Response to Reading Loop, 11/5/11

I had hitherto concealed the secret of my dress, in order to distinguish myself as much as possible from that cursed race of yahoos; but now I found it in vain to do so any longer. Besides, I considered that my clothes and shoes would soon wear out, which already were in a declining condition, and must be supplied by some contrivance from the hides of yahoos or other brutes; whereby the whole secret would be known.

(Jonathan Swift, 1726)

Language can only describe the shores of our exile, and what is contained within.

Outside, the silent wilderness surrounding this cleared speck… Something great and invincible, like evil or truth, waiting patiently for the passing away of this fantastic invasion…

(Joseph Conrad)

We may, in our endless freedom, construct metaphors of escape, but whether they sink or sail is unimportant, for they do both in perpetuity. Left to stroll aimlessly, what we do not see is always a reminder of what we have seen – shades are reflections of the sun.

Home, this mystical lacking, primordial and vague, is here defined in opposition – it is a place of un-exile. Because opposites cannot be reconciled, the result, in this instance, perhaps in all, is a painful awareness of separation, a nostalgia. Preoccupation with this space between opposites is utopian thought; all utopian thought is nostalgic.

Karatani relates a practice of Zen Buddhism, in which a disciple sits before the teacher, and is presented with a number of alternatives, all of them unpleasant, from which he must choose one. The student chooses none: he walks away. Is such a thing possible in the dichotomy described above? Is the restriction of dialectic a matter of choice?

An allusion to a metaphor of escape:

What if there was more than one language? What if there was some meta-language, which is assumed not to exist because to confirm it would necessitate translation? Any description, such as this one, is another denial. To call it ‘meta-language’ is a cutesy affront; ‘passive’ or ‘existential language’ only create further binaries. ‘Aporian language’ might be better, but even this is ‘infinitely false’ (De Quincey). All allusions to its existence, like this paragraph, teeter hopelessly – mystically – into a pit, in which prowl the vague, the primordial, and other linguistic creatures.


Reading Loop 25/5/11

Reading Loop 25/5/11, 6pm, Site Gallery Canteen

Brendan Stone and David Forrest will be running Reading Loop this week. The session will be an opportunity to explore their work in the wonderful Storying Sheffield project, which emerged from the School of English at the University of Sheffield.

The text we’ll be discussing is Art, Autoethnography, and the Use of Self, by Brendan Stone. If you’d like a copy, please email

See also and click on the Vidéothèque tab at the top of the page to watch three Storying Sheffield videos.

Read Helen Cocker’s response to Reading Loop 11/5/11

Read Helen Cocker’s full response to last Wednesday’s Reading Loop here. To give you a taste, an extract below!

So, as I approach an afternoon in the studio faced with images and fraught by language, I ask myself – are the pages really mute, or am I simply stunned by their inexpressible content? Does it matter that words slide into objects before my eyes, and that quantifying them in form generates new entities – images?

Extract from Helen Cocker’s response to Reading Loop, 11/5/11

Reading Loop, Wednesday May 11th, 6pm, Site Gallery

We will be reading George Szirtes’ poem, The Looking-Glass Dictionary (from The Budapest File) alongside 3 of Hondartza Fraga‘s video works.

For a copy of the text, please email

And so we escaped arm in arm through the streets, continuing our daytime conversation, roving by chance until the early hours and seeking amongst the chaotic lights and shadows of the thronging city those innumerable excitations of the spirit that peaceful study cannot offer.

(Edgar Allen Poe, Double Assassinat dans la rue Morgue, translated by Adrian Rifkin)

Hondartza Fraga

We are pleased to announce that we’re preparing a new project with Hondartza Fraga, a Sheffield-based Spanish artist.

I am a visual artist, originally from Spain, based in the UK since 2005. I keep my practice active between the cities of Santander (northern Spain) and Sheffield. The common thread running through my work is the individual and collective relation to the world around us; the different ‘distances’ between ourselves and everything else: spatial, temporal, emotional, cultural and imagined. The cultural exchange between home and homeland is implied – more or less unconsciously – in most of my work.

My work explores the relation of dependency between images, objects and the individual. I am interested in different image-making processes to explore the physical and emotional distance between opposites. I use different mediums in my practice, primarily drawing, photography and video.

My latest works revolve around the notion of loss, distance, journey and the meaning of home. In my drawing, I am interested in using souvenirs and domestic objects to force a dialogue between the domestic and the remote, suggesting narrative and contradictions between seemingly unconnected subjects.

Hondartza Fraga, 2011.

Bearing Elsewhere (still), HD video, 2010

Reading Loop returns

Reading Loop returns on Wednesday May 11th, 6pm, at Site Gallery.

The discussion will take as a starting point three video works by the artist, Hondartza Fraga, including Figments of Home.

There will also be a text for discussion, a copy of which you can obtain by sending an email to

Please remember to reserve a place, as the number of chairs available is strictly limited! If you’d like to attend, please send a message via the usual Reading Loop email address –