Video Art Channel: The Reading by Adelita Husni Bey (2017)

Friday, June 15 from 6pm – 8pm
Saturday, Juni 16 from 6.30pm – 8.30pm
during the Video Art Channel

The video installation The Reading / La Seduta (2017) is the result of a workshop in the form of an unscripted tarot reading. In preparation for the tarot reading session Hannah Black, Evan Calder Williams, Julian Noisecat and Elizabeth A. Povinelli were invited to elaborate, in dialogue with the participants Gus Moran, Nia Nottage, Farhan Islam, Nudrat Mahajabin, Katya Dokurova, Charlotte Lewis, Sandra Wazaz, Shao Lei, Amir Akram, Amanata Williams, on the 10 major arcana drawn by Husni-Bey: Extraction, Soil, The Ongoing End, Dirt, Vulnerability, Value, The Colony, Abstract Threat, Simulation, Real Threat. These themes were chosen by the artist through the course of her research on the question of Standing Rock, the indigenous protest against the laying of the Dakota Access Pipeline north of the Standing Rock Reservation, carrying crude oil under the Missouri River, but also reflect on larger issues, such as the permeability of borders, simulation and the function of different perceptions of threat. Tarot reading is re-intepreted here as a pedagogical practice, where the reader and the participants collectively craft a narrative to understand, analyse and overcome the obstacles presented to them by their question, either be driven by market forces or by a shared notion of protection and reparation which will have to account for the uneven distribution of the fallout from climate change.

Adelita Husni-Bey (Italy 1985) lives in New York. She stages workshops and produces publications, radio broadcasts, archives and exhibitions focused on using collectivist and non-competitive pedagogical models within the framework of urban studies. In her 10 years practicing as both an artist and a pedagogue Adelita has worked with activists, architects, jurists, schoolchildren, spoken word poets, students and teachers on unpacking the complexity of collectivity.

Sound of the video: In the background of the conversation is spherical music which conveys a spiritual, almost cosmic atmosphere, like being in outer space, but also containing elements of nature, e.g. water flowing and waves reaching the shore, as well as bells, sounding bowls, vibrating strings.

Transcription of conversation: 

Transcription by Jule Gießler

Circles must place the forces above

the forces below

this is how we see ourselves

the kind of conditions we are in

how others see us

this is the hopes and fears

and then our outcome xxx


„it looks close off to me

Like I feel like they wanna go there but they can’t cause I think like off it as a bandaid on a hole or something like that, so they trying to enter this place but it’s shut off“

„You see like a line of like people and then something that looks like barbed wire to me, so there is like hundreds

„It’s weird how the people fade off as they get towards this three layered abyss

„ You see that as a sky


„I see it as a sky too“

„You do too?“

„Like a really dark like they are going almost like to a place that has like nothing“

„so there are three skies, the stripes the stars and the abyss“

„Yeah“ (Whispered)

„It’s funny that we pulled these abstract threads cause I think with everything that we’ve been talking about i just is a concrete thread but at the same time like in a lift, every day kind of moment. I don’t know…see that also just makes me feel that I’m problematic, but generally speaking it is like you know, tings are getting ehm, getting toxic and like this we can’t grow something on this soil here, but it doesn’t feel something that affects me, going like, buy a soda at a bodega“

„I feel like tings only happen if there is a real thread, like in your face, but people don’t see it in their faces, like it is not a daily thing for some people, so unless you are living in certain areas, like your water is not drinkable, or you can’t eat food or surf like that“

(All): Right now, yeah like now

„I think, we think that we are in such a privileged position but we are really not

„I mean when all resources are gone, where do we gonna be?“

„Oil and like the gas and things we really rely on, things that were once alive we are using their  death or what is left of their life energy, every day to power cars, this is like, we are abusing the death“

„Do we do that with people too?“

(All): yeah

„We talk about oil and stuff and cars but we do this kind of thing to people“

„Then this card to the right if you want to head over, who ever wants to. This is like near future, right?!“


„And we get soil. That’s a complicated card.“

„Wow this is so intense“


„Soil feels wet, like dirt is dry“

„I think soil is sold, like when you go to deeper they not gonna like sell you back your dirt as soil“



„I think it’s kind of like the same, but soil is like -„

„But why is that?“

„Because we not gonna buy, like dirt, cause yo gonna think, you kind of can get that anywhere and you gonna go to hold people to get what you think you need“

