19:00 - 22:00
20:00—Figures for dashing
Performance with Stine Sampers, Naomi Schatteman & Mathilde Strijdonk
Speaker: Brian Day
20:30—Thoughts on dashing
Talk with Peter de Voogd & Astrid Seme
13.12.2019 - 31.01.2020
Baroness Elsa’s em dashes
design and concept by Astrid Seme
published by Mark Pezinger Books
No.1 of the Black Forest Library
10 × 14.5 cm, 88pp,
English, edition: 400
The publication is for sale at Kunstenbibliotheek for €13.
Astrid Seme—Baroness Elsa’s em dashes
Baroness Elsa’s em dashes is an homage to the Dada artist and poet Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (1874 – 1927) and to her manic use of em dashes. Em dashes have different purposes—as an appropriation of silence, as acting dissonance, as interruption, as occupying space. In Elsa’s work, they seem to function more like performers between the words, creating movement and voice within the text. The exhibition places these performers in a real space, turning BOEKS into a performative venue.
Elsa’s em dashes will not just spread across the space, but they will become multiple voices inviting us to dash around. At the opening, the sound piece Figures for dashing will be interpreted by performers Stine Sampers, Naomi Schatteman and Mathilde Strijdonk. Afterwards, professor Emeritus of English Literature Peter de Voogd and graphic designer and sound artist Astrid Seme will try to put the dash into words. Together, we’ll send some Thoughts on Dashing into space.
Baroness Elsa’s em dashes is also the title of a book published in early 2019 by Mark Pezinger Books, a Vienna & Black Forest-based publisher of artist’s books. They call it an anthology of dashing in print, poetry and performance. The reader will find Elsa’s works in conversation with well-known dashers such as Gertrude Stein, Laurence Sterne, Heinrich von Kleist or Emily “the dashing queen” Dickinson.
Alexandru Balgiu (Designing Writing) about Astrid Seme’s book Baroness Elsa’s em dashes:
A heart the thickness of a dash. I hold *Baroness Elsa’s em dashes* in my hand and hear the ticking of the Teke Heart. Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven’s superb 1921 piece on the Beating of Heart comes to mind like a dash of thought, as I feel the book. Reading Astrid Seme’s wonderful anthology of dashing in print, poetry & performance is indeed an experience of pulsations: as I browse through the pages, a school of dashes animate in a playful dance in front of my eyes. One swiftly understands that *Baroness Elsa’s em dashes* is not merely a collection, it is an invitation. And it is not merely an observation, but also a proposition. Or rather, a series of pages propositions — remindful of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus — as the page numbers have left their paratextual position to lead the order of discourse, becoming the numbering of enunciations. *Baroness Elsa’s em dashes* counts to 81. Normal resting heart rates range from 60-100 beats per minute. The gesture of turning the page is an em-phasis of the progression of thought and — like the em-dash — marks “an appropriation of silence”. Astrid’s voice, in turn, is at once analytical and personal, weaving the typographic and the poetic with openness and proximity. Through these dashing propositions she unveils intersections (perhaps these em-dashes are not all so parallel, after all?) and explores cross-readings that prove — brilliantly — that neither design nor literature are monological, one-way roads, but rather myriad modalities for apprehending the subtleties and complexities of existence. Through radiant anecdotes, quotations and moving details, Astrid establishes contact. We get in touch with Baroness Elsa and Emily (Dickinson), and Heinrich (von Kleist), and Christian (Morgenstern), and Gertrude (Stein), and Lawrence (Sterne)… and it is now up to us to engage conversation and extend the dash, no matter how perceptible the thickness of line. Infrathin em-dashes? In Emily’s words:
A Murmur in the Trees — to note —
Not loud enough — for Wind —
A Star — not far enough to seek —
Nor near enough — to find —
At this point, Astrid would perhaps invite us to take a breath, as she does periodically throughout her publication, addressing us and calling on our own consciousness of the moment.
I, in turn, will urge you to meet her beautiful book.