparently, in order to make the buyers feel it is worth the money they pay and still belonging to the right class where they would like to be or stay.

A while ago, reading an interview with the labSurlab -a network of independent initiatives in South America- from the book ‘Provocative Alloys: A Post-Media Anthology’, one of the group members says, “We have never been modern, and if ever, then ‘postmodernity’ came first.” “…But for many if not all of those southern communities it is not a question of being ‘post’ or ‘modern’.

In the South such notions are somewhat imported, they land real-time within processes of hybridisation-pura”. This sentence stayed with me for some time after reading it, as it puts well together in words what finds its correspondence in south in a broader sense, Global South so to say.

These buildings don’t hide their concrete bodies by covering the facade with shields or marble or from bottom to top glasses and they don’t try to glorify it either.

They say “Hi, I am concrete and I am here”.

Intended as a unity in their design, these concrete bodies build a heterogeneous ensemble together, with their varying heights, bumpy street junctions, narrow pedestrian walkways, parked cars with their two wheels on these walkways, secret places around the small electricity houses, same but different looks of each balcony and window.

As a kid I was fascinated by these small electricity houses, that transform large amounts of power to smaller ones, and the labyrinth kind of paths that lead to them, made to keep them away from the looks. And sometimes they were hidden behind some greens. It was not yet a common practice to paint random figures colourfully on them to make them ‘disappear’. They looked so unpretentious, even if sometimes dirty, it was totally ok for them to look dirty. Them being so down to earth, makes it possible that Pongwiffy – a witch of dirty habits, the novel character from one of my favourite books at that time – could very well have lived around them.

On the current website of Göztepe Soyak Sitesi, where the site is being described, I come across bunch of words like: ‘collective living spaces’, ‘site sakinleri – site inhabitants’ which almost sound like social realism. The language that is being used here seems to be stuck at around 80s-90s, whereas the new built gated communities sell themselves rather by practicing storytelling, making use of ‘your house, your home, your view’, ‘fitting to different needs of each’ and ‘living spaces’ in their experience descriptions. Not surprising not to see anything from ‘site’, ‘inhabitants’, let alone ‘collective’.

Walking on the streets on Google Maps another day, I encounter a few cats, not many, walking, sitting, standing. They all seem to be single for that time being, I don’t see them anywhere together cooking up anything.

Due to the topography of the area, the site is full of small hills, going up and down, hard to find any bigger zones that are flat. I remember these bumpy green spaces – the only greens other than the sport fields – in between the buildings and parking cars where it is hard to undertake any activity. But again, this makes this place less controllable by the safety guards. These spacial features of the site obviously haven’t been tried to overcome by flattening it and left like as it was – once a farm –.

The fear from an earthquake that may occur in the Marmara sea determines in this city whether buildings are obsolete or condemned to be used by humans until the district begins to gain monetary value with the continual increasing amount of people searching for housing, pushed forward by continuously new built roads, metro stations, bridges or artificial seas. Then they are condemned to be tore down and replaced with a new and a bit more earthquake-resistant ones for another half century.

I find site’s architectural plan drawings linger in an internet archive of a cultural institute, open for public use. Its architects with their company built some of the state and university buildings in the 70s and 80s, in naked concrete look. Today the company designs luxury minimalist houses and company buildings all over Turkey. The one and only image of Soyak Sitesi on the company’s Instagram is a black and white grainy picture of its lined houses, taken with an analogue camera. The post says “When looking back”. Hashtag modernism. As if they would bury it alive.

The plan drawings of the site are hand-drawn with pen, pencil and coloured pencils in dark pink. The representation of plants and all kinds of greens have a standardised form in these landscape drawings. A circular form which is closed but cut from sides intentionally irregularly, conceived based on how the trees are supposed to look like in summer, as if taken by a satellite looking towards them.

Here, being hand-drawn, some of them overflown out of their templates, they have overall a spontaneity, an unregulated irregularity of a nearly sketchy romantic landscape study.

