"Reading, especially reading books is often a private, interior act. Our physical bodies (blood pressure, breathing rate) change as we transform printed text into imaginative alchemizations. But there is something about reading in a public space that changes the experience, so that even an isolato can feel part of the polis, and vice versa. This experience—of feeling alone in a group—is not unlike being in a family. Often we can’t choose or elect the families we are born into, but art allows us to find another kind of family, to “elect” our “affinities.” Adding public readings into the mix is another way to foreground that printed text, while often encoded in the privacy of the page, between covers, is perhaps most fully embodied when it is voiced in a responsive environment—books exist spatially, but reading and reading aloud are temporal acts. Bringing those states of being—space and time—into concert is another way of defining what constitutes a family."
Read about why Michael Barron thinks Elective Affinities may be the year's most literary art show at The Culture Trip.