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The Documentation of 'Koddahjal – Pillow Talk' by Rakel Mjöll Summer term 2014 MAVA University of Brighton

Index: Introduction of 'Koddahjal-Pillow Talk'..... Page 1-2 Algera Studio residency................................Page 3-4 Influences and Sophie Calle............................Page 5 Relational aesthetics/communication as art.....Page 6 Content and continuing practice......................Page 7


Koddahjal – Pillow Talk

'Koddahjal - Pillow talk' is a video series filmed in a white space and takes place in a white bed. Two people are having a conversation in the bed. I am in the role of the interviewer and the people I interview are my guests. The conversation is directed by me but I give leeway to the unexpected twists that emerge whilst having two people interact. In total I made three different films. I invite three different types of figures to lie with me in a bed and engage in a 10 min long conversation with me and interact in within different elements of modern society relationship between people. The three elements I chose and invited to bed were; •

A family member.

A long time friend.

Acquaintances.

I had been working with ideas of space and intimacy. How the space mirrors a conversation – did the space allow the conversation to reach levels of intimacy depending on the esthetic feel of the space and size. How does the space effect our conversation? Would we say things to each other differently if we were in a small room, sitting in a window cell, lying under the covers or in a large echoey gallery? Will the depth to our conversation be altered by the space due to our trust of the space, regardless to who it is we are having a conversation with.


The Bed: The bed plays a main roll to the piece. When thinking about space and conversation, intimacy was the goal, the reach for a conversation that has an effect. The combination of the three directs me straight to a idea of a bed. This place where we lay our head and trust that we will be safe despite any ideas, doubts or emotions towards our existence in the world we created around us. A place where we experience such emotions as loneliness, defeat, happiness and well being. The place where we turn ourselves over to the night. I chose the bed to be a setting point in my interviews to explore if my theory about trust towards the space – the space in this theory being a bed. Also I was excited to see the reaction of my guests and viewers. Did they find it comfortable? Or direct it straight to a underlining tone of sexuality – which a bed is often link to, a structure made by media, advertisement and films. What if I can remove this element? Take out 'The Lover' and add 'The Friend' + 'The Family member' + 'The Acquaintance' and touch on matters connecting a bed such as : • • • • •

Childhood Loneliness Memories of family and siblings Retreat from the outside world Fears (such as nightmares)


Algera Studio Residency This April I spent 3 weeks in a studio residency called Algera Studio in the east part of Reykjavik, Iceland. I worked there with artist from various backgrounds, such as graffiti art, fine art painting and visual art. The space is 300fm, so a large space with many options. Half of the space was used as performance space and there we played around. The space had white floors and white walls so the space could easily be manipulated. The artist in the residency worked together at times, making sculptures, videos, performances, photos projects and we lend each other a hand with construction work inside the space. In our studio there was also a light room, carpenter area and private spaces for research. The idea behind the residency was to 'MAKE'. Each artist brought in ideas and the rest helped them make them come to life. I worked mainly with video, writing my own manifestos and poetry as well as exploring the idea of conversation as an art form whilst my time there. Photos from my work space, the studio and the artists:


The artist of the studio evaluating work and preparing for the next video take:

My inspiration wall from my work space, works from Elina Brotherus, Elizabeth Peyton etc:


Influences and Sophie Calle “When you perform, half of the brain has to be in complete control and the other half of the brain has to be at a complete loss. “ - Maria Callas

