CV




Publications

2024 – ‘missed connections’, poem inspired by AI autotranscription misunderstandings, CWYR Zine 
2024 – unflock’, four-part experimental poem, Strings 1: dreams jangling with lost connections 
2024 – ‘Arrested Octopus’, art writing / experimental writing, Caesura anthology, Pala Press
2023 – ‘strawberry squid’ + ‘insatiable wriggler’, Brilliant Vibrating Interface, an anthology of queer poetry, SPAM Press
2023 – ‘Being is a tender strength’, art writing, Prototype 5 anthology, Prototype Press
2023 – ‘THE FLESH, THE MESH, THE MUSHROOM’, collaborative essay with Nina Hanz, MAP Magazine
2023 – ‘As Silica’, poem, Eight Fires anthology, Dark Mountain
2023 – ‘Evolving Food Traditions’, conversation with Maia Magoga for ACV Magazine, Tradition
2023 – ‘the cat which is wild, savage, or of the woodlands’, creative prose, FDBNHLLLTTFMOURNING, Sticky Fingers
2023 – ‘Vergankelijkheidswake’ / ‘Guarding Transience’, drawings with Miek Zwamborn + poetry, De Gids
2023 – ‘Palettes of the Gods’, art writing/essay, My Daughter Terra anthology, ed. Nina Hanz, Plaintiff Press
2022 – Mycoglossia, poetry pamphlet in collaboration with Nina Hanz, HVTN Press
2022 – ‘She is the knot that always slips’, prose poem, Daisyworld Magazine Issue 005: Dangerous Depths 2022 – ‘www.dreamoracledivine.xyz’, experimental text, FDBNHLLLTTFPARODY, Sticky Fingers
2022 – Feature on Libby Heaney, CLOT Magazine
2022 – Interview with Howardena Pindell, Twin Magazine
2022 – ‘Forget the Metaverse; It’s Time for Artists to Enter the ‘Mutaverse’, ArtReview
2022 –
On Alberto Balsam’, poetry, You’ve Got So Many Machines, Richard!, an Aphex Twin anthology, Broken Sleep
2022 – ‘Through Hagstones’, drawing, Blue House Journal: Stone
2022 – seawitch, I watch you’, experimental essay, SPAM Plaza
2021 – Inscribing the Devil Fish’, essay, 3:AM Magazine
2021 – ‘membrane exchange’,  The Digest Reader, zine supported by TACO!
2021 – ‘wolfish / this heart is’, poetry, FDBNHLLLTTFNOCTURNAL, Sticky Fingers
2021 – Yeast’ + ‘Headtail’, poetry, Tentacular Magazine
2021 – Grinding, slicing, tearing’, experimental fiction, DreamsTimeFree: Soft Tissue, TACO!
2021 – Meat Dreaming’, experimental drawing and writing zine, Sticky Fingers
2021 – ‘(un)like death warmed up’, essay, Dark Mountain 20: Abyss
2021 – ‘SLIMY, STICKY, SWEET’, essay and video (from conference presentation), SPAM Plaza
2021 – As Syrup’, poetry, AWW-STRUCK, Poem Atlas
2021 – ‘Three Poems’, FDBNHLLLTTFHORROR, Sticky Fingers
2021 – Intertitles’, experimental writing anthology review, MAP Magazine
2021 – Leaves, alive and otherwise’, essay, Still Point Journal
2020 – Sharing Grounds: A Commonplace’, review, 3:AM Magazine
2020 – Contagion Closer to Animal’, poetry collaboration with Nina Hanz, ARC
2020 – ‘Distant Tenderness: Molly Morphew’, review, ArtDaily
2020 – ‘A pissing match over tigers’, long-form poetry, The Pluralist
2020 – Pipe Down’, fiction, Attention anthology
2020 – Contact’, photography series, ARC Magazine
2020 – ‘Heal Underfoot’, essay, Simulacrum Journal
2020 – ‘Eco-Visionaries’, long-form review, Art & the Public Sphere
2019 – ‘Primordium’ – performance script – Arvid&Marie
2019 – Turning’, letter, Letters to the Earth anthology, HarperCollins
2019 – ‘Welcome to Elsewhere’, essay, NOIT Journal, Flat Time House
2019 – Weighting’, poetry and prose, Le Grand K anthology
2019 – The Present Moment: Sonic Acts’, review, Aesthetica

Commissions 

2023 – ‘Delimiting’, prose, To Be We Need to Know the River
2022 – ‘Surface as vessel’, poetic essay, Dark Mountain Issue 22 – ARK
2022 – ‘Undergoings’, long-form essay, Pala Press: Subteranne
2022 – ‘From the Ends of the Earth’, essay, IOU Theatre
2022 – Four poems for accompanying publication, Sink or Float, solo exhibition of Jessica Wetherly, Aspex Portsmouth
2021 – ‘fable’, text for catalogue of Jessica Wetherly’s exhibition, Tele(gram): frequencies of the forest (Bilbao)
2021 – ‘boundless’ + ‘transmission’, poems for Pollination’s refugees welcome campaign, Open Culture: No Borders
2020 – ‘Gently as our days bite’, 11-part micro-fiction series, Robert Young Antiques
2020 – The Best Park Ever’, hand-drawn map and text, HORRID! Covid 4: The Park
2019 – Ground Up, 18-minute audio work commissioned by ICA / BBC New Creatives
2019 – ‘<>’, text response to Jessica Wetherly’s RCA MA show, Laboratory

