A note on: Lexicon, performing at Marsden Woo - March 16th 2016

Such a beautiful experience, to curate a night of new poetry and performance responding to Alida Sayer's magnificent exhibition at Marsden Woo Gallery. We did it all on quite a tight timeframe, really through my friendship with Marsden Woo curator Siobhan Feeney and an immediate passion I felt for Alida's work. She is interrogating, in sculpture, what I am interested in digging into in poetry - language, its instability, its material qualities, its graphic glypic abstraction. So I asked Giovanna Coppola, Fabian Peake, Iris Colomb and Christian Patracchini to come and see the work and we all presented this on a really enthusiastic evening, on March 16th (2016), in the gallery. You can see all the performances www.theenemiesproject.com/lexicon

For my own performance, I have become increasingly interested in improvisation, in speech rhythms and crowd responses, and in breaking the 4th wall with readings and performances. In this case I spent quite a bit of time working out certain parameters, concepts, that I would adhere to, but deliberately, strictly, ignoring the 'content' I might produce. In this case, I pretended that I was performing only for to-be-edited youtube vignettes, like some televisual curator, highlighting Alida's exhibition. I hoped for it to be humorous but not flippant, and people seemed engaged anyway, so I was pleased I took the risk.

I would highly recommend visiting www.marsdenwoo.com and checking out www.alidasayer.com

A note on: A Language Art - teaching at Tate Modern

An amazing experience, to continue my work with Tate Modern after a Talking Performance, to teach a six week course, each lesson in a different gallery, surrounded by the works being referred to. I had the privilege to share ideas, concepts, history and methodologies that cross both avant-garde writing and modern art, from Concrete poetry to Asemic writing, from Sound poetry to Collectives, from the Painted word to Poster art, to show how interlinked they are, how fundamental to both arts (even if one has embraced the theoretical, emotional, social and political developments of the latter 20th and early 21st century, and the other hasn't). The course was global and allowed me to explore further than ever before the profound reasons behind most of the innovation so definitional to the work I am most excited by. We even had a session in the Tate stores and I was able to bring out original artworks / poems by Henri Michaux, Christian Dotremont, Karel Appel, Cy Twombly, RB Kitaj, Jenny Holzer, Tom Phillips, Ian Hamilton Finlay and others who have influenced me so much. The course was attended by particularly generous and sophisticated artists, poets, book makers and people in advanced study, so it was a engaged, full of new works and ideas and really generously supported by an brilliant curatorial staff at Tate Modern, led by Joseph Kendra. Really a pleasure to do, I gained much from the weeks and a privilege to share those hours in Tate Modern with fellow artists. www.stevenjfowler.com/alanguageart

A note on: The Frontline Club, a World without Words IV - November 13th 2015

A really resonant and powerful evening at the Frontline Club. The highlight of what has been a wonderful journey so far, curating www.aworldwithoutwords.com with Lotje Sodderland and Thomas Duggan. During this night It became clear to me what this project was really about, there was a sense of clarity and the brilliant Professor Barry Smith and I both came across it in our discussions before the event. It is about will. A will to life, an affirmation of the continency of language, on life, and how Lotje represents to me, in the most deferent, humble, inciteful and beautiful manner, a pure engagement with being alive. And so through her presence, the lynchpin of the project, so my work, the films of Vincent Moon and insightful thoughts Barry himself shared, to a sold out room of over 100 people, became about that - a celebration or affirmation of life and language. An amazing chance for me to be associated with an institution I have been going for many many years too. Such a privilege, a very special and dear evening to me.

 

From Sufi rituals in Chechnya, to ancient folk songs in Columbian’s pacific rainforest, we experienced how the brain ascribes meaning to music and sound - even when words are obsolete through a selection of Vincent Moon’s short observational documentaries — shot around the world and capturing local folklore and diverse musical rituals. They were screened in alternation with an informal discussion by the director of London’s Institute of Philosophy Dr Barry Smith, who explored the neural correlates of meaning, music, and language in the context of each film, to offer the audience an explanation of the role of language in subjective mental life.

