VBKÖ – Vereinigung bildender Künstlerinnen Österreichs


living library of becomings

March 1 – April 10, 2024
Opening: Thursday, February 29, 7 pm

Opening times: Wed – Sat 14:00-18:00
and by appointment (info@vbkoe.org)

Paloma Ayala, Nikita Yingqian Cai, Kyungrim Lim Jang & Hannah Sakai, Tina Omayemi Reden, Salma Shaka, Kanako Tada, Sophie Utikal, VOLUMES Archive, and diverse publishing practices

Curated by Miwa Negoro
Exhibition design by Shi Yin

living library of becomings is a group exhibition derived from a performative library project dedicated to multiple narratives of intersectional, decolonial, queer feminist spirits. It draws inspiration from influential writings, Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s DICTEE, and Audre Lorde’s Uses of the Erotic that challenge the binary confines of destructive colonial modernity to transcend geopolitical, linguistic, and spiritual boundaries while nurturing an emancipatory power from within. Weaving together the resonating voices, the exhibition features the works that explore the shape-shifting bodies of water, thoughts, languages, and feelings as the fluid, transformative agency. It embraces the margin, the liminal, and its relation as an assemblage, recognizing the affects of proximity, displacement, and (dis)orientation in the moment of grief, loss, and liberation.

living library of becomings is a portal of encounters, bridging the past, and the present, to the future of intergenerational and transcultural feminist imaginations. Taking a library, as a living archival practice of voices, it transfers and shares the process of (un)becoming through knowing, listening, and touching, as something plural. The visitor is invited to spend their time reading a selection of textual materials from the library, including various artistic zines and collective publishing practices. During the exhibition, the space will be activated by a talk, performative interaction, somatic reading session, and reading performance.

The library includes the selection from VBKÖ Archive, Kunstraum Niederösterreich Library, VOLUMES Archive, and Mai Ling Library.

The performative library started in 2020, and its research phase is supported by the School of Commons (SoC), a community-learning space, located at the Zurich University of the Arts, in 2023-2024. The exhibition is supported by Culture Moves Europe, a project funded by the European Union.


> Wednesday, March 13, 7 – 8:30 pm
Online Talk “Decolonial Curatorial Practice as
Collective Care and Solidarity”
by Kathy-Ann Tan
[Hybrid via zoom and onsite, in English]
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 870 7074 9187
Passcode: 545923

In a global moment where intersectional forms of systemic oppression, racism and social injustice continue to be the norm, decolonial strategies of resistance and self-empowerment in/ through art and performance are ever more imperative. This interactive talk will discuss and expand upon decolonial artistic and curatorial practices that are anchored in practices of narrative, archival retrieval, storytelling, critical fabulation and practices of collective care and solidarity. How can anti-colonial narratives be collectively composed and articulated by the body as a living archive of tacit knowledge, erotic power (Audre Lorde) and resistance? Within the spaces of the dominantly white western art academy/ university, how can one develop a critical practice that challenges whiteness as the unmarked given? We will dwell on these questions in order to create a space for discussion and conversation around the notion of decolonial curatorial practice as a practice of collective care and solidarity.

Kathy-Ann Tan is a Berlin-based independent curator, writer and founder of Mental Health Arts Space, a non-profit project space that centers the mental health, knowledge, histories and narratives of BIPoC and minoritized artists and cultural workers. She is interested in alternative and sustainable forms of art dissemination, cultural production and institution-building committed to social justice and decolonial practice beyond a merely representational model of identity politics.

> Thursday, March 21, 7 – 8:30 pm
Activation “Preserving / Persevering: Food Containers” by Salma Shaka
[in English]

How do we allow ourselves to eat from the food of people who are being systemically starved and erased? This question confronts the famine and ongoing crisis in Palestine, particularly in Gaza. Conversations on perseverance are not easy to stomach as people feed from the scraps of what remains. The preservation of food, and ultimately, of life, becomes a vessel for their continuity and memory. The integration of food containers within the exhibition space witnesses two moments: one of preserving them in a stagnant state through installation, and the other of persevering with them through activation. During the activation, the containers open up to reveal the textures, smells, and tastes of what was gazed upon, dismantling the border between the observer and the maker. How much can we then digest what has been revealed to us?