Events + Workshops

2023 – Attendant Writing, first workshop at LOT Projects, second workshop at Glengall Wharf Gardens, London
2023 – Sporing Poetry with Nina Hanz, collaborative eco-poetry workshop at Floating, Berlin
2022 – HUM MURMUR MUTTER, five-week experimental writing course, Camden Art Centre, London
2022 – Inside Your Mouth Are Mountains, three-week experimental writing course, Camden Art Centre, London
2021 – A More-Than-Human Story, ecological writing workshop, Baker Street Productions, online
2021 – Gut Feelings: Voicing the Visceral, three-hour experimental writing workshop with Esme Boggis, TACO!, London
2019 – You Enter Into a White Room, three-day art writing workshop with Harri Welch and Lucy Holt, AcrossRCA, London
2019 – Playing Houses, (project manager) three-venue day programme, Flat Time House, London
2016 – *immersions, curating screening series spotlighting Levantine moving image artists, Al Ma’mal Gallery, East Jerusalem

Group Exhibitions + Showcases

2023 – Drawing In, collaborative drawings with Miek Zwamborn within open call element of exhibition, An Tobar (Isle of Mull, UK)
2022 – JE SERAI t.a.on meilleur.e.x ami.e.x, drawings + writings, Non-Étoile (Paris, FR)
2022 – Octopus’s Garden, recorded poetry for group exhibit with Knockvologan Studies, De Vishal (Haarlem, NL) 
2021 – Magical Octopus Sequel, cyanotypes + audio for group show, Knockvologan Studies (Isle of Mull, UK)
2020 – Small Talk, My Animal, curatorial text + audio piece for group show (online)
2020 – Letters in Lockdown, letter on lungs read by Jessica Hynes for Culture Declares (online)
2020 – Current Transmissions, Ground Up shown as part of ICA x New Creatives showcase, ICA (London, UK)

Residencies + Laboratories

2023 – Nine-day self-directed micro-residencyFootnote Centre for Image and Text, Belgrade
2019 – Cartographies of the Vanishing Now, artist laboratory with FIBER, Amsterdam

Readings, Presentations + Panels

2024 – Mushroom Church with Modern Biology, Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver
2023 – Special Edition: Non-Human Poetry, National Poetry Library, London
2023 – Prototype 5, anthology launch and showcase, The Ivy House, London
2023 – Formas Mutatas, an evening of performances interpreting Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Asylum Chapel, London
2023 – Soundgate Belgrade, live broadcast by the Lumpen Station (Switzerland), from Footnote Centre, Belgrade
2022 – Slime, Sublime, Sublimation,with Esther Leslie, Krystle Patel and Maybelle Peters, The Horse Hospital, London
2022 – Autumn Party, Sticky Fingers Publishing, The Glory, London
2022 – Still Point Writers’ Showcase, Reference Point, 180 The Strand, London
2021 – Winter Party, Sticky Fingers Publishing, The Glory, London
2021 – A Handful of Sinister Scenarios (AKA Jump My Bones), opening, Florence Trust, London
2021 – Mouth Parts, group show curated by Molly Morphew, St Margaret’s House, London
2021 – Write the Earth, Baker Street Productions for Reading Climate Festival, Reading
2021 – Aww-Struck: Creative and Critical Approaches to Cuteness, University of Bristol + Royal Holloway, online
2020 – Creature, Stranger, Monster, Other, panel discussion chaired by Dame Marina Warner, RCA2020, online
2020 – Obsessed! panel discussion chaired by Sally O’Reilly, RCA2020, online
2020 – Attention! anthology launch, Morocco Bound, London
2019 –Taken Lightly’, Le Grand K broadcast by thisistomorrow, World Metrology Day, Science Museum, London
2019 – Le Grand K anthology launch, Gossamer Fog, London

Achievements

2024 – Longlisted for the Upstart & Crow Stories from Here residency and grant (CA)
2023 – Drusilla Harvey Access Grant (UK), for Sporing Poetry workshop at Floating, Berlin (DE)
2020 – Shortlisted for the Interstices Novel Commission, Book Works (UK)
2019 – New Creatives Commission for Ground Up, Institute for Contemporary Art x BBC (UK)
2016 – The Holland Scholarship, Dutch Ministry of Education (NL), merit-based funds to study at McGill University (CA)

Education

2020 – MA Writing, Royal College of Art (UK)
2017 – BA International Studies, Leiden University (NL)
2013 – International Baccalaureate










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Image: anthology cover.

Being is a tender strength


Essay on vulnerability, intimacy, care, pain, corporeality, and transmissions, all guided by the soft-bodied octopus. Published in the fifth annual anthology of the wonderful independent press, Prototype. To be included in this collection was a real honour. ‘Being is a tender strength’ is part of Shapeshifter (FKA Cephalopodomania). 

Extract: 

On the day when I go to get a copper contraceptive coil inserted into my womb, this unseen part of myself – its dimensions mysterious to me – must first be measured with a sound, and a gut-lurching prod as its thin plastic proboscis hits my uterine wall. This sound is named after another: the rope that mariners once used to map the sea, dropping a weight to the bottom over and over again.

