Curator and writer Riet Timmerman reflects on the recent New Writing with New Contemporaries: Online event.
16 March 2021
Long, curly black pencil lines move like shadow features on the page, drawn intuitively in my haste and imprecision. Scribbles holding an opportunity to start a conversation with my shadow, to finally have the ear of an imaginary friend. The last page of my notebook presents remnants of artist Sophie Ruigrok’s interactive audio work Meeting the Shadow, part of New Writing with New Contemporaries: Online which took place on the evening of 17 February 2021.
This event was a mixture of readings, performances and screenings of audio and video works by five New Contemporaries 2020 artists, Zethu Maseko, Rene Matić, Sophie Ruigrok, Anna-Rose Stefatou and Ahren Warner, who each experiment with writing as a central part of their individual practices.
Creating a space for experimentation, the presented artists’ works offered interesting ways for an audience to engage with pieces of writing through image, sound and performance to camera. Artist Anna-Rose Stefatou comments on her experience: The presentation of text/written work within a gallery/museum context has been a topic of conflict for so long, so it was nice to have a space - in this case digital space - to let it exist for itself and in itself.
The works also created a space for memory and escapism as in Stefatou’s moving image work On Extinct Moons (and Silent Splinters) presented four poems overlaid onto visual elements, each reflecting on ideas of loss, becoming, belonging and displacement, connecting the cosmic with personal memories. Zethu Maseko’s reading of the work You do not belong here, also told a mythical tale identifying feelings of displacement and belonging. Ahren Warner’s moving image work And one thing led to another, or more accurately took us travelling to an exotic holiday resort, questioning the consumption of pleasure or the pleasure of consuming, whilst Sophie Ruigrok’s audio work invited us to journey closer to home, in our imagination or subconscious, envisioning and confronting our concealed shadow side. Rene Matić’s work How to avoid being attacked exists as an analogue zine with limited copies printed, the performative reading of the publication offered us a chance to engage with the artist's gripping, personal stories on depression and anxiety.
Ahren Warner, And one thing led to another, or more accurately, still image.
In a time, when we are all caught in the same often claustrophobic and lonely environments, these five works transported me to spaces of remembering, longing, travelling, in-person communications - almost escaping our own realities, where we are somehow caught in a fantastic frenzy between glitter and rot (1).
Rewatch the event here:
(1) Anna-Rose Stefatou, On Extinct Moons (and Silent Splinters).