Oct 26 2020 - Jan 14 2022

Lacey Lennon Sable Elyse Smith TOUCH Swiss Institute

Now Online: TOUCH
With L’Rain, Billy-Ray Belcourt, Elliott Jerome Brown Jr., Naima Green, Katherine Hubbard, Freddie June, Lacey Lennon, Paul Pfeiffer, Jimmy Robert, Richard Siken, Sable Elyse Smith and Jonah Yano

Swiss Institute is pleased to present TOUCH, the second issue of Sable Elyse Smith’s year-spanning, multimedia project FEAR TOUCH POLICE. Conceived by Smith in March 2020 as a digital magazine, FEAR TOUCH POLICE unfolds across three issues, the content of which will later serve as material to be reworked and integrated into an original musical composition arranged by Smith. Drawing from the artist’s sustained interrogation of language and how its affective connotations are shaped by both popular culture and intimate lived experience, Smith’s project is a constellation of the work of friends, collaborators and influences. Lifted from a webpage and embedded in a score, the contents of FEAR TOUCH POLICE constitute a mutable audiovisual collage that culminates in an opportunity to listen.

TOUCH presents a guided flow of photographs, songs, videos and pieces of writing that consider the titular subject as both physical action and abstract effect. What does it mean to be touched? Encompassing an embrace, a grip, a caress, a grappling hold and a graze, touch also connotes impact, influence or friction that arises from no contact at all. The multivalence of the term is highlighted by the twelve contributors to the issue. Writing by Katherine Hubbard, Richard Siken and Billy-Ray Belcourt outlines complex expressions of love. In pictures, Elliott Jerome Brown Jr., Lacey Lennon and Naima Green capture traces of tenderness, intimacy and solitude. Two videos are featured in TOUCH: a reprise of Paul Pfeiffer’s Caryatid work first included in the magazine’s inaugural issue, as well as a new adaptation of Jimmy Robert’s 2013 installation Vanishing Point. Songs by Jonah Yano, L’Rain and Freddie June are laden with questions brought on by loss and longing. At the center of the issue is “Quiet as it’s kept,” a major new fictional work by Sable Elyse Smith. In this varied and layered archipelago, Smith charts the unruly consequences of bodies coming together and coming apart.

FEAR TOUCH POLICE is the second of a three-part collaboration with Smith that commenced in September 2020 with the installation of her sculpture, BACKBEND, on SI’s roof terrace. Smith is curating the 6th edition of SI’s Architecture and Design Series in January 2022, with a focus on how speech, noise and song traverses and troubles both visible structures and invisible systems. This digital project functions as a thematic bridge between Smith’s sculptural installation and her curated exhibition, providing unique insight into Smith’s curatorial process and artistic instincts. The publication’s first issue, FEAR, launched in October 2020, and its third and final issue, POLICE, will launch in late 2021. To visit the website, please visit or enter through SI’s homepage.

Sable Elyse Smith wishes to thank: the whole hood + each contributor and the team.

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Image: Lacey Lennon, Untitled (Jade), 2019. Courtesy of the artist.