I was exploring the concept between relational aestectic and works by Sophie Calle, video artist Bas Jan Ader, Carston Höller. Laurie Anderson, Marina Abramovic and Ulay, Rikrit Tiravanija and Vito Acconi. These artists were exploring communication. Whether it was between the artist and it’s viewer, in video format, live installation or communication with one self and the characters surrounding a person's life. Sophie Calle, the french artist, Each piece of hers is a document of an event – of some time of interaction often through verbal communication in which Calle engages with the world in her unique way. She explores the boundaries of how we interact with one another and what is and is not socially acceptable behavior. In one of her pieces, 'Take Care of Yourself' she uses an email she received from her then boyfriend breaking up with her using this modern format. How she channelled her grief and awe over this media she made a few installations about 'the break up email'. She examines the letter and allows 107 women of different professions to do the same. The idea was that each women would elaborate on the letter, analyze it, unmask it, translate it according to their own profession and write a letter back to Sophie with the results. In one exhibition she exhibited the piece with the letter on display and in the foreground there we're video works of the women with their results. After filming 'Koddahjal – Pillow Talk' I came across a piece by Sophie Calle that seemed similar to mine; she invited strangers into her bed for a conversation. I started linking together our ideas and practice methods. (Image : Sophie Calle next to piece 'Take Care of Yourself' Venice Biennial 2007)


Relational Aesthetics/Communication as art. 'A documentation of hints and clues of an existance, a time passing, a moment' – Nicolas Burrioud

Relational Art definition: ' A set of artistic practices which take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context., rather than an independent and private space. The artist can be more accurately viewed as the 'catalyst' in relation art, rather than being at the centre.' This type of art form explores communication and human nature. Taking the 'norm' in daily life and constructing it to question society and our idea of performance art. It creates a 'free area' and encourages an inter-human commerce that differs from the communication zones that are imposed upon us by society. This type of art became coming to the surface in the 70's but became more vivid in musuems and art spaces in the 90's. With low funding resources opened up space for a new non visual, conceptual-sculptural installation art appeared. It was an open and loose movement that has now grown in numbers. Rikrit Tiravanija is a well known artist from this movement. His first solo show in New York in 1992 describes the idea behind relational aesthetics art movement well: ''During the length of that exhibition, Tiravanija cooked Thai food for visitors in a a kitchen set up within the gallery. The food is the art, but not in the fine cuisine sense: 'It is not what you see that is important but what takes place between people.' Tiravanija says. 'The communal experience of cooking and eating the food becomes the object on display, under the direction of the artist, who acts as a sort of experience ''curator,'' or maybe ''ringmaster'' would be a better term.''

In 'Koddahjal-Pillow talk' I was the ''ringmaster''. Being the curator of a communal experience; A conversation. The book Relational Aesthetics by Nicolas Burrioud was very helpful in understanding the links between my practice and this movement:


Content and Continuing Practice: 'The human essence is the set of social relations' – Karl Marx

During my time at the residency I created a body of work based on these ideas of mine of communication I had during that time. That period was a time of ' Make and Play'. When returning back to Brighton at the end of April I looked over what i had produced and tried to make sense of it all. Spending time in the library, speaking to fellow students and tutors about my ideas, researching artists and conceptual theories... I made links between my 'work practice' and my 'thought practice'. I want to continue on exploring communication as an art from and relational art. For the presentation of my piece 'Koddahjal – Pillow Talk' I had a few ideas of how I wanted to portray the piece how it is so far : •

Show the three videos on three screens lined up next to each other in a white space with headphones next to each work. When a guest puts on the headphones they are listening in on this 'private' conversation where they are the viewer – as if they we're ease dropping.

Again a white space similar to the one portrayed in the video work. Two screen on the wall with no sound coming from the films but there is a subtitle text – making it visible to understand the context. In the space between the two screens there is set up bed ( the same bed as in the film). Guests are encouraged to crawl into the bed and have their own conversation. Next to the pillows lie two sets of headphones. The audio from the videos will be in each one of these headphones. The guests can listen to the conversation. This personal connection with the audience I think will enhance the work.

I am going to continue working with this concept and make a body of new work this summer focusing on my on-going ideas of communication and space. This piece 'Koddahjal – Pillow Talk' will evolve and the result will be shown in an exhibition in a small gallery called 'Kaffistofan' in Reykjavik at the end of the summer. ( Sketch of Bed installation idea)


Documentation of 'Koddahjal - Pillow Talk' by Rakel Mjöll  
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