SI the artists
From: christine de smedt Date: 27 Jul 2010 21:35:19 GMT+02:00 To: Lilia mestre, pieter ampe, Vladimir Miller, Dmitry, lenio kaklea, Nikolaus Gansterer, lisi estaras, myriam van imschoot, iris, Sergio Cruz Subject: Update SI
We would like to ‘freshen’ you up about SI ! To start with a short anecdote: Myriam and I are spreading information about SI, flyers and some posters, and we receive interesting feedback. Some people think SI is the next generation of the Situationist International. hA…wellwellwell....Is that great, or too sentimental?
You already know but we would like to repeat that the core idea of SI is to create an opportunity where we can work on our own projects/ concerns, individual and or in collaboration, so that the group and the situation functions as mediator and possible intensifier for the work each of us does. It is also an opportunity to reflect again and again upon ways of how to produce, to support and to present work. Final results during SI are not the aim, but we want to work, exchange and search for forms of collaboration. We also aim for an open dialogue with the audience during the working process.
Myriam and I (and maybe also Vladimir) will set up a first contour of the first two days of meeting (16, 17) but once SI has started, we will organise ourselves all together throughout the process. We would like to ask you to give a bio together with a short text that sketches your proposal for SI. For those of you who donâ€™t come with or donâ€™t have yet a clear proposal, you can also briefly describe your sphere of interests that you bring to SI. Please check on the wikispace http://summerintensive.wikispaces.com/artists what information is already there and add your additional text before 6th of Augusts 2010, or send it to us. Meanwhile on the basis of conversations and some texts we received, we can give you an overview of what we know. If we didnâ€™t understand your proposal correctly, please add and change.
Nikolaus Gansterer is an artist interested in the links between drawing, thinking and action. While having had an ongoing interest in practices of mapping, in more recent years he has come to focus on the diagram as a figure. In SI he likes to experiment with a series of diagrams and their potential to score (group) actions. He would also like to present his forthcoming publication with diagrams in view of feedback and discussions.
Sergio Cruz is a Portuguese filmmaker, based in London. His chief topic is the human body in motion. This interest led into a series of dance films, documentaries, film works. During SI Sergio would like to show his recent work and discuss it in view of the transitions that are happening in his work towards more cinematic approaches, grounded in more spontaneous film making methods.
Vladimir Miller is a visual artist of Russian descent, based in Berlin. He has developed a model of working with groups in situ by way of using the city as a model to engender and structure activities, projects, events and encounters. He is interested in different knowledge, how to map them and activate them through spatialisation. For SI he likes to draw from this practice and make suggestions for emergent social structures of communication. Another desire that he has is to discuss the making of a website through which artists can communicate their ideas in view of finding people who can support them.
Dmitry Paranyuskin, aka DeeMeeTree developed ThisIsLike (http://thisislike.com), an online mapping initiative where the knowledge is realized not through a fixed concept, but through a relationship, an active event. In SI he wants to use the structure of ThisIsLike to explore associative narratives as the basis for a performance piece (instead of working with a script) and develop tools for language analysis.
Lenio Kaklea is a Greek choreographer based in Paris. In Matter-of-act, the project she proposes for SI, she attempts to create a live documentation of SI by its spectators and investigate the various impacts of the artistic works by actually performing them. The dispositive is simple: the participants will assist together to various experimental works developed by the invited artists during SI, investigate the different ways of watching, perceiving and receiving the works and create together a piece out of what they saw. There will be a final presentation towards the end of SI.
Lisi Estaras is a choreographer based in Brussels and currently seeking for different ways of producing movement and choreography. Improvisation as a choreographic machine and eating soup as time keeper for the actions is one of her ideas she would like to explore. Lisi will be part of SI during two short periods of time but wants to elaborate further on “Food that is made by combining ingredients”. Pieter Ampe is a dancer, choreographer and co-organiser of Sweet and Tender (http://www.sweetandtender.org) For SI he wants to elaborate further his thinking and writing on collaboration…..
Lilia Mestre is a performing artist creating her own pieces and working in collaboration with other artists. She created the company Random Scream with Davis Freeman in 1999 to expose the eclectic elements of everyday culture with proposed lines of flight for dance, theatre, and visual arts. For SI, Lilia wants to elaborate further Moving you, a recent project in which the relation between, objects, movement and sound are worked upon.
Myriam Van Imschoot is involved in what she calls expanded publication. Rather than restricting herself to the page and the book she engages with multiple media to publish her work, making use of the sensorial range of these media as an intrinsic value. Over the past two years she uses interview archives as the main vector for expanded publications such as Fax Film, Pick up Voices (a performance in collaboration with Christine De Smedt) and sound installations. For SI she likes to develop ideas in the framework of a solo-work in which she investigates the link between voice, her own extensive interview archive accumulated over the past twenty years and autobiography.
Christine De Smedt will work on models for â€˜conversationâ€™, the translation and composition for performative structures. Appropriation and display are part of the focus. She is currently working on the project Untitled Four, a series of portraits made on the basis of interviews. She would like to present raw materials from this project and set up different forms of conversations as part of the process of SI and as a daily practice.
We want to engage Pieter Van Bogaert to witness the process, to document and write about it. Pieter is a visual art critic and has developed his own projects and collaborations. Currently he is working on a traject enSuite. Pieter can be in close collaboration with all the participants during SI but he probably will write his texts mainly after. The document should also develop material for further discussion and future initiatives. SI is a new initiative of les ballets C de la B to create opportunities for artistic practice. There is also a need for informing a broader audience of the company. However, the documentation of SI should not be an overpowering concern for the working process itself. Besides this document, each of us might need/want to archive and document his/her artistic process in a more particular way.
That is it for now. We just want to get started..... If you have more questions or proposals, please let us know. We are looking forward to meet you, soon !! Greetings, Christine and Myriam
Christine De Smedt I proposed SI in the framework of les ballets C de la B, a Ghent-based dance company that functions as a collective, a platform, a collaboration since its foundation in 1986. Within this structure SI questions a certain idea of education and the set of hierarchical relations produced in coaching. Therefore, SI creates a non-hierarchical space, a space that facilitates exchange and potential ways of collaboration. In this way, SI slowly drifts towards an annulment of coaching. Since 2007 les ballets C de la B occupies a newly built space. Key component of that space is a large studio, equipped for the creation of dance performances. SI is a search for new production processes that can be developed in that studio. It is part of the search for diversification within les ballets C de la B, that started with previously held workshops, presentations, screenings and other gatherings held in this space.
SI has a clear interest in setup: what conditions enable or disable various kinds of work? How can work generate its own particular conditions? These questions are the starting point for the discussion on modes of production between co-curator Myriam Van Imschoot and myself. This discussion is a continuation of a series of past engagements (oa. connexive at Vooruit in Ghent, skite in Paris and Lisbon, laboratorium in Antwerp). The PerformingArtsPlatform (PAFSaint-Erme) and 6M1L/Montpellier (a group of artists, invited to work six months in one location, curated by Bojana Cvejic and Xavier Le Roy) are also important references in the discussions about the setting of SI. All these events search for conditions of artistic collaboration and mediation through shared practice and investigate various working conditions within a residential set up. SI is a shuffle of these and other existing formats, pursuing an own project but infused with the dynamic of those more open structures of exchange. SI is curated through a series of conversations with artists and curators from different backgrounds, for whom Myriam and I share an interest. The invitation for SI is a proposition to contribute to the present work and to the actual artistic process of each participant. This ongoing conversation is strengthened by a policy of open doors, inviting a public to join the process. The open doors with which SI started never actually closed. This publication and the website1 are part of that same ongoing process. The choice for the shared space of one studio, its spatial dynamic, is of utmost importance. One of the first encounters, leading up to this event, is with Vladimir Miller. From this conversation a few questions rise that keep on working throughout SI. How does an encounter with artistic work happen? How do institutions or spaces enable or disable this encounter? How to connect to each otherâ€™s processes of thinking, while they are still in flux? These questions are answered by a spatial proposal. SI chooses Vladimirâ€™s proposal to organize itself in a model of settlements, wherein people build and keep altering their working conditions, creating the SI environment as a network of their places of work and encounter. The aim is to create a space that is open for negotiation, readjustment and facilitation. 09 1 http://si2010.net
In this way, SI creates a network of different proposals – a network to dive into: to facilitate and then put yourself in as a participant. Just like the idea of coaching, where SI takes off, the idea of curatorship, where SI ends up, is disappearing. The curators become participants, the centre of the project disappears, giving way to a non-hierarchical structure of spatial, performative and learning proposals. The curatorship behind SI dissolves. What remains is a certain idea of care, a follow up of which this publication is a first step. See it as an extension of not only the public, but also the participants: the prolongation of the conversations before and during SI in – again – a different format.
