In an email conversation Bhanu Kapil asks me, ‘Can loneliness perform a politics?’. She is somewhere between the United States and England. I am in Buenos Aires. The expanse of the American continent and the Atlantic lies between us. I reply, ‘Yes, loneliness can perform a politics. Can we be lonely together?’
To be lonely together as a political practice. To be alone. Together. To not brush the feeling of loneliness off. To not console. To not ask to be consoled. To not mask our difference. To not try to do away with difference. To not try to make the other one of us.
Who is us? Us is a European fantasy. Us is a native born English speaker. Us does not like foreigners. Us insists that my legal leave to remain on this island be indeterminably temporary. Us told me he couldn’t be with someone who he had no certainty about staying in the country. Us gets on a plane. Us crosses the border. Us speaks Spanish and multiplies. Us is male, female, non-binary, the unpronounceable child of well-intended Anglicised Latinxs traveling south: nosotros, nosotras, nosotres, nosotrxs.
I was born into a seemingly privileged nosotras. Thirty-one years later, I am subject to a different social contract than the one I was born into. I am a Mexican woman living in Glasgow. I no longer belong. Alone, like so many others, I live in a space of transition and translation. We are alone together.
How to be lonely together? To speak different languages. To have inherited different histories. To live different lives. To then sit side by side. To have a conversation. To listen. To confront those inevitable coloured moments of misunderstanding that arise when our experiences don’t match. To own up to our ingrained biases. To dismantle them. And to still sit side by side. Alone together.
To write. To read. To speak. Alone. And then together. To speak out against sexual, domestic and social violence. To penetrate. To speak of the soft violence that language(s) and art can inflict. To translate. To reflect on the violent slippage(s) that occurs between a text’s subject, its author, its reader(s), language(s) and form itself.
Penetrate: Translate was a fortnightly reading group that met at the CCA Clubroom between October and December 2019. Penetrate: Translate read together as a group. It exchanged titles. It worked through tense moments. Then made its way into new homes. Penetrate: Translate traveled out from MAP’s office. It flew over the Atlantic. It arrived at Kenning Editions in California. It then returned to Glasgow between covers. Penetrate: Translate made its way to the Glasgow Women’s Library. To Edinburgh and back. It lives in Mount Florida, Bridgeton. Govanhill, Woodlands and Pollockshields. Penetrate: Translate speaks English, Spanish, French… it should speak much more.
Penetrate: Translate now lives on the internet and is a series of invited contributions from artists and writers responding to the reading group themes. It becomes an assemblage of voices, images and present realities where a complex trafficking of gender, bodies and politics cut across cultural, linguistic, racial, institutional and national borders.
Online, the project documents three modes of re-articulating what an invitation to respond could be. These invited contributions include an interview with Bhanu Kapil, a new text in Spanish by DoloresDorantes accompanied my English translation, and the poetic records of a series of embodied landscape interventions that reflect on the migrant body by Daniella Vaz Gen. These will be published between 10 and 13 December 2019.
Penetrate: Translate is an exercise in the political practice of being lonely together.
Catalina Barroso-Luque is a Mexican artist based in Glasgow. Her practice spans across writing, installation, performance and curation; utilising language and sexuality as instruments of power. Her work often takes form as intimate collaborations and encounters, which allow works to be sincere and present, while retaining a potent indignation that illustrates the violence these dynamics produce. Recent performances include: Overol Glory in collaboration with Guillaume Brisson-Darveau (September 2019, cheLA, Buenos Aires); Tongued Red with Marta Soriano (May 2019, Radiophrenia Live-to-Air, Glasgow). This year Catalina published Ñ on MAP and Cannibal O, PSS (London).