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Liebe noch unbekannte Besucher*innen,

ich lade euch herzlich zu meinem Lesekreis "Common Voice Transmission" ein! Während des ersten Lockdowns habe ich gemerkt, wie wenig ich spreche und auch noch schlechter. Deswegen habe ich angefangen Buch laut vor zu lesen, damit ich Deutsch nicht vergesse. Durch das Aussprechen leben die geschriebene Wörter viel mehr in mir und ich spüre die Kräfte vom Text. Ich möchte mit euch zusammen Bücher gegenseitig vorlesen und diese Erfahrung teilen.

Unten findet ihr eine Liste der Literatur und Datum zum Zusammen-Lesen (Änderungen vorbehalten). Bitte schickt mir eine Mail mindestens 2 Wochen vor dem jeweiligen Lesekreis mit euer Adresse. Ihr bekommt dann das Buch zugeschickt und wir werden gemeinsam das Buch Abschnitt-weise lesen. Maximal 5 Teilnehmer*innen pro Lesekreis. Anmeldung

Ich freu mich auf euch!

Liebe Grüße

Aiko

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Variability of Distance or: Like Diamonds in the Sky

Text by Feben Amara

While acknowledging different modes of imposed immobility and settledness as our current state of existence, we aim to leave our cosmic home island, the earth, for expansive inquiry rather than territorial expansion. We are not at all interested in separating ourselves from our planetary be/longing. We are proposing to take a distanced look instead. To begin, so to say, a long-distance relationship with the world. And moreover: Why not break the sky’s ceiling and look for chaos elsewhere?

It is Édouard Glissant that reminds us, it is the notion of chaos that opens onto another phenomenon of our existence: “Relation, or totality in evolution, whose order is continually in flux and whose disorder one can imagine forever.” He illuminates furthermore, that what has become the common formula of our cultural interdependencies has not only been founded on the basis of physical thought (“The Theory of Relativity”) but is therefore deeply enrooted in the universe itself.

Galaxies – or “Welteninseln” (Alexander von Humboldt), which is relatable to the epistemological practice of “archipelagic thought” coined by Glissant – are chaotic infrastructures par excellence. For that, we have chosen to make them the imaginary framework of this project. As newly born planets, surrounded by gas and dust, moving away from our birthplaces and towards different stars, our existence becomes solitary yet solidary, not common but in relation.

And as we hold on to the earthly wickerwork of places and spaces, of humans and non-humans we feel dis/connected with, while we start off to explore the distances and intimacies of these relations, we therefore join an extraterrestrial kinship with the universe.

German version

Variabilität der Distanz oder: Like Diamonds in the Sky

Text von Feben Amara

Während wir verschiedene Modi auferlegter Unbeweglichkeit und Sesshaftigkeit als unseren gegenwärtigen Daseinszustand anerkennen, streben wir danach, unsere kosmische Heimatinsel, die Erde, für eine expansive Betrachtung statt für einer territorialen Expansion zu verlassen. Wir sind keineswegs daran interessiert, uns von unserer planetarischen Zugehörigkeit zu trennen. Stattdessen schlagen wir vor, einen distanzierten Blick zu werfen, sozusagen eine Fernbeziehung mit der Welt zu beginnen. Und mehr noch: Warum nicht die Decke des Himmels durchbrechen und das Chaos woanders suchen?

Es ist Édouard Glissant, der uns daran erinnert, dass es der Begriff des Chaos ist, der uns noch ein anderes Phänomen unserer Zeit eröffnet: "Die Relation, oder die Totalität in der Evolution, deren Ordnung ständig im Fluss ist und deren Unordnung man sich ewig vorstellen kann." Er beleuchtet darüber hinaus, dass das, was zur gängigen Formel unserer kulturellen Verflechtungen geworden ist, nicht nur auf der Basis physikalischen Denkens ("Relativitätstheorie") begründet wurde, sondern somit tief im Universum selbst verwurzelt ist.

Galaxien - oder "Welteninseln" (Alexander von Humboldt), was sich auf die von Glissant geprägte erkenntnistheoretische Praxis des "archipelagischen Denkens" beziehen lässt - sind chaotische Infrastrukturen par excellence, und deshalb haben wir sie zum imaginären Rahmen dieses Projekts gemacht. Als neugeborene Planeten, umgeben von Gas und Staub, die sich von ihren Geburtsorten weg und zu anderen Sternen hin bewegen, wird unsere Existenz einsam und doch solidarisch, nicht gemeinsam, aber in Beziehung.

