Speakers’ Abstracts for the Riga winter symposium 2016
Alexandra Litaker – Material transformations (US, Iceland)
In 2015, I was part of a collaborative project in which Disa Kamula and Insa Sunderlid aka Imme Bode and I, three artists from Iceland, USA, Finland and Germany met in Mosfellsbær City Gallery, Iceland for three weeks. We came from different directions – geographically, culturally, disciplinary and experimentally and used the empty gallery space as a laboratory for artistic communication. In the context of the NSU winter session, I would like to begin with this collaboration as a starting point for investigation into transformations it affected in my own working processes. In Riga I would like to present my exploration of how this transformation through collaboration and its after effects might or might not manifest through direct exchanges and explorations then re2ected through the video lens and memory into a map of possibilities. In addition to the materialisations of transformation in my art work I would like to present my considerations on how future collaborative situations can be contextualized as process based experience within the space of art making as a cultural act. This consideration would include what shifts might happen in such spaces. Continuing my interest in exploring hybrids of performance I propose the form of my presentation will be to reflect through a combination of presentation (both live and video) performance, with a workshop component.
Anthony Luvera – Who Empowers Whom? Community, Participation, and Reciprocity in socially-engaged photographic practice (UK)
Collaborative practice in its most worthy and misguided sense chases fulfilment of an unachievable ideal, that is, to put power in the hands of the powerless. For 15 years Anthony Luvera has created long-term photographic projects with homeless people across the UK. Through these projects, and the social relationships upon which they are based, he explores the tension between authorship (or artistic control) and participation, and the ethics involved in representing other people’s lives. In Who Empowers Whom? Luvera considers the processes underpinning Assembly, a recent body of work created in Brighton between 2013 and 2014, to unpack some of the questions and tensions involved in participatory photography practice.
As part of Assembly, Luvera invited individuals associated with First Base Day Centre and Phase One Project to use single-use cameras to create photographs and digital sound recorders to capture their experiences. The artist met regularly with participants to discuss their images and sounds, and to record conversations about the power and problems of representation. Participants were also invited to learn how to use medium-format digital camera equipment, over repeated sessions, in order to create a self-portrait for the artist’s ongoing series Assisted Self-Portraits. Additionally, Assembly features a representation of the artist’s exchange with The Cascade Chorus, a choir of people in recovery, through singing, performance and sound recordings. Accompanying Assembly is an installation of research, Frequently Asked Questions, co-created by the artist and a participant, Gerald Mclaverty, that invites critical contemplation of support services by councils of forty cities and towns across the UK.
Who is being empowered? Whose voice is amplified? Who is being made visible? Who Empowers Whom?’ takes these questions as a starting point to consider the potential of practices that weigh on the balance of power between an artist and a group of people who are overly-spoken for in public forums. Issues to do with intention, context and representation will be addressed in a critical self-reflexive presentation that teases out the politics of a practice founded on sharing the tools of representation.
Beatriz Lozano – Contemplation as an aesthetic experience: The act of careful observation and deep reflection to create and/or appreciate contemporary art and how this helps society (UK)
I want to offer some insights about the contemplative nature of some contemporary artworks, and how they invite the viewer to adopt a meditative state of mind. The idea of contemplation possesses a spiritual connotation, but it also has to do with the idea of deep introspection and thoughtful observation by slowing down our frenetic existence and constant agitation to meet our society’s expectations, reducing distractions and by choosing depth over immediacy, and quiet and stillness over noise. I have a strong interest in how certain visual elements, such as plainness or austerity of forms are used to recreate spaces of silence, solitude and meditation, such as James Turrell’s or Wolfgang Laib’s installations, and to create two-dimensional artworks, like Agnes Martin’s or Mark Rothko’s paintings, where time and space have frozen.
The contrast between these types of artworks and the current situation of nowadays fast-paced society overly charged with images and information, does nothing but to make graspable the quest for meaningful over meaningless, quality over quantity. Contemplation can play an important role in this search, since it has to do with the paradox of retreating from reality whilst looking deeper into it. My proposal has to do with embracing that paradox.
