PASSE-AVANT
(No) more words needed
A performance by Nora Turato
fffriedrich, Frankfurt
15–11–2018
Subject:Fwd:Unknown, Nora Turato, installation view, fffriedrich, Frankfurt. Courtesy: the artist and fffriedrich, Frankfurt; photograph: Eike Walkenhorst

And through my phone I'm scrolling.[1]
What story could this image tell?[2]
Are you ready? To speak a language, you have to actually speak it. [3]
Just say it out loud to see how it feels. [4]
I think that before all else I am a human being, just as much as you are – or at least I will try to become one. [5]
Just say it out loud to see how it feels. [4]

What you’ve just read isn’t me writing the entry to my review. It’s the internet speaking through me, the words of other people speaking through me. We’re all sitting here, with our heads held down, facing a white screen. We read and read and read – magazines, books, newspapers, Instagram subtitles, Facebook posts, Twitter, WhatsApp. Everyday. All day long. Have you ever read something from your smartphone out loud? Do you read yourself a book at night? When was the last time you listened to your own voice?

While using the internet we barely ever speak when moving our lips. Even though we communicate, we do not talk.

Imagine, someone, speaking your readings and most intimate thoughts out loud. Well, there is someone who does this: Nora Turato. In her performance she uses written words, phrases and sentences she picks up from all kind of sources you can imagine – and melts them together. She wears a long, dark blue dress that flatters when she moves, neon green over knees stiletto boots cover her ankles. While sitting in between the visitors of fffriedrich, first she draws attention to herself with her extraordinary outfit. Then, she suddenly stands up and starts to speak in all possible ways: slowly, fast, loudly, fearful, confident. Her voice varies from shouting to stuttering to singing to whispering. She looks at the visitors and with every sentence she speaks, it seems like she switches into different personalities. She shows us the potential of language, how it can be used and should be used in order to express one’s psyche.

Subject:Fwd:Unknown, Nora Turato, performance documentation, fffriedrich, Frankfurt. Courtesy: the artist and fffriedrich, Frankfurt; photograph: Eike Walkenhorst
Subject:Fwd:Unknown, Nora Turato, performance documentation, fffriedrich, Frankfurt. Courtesy: the artist and fffriedrich, Frankfurt; photograph: Eike Walkenhorst

Nora told me that language is essential for our thinking. Ludwig Wittgenstein once said: “The limits of my language signify the limits of my world.” – somewhere in our conversation, we agreed with him because what you can’t verbalize, you can’t think either. At this language-boarder another language steps in: feelings and emotions; some things can only be felt, not described. Nora Turato reaches the edge of our language. She lifts words up and gives them their own voice. A sphere, we can’t enter with written words but with expression and by listening carefully. She merges two languages: the one we speak and the one we feel. The letters don’t remain silent in her exhibition at fffriedrich. Posters adapting the typography of cigarette packs are hanging on the walls, preserving her performance voicelessly. “No dignity in death, I’m afraid.” – you read it behind her – in silent, she says it – out loud. There is obviously friction here. A voice enables letters, words and sentence to come to life. Turato’s performance is extremely intense, like a word-voice-orgasm.
The work tends to give you the feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out). We never get the whole context she is talking about but only catch some leftovers, fragments of text. We are a step behind her, we’re a bit too late. In this world, where everything is rushing through you, Nora Turato inhales some of the bad data (also a poster) and pauses time in order to exhale. Some of the information that runs through our veins, through our brains, eventually finds their way out through her mouth and becomes independent.

Subject:Fwd:Unknown, Nora Turato, installation view, fffriedrich, Frankfurt. Courtesy: the artist and fffriedrich, Frankfurt; photograph: Eike Walkenhorst
Subject:Fwd:Unknown, Nora Turato, installation view, fffriedrich, Frankfurt. Courtesy: the artist and fffriedrich, Frankfurt; photograph: Eike Walkenhorst

There is no beginning and no happy ending in this contemporary short opera. We just go with the flow of letters and suddenly find ourselves in an environment where some of our thoughts become reality.

The most direct form to communicate is to speak, and that’s exactly the artistic practice of Nora Turato – though she is doing it in a musically way. My writing seems pointless when seeing and hearing her performance. Normally an artwork wants to be talked and written about but her speaking performances are already the purest form of communication and mediation.

If we want to speak a language, we need to practice it. Just say it out loud to see how it feels. [4]


[1] Khalifa, Wiz: Hopeless Romantic Ft. Swae Lee, 2018.
[2] Schulten, Katherine: A Letter in the Mail, in: The New York Times, Sep 14, 2018.
[3] Lewis, Benny: Why Studying Will Never Help You Speak Aa Language, in: Fluent in Three Months.
[4] West, Kayne: I Thought About Killing You, 2018.
[5] Ibsen, Henrik: Nora. A Doll‘s House, 1879.

Nora Turato
is on view until 11 November 2018

The series Subject:Fwd:Unknown is an exhibition series, curated by the Curatorial Studies program at Städelschule and Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt. All invited artists are connected to each other through email communication. Michal Heiman, Nora Turato, Tim Etchells and Yutie Lee are in a dialogue without physically touching each other‘s works. Again, words are the key to this series.

fffriedrich
Alte Mainzer Straße 4-6
60311 Frankfurt am Main