Und während wir an dem irdischen Geflecht von Orten und Räumen, Menschen und Nicht-Menschen festhalten, mit denen wir uns (nicht) verbunden fühlen, während wir uns auf den Weg machen, die Entfernungen und Intimitäten dieser Beziehungen zu erforschen, schließen wir uns also einer extraterrestrischen Verwandtschaft mit dem Universum an.

English version

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Variability of Distanceis a collaborative project initiated by Andara Shastika, Ayfer Karabıyık and Paula Godínez, made possible by its participating artists, culture producers, writers and organisers.

The project evolves from the structure Cura Han Hati (initiated in 2020 by Paula Godínez and Andara Shastika), which serves as a network for BPOC artists in and from Kassel to address structural racism in the culture industry, art schools and German bureaucracy; to exchange strategies to survive German immigration law as artists; as well as to occasionally collaborate in projects.

‘Cura’ is to be read in Spanish, as in ‘healing’.
‘Hati’ is Indonesian for ‘heart’, the emotional organ.


The name ‘Cura Han Hati’ stems from the Indonesian ‘curahan hati’, an activity of sharing problems with the people we trust. Translatable to ‘the spill (or the flow) of the heart,' a ‘curahan hati’ is essentially a spontaneous space to be listened to, supported, and empowered by each other; where problems are dealt personally, emotionally as well as practically and constructively.

Variability of Distance has been initiated out of the necessity to share resources and support each other in our own (artistic) practices, as the pandemic affects our community with a more complex economical and political dimension. Following collaborative processes of researching and organising, each participant of this project developed a work that departs from our multi-faceted experiences of distance: the physical distance, the temporal and conceptual distance in the aesthetic theory, as well as the geographical distance that inhabits the personal and the political at once.

Variability of Distance is funded as part of the cultural funding program „Hessen kulturell neu eröffnen“// Gefördert im Rahmen des Kulturförderprogramms „Hessen kulturell neu eröffnen“.

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Andara Shastika, born and raised in Jakarta, is an artist and organisator based in Kassel. Her practice encompasses performance and digital media, characterised by time-based production, conceptual prompts, thinking with voices, intermedial collaging and digital distortions. Her works and inquiries explore the embodiment of the “master’s” language as a potential site of vengeance, diabolical and monstrous vocal technology, the breaking of institutional and disciplinary curses through the enactment of the feminine grotesque, and ghoststorytelling as a technology of mediation.

Contact: andara.shastika@gmail.com

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Li Xinyi was born and raised in Chongqing, China. She is studyingfine arts and digital graphic at Hochschule für Bildende Künste (HFBK) Hamburg since 2015. Her artistic practice is reflected in multiple disciplines including programming, sound design, music, and graphic design.

Contact: lixinyi.1203@gmail.com

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Echo Can Luo was born in China in 1988. From 2006-2010 Luo studied Multimedia at the China Academy of Art. Luo obtained her master degree at the Kunsthochschule Kassel in 2018 and a Meisterschüler of Prof. Joel Baumann. She has participated 34. Kassel Dokfest and has showed her work at the CAA art Museum, MdbK Leipzig and Kasseler Kunstverein, amongst other places. Based on the algorithms, including 3D modelling and face tracking, her research aims to observe into the biased and differentiated algorithm in the process of applying and testing the software as well as the influence of discrimination and bias on real-life situations and data.

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Aiko Okamoto understands herself as a medium, connecting people between streets, club culture and visual art. In her weekly radio show "Notiz für die Welt danach" on Sphere Radio, she reads texts on anti-racism, housing and art. As an active member of the protest opera Lauratibor, she sings loudly at demonstrations against the sellout of the city. She also organizes events in IRL and digital spaces for the international network female:pressure.

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Tunay Önder, born in 1981 in Munich. After successfully got into debt with her studies in Sociology, Politics and Ethnology, she is active as a migrant worker between different parallel worlds such as Science, Education and Theater. Her main interest is a migration society free of domination and how to approach such society through speaking, writing and actions. Together with Imad Mustafa she published the book "Migrantenstadl" from Unrast Verlag in 2016.

