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Give me five #7 Filipa Ramos

@Corona Tales

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Give me five #7 Filipa Ramos

01 August

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Give me five

Filipa Ramos is a curator, writer, and lecturer. In this new weekly issue of Give me Five, she recommends us books, articles, podcasts and curatorial initiatives that emphasize interspecies relations, the music culture as an emancipation tool, films made by artists or speculative fiction. In her own words: "Other worlds are our world".

Until recently, people used to roll their eyes when I told them about my love for Ursula Le Guin as she has mostly been regarded as a writer of fantasy and sci-fi writing for young adults. It was only when different authors started quoting her as a major reference, and when her essay and poetry books started circulating that her brilliant, sharp mind and the strength and radicality of her positions and ideas emerged. Donna J. Haraway, for instance, owes Le Guin’s some of her key concepts. Le Guin’s book Always Coming Home (1985) is a timeless and monumental exercise of world-making in which the Californian writer creates a world and a civilization, giving life to the Kelp people and describing their usages, culture, songs, habits, romantic life and relationship to nature and other species. Always Coming Home is an impressive endeavour where speculative anthropology, poetry and story-telling come together in a complementary way.

At first, I was very disappointed when I received Shaun Tan’s book in my mailbox. It seemed like an illustrated album for children with stunning drawings and little text, very different from what I was expecting. I had recently read a great interview with the Australian writer in the Guardian and I was impressed by his original views on our human, present-day relationship to animals. Since this is a topic that interests me very much, I was surprised to encounter such interesting thoughts. “We’re so busy talking to ourselves, in a language of our own construction and pleasing ourselves with our own ideas, that we aren’t seeing things we should be seeing,” he says. Yet, my first impressions were wrong, and the fascinating way in which Tan moves from poetry to narrative and his visionary imagination did not take long to emerge. This is a book that made me cry, dream, laugh and think. And it is so beautifully made that I cannot recommend it enough.

During these last years, there has been a remarkable permeability between popular music culture, in particular R&B, Soul and Rap, and black cultural theory. It’s a great ensemble of people thinking together, with one another, collectively even if apart, from their various areas of activity. You find it in the work of such authors as Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Fred Moten or Christina Sharpe. For instance in a recent interview with Saidiya Hartman, writer Victoria Adukwei Bulley quotes the lyrics of Jamila Woods’ R&B song Blk Girl Soldier to introduce the complexity of the African American literature and cultural history’s thought… Reciprocally, music also continues to attest its importance as a tool for emancipation, reflection and action. Subject to Change, the monthly musical episode by cultural critic and curator Timmhotep Aku, explores the intersections of black music, life, metaphor, and meaning through songs and found audio footage. These hourly-long episodes are gems of pain, sorrow, hope, joy and erudition wrapped in such great sounds.

100 stories for these 100 days that changed the present.

From the 6th of March to the 11th of June 2020, curator Chus Martinez used her Instagram feed to release a short story a day, every day. She wrote them in English. Reading them, I could hear the Iberian accent I know so well, making me feel close to a familiar spirit and place. The stories, written in the past tense, were recollections of people’s lives—their affects, aspirations, passions, daily struggles and pleasures. But they could be happening now or tomorrow, they are atemporal. The Corona Tales are funny and sad, moving and bizarre, plausible and ungraspable. With their daily rhythm, they signed the passing of time when the sequence of days was so monotonous that each single day really mattered. I read them at night before going to bed, often dreaming the episodes she was narrating. They brought colour, flesh and solid ground to this period.

Vdrome is an online cinema of artists’ films that was created eight years ago and has been continuously running ever since. There has not been a single day in which Vdrome hasn’t been up and running, for free and open to all, showing up to 200 films by artists from the most disparate contexts, ages and backgrounds. When during the past months cinemas all over the world had to close down, Vdrome continued entering people’s houses and keeping them company. In its archive, Vdrome recalls its past lives, hosting all the conversations the artists had with those who helped them introduce their films.

I should add that I co-created and continue to run Vdrome with Andrea Lissoni and Enrico Boccioletti, so I feel both a bit ashamed but also very proud of including it here.

Filipa Ramos. BIO

Filipa Ramos is a Lisbon-born writer and lecturer based in London. She is Curator of Art Basel Film and Co-curator of the 13th Shanghai Biennale (2020-21). Her research looks at human’s engagement with animals in the contexts of art and artists’ cinema. Her essays and texts have been published in magazines and books worldwide. With Andrea Lissoni she founded and curates Vdrome, a programme of screenings of artists’ films. She is Lecturer at the MRes Arts at Central Saint Martins, London, and the Master Programme of the Arts Institute of the Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst, Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz, Basel.

She was Editor in Chief of art-agenda, Associate Editor of Manifesta Journal and contributed for Documenta 13 (2012) and 14 (2017). She edited Animals (Whitechapel Gallery/MIT Press, 2016) and curated the group exhibition Animalesque (Bildmuseet Umeå, Summer 2019, and BALTIC, Gateshead, Winter 2019/20). She curates the ongoing symposia series The Shape of a Circle in the Mind of a Fish with Lucia Pietroiusti for the Serpentine Galleries.

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