Firmly asserting an opinion on its new resident, my womb demonstrate its discontent, contracting in earnest attempts to push the coil – a foreig body – out of internal territory. This is, apparently, normal. But suddenly the pure muscularity of this eight-centimetre-deep part of me is palpable, broadcasting protest-laden waves of back-curling pain, wrenching on ) nerves that seem to reach deep into every other mass in my torso. Ultimate proof that bodies and their organs can think and speak, this time in a literally visceral language.

This mild cyborgification of myself, this adaptation, comes mid-way through my descent into a gentle obsession with collecting and writing octopuses, tracing their lineage through dusty archives, memes and synaesthetic digital art. And in my days of aching adjustment, my partner brings me a soft toy octopus. Dusky pink, head the size of a fist. One of a kind that had popped up in children’s shops, bookstores and gift boutiques in Edinburgh, London, Amsterdam, Berlin. Wherever I went, members of this close-knit JellyCat family peeked out from shop windows, inaccurate yet charming smiles shining from the pink and teal of their ultrasoft faces. And now mine sits on my belly, with the heartfelt gaze of pure love that toymakers have spent centuries mastering with the most minimal application of small, tight stitches. Eight springy arms corkscrew out over my skin, peritonea and deep, throbbing tissues. The way I love this small and incongruously fleecy inanimate object initially felt regressive – a soft toy. But he stands in for care and kindness, for my partner’s touch.

Months later, my colleague knits an octopus, just to occupy her hands as she watches a film, then brings her into work for me, the increasingly indiscreet collector of octopuses. Purple and yellow, the little crocheted animal sits still on my desk, goggling encouragingly at us all, until another colleague bring his young baby to visit. Perched on a spinny chair that is comically over-large for her, the one-year-old baby grips and shakes the little octopus, chirruping and chewing on her limbs in gummy appreciation.

Knitting is making a soft network. Wiring warmth.

That year, as we drive home for Christmas, my stepmother, a retired nurse, tells me about Octopus for a Preemie, a charity that asks people to knit, crochet and donate soft toy octopuses to maternity wards for premature babies. The octopuses’ many soft arms, each like an umbilical cord, reassure the tiny, early humans in their incubators. Sleeping with these arms gripped in their hands, babies are less likely to tug on or pull out their lifelines in distress or confusion, thinking that these tubes still tether them to a parent.

The idea that a small, knitted octopus could help to save a human baby’s life seems remarkable, like a children’s story. There is a strange and strangely heart-breaking intensity in how this figure of another animal tangles up with human life, cradled at its most vulnerable.

[...]

_________


Prototype 5 features contributions from Rojbîn Arjen, Alex Aspden, Ed Atkins & Steven Zultanski, Mau Baiocco, Claire Carroll, Hal Coase, James M. Creed, Iulia David, Nia Davies, Fiona Glen, Olivia Heal, Emma Hellyer, Hannah Hutchings-Georgiou, Rowe Irvin, Sasja Janssen (trans. Michele Hutchison), Bhanu Kapil, Sharon Kivland, Jeff Ko, Prerana Kumar, Grace Connolly Linden, Dasha Loyko, Nasim Luczaj, Ian Macartney, So Mayer, Catrin Morgan, Ghazal Mosadeq, Connor Oswald, Kashif Sharma-Patel, Helen Quah, Dipanjali Roy, Leonie Rushforth, Stanley Schtinter, Lutz Seiler (trans. Stefan Tobler), Madeleine Stack, Malin Ståhl, Corin Sworn, Olly Todd, Yasmin Vardi, Kate Wakeling, Nathan Walker, Ahren Warner, & Stephen Watts.




Image: anthology cover.

On Alberto Balsam


Poem published in Broken Sleep’s 2022 anthology on Aphex Twin / Richard D. James / AFX / Polygon Window, You’ve got so many machines, Richard! I wanted to use words to make a droplet of the nostalgia-unspooling mood of Aphex’s song Alberto Balsam. I composed this poem largely from fragments of YouTube comments – reassembling feelings and thoughts shared by strangers into a flow that fits my own sense of the song.







yeast + headtail


Two poems published in Tentacular magazine Issue 8: ‘Transitions’, guest-edited by Isabelle Baafi. ‘yeast’ can also be found in Mycoglossia.












Images: from the start of the BVI ‘digital sibling’.

insatiable wriggler + strawberry squid 


Two poems published in late 2023 as part of Brilliant Vibrating Interface, an anthology of queer poetry from SPAM Press. BVI exists both in book format, and as the ‘digital sibling’ – an interactive, multimedia website. Bringing together work by a generation of ‘digital natives’, the project continues the concerns of Scottish poet Edwin Morgan, including ‘queerness, experiment, hybridity and technology’.

‘insatiable wriggler’ is an ekphrastic response to the slinky orange form within Louise Bourgeois’ 1996 sculpture, untitled. ‘strawberry squid’ addresses the animal of its name, a deep sea creature that is only made visible, from my distant vantage point, by the entrancing videos and hyper-detailed images that were washed up in my hands by the algorithmic tides of the internet. 

Extracts from ‘insatiable wriggler’:

bright      * as      *     open   *      pumpkin

     or tangerine tiger or peeled peach
    bum tucked under: neat in pleat and patch

slinky
wicked
impish
one

coiled like lamprey in pink bucket, untrusted
in that lithe, sly way

[...]

torso writ as a stem of twisty
ruckles, tusled furtive

(quick squeezed giggle!)