(this text is written after a conversation in November 2010, between Myriam Van Imschoot, Vladimir Miller, Pieter Van Bogaert and myself)
Christine De Smedt is a dancer and choreographer. She lives in Brussels and works for les ballets C de la B in Ghent.
11 ÂŠ photo: Paul Brunner ÂŠ portrait photo: Marc Vanborm
Dmitry Paranyushkin From: Dmitry | ThisIsLike.Com Date: 26 October 2010 19:20:11 CEST To: christine de smedt Subject: Re: SI and document-ationists
Sorry for the slight delay in responding to your letter, but I needed some time to think about all the answers. Let me address your questions directly, so we can start a dialogue or at least use them as the departing point. I’m doing it in a very personal way, perhaps not the way you would publish it in a book, but I think it’s also better this way, because I imagine how I’d answer these questions if I was talking to you. Kind of like an interview. Later I can also put it into a more formal text for example, if we feel like the format of the publication requires something like that.
I also attach a short text I wrote inspired by the whole experience – maybe it would be more suitable for the publication (but I need to still edit it a bit). With what expectations did you come to SI and in which project(s)/questions/issues did you want to investigate during SI?
SI was a very open proposition from the outset. Certain people come at a certain space to spend two weeks without a specific agenda or any pressure to produce anything. It sounded very exciting and interesting – a lot like PAF, except that in the case of SI it was not self-made and self-funded residency, so there was a totally different dispositif. I was wondering how we could come together with people in a way that would produce interesting interactions, in a way that I could learn something and share something I know with the others, in a way that we could all work and have fun.
As I was not invited to work on a specific project, I was planning to use that time to do a little bit of everything, show it to the others, see where we connect, and go from there. At that time I was really interested in network analysis as a framework to trace evolution of meaning. So I was thinking about using my project, ThisIsLike as a mapping tool to understand what knowledge the group carries in and somehow find the junctures and points where we connect, where we differ, and where there’s the most potential for the production of meaning. I was also working on several other projects, such as Life Skills (after two years of standby) and my solo performance practice. I thought SI would be a perfect platform to continue / share these projects and related ideas and to somehow advance them further (because they all need people to function). What happened for you during SI?
It was an amazing and inspiring experience. The first day I felt a bit lost, but I think it was very important (think about Pieter Ampe’s contribution for Life Skills: being lost as a strategy to find new meaning), because it allowed me to be receptive to the group and find what I could do inside in the way that would work for my projects but also involve the others.
I was also wondering about the conditions again. We were taken care of in such an amazing way, given everything we needed, getting paid, and there was no objective, no pressure to produce anything. I was wondering why les ballets C de la B would fund something like that (it doesnâ€™t have any social agenda as far as I know of).
After a few days the whole residency started to take more and more shape, and it became very clear to me that it was a lot about encounters, interviews, and dialogues. I guess interviewing each other was the best way we could all find to come together in the group, because there were no constraints, just the space, people, and time. So obviously you would find yourself talking a lot to other people, getting to know them in a personal way, understanding their practice, sharing yours. It was fantastic, because after three or four days I was already starting to try some things out with other people, entering their practice, inviting them into mine â€“ and a lot of it happened through dialogues, interviews, one on one encounters. Sometimes there was audience, but it did not matter, or rather the fact that the doors were open and that anyone could listen to my private conversations, made me a little bit more open and sharp somehow.
Because there was not a focus on any specific result or group showing (I hate that word), we all felt free to work on two, three, five things at the same time. To give an impulse to the things we started before, to the projects that were sleeping, discuss some ideas and solidify them to the extent that they could be used as the new starting points, and so on. I realized how these two weeks will produce enough material for these eight people to be busy with for at least a year, on their own, or in the new constellations (perhaps even with the people from the residency at some point). There I also saw how these projects can actually be sustainable, because in fact it is a relatively cheap way to produce work. By the way, it reminded me the way some successful brands, such as Red Bull, work: they fund an event that would produce discourse and make sure to document it well, so it becomes not about the actual event, but more about the things that happen around it, some continuations produced from it, with the companyâ€™s logo, of course, but well, if they make things happen, why not? In the end of SI I had two new projects getting from the phase of a vague idea to being in full-on production (ThisIsLike interviews and
Artificial Artificial Intelligence), I filmed lots of material for The Life Skills video series, did my performance three times and had eight people re-enacting it (Matter-of-act: what a generous way of giving feedback!), agreed to do at least three future collaborations with some of the participants in the future... I should say it was intense and in a very positive and productive and also experimental way, because I did not know at all what the outcome would be. What happens for you after SI (further projects, ideas, reflections...)?
A lot of work, of course. Right after SI I jumped into another residency at Direktorenhaus in Berlin. The way of coming together at SI as a group but still maintaining our individual practices, being open to the people from the outside, to the process, not chasing specific results – this was all very inspiring. And even without thinking about it too much – this way seemed the only natural method to work together with people, which was great, because it also produced something very interesting for that residency as well. Also, partially inspired by the whole interview aspect of SI, me and my partner organized a whole event where audience was invited to be interviewed by eight different performers / artists. Finally, lots of projects I mentioned above, lots of new ideas that needed to be written down and published still in process, lots of great people (meeting them again), and so on. With what kind of expectations did you leave SI?
With a whole different notion of what a residency may be (see the text). Let me know, Christine, how it is for you and what your reflections are. These are just some initial thoughts, I’d love to also see your answers to all these questions. I also really relate to this Hans Ulrich Obrist quote I posted on the website, and what’s funny is that it was my friend sending it to me from Berlin right when I finished at SI, so it was amazing to see how
connected we were through the distance, thinking about the same things in a similar way, getting inspired by this idea of sustained interactions, processes vs results, ongoing projects that continue in time and space, event as a solidifying of something underlying, but not as a final product, and so on. We talk soon and I send you a kiss from Berlin too! Dmitry
Dmitry Paranyushkin is a media artist and performer interested in networks, Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction, movement and text among other things. He is born in Moscow and lives in Berlin. www.thisislike.com www.deemeetree.com
ÂŠ portrait photo: Varya Vedeneeva
How to Reside – On Temporary Presence and States of Coexistence by Dmitry Paranyushkin, September 2010 To reside is to be present temporarily.
When we reside we leave our space and time behind, opening up to the constraints and propositions that the residency proposes. These constraints are there to produce friction that makes movement possible. You need to push against something when you walk. I don’t know anything about flying.
When the movement is determined solely by economical, political, and personal objectives it becomes about fulfilling a certain task. This can be useful, however it doesn’t produce the knowledge, but results. The movement solidifies and stops there. Which is not a bad thing, but that’s not what I’m looking for right now. What kind of constraints and propositions do we need to maintain the movement, to avoid fulfilling tasks but to generate them instead?
“True creativity is all about finding a business model that makes intelligent content sustainable.”1 I found this quote while I was thinking about residencies today. Coincidence? They also talk about performance and possibility. The notion of true is a bit suspicious, but let’s say it’s the echo of economical, political, and personal.
Maybe what I’m looking for has something to do with the constraints and propositions the residency offers. The question of where is solved with misplacement, the question of when is solved with temporariness. So the circumstances, the relations become more prominent than anything else. Now back to the intelligent content and sustainability. Intelligence is about knowing that you have multiple choices, sustainability is about leaving the knowledge behind and starting to move in a certain direction. Perhaps intelligence is related to propositions and sustainability is related to constraints.
Making intelligent propositions that are sustainable produces the movement. The friction comes from constraints and makes it possible. The time and space are eliminated. Possibility of performance.
So what could the propositions be? Let’s start from the beginning. Multiple choices are already there from the beginning when the people arrive, within their intelligence. So to propose something is just to acknowledge this fact. Just go on. Continue. Do whatever you feel like. Do whatever you don’t feel like. This is not enough.
What are the constraints? They are already there from the beginning. The place has its borders, the time has its limits, there is only this much people. The objects, the space, the time, the conditions, the people produce relationships. A multitude of
differences, tension, friction. Choices. The movement starts.
Another quote. “They all did their own thing, but yet it happened in the same space. And there is the possibility that certain encounters happen. “ And then – “For me, it is very important to work on these things as if it were long distance running, over many years. Little by little, new ramifications happen. So, the answer to your question of how one can bring these things together is by, first of all, not rushing them, and, secondly, not jumping from one project to the next, but instead having sustained projects that evolve over a long time, through different chapters.“2
Sustained projects and sustainable content. Residency as the time and space that produces the possibility for encounters to happen or the possibility of performance. Propositions that produce multiplicity within this possibility. Constraints that point to the right choices. The time is over and I have to leave, but let’s maybe talk about it when we meet again.