Salma Shaka is a Vienna-based multi-media artist and writer raised between Palestine and the UAE. She received her BA from the University of Applied Arts Vienna with her thesis “Heirloom”, which explores seed conservation efforts in the West Bank. Ancestral knowledge and indigenous land back movements are central in her practice, as she provokes conversations through an assemblage of different terrains.

> Tuesday, March 26, 6:00–7:30pm
Somatic Reading Session by Daliah Touré
[in English]

The focus of this movement workshop will be an enquiry into touch and listening, as a way of tuning into our own stories and inner landscapes. We invite you to come together to find comfort in and return to an embodied sharing of knowledge. Through a gentle warm up, group impulses and individual exploration, we find strength in our embodied self as a key source of making sense of what surrounds us.

Daliah Touré is a dance artist based in Vienna. Her practice as an artist focuses on enquiries into the centering the body as a tool for investigating the abstract and making those tangible and a felt experience for participants. Her curiosity as an artist stems from the vast experience as a dance practitioner, bringing her into contact with a variety of spaces, artists and multi-disciplinary projects. Her enquiry into collaborative practice became the basis for her MA project, which she completed at the University of Leeds (UK) in 2013. Daliah performs, teaches and works in art education, which enables her to apply her skills as dance maker and facilitator in establishing new formats and approaches to engaging with the wider field of arts. 

> Monday, April 8, 6pm

Reading Performance of Gloria E. Anzaldúa’s Work by Auro Orso, with an Introduction by Verena Melgarejo Weinandt (in English and German)

“Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza” is a semi-autobiographical book by Chicana writer Gloria E. Anzaldúa that explores the borders as a liminal terrain where identities and cultures converge, clash, and blend. Through an interweaving of prose and poetry in both English and Spanish, her experimental writing offers a critical perspective on the systems of oppression, calling for a new consciousness that embraces hybridity, multiplicity, and fluidity against binaries. In connection with the exhibited work, Auro Orso will read the German translation of the book, translated by Chaka Collective, to engage with Anzaldúa’s significant work in the contemporary German-speaking context.

Auro Orso is a Berlin-based dancer, choreographer, performer, and activist who identifies as Trans and Two-Spirit. He has presented his work in many different venues in Berlin, including Dock11, HAU, Sophiensäle, and Ballhaus Naunynstraße. His artistic research explores decolonizing practices in all aspects of life as well as questioning the Western/colonial illusion of universality, binaries, and “the appropriate.” Reclaiming/remembering/redoing/relearning as well as gentleness, humor, and centering care, intimacy, and pleasure as a radical political posture are omnipresent in his performances.

Verena Melgarejo Weinandt is a German-Bolivian artist, curator, educator, and researcher. The focus of her practice is building bridges to the work and legacy of Gloria E. Anzaldúa through artistic, pedagogical, activist, and theoretical approaches. In 2019-2021 she curated a transdisciplinary program with District*School Without Center in Berlin to collectively engage with the propositions and movements that Anzaldúa’s work and life continues to nurture. She is a project manager and artistic researcher of the REPATRIATES Project at the Central European University and has taught at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Weißensee Kunsthochschule Berlin, and the HZT of the Berlin University of the Arts.

image credits (upper gallery), from left to right: 
1. Paloma Ayala, Filmstill, CANCIÓN CANÍBAL, 2020
2. Paloma Ayala, Filmstill, Karaoke Readings, 2019–
3. Sophie Utikal, THE OCEAN IN ME, 2021. Photo by Daniel Jarosch
(2nd row:)
4. Jumana Issa and Tina Reden, Filmstill, For Those Of Us Imprinted With Fear
5. Kanako Tada, Sentence Stress, 2023. Photo by Yohei Watanabe
6. Digital platform, living library of becomings
(3rd row:)
Event1. Mental Health Arts Space, Berlin © Kathy-Ann Tan
Event2. © Salma Shaka, 2024

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