Der Vorstand konstituiert sich selbst.
Legal texts expose—in association statutes, rules of procedure, or constitutions—the points at which the individual tips over into a formalized generality. Voting, the right to vote, compulsory attendance, or the authority to sign still contain a vestige of direct address and direct negotiation and, nevertheless, mark the transition to the forms in which commonality organizes itself.
In an association, for instance, shifting individuals commit themselves to implementing a certain goal; through rotation and voting they hold exchangeable positions dedicated to reaching a collective aim while responding to the public good. Similar mechanisms are at work in global authority such as the United Nations, whose body of rules and regulations offers a system for the world’s nation states to negotiate with one another. But how does a legal text—a description of due process and rights—behave as a text in its own right? Could voices and actions extracted from legal texts, when related to one another, be used to create a kind of performance?
The workshop on March 30, 2010 used the DOR. An open-ended pool of texts (automatist.net/deptofreading/ wiki/pmwiki.php/ConstitutionPool) included extracts from, among other things, statutes and other documents from the Tyrolean Artists’ Association, the Shedhalle Zurich, Flutgraben e.V., United Nations, the Innsbruck municipal code, and the draft of the constitution for the German Democratic Republic. Using such notions as voting and registration, membership, assembly, and exclusion, the workshop drew connections between these various text fragments.
Inga ZIMPRICH (*1979) is an artist and curator living in Berlin. The space of speech in contemporary art institutions has played a key role in the predominantly collaborative works in which she takes part. Zimprich has been developing various curatorial and artistic productions in Ukraine since 2006 and collaborates closely with Sönke Hallmann (theory) and Paul Gangloff (design), among others.
Sönke HALLMANN studied literature and philosophy and deals particularly with the literary works of Franz Kafka and Heiner Müller and the theoretical scripts of Jaques Derrida and Giorgio Agamben. In 2006 Hallmann initiated the Department of Reading (DOR) which intervenes and edits online texts using wiki- and Skype-technology. The DOR focuses on the communal format of of reading as a cultural practice. Hallmann’s writing on notions of similarity, play and drama, gesture and memory have been published in magazines and elsewhere (Text-Revue, F.R. David, Geist Magazin).
Elske ROSENFELD deals with the history and historiography of the GDR, particularly with regard to its moment in 1989/90 as a political space of possibility. In this context, she also has dealt with the constitutional draft developed at round table meetings in 1990, following the dissolution of the GDR.
The Department of Reading was founded by Sönke Hallmann in 2006 as an online reading group that reworks existing texts in various Internet-based and spatial settings, altering them through commentary, insertion, extraction, and rewriting.
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