Reading Aloud

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Annihilation of Caste – an undelivered speech by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar (1936)

Reading Aloud performance in collaboration with Jogesh Barve, for the exhibition Ideas Travel Faster Than Light, curated by Jasone Miranda-Bilbao and Clair Joy, in Mecklenburgh Square, 2020

Video edited for the Crown Letter:

City Wise and the Nose

Reading Aloud performance outside Tintype Gallery, for Essex Road 2, 2016

The performance City Wise and the Nose introduces three stories of cities in response to the films in Essex Road II, projected in the window of Tintype Gallery. The city street is the scene of conspiracy, desire and paranoia.  The boundary between reality and dream is fluid, but the stakes are high, the politics dangerous, and the choreography occasionally slapstick.

The City and the City, China Mieville, 2009
Wise Children, Angela Carter, 1991
The Nose, Nikolai Gogol, 1836, translated by Ronald Wilks, 1972 for Penguin Books

Slender Human Islands


Over twelve hours a total of thirty-six readers sat, stood and walked around Granary Square, reading aloud. Some passers-by listened for a moment, slowing but not stopping, others stayed with the readers for long periods, listening intently. The latter sometimes heard fragments miraculously aligned with the environment and activity occurring around them, as if these writings transcended their historical condition to speak of contemporary realities. The fiction and non-fiction books found affinities by being set in London, or an urban island that could be mistaken for London, and describe moments in the history of modernity and the voices disempowered by its physical and technological transformations.

London Labour and the Working Poor, Henry Mayhew, 1851
Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf , 1925
C, Tom McCarthy, 2010
The Condition of the English Working Class, Friedrich Engels, 1845
Beyond Black, Hilary Mantel, 2005
How To Be Both, Ali Smith, 2014
Tainted Love, Stewart Home, 2005
The Girls of Slender Means, Muriel Spark, 1963
Oroonoko, Aphra Behn, 1688
The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guinn, 1974

Eden of the Dispossessed

Reading Aloud performance for Transacting: A Market of Values, Saturday 11th July, 2015, pop-up market, Parade Ground, Chelsea College of Art opposite Tate Britain.

A Good Place

Reading Aloud performance for Somerset House UTOPIA 2016

A Good Place was the seventh Reading Aloud performance by Ruth Maclennan. Reading Aloud is a public art project that seeks to reclaim public space for intellectual exchange through cultivating the pleasures of reading and listening to words read out loud. The intimate act of reading aloud to someone is transposed to the courtyards, stairwells, and terraces of Somerset House bringing Thomas More’s Utopia, and other descriptions of ideal worlds, from Voltaire to Ursula K. LeGuin into conversation with the present moment.

Archway Polytechnic Reading Aloud: Marx and McLuhan


Reading aloud conjures up other times and places. On 10th December, volunteers gathered in Archway in response to an open call, to read aloud Karl Marx’s The Communist Manifesto (1848) and Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964).

Marx and McLuhan wrote at very different moments, both imagined and described a future, which came to pass. Their texts were brought into the present by being juxtaposed with contemporary Archway. Sometimes the texts seemed apposite, at other times they seemed out of date; they overlapped with each other and the voices, noise, exhortations and visions of the street.

The performance was performed again with additional texts for the exhibition Seven Years in Archway, in 2014.

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