The Hearing Voices Café Colombo, 21-30.01.2022

THE HEARING VOICES CAFÉ

සවන් දීමේ කැෆේ
ஹியரிங் வாய்ஸ் கபே

A project initiated by Dora García in collaboration with Jayampathi Guruge and many others

Photo: Lojithan Ram

“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 Colombo as part of Colomboscope interdisciplinary arts festival. Hosted by Lak Cafe, Viharamahadevi Park, Colombo 7, from January 21st to January 30th 2022. All info on Colomboscope interdisciplinary arts festival: http://www.colomboscope.lk info@colomboscope.lk / +94 765 683 177

A Hearing Voices Café in Sri Lanka gets the extra layer of exploring experimental modes of live performance, literary affinities weaving enduring trauma and healing, as well as feminist legacies, and sacred knowledge practices such as Sufism.

The Hearing Voices Café Colombo is kindly supported by:

The designation “Hearing Voices Café” 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 interdisciplinary arts festival 2021, artists Jayampathi Guruge and Dora García, collaborators and guests are installing a gathering place for people who hear voices and for voices who need to be heard, hosted by the Viharamahadevi Park Cafeteria.

The Hearing Voices Café is a dialogic structure initiated in 2014 in 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. The polysemy of the expression “hearing voices” is put to good use by this structure: underlining the political load of dissent from the norm, and the relation of this dissidence, this non-normativity, with creativity.

Voice-hearing is not only a widespread phenomenon, but also a cultural-historically significant one. From Socrates to Teresa of Ávila, from 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 had less positive experiences with voices, but they nevertheless impacted their work: Sarah Kane, Robert Walser, Virginia Woolf, or Philip K. Dick, to name just a few examples. In many cultures, voice-hearing is a precious gift, a connection to the underworld, the spiritual, the ancestors, and a form of communication with the departed.

The Hearing Voices Café revolves primarily around exchange, community, experiment, memory, research, struggle and destigmatization. A Hearing Voices Café in Sri Lanka gets the extra layer of exploring experimental modes of live performance, literary affinities weaving enduring trauma and healing, as well as feminist legacies, and sacred knowledge practices such as Sufism.

Latest Posts

Episode 9: She Has Many Names.

Reaching the end of the episodes at the Hearing Voices Café, this evening was devoted to the voices of women. As survivors of post-colonial trauma, being forced into the role of traditional caretakers, the pressure to fit into society’s definition of ‘ideal,’ being treated as sex objects, and not being allowed to menstruate in dignity: this episode was solely reserved for the strives, struggles, and successes of women.

Episode 8: Poetic Justice.

Even in the worst of times, there is always poetry. Poetry pulls us together, encouraging forms of collective survival and shared belonging. As Octavio Paz writes, “words are acts.” Let us act and resound together in the currents of poetical movement. We welcome poets and readers of all kinds, your voice is your craft and instrument ! Join us for an “open mic” and bring along your words and those that have been nourishing you in these volatile times. Everyone is Welcome ! 

Episode 7: Play It Back, Theatre, or: The Social Mind: Uncovering Fields of Consciousness.

We think in a language that is innate to our souls. Our minds are constantly sifting through new vocabularies that are trendy and accepted as the norm of the times. This session is led by Jayampathi Guruge with Kasun Chathuranga. They will use live performance to engage with the public and inquire into ways that mainstream media sources pressurise collective consciousness, using rumour and political rhetoric to distort and exhaust information-receiving bodies.

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