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 December 2021 issue, Alex Arteaga and Lidia Gasperoni read Inscription: the Journal of Material Text – Theory, Practice, History. Issue 1: Beginnings, edited by Simon Morris, Gill Partington, and Adam Smyth, while Simon Morris and Jérémie Bennequin read Architectures of Embodiment, edited by Alex Arteaga (Diaphanes, 2020). 

Editor Arteaga, and Gasperoni, a contributor to Architectures of Embodiment, discuss the challenge of reading Inscription: the Journal of Material Text – a publication whose materiality is vitally important to the performance of its argument – in its virtual form. Delayed by Brexit bureaucracy, Inscription’s passage from the UK to Germany was slowed to less than the speed of the planet revolving through the universe to this very solstice. Arteaga and Gasperoni supplement their own virtual dialogue with hand-drawn diagrams, some drawn on paper and attached to a physical window, others drawn on an ipad and accessed through a digital screen. Meanwhile the other reading is materialising through a series of drawings of bodies in space made in France by Bennequin, and commissioned by Morris, which intend to re-enter Architectures of Embodiment, a book with no images, in a completed form in January. Produced out of a particular COVID-BREXIT intersection, both these readings engage with the differing potentialities and blockages – arrivals and delays – of our current materially immaterial world.

Not paying attention to the real space animals need has created the conditions for the emergence of the COVID-19 virus that has propelled us into virtual realms. For the December 2021 issue of Critical Spatial Practice, Sam/She Zheng’s Making Map I: Animals and Anachronistic Architectures, (2021–) leads the viewer on a virtual journey reflecting on the very real relation between humans and animals, arguing that a relationship where humans are not superior to other beings is ‘incredibly important to the future of life on earth.’ Consisting of a huge hand-embroidered whitework panel, produced collaboratively with local embroiderers and the contributions of over 120 people from across the UK and abroad, Brigid McLeer’s Collateral (2021), commissioned by Super Slow Way for the British Textile Biennial 2021, and installed at Queen Street Mill, Burnley, Lancashire, 1 – 31October 2021, is a strong reminder of how physical working conditions cut lives short. This site-based memorialisation commemorates the hundreds of workers who die world-wide because they work in factories and sweatshops that supply the global garment industry, bringing to mind, for McLeer, Karen Barad’s words – ‘Entanglements are relations of obligation.’  

For this December’s Site-Writing, pairing a collaboratively-produced essay film and an artist’s book, Fanqi (Kiki) Zhou’s As Lightning to the Children Eased (January 2021), Dalian, China, takes Qiqi’s childhood home – the locus of memories – as a site through which to investigate the profound implications of China’s one-child policy on family relations, on the obligations instilled in the children, as well as their families. Vid Žnidaršič’s A Non-Aligned Narrative in and Around KSEVT, (2019), London – Ljubljana – Vitanje, is another site-based history of narrated entanglements and obligations, where personal accounts clash, convolute, and collide. Focusing on the Cultural Centre of European Space Technologies (KSEVT) in the village of Vitanje, Slovenia, Žnidaršič develops his interest in non-alignment, not as an ideology, but as a site-writing methodology.

Signal/Noise: Ambient Text in the Urban Landscape, by Joseph Heathcott, a writer, artist, curator, and educator based in New York, is part of a long-term project that explores how people write onto city surfaces. Guided by Charles Baudelaire’s observation that, ‘We are enveloped and steeped as though in an atmosphere of the marvellous, but we do not notice it,’ Signal/Noise documents the traces of  ‘something[s] left behind as a condition of living in the city.’ Unter der Hohen Brücke (2021), subtitled ‘digging in a ditch, writing for a place,’is an experiment in book form by Ella Felber, that she suggests ‘consists of multiple attempts to construct a place within architecture and poetry, which can be entered and interacted with like a physical environment.’ Extending the site visit, that ‘crucial moment of contact in an architectural project,’ which is ‘usually cut short,’ Felber argues instead for a ‘slow practice of lingering.’ 

I will leave you to linger on this beautiful website, Echoes and Intersections, designed by Charlotte Morgan, developed with Kanza Leghari, Chia-Ying Chou, Rasha Saffarini and Toby Blackman, that shares work from the Critical Spatial Practice: Site Writing cohort of 2020-1.  

If you 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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