Document #13 - Katharina Ludwig, Sophie Sleigh-Johnson and Hannah Regel - The Opening of the Mouth

The Opening of the Mouth

Document #13 - 12 November 2019

  "See with the day's eyes, open the thing's mouth. Drill furrows, wells, trap doors, into the paper so that meaning emerges from there, so that the voice of things passes through the holes made in this white garment"

Michel Serres S tatues, (2016: 91)

This seminar uses the Egyptian burial ritual of the opening of the mouth, which allowed the the deceased to continue communication with the living, as starting point for wider conversations regarding how absent or lost voices are channelled and reimagined into the present. Three short researcher presentations throughout the seminar will also deploy the voice(s) through different modes of transmission and agency.

Does the scream symbolise a gap in meaning?
Is the scream hard work?

I didn’t get where I am today without screaming

how to give/perform voice without taking voice?

poetry as incantation
chorus or oracle
bite the system
speaking in tongues

saying but not saying. saying as much as
not to get killed

speaking through each other
in and out, consumption and spillings
speech acts and holes, interruptions

mouth work mouth work political action
breath, pause, halt

words against the system


In addressing the dead, to what extent are
we addressing ourselves?
Can we (ever?) think of ourselves as reli-
able vessels for the voice of another?
When writing of another, especially a
silent other, do you (should you) need to
implicate yourself in some way?
In the handling of another’s voice, what
changes when you implicate yourself?

“See with the day’s eyes, open the thing’s
mouth. Drill furrows, wells, trap doors,
into the paper so that meaning emerges
from there, so that the voice of things
passes through the holes made in this
white garment”
Michel Serres Statues, (2016: 91)

The Seminar had two invited respondents: Nicola Woodham and Rebecca Jaygo.

Nicola Woodham uses estrangement e ects on her voice to create unsettling ‘sonic others’ and soundscapes in live art practice. She began an embodied audio practice in 2014 with the use of contact microphones on her body parts and neck as a way to make sounds through movement and vocal cord vibrations during live performance. More recently, she constructs wearable, hand-made etextile sensors that she uses as gestural controllers to trigger sounds of her live and recorded voice. She is chasing the slippery source of her voice, shifting it from mouth to other body parts. This research into etextile sensors and music computing processes for performance is supported by a Jerwood Bursary and recently an ACE Developing Your Creative Practice grant. In 2018 she toured ‘Erichtho’ a live performance that drew
on the gure of the witch of Thessaly as a model for rasping, violent, traumatic vocalisations. In 2019 she devised ’Printing with Relief Under Your Aegis’, for Mutton Fist Press, London. There she made prints of her inked face during her vocal improvisation and used these ‘aegises/ gorgons’ in a breathing ritual to mark the collective, protective zone of the independent print press. Also she was commissioned to perform ‘Lung Song’ at Archway Sound Symposium where she combined free improv, coughing with music via a gestural micro-controller in a snakeskin glove. She is founder of GARG, recording label and released Testament of Camera 26 album/poster and Magickal Intent digital EP in 2018.

Rebecca Jaygo: I am an artist, art writer and editor. My practice examines how within European culture, femininity as an ideology has been shaped at the meeting point of medical rhetoric and the aesthetics of high fashion. Recent shows and performances include the joint exhibition Florilege at Jupiter Woods with Nils Alix Tabeling; If Words Could Float at Sissi Club in Marseilles; and Dependable, Gentle, Overnight at Kelder Projects. My writing has recently been published in The Happy Hypocrite 11 and Orlando Magazine Issue 3. After co-editing the anthology ON VIOLENCE with Sharon Kivland, we are currently working together on the forthcoming ON CARE.


Sophie Sleigh-Johnson is a writer and artist based in Southend-on-Sea, Essex. She is working on a PhD at Goldsmiths College called 'Radio Bifrons: Marsh Exorcism'. Recent projects include 'Cealdwiellla' with New Noveta, ‘Machine of Instant Utility’ at Cabinet Gallery (group show) and occasional broadcasts of ‘Chthonic Live’ on Resonance 104.4 FM. In 2015 she published 'ChthonicIndex'

Hannah Regel is an artist and writer living in London. From 2012-2019 she was the co-editor of the feminist art journal SALT. Her first collection of poetry, When I Was Alive, was published by Montez Press in 2017; a second collection, Oliver Reed, is forthcoming early 2020. She currently is writing a PhD thesis on performative writing at Goldsmiths College.

Katharina Ludwig is an artist and writer working with text, installation and objects. Her research in the framework of the Art Research programme at Goldsmiths is concerned with narrative holes in women’s writing and the temporalities of the "wounded text”. Katharina tries to activate textual holes as a subversive feminist practice of resistance with insurrectional potential treat textual wound as political and writerly strategy in opposition to authoritarian systems. Her work has been shown, performed or read internationally and is published by a.o. 3am Magazine, Zeno Press, Chris Airlines, Ma Bibliothèque.