“S-motion” is a selection from the VOLUMES archive curated by M.Paradoxa artist collective. The selection brings together publications that concern or are products of collaborative work taking different forms.
M.Paradoxa takes its name from the protozoan Mixotricha paradoxa (the paradoxical being with mixed-up hairs), or as Lynn Margulis would call it, “the beast with five genomes,” which lives inside the gut of an Australian termite. This microorganism composed of 5 different organisms originated from an unruly symbiogenesis among different life forms, from living-close-together in a vast ocean of unexpected encounters.
The title of our selection from the VOLUMES archive, “S-motion,” refers to Mixotricha paradoxa’s flagella movement which is in fact facilitated by two different types of bacteria. We find this description inspiring when thinking about strengthening our capacities to bring forth collective movement. We believe in the importance of confronting our interdependence and forming feminist solidarities. In the archive it was possible to find many works that we could learn from in these directions.
As a collective we came together in Zurich in 2019 to rekindle connectedness by sharing skills through games we invented for each other inspired by Swiss artist Doris Stauffer’s Frauenwerkstatt and Hexenkurse. Her monograph has been an important resource for us. These playful actions prompted an environment of reciprocal empathy and kindness that enabled us to share our vulnerabilities and to extend our art practices from singular entities to a multiple one. We have been guided by a feminist approach. In the VOLUMES archive we found feminist works and products of artistic endeavors to jointly initiate creative processes.
For us, “S-motion” is an unfolding where our different speeds and time perceptions meet each other. There are turbulences and currents, possibilities to linger and to swerve, to be carried or pulled along. Like many collectives with members who are citizens of different countries, we are increasingly confronted with the need to work together from a distance and are continuing to find different ways to do this. Writing experimental texts collectively has been one activity we have been doing together since the beginning. Since we all have different mother tongues, translation work often accompanies our communication and different languages are present in our publications. Several works in this selection are on translation, working with different languages and transgressing borders.
Doris Stauffer: A Monograph edited by Simone Koller and Mara Züst traces the development of Doris Stauffer’s “life experience” through photographs, documents, interviews with the artist and texts by contributors. Stauffer was an artist and educator who lived in Zurich and advocated teaching methods in the arts that would be based on collective experimentation evading the hierarchy between instructors and students. In addition to “Teamwork” courses she organized at F+F School she was one of the founders of, in 1977 she started “Hexenkurs” (Witches Course) as a summer course exclusively for women. The announcement for the course explained: “We will investigate Feminism and creativity, the male-oriented concept of culture, sexist tendencies in art. We will discover and realize our concepts of creativity, our own language, our concerns, and what we as women have to communicate.” In 1978 she opened “Frauenwerkstatt” (Women’s workshop) as an independent space where she would continue to organize Hexenkurse until 1980 with women from diverse and not necessarily artistic backgrounds. In the one week course, Stauffer would conduct creative and political exercises with women including collage and photomontage works, role-playing and performance as well as writing.
Ausbruch & Rausch. Frauen Kunst Punk 1975–1980 is a book about two important exhibitions at Städtische Galerie zum Strauhof in Zurich. “Frauen sehen Frauen” (Women See Women) was organized by a feminist collective Doris Stauffer was a part of in 1975 and brought together artists with non-artists in a very radical exhibition about the then contemporary experiences of women.
The book Wir, Fotografinnen am Frauen*streik brings together photographs from the massive Frauen*streik in Switzerland on 14 June 2019 where M.Paradoxa also participated. Upon Yoshiko Kusano’s invitation, 32 women photographers documented this unforgettable day all over the country. When the media was not interested in publishing most of the images, they decided to publish it as a book to keep the memory alive.
The second issue of DEARS, a “magazine for transversal writing practices at the crossroads of poetry, art and experimental writing,” presents contributions by individual writers and the collective Louise Guerra Archive. The publication also designed in an experimental way includes texts playing with different genres and a multiplicity of languages. In the “Ouverture to the Readers” editors Nicole Bachmann, Delphine Chapuis Schmitz and Robert Steinberger write: “Crossing tongues and moving between language is one significant aspect of our hybrid selves and this is the reason why we have chosen to publish texts in different languages.” The publication not only includes texts in different languages, but some texts are written in more than one language.
