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