Reading Group | After a while / They’re keeping me / Close to you (online event)

How do we understand intimacy, closeness and proximity at a time when social distancing is a way to collectively perform care? How can the act of reading simultaneously from different spaces, mediated and negotiated through an online platform, help us synchronise both spatially and ‘erotically’?

The critical disabilities scholar Margrit Shildrick talks about “an erotics of connection” suggesting that bodies of all kinds are in states of varying hybridity with the world around us. While an “erotics of connection” can veer towards the sexual, in the context of the reading group it is meant to expand the notion of intimacy further, and think about how people feel differently “close” to each other at different points. Can we zoom into those feelings more?
 
As part of Recentring Attention, Arts Catalyst has invited art worker and researcher Sunshine Wong to explore these questions through TL;DR, a slow reading group that Wong initiated in spring of 2019. Initially titled On Repairing, Renewing and Slow Reading and planned to take place at Sheffield Mind, a Mental Health Charity providing emotional and practical support to people in Sheffield, in light of the current COVID-19 crisis, the reading group will now happen on a Zoom cluster (for which a link will be emailed to attendees).
 
“Oh… speaking of clusters, have you seen Sense8? That hopelessly effusive, short-lived Lana Wachowski sci-fi series on Netflix about 8 people living in different parts of the world who were “sensates” of the same “cluster”? So the premise was that any one of them could feel the lives of those other people within their cluster, and that they could somehow become manifestly present within another person’s experience. Like they could, quite literally, feel what they feel. Be in their shoes.” - Sunshine Wong
 
This reading group forms part of Recentring Attention, Arts Catalyst’s strand of programme that informs the first phase of its relocation to Sheffield. The event is free to attend but booking is essential.
 
As part of the grouo, we will be reading Eula Biss's text, On Immunity, An Inoculation, which you can view and download here. We recommend reading up to two sections if you would like to familiarise yourself in advance of the group starting. However, this is not essential as we will go through it together.
 
TL;DR* is a slow reading group initiated by art worker and researcher Sunshine Wong in spring of 2019. It began as a personal need to reconnect with friends and colleagues after a long spell of parenting and thesis writing, which was marked by a sense of isolation. The group is a deliberate attempt to test out “reparative” methods of social making and critical reflection, an idea that is borrowed from Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s essay collection, “Touching Feeling” (2003). In plainer terms, it looks at how we learn to share (or not), listen (or not), and learn (or dismiss) as groups, with “reading together” as a way of addressing these questions.
 
*TLDR (or TL;DR) is a common internet acronym for “Too Long; didn't read."