CAtArINa’s Dictionary – Book III (sketch)

CAtArINa’s Dictionary_narrative & methodology
CAtArINa’s Dictionary Project Description

“What are you writing?” I asked.
“This is my dictionary,” she said. “I write so that I don’t forget the words. I write all the illnesses I have now, and the illnesses I had as a child.”
“Why do you call it a dictionary?” I asked.
“Because it does not require anything from me, nothing. If it were mathematics, I would have to find a solution, an answer. Here, there is only one subject matter, from beginning till the end. . . I write it and read it.”

João Biehl & Catarina Inês Gomes Moraes
VITA Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment

‘CAtArINa’s Dictionary’ is a work in progress initially inspired by an essay by the anthropologist João Biehl ‘A Life: Between Psychiatric Drugs and Social Abandonment’. Struck by the dialogues and excerpts centring around the anthropologists main protagonist Catarina in his book ‘Vita: Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment’. In an appendix at the back of the book there are the 19 parts of Catarina’s dictionary. These texts address a universal spectrum of issues that include sexism, paternity, abuse and poverty, presented from a highly personal perspective. It is my hope to bring these texts to the fore in an installation and performance.

In memory of MR 2015



This work began in 2012 shortly after the sudden and unexpected death of a dear friend, Matthias Rick. Initially as a print and then this animation. Each layer is a chapter of The Work of Mourning by Jacques Derrida, which I read on the U8 between home and Tempelhofer Feld where we were building The World is not Fair – Die Große Weltausstellung

After the opening of the World is not Fair I stopped working on it, put it away and I never finished it – somehow I never found the space, could not access the loss. The video is finished, the loss remains.




Matthias Rick 22 November 1965 – 28 April 2012


PREFACE II be-imaged speech

Text is from the The Discourse on Language by Michel Foucault

Read by Elsa Houcade

video • gary hurst 2013



“The manifestation of a face is the first disclosure. Speaking is before anything else this way of coming from behind one’s appearance, behind one’s form, an openness in the openness.”
Emmanuel Lévinas – Meaning and Sense


In the video Preface II text appears in translation and partially reveals the speaker as she speaks. This video is concerned with translation, speech, writing – with the face being the first disclosure. Here, I am interested in language speaking through us; language revealing us.


PREFACE I be-imaged speech



PREFACE I – be-imaged speech, 2011

Le livre des questions by Edmond Jabès,  dialoge “Au seuil du livre”


When a language is barely comprehensible the eyes  look to the  face of the speaker,  caught in that lapse between the mouth moving, the words spoken, heard and perhaps translated.


Preface I is the first of a series of video portraits of texts by various authors. Elsa Hourcade reads the dialogue “Au seuil du livre” from Le livre des questions. A voice speaks in french, text appears upon a white background — the English translation of the words spoken. Line by line, text emerge from a point on the page, crawling over the screen, writing that slowly, but never completely, reveals the reader’s face.

The idea of a dialogue being read, aloud, in a single voice, emphasising the internal quality of the text. Central is the idea that face, as a whole, is contained within the voice and the text, but is never more than partially revealed, either in image or words.

The structure of the work allows a certain ambiguity in how it can be looked at. Looking can involve reading or not, listening or not, reading and listening and looking, or just looking thus emphasising the dialogue(s) between the original and its translation, between text and image, between reader and listener.

In Preface 1 the dialogue between the text and the image mirrors that of two voices of the text being read.

In Preface 2 the text is very different, a singular voice hoping “to be enveloped in words”, to be a kind of channel, to be revealed in the words of an other.



18-20 June 2015

EMMA – Université Paul-Valéry, Montpellier

Cinéma Utopia, Montpellier


music by winterberg


music by winterberg


music by winterberg