Catherine Dormor – The Seamstress and the Traveller: art practice as generous encounter (UK)
The concept of space and its occupation is one traditionally loaded with assumptions. Notions such as public/domestic, centre/edge, inside/outside suggest a sharpened division of the global realm, which could be considered to have been built upon patriarchal occupying strategies, from the local, most often considered in terms of the feminine. Here, I want to explore occupation as a theme articulated and challenged through women’s art practices, re-positioning the discussion around notions of generosity and collaboration. Marsha Meskimmon (2013, 7) suggests that the agency of art-making operates as a form of precarious ecology, an idea that she explores through the work of Polish artist Joanna Rajkowska’s Soon Everything Will Change (2014) In this work, the artist journeys a Brazilian crystal to the UK, establishing it as form of seaming device as it makes the journey. Rajkowska disrupts space that is built upon ownership and power, suggesting generous encounter as a cosmopolitan space with the potential to shift and change.
In this paper, I want to open out these ideas of communality and collaboration through a participative dialogue between texts, artworks and voices to consider the notion of such tactics of artmaking as a necessarily precarious ecology but one with the potential to challenge and remodel concepts of space. This will be addressed through two themes: the traveller and the seamstress: producers of space, who bring together the material, the virtual, the metaphorical and the visual. Works by artists Kimsooja (A Needle Woman (2006)) and Kirstie Macleod (Barocco (2014)) will be considered alongside and in conjunction with Rajkowska as a way by which to explore the potential for thinking-through-seaming as a form of cosmopolitan practice. This paper will frame Meskimmon’s cosmopolitan embodied belonging as ecology in terms of a mode of practice which exists in each moment of encounter between needle, thread and cloth – as and how they connect and pass through each other. Thus traveller and seamstress together offer a means by which to contest binary thinking and enable free passage through to a spatial strategy that is built upon opening out and onto others in mutual exchange.
Disa Kamula – The non-economic value of Artistic Research? (FIN)
I am opening up the question of how to transform the non-economic values of art into the language of the economic values. In this short presentation I will explore and question the possibilities of making this transformation. After the collaborative presentation with philosopher Corinna Casi in NSU Summer symposium in Norway 2013 about the non-economic values of performance, I have been intrigued by the economic values and numbers. How to explain the “economic world” the non-economic value of art and artistic research? I’m not sure that I can do that, but I’m willing to try.
This presentation is an attempt to gather up research made of this transformation of non-economic values into economic ones. I might fail and try to do the impossible. By far I have found two examples of how to measure the societal change of art with monetary value; one of the London School of Economics (2013) about the impact of the museums of people’s happiness. And another about the value of an euro (1€) in Finland that is put in childrens theatre education. In my presentation I will look closer on these case studies and try to make the examples understandable for artists and non-artists. The word transform originates from Latin word transformāre, (from trans- + formāre to form) and as a verb (trænsˈfɔːm) it means to; alter or be altered radically in form or function. What I find interesting is the strong relation to mathematics in the origin of the word and I would like to study it further.
Elina Saloranta – Window as a film screen: A rehearsal for an epilogue (FIN)
During my doctoral studies at the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, NSU has become an important community for me. I have felt that I can ask my study group for help, and we have even made two video pieces together. Now I am working on the epilogue of my doctoral thesis and I would like once again to ask my “research group” for advice. The epilogue consists of two elements: a text written in the form of a letter and a 14-minute shot of a window under evening sun. Writing the letter feels quite simple — it will be a classical conclusion with a touch of intimacy — but what should I do with the window? It is very beautiful with thin, white curtains. It is also very cinematic, almost like a film screen. What kind of film do you see in it? What kind of meaning could be projected on it? In the presentation I will screen the window and invite the audience to play with it, to imagine how it could be used, and to share their ideas through writing or discussion. To start the process I will give a brief overview of my doctoral research. I will also talk about how I came up with the idea of writing a letter as a conclusion. For me, artistic research is a practice close to playing. It is about experimenting and trying out things without knowing why. As a visual artist I am used to playing alone, but NSU has given me a chance to play with other artists and researchers. That’s how it has transformed me, and that’s what I have taken home with me. Artistic research can change society (at least on a small scale) by providing space for collective play.
Erica Böhr – Totem (UK, Germany)
The female hyena forms a central motif that recurs throughout the South African-born artist’s practice.