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Yiğit Yılmaz(26) born and raised in Istanbul, is an architect, urban planner and artist currently based in Berlin. Moved to Germany (Kassel) for his studies at the age of 19, he worked as a tutor in the faculty of architecture as well as in the international office of the University of Kassel for 5 years. During this time, he developed an interdisciplinary perspective combined with his studies and but also his understanding of politics highly influenced by Istanbul’s Gezi Park movement in 2013. His works are based on his personal journey as an international student, a young migrant in Germany, who asks questions to his own life as well as points out the illogical procedures surrounding him in this country which he expected to be “logical”. He curated many exhibitions of architecture faculty in Kassel of which the last was spread around the city to make an analogue exhibition possible under pandemic circumstances.

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Ayfer Karabıyık is a painter and she produces with drawing, texts, video, and sounds. On this multi-disciplinary scale she interest in ontologically Museology, objects, Semiology, artistic and scientific texts, visual poetry, artist books, songs, streets, signs, words and voices, actions, reflexes, codes dancing, spaceflights, wormholes, watching bacterias -living on own eyelashes-  and nature. 

She continues to her researches at Theorie & Praxis Visual Communication/ Kunsthochschule Kassel. So far, she has published mainly in Turkish academic art journals and art magazines and given invited talks and lectures on academic topics and her own work. She has held a number of solo and group exhibitions, both within Turkey and abroad.

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Ipek Burçak is an artist whose working modes vary between video, sound, installation, sculpture, publishing to media performances. In her works she forms speculative approaches to affects, neurodiversity and non-human narratives. After starting and quitting architectural studies in Istanbul, she studied art in the School of Arts in Kassel and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. She is 1/2 of Well Gedacht Publishing, a DIY publishing collective dedicated to publications of artists mainly living in Europe as part of diaspora communities. Currently she works as an artistic associate in the research project ‘Re:coding Algorithmic Culture’. She has moved 12 times.

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Feben Amara is a scholar of art and cultural studies and works across media and disciplines at the interfaces of text production, mediation and artistic intervention. In her research she investigates artistic-cultural productions as part of transnational practices of resistance and organization. Her current focus is on the socio-ecological dimensions of decolonization, migration, anti-racism and the aesthetics of the political.

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Super Natural

A first-person footage of myself walking in a park at night, equipped with binaural microphone. A hair animation overlaps the image recorded with a handheld camera, glitching the standpoint of a human observer and assuming non-groundedness. Blending with the park’s soundscape are voices-over from my conversation with other ‘Indonesian diaspora’, as we exchanged personal ghost stories in germany and looked back on the disappearance of our fear of ghosts here.

My current research deals with the term ‘haunting’ as a conceptual tool to pose political inquiries in the everyday and our postcolonial world in general. Through terms like ‘haunting’ and ‘ghost’, I try to navigate myself along the seeming disconnections and disjunctions at the surface of my personal history. My footage focuses on trees and was shot in the barock Auepark of Kassel. Trees at night constitute a common site of encounter in many Indonesian ghost stories. This has produced a visual effect to me, the immediacy of which escapes me in germany. In the work, I explore the absence of this visuality while attempting to evoke and project it onto the park, hunting for possible ghostly moments.

“Super Natural” is a ghost story and a multi-medial extension of it. It utilizes various digital technique to (re-)narrate a place via evocation, projection and over-laping. An attempt of embodiment, of being somewhere, without the urgency to be forceful—yet in exasperation can slip out in a fury.

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The Skin(Part 2)

The starting point of Li Xinyi ́s project is a sound library containing 100 audio samples of gunshots. This kind of sample packs are usually used in sound reproduction of filmsand computer games to add sound to narratives of violence.

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beauty_alpha

beauty_alpha is an installation combining research-based 360° videos, to form a coherent narrative structure with the concept of “ever-increasing values of alpha”, and thus simulate a “CHOCHO Virtual Clinic”, in the spatial structure of which videos and data of three major cases sorted out in this project will be shown.

The realistic and physical transformation of technology and virtual networks has become a key topic in our society now.

