Vahni Capildeo
Simone Forti

Discussing the cultural histories of collaboration, instruction, translation and recording in performance practice.

Vahni Capildeo is a writer and editor. Their work ranges from book-length poems to experiments with performance. Their work explores voices, landscapes and movement between languages, cultures and places. Simone Forti is a dancer, artist and writer. Her work ranges from open choreographic systems to drawing. She uses improvisational techniques to explore everyday gestures, technologies and animality. Together, they discussed the cultural histories of collaboration, instruction, translation and recording they adapt.

Each Public Event was an open conversation. So we could start those conversations with some shared understanding of how each speaker has explored the cross-overs between sculpture and poetry in relation to their event's topic, we asked them to suggest a recent project for preparatory watching/reading/listening.

Simone Forti suggested Song of the Vowels, a performance from 2012 made in response to a public sculpture of the same name by Jacques Lipchitz. This performance exemplifies a number of Forti's signature techniques: an improvised response to a specific point of reference, which combines movement and language at the limits of speech:

Lipchitz's Cubist statue stands on the grounds of the University of California in Los Angles, where Forti now lives. The following video of the sculpture was shot for context by Jason Underhill:

Vahni Capildeo suggested two examples from an ongoing series of video-readings, which they began making during the pandemic. Split into two parallel strands, Fire and Water, these video-readings use makeshift techniques to capture Capildeo's voice reciting a poem while their phone’s camera stares at an object or aperture that obscures our vision.

The first example shared is Fire III, which features 'Erasure as Shinethrough’ from their latest book, Like a Tree Walking (Carcanet, 2021):

The second example is Water III, which features 'Spindrift Silences’ from their pamphlet, Odyssey Calling (Sad Press, 2020):

Commissioned WritingCorridor8

The trick is, don't explain

Read in Full

A subjective account of a wide-ranging discussion about embodiment, risk, movement and intuition, written through a lyrical mix of testimony and digression by Nicola Singh.

Responsive commissions supported by Arts Council England.

Related Resources


Like a Tree Walking

Author page for Vahni Capildeo on her publisher's website, Carcanet, including the first news on their forthcoming book of poetry, Like a Tree Walking, which explores ecopoetics, silence and love.


Recent Reading and Discussion

Vahni Capildeo reads and discusses some of her most recent work with Karl O'Hanlon and Catherine Gander at Maynooth University, May 2021.


Punishable Bodies: Poetry on the offensive

A short essay by Vahni Capildeo on poetry and offensiveness, risk and the risqué, first published in the summer 2017 issue of Poetry Review.


Versopolis Poetry

A brief introduction to Vahni Capildeo's work by Jade Cuttle, followed by a sample of short-form poems, compiled by Versopolis Poetry organisation in 2019.


Poetry International Archives

A brief, bi-lingual (EN/NL) overview of Vahni Capildeo's recent work, including links to useful references and sample poems, compiled by Emily Hasler for the Poetry International Archives in May 2019.


Handbook in Motion

A sequence of scanned excerpts from Simone Forti's first book, Handbook in Motion, originally published in 1974, here seen in the 1998 re-issue by Contact Editions.


Sound in the Practice

Simone Forti interviewed by Tashi Wada about the role of sound in her practice, discussing song, dance, scores and performance, published in the September 2018 issue of BOMB Magazine.


Dance Constructions

Simone Forti interviewed by Stuart Comer about her Dance Constructions, contextualised by Nancy Lim with notes, documentation and example dances, published by MoMA, New York.


Spirit Moves

An extensive review of Simone Forti's retrospective 'Thinking with the Body' at Museum der Moderne Salzburg, by Catherine Wood for Artforum, January 2015.


Artists at Work

Simone Forti interviewed by Bryony Gillard and Louis Hartnoll for Afterall Journal, June 2016, discussing animal studies, collaboration and drawing as a tool for thinking.