21 1 032c Magazine, Berlin - http://www.032c.com/2010/performance-p/ 2 Hans Ulrich Obrist - http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/obrist08/obrist08_index.html
Lenio Kaklea Matter of act, a study on the notion of Live Documentation.
In April 2010, Christine de Smedt invited me to participate in Summer Intensive, a project which would bring together artists to reflect, exchange and support each other’s work in a context keen on questioning the relationship between mentor and tutor. I would take part with Matter-of-act, a project that would attempt to create a live documentation of SI‘s activities. Matter-of-act was originally conceived for the Greek Festival’s 2009 edition, and provided a structure where a group of audience members attended together various performances and created a piece out of what they saw.
In the context of SI, Matter-of-act, in its new version, would have two functions: 1. Provide live feedback to people involved or interested in SI (artists invited to participate and visitors). 2. And form a group of forgers, skilled enough to perform live copies of the artistsâ€™ works, whenever the authors were not available to do so.
In order to assemble this group, Christine and I decided to put forth an open call for participation. The announcement was published in the beginning of June and we finally formed a group of eight people one month later. The Matter-of-act participants and SIâ€™s intensive visitors were: Aleksandra Chmiel, Brecht Hermans, Irina Biscop, Lydia Debeer, Lou Forster (a French critic invited personally by me to collaborate with us), Susanne Bentley, Patricia Rau and myself, young people for the most part of the group with direct or indirect relationship to performing artâ€™s field. They would work on voluntary bases during these two weeks in August. Before arriving in Ghent, my main concern for the work was to develop a concrete performative process, which would allow us to compare our research with its performance. A few days before the beginning of the project, I edited a short list of principles I wanted us to work on and sent it to the participants:
1. We create actions out of the artistic propositions that we see, as a way to appropriate and decompose them. 2. We do not evaluate nor interpret artistic propositions; we try out ways to perform them. 3. If we consider that artistic approaches wish to register in a public space, the spectator's response can eventually be considered as a live feedback for the artists involved and the frame of presentation.
4. All moments of our reconstitution share equal representative value as they regenerate our relation to the artistic works. 5. As we are confronted to artistic objects, the question is not: "What is it?" but "What can we do with it?" !!!
And so Monday 16th of August came.
We soon arrived in defining an everyday schedule. We had lunch all together around 1pm, Matter-of-act group and Summer Intensive invited artists, and then we started working in a separate studio just next to the main one. We worked from 1pm to 6pm, everyday except Sunday.
What did we work on? SI was from its very beginning a place where many things were happening during the day: discussions, dialogues, space shifting, work presentations, rehearsals and individual work, sharing artistic practices and tools with the group. This made necessary for us to define concretely our objects, what we would later call resources, and the principal factor for this was time: we could not be present during all SIâ€˜s activities, thus we would never find time to perform them. We decided to dedicate each day an hour or so, to participate collectively in scheduled public presentations or invite some of the artists involved to show us their work in our studio next doors. Sergio presented a series of films, Pieter a ten minute improvisation, Christine presented a work in progress, Dmitry one of his solo and Myriam extracts of her work while she also allowed us access to her archives. What we saw was what we worked on. Appropriating someone elseâ€™s materials without having access to the original process of making them brought two main questions in the
work: “How do we perform what we saw?” and “Do we create archives or copies?” Archiving would probably allow us to de-compose some of the works, interrogate its principles, or even perform free interpretation versions. This way we could explore some possibilities of the works that weren’t originally part of them. Copies, much more bound to the original form, would be a way for us to practice our skills by performing someone else’s work and play with the impossible: repeat the unrepeatable. But how on earth would we copy an improvisational piece? After testing different ways, we formulated some concrete tools, which allowed us to investigate different ways of approaching the works we had seen, our resources. The tools were: extraction of principles, reenactment, and plausibility. With extraction of principles, we investigated principles of each work– all of us having different interpretations of course… Very similar to a composition class, we would argue on the choreographic strategies that constitute the work and try to perform them on our own.
In our attempts to reenact the original works, we tried to reconstitute what we saw using our memory, individually and collectively. We did reenact improvisation after all…
Plausibility had a more metaphoric dynamic in the work: formally we were allowed to do whatever we wanted. The main concern of the performer was to convince the audience that what he does could be part of the original piece even if it wasn’t by the time we saw it. Using
this tool, we created our less respectful versions, where everything was permitted by the single fact that our performance carried the same title as the original.
In every case, feedback was an integral part of the process, even though in the beginning the group found this quite difficult to do. Since each attempt to perform what we had seen, was a live way to interrogate it, we wanted to structure a way to talk about it in real time, as a way to give feedback to the performer, examine the tools and our resources at the same time. Four feedback structures came up and each performer, every time he was about to perform, would choose the kind of feedback he wanted to receive:
1. Directive feedback was our traditional way of dealing with each oneâ€™s proposition. The audience assumed the place of a director and gave concrete instructions to the performer of how to evolve. 2. La mauvaise foi, (bad faith), was a game where the audience took what the performer was working on out of context and judged it based on their own personal associations, basically comparing the work to completely irrelevant influences. 3. The guess what principle, was where the performer would not reveal his intentions and the audience had to guess what kind of resource and tools he tried to perform, 4. And no feedback at all.
On Friday, 26th of August, one day before the official ending of Summer Intensiveâ€™s activities, we organized a presentation of the process we had been working on. A hand-made board was left on stage,
communicating to the audience the names of the performers (Matter-of-act group), our resources (the works we had seen under the name of their authors), the tools we would apply and the feedback possibilities we would choose to receive from the audience. Our presentation lasted around forty minutes with a short introduction to the work made by myself. Reflecting back on these two weeks in Ghent, I feel that SI allowed us to pose very concrete questions regarding the working process of Matter-of-act, and to understand how this project can dialogue with a context very different from the one it had been initially created for. Experimenting the relation of the project to its context and vice-versa is an aspect that remains my main interest of how to develop future versions of Matter-of-act.
Lenio Kaklea is a choreographer and performer. She lives and works in Paris.
29 ÂŠ photos: Sergio Cruz
Lilia Mestre Looking back at SI
Summer Intensive (SI) was an invitation for exercising, sharing and questioning oneâ€™s own artistic practice in one common working space, the big studio of les ballets C de la B.
My expectations within SI were related to what I once experienced at the Skite project in 1992. This project, organized by Jean Marc Adolphe, brought fifty artists together (choreographers and associates) to try out and share their ideas. We spent a month at the CitĂŠ Universitaire de Paris working and living together, which was an intense moment in performance research and inspiration. Creative urge was the mode and we just went instantly into a highway of production where everyone was either learning or making a performance. That was the drive of that moment and a lot of amazing pieces were shown after just two weeks. Art concerns have changed since then and in Summer Intensive it was quite different.
This time things weren't as focused on creating performances but more on the exchange of practices and considering that state of the arts. The artists were in a constant dialogue and that created an openness to comment and react on each others projects. I think a large part of this had to do with the fact we were a smaller group. Less people allowed more intimate and direct relationships to emerge and that would not have been possible otherwise. This was also supported by the fact that we all shared one working space and constantly had to negotiate our different modes of research and creation and not just performances. And last but not least, it was very important for the experience to be in a space that was constantly evolving. The objects and materials present in the studio, like cardboard boxes, mattresses, metal tubes and steps had to be rearranged by necessity to become functional, practical or comfortable. The space proposal of Vladimir Miller framed the way of being in the studio very much.
In my point of view, all these parameters brought simultaneously the dimension of relationality, intimacy, encounter and exchange very much to the forefront of the art practice on itself. People were working individually on their own projects, as much as meeting other people on theirs. The different projects delineated multiple structures in the space and created the possibility for a partition of their affinities, parallels, contradictions, disagreements, analogies, complicity, matters... This is where I came in with my ideas about affect, relation and the social body1 as points of interest and departure. This set up was the perfect occasion to experiment and enhance these elements by conceptualizing them into a project. A collective practice for the affective. For me it was important to put at stake the process of imparting a material, of exercising it, and of transforming it by practicing. How does an artistic codified practice becomes common language, meaning how can a practice, that is already established beforehand, be shared and become a vocabulary that can be used by all (performers and
33 1 By social body I mean a temporary group of people and all other matters within a time/space frame.
visitors) to communicate and create situations? I was very much interested in giving visibility to the making of a situation, to the process of being together in doing something, and through that, notice what's going on in between. My purpose was not so much to create a participatory interactive piece but to make something together that brings us all to the here and now dealing with a situation.
