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«Eat the Word, Chew the Meaning, Prophesy the Taste» – Pedro Zylbersztajn’s research trip to Villa Sträuli [CH

Switzerland — Research Trips

An artist and researcher whose work discusses language and rhetoric, as well as protocols for the control and maintenance of everyday life, Pedro Zylbersztajn [BR] went on a research programme at Villa Sträuli, Winterthur [CH], in March and April 2023.

During his stay, he delved into historical and contemporary metaphors comparing reading and textual comprehension to eating and digesting, as seen in everyday expressions such as “literary palates”, “media diets”, or “stodgy facts”, explains the artist.

“Departing from analyses and reinterpretations of culturally significant examples of such metaphors — more significantly the Anthropofagic Manifesto of the early Brazilian modernists (1928) and St. John eating the Angel’s prophecy book in the «Book of Revelation» (c. 95 CE) — the research began to explore this mode of thinking about our relationship to the acquisition of knowledge. Such metaphors recenter the role of the body in the reader’s experience, moving it away from the eye and the brain into the mouth and guts.

Indeed, they also guide the notion of reading as consumption. If consuming, etymologically, is using something up and destroying it in the process, such as we do with food, then this would imply that our notion of consuming culture has a predatory ethos to it. It would also mean that we parse knowledge by breaking texts down into some form of useful fuel (or life-energy) and irrelevant residue (or excrement).

I used the time of the trip to start articulating these ideas through a range of different actions, such as drawing, writing, performing, collecting, and filming. I took the opportunity to engage with a wide scene of practitioners in Switzerland who have been thinking about the politics of food and its relationships to art and literature, and from these contacts, I tried to propose a mindful outlook of our bodily relationship to text, knowledge and its tributary politics: from the position of textual culture in the current knowledge production landscape of cognitive capitalism, to debates on cultural appropriation and, perhaps most significantly, ecological concerns around over-consumption of the planet’s natural resources.

By the end of the one-month stay, I had the chance to present a performative reading of the text I worked on based on the accumulation of these experiences, in what served as a culmination but also an extremely valuable feedback session on the state of the research, which will continue being developed, in Switzerland, Brazil and elsewhere.”

After the experience, Pedro started a dialogue with possible partners to continue the project within the Swiss context.


Pedro Zylbersztajn is an artist and researcher from Brazil, investigating the circular relationship between image, language, protocols of everydayness, technology, and authority. He has participated in exhibitions, fairs, panels and publications internationally, among which are the solo show «As if I Were the Photographer: Carlos Amadeu Gouvêa», «1971» (Casamata, Rio de Janeiro, BR, 2016) and the solo performance «brickwork» (Americas Society Visual Arts, New York, USA, 2018); the 2022 FRONT International Triennial (Cleveland, USA), the 12th São Paulo International Architecture Biennial (BR, 2019); the conference Édouard Glissant’s Tout-Monde: Transnational Perspectives (CUNY Graduate Center, NY); and the group exhibitions «Trembling Thinking» (Americas Society, NY) and «Time Capsule 2045» (Palais des Beaux-arts de Paris, FR and Musée d’Art et Histoire, Geneva, CH). He was a resident at Pivô (São Paulo, BR, 2020) and Kulturhaus Villa Sträuli (Winterthur, CH, 2023) and a Postgraduate Fellow at the Art by Translation research program (France, 2019-2021). Pedro holds a master’s degree from the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology (USA). He is also part of several collective initiatives, currently as a member of the micro-histórias research group at Casa do Povo, as an associate of the experimental pedagogical platform CAMPO, a coordinator of the Infrastructural Dispositions study group, and a member of the Index Literacy Program research collective.

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