[...]

prehensile slendrous tensile tickling trunk

the suspect is so fiendish sweet:
an imposter trailing puzzled perk
lurid and changed through every frame


Fragments from ‘strawberry squid’:





Image: Bernard Hermant, via unsplash.

unflock


Four-part poem based on the dynamics, sounds, textures, and movements of bird vocalisations. It was published in March 2024 in the first issue of Strings magazine, Strings 1: ‘dreams jangling with lost connections’. This poem owes part of its material to Jim Flegg’s humble Collins Gem book, Birds


Extracts:












Mycoglossia


Poetry pamphlet written in deep collaboration with Nina Hanz, and published by HVTN Press in December 2022. Mycoglossia is an experimental collection of ‘mushroom tongues’ – an attempt to break conventions in poetic form – an enticement of non-human voices from the page.

This collection started with the contagious shared idea of making poems that ‘moved like spores’. It grew in a shared Google Doc during the early 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, found form as a 6-page magazine spread, and then blossomed into a 40-page pamphlet. You can buy it from our UK-based publisher, or from ChertLüdde Books in Germany, which offers international shipping. Its illustrations and cover art are by the talented Zsófia Jakab.

Mycoglossia has been read and featured at a range of events, from its launch in December 2022 at ChertLüdde Gallery, Berlin, to Mushroom Church. This nurturing evening of shared sound, words and connection to nature was convened on 1 March 2024 at Vancouver’s Christ Church Cathedral, by Modern Biology (Tarun Nayar), a maker of mushroom music. 

The collaboration between Nina and myself is ongoing, and we have expanded on our ideas in various ways. In February 2023, we presented a lecture at the National Poetry Library, London, as part of a special evening on writing poetry with more-than-humans. In August 2023, we ran a collaborative experimental writing workshop called Sporing Poetry at Floating, Berlin, to share ecology-inspired techniques for exchange and co-writing with others. In September 2023, we published an experimental essay, ‘The Mesh, the Flesh, the Mushroom’, with MAP Magazine, bringing our process to life. You can also read about the collection in the context of writing with non-human voices in this article. We are open to collaborations with scientists, artists, publications, and more, so please reach out if you would like to share an idea.


‘in edges, everything’ from Mycoglossia:

you bubble up nightly
an anyone as many-one
your union of tight-knit weavers
advancing on parallel
trama-tracks: rootshape
of hope and hyphae

feeling out futures, you thrive
on time’s thick margin
cryptic and cosmopolitan
beetle-skinned in chitin
born with all your cells; mitotic,
they swell rather than splitting

inheriting everything, yours
are the wide-webbed worlds
undreamt by our anarchists:
earth-turning matrices, a source-share
subversive

a true underground


Endorsements: 

Mycoglossia: Words that branch, connect, search, digest, swell, tunnel, rise, and reduce; words that sit uneasily at the edge of names; words that unexpectedly explode in generous fruiting bodies, littering the landscape with bounty. This is a collection to savour. 
—Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing

Reading Mycoglossia is like lifting a magnifying glass to the life of fungi. Here is a poetics that bursts forth, unstoppable in its mesmeric multiplicities – rightly and wonderfully matching its subject matter. As the mushroom world voices itself – ‘We, a single letter / swiveled to me’ – Fiona Glen and Nina Hanz propose a radical revision of the lyric that is at once wildly lavish and ‘trimmed vivid’. Be prepared for the extraordinary. 
— Isabel Galleymore

Mycoglossia is an exploration and poetics into a sense of the understory, and the ways in which it is both inhuman and alive. These poems, like a force of nature, offer something remarkable: a journey into and of the many layers of being.
— Aaron Kent

In Mycoglossia, Glen and Hanz utilise mushroom imagery from spore to meal and beyond in order to take the reader through a wider exploration of language, connection, and what exactly it might mean to be ‘alive’ in the first place. Lines such as “what is a mushroom, / if not a nomad?” work together with form and space to create a forceful collection of work which highlights unrelenting nature in all its fungal glory.
— Sean Wai Keung

Mycoglossia has a palpable energy plunging the reader into the mystical world of ‘enflaming fairies’ and the rituals of the ‘seven-flowers’ and ‘seven disciples’. The poems are urgent and vital confronting the horrors of the Anthropocene and climate emergency: the ‘clotted’ soil, the forest fires, and the ‘burnt, bleached, ripped’. Fiona Glen and Nina Hanz have created a collection with an almighty conscience, a scientific examination of life under the microscope. The reader looks to the petri-dish, the fungi, the algae but also their own human body. This is as much about the world around us as it is about us and our ‘cracking toes’ and flaking skin. The reader is awakened to both the beauties and horrors of the past, present, and our impending future. Reading this collection in the twentieth-first century, we are the ‘Dead-Man’s fingers’ which must find a way to ‘rise again’. Formidable, irresistible, and unforgettable.
— Karenjit Sandhu












Image by Fiona Glen

SHAPESHIFTER: Tracing the Cultural Octopus


A lithe and playful book which explores the surge of octopus imagery across contemporary culture, and untangles the many meanings these animals hold.

