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'Johanna Hedva: Who Listens and Learns' opens at Modern Art Oxford
Johanna Hedva, Wart Painting, 2022. Image courtesy the artist.



OXFORD.- Modern Art Oxford presents Who Listens and Learns, a brand new work by Korean-American writer, artist, and musician Johanna Hedva. Available to experience both in person at the gallery and online, the work Who Listens and Learns is a philosophical enquiry into artificial intelligence, centred around a mystical short story by the artist, set during the pandemic.

A multimedia telling of Hedva’s ‘fantasy non-fiction’ story, Who Listens and Learns is designed as a reading-and-listening experience, combining audio with a new handmade book. The artist invites audiences into the world of a lonely protagonist who spends lockdown interacting with two characters: Coconut, the AI-Enhanced Virtual Companion, and The Woman Who Carves The Tree.

The piece for Modern Art Oxford continues Hedva’s interest in the aesthetic, political and mystical implications of AI, including its links to divination and magic. An AI vocal clone named “Arid” reads the story aloud in the artist’s voice, the result being described by Hedva as “not human but not non-human.” This vocal clone was created for Hedva’s immersive physical installation and video game work, Glut (2020), presented as part of the exhibition Illiberal Arts at HKW Berlin.

Hedva’s handmade book is created with California-based designer Vivian Sming (Sming Sming Books), and is printed and bound by Matt Austin (For the Birds Trapped in Airports). Each book is wrapped in human hair and illustrated inside with Hedva’s ink-based Wart Paintings (2022).

Johanna Hedva (they/them) is a Korean-American writer, artist, and musician, who was raised in Los Angeles by a family of witches, and now lives in LA and Berlin. Hedva is the author of Minerva the Miscarriage of the Brain, a collection of poems, performances, and essays; and the novel On Hell. Their albums are Black Moon Lilith in Pisces in the 4th House and The Sun and the Moon. Their work has been shown in Berlin at Gropius Bau, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Klosterruine, and Institute of Cultural Inquiry; The Institute of Contemporary Arts in London; Performance Space New York; Gyeongnam Art Museum in South Korea; the LA Architecture and Design Museum; the Museum of Contemporary Art on the Moon; and in the Transmediale, Unsound, and Rewire Festivals. Their writing has appeared in Triple Canopy, frieze, The White Review, Topical Cream, Spike, and is anthologised in Whitechapel: Documents of Contemporary Art. Their essay “Sick Woman Theory,” published in 2016, has been translated into 10 languages.










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