The hyena performs a shamanic and allegorical function, and also exists as a metaphor for female warrior resistance to Patriarchy, and in particular, a radical lesbian feminist response to the continued oppression of women. In pan-African mythologies, the hyena is regarded as a potent talisman of evil: a shape-shifting, soul-stealing interloper and succubus. In this work, Erica poses the following questions: “How does one acquire a totem? What could this mean? How might this transform one’s understanding of and subsequent interaction with the world?” Sharing her experience with the hyenas in the wild, through the medium of storytelling and drawing, the artist demonstrates the massive transformative impact the interactions with the local people and the hyenas had on her personal and political life, as well as her artistic practice. This performance of the palimpsest was, and will be, entirely unrehearsed, in an attempt to remain faithful to its origins. The artist will be recreating this performance in different locations across Europe, in order to interrogate notions of colonialisation, appropriation, exile, identities and intersectionalities. With regard to the theme of ‘Transformation’, it is her belief that profound personal experiences, coupled with accompanying research, can have applications beyond the personal and individual sphere, and feed into a greater collective understanding of ourselves and the ‘Other’, which can result in alternative models for living and being.
Freï von Fräähsen zu Lorenzburg – Welcome to The Principality of Lorenzburg – a discussion on the
micronation as collective objet d’art and narrative artefact (SWE)
Nations and national identities should be viewed as artefacts, i.e. man-made things, rather than something given. The borders of a nation are arbitrary. The history of a nation can never be completely free from a certain amount of interpretation from various points of view. The culture and language of a nation aren’t solid and pregiven, they are collages that are developed over time as generations add and subtract from the common pool of cultural expressions. A nation is a “narrative artefact” – a man-made collective story. The micronation is a narrative-construct that invites people to participate in collective play and creativity and it is also an invitation to experiment with new modes of economic, and cultural, production and exchange of knowledge. The culture historian and philosopher Johan Huizinga argues that games and play are ritual activities that, so to speak, take place “outside” of normal everyday life. The participants in a game enter the game’s “magical circle” – a ritual time and space where ordinary reality, rules and conventions are cancelled for the duration of the game.
The Principality of Lorenzburg is a completely new and made-up nation. It is a largescale community art project wherein an artist meets a community and wherein the prince, the nation and the people arise as mutually dependent phenomena through the acting out of ritual, play and invented tradition. The nation is ‘poor but sexy’ and as a Prince of Lorenzburg I invite other artists and academics to establish diplomatic relations with the principality and, perchance, open up for economic and cultural exchange. I also want to resource ways of inviting communities to participate in art projects.
Gemma Meek and Jo Darnley – ‘Woman’s Outlook’, Past Present Future: Rip, Mark, Stick, Create, Multi-Vocal Image Making (UK)
The reading of images and texts as a mode of transformation connects Jo Darnley’s research into Woman’s Outlook, (WO), (1919 – 1967), a magazine which enables entry into a women only, political, broadly non- party and regional perspective, published by the National Co-operative Publishing Society (Est. 1871) and Gemma Meek’s reading about socially engaged book art (1990 – present day). This collaborative workshop proposal, aims to explore a multi-vocal approach to selecting, responding and transforming imagery from WO magazine. Participants will be invited to engage with pages from WO through an open discussion on what themes and imagery speak to individuals. This subjective approach aims to reflect the transformation of imagery through participants’ readings, highlighting both the challenge and freedom that underpin the critical enquiry of the historian. Furthermore, this multi-vocal approach to artistic research can be seen as a move towards transforming society through the fostering of critical and creative everyday reading and awareness. Therefore, challenging the singular voice of the historian through disrupting perceptions and encouraging research communities. Participants are invited to ‘play’ and investigate, creating a collage page of clippings, drawings and writings. These pages will be collated into a book, as a new space in which to map connections between readings, repositioning the authority of the historian’s voice.
Ginta Zabarovska- Re Building Jewellery Art: The possibilities of transforming jewellery art teaching methods (LTV)
During “Schmuck 2015”, the seminar participants talked about Jewellery Stunts in public space. Speakers included well known jewellery artists, lecturers as Yuka Oyama, Liesbet Bussche, Nanna Melland and Helen Carnac; their activities are in some way related to contemporary jewelery promotion in public space.The most important ideas that were voiced in the discussion were that contemporary jewelry artists have unwittingly or deliberately formed a closed society from which information about the jewellery events practically doesn’t stream away. Some artists, teachers, students, and collectors have a certain exchange of information. However, the artists do not build conversations with any other parts of the society. Certain projects involve enlarging the field of artistic jewelery. For example Liesbet Bussche is a teacher of the Antwerpen Academy of Arts jewelery department and together with other colleagues their working in the center of the field research. Together with her students they were working on a project Afterschool (2015). The project consists of several parts – MAKE ME party, MAKE ME future, MAKE ME show and so on. The MAKE ME party took place again on 6 November 2014 during the University College symposium of the Karel de Grote-Hogeschool in Antwerp (the party) and simultaneously at the SIERAAD Art Fair in Amsterdam (the live stream). The project would be explained within the presentation. These kind of projects are the main foundation of intervention and diversity within the jewellery art teaching processes. The presentation would point out some of the directions jewellery teaching program can widen to.
