On October 20th we will host a seminar and a reading night, exploring technologies of intimacy in artistic practice and mystical theology. Artistic practice and mysticism have both been ways where the unknowable and the unreliable can be touched, felt, communed with. They denote a space where the lines between affective, sensual and intellectual collapse, a space for new kinds of understandings, confusions, joys, troubles. This whole-day event that goes from noon to the morning after brings guided sessions, discussions, music, readings from a 13th-century mystic and communal sleeping hopes to unfold the possibilities for a new theology of touch, informed by mysticism, philosophy and participatory practice. We hope you will join us in reaching out to touch the unknowable and unreliable parts not just of the world, but of ourselves.
14:00–17:00 – PhD Seminar of Áron Birtalan This PhD seminar explores technologies of intimacy and permeability and the possibility of a theology of touch. The research unfolds under the influence of three women mystics from the 13-14th century: the beguines Hadewijch of Brabant and Mechtild of Magdeburg and the heretic Marguerite Porete. Focusing on how language, attention and sensation are mobilised through their writings, these historical texts are put to dialogue with current voices in expanded choreography, participatory and relational practices, New Materialist philosophy and contemporary radical theology. Grounding the research in praxis, the work hopes to create space for movements in which virtual and enfleshed bodies contaminate one another, becoming compost for living-dying languages, technologies and epistemologies in art and theology. The program for the afternoon includes a guided experience, a response from theologian and philosopher Simone Kotva, and an open conversation with the audience. The seminar is a part of artist Áron Birtalan’s PhD research project in artistic practice at Stockholm University of the Arts’ Department of Dance. Read more about the research here. The PhD-seminar is free to attend but you need to signup via Stockholm University of the Arts.
20:00–08:00 – Reading Night – Hadewijch This special event invites you to spend the night at Hägerstensåsens Medborgarhus, reading, listening, falling asleep to the writings of the 13th- century Flemish mystic Hadewijch of Brabant. Hadewijch was a Beguine, who were women in the Middle Ages living in small religious communities without being members of the Church, like nuns. Her writings, which include poems, songs, visions, letters and prose speak with a voice that cuts through the fabric of time, into the hidden depths of one’s heart. Hadewijch’s mysticism weaves together her devotion to her life as a Beguine, with the lovesick lovesongs of the troubadours, and with dazzlingly dark metaphysics that would make any contemporary philosopher blush. To her, encountering the divine rests within the mystical abyss of love – if one dares to take the leap. This is an overnight event, where we read until the morning. Your ticket includes dinner and a small breakfast. We will spend the night in the main hall of the building and you can choose to sleep, listen or even help us read. You will be asked to bring your own sleeping gear, and we have a few beds available for guests with mobility needs or travelling in from far. For booking a bed, contact Maren Wolf: firstname.lastname@example.org. To participate in the overnight part please book your tickets here. Each ticket includes dinner and breakfast.
Artistic Team: Áron Birtalan, Gabriel Widing, Maren Wolf
Seminar Opponent: Simone Kotva (University of Oslo, University of Cambridge)
PhD Supervisors: John-Paul Zaccarini (Stockholm University of the Arts), Erin Manning (Concordia University)
Overnight music: Extracts of the XIV, Sonja Tofik gleemaiden, Macumbista
Support from: Stockholm University of the Arts, Hägerstensåsens Medborgarhus
Áron Birtalan is an artist, musician and student of theology, whose work explores languages of pleasure and anguish between angel, creature and computer. Simone Kotva is a philosopher of religion working at the intersection of theology, critical theory and earth ethics. Maren Wolf is a designer and artist working with participatory experiences, rituals and playfulness. Gabriel Widing is an artist and game designer, interested in performance, play and participation. Sonja Tofik is a composer and musician based in Stockholm. Her blend of samples, drones, field recordings, feedback and vocals creates a dark and emotional sonic sphere. Extracts of the XIV are ecstasy by song, ecstasy by repetition – perpetual peaks, uplifted and otherworldly. In the place where eternity stands right-angled towards time, XTC sings the XIV century. Macumbista is a little boy that lives in DH’s mouth.
Content and Accessibility The seminar and the after-event both feature sensitive sound fields and (optional) participatory exercises in attention and sensation. The venue is fully accessible. The seminar touches on topics of religion, grief, ideas about the afterlife, sensuality, contamination, erotics, and the limits of consensual relationships.
With support from ABF Stockholm