Upcoming: a language art - a course at Tate Modern

A Language Art: a course at Tate Modern

Avant-garde Poetry & Modern Art, in the galleries

Mondays, 26 October – 30 November 2015, 18.45–20.45,
session on Monday 9th November at Tate Britain
£150, concessions available

Book online using this link: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/courses-and-workshops/language-art-avant-garde-poetry-and-modern-art

I'm delighted to be leading a course for Tate Modern this winter, where over six weeks, we will explore the intersections between the post-war traditions of modern art and avant-garde poetry.

Discovering poets and artists from the Tate collection who make use of language, sound, space, printing and writing, this course reveals how these practises are fundamental to both arts. A detailed course breakdown is available here: http://www.stevenjfowler.com/alanguageart/

Sessions are based within the galleries of Tate Modern in the presence of works by Gerhard Richter, Li Yuan-Chia and RB Kitaj amongst others, which bring to light some of the great moments in modern art and poetry that have enriched the traditions of both writing and art-making. Each week participants are also introduced to contemporary examples of work inspired by those held in the Tate Collection, as well as encouraged to create and share their own avant-garde poetry and text art in the extraordinary environment of the museum. One session is held at Tate Britain and includes the chance to explore Tate’s Prints and Drawings Rooms.

This course is for people interested in developing their own skills and understanding of experimental poetry and modern and contemporary art practises, and the onus of the course is on how these great moments in modern art and poetry can enrich writing and art-making practise, rather than dense historical analysis. It’s a rare chance to excavate avant- garde poetry in such a setting, and each week participants will have the chance to create new works in the extraordinary environment of the Tate Modern’s galleries.

Published: Poems translated into Romanian on Poesis International

Thanks to the brilliant poet / editor Claudiu Komartin and the translator, Ramona Hărșan, a series of my poems, from my collection the Rottweiler's Guide to the Dog Owner have been translated into Romanian and published on the highly regarded Poesis International journal online. They appeared in print earlier in the year but now everyone can have a look.

http://poesisinternational.com/poeme-de-s-j-fowler/

a World without Words at Apiary Studios was wonderful

The premiere event of a World without Words was an extraordinary night, well over one hundred people crammed into Apiary Studios in Hackney to watch six presentations from neuroscientists and artists from around the world. What really emerged from a night of big ideas and great personal passion, was how much the unique format we had aimed to provide appealed to both the speakers and the audience. The presentations were not centred about the sharing of knowledge, but of personal passion, and experience, and how the former came through the latter. The event was not one of provocation but curiosity. Lotje Sodderland, Noah Hutton, Ben Ehrlich, Harry Man, Malinda McPherson and Nick Ryan all found their journey into the human brain and our ability to wield language in different ways - through pain and illness, through study and discipline, through travel and creativity, yet they all shared an open, inviting, discursive evening where everyone left with more than they had a few hours before. It was also, what I had already known, a real joy to share the curating with Thomas Duggan and Lotje, we all seem to compliment each other and the process couldn't have been more gratifying. Four more events to come this year... www.aworldwithoutwords.com

a World without Words begins May 6th at Apiary studios

I'm delighted to announce a new project: a World without Words, exploring the nature of human language, bringing together contemporary practitioners & pioneers in neuroscience and sensory aesthetics, to offer a fascinating and playful exploration of how words form our world. www.aworldwithoutwords.com

Co-curated by writer & filmmaker Lotje Sodderland and artist & material engineer Thomas Duggan, a World without Words will present artworks, installations, performances, talks, discussions and readings that call into question how meaning maps into the brain over a series of events throughout 2015 & beyond, taking place in bespoke venues across London.

Across artform & discipline each event will explore that notion that while language is considered perhaps the most characteristic ability of the human species, very little is known about it. When curator Lotje Sodderland had an unprovoked brain haemorrhage, she woke to find a familiar stranger inhabiting her body, where her 'self' used to be. Unable to read, write, speak, or think coherently, she used this unique opportunity as a lens through which to explore the everyday assumptions of how we wield words to express ourselves, bringing a profoundly personal perspective to the contemporary Copernican revolution of neuroscience. A World Without Words is the latest in Lotje's body of work around visual perception and neurolinguistics, and you can read / see more about her previous work in the Guardian & in the film, My Beautiful Broken Brain.

