About the Author

Sonka Hinders

E-Mail: sonka.hinders@uni-oldenburg.de

Website: https://uol.de/sonka-hinders

Sonka Hinders studied English and American Language and Literature as well as Musicology in Düsseldorf and Reading. She is currently a member of the PhD program “Gestalten der Zukunft” at Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg. Her PhD dissertation investigates how contemporary literature imagines transformations of reading in digital contexts by referring to the past. Its working title is “The Retrospective Future of Reading in Contemporary Literature”.

Contributions by Author: Sonka Hinders

05/31/2024 _Perspective

“In this space, all the stories are alive.”

In Conversation with Thea Mantwill and Jana Buch about Reading (in) their Literary Exhibition 13 Morgen

Literary reading and writing are not only the domain of authors, literary scholars, creative writing instructors and publishing professionals. It is also—and has been for quite some time—alive and thriving in the context of art. A recent example is the literary exhibition 13 Morgen [13 Mornings], displayed at Kunst im Tunnel (KIT; ‘Art in the tunnel’) in Düsseldorf from March until June 2023. The two artists and authors behind the exhibition are Thea Mantwill and Jana Buch, both based in Düsseldorf. Thea and Jana studied at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and focused on poetics and the art of book design in their studies. Prior to 13 Morgen, they worked with literary texts, the medium of the book, and installations framing their texts in previous projects. In our conversation, Thea and Jana unpack how 13 Morgen plays with space, time, and media of reading. They make clear how reading at the museum can help to explore and reflect on (new) reading practices. Fig. 1: Exhibition view including the entrance, kitchen, staircase, bathroom, and bedroom, © Ivo Faber _Reading at the Museum 13 Morgen invited visitors to read in a public space. For many of them, the museum likely formed an unusual environment for reading. A museum differs from designated reading spaces like libraries or domestic settings where readers can easily find a comfortable position, for example curling up with a book on a couch. Preparing the exhibition, Thea and Jana had asked themselves how they could make their texts approachable and how they could make KIT a place in which visitors would be willing to read. Sonka Hinders (SH): Which challenges did you face bringing literature and reading into a museum?  Jana Buch (JB): Visitors’ expectations and patience. Most people know exhibition texts only as archival materials, explanatory notes on walls, or subtitles in video installations. Patience is a problem because there’s a common misconception about what a text should do for you, and what you have to do for the text, giving it time, attention, focus. A common attitude in the art context is that when you look at a painting, it has to touch you or be beautiful. You have to put more work into reading a text because you were taught, for example at school, that a text demands something from you. You can’t immerse yourself in the text just like that and you have to show some initiative. That’s…