Henrik Andersson and Monique Wernhamn – The misunderstood geniuses – gets help from the community to customize an extraordinary performance
In society today there is a risk for artistic quality to disappear when artist are forced to customize their work for target groups, founding bodies, institutions and political agendas. The misunderstood geniuses is a performance duo consisting of Monique Wernhamn (artist, performer, set designer) and Henrik Andersson (director, performer, musician), which creates situations that challenge the established patterns/images in public and private spaces. We
research and try to define the term of being a genius in order to visualize and question structures of society.
-What is regarded as mentally healthy and what is regarded as insane?
-Who/what is permitted to intake space, raise their voice and be heard?
-Who gets recognition?
–What is recognition?
-What is visible and what is hidden away in history and society?
In our performance and workshop for the winter symposium we involve the spectators to create
content and dramaturgy based on given instructions and props.
The performance discusses what a spectator wants to experience and the conflict between artistic
quality and target group customizing in a capitalistic society. We use our normative/critical gaze:
to create a dialogue between the audience will, our desire in the situation and the conflict inbetween.
What happens when we transform the concepts of spectator and performer, artistic idea and
customized interests, genius and fool?
Jaana Kokko – The notion of Political space (FIN)
In my presentation I am interested to lecture of my research interest of political space and to tell about the basic idea how women philosphers and researchers look at the ‘political’. In my lecture I am going to show a 7 minutes extract from my video The Reading Circle (2010), which is an experimental film about the pleasure of collective rereading and it is inspired by Hannah Arendt’s thinking. In the film four women meet in a private apartment in Helsinki to discuss the meaning they attach to the term “political”. Through this intellectual discussion based on Hannah Arendt’s thinking, and the monologues each of the women define the image of a political individual and a political woman: What does ‘political’ mean? How to define ‘womanly political’? Is it possible to attain a revolutionism that transcends generations and redefine ‘political’?
Joanna Neil – Observation/Transformation/Translation (UK)
A transformational process of abstraction: Using performative drawing in the expanded field to explore how different senses are used to observe and reflect in creative making. Through re-listening to ‘verbal sketches’ the process of looking, thinking and sense-making can be experienced again, albeit in an abstracted form and transferred and transformed into a final gesture and shared experience. Observational responses to a cultural object will be documented by participants as ‘verbal sketches’ with guidance encouraging consideration of formal visual elements as well as what is experienced through tactile, imagined, and emotional responses. The experiment seeks to examine how individuals respond to this given process and transform meaning and experiences through different media. How through recording observation and re-listening to their observations they might know their object and use this as a preparatory sketch for their final output.
Last year I was involved in two international collaborative art practice projects and presentations with other NSU artist researchers. These projects focused on two elements; firstly how to generate a methodological practice of a multi-sensorial encounter of things in our everyday surroundings and secondly how the dialogue of sharing and collaboration internationally influences each others’ creative practices. We were interested in practices of collaboration and how each of our sensing practices influenced the other. This forms the basis of the ABC Blackburn colleges’ collaborative project.
Many of the students on BA(Hons) Fine Art at Blackburn (both UK & USA) have never travelled outside their respective countries so this project provides a way to engage them in both art and life outside of their usual experience. The project is based on students’ own experiences of their home town and surroundings and in comparing this to students in the other country. An essential element in understanding your own visual culture is in experiencing and comparing this to others.
For this presentation we would focus on the transformative effect for the students of interweaving the two localities and cultures and how they might use this in turn to create transformation within their own locality. The presentation will be introduced by Jo & Craig but would include students via video or skype reflecting on these issues and showing the work they created.
Jon Irigoyen – Working the community. Transforming the society through art practice (SPA)
Working the community. Empowering the society through art practice is a presentation proposal about some of my last site-specific projects which work with concepts such as community, body, memory, migration, identity and neighborhood. These concepts are part of my Doctoral research: “Art as Resistance. Use of the body as a tool of encounter/resistance”. In the conference presentation I will place emphasis on 2 of my latest site-specific public projects. HYPODROMME PARK, 2nd Tbilisi Triennial, Georgia and CEAD MÍLE FÁILTE, Dublin, Ireland. Both of them are site-specific interventions developed with the collaboration of local agents such as immigrants,
activists or local artists/residents.