Science and technology extend the lifespan of mankind and Machine learning is expected to help humans evolve even in the field of plastic surgery. However, plastic surgeons must be aware that the artificial intelligence (AI) could create a biased view on patients, instead of promoting objectivity. Social media enable us to communicate in multiple ways, which changes physical distance in a sense, but should they beautify faces through their filters? Is there bias in algorithms behind them? The physical and mental health of many users have been affected, as they cannot achieve the perfect life shown by Internet celebrities. Behind the development of AI by relevant programmers, we also require transparency and fairness of data and algorithms. Is women’s control of their self-images gradually weakened in the world of digital media?

Smartphone or new media have become important factors that influence behavioral habits, and we get used to the harm brought by those new technologies to privacy and identity, and even problems like racism and sexism are common. These technologies inspire hope as well as bring anxiet.

As believed by cyberfeminism, women should be free, independent and sexy in the future and in science and technology, their rights should not degrade step by step or be neglected in the field of cyber or virtual science and technology.

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Soyak Göztepe Sitesi

Ipek Burçak writes about Göztepe Soyak Sitesi, one of the early housing development projects built in the late 80s in Istanbul's Anatolian side, where she spent her childhood. She visits back the place on Google Maps and browses through the archived documents dated back to the construction years of the housing project.

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Decomposition Rituels-memories of a Grotesque Body

Currently, I allow the changes that will occur during the recording by putting the sounds I collect from the nature and the previously recorded re-recording process. In this work, I focus on the relationships established with the human-centered voices. At the same time I focus on the concept of distance over the biologically default of hearing frequencies. I have been interested with ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) sound recordings and method for a while.
“Decomposition Rituels” focuses on both very familiar and unfamilar and the anatomy of an emotional journey, and the wild body via tracing grotesque, emotional ruined bodies.
“Decomposition Rituels” is designed as a sleeping capsule for a lover. It is embodied with Keratin-Tears-Transparent Sky- Pearl Powder-Neurotransmitters- Thunder Wrap + some other extracts

Credits:

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Topu Tut

As an answer to hours of zoom sessions in front of the screen, Aiko Okamoto and Tunay Önder play ball for a change - because life is exhausting enough! While the ball is thrown from Berlin to Munich and back again, the two magicians get involved in a personal as well as political conversation about life in Germany from a post-migrant perspective: What moves and concerns us as transnational citizens? How does it feel to live as other Germans in this Schland? What language is spoken or demanded in the comfort zones of society? And why is life in migrant situations always so precarious? TOPU TUT is an invitation to all those who seek the political in private and love games with suspense.

Als Antwort auf stundenlange Zoom-Sitzungen vor dem Bildschirm spielen Aiko Okamoto und Tunay Önder zur Abwechslung mal Ball, – denn das Leben ist anstrengend genug! Während der Ball von Berlin nach München und wieder zurückgeworfen wird, verwickeln sich die beiden Zauberkünstlerinnen in ein persönliches sowie politisches Gespräch über das Leben in Deutschland aus postmigrantischer Perspektive: Was bewegt und beschäftigt uns als transnationale Bürgerinnen? Wie lebt es sich als andere Deutsche in diesem Schland? Welche Sprache wird in den Komfortzonen der Gesellschaft gesprochen bzw verlangt? Und warum ist das Leben in migrantischen Lebenslagen immer so prekär? TOPU TUT ist eine Einladung an alle, die das Politische im Privaten suchen und Spiel mit Spannung lieben.

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Common Voice Transmission

While the first lock down, I realized that I´m speaking not much and have started to read books loud. Through my own voice, the written words becomes more experienceable and I feel power of these texts. I want to share this experience through this work with participants. People can register for the reading and they will get books via post. Participants are gathering online and read the book loud one by one. after every one read the book, exchange the experience. Topics can be found in anti-racism, migration, housing and/or anti-capitalism.

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Following Gordon

During my first year in the architecture faculty, I made a fun-oath to buy enough gas with my first salary once I graduate to burn down my faculty as a reaction to all those I went through within first two semesters. In the following years I faced even more arrogance, incompetence and mobbing in the faculty. Many talented fellow students gave up with their studies, some were hospitalised. I survived these 7 years with a soft depression which ended with me coming across Gordon Matta-Clark (just before I applied to art academy) to realise that I should not keep silent about what I went through. It is important to leave a manifest. I will not be one of you.

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