The book I love it when translation can be found to agree with our weird desires by Ulufer Çelik and Alaa Abu Asad is the product of a collaboration between two artists who have listed common words between Palestenian Arabic and Turkish along with drawings depicting the meanings. The artists imagine the book as an activist tool and a contribution to preserving the oral history of the two languages.
Untranslatables: A guide to Translingual Dialogue is the result of a collaboration between Yolanda de los Bueis, Elisa Marchesini, Christoph Schwarz and Sarah Vanhee. It presents definitions of thirty-three words from languages spoken in Europe that also includes languages like Arabic and Japanese. Alongside the definitions is a “How to use” section with examples and images translating the words to body language. The authors write: “This ‘untranslatable’ we see as a kind of ‘Zwischenraum’: a space in between, a poetic gap, a potentiality for interpretation and meaning, as well as a catalyst to provoke a reflection on linguistic equalities and power structures.”
Letters from Onion Island: A Fictional Epistolary Practice is a zine by artist Paloma Ayala, which documents “a fictional letter exchange” with Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa, an American scholar of Chichana, feminist and queer theory. In Souvenir, Julia Marti and Milva Stutz write and draw about their memories in letters to each other. They open up their individual inner images in the form of a textual and visual dialogue.
Upon VOLUMES’ invitation, we would like to add to the archive several books that have inspired our work recently, or were results of collaborative projects we participated in.
To Become Two: Propositions for Feminist Collective Practice by Alex Martinis Roe is composed of two parts. In the first part the artist elaborates on her research into the practices of six feminist collectives from the 1970s to the present. In the second part are 20 “propositions for feminist collective practices” formulated by Roe with twenty-two contributors to the project on various subjects such as “Archiving Relations,” “The Practice of (Public) Speaking,” “Productive Refusals” and “Writing as a Transformative Practice.”
Agua Menores / Passing Waters and Collaborating Waters are based on the collaborative work between Argentinian artist Jimena Croceri and Swiss artist Sarina Scheidegger. Inspired by Astrida Neimanis’ book Bodies of Water: Posthuman Feminist Phenomenology, the texts in these books are a series of instructions for performance, exploring concepts of water, hydrofeminsim and fluidity. We discovered Sarina’s work recently, and were happy to know that we were inspired by the same topic, and coincidently made a work under the same title “Passing Waters” in 2021.
tabloid flâneur is a Chinese independent translation zine which introduces foreign writings and concepts into Chinese. For each issue focusing on a specific topic texts from various disciplines are selected, translated and published along with artistic works.The topic of issue 6 edited by Ziqi Jiang and with drawings contributed by M.Paradoxa is “Symbiosis; Sympoiesis; Staying-with.” The issue includes the following texts: “The BEAST with Five Genomes” by Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan, an excerpt from Unruly Edges: Mushrooms as Companion Species by Anna Tsing, and an excerpt from “The Camille Stories” by Donna Haraway.
Balca Ergener is an artist with an interdisciplinary academic background. Her works include photographic series, collaborative book projects, collective writing performances and installations with textual and visual elements. In recent projects she has been researching methods to deviate from habitually constricted ways of using language to possibly escape conditioning and enable communication of experience. She is from Istanbul and lives and works in Zurich.
Esther Schena deals with presence and non-presence, with the visible and the invisible. Working mainly with screen printing she explores these issues on historical, psychological and last but not least spatial levels. The themes of uniqueness and diversity run through her series and forms, raising questions like: How diverse is the design of an individual life? And how do the boundaries of this diversity relate to other people? She sees her work as a study of individuality and multiplicity.
In her artistic work Lisa Biedlingmaier links her personal experience to the collective’s experience, and vice-versa. She analyzes the ways in which the individual is affected, consciously and subconsciously, by the complex relationships with the outside world. To date, she dives into healing practices to gain a better understanding of the interdependencies between society and personal experiences.
Ziqi Jiang currently works and lives in Hangzhou, China. She has always been interested in the entangled relationships among various matters and species. She works with different materials and mediums to explore these constantly shifting dynamics that shape the surroundings. In her recent practice, she works with printed matter, games, and workshops, and invites people to participate in collaborative artistic work.