„So it’s about language and vocabulary“

„Yes“ (Several people)

„I feel like the cards, like I can see a connection between all of them. Value since it’s our past we ideologically convince ourselves that we put value into many objects and that we appreciate them and than soil our near future, I would say, it is something we need to appreciate and we need to value it much more than inanimate objects“

„I think it is so important the fact, that we do value things, even though we might been using this capitalistic system to kind of marginalize other things, like you are valuable and you are not valuable.“


„When you do value something, there is so much more that comes with that, you wanna protect it, you wanna savor it, you wanna treasure it. It has meaning, it has use and you care about it. But if you don’t value something then -„

„But this as well is like who’s definition of value? If you use like a capitalistic kind of logic you not gonna be like: we treasure this and love it forever“


„But no I mean a personal understanding of value is good“

„But that’s a cool way how you said about it, that it shows us, what we can do with value. I mean value doesn’t have to be about a extraction or measure, value can be something on measuring. You are talking about something that matters, right?

Maybe asking what really matters would bring us to soil“

„ so this is contrasted by desires to keep on going. If you get distracted successfully you can get some profit out of it, so like as in, so that is our desires “

„So this you can see this kind of xxx card is saying, something is going on right now, kind of everywhere, right? The same, like the grounds everywhere. Ground is round, the subconscious force…where we really are, relate and stuff“

„It is maybe something really simple and  but an awe of it and a little bit scared by the look at his mouth“

„Yeah“ (several people)

„I feel like that smoke around it, like they are already in a messed up reality and being in that virtual reality world, that they are faking, they are pretending to be in this reality, now that they have goggles on…They are trying to deceive themselves this is how I feel. The world around them is just smoking and burning up into ash in this weird cosmic confusion. „But to the VR even see what they want to“

„It is also like you can’t make virtual reality, you know without the dirt we have and everything from earth“

„It kind of reminds me of the phrase, being goggles? When people see things more beautiful than they really are. „

-turning card: sighs : uuuhhh –

„Okay, this position is how we see ourselves. How we see ourselves in relation to all this. To kind of tie these things together. Our original question was: What is our spiritual relation to this world, the spiritual connection to this land. And this is kind of where we are in it, right?!“

  • uuufff-

„Given our presence here. „

„It is like a xxx…I don’t know what to think of the little houses, that are standing“

„Well they don’t look like a circus“

„It is also interesting because it is a yankee in it’s own chain, or you know holding like her own news, like every time you take from it, it takes from you“

„What made the chain, that’s what I am thinking“

„It’s all about work, like obtaining, holding, grabbing. I like that you picked that whoever is viewing us from the outside, we are in there against. Cause I think, if you think like further outside, we are inhabitants of earth. And I wonder how other forms occupants would view us, as people, are we like stewards of the lands“

„True yeah“

„We are seen as real thread“

„This is how we see ourselves and how the people see us“

„Maybe the cards are not speaking out our perspective, rather the earth’s perspective“

„The earth has eyes“

„Yeah maybe“

„This is the earth looking at us, we keep saying it is like another place and other people, but it can just be – „

„Our planet earth itself“

„They are like still dancing, it seems like with both of their heads off they can still dance, imagine that, that is very cool“

„We can think of dirt and soil because of kind of goal position, the forces are above. the near future soil, we can think of them as kind of steps on our way, but if you really want the answer of the question than it is the upper card – vulnerability“

„Two people that haven’t finally accept each other, heads cut off, spilling their guts out literally“

„What if they try to like push each other off? In the way of: hey this is my earth. But then vulnerability, they are bing vulnerable in the sense off, they are risking losing like the last human thing that they have. That’s like kind of being vulnerable, losing

this one like last life.“

„It’s like looking into a mirror, you know, just seeing ourselves and this is very clearly“

„We did come to colonize and the non living will become a colonizer. In terms of they will control us instead of us control them.“


„It is like we are disrespecting our own land but at the same time we need it to such a deep degree. The extraction shows that we need something, but this need that we think we have is actually getting in the way o us actually dealing with the problem“

„It’s still our earth, we have to live here, but if we are going to continue, essentially in being a colony on this earth“

„What if the world ended“

„It’s always ending“

„has always ended?“