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Vilém Flusser, Theon Spanudis: their languages

Vilém Flusser and Theon Spanudis were both immigrants in São Paulo in an effervescent moment of the city. Theon Spanudis was a Greek-Brazilian art collector, poet and psychoanalyst, whose personal documents and works of art were donated to the University of São Paulo. Archive documents from Vilém Flusser Archiv in Universität der Künste Berlin and from Theon Spanudis in Instituto de Estudos Brasileiros formed a dialogue between them through letters that is very useful to understand the relevance of language not only in their work but also in their social environment. Their letter-based communication probably started during the 1970s, when Flusser went back to Europe. Most of the documents are in German. But this was not a special case in the group they belonged while in São Paulo, once they were both friends of the artists Mira Schendel, another immigrant, and Niobe Xandó, who was a Brazilian painter married to Alexander Bloch, the Czech philosopher who is celebrated in one of the chapters of Flusser’s autobiography “Bodenlos”. Language was the medium but also the theme of their letters. Language - especially German - was a kind of space where the sociability of them happened. This presentation aims to investigate how languages impacted the presence of those figures in a Brazilian cultural scene and how those figures managed languages in the way they did autotranslations, textual experiments and written theories.

Spanudis (PDF 167.32 KB)

Performing the Archive and Vilém Flusser

This text reviews the three phases of my research on the theme of the archive and in relation to Vilém Flusser. The first phase or direction examined the work of artists, mostly Brazilian, who destabilized the archive by creating fluid boundaries between their artworks, their writings, and the archives they created in order to historicize the movements they participated in. These reflections are included in my book Performing the Archive from 2009. The second direction is made up of two collaborations at Penn State University in the context of the digital humanities. These creative projects—a video and a sound performance—were developed with designers, scientists, and musicians between 2012 and 2013. The third phase, still unfolding, focuses on the fluid boundaries between the subject and the object of research, especially in decolonial practices, histories, and methodologies. In every instance, insights into the archive stemmed primarily from the dialogue with artists, but also from the exploration of a few curators and theorists, including Flusser.

Performing the Archive (PDF 777.15 KB)