The first event takes place at Apiary Studios May 6th 7pm - 10.00pm
458 Hackney Rd, London E2 9EG. Entrance is free. http://www.apiarystudios.org/

The event will feature:

Noah Hutton & Ben Ehrlich: founders of The Beautiful Brain, a website that explores the juncture between neuroscience and art, based in New York. They will present on the theme of discontinuity in neurobiological, cultural, and linguistic systems. As well as discussing The Beautiful Brain, Noah will show a brief clip from his most recent documentary film Deep Time (SXSW 2015) and Ben will share from his research about the life and work of Santiago Ramón y Cajal, "the father of modern neuroscience."

Harry Man: will lead an artistic examination into dyslexia and its potential advantages including identifying black holes and visualized data based on research by Dr Matthew H. Schneps at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics. Using gravitational wave detection data from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) collaboration, Harry hopes to illustrate how dyslexia might be an advantage to those studying the origin of the universe.

Malinda J. McPherson: a neuroscientist and musician who studies the link between emotion and musical creativity. Malinda will be discussing the human ability to ascribe meaning to sound, as well as the connections between abnormal brain states and creative musical expression.

Nick Ryan: a multi award winning composer, sound designer, artist and audio specialist, widely recognised as a leading thinker on the application of emerging and future technologies to the creation and performance of sound and music.

Lotje Sodderland: artist, writer & filmmaker, who present framed artworks created after she lost the ability to communicate with words, exhibited in Apiary Studios. An excerpt from her documentary My Beautiful Broken Brain will also be screened as part of the evening's program.

a World without Words will present further events in June, August, October & December, with more details to come.
The project is generously supported by Arts Council England

www.aworldwithoutwords.com
www.theenemiesproject.com/aworldwithoutwords
www.stevenjfowler.com

a World without Words

I am so so happy to announce a new project, co-curated with Lotje Sodderland and Thomas Duggan, called a World without Words. www.theenemiesproject.com/aworldwithoutwords

A World Without Words is an exploration of how aphasia effects our fundamental understanding of human language, how it interrogates our static notions of meaning in this language and how it calls into question the very character of self-knowledge. Through a program of exhibitions, newly commissioned artworks, poetry and sound performances, and talks that explore the nature of human language to illuminate this profound investigation of the human brain, a World without Words will bring together some of the most dynamic scientists and artists working in 21st century London.

A World Without Words marks a pivotal moment when breakthroughs in neuroscience mean there is greater understanding of those who possess atypical language function. Today, aphasia is more prevalent than Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, as over 250,000 people in the United Kingdom alone live with the condition. Yet in spite of its high incidence, aphasia remains a hidden disability. 

Language is considered perhaps the most characteristic ability of the human species, a World without Words aims to be on the frontline of our social, aesthetic, creative and experiental understanding of this ability, working back through aphasia and into the potential of the human mind.

A World Without Words invites audiences to explore the nature of human language, offering a fascinating and playful exploration of how words form our world. The project presents a unique opportunity to explore how loss of language impacts on losing internal definitions of "self" in relation to everything "other" in the external world, while breaking apart assumptions of how we wield language to express ourselves.

a World without Words has emanated from the experiences of Lotje Sodderland, ably documented in this article: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/nov/22/it-felt-as-if-i-had-become-fear-itself-life-after-a-stroke-at-34

The first event will be held on May 6th at Apiary Studios http://www.apiarystudios.org/
with contributions from Lotje Sodderland = Malinda MacPherson - Noah Hutton - Ben Ehrlich - Harry Man & more.

Exhibiting w/ Anatol Knotek at the Text Festival, Bury

www.textfestival.com A unique and admirable fusion of exhibitions and events, celebrating text based art and vanguard poetry, the Text festival is a beacon that lights up Bury, and has done quite a few times over the last decade, drawing in some of the most interesting writers/artists in the world. I'm happy to say, for the Dark Would exhibition, edited and curated by Philip Davenport, the amazing Anatol Knotek, my long term collaborator, has produced beautiful visual poetry work based on our collaborative exchanges for the Dark Would anthology ebook, the interviews in fact, that we provided for the digital version. You can see a few pictures, taken by Philip, of the work below. 

The Text Festival in Bury is an internationally recognised event investigating contemporary language art (poetry, text art, sound and media text, live art). Opening on 2 May 2014, the next Festival will be its fourth manifestation and run into July 2014.