Born: Copenhagen, Denmark (1985)
Lives and works: Copenhagen, Denmark
The exhibition is communicated in public space in Copenhagen through a poster featuring an excerpt from Smith’s I Civil (2012), in it’s original Danish form. The excerpt is also included in this booklet.
The exhibition’s title, I Am Our Common Pronoun, originates from a line in Smith’s third book, which she translates in English as Recollection. Smith is an artist who has taken part in various exhibitions as well as a prolific writer who has published seven books since her graduation from the Danish Academy of Creative Writing in 2009. Her writing probes and questions the stability of ‘I’ as a stable subject in language, and figures it instead as a space for collective identification. The body in her writing is a porous container of internal shards that extend, connect, and therefore breakdown the perceived barrier between the self and the world. Her latest book, Et hjerte i alt (2017) [A Heart in Everything], is compilation of ten years’ worth of texts and pictures she produced for exhibitions and lectures, including excerpts from sources such as notebooks, newspaper slides, and magazines. This collected material refers to the ways in which biology, technology, language, and images connect people to the world and to each other.
The sentence borrowed from Smith for this exhibition’s title was selected for its resonance with the theme which emerged between the works in the exhibition, namely their shared questioning of individual identity as a sovereign and stable category. The tone in this ultimate line of dialogue vibrates between a statement of inclusion and a threat. The excerpt of I Civil from which the exhibition title is taken, appears to be a dialogue between two or more unnamed and, therefore indistinguishable entities. The use of Smith’s excerpt in this booklet and on posters is not an artwork; therefore it is not part of the exhibition proper.
Smith’s text draws heavily on the work of Judith Butler, a theorist working in the tradition of Jacques Derrida, who developed deconstruction as a method to critique Western philosophical traditions. Butler’s work, in part, considers how one’s subjectivity is formed through language and our relationships to society, and grasps what we cannot know about ourselves. For Butler, this is ultimately a moral question. Likewise, Smith’s experiments with subjectivity in language characterize the artists in the exhibition’s various, underlying, searching, empathetic impulses.
text værk / poster text :
– Jeg tror det.
– Hvad tror du?
– At vores henvendthed forpligter os på hinanden.
– The ‘I’ is the moment of failure
in every narrative effort to give an
account of oneself , skriver hun også.
– Det er et sted at begynde.
– Jeget som selv-fortællingens uklare punkt. Jeg er ankommet til sproget,
jeg ejer det ikke.
– Hvem er du?
– Jeg er vores fælles pronomen.
udrag af Amalie Smiths I Civil (Gyldendal, 2012)