Since 2018, I have been collecting and analysing representations of octopuses (and their relatives, squid and cuttlefish). I see these popping up everywhere: in art, literature, pop culture, marketing, tech, philosophy, and beyond. Cephalopods – this group of animals – are chameleonic, mesmerising and intelligent in a radically different way from us. It is easy to become obsessed with them, and they have long been used as powerful and mysterious symbols. As science reveals more about octopuses in particular, there has been an explosion of people using them to express their ideas – and, in an even more fascinating way, their identities.

How we represent animals usually says more about our own society and beliefs than about the animals themselves. Octopuses are caught up in gender, race, sex, religion, politics. SHAPESHIFTER asks how – and why – they came to simultaneously stand for alien swarms and awkward loners, queer freedom and corporate monopolies.

Like an octopus, these meanings are often slippery and shifting. To track them, my thinking and my writing also needed to transform. As it follows my research, SHAPESHIFTER mimics the octopus by taking on different forms. On the journey, we find soft silicone robots, enormous pink protest floats, and interstellar think tanks full of dolphins.

SHAPESHIFTER is energetic, colourful and curious, drawing inspiration from the trickster animals that it traces. This creative and critical non-fiction book invites readers to open themselves up to new ways of looking at – and thinking about – how we represent animals, and ourselves.



Through the salted waters they come, those loose-legged shapes with their unmistakable silhouettes forever changing. Through cyberspace they clamber, these spiders of the sea, these dream-like spooks who shift through every colour – underwater chameleons, with skin smoother than scales. Through literatures and caricatures, brand books and grassroots movements, they float and flicker in letters, pixels, ink, crystals. What is the trace – the lineage – of creatures like these? Are their meanings as unfixed as their form, their symbolisms as mysterious as their reaching minds? Where do these octopuses lead?

Each opening is a new whisper: here be krakens. Here be dreadful monsters and utopian spirit-guides. Here be witches and women, aliens and alter egos, mystical icons and mirror images. Here be hope and fear, appropriation and obsession, the familiar and the other. Here we are, with our fellow beasts.

___

Read an excerpt which investigates insecurity in the reckoning of monstrosity and otherness through the squid and octopus drawings and writings of HP Lovecraft, with the occasional detour into Pink Floyd gigs and Pirates of the Caribbean). Published December 2021 by 3:AM Magazine.

Read an excerpt from the project in which I pay tribute to Disney’s Ursula as a queer octopus outsider. Published by Still Point in 2020, and by SPAM in 2022.

Watch me reading an excerpt from the project in which we meet the octopus as a fantastical and entirely real being (available via RCA2020 Grad Show Vimeo).

Find an extract on Extinction Rebellion’s giant pink protest octopus, Jeanne-Claude, in Caesura, an anthology on stoppages from Pala Press.

____

This project began as Cephalopodomania, submitted as my graduating project for the MA Writing programme at the Royal College of Art in 2020. It is still growing new arms and seeking a publisher to give it a physical body in the world.



Images: Fiona Glen


Image: research screenshot from TED Ed (linked)

transient guardians, guarding transience


Four cyanotype prints created with handpainted negatives, and a 6-minute textural audio track of a poem. Made on invitation for KNOCKvologan Studies’ Magical Octopus Sequel Exhibition, first presented from 21-28th November 2021 in KNOCKvologan Barn. In this project, artists with connections to the West coast of Scotland were given sections of the award-winning Magical Octopus riso print book to ‘translate’ into new artworks.

I worked with the eight pages produced by London’s Hato Press, who had created organic, wave-like imagery on a scanner bed in response to Miek Zwamborn’s poem – part of an original pack of materials drawn from the landscape (and seascape) of Mull. These photographs, maps, writings, and drawings had been sent to riso printmakers around the world, eliciting divergent, wandering responses from the same initial resources. You can see the pages created by Hato and other studios at the exhibition documentation link here.


Response:

Wandering outwards from Hato Press’s exploration of repetition in erosion, printmaking and tide cycles, I considered the relationship between cosmic bodies such as the moon, stars and turning Earth, and the microscopic bodies suspended in our seas. Inspired by the question of ‘who is guarding who’ from Miek’s original poem, my contribution was created in praise of phytoplankton: the collective of photosynthesising microorganisms on which nearly all life in our oceans depends. As the first ever beings to translate sunlight into fuel for life, phytoplankton were the original oxygenators of our atmosphere. To them, we owe our breath – and in concert with the sun that feeds them and the moon that moves the tides, these unsung caretakers of our planetary ecosystem currently retrieve as much CO2 from the atmosphere as all other plants on Earth put together. My spoken poem and cyanotypes combine mythological, cosmological and scientific imagery in an attempt to express this vast yet delicate system of interconnection.



Image: transient guardians, 1 of 4 cyanotype prints, Fiona Glen, 2021


Excerpts from guarding transience text:


here, the sun and moon preside over equal palaces of time

and the sun warms kind through every house

and the sun has cycles swimming in its skin

equal light: equal dark: equal light

...

more than the instant, its ebb and flow

on a thick waft of seaweed, the wellspring of love

...

*prismatic* these chosen mysteries

split crystal children

into six days of light life

pure sheer pellucid, they bask all through the photic zone

and burst:

bioluminescing swarming gorgeous eyeless glitter

teeming       microscopic mirrorworld

of ribbons.fans.zigzags and stars

a gravitas of spun glass

blind to its beauty

gods under micrograph clarity

an abundance, giving and giving

the unstill moment, again and again

...

in expansive suspense

we are tended by spirits as light as belief

....

constellations float in infinity pools and fortuna flies blindfolded

on our sphere of tumbling plenty

...

under oceans of oceans of stars

the coast advances and retreats like a cautious hunter or a suitor

speaking in silted gifts

courting the sea whose abrasive tongue is a

fizz of white noise and magnesium promises

....

hear the stones across the bay crackle

with the slow desire of a mountain’s pull

...

You can listen to the full textural poem recording in the Magical Octopus Sequel exhibition, here.

Magical Octopus Riso was initiated by Jo Frenken, a Maastricht-based risograph printing expert and long-term collaborator of Miek Zwamborn and KNOCKvologan Studies. Participating creators and studios were: Bananafish (Shanghai, CH), Calipso Press (Cali, CO), Corners Studio (Seoul, KR), Endless Editions (New York, USA), Gato Negro Ediciones (Mexico City, MX), Hand Saw Press (Tokyo, JP), Hato Press (London, UK), Issue Press (Grand Rapids, USA), kabinet.studio (Antwerp, BE), Knust (Nijmegen, NL), Quintal Éditions (Paris, FR), Raum Press (Salamanca, SE), Risolve (Lancaster, USA), Sigrid Calon (Tilburg, NL), Wobby.club (Tilburg, NL) and the Jan van Eyck Academie (Maastricht, NL).

Contributing artists to Magical Octopus Sequel were: Filip Andel, Andy Crabb, Derek Crook, Seth Crook, Elaine Dempsey, Rufus Isabel Elliot, David Faithfull, Fiona Glen, Katie Harris-MacLeod, Monica Haddock, Mhairi Killin, Naoko Mabon, Sue Murdoch, Julia Parks, Giles Perring, Christina Riley, Brodie Sim, Jan Sutch Pickard, and Brian Thomas.


Image: section of Meat Dreaming zine

Meat Dreaming


Micro-zine produced in response to an open call by Sticky Fingers Publishing, combining metamorphic drawings with four short prose pieces. Meat Dreaming explores four dreams of living meat and becoming meat through a series of short, experimental prose pieces, and surreal, often fluid drawings. Uneasy yet tender, strange yet touching, the zine is an open-ended collection of responses to scenes which dissolve the boundaries between a human dreamer and other creatures. Meat Dreaming was produced in one week in August 2021 and was printed by Piggy Bank Shoe.

The zine is a risograph print which folds to 8 small pages, with a foldout A3 poster on one side. It can be bought for £2 from Sticky Fingers here. If sold out, a few copies are available direct from me.








Still from video essay by Fiona Glen, source footage by Yo Yo 

Slimy, Sticky, Sweet 


Multimedia essay on cute slime, originally commissioned by Aww-Struck: Creative and Critical Approaches to Cuteness, a day-long seminar co-organised by Caroline Harris (Royal Holloway University) and Isabel Galleymore (University of Bristol). Slimy, Sticky, Sweet combines a wandering, mantra-like essay-script with a video essay that brings together found footage of slime making in looped, glitchy, ultra-saturated slow motion. It was presented online in May 2021 as part of Aww-Struck’s panel on Gender and Society. An Aww-Struck publication including another of my texts – an experimental poem called ‘As Syrup’ – was released by Poem Atlas and the University of Birmingham to accompany the seminar. 

After having been presented and discussed at Aww-Struck, Slimy, Sticky, Sweet was published in July 2021 by SPAM Plaza as their first video essay, accompanied by an expanded essay. The piece delves into the sanitised and hyperfeminised new paradigm of slime, proliferating through platforms such as TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. In the essay-script, I consider cuteslime through the abject, the excessive, the idealised, the marketised, and the ecologically monstrous. Read, watch and listen to the full piece here


Excerpt: 

[...]

A glimmering trail follows embodiment. Slime in sex and birth and death, hatching and rotting. It is defensive and exposing. Mucus protects – and yet mucus membranes are soft sites of intense transmission. We all ooze. The slimes our own bodies release enter another in-between: the uneasy state between self and not-self.

I want cuteslime to be some kind of reclamation of the feminised abject and the stickiness of being in any body. I want this to be some statement of proud, pink fleshliness — a high-camp assertion that all humans do live with slime, close to ourselves and material things, forever changing, slippery and free. But maybe that’s just what I want to see.

Cuteslime is a fantasy: sanitised, strawberry-scented and shameless. It bubbles up from entrepreneurs, algorithms and influencers, a craze that just won’t calm, signalled by canned giggles and swelling web shops.

Cuteslime is deeply capitalist and deeply clean. It is has left bodies far behind. No chunks, no lumps. This is not secretion. Cuteslime does not seep thin in parts or leave wet marks. It is not organic.

It is synthetic evenness, even when it is pulled out into bubbled ribbons that rip a honeycomb of curves. Pure consistent colour or clarity. It does not have the jellied dangles of raw egg white, or the mottled bands of biofilm in our saliva.

Cuteslime is hyper-aesthetic. Visually delicious. Perfectly suited to the channels which amplify, refine and intensify it. A fragment among a million other images, it is, in itself, fascinating. It needs no context; it is its total meaning.

Endlessly various, cuteslime visibility entices more looking, making, buying, playing. Companies with names like Slimeowy and Kawaii Slime sell it under complex taxonomies: galaxy, glossy, bubble, float, crunchy, clay, unicorn, smoothie, velvet.

Having been a child under contemporary capitalism, I remember what it’s like to uncritically want all the slight, bright mutations of a product — the whole collectible catalogue. Cuteslime oozes forth — creatively, hungrily — from wealth. An encounter between the weird and the market.

Perhaps synthetic slimes can only be cute because we already live among them. Freddie Mason calls ‘gooeyness’ a distinctly ‘modern phase of matter’ in his book, The Viscous. [4] Since the mass extraction of petroleum began, slippery derivatives have proliferated. Slime that is not animal or vegetal but emerges from minerals and industry has become ever-more fashioned to our needs. Lube, LCD screens, lip gloss. Since Sartre wrote on it in 1943, slime has become a far dearer friend. It brings us pleasure, speed and beauty.

Maybe the digital feels less like a cloud and more like slime. Flows gather, bits stick, polluted pools at the sites of extraction grow a rich layer of scum. Slime is a mode of life, a medium of healthy lifeforms. But it is also a signal of ecological stress and distress: the sea snot clogging the Mediterranean, the blue algae choking out lakes, the green drench on a canal flooded with fertilisers. Industrial production is filled with sludges poured into moulds, molten slurries at the bottom of tanks, by-products and leftovers. Slime is the texture of inflow and outflow, of the invisibilised waste from the industrial production of our clean bright devices. Slime moves into and out of our things.

Like capitalism’s, cuteslime’s dirt is displaced from the site of its enjoyment. It is often made of plastics: glue, glitter, polystyrene, and microbeads. In the rare case that somebody wants to recycle synthetic slime, it can be dissolved in lemon juice and vinegar to produce a thin, grey, acid soup that can then be taken to a liquid waste treatment facility. But most of the time, cuteslime is simply binned.

Cuteslime is waste, masquerading as an escape from dirt. A plaything that you believe will never excrete.

Cuteslime could be your friend. It is calming, held in your hand like a pet. It has nearly learned to sit still. It is nearly obedient. 

[...]

Stills: 











Image: Honeysuckle Collective, ‘Omnibus’, ICA, November 2019, Fiona Glen.


You Enter into a White Room...


Three-day art writing workshop aimed at practice-based students at London’s Royal College of Art, co-led with Harriet Welch and Lucy Holt. You Enter into a White Room... was part of the November 2019 edition of AcrossRCA, the RCA’s annual cross-college programme of student- and alumni-led events and workshops.

Taking its title from Ghislaine Leung’s artist text for Constitution, her solo show at the Chisenhale Gallery in Spring 2019, the workshop encouraged Masters students with a diverse range of arts backgrounds (from sustainable textile development to painting to archival design research) to open their writing into more experimental forms.

Over the three days, all participants collaboratively close-read contrasting texts, wrote from unfamiliar images and from ‘Omnibus’ (the ICA’s Honeysuckle Collective retrospective), co-edited their texts, and collated them into three flash publications. 

 




Images: Lucy Holt, Fiona Glen.



Image: design by Alec McWilliam of Boon Studio

Playing Houses 


Full-day multi-venue arts event hosted by first-year MA Writing students at London’s Royal College of Art, project managed by Fiona Glen. As part of a collaborative project with Flat Time House, we considered issues of domesticity, hospitality, and welcome as we programmed and facilitated artist demonstrations, writers' seminars, performances, talks, and a 'pub quiz’ full of the unexpected.


What happens on the threshold where the home and the public meet?

What kind of face does a place need to put on to become public-facing – and how can it express welcomeness and be welcomed?

When a house tries to make itself hospitable, what happens to us inside?



Playing Houses spanned three neighbouring cultural venues in Peckham, London: Artist Run, Peckham Liberal Club, and Flat Time House (the foundation and former home of John Latham). Collaborating artists included Sally O'Reilly, Megan Rooney, Audrey Reynolds, David Raymond Conroy, Lucy Vann, and Daisy Hildyard.



Images: Ludovica Colacino & George Lynch

Flat Time House TV

Reception Room, Audrey Reynolds

Curdled, Esme Boggis 

TAP TAP inside the body, Megan Rooney



Full programme:
 
Flat Time House

Reception Room: A reading and writing seminar with Audrey Reynolds
Through the interleaving of texts and experiences this seminar will be used to produce new experiences and texts. Participants will engage with a selection of texts and audio that address some matters relating to dominions and domains, will and welcome, and public and private thresholds. Artist and writer Audrey Reynolds will present her own writing and audio work interspersed with a selection of poetry and prose extracts by other writers. This will lead on to writing exercises focusing on, but not limited to, vignettes, prose poetry and interior monologues that examine the participants’ experiences as potential guests, ghosts or imagined selves in Flat Time House.

Curdling: a performance with Esme Boggis
Join artist and MA Writing student, Esme Boggis, for a buttery performance in the kitchen of Flat Time House, which will attempt to interpret 1970’s German-written cookbook – Buffets and Receptions in International Cuisine. The performance will enter a space of greasy re-enactment, slippery methodologies and muddied mistranslation to explore the inefficacies of effect and representation.

Flat Time House TV
Daytime TV for the curious: a specially selected afternoon of programming responding to the theme of ‘Playing Houses’. Broadcasting contemporary short film, moving image and music videos from artists and filmmakers, plus footage from the Flat Time House archive. Drop-in-and-drop-out all afternoon, grab a copy of the TV listings, help yourself to free tea and coffee. Featuring John Latham, Laure Prouvost, Sam Wiehl, Pathé Film, and many more.

Radio 
Architectural Association’s Independent Radio hosts the Royal College of Art’s MA Writing programme for an evening meal. This show is a pilot of a series that will discuss how cultural institutions operate domestic spaces as their functional ‘homes’. Governed by the implicit rules of politeness, table manners and decorum, but keeping within the expectations of their new institutional formations, the first broadcast dinner will ‘air’ on 30th March, during the Playing Houses event and will be available for listening at Flat Time House during the day.

Artist Run

TAP TAP: inside the body with Megan Rooney
My mother had a sign above the stove which read, “A tidy home is a sign of a misplaced life.” Out of isolation or perhaps out of pure boredom, she included me in all her domestic activities. We were taking care of the “nest” but it wasn’t our cage. The house provided us with a certain kind of freedom and we took liberties with it. In this performance lecture and making demonstration, Megan Rooney, an enigmatic storyteller whose work expands across painting, performance, written and spoken word, sculpture and installation, will engage with materiality and the human subject. Her work is deeply invested in the present moment: the festering chaos of politics with its myriad cruelties and the laden violence of our society, so resident in the home, in the female, in the body.

Artists' and writers' talks & performances
Three invited artists and writers give readings and performances on communication, habitation and the ‘public’ space - with subjects as diverse as the artist’s archive, Tinder and the inside of a nuclear reactor.

Daisy Hildyard is a novelist and academic. She has a PhD on early-modern scientific writing. Her first novel Hunters in the Snow received the Somerset Maugham Award and a ‘5 under 35’ honorarium at the USA National Book Awards. She currently runs a research project on animals and fiction at Northumbria University, and is working on a novel about nonhuman life forms. Her latest book, The Second Body, is an essay on the Anthropocene. She will host a reading of a series of short texts and extracts which consider how humans and other animals make habitat, from Kafka’s The Burrow to the microbes who live inside nuclear reactors at Chernobyl and Fukushima. There will be time for response and discussion after the reading.


Lucy Vann studied at the Manchester School of Art before completing an MA at the Royal College of Art. She is an artist and part time lecturer on Graphic Design at manchester School of Art, and holds a studio at S1 Artspace. I’ve Come Here To Talk To People’ is a monologue inspired by language used on dating apps such as Tinder, picking out tropes, one liners and moments of uncertainty used in biographies and conversation. The performance explores the presentation of the self and communication both on digital platforms and in public spaces.


David Raymond Conroy is an artist. His compositional works investigate the performance and construction of subjectivity, power and value within shared social space. He often assembles structures using objects, texts and images in order to investigate the relationships between desire and proposals of fidelity.
He will be exploring John Latham's archive, looking at the artist's extensive correspondence with the (art)world and his efforts to support and publicise his work without compromising his vision.


Peckham Liberal Club

Playing Houses Pub Quiz
In the evening, guests are invited into Peckham Liberal Club to digest the daytime’s thoughts, events and conversations at Playing Houses, and participate in a 'pub quiz'. Guests can write, discuss and relive the day’s activities in a quiz format. But unlike most quizzes, you may be asked to craft materials in your team or to write responses to esoteric, unanswerable questions – not necessarily answer, but to respond. Playfully, and with special guest hosts, the quiz will activate responses in the third and final venue of the day, asking questions of encounters in space and the unpredictability of what occurs in these situations.




Image: Fiona Glen, taken at Al Ma’amal.


*immersions


Short series of film screening evenings which I curated and organised as part of a Programming Internship at Al Ma’amal, a Palestinian contemporary art foundation based in an historic ceramics factory in the Old City of Jerusalem, June-August 2016. *immersions included a feature-length screening of Jessica Habie’s Mars at Sunrise, and a rooftop screening evening of seven short films produced by artists from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine.



Curatorial text: 

Immersion: a state of escape, a state of suffocation.
Citizens (or not) of states which engulf and bind, how do Levantine artists portray political claustrophobia and demonstrate the relieving power of the imaginative and innovative? The conditions of life 'submerged' in troubled political environments are explored by filmmakers from Palestine, Lebanon and beyond. While each depiction of contemporary history is unique, this collection reveals a common language of emotive motifs, a shared experience of disillusionment and suppression. Together, these artists' work speaks of the interrelated abnormalities of national experiences in the bilaad ash-shaam: disruption, displacement and diaspora, alongside satire, strength of resolve and survival.



Works included in shorts screening (all artist liaison by Fiona Glen):

Sea Level, Khaled Jarrar. Palestine.
Rounds, Khalil Joreige & Joana Hadjithomas. Lebanon.
Journey of a Sofa, Idioms Film, Alaa Al Ali. Lebanon/Palestine.
Condom Lead, Arab & Tarzan Nasser. Palestine.
Pink Bullet, Idioms Film, Ramzi Hazboun. Palestine.
The Diver, Jumana Emil Abboud. Palestine.
Off the Coast, Mahmoud Safadi. Lebanon/Canada.