Knowledge is a matter of the mind. But what about the knowledge embodied by bodies? Racialized bodies, sexualized bodies, traumatized bodies, socially normed bodies? (Lose a few pounds!) Bodies are a tangle of intuitive information, projections, speculations. And this tangle has a noticeable effect on the mind, not least on the minds – and perceptions – of others.

Do Not Read This Body © Olave Nduwanje

Take, for instance, Olave Nduwanje’s performance lecture: It examines human manifestations and related learning processes under the keyword Bodies.It’s about identities, power relations and communities that are constructed by bodies. But it’s also about inscribed experiences and the possibility of interpreting them differently.

In the Cultural Education program, for example, physical disabilities are exposed as social impediments and the experience of violence and the emancipation of transsexual bodies are articulated in an opera performance. Likewise, physical experiences of corporeality are explored as part of groups, nature or technologies.

The image shows four versions of a model of a standing human body. The graphic representation resembles that of a three-dimensional animation. The depicted body has female breasts. The model is hairless and wears only a grid-like, transparent outline of clothing. Three versions of the model wear shoes with high heels. In one version, an image detail of bare feet was placed over the feet. The basic color of the model is gray. The grids are blue and neon green. In addition, some grids and positions of the models were backed with areas in beige.

© Katharina Achterkamp

How body knowledge can be comprehensible is only slowly taking shape as a movement between learning and unlearning, the process that questions and, in the best case, dismantles habitual patterns of perception. Here, the mind is just a part of the body, of many bodies. What knowledge forms what education? Going back to the tangle of information, projections and speculations: Now that you can no longer see me, can you hear me better?

Here you will find further material on the topic. Translations of original English versions into German are linked separately under (Ger.).

Impressions from the festival program for Reading Bodies! (2019): the performances Underbelly Resonances by Angelo Custódio and Jules Sturm and Trans* Opera by and with Mavi Veloso featuring Dynno Dada, Sanni Est and Tina Escarlatina as well as the lecture performance Do Not Read This Body (Ger.) by Olave Nduwanje (all in original English). A panel on Corpoliteracy in Educational Practice held with Ed Greve, Ayşe Güleç, Gila Kolb, Tuğba Tanyılmaz and María do Mar Castro Varela.

See also the contributions from the Dictionary of Now, in particular writer Taiye Selasi’s reading Airport and Achille Mbembe’s lecture The Violence of Borders (Ger.)

Selected reading on the subject

Körperlesekunde als neue Vermittlungspraxis?, by Daniel Neugebauer

Notizen zur Corpoliteracy, by Gila Kolb

Zersplitterte Körper und andere Fragmente, by Lena Staab, Mai-Anh Boger

Verletzlich werden, by Inga Zimprich

Supplementary publications from the series The New Alphabet (2019–2022), Skin and Code as well as Counter_Readings of the Body, edited by Daniel Neugebauer.