I proposed the others the material of my latest stage performance Moving you. This piece deals with the relation between subjects, objects, sound and movement and proposes a frame where affect appears as the generator of movement and therefore of change. In this piece we developed a system to give sound to objects which I called voicing out objects. This system consists in attributing a specific vocal sound to an object and to produce this sound each time one gets in contact with that specific object. We then arrive to a collection of objects and their several correspondent vocal sounds. This interaction with objects produces a relation between the subject, the object and the environment, creating a kind of dialogue between matters. One could say that the performer is in between these relations. To be explicit about my intentions, this voicing out is not a representation of the objects neither of their feelings but tries to bring attention to a possible code for interaction. The other component of Moving you consists of the displacement and replacement of the objects in different positions and relations creating therefore several constellations already to be changed.
During SI I proposed this set up to the group to develop a collective practice. The first thing I was confronted with was how to instruct the material since I didn't want it to become a rigid code but to be considered as utensils to be passed on and to be discovered each time itâ€™s used. The idea was to develop rather a practice than a piece and eventually let this practice be the piece. The sharing of the doing and the sharing of the looking. Being the performer and observer simultaneously and alternately. A proposal for being as much as possible in the moment. During the week we had a short practice everyday and little by little, we built up information about how the voicing out system would work. How the objects moved, formed and moulded the space depending on who was attending the sessions. The conditions of the sessions were not the same all the time and that made the material be in a continual
process of being learned, which was useful to the development of the idea.
By the end of SI the material was almost an entity in itself, open and precise at the same time, that enabled us to share with others. At the showing moment, the last day of SI, the audience was invited to participate in the practice. I was extremely happy about this event which appeared to be rather complex due to the fact that there is a lot to take into consideration on the action of transferring, negotiating and co-doing while still understandable as a new relation to our simple daily objects.
In my piece Moving you I was concerned with the modes of interaction of daily objects – such as chairs, tables, sofas, walls, cups, spoons – with thoughts, opinions, dreams and other things. I wanted to raise awareness on how, from different angles, they make up the structure we call living. To raise attention to the trivial and from it, invite the audience as a producer, to see, interpret, contextualise and experience the performance but also the world. Everything is about relations. I have to mention here Irit Rogoff and how she expresses the role of art, audience and criticality, because I think through her thoughts I arrived to concerns of engagement, responsibility and attention in terms of making art and looking at art. In her paper collectivities, mutualities, participations, she says, the audience completes the meaning of the art work through their subjective projections and through their relations with one another in the temporality of the event they are part of. The fact that their involvement (observation and participation) is performative – instead of passive – and analytical makes that meaning is not excavated but that it Takes Place in the present introducing a new idea of critical view. In SI my aim was to research a possible structure to explicitly expose the temporary collectivity. A place to experiment with its affectiveness without having the physical borders of a theatre and using the surrounding readymade objects. Between us and later together with the audience we could experience the voicing out of SI in the specific moments of practising. We could acknowledge the social body and play with it, transform it.
38 © photos: Simone Koch © portrait photo: Becky Lee
The SI set up was very interesting and challenging as several projects met in one. The sharing of work with others, the fact of being an observer, a performer, a thinker, or just being in the moment, for the moment, produced other ways of doing and looking. The environment of SI brought art practices into an exchange activity and therefore to another engagement towards art making which I found quite rewarding. Iâ€™m still concerned how to continue such ideas as collective experience, learning by practising, by doing, by being both the doer and the looker, and by truly being there at the moment with others. To continue questioning the artwork and how to become inspired by this attitude while making it. These same questions have been raised while giving other workshops and framing research projects within Bains Connective Art Laboratory, the workspace that I run with colleagues. It is maybe a question of giving attention to attention.
Lilia Mestre is a performing artist and artistic co-ordinator of Bains Connective. She lives and works in Brussels. www.mokum.be www.bains.be
Myriam Van Imschoot ORACULAR MACHINES
Since two years I have been employing my interview archive as the basis of documentary art works, such as the performance Pick up Voices (with Christine De Smedt, 2008), the sound installation Can I be your witness (with Kristien Van den Brande and AymĂŠric de Tapol, 2009) and the video Fax Film (with Pablo Castilla, 2008). These works address the role of orality, interview practice, memory and transmission of histories. Together they constitute a cycle that Iâ€™m still in and that has made me curious to look deeper into the trope of the archive itself, the need to accumulate traces of the past, both on a general cultural and personal plane. This was my project for SI; to readdress the archive, and use this experience in preparation of a solo that I will present in March 2011 in Kaaitheater, Living Archive.
I make myself a workstation in the studio where SI is taking place. On a large self-made table I display the audio-archive that I have collected. It consists mostly of interviews that were conducted in different phases of my professional life. They are voice-traces, now canned in objects: cassettes, minidisks, CD’s, mp3’s, records, etc. Gradually the collection grows into a colourful mosaic structure. But notwithstanding this new arrangement it remains a collection of dead things. I speak to Vladimir about my weariness about the archive’s opaque muteness. Every archive balances on a thin line, I say to him. On the one side of the line the objects are mere lifeless shells, on the other side they can become matters of concern, invigorated and meaningful. But what does it take to make them cross the line? Vladimir goes to the table and picks up a magical wand that I had taken with me from the atelier of les ballets C de la B and that lies amongst the materials on the table. He points the wand to the objects and shouts: “come to life, come to life”. His action is childlike, but enchanting. He sinks to the floor and lies down, curled up, knees close to his chest. He imitates the form of a tape. He has crossed the line. 1
42 1: Set-up workstation, 2: Portrait Myriam Van Imschoot, 3: Magic wand, 4: Vladimir as tape in the archive, 5: Close-up of Vladimir as tape, 6: Photo from book Jane Bennett Vibrant Matter (2010), 7: Photocopies Michael Taussig, Mimesis and Alterity (1993)
Two books were decisive in my gradual realization that I want to divest the archive from its Enlightenment legacy in favour of new theories of ecology (Bennett) and older pre-modern approaches, such as divination, mimickry and sympathetic magic (Taussig). In Vibrant Matter. A Political Ecology of Things (2010) Jane Bennett theorizes a vital materiality that runs through and across bodies, both human and non-human. I became interested in examining the implications of such vital materialism for 6
the archive, as a way to break away from conventional usages that cast the archive as a technology of knowledge production and information management, governed by rules of classification, control and preservation. I was wondering if one could see the archive as a more organic, evolving assemblage, where materials have some anthropomorphic quality, as they can be more or less dead, speak to us (or not), have their own cycles of decay and entropy (instead of being preserved). Would it still be an archive then? Michael Taussigâ€™s Mimesis and Alterity. A particular history of the senses (1993) is one of the many books that were lingering in the SI and landed on my table. Whereas Bennett takes pains at staying away from anthropomorphism, Taussigâ€™s anthropological approach does not shy away to link the force of things back to shamanistic rituals and primitive cultures where the signifier marvels with enigmatic hold. As opposed to the arbitrary signifier of De Saussure, he pleas for a reenchantment of signs, which can speak to us. Central in his book is the notion of mimesis, or all forms of imitation by way of which the mimicker tries to seize powers. With Benjamin, Taussig defends the thesis that the primitive resurfaces in modernity or the age of technological reproduction with the increase of mimetic possibilities (cinema, photography). According to Benjamin, optical reproduction machinery can give access to an optical unconscious and effect deeper layers and sensuous rapports. Wherever the mimetic rules, older and magic forces are at stake. I like to apply this thesis to my interview archive, itself
thriving on the ability to reproduce voices through the democratization of recording equipment (copies, recordings). If Benjamin speaks about the optical unconscious that may be unleashed through the cinematic apparatus, I am hoping for the auditory unconscious to unravel within the sonographic apparatus. The primitive resurgence may be this: to treat the archive as an oracular, babbling machine that does not give information, but sputters messages, the meaning of which must be seized in a different way than just through pure cognition. This is not a break away from interpretation, but rather it concerns a hyper-listening, bestowing every sign with the charm of a spell or a deeper meaning. Second action:
I accept the table display as a surface for things to manifest; all sorts of things are gathering now: hair pins, cutlery, books, food rests, flies that are attracted by the latter. Together with Paul Brunner, a young photographer who documents SI, I photograph the table every day as a still life, nature morte, a diagram in progress. Meanwhile I am observing, perhaps like hunters do. As if the table were a trap, although I have no idea what it is supposed to capture. I think it is finally me who gets trapped. I start placing myself in continuity with the things, tinged by their tendency to conglomerate or form heterogeneous groupings. I imitate the things, become a thing, or behave as part of the furniture, carrying the surface of the table on my back, while on all fours. Rather than being the ultimate orchestrator and user of the archive, I am an actant within it, a peg in a far more complex machine with its own desires, affect. At the same time I start wondering how to host visitors in this assemblage. 8
8: Hands and archive, 9: Arm and archive, 10: Becoming archive, 11: Minidisk with fly, 12: Becoming antenna (drawing Myriam Van Imschoot), 13: Ventriloquism
The visitors (part 1). In line with Bennett and Taussig I thought of the visitors (myself included) as actants entering the assemblage and operating not as users but more as triggers, who could activate parts of the oracular archive or be acted upon. Several visits happened, more or less in line with this. The ones that worked the most for me were with the participants of Matter-of-act (project of Lenio Kaklea), at a day when I had gone over to them and performed a couple of reenactments of interviews from my archive as well as a belly speech act with my navel. After this performance, the participants paid visits to my archive one to one. A session would start with a specific concern the visitor expressed and to which I replied, every time, with selecting a tape from the archive. In the triangular situation of archive/me/visitor the messages seemed to speak more directly, like an appellation. 13
Paranoia and the question demon. “Let me talk about paranoia, just for the fun of it. Euhm. (...) Paranoia was one kind of mental illness that Freud was interested in exploring. He found a book by a man named Schreber, which was produced while Schreber was in a mental institution to try to prove his sanity or competence to leave the institution and regain his life. He was a judge in Germany at the time. Freud analyzed the writing; never 14 talked to the man, never investigated his background, so he took the writing more or less as it was and tried to analyze it. In doing so, he developed a theory of paranoia, which had to do with - in this case with what he saw as a homosexual relationship of the child Schreber to his father. These feelings were put away and other feelings perhaps substituted. Schreber talked not so much about his feelings to his father as about his relation to god, a problematic relation to god, or in fact to a couple of gods. He actually developed a couple of gods, exemplified by stars, which are in heaven. They did not so much act as gods than as kind of devils. One of them was thought of as more benign; another as a plague of questions. He would be constantly plagued by questions, unfinished questions like ‘how about...,’ ‘how about, what if then...’. It would go constantly through his mind. Anyway, he recognized this as a problem, put himself in the institution as I understand it, then wrote the book later after several institutionalizations, to prove he was sane, and that’s the book Freud got hold of to analyze. Freud analyzed in that way and made paranoia essentially not only a closeted gay man acting out repressed feelings, but the closeting was really in a form of denial, really a denial, it wasn’t just a secret, it was a self-denying situation. This puts Schreber, in Freud’s view, in a very interesting position of somebody who has been driven by feelings that he will not acknowledge that he has. That’s what more or less causes paranoia. The paranoid element in Schreber’s awareness was these persisting questions and problems that he thought about, and the he couldn’t get rid of. That’s one element of the paranoia. Being besieged by something out there, he did not recognize it was himself asking those questions. He recognized 14: Minidisk interview with Steve Paxton
it was god or god’s angels or gods’ thoughts coming to him.” (Fragment from an interview with Steve Paxton, 06/10/2001, in his house at Mad Brook Farm, Vermont, interview-archive)
During SI I was watching a lot of films on exorcism, where a ‘demon’ destabilizes and threatens identity. In exorcism the possessed one (usually a she) enters a psychotic situation since the lines between her and the demon (usually it’s a he) get blurred. Exorcist rituals, then, are aimed at segregating the two entities again. The main method of the exorcist ritual revolves around a deep interrogation, a sort of radical interview, where the exorcist needs to force the demon into a confession, more in particular, the demon is forced to reveal its identity in order for the exorcist to be able to expel it. One key-sentence in many exorcist films is when the exorcist (as a kind of super ego) demands: ‘tell me your name, tell me your name’. Without a name, without an identity, the duel between the exorcist and the demon cannot be successfully conducted. The revelation of identity, the practice of naming, and exorcism are strongly connected. Now, in this excessive form one may see a parable of every interview as a particular genre that works with one function questioning and another answering. Although the interview in journalism is a late invention (late 19th century) it may be considered in line of a string of technologies of surveillance, such as the confession, interrogation, etc, that got interiorized into the construction of subjectivity. As a profane version the interview remains a highly codified process that relates to confession, naming, identifying (influences, origins, etc) and separating. Exorcisms brings back into mind the pre-modern forms of surveillance, before the democratization of opinion took place and the modes of questioning could become a public genre. Then, during one of the visits, I stumbled on the interview fragment of Steve Paxton, who talks about paranoia, a theme he was interested in during the early eighties and which resulted in a couple of theatre pieces at Dartington College. Paxton, too, speaks about a demon, but here it’s the demon that has adopted the question mode. It’s the demon that questions. The question becomes a compulsory plague, a never to be satisfied earworm running in one’s inner mind. Is the interviewer a profane version of this question god, an accepted form of the pathetic mantra of the question? We live in the regime of the question, the times of the interview.
We watch exorcist films one night, a fragment of House of Exorcism (1973) on the basis of Mario Bava’s Lisa and the Devil and William Friedkin’s The Exorcist (1973). I give an introduction, focusing on my interest in the radical interrogation, the dummy and the possessing voice. Sergio is filming our watching of the films (mimesis of mimesis), and as it turns out later a lot of exorcist energies will dwell in his reportage. The theme of the exorcist is unleashed. What do you expect? It must contaminate. Christine and I perform a spontaneous one minute reenactment from the film, the next day. Christine goes into spasm. Dmitry gives me a CD with occult voices and exorcism. The vocal performances on the CD are amazing, luring. I grunt, scream and rumble in a microphone, hoping to speak in tongues, the song of deep throat. 15 16
15: Poster The Exorcist (1973), 16: Poster The House of Exorcism by Mario Bava (1973), 17: Shot from The Exorcist (1973), William Friedkin’s iconic horror movie, 18: Transcription performance 19: Marlies Opsomer visits
Visits (part 2). More visits to sum up. Marlies Opsomer, a young psychology student who was preparing a thesis on improvisation, came two nights to listen to tapes on improvisation. She sat there for hours on end. Hers was more a classical consultation. She needed something, she found it, she listened. I loved her intent presence. Then I organized 18
a group visit, during which five of us listened for an hour to a randomly chosen selection of sound-fragments from the archive. It did not work well. The result was too aleatory rather than hyperinterpretational. There was a 3 minute performance for a group, during which I transcribed a fragment of an interview with Steve Paxton on a performance that disappeared from the chronicles of dance history. In that performance he improvised a dance to a tape with his own voice. The typist who was with him on stage would transcribe the tape and stop Paxtonâ€™s dance every time he could not keep up with the speed of speech. The dance thus stages transcription as a pivotal structural element, just as I decide to do in my short performance. There was the visit of my parents to SI. I overheard my father speaking to Dmitry about the cold war and his job at the time in the navy, and suddenly I realized there might be a connection between my fascination with sound, voices, and messages, and the background of my father in spy technologies. This last visit made me interested in breaking open my archive and start including tapes from my childhood as well as tapes that my father collected. It gets heated: the nexus contains now paranoia, military espionage, and the oracle.
20: Detail drawing Myriam Van Imschoot to the interview with Daniel Lepkoff, 21: Detail drawing Nikolaus Gansterer to the interview with Daniel Lepkoff, 22: Nikolaus Gansterer and Myriam Van Imschoot, drawing session at Kaaitheater, 22 September 2010
Inflections. SI is not so much a space of reflection. It’s a space of inflection. In the dictionary inflection is described as “a change in the form of a word (typically the ending) to express a grammatical function or attribute, such as tense, mood, number, case and gender. In SI our projects were like verbs. They would be inflected by the other presences, words, ideas, 22 etc. We all conjugated. SI was about the play of conjugation, of putting things in another tense, mood, number, etc, through the influence of one another. List of inflections: to get lost (thank you, Pieter), to get upset and become more articulate (thank you, Pieter), Treibgut or the archive as the remains from a wreck on the sea shore (thank you, Dmitry), to be compassionate (thank you, Sergio), to think of reenactment as the ultimate gift without return (thank you, Lenio), to accept imitation as a method (thank you, Vladimir), the idiotic book of laughter (thank you, Lilia), the interview as self-portrait (thank you, Christine), Didi-Huberman’s seminars on an image from Aby Warburg’s archive, comparing image analysis with divination (thank you, Lou), drawing together to interviews (thank you, Nikolaus). These inflections do not restrict themselves to the period 16 – 28 August; they keep inf(l)ecting. Action!!
