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Writing From and Of Our Bodies

Contemporary Writers in Conversation

Writing From and Of Our Bodies

What does it mean to write from, of and in relation to our bodies? Join us for an evening of discussion, hosted by Emily LaBarge, with Ama Josephine Budge Johnstone, Lauren Elkin and Juliet Jacques.

Sensory bodily experience was central to much of radical artist Carolee Schneemann’s work. Writing was a daily ritual – she kept dream diaries and journals, collated research, jotted down notes, ideas, and scores for performances, wrote experimental poetry and prose, and was an avid letter-writer. Much of her writing takes non-linear form, juxtaposing images, phrases, and words with little or no punctuation. Her writing can be emancipatory, critical, joyous, enraged, and mournful – and it is always engaged with her own body and those of others. It is a space for experimentation.

Using Schneemann’s work as a starting point, this event brings together contemporary writers Ama Josephine Budge Johnstone, Lauren Elkin and Juliet Jacques to explore the various ways in which they relate to bodily experience in their writing.

Photo credit:

Carolee Schneemann, Newspaper Event, 29 January 1963, Judson Dance Theater, Judson Memorial Church, New York. Photograph by Al Giese. Courtesy of the Carolee Schneemann Foundation and Galerie Lelong & Co., Hales Gallery, and P.P.O.W, New York. © Carolee Schneemann / ARS, New York and DACS, London 2022.  Photograph © Al Giese ARS, NY and DACS, London 2022.

Ama Josephine Budge Johnstone

Ama Josephine Budge Johnstone is a speculative writer, artist, researcher and pleasure activist whose praxis navigates that which she has termed “Intimate Ecologies” to explore Blackness, aesthetics and queer, pleasure-centred interspecies futures. Ama is an Associate Lecturer at University of the Arts London: Central Saint Martins, and teaches at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam. Ama’s wider intra-disciplinary work thinks through sustainable economies and ecologies of care and more-than-survival for BIPoC women and queer folk in the arts and academia. She has had essays, short fiction and art writing published internationally, and has been exhibited across Europe. Ama is a curatorial fellow with Frame Contemporary Art Finland (Helsinki) and EVA International (Limerick), and was the 2020/21 Keith Haring Fellow in Art and Activism with Bard College (New York). 


Lauren Elkin

Lauren Elkin is a Franco-American writer and translator, and the author of several books, including No. 91/92: Notes on a Parisian Commute (Les Fugitives, 2021) and Flâneuse: Women Walk the City, which was a finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel award for the art of the essay, a New York Times Notable Book of 2017, and a Radio 4 Book of the Week. Her next book, Art Monsters: Unruly Bodies in Feminist Art, will be out in July 2023 from Chatto & Windus. She lives in London.

Juliet Jacques

Juliet Jacques (b. Redhill, Surrey in 1981) is a writer, filmmaker, broadcaster and academic based in London. She has published four books, including Trans: A Memoir (2015), the short story collection Variations (2021) and an essay collection, Front Lines: Trans Journalism 2007-2021 (2022). Her fiction, journalism and essays have appeared in the Guardian (including her ‘Transgender Journey’ column, longlisted for the Orwell Prize in 2011), New York Times, Frieze, London Review of Books and many other publications; her short films have screened in galleries and festivals across the world. She teaches at the Royal College of Art and elsewhere, and hosted the arts discussion programme Suite (212) on Resonance 104.4fm. She plays football for Clapton Community FC women and Surrey.


Emily LaBarge

Emily LaBarge is a Canadian writer based in London. She has written for ArtforumBookforum, the London Review of books, the Paris ReviewGranta, and 4Columns, amongst other publications. She has contributed to a wide range of artist monographs, including the publication that accompanies Carolee Schneemann: Body Politics. LaBarge is currently working on Dog Days, a work of non-fiction about trauma and narrative, which will be published by Peninsula Press in 2024. 

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