Hearing Voices Café Colombo


සවන් දීමේ කැෆේ
ஹியரிங் வாய்ஸ் கபே

“Words move from language to language, from culture to culture, from mouth to mouth. Our bodies are migrants; cells and bacteria are migrants too. Even galaxies migrate.” (Cecilia Vicuña)

To hear oneself speak is maybe the minimal definition of consciousness.

The hearing voices café is a dialogic structure initiated in 2014 n Hamburg, having traveled ever since across Europe and North America. The Hearing Voices Café is a meeting place, hosted by an existing – and fully functioning – café, where everyone related to the phenomenon of “voice hearing”, as “experts” (voice hearers), family, friends, researchers, curious, can meet to talk about whatever they want, without stigma, nor prejudice. The ambiguity of the term “hearing voices” is put to good use by this structure, underlining the political load of the dissidence from the “normal”, and the relation of this dissidence with creativity.

A Hearing Voices Café in Sri Lanka gets the extra layer of the profound trauma that the civil war from 1983 to 2009 has left in the population. This will be central to the collective conversations in the Hearing Voices Café Colombo.

The Hearing Voices Café Colombo is kindly supported by:

The designation “Hearing Voices Café” actually applies to every well-patronized coffee shop. At the same time, the phrase “hearing voices” is also associated with the phenomenon of hearing inner voices. Drawing on the ambiguity of the term, Colomboscope festival 2021, artists Jayampathi Guruge and Dora García, collaborators and guests are installing a gathering place for people who hear voices, hosted by the Vihara Maha Devi Park Cafeteria.

The point of departure for this work is our interest in the voice-hearers’ movement, which has its roots in the anti-psychiatry groups of the 1970s and conceives of itself more as a civil rights movement than as a form of therapeutic self-help. The first joint activities came about in Holland in 1987 with the mission of challenging the medical model of mental illness, and from there spread rapidly to other countries. What is presumably the most active branch of the movement has been in existence since 1988 in the English Hearing Voices Network. In 1997, the national associations moreover joined to form Intervoice, a group of voice-hearers and otherwise involved persons who organize the annual “World Hearing Voices Congress” in a different country every year.
Voice-hearing is not only a widespread phenomenon, but also a cultural-historically significant one. From Socrates to Mother Teresa, John of the Cross to the American avant-garde writer Hannah Weiner, famous philosophers, believers and poets have regarded voice hearing as a rare talent and a special gift. Other artists have had less positive experiences with this phenomenon, but it nevertheless strongly influenced their work: Sarah Kane, Robert Walser, Virginia Woolf or Philip K. Dick, to name just a few examples.

Colomboscope festival Hearing Voices Café project revolves primarily around memory, voices, exchange, research, destigmatization. It will function as a public meeting place for all sort of voices, voice hearers, voice listeners, voice speakers, and other migrants of language.

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About this Blog

The Hearing Voices Café Colombo will take place 12 – 22 August 2021. We will use this blog to upload images, films, and narratives taking place during those days at the Hearing Voices Café and the Colomboscope Festival.

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