Creative Commons License


Interpretation/Writers (written by Verina Gfader, 2011)

Interpretation can be described as a form of practice suggesting an engagement with work based on an inherently symbiotic relation: subjective – objective, concrete – abstract, relations between different times, artist – interpreter/audience - community. It is an encounter with an artefact (e.g. film, youtube clip, sound, document, image, text) that describes a kind of second or third layer of mediating content and affect where the work is reconfigured and affirmed on the premises of what Simon O’Sullivan describes as the ‘chemical “knowledge” of subjectivity’ (in: Friendship as Community: From Ethics to Politics,  
2004, downloadable from

Writing an interpretative text about or for an artwork can take various formats: a comment, a blog-type, a critique in the traditional sense of using an overarching (theoretical) framework, poetic analysis, an act of censoring, a report. In the way interpretation supposes a power and certain authority or the authoritative on the part of the people, i.e. writers who encounter the work, it implicitly puts forward an ethical question. Given the impact of social media, online comment-functions and the multiplicity of text forms, archiving systems, the emphasis on knowledge production = accumulation of knowledge, and the shifts in educational systems in the Western world, a new model of interpreting might necessarily include or propose an analysis of the shifting socio-political grounds and our understanding of what constitutes ‘reading material’. (Interpretation as symptom?) Or to push it: in what way does the material and paradigmatic residue of a cultural exchange, work, performance or action, repress and simultaneously explore and reenact the live and vitality surrounding it? How do certain systems embrace textual analysis?

What is the role of the writer? Who writes and for whom? What are the specific conditions for interpreting? The writer has to find her/his place and position, and a form of speech and language that confirms his belonging to a community (in this case The Electronic Village Gallery). This includes thinking about exclusion, and how the writing deals with empowerment, possible generative modes of writing, and de-mystification about writing.

On a side note I began to engage with text and the irrational or un-readable and its status in society. Shohana Felman in Writing and Madness: Literature/Philosophy/Psychoanalysis notes: ‘“The literary thing” is not exactly literature as institution: it is, rather, the original, originative drive that makes us read. It is what makes texts literary, what turns them into events, what constitutes their literary life, their continued emotional and rhetorical vitality.’

Writing as institution? Maybe not.
For The Electronic Village Gallery, which takes account of the experimental, local communities, rural area, the peripheral, online economies and the distributed archive, the kind of interpreting could begin with a question: how can the encounter with the art work be transformed into a ‘living text’ (an archiving in the present), a text that speaks both of the content/context of the work and the communal and political ground in/through which it has been established? .. to incite and stimulate further contributions. 

The writing of the texts derives from the art work, its manifestation in concrete space and/or how it is facilitated, presented and encountered by the one who interprets. (Context-driven; affective analysis, affective report). A work can immediately drag you into research and processes of un-archiving, finding out more about work, artist(s), subjects addressed, the locations and conditions of the work. On the other hand a work can invite you to roughly sum up your first (or second) impressions. Intrinsically linked to writing these texts is the virtual correspondent, a member of the community who can open out the discussion and ‘information’ (Sense of exchange, and openness. Plural voice. Plural archive). In reverse this activity accounts for a becoming-singular within a body, micro-community or the people. The form and modality of network inscribed in this project might bring to the foreground a sense of the multiple and sometimes contradictory relations fundamental for a dynamic within it.    

Migratory knowledge, writing towards interpretation = is this open text? Is is text without a closure that discretely embeds otherness and a community? As I am currently involved in certain activist ideas and events, and simultaneously explore how recent protests (e.g. education, cuts) develop new and fast forms of writing, publishing, recuperating or erasing historical moments, which also include a certain design, typography and language, it is interesting to explore how the kind of ‘archiving’ of The Electronic Village Gallery responds to these processes and shifts.