katherine behar
katherine behar: this.construction();

Review: Lisa Stein, "Ripping at the seams of fiber art," The Chicago Tribune, November 1, 2002. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2002-11-01/entertainment/0211010447_1_art-institute-fiber-art-sofa-chicago.

art: Specific Difficulty
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Specific Difficulty is a three-channel video installation. Viewers recline on heated, white, tongue-shaped loungers, resting in a space swathed in white felt curtains that terminate in lip-like orange pillows. Three video projections show a young woman in a concrete landscape. With an orange tongue painted on her back, she makes small movements, interacting with a massive blue bush (sometimes a headdress) with orange tongues in it. A hose striped with yellow-black hazard tape snakes through the space, linking curtains, floor, and walls, and demarcating a wandering edge: unstable confinement. Architectural elements (doors, electrical outlets) are painted fluorescent orange.


Specificity is difficult because language is macroscopic. When we get down to details, we get down to syllables, but in the age of Information, we expect to be able to break things down much more finely to become microscopic: bits, or nerve pulses, or ones and zeros. Instead, when we speak, we find ourselves saddled with a lumbering tool: our own bodies – our blunt tongues.

To articulate with a body, I borrow movement vocabulary from the dance discipline. In the video component of this piece, structured articulations are rehearsed like tongue exercises. The dancer performs insistent, communicative repetitions like pronunciations of language's most basic element, the syllable.

Specific Difficulty is my response to Friedrich Kittler's book, Discourse Networks 1800/1900. I imagine this piece as a final chapter in which language is seen manifest in the body, without its being pathologized. In my discourse network, language may be learned by and returned to a body that talks without voice. Such a communicating body would hold the ability to specify generalities, to dance out an interface of coherence fostered within its own terminology, and on its own terms.


Specific Difficulty web translation.