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Talking Documents

Aglaia Petta

Talking Documents are performative bureaucratic text inspections that intend to create temporal public interventions through performative readings. I utilized the paperwork interface of my smaller-scale bureaucratic story in order to unravel and foreground questions related to the role of bureaucracy as less material border and as a regulatory mechanism reflecting narratives, ideologies, policies.

Central element of this project is a seven-act scenario that construct my personal paperwork story, unraveling the actual struggles of my communication with the government due to my eviction. I ended up conducting accidentally auto-ethnography as the project was dynamically being reshaped due to the material constraints of the bureaucratic timeline.

The body of the text of the “theatrical” script is sourced from the original documents, email threads as well as recordings of the conversations with the municipality of Rotterdam I documented and archived throughout this period. I preserved the sequence of the given sentences and by discarding the graphic design of the initial forms, I structured and repurposed the text into a playable scenario.

The transformation of the materiality of a document into a scenario to be enacted collectively in public aims to examine these artifacts and highlight the shrouded performative elements of these processes. The collective readings of these scenarios introduce an instant publishing method and a communal tool of inspecting bureaucratic bordering infrastructures. I organized a series of performative readings in different (institutional) contexts, public and semi-public like WDKA, Art Meets Radical Openness Festival in Linz, the City Hall of Rotterdam where I invited people to perform the play together, like a tiny theater.

The marginal voices of potential applicants are embodying and enacting a role. “The speech does not only describe but brings things into existence”(Austin, 1975). My intention was to stretch the limits of dramaturgical speech through vocalizing a document and turn individual administrative cases into public ones. How do the inscribed words in the documents are not descriptive but on the contrary “are instrumentalised in getting things done” (Butler,1997). Words as active agents. Bodies as low-tech “human microphones”.

A tiny website holds the vocal archive of the different recordings and soundscapes from these public moments published in the graduation exhibition of XPUB in June 2024.

Aglaia Petta (she/her) was trained as an architect but finds herself mostly somewhere between artistic research and making. Her work floats in between performative archives, counter-mapping practices, the politics of public space and activism. She happened to come from Greece.


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Publication [... pending]

Graduation Show - Installation [...pending]