Berlin, Germany

Floating Texts: Unlearning to Write

when 24 July 2023 - 28 July 2023
language English
duration 1 week
credits 1 EC
fee EUR 580

For a lot of artists writing is a central practice to generate and process ideas or to create text-based work itself. Yet it is less discussed, taught, and highlighted as an artistic practice as such. Also, writing is often limited to being an intellectual practice. This course is about unlearning what writing is and exploring its multilingual, material and embodied dimensions as well as transgressing the visual and performative boundaries that shape our understanding of text, type, books etc. The course offers to explore techniques of ‘writing beyond writing’ as well as perspectives on their political potential, and into the Berlin scene of artist writing.


DAY 1+2

Is it necessary to speak and understand a language in order to write in that language? Regarding an increasing number of machine-assisted translation, this question may be a marginal one in the near future. However, the lack of understanding and translatability plays a crucial and productive role in artistic practices, e. g. translation, transposition and transformation of one language into another, or of image into text, text into movement, movement into sound etc.

In order to access the space in-between (spoken, written, visual, acoustic) languages, we first need to leave behind the dogma of “mastering” a language in order to use it. Through a number of methods, games, (easy) body and performance exercises and experimental writing prompts we will access a cognitive space untethered from inhibition and pretension. We approach the conscious and unconscious parts of both, reading and writing on an individual and collaborative level in our multilingual group.

Parallel to that, we will look into the long history of imposing and re-appropriating certain languages as a means of power, and of linguistic resistance. We discover writing as a creative and political cultural technique and the poetics that lie in so-called untranslatables. Our research process will take us to a historical collection concerned with writing and comprise the discussion of works from the field of artists books, of artistic approaches to natural language processing, and of works that critically investigate the political instrumentalization of language.


The second part of the course is a one-and-half-day “writing ashram”. Participants will elaborate ideas from the course and experience a guided day dedicated to writing. The instructors will be available for one-on-one consultation in order to reflect together on questions regarding the participants’ artistic writing practice and their course projects.


Before the grand finale, we will take half a day to explore specialized bookshops, galleries and other places of writing in Berlin together. We will also meet some special guests and attend a reading event in order to reflect upon the manifold ways of presenting works of artist writing in performative, visual, acoustic ways, to name but a few.


The course will close with an internal presentation of the participants’ works and a reflection on what we have (un)learned about writing.

Course leader

Annika Haas and Anna M. Szaflarski

Course aim

The course offers to explore techniques of ‘writing beyond writing’ as well as perspectives on their political potential, and into the Berlin scene of artist writing.

Fee info

EUR 580: course fee

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