Let me go back to the moment where I am on all fours, carrying a huge surface on my back, with all of my archive on it. Pieter is filming. Tell us a joke, Pieter requests me from behind the camera. But the joke is already being acted out. I am that joke, for there’s something farcical in becoming an archive, being its supportive pedestal, its slave, a very literal embodiment. Absurdity, the joke, the idiotic, the childlike, the magical wand: all make up an antidote for the authority that usually clothes the archives. The idiot injects the archive with not-knowing, play. An echo of this occurs during the showing of Lilia’s practice evolved from her piece Moving you on 27th August, where objects are linked to sound actions. For instance, whenever you pick up or handle a book you produce the sound of laughter. The gymnast mats are joined by a sound of a motor on a highway. The bottles of water are linked with yet another sound. Etc. The group choreography consists of all of us
23: Countdown for obstacle race, 24: Lenio Kaklea runs, 25: Myriam runs, 26: Jump, 27: Laughing books during Lilia Mestre’s practice Moving you. © © © ©
photos: Paul Brunner 1, 8, 9, 10, 11, 18, 27 photo: Vladimir Miller 2 photos: extracted from the internet 15, 16, 17 photos: Myriam Van Imschoot 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 22
entering or moving the zones of thingness with their sound allies. It’s a mobile zone, where at some point one does not know anymore who and what triggers what and whom. I end up with a book, and as I page through it I produce modes of laughter: a chuckle, a grin, a louder outcry, until laughter produces me, takes over my body with trembles and convulsions. Pieter, Dmitry and Koen Augustijnen come and stand with me, also holding books and also laughing. The four of us – a chorus of book worms laughing. We stay for long time in this zone of laughter, its attraction probably arising from a performed paradox: book wisdom in tandem with idiocy makes a puzzle. And then, the very last action that I bring into this category of the absurd and affect, is happening the next day. Before cleaning up the space, I suggest to make with the objects a long obstacle race, leading into my archive-table as its desired finish, end point, line of flight. We build this. Then, one after one we run the race to the archive, supported by the cheer leaders at the side of the parcours who with their cries make us jump, crawl, dive, run with even more fervour. It’s pure play. Lenio uses an electronic plug hanging on a cable as a virtual microphone, and gives the countdown for yet another athlete running the race: 4, 3, 2, 1, ACTION!!!! Run!!! Whenever I look at the films we made of these races to the archive, I burst out in laughter. If SI started with the weight of dead things requiring animation, the burden of carrying a load and history, the struggle of exorcist endeavours, the grotesque of navels talking and oracular machines spitting images, it ends up in this lightness, floating. Inflection in action.
Myriam Van Imschoot is a researcher, writer and performance artist. She lives and works in Brussels.
Nikolaus Gansterer What questions, proposals or project(s) did you expect to invest in during SI?
I am fascinated by the act of drawing and the performative potential of drawing as a quite simple, analogue maybe even archaic medium of communication of ideas. Herewith I am interested in the notion of the figure and the figurative in close reference to the concept of the body. The question of the action potential of a drawn figure (of thought) for a human figure is fascinating me.
I want to explore the idea of the figure as something dynamic/flexible which has always a performative aspect e.g. semantic figures of gestures, figures of speech, figures of lines in space, figures of movement. Based on these figures I aim to explore the relationship between thinking, drawing, acting. (see figures 1+2 actingthinkingseeingdrawing)
figures 1+2 actingthinkingseeingdrawing
I made this initial experience when drawing a diagram that it can serve (next to its original purpose to visualize an idea in a rather schematic form) also as a tool to explore diverse meaning and thus it can become a vehicle for decision making. These ideas I wish to be practically further explored in the group by reconstructing, transforming, enhancing some of the figures which describe/depict an individual interpretation (=hypothesis).
What is your experience during SI (for you personally, your project(s), expectations, reflections on the set up of SI)?
Unfortunately I got ill. Existential feelings. Loosing control over my body. Experiencing at-most care and love by people I hardly knew before. Not being able to take part where I was so much looking forward to take part. The whole SI set up was very open, very inspiring very flexible, sometimes like a bee hive with no bees but lot of queens... What happened after SI to your own project?
I got loads of impulses which I wish I could further develop in this open set-up of a SI-milar structure. I am still busy with working on the ideas formulated in my proposal. With what expectations did you come to SI?
Meeting interesting people. Exchanging ideas. Learning new forms of expression and how to communicate a creative process with various means of expression. Hearing the ideas on my work by people coming more from a body/movement related practice ... In which project(s)/questions/issues did you want to investigate during SI?
The spatial setup. Drawing the process. Mapping the changes. Becoming part of a collective mind flow. What happened for you during SI?
Besides getting ill, which was a rather existential experience, I met wonderful people. I had the chance to speak about some ideas on my trajectory on the notion of the figure. I was exchanging contacts and still feel to be a tiny part in a very open network.
re-figure2-Nikolaus Gansterer 60
What happens for you after SI (further projects, ideas, reflections...)?
As I said I wish to further develop the idea on different stages. I hope in the future to have the possibilities to involve or to be involved in other projects by participants of SI. With what kind of expectations did you leave SI?
To meet again. To continue.
Nikolaus Gansterer is a visual artist. He lives and works in Vienna. www.gansterer.org
Pieter Ampe I arrived to SI with a couple of ideas that didn’t seem like too ambitious, but had been occupying my mind already for a long time: to reflect on my wish to organize a Sweet and Tender collaborations meeting in 2011 in CAMPO – an arts centre in Ghent –, and to further develop a daily dance practice which would help to open up questions around self-judgment and free dance.
Sweet and Tender was a big help to emancipate myself, and gave me a lot of freedom to develop into where I stand today. I wanted to organize a meeting in Ghent, but didn’t know very well how to formulate what I wanted from it myself. Also it seemed useful to talk about the Sweet and Tender collaborations as they have been developing till now.
(Sweet and Tender Collaborations is first and foremost an idea for cultural production and exchange. It is an artist-driven initiative and an artistic project in constant development. Sweet and Tender consists of an international group of individual artists that does not share in a single artistic value or aesthetic, but is instead organized around an idea for artistic collaboration and production. It operates on the idea that any individual who can create the conditions for his or her own artistic production and development can also create the space for someone else.) The dance practice I proposed was one in which I wanted to deal with personal desires and insecurities. So within a frame of ten minutes a person would have the time to dance and speak out the thoughts (s)he had while dancing/performing. There were a lot of ambiguous feelings around this practice, a lot on what dancing would be and what my role was as the one proposing it.
During SI I enjoyed the feeling of being free to talk and share a lot of questions with the others, without a pressure of time. Even feeling a bit embarrassed to share thoughts that were so unclear and fragile I wouldnâ€™t share in other circumstances. I found the possibility to share a way of thinking while being openly lost in between thoughts. (While I was making a presentation about Sweet and Tender, I noticed I was losing more and more the clarity on what it was for myself, and after a lot of silence, spoke out to my audience that I was lost in thought, and that this is for me a quite familiar condition. For the first time I was feeling free to use this moment to share thoughts and raise questions without the need to solve these instantly, nor trying to create an instant clarity. It creates some freedom that passes my fear for time.) The ten minutes dance practice went very well. There were a lot of questions around it, and as participants seemed to try to copy at first what they had seen from others before, doing it a couple of days in a row, they displayed a great variety on possibilities to take this practice. And it gave me a lot of confidence to go further into it.
SI has been the start of a reflective period for me. It gave confidence to go far in the search what dance can be for me. Not fearing to be lost or confused.
I hope to see the other SI artists back again, and continue to hear about their development. Being very hopeful for regular encounters in the coming years. I feel very grateful to SI for meeting these wonderful artists and will for sure carry their influence with me in coming work.
Pieter Ampe is a dancer (and maker). He lives and works in Belgium and is supported by CAMPO (Ghent). www.sweetandtender.org
69 ÂŠ photos: Pieter Ampe ÂŠ portrait photo: Pieter Ampe
Pieter Van Bogaert I must have been the last person Christine and Myriam invited for SI. We were hardly a few weeks away from the actual event. My name couldnâ€™t possibly be on the flyer, that was already printed, but still I was eager to join in â€“ see it as an extra: the go-between participant, asked to report on the event. There are different reasons for my eagerness. Curiosity is one of them. I like to write (and to read). Several participants work on themes that come very close to mine: space, image, mapping or processes for production, to name just a few. And last but not least: my work too is in transition and in need of in- (or out-)put. I am currently working on enSuite, a research project on the imaginary practice. I can do this research for SQUARE, a small Brussels based organisation. With this research I want to make a bridge between some recent projects (also for SQUARE) on images towards a new project on the imaginary.
