In 2007, artist Leo Asemota wrote for radio, a performance interpretation of “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1936), the landmark essay by the German critical theorist Walter Benjamin (1892–1940). Titled “After Walter: A transmission in 2 acts” the production was broadcast on January 19, 2007 on Resonance 104.4FM, London’s premiere art radio station. Asemota’s staging of the work looked to Benjamin’s broadcasts on German radio between 1927 and 1933 and provided a platform for him to appraise the essay as central to his ongoing multipartite artwork “The Ens Project” (2005 – present) which the broadcast was a part of.
The performance was a combined instrumentation, actions and readings in German and in English from select movements in the essay. Asemota’s intent with the “After Walter” performance was to engage radio transmission as central to key ideas in Benjamin’s essay, of the auditory aura, site-specificity, technology and language, at the same time integrating other Benjamin’s thinking on translation and the task of the translator.
The project “Leo Asemota | After Walter: Act 1” is motivated by the 80th anniversary of Benjamin’s essay. Asemota’s production is possibly the only performance interpretation of this seminal text in a medium the cultural theorist regarded.
The screening of this work will be followed by an open conversation with attendees and Leo Asemota.