Reading Bodies! – Cruising Corpoliteracy in Arts, Education and Everyday Life

Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), Berlin, Germany
14 Sep 2019 - 15 Sep 2019

© Human Rights Tattoo

© Human Rights Tattoo

Bodies are complex sign systems. They are interpreted—mainly unconsciously—in simplified categories like female/male, young/old, homo/hetero, sick/healthy, right/wrong. Corpoliteracy, or the ability to “read” bodies, is interested in the mechanisms that control how people perceive their own and others’ bodies.

During Berlin Art Week—based on the term “corpoliteracy”—Reading Bodies! examines how bodies are handled in arts, education, sports, activism and everyday life. What constraints and exclusions are produced by stereotypical body readings? How can prejudices be broken down? How can we regain the interpretive power over our own bodies? What transformative potentials does the concept of corpoliteracy hold for a diverse and inclusive society?

With performances, panels, workshops and interactive formats, Reading Bodies! dares to take a sweeping look and explores the body as a new alphabet to (un)learn. Dis/ability and self-optimization, discrimination and human rights, social media and gender—all that the body signifies is up for debate.

The word “corpoliteracy” was coined by Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, founder and artistic director of SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin. In aneducation, a book for documenta 14, he writes, “I explore the possibility of a corpoliteracy—an effort to contextualize the body as a platform, stage, site, and medium of learning, a structure or organ that acquires, stores, and disseminates knowledge. This concept implies that the body, in sync with, but also independent of, the brain, has the potential to memorize and pass on/down acquired knowledge through performativity.” Reading Bodies! is inspired by Ndikung’s thinking and opens it up to discuss new aspects.

The artist duo of Klaus Spiess & Lucie Strecker experiment with the linguistic determinacy of the biochemistry of human saliva, in Don’t Draw a Penis, the Studio Moniker artist collective verifies the censoring power of AI. Jeremy Wade, in his performance Technologies of Impossible Repair, questions normalizing practices of care by means of art, social work and activism. In addition to these artistic interventions, talks and lectures thematize the need to unlearn physical ideals on Social Media, sports education in times of digital body images or vulnerable bodies in art and cultural institutions. Visitors are invited to take part, actively: Human Rights Tattoo pricks the Universal Declaration of Human Rights letter by letter onto the skins of interested visitors, artist Nadja Buttendorf offers #HotPhone massages as well as experimental body enhancements in her Magnetic Nail Art Studio. A workshop by the Feminist Health Care Research Group explores examples of radical health care and further physical exercises and guided meditation sessions will be scheduled.

Since January 2019 HKW’s long-term project The New Alphabet has been investigating the knowledge systems that are crucial for navigating today’s world. In its Cultural Education work, HKW is interested in how this knowledge is produced, shared, used and by whom.

One letter from the UN Declaration of Human Rights as a permanent tattoo
Human Rights Tattoo

Repeat After Me / Do Not Draw a Penis
Studio Moniker

Do Not Read This Body
Olave Nduwanje

Underbelly Resonances
Jules Sturm & Angelo Custódio

Bodies between Showing and Shaming
Magda Albrecht, Nemi El-Hassan, Maryam Haschemi Yekani, Imke Schmincke, Kristina Vasilevskaja

Microbial Keywording
Klaus Spiess & Lucie Strecker, Regine Rapp

Trans* Opera
Mavi Veloso feat. Dynno Dada, Sanni Est & Tina Escarlatina

The Disciplined Body
Ahmet Derecik, Ali Lacin, Miranda Markgraf, Livia Patrizi, Sabina Enéa Téari

Aral Balkan, Sander van Bussel, Bogomir Doringer, Raul Krauthausen, Malika Mansouri, Margarita Tsomou

Body Enhancements: Options and Conflicts
Anisha Müller, Yvonne Zindel

Vulnerable Bodies
Mai-Anh Boger, Henriette Bothe, Eva Egermann, Matthias Vernaldi, Inga Zimprich

Technologies of Impossible Repair
Jeremy Wade

Corpoliteracy in Educational Practice
María do Mar Castro Varela, Ed Greve, Ayşe Güleç, Gila Kolb, Tuğba Tanyılmaz

Bootcamp: Humans Only
Institut für experimentelles Mode- und Textildesign (UdK)



Part of The New Alphabet
Part of Berlin Art Week

Performances, discourse, workshops

September 14, 4pm–12 midnight
September 15, 10am–7pm


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