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sticks

The first visitor I meet says: the sticks are an issue. An issue? Yes: they're too straight and narrow, too phallic, even. Sticks for me are weapons, rods, tools of measurement and control. Haven't you read Ursula Le Guin? Not for a while, it's true. So I go back to her texts and sure enough, in "The Carrier Bag theory of Fiction", Le Guin offers nets, sacks, and slings as alternative ur-technologies to sticks: "we've all heard all about all the sticks spears and swords, the things to bash and poke and hit with, the long, hard things, but we have not heard about the thing to put things in, the container for the thing contained. That is a new story." But surely we don't want to purge our stories of sticks, no matter how straight, thin, even phallic. Here in the Kunsthalle, Karuti's sticks are also used gates, skeletal structures, ways of judging distance, making space. Susanne Leuenberger, I notice, sees them as walking canes: prostheses, crutches, things to lean and rely on, aids, supports. They might also be divining rods, or magic wands. Drum sticks. “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house,” wrote Audre Lorde. But they may beat otherwise, mark another time, a different meter, a new rhythm.

Ursula K. Le Guin's essay is published in Dancing at the End of the World (1989) and translated into German by Matthias Fersterer as Am Anfang war der Beutel, Warum uns Fortschritts-Utopien an den Rand des Abgrunds führten und wie Denken in Rundungen die Grundlage für gutes Leben schafft (2020) Audré Lorde's essay is available in English as a Penguin paperback, and as "Die Werkzeuge der Herrschenden werden das Haus der Herrschenden niemals einreißen", in Sister Outsider, Hanser, 2021.

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