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Maria Fusco

Servant is now.But what was my name?

I do have some dim conception at the outset, one distantly related to what I am looking for, if I boldly make a start with that, my mind, even as my speech proceeds, under the necessity of finding an end for that beginning, will shape my first confused idea into complete clarity so that, to my amazement, understanding is arrived at as the sentence ends.

(On the Gradual Production of Thoughts Whilst Speaking, Heinrich von Kleist)

Maria Fusco will present and discuss the experimental writing methodologies active in her new eleven-channel sound work, Mollspeak. The generative piece, made in collaboration with French composer, Olivier Pasquet, changes infinitely, meaning that a listener never experiences the same thing twice. Bringing the working-class voices of servants, as a kind of subversive subservience, into a museological context through archival research, ambient object writing and 3D sound scans, she will examine how socio-cultural concerns, which are acting as subject, can at the same time structure how a work of writing is produced through active listening. The work’s title is taken from an eighteenth-century phrase, mollspeak, that some British employers coined to mock their servants’ dialectical speech.

Recording of Maria Fusco’s keynote presentation


Maria Fusco

Professor Maria Fusco is an award-winning Belfast born writer, working across the registers of fiction, performance and theoretical writing. She holds a personal Chair of Interdisciplinary Writing at the University of Dundee, Scotland, her texts are published internationally and translated into ten languages and she is Editor of The Happy Hypocrite, a bi-annual journal for experimental writing. Recent sound and performance works include Mollspeak (2020), an eleven-channel sound installation in the crypt of the Museum of Home, London; ECZEMA! (2018) a touring performance commissioned by National Theatre Wales to celebrate the 70thanniversary of the National Health Service, and Master Rock, a repertoire for a mountain, performed and recorded inside a granite mountain on the west coast of Scotland commissioned by Artangel and BBC Radio 4. Her latest books are Give Up Art (2018), collected critical writings, of which Lisa Robertson has said “Fusco’s scintillating mobility invites us to savour a new kind of critical empathy” and Legend of the Necessary Dreamer (2017) an ambient novella described by Chris Kraus as “a new classic of female philosophical writing”. Read more: