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Interview with Alison Sperling - Part 3

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Berlin: Performance and visual art in SF

Great answer to a difficult question and many entry points for those who are topic-interested but don’t know where to start. You mentioned in your introduction to yourself that you are interested in the “science fictional” including not only the literary arts, but other forms of performance and visual art. Can you talk a bit about what kinds of SF events you’ve seen here in Berlin, what this means in your work to experience SF in these other forms, and how you think of art forms outside of the novel or short story can express the qualities of, or operate in a science fictional mode?

Yeah, thanks for coming back to this. I’m thinking a lot about this right now. I’ve surely been inspired by Berlin’s art scene since moving here and attending many science fiction-inspired events, talks, and exhibitions. Coven Collective in Berlin did an exhibition and related events last year called Extra+Terrestrial, I did a workshop at ICI Berlin with Derek Woods on Terraforming, Diffrakt: centre for theoretical periphery did an excellent science fiction series of events called “So Far,” and Isabel de Sena recently curated a talkshow series on feminist SF and reproduction in collaboration with Art Laboratory Berlin (which is a great gallery if you’re interested in the intersection of science and the arts). There are numerous visual and sound artists I’ve seen at galleries and museums in the last two years, as well as performance artists and DJs working specifically in Afrofuturist modes, for example. So this scene, this intersection of SF and the arts has really been thriving in Berlin, from what I can tell.

"Speculative practices that are not always based in narrative"

I think that the liveness of presence, an appeal to spontaneity, to aural and visual senses in sound or painting or sculpture or fashion can all bring something unique to what the science fictional is, and what it can do. And it allows speculative practices that are not always based in narrative, for example, to unfold in ways that the novel often doesn’t or can’t. So I guess that other art forms can open up feelings of estrangement (check out the artist Irina Gheorghe’s performance), experiences of difference, new dimensions of temporality like durations or speeds or even attempts to convey deep time (like Emilija Škarnulytės “future archaeology” in some of her recent video works), multiplicities or simultaneities of visual perspectives, shapes, textures, color, etc. that the written form does not typically formally allow for. Different questions animate the ways in which one interacts with, or thinks with, different media. There is a great new book out with MIT Press on Science Fiction and Contemporary Art that I recommend, and I’ve also started reading some SF poetry which has been really fun.

Read on Part 4



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