Hypodromme park is my most recent project and consisted in a an audiovisual archive of interviews with a variety of people who use Hippodrome Park, and a ceramic installation that symbolizes the territory of this communal space. This space of study, an old disused Hippodrome in ruins from Soviet times, is nowadays a popular meeting place and recreational area where people with different interests, backgrounds and nationalities come together. Being one of the few green areas of the city, Hippodrome Park is immersed in a process of gentrification and urban transformation, which is expected at some point will erase the nature of this recreational space.
The main objective of my project was opening discussion about the future of this space in order to facilitate and empower different dynamics of community, neighborhood, and social construction. Additionally through diverse communal processes of gathering and celebration in the space of the park, the project developed and explored concepts such as Commons, Public Space, Territory and Social Empowerment.
CEAD MÍLE FÁILTE is a project created during my curatorial residence at Temple Bar gallery. After a research process I found people and stories that allowed me to have a better idea and appreciation of what has happened and is happening in the community and neighborhood of TempleBar, beyond turistic guidebooks or maps, institutions and pubs of false dates depicting apparent age. Through a curated program of events at my residency studio, which become a Pop up gallery during the night of the Arts, we researched and open discussion about problems and concepts related with the context. Gentrification, solidarity, memory or grass roots dynamics were the concept and ideas we work with together with artists, shopkeepers, barbers, shop owners and people from the neighborhood community of the district who are suffering the wild neoliberal transformation of their community. All projects had a research period where I engaged with locals looking to develop an artwork which would represent them and their needs, in order to get the different collectives I work with involved, and part of the project.
Lisbeth Sandvall – Narrative drawing debts and strategies: a project about research methods and ways of conveying research results to a wider public (SWE)
How can drawing be used in research about debt problems? Over-indebtedness as well as financial struggles are currently increasing in many societies. Private financial issues and debt problems influence not only the individual but also have implications for whole societies. These issues are affecting the individuals in different ways. Health problems, relation issues, as well as feelings of guilt and shame are few examples of symptoms resulting from financial problems. Feelings of exclusion are another example that often results from long-term financial difficulties. In order to cope with this problems (that are difficult or even impossible to get rid of) the individual are forced to use different coping strategies. Research shows that many young people have debt at early ages and that members of many households foresee interest rates and levels of debt having large impacts on their future lives. These levels of debt and finical struggle forces people in vulnerable situations as unexpected events such as unemployment, sickness, or divorce may have a negative impact on the household economy.
A factor that can mitigate these issues is financial literacy. This project takes departure from knowledge creation about financial difficulties at micro levels. The objective is to use an artistic expression to present experiences from individuals going through financial hardships as well as to create knowledge about how these issues affect ordinary people. Photos, video, drawings, stories, and poetry will be used to present research results in the field to a wider public.
The workshop includes a presentation of this method as well as the research results from within the field of financial constraints. Participants in the workshop will also be included as part of the research project and have the opportunity to illustrate their own thoughts and perceptions. The workshop is going to be a part of an ongoing research project about collecting and presenting research results in the field of financial difficulties. The workshop is also meant as a contribution to how artistic research can promote the transforming of the society.
Luisa Greenfield – Biological wisdom and social transformation: a collective exploration (US, DE)
We are living in exciting times. All over the world germ cells arise and new forms of life are invented. Resistance as a creative and sustainable process of transformation is being redefined and a commitment to the slow<time of planting and fermenting brings a perceptual shift that affects all aspects of life. It is, for example a political gesture to grow vegetables on public lands, to share seeds, to cook collectively, to develop new knowledge in open workshops and to produce instead of consume.
With the series of actions called, “Biological Wisdom and Social Transformation” we ask to what extent can we invent new social and art forms when turning to the deep wisdom and intelligence that lies in biological systems? How can fermentation processes be applied to social processes? What forms can an art of social fermentation take? What techniques and procedures have to be invented? What new spaces and environments need to be created for an art of this kind to flourish?
What began as a shared interest in the question of how Joseph Beuys idea of Soziale Plastik (an art of engagement with the potential to transform society) developed into a whirlwind of collective readings and weekly