Throughout May 1970 a group of students accompanied by artist-educator Rita Donagh occupied a studio at University of Reading. They staged events, performances and collective actions that would come to be referred to as the White Room Experiment. They wrote and discussed circumstances within and beyond the confines of the campus. This experimental studio in Reading ran alongside a backdrop of student protest, in particular the Kent State massacre, where 4 students were killed by the National Guard. The students at Reading sought to connect the safe space of their campus with global politics of time, place and bodies.
Rita Donagh’s own response, is manifest in the painting Reflection on Three Weeks in May 1970 that uses a social-political mapping to plot distinct events, between image and experience. This historical scenario acts a catalyst for our year-long publishing and curatorial project. As part of Reading International we are presenting a programme of projects, commissions and events – with forthcoming contributions from Patricia L Boyd, Helen Cammock, and Steven Warwick.
The next episode will be a lecture and a performance of Redundant as eyelids in absence of light; a libretto for a five-dimensional dystopian opera set in a society in which all forms of language and interpersonal communication have been mitigated or eliminated. It will be realised in various formats: as a concert, as an exhibition previously at Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen and finally as a publication and vinyl record. The libretto was translated from English to Greek to an endangered Greek whistled language, then transcribed to musical notation, forming the basis of a composition to be played on the organ of Great Hall on the London Road Campus of the University of Reading by Swedish organist Hampus Lindwall. Each of the six songs of the libretto represents the desperate attempts of the protagonists to relearn various forms of communication.ENSEMBLE: