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“My performance at the Arnolfini showcased material from My Little Enlightenment Playsan ongoing project that presents innovative performances, publications, and installations based on historical research, theoretical reading, collaboration, and contemporary feminist politics. Presented as star-gazing conversations with Enlightenment thinkers, writers, and scientists, the work investigates which aspects of the Enlightenment can still be mobilised politically and aesthetically today and which aspects may need to be revised. This engagement with the Enlightenment is not simply to send up its values of progress, secularism, scientific (or empirical) knowledge, universality, rationality, individualism, and self-improvement in a sweeping gesture of arrogant dismissal, but to question our very own investment in some of these categories and to test their contemporary limits and possibilities with an assiduous desire and attention. In a time of ‘alternative facts’, how can we salvage the speculative in creative work and follow its utopian promise towards imaginative ways of producing and distributing knowledge? What would a new feminist and queer ‘republic of letters’ or salon look like today and how could we fashion one that is welcoming beyond a coterie of insiders?”* 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Seita, 2017.

* To find out more about the project, read an interview with Sophie on 3:AM.

Sophie Seita works with language on the page, in performance, and in translation. She has presented her work at the Serpentine Gallery (London), La MaMa Galleria (NYC), Company Gallery (NYC), Parasol Unit (London), Cité International des Arts (Paris), SoundEye (Cork, Ireland), Neue Töne Festival (Stuttgart, Germany), Goethe-Institut New York, and elsewhere. Her publications include Les Bijoux Indiscrets, or, Paper Tigers (Gauss PDF, 2017), Meat (Little Red Leaves, 2015), Fantasias in Counting (BlazeVOX, 2014), 12 Steps (Wide Range, 2012), and i mean i dislike that fate that i was made to where, a translation of the German poet Uljana Wolf (Wonder, 2015). Other work has appeared in (or is forthcoming from) The White Review, Lana Turner, Bomb, 3:AM, PEN America, Currently & Emotion (Test Centre, 2016), and Raphael Sbrzesny’s artist book Service Continu 7/7 (Spector Books, 2017). The recipient of various awards and fellowships for her creative and critical work, she also received a PEN/Heim Grant (2015) for her forthcoming translation of Wolf’s Subsisters: Selected Poems (Belladonna*, 2017). She is a Junior Research Fellow at Queens’ College, Cambridge, where she’s currently editing a facsimile reprint of The Blind Man (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2017) and finishing her first monograph on avant-garde little magazine communities.

This recording of Sophie Seita’s “Little Enlightenment Plays” was an element of a program co-organised by Hotel & Moot Press for the Anathema series at The Arnolfini, Bristol, on August 27th. Rhodri Karim, contributed live improvised sound for Seita’s performance and the program also included new works by Karen Sandhu and Wanda O’Connor. As a platform for experimental responses and reactions to poetry, each reading toyed with film, light & sound in the Arnolfini’s Dark Studio, concluding with Seita’s performance. The event was hosted by co-organiser Rowan Evans; see here for more details on Anathema and upcoming events. 

Hotel & Moot & Anathema 
[Video Editing by Sophie Seita]