The spectator is essential in this transition from images to imagination. My first inspiration comes from the two books on cinema by Gilles Deleuze. In Cinema 1: the movement-image the spectator is engaged to finish the image on the screen – Hitchcock takes this to a high end in what Deleuze calls his action-image. In Cinema 2: the time-image the actor is lost on the screen in a mostly desolate post-WWII environment. Deleuze talks here about the films of (Italian) Neorealism in the fifties, (French) Nouvelle Vague in the sixties or the New German Cinema in the seventies. Taking both books together we have an evolution from a spectator-as-actor, engaged to finish the image on the screen, towards an actor-as-spectator, lost in the image on the screen. Although his ideas are still very inspiring, it is very hard to hold the position of Deleuze today. Thinking about a possible follow-up for his cinema books (this is my potential title: ‘The space-image’), I turn to a second author, a third book, and that is Jacques Rancière who in his Le spectateur émancipé erases all borders, differences between actors and spectators. The spectator is always already engaged; always already emancipated. Every actor is a spectator and vice versa. This is just one of the things that SI makes very clear.
Pieter Van Bogaert is a critic and curator. He lives and works in Brussels. www.squarevzw.be
72 © photo: Pieter Ampe
Sergio Cruz My proposal for SI was to share my recent art practice with other participants, and discuss it in view of the transitions that are happening in my work grounded in more spontaneous filmmaking methods, and explore new directions for the future. My main aim was to have feedback from my recent art practice, including the work-in-progress, add a critical discourse to my work, be inspired, learn new skills, contribute to the group discussions and provide valuable concerns and feedback for the other artistâ€™s practices.
The experience of SI was an excellent opportunity to keep working on the projects that I was involved with at that time. I had a good exchange of experiences between individuals about creative interests, sources of knowledge, inspiration and understanding. The contact with people from different backgrounds, gave me a richer experience of working awareness.
I produced a ten minute experimental video to express my impression about SI. The idea of dialogue was very present during the process. Through these dialogues I came across a few works that became key points for some of the things that I am interested in at the moment. There was an excellent spirit of community and individuality. We all felt responsible to make this a good experience for everyone. SI gave me access to different ideas and work methodologies. It is difficult to understand how much this experience affected what I am doing at the moment or what I will produce in the futureâ€Ś I still need more time and then I am sure I will be much more clearer about this effect. After SI I kept contact with most of the artists involved because apart from feeling connected with their work I also got very connected with most of them as personsâ€Ś
Sergio Cruz is a filmmaker. He lives and works in London.
Vladimir Miller Available space: on protospace and settlement
1. some objects space (space is merely the assemblage of objects it seems to contain. This assemblage is a set of forces taking action on whatever enters its constellation.)
empty space (in an understanding of space as a particular assemblage of objects the notion of empty space becomes a contradiction in itself. In this understanding of space there is no empty space.) (a space conventionally called empty is more usefully understood as an assemblage of things that are no longer or not yet available to human
influence.) (empty space is a cultural habit to ignore the regime already in place.)
empty space, physical (most of our imagination of how the world is made is still following the particle model, forever substituting smaller ones for the ones that have already been found. (an observed reality becomes the more complex the closer one looks, why should this complexity just stop at some point at the microscopic level?) If we would abandon the search for physical particles as singular occurrences and imagine them more as some kind of complex foldings of energy, the image of space as something empty in-between would lose its meaning. There would never be actual holes in the fabric of the universe. Not only is there no empty space as a cultural convention, but from this point of view it is literally physically not existent as an independent entity.) (it is only the notion of absolute space (i.e. a space existing independently of matter, space as a container) that can be empty.) available space (as we continuously enter spaces produced by prior circumstances, it is helpful to differentiate between them as assemblages on the basis of their availability to change. An available space is an assemblage of objects available to direct influence. A space for collective production is an assemblage that allows negotiation (reciprocal influence) and change of its elements. Such a space should be able to let the products of work enter its assemblage as new actants.) protospace (a protospace is specific condition of space, where the objects are available to change, action and re-assemblage. In this network understanding of space I consider everything object (or to be more precise and inclusive: Bruno Latourâ€™s actant) that acts upon other objects in the network. That is a chair, but also a thought, a book, or a movement, a tool, a lighting situation or a combination of any such items. In fact everything present is in that sense active on some level, influencing other actants, building alliances. In Latourâ€™s actor-network theory there is no hierarchy between the actants, everything can be observed to be a network: a chair is an alliance of atoms, actions and design that led to its shape, just as a topic is an alliance of concepts. There is also no hierarchy between the physical and the cognitive. All elements participate on an equal level.)
production (a translation of this understanding of space into the wider context of production of culture and knowledge follows Latourâ€™s insight that in human realm no purely physical or purely immaterial assemblages exist. Insofar as this is true, every space in the broader sense of the word is an assemblage of actants. Thus production of space as the activity of assembling actants becomes closely linked with production of culture and knowledge â€“ seen from this perspective they are fundamentally the same activity.)
2. tables The objects are not fully realized, they are not tables and walls and chairs, but more of a residue, things that have been used in a way, but can be also reused in a whole different way. A piece of wood proposes a certain way to handle it already because of its size and shape. It is never isolated, the constellations and structures it can enter are local, its name (table) is possible because other objects are aligned to it in a certain constellation. Our use of that constellation channels certain cultural habits, but also evolves them locally, producing local understanding, a local dialect. (the mode of dealing with objects is that of negotiation (reciprocal availability to influence/change))
(the way actants operate with each other is through a complex set of negotiations. they are unidentified/fluid enough as to be assigned a new function/meaning through a process of negotiation with their surroundings/other_actants) (negotiation (all communication is negotiation between sets) creates/sustains a third object next to the two which are negotiating.)
Here a piece of wood is different from a table: with a table a significant amount of imagination, and deliberate misuse is needed to use/call it as a wall; a table strongly proposes for the body to assume a certain position, enabling a limited amount of constellations around it.
The convenience of usefulness, of a strong design towards a single purpose is also a limitation, a regime. I found that most workshops quickly settle on a certain possibility of exchange and production: the spatial proposition of the readymade design limits them to text-groups around a table, a sitting arrangement on the floor, or a viewing position from the wall, etc. After two days habit and familiarity emerge, the objects, the habit, and the familiarity forming a strong alliance of behaviour and method, which is very hard to break up and bring to movement again.
The selection of objects for a protospace is therefore guided by a feeling of "I donâ€™t really know what it is", looking for material rather then things. (at some point I would like to take the material and make it even more alien, unfit, before arranging a protospace out of it). I like to choose objects that can become a table if needed but can also become something else. The negotiation between what is needed to support a certain situation and what the material can provide is open. When none of the objects are really suitable for anything, the constellations they form remain fragile and temporary. The space is kept fluid, it can be rearranged in an instant, becoming a true dynamic image of the requirement of the group, instead of forcing its ways upon it. The group and the space merge their continuous production of each other becoming one movement. (loop of condition and production. Production influencing its own spatial condition.)
3. fractal I lately came to realize that a protospace has a fractal structure in the way the objects are distributed: ideally it is an even but not homogeneous distribution that resembles itself at every level. The objects are spaced in a way as not to create constellations (and imply meaning in their arrangement), and on the other hand none are singled out as singularities producing meaning on their own (like sculptures in an exhibition). Suspended in this state the objects (or material) are neither defined by
the other actants, nor is there "thingness" to them, where the shape for a purpose or an expression are recognizable at a first glance. It is a careful chaos, resisting a quick sorting and naming ("it’s a tool, it’s a support, it’s a sculpture, it’s decoration"), their function within the network still open for the set of complex negotiations between condition and production that building is. A network of yet unnamed material held in suspension, its quality or shape being such, that this suspension is never fully released. Assemblages ready to be disassembled again, and find new names given them by new neighbours. Not long ago I have stumbled onto a field of stones of different sizes during a hike. The distribution of stones was even but random, not following a geometric precision of any digital fractal model, but rather fluctuating around it. It was a dry field with some head-sized stones on it, on a closer look I saw that stones of a smaller size were distributed just as evenly between the bigger ones. No matter how small the stones were I chose to pay attention to, they were lying there in the same random unconnectedness, only on a smaller scale. There were no jumps in size, I could always find a stone of the size I would be looking for, and, starting from that size, taking it as a class, find the other members of the group across the whole field, in distances which were proportional to their size. The field was available, ready for me to create groups, connections, structure, meaning.
(as an understanding of reality: an even protospace in all directions (us included), us creating classes, constellations and meaning (thus contributing new objects to it), not because anything is intrinsically there waiting to be discovered, as science believes, but because everything is there in a fractal network held in a suspended state between singularization and constellation. new objects emerge as localities of that protospace, not to be forever separated from it in their individuation, but to become its elements) (this is to say that production of culture is a natural process).
4. name/DIY Just like the servants play the king, we play the object again and again. We play a chair by sitting in it. We pronounce it in de Certeau's sense:
architecture (or here: design) being a grammar-like structure, our usage of it being its pronunciation (rhetoric).
A distinction between sparse and dense objects might be possible. Dense objects insist on being pronounced in the same way, are things, have a name (a name being a culturally stable set of usages (or pronunciations)). A table is a dense object: its position in the room, its size, its shape, the chairs around it, our necessity for it, our habit of using it: all those actants constantly pronounce that object table. Once in a while a table is also a ladder, when we need to change the light bulb above it. When I didn't want to buy a table, I made one by taking an old door and putting legs under it for the lack of a better possibility.
Yet in everyday life in most cases the above actants have build a dense (strong) alliance called and demanding to be called and behaved to as table, or curtain, or chair. Thus renaming or naming (or pronunciation) is an action of aligning an object in a new constellation of actions and actants. Sparse objects are neither a door, nor a table yet, their alliances are flexible and easy to take apart. They are to be played, pronounced, named and renamed constantly. A protospace lets you define the area of your activity, or better put: your activity of constellation-building defines its area. in a protospace an area evolves around an activity and follows it in size, shape and support. A protospace is a space made of sparse objects. â€”
(what we consider empty is just a choice to ignore the regime already in place)
(this page is not empty when I start to write: I move cautiously between the images in my mind, between language blocks, between anticipations of understanding)
(time is not an independent flow, disentangled from the universe as it is happening or not happening. Within a thought experiment of an imaginary static universe time appears only in the instant as something changes, as a function of this difference, the flow of time being the flow of progress as difference-to-itself. In the way weight or colour are properties of the material world, time is part of the appearance of difference. Seen from this perspective an action and its time form an inseparable entity. An action does not take place in time, but the physical world acts, changes, progresses and makes time as the fabric of its interwoven proliferation.) (change is entropy, and the irreversibility of entropy makes time sequential, makes sequential time. time is not an independent flow, where events occur, but is made out of those events and actions in intersecting assemblages. the entropy of those events is what gives time its vector) â€“
(how to take part in thinking as it is happening)
(not because it was something extraordinary, but precisely because it was in a sense ordinary, unbound, unshaped, irreducible like everything else) â€“
(loop structure between condition and work)
(how do conditions influence work (that we know), but to close the loop: how can work produce new conditions, or alter its own condition, contribute back to the space, make it an amalgam of condition and work, a self-enabling structure)
5. settlement To initiate a loop of production of/in protospace I use the strategy of settlement.
The settlement is a model to engender and structure work, knowledge, events and encounters. In a shared space, the participants function as an open group where questions of territory, negotiation and hospitality in art production surface. Settlers build a station suitable for their own artistic research and, by doing so, enter in a growing and evolving network of objects, spaces, ideas and events. A settlement is a strategy to initiate a loop of condition and production in a given space. By taking the protospace as a start, the settlers are invited to build stations for their work out of (but never limited to) the present material. Those stations form the initial settlement. As the emphasis of the workprocess and the activity of the individual and of the group change from day to day, the settlement stays a dynamic structure, ready to be reformed according to the present condition and conditions needed for production and presentation. Along with the metaphoric that the word settlement suggests, structures start to emerge, habit settles in, territory is negotiated (the non verbal negotiation of building and sensing the margins of mine and ours) and emerges and is challenged. The political questions inherent in claiming one's own space, inviting or excluding the outside, the formation of groups and production of locality and culture, constantly question the concept of settlement itself. Between anarchy and the rule of majority the settlement praxis actively searches for a spatialized production of dis-agreement. (one does not have to move out to disagree, but establish a new locality within the settlement. this way conflicting sets can co-exist and contribute to the shared space.) (contributive disagreement)
(how to build a heterotopia of positions not only in space, but also in time.)
(within space-time objects contain events (as a chair contains buzzing atoms) and events contain objects.) (if space-time localities are never pure formation of either objects or events, is there a necessity to differentiate between events and objects or to define them as fundamentally different singularizations? What is the name for those
objects-as-events in a language that thinks space and time together?) (space-time is a property or function of the physical universe as a changing assemblage in the same way gravity is a property of matter. No time-space exists as an empty entity separated from its events and objects.) The word thinking is here not the solitary mental process of an individual, but the activity of a network of objects, topics and actions. The self formation of space is an activity of thinking, one which cannot be reduced to one medium or text, but experienced (influenced, taken part in...) through individual trajectories. Thinking is here a situated, social (the society of actants) production of culture and locality. Locality can be produced on a topic, a concept. My understanding of this process is not of research in an archaeological sense of unearthing a supposed pre-existing knowledge, but of a shared creation of a new alignment of concepts. (imagineering: in urbanism an amalgam between imagination and engineering) A production of a local understanding. (what is a distance to information (event, encounter.. ) in a network? it is the number of steps (relations, relays...) between any two actants? if space-time is a network of actants, pure physical distance becomes irrelevant as a measure of availability. A space of any physical measurements can employ a number of different strategies to make information distant or close. It is the hierarchy of availability in a time-space as a network that is the true measure of equality within a social structure) (if truth/fact is a dense alliance, the amount of relations (physical, ideological, ...) of an object being its measure of reality, is there a property like mass and gravity to a fact, does it attract further alliances?) (how do localities emerge within assemblages? the physical matter has gravity/mass as the catalyst principle of clustering. if we describe objects in the cultural realm as assemblages of material and the immaterial (take a glass for example: it is an assemblage of matter just as it is an assemblage of habits of usage and design), can we
extend the physical understanding of mass and gravity to the immaterial and mixed objects, as they seem to attract and bind habit? ) I keep asking myself: when working on a topic in a shared space with the process of settlement, does the group distribute itself accordingly to a diagram of relatedness to the subject? Do neighbouring views (positions) produce neighbouring settlers? The word position itself is here a coincidence of its spatial and rhetorical/political meanings. In a topical settlement one can position him/herself on the margins of the concept and the space. If you settle on the margins of the space, does that reflect your position towards the concept in question? Or is it the other way around? When you are free to settle and work everywhere in the shared space and change your position until you achieve a certain equilibrium, does this position, this diagrammatic position in space co-produce your position on the concept? Or is both true, because it is indistinguishable: the diagrammatic distribution within the settlement is also a diagrammatic distribution of thought and position; again: thought as a spatial group praxis. A topical settlement invites a visitor to enter, take part and influence an evolving thought process.
(Deleuze and Latour in the backpack) I think that this local production of culture is a model (a miniature) of the large process, where this production happens on intersecting localities, on a network of networks. (in a curatorial sense: settlement avoids the production and display of artefacts of work in favour of making the production/work itself available)
The settlement as a model provides a trajectory of participation for the initial outsider, which creates and proposes to him/her a gradation of involvement. The settlement allows negotiating many gradations of participation and influence. Any visitor can become a tourist, a frequent visitor, a collaborator, a friend, a settler himself. His involvement is not mapped or limited, not constrained to a timeframe or a certain mode of consumption. It is again a negotiation, an individual dialogue between
him/her and what or whom he/she encounters. It is free, but also lost, a walk in a new city. Here the visitor requires hospitality, or maybe an invitation, or help. This hospitality can be created by the group, implemented as a strategy of encounter, or be a highly individual choice, or be absent. The settlement does not value any of those engagements with the outside on a moral or practical scale, but allows for all of them to be discussed and evaluated. Every group will arrive at a certain concept of engagement, which will be formed from its condition and not by an institutional requirement for display.
Vladimir Miller is an artist who works with space, installation and conditions of encounter and production. He lives and works in Berlin and Vienna.
91 ÂŠ photo: Vladimir Miller
TEXT / TEKST
editing / samenstelling: Pieter Van Bogaert, Christine De Smedt graphic design / vormgeving: Kurt Van der Elst final reading / eindredactie: Iris Raspoet, Hilde Debuck, Nele Dhaese
bijdrage artiesten: Christine De Smedt, Dmitry Paranyushkin, Lenio Kaklea, Lilia Mestre, Myriam Van Imschoot, Nikolaus Gansterer, Pieter Ampe, Pieter Van Bogaert, Sergio Cruz, Vladimir Miller contribution artists /
realisatie: Stijn Calis
ÂŠ les ballets C de la B â€“ 2011 www.lesballetscdela.be http://si2010.net
les ballets C de la B is supported by the Flemish authorities, city of Ghent, province East Flanders.
les ballets C de la B wordt gesteund door de Vlaamse Overheid, de stad Gent, de provincie Oost-Vlaanderen.
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les ballets C de la B
SUMMER INTENSIVE - SI (artists)