Workshop. Anguish Language. December 8 to 12. 2014

Anguish Language

John Cunningham, Anthony Iles, Mira Mattar, and Marina Vishmidt. (Participants to be confirmed)

In collaboration with the Media School.


Anguish Language is a project that approaches language as a core aspect of the present social crisis. The project relates to, surveys and develops new forms of self-publishing, poetry and political speech arising in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and social struggles which challenge the consequences of that crisis. The project began as a week long workshop in Berlin in 2013. We are currently working on a publication with Archive Books to be published in 2015 and continue to develop the project through staging workshops and publishing on our website,


John Cunningham, Anthony Iles, Mira Mattar, and Marina Vishmidt is a group of four writers and editors working across art and literature, all with a strong political focus in our work. The group emerged informally from conversations about the political initiatives and scenes which had developed in the onset of the crisis. They share a certain frustration with the conservative articulation of crisis politics, the survival of tired political rituals and the spectacle of prostration before an uncaring, indifferent state. This has been exacerbated by a sense of marginalisation from the ways financial crisis and its effects are articulated in both mainstream and more radical media, as well as from mainstream arts and literary scenes whose image of redemption amounts to middle class belonging and individual success. Contributors to the book: Jacob Bard-Rosenberg, Sean Bonney (TBC), Anne Boyer, John Cunningham, Amy De’Ath, Danny Hayward, Anke Hennig, Martin Howse, Anthony Iles, Suzanne Goldenberg, Karolin Meunier, Mattin, Mira Mattar, Neinsager, Pier Paulo Pasolini, Lisa Robertson, Marina Vishmidt, Catherine Wagner (TBC) and Wealth of Negations.

Day 1 – An introduction to Anguish Language. The crisis, the project, the contributors, the book. Introduction of the text ‘Friends I am creating a way of life in which your ingredients will be returned to you’. Proposal for a group exercise.

Day 2 – Language and writing games. Reading and sharing texts which relate to crisis and language critically. Discussing precursors to the practice of anguish language. Evening film screening: Films relating to language and crisis by Michel Haneke, Isidor Isou, Ultras Al-Alahwy, Bruce McDonald and Tony Burgess and others.

Day 3 – Group exercise (see below)

Day 4 – Self-publishing. We’ll look at the current state of self-publishing. Bring zines, texts, publications you like. We may end by publishing something of our work together.

Instructions for a group exercise

On Day 1 we will read a text composed by 9-10 year olds during the wave of education struggles and student occupations in the UK and across the world. We will ask workshop participants to collect and bring material: texts, political speeches, slogans, phrases, public announcements and words that they find ‘politically oppressive’. On Day 3 of the workshop we will read through and discuss the material gathered rearranging it into various forms to make it communicate something more pleasing to our interests and political convictions. We may then read and present the text together in a new situation. The format of the text and mode of delivery will be decided through discussions across the three days.

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