Site-Reading Writing Quarterly
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Solar Trajectories
Pin-hole images by Maryjane Orley & Martin Purvis.

A series of pin-hole photographs created over 6 and 12 month periods (solstice to solstice) in 2017 and 2018.  Made in empty beer cans placed around the site of old Northbrook Nursery in the north of Guernsey, the images trace the movement of the sun across the skyline.

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Maryjane Orley is an interdisciplinary artist whose work involves drawing, print-making, conceptual sculpture, and installation. Over the last eight years, she has been exploring ways of defining and realising notions of emptiness and erosion and their potential for regeneration.

Site-Reading Writing Quarterly celebrates reading and writing as situated practices, releasing a special pair of seasonal reviews four times a year. 

Each solstice and equinox I invite writers to swap recently completed written works and to provide a situated ‘review’ of each other’s work. This involves raising a shared issue/concern, connecting out to another work/text/set of ideas, and/or producing a creative response to an aspect of the writing which might be fictional, prose, visual, sonic, filmic … These acts of exchange open up ways of ‘reading writing’ differently, generating multiple modes of engagement with words, and exploring the practice of ‘reviewing’ from a situated perspective, one that critiques and experiments with the genre of the ‘critical review essay’, creating something far more entangled.

For this September 2021 issue, MYCKET read Slow Spatial Reader edited by Carolyn F. Strauss(Amsterdam: Valiz, 2021) while Carolyn F. Strauss reads When Walls Speak, edited by MYCKET, issue 13 of Girls Like Us (2021). 

For their reading, MYCKET decided to adopt the slow practices described in Slow Spatial Reader and ‘to live with the text:’

cherishing its materiality and bringing it home to our current locations … the temporary heartlands where we are doing the reading … making notes on the pages and drawings that were born out of the words we read, collecting items ‘trash/treasures’ from the heartlands where we read, archiving them between the pages and assembling them as models and amulets.

These amulets, or ornaments worn to provide protection, resonate in a beautiful and political way with the questions of care and danger opened up in Carolyn’s review. Of When Walls Speak, she writes:

For their takeover of the magazine Girls Like Us, the art and architecture collective MYCKET dedicate their issue – When Walls Speak – to the queer feminist club scene. The magazine explores the architecture of the nightclub through enactments of historical queer and feminist spaces, both documenting and mythologizing an archive of pleasure, potential, resistance, and resilience – an archive that MYCKET’s three protagonists, Thérèse, Mariana and Katarina, celebrate as being ‘found not in the library, but in our bodies and in the crowd.’

Carolyn’s reviewing reveries of her time spent clubbing in New York were interrupted by UNMUTE – a demonstration that took place in Amsterdam, on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, calling for clubs to re-open. Not only did this remind Carolyn of her days in New York, via tragedy rather than joy, but it also opened up her situated reading to consider the complex engagements with conceptions and practices of freedom that have emerged in this latest phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. This in turn reminding me of some phrases from Maggie Nelson’s On Freedom (2021) – with reference to writings by Ammon Bundy and Jelani Cobb – that I am currently reading:

“Your freedom is killing me!” read the signs of protesters in the middle of a pandemic; “Your health is not as important than my liberty!” maskless others shout back.

With this in mind, I draw your attention to this September’s Site-Writing, where Honor Vincent’stender Homekeeping (2020) takes us back to the homely freedoms and uncanny comforts offered by the first COVID-19 lockdown in the UK. Honor’s gentle recording of how bodies of humans, plants and architectures blurred at this time, sits at odds with the toxic binaries of vaxxing/anti-vaxxing now raging, and can be read as a reminder of important it has become to keep alive the practices of care and love advocated by the contributors to both Slow Spatial Reader and When Walls Speak.

The September 2021 issue of Critical Spatial Practice shares three new projects: Sean Cham’s Washing White is a performative critique showing how conservation practices can rework histories of colonialism; ASSET ARREST is a project and podcast series, by artist Laura Yuile, which, by posing as a potential buyer/renter, enters the exclusive spaces of financialized housing to examine their negative impact on communities; and in Sonic Acts of Noticing – an interactive audio-textual environment – Julia Udall, Jonathan Orlek, and Alex De Little explore the potential of audio for critical spatial practice – ‘how listening can be a tool, or a strategy that makes things happen or leads to (political) action.’

If have a written work that you’ve recently completed and someone you’d like to read it, or would like to write a response to a new book, or contribute a project to either Critical Spatial Practice or Site-Writing: please let me know: – j.rendell@ucl.ac.uk


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