Thursday 4 July 2019 7 – 8:45PM
Free, no booking required

Taking Serena Lee’s Second Tongues proposition, Canadian curator Erik Martinson will programme an evening of film and readings.

Self does not understand derives its title from a phrase spoken by the character Warlock in the 1980’s comic The New Mutants. Warlock is an alien with the power to meta-morph into any shape or form, though he has a difficult time understanding our world, needing to constantly learn about how humans communicate with each other. He identifies as ‘Self’ and his teammates are his ‘Self-friends’. One teammate in particular called Doug Ramsey, codenamed Cypher, has the mutant power to innately learn and understand languages rapidly, whether they are human, machinic, or alien in nature. These two characters’ lives are intertwined, from first encounter of communicating through patterned light, in the vein of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, to a complicated mutually symbiotic relationship. Through tragedy Warlock must come to terms with death, something his kind experiences and understands in some fundamentally different ways, prompting this programme’s title.

Self does not understand considers tiny translations between: ‘self’ and ‘self’, ‘self’ and ‘other self’, ‘self’ and ‘other’, ‘other’ and ‘other’, and various permutations or these arbitrary structures. When fluency and comprehension are closely examined, the solid ground they present is quickly revealed as ongoing, fragile calculations. Like a decimal place rounded-up, they are an approximation, even within the same language set. Fluency and comprehension are made up of so many encounters, of so many oscillations between understanding and not, until one seems to win out.

The event features a selection of readings and artists’ moving image. Artists presented include: Stephanie Comilang, Jessa Mockridge, Lana Lin, Shanzhai Lyric, Anastasia Sosunova, with a guest appearance by Vrillon.


Q!hosa, afterword from Exercises: xhosa textbook fiction (unpublished), Jessa Mockridge, 2015, 15:00 (Live Reading)

The Endless Garment: I am an enemy of fantasy. A Group Poetry Reading by Shanzhai Lyric, 2016 – ongoing, 15:00


The 1977 Southern Television Alien Broadcast Interruption, NowYouKnow (Youtube), 2017, 7:42 (excerpt)

Demikhov Dog, Anastasia Sosunova, 2017, 7:24                                                        

Stranger Baby, Lana Lin, 1995, 13:54

Lumapit Sa Akin, Paraiso (Come To Me, Paradise), Stephanie Comilang, 2016, 25:46

Erik Martinson (Canada/Latvia) is an independent curator and writer based in London, UK. He worked in Toronto at Vtape, a not-for-profit video art distributor, from 2005-2014, and was a member of the Pleasure Dome curatorial collective from 2006-2014. He completed his MFA in Curating at Goldsmiths, University of London (2016). He has curated screenings/exhibitions for: Art Star 3 Video Art Biennale at SAW Gallery (2007); Vtape’s Curatorial Incubator (2009); the Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival (2010, 2011); the Images Festival (2012); A Space Gallery (2012); Art Gallery of Mississauga (2013); Institute of Contemporary Arts London (2015); Chalton Gallery (2016); LUX Artists’ Moving Image (2016, 2017); Contemporary Art Centre Vilnius (2016); The Ryder (2017); Toronto International Film Festival’s Wavelengths Series (2017); Close-Up Film Centre (2018); Whitechapel Gallery (2018); Process Experimental Film Festival, Riga (2018); Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (EKKM), Tallinn (2018); and North Norwegian Art Centre (2019). He participated in: Independent Curators International (ICI) Curatorial Intensive on Time-Based Media, New York (2013); and the selection jury for Videonale.15 at Kunstmuseum Bonn (2015). He was assistant editor for the Nuclear Culture Source Book (edited by Ele Carpenter) published by Black Dog Publishing in partnership with Bildmuseet and Arts Catalyst (2016). Recent residencies include: Rupert, Vilnius (2016) and Nordland College of Art and Film, Kabelvåg (2018/2019). He has received support from: inaugural Stuart Croft Foundation Special Projects Award (2017) and Canada Council for the Arts: ‘Research and Creation’ Grant (2018).


Supported by Canada House, Canada Council for the Arts, Arts Council England and Outset Contemporary Art Fund.

Booking for this event has now closed.