Francesco Pedraglio, Few stories in the shape of abstract objects (Display), London 2011
Tom McCarthy and Francesco Pedraglio
Thursday 16 June, 7 PM
National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, London WC2H 0HE
The event is free but booking is essential, please email
On Thursday 16 June Electra continues Dirty Literature - a series of spoken portraits by artists and writers exploring the moment when language threatens (or promises) to become illegible. Francesco Pedraglio's A few stories in the shape of abstract objects is a performative lecture and plotted treasure hunt mapping abstract objects, ideal language and the memories that accumulate around them. The performance will be followed by Tom McCarthy's readings and reflections on his recent novel C, pursuing the breakdown of narrative coherence within modernity and the possibilities that might emerge from such a collapse.
Disobedient Words: A User's Manual, the reader accompanying the Dirty Literature series which brings together specifically commissioned contributions by Samuel Dowd, Tim Etchells, Will Holder, Karl Holmqvist, Tom McCarthy, Francesco Pedraglio, Sue Tompkins and Tony White will be available free of charge on the evening.
A few stories in the shape of abstract objects is a performance based on suppositions and rumours, a narration that uses invisibility and abstraction as red threads to make sense of a number of seemingly chaotic clues. Turning to the help of an Egyptian man and his French alter-ego, a rock, an arrow, a hole in the ground and a stomach filled with earth, Pedraglio will attempt to demonstrate the existence of non-experiential memories and their link with the production of abstract objects.
C is flooded with signals. The novel follows the short, intense life of Serge Carrefax, a man who - as his name suggests - surges into the electric modernity of the early twentieth century, transfixed by the technologies that will obliterate him. Affiliated with the abstract language of technical codes and networks, C brings into play questions of systems of transfer and the abstraction of mediated communication. Reading and reflecting on passages of C, McCarthy will expand on the absence and loss of narrative coherence in the three-way relationship between language, technology and subjectivity.