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She gave it to me I got it from her | Clara Amaral

She gave it to me I got it from her

a poem that choreographs her hands and voice

her voice that reads out loud

                     the book

                     becoming script

                     becoming performance

                     becoming archive

the permanence of her voice in the book
in the book
the presence and absence of their names

She gave it to me I got it from her
It’s a book and a choreography, read out loud and handled by a performer, for a group of people.

The publication/performance skips through five generations of women in Amaral’s family and hinges on the one in the middle—the last one in the sequence to not have been taught how to read or write. What at first sounds like just some family trivia in actuality offers a glimpse into a deeply rooted sociocultural obstacle that many women in Portugal faced up until the 1950s, before the reform of the education system—which until then often excluded women on the basis of their gender or economic status.

She gave it to me I got it from her is more than the sum of its pages. Of course, it can be read according to convention, from front to back, left to right, page one to page two, and so on. Most probably, in this case, the text will appear to be nonsensical. This stratagem is employed to underline the notion that the conventional isn’t necessarily right, while also emulating the frustration experienced by someone who is excluded from cracking the code of language. Alternatively, you can read the publication according to its score, which will reveal the path hidden in its pages. Better yet! You can let the author take you by the hand and lead you along this route with manual dexterity, ultimately ripping the structures it’s bound together by apart.

Clara Amaral is an artist working with text and performance. Her artistic practice is situated in an interdisciplinary perspective, questioning what it means to be a reader, to be a writer, aiming to expand existing modes of reading and writing. Central to her practice is the investigation of innovative publishing modalities and the performative aspect of writing and language through an intersectional feminist approach. More:

Clara’s book is available in our book store (in our foyer) or you can order it online.

“In my work, I pay special attention to the various ways in which we interact with the book as a cultural artefact. Digital technology may seem to render the book a redundant object.However, the book continues to be overly present and central in our lives. I believe that this continued presence of the book has to do with a poetic and imaginative aspect that exists within these objects. A book requires to be held in a certain way, to turn their pages and put them down in another way, and so on. These requests condition us, the readers, to a specific physical interaction with the book as an object, as well as to access their contents in a unique and particular imaginative realm.”


Written and choreographed by
Clara Amaral
Graphic Design
Ronja Andersen and Karoline Swiezynski
Copy editor
Isabelle Sully
Conceptualization and fabrication of objects
Olga Micińska in dialogue with Clara Amaral
Kunstverein Publishing
The Book Photographer
Veem House for Performance (Amsterdam), Kunstverein (Amsterdam), Alkantara (Lisbon), Teatro do Bairro Alto (Lisbon)
Supported by
Mondriaan Fonds (Amsterdam), Members of Kunstverein (Amsterdam), Circular, Vila do Conde, Workspacebrussels

Clara Amaral is supported by the stipend Kunstenaar Start from Mondriaan Fonds (2021 – 2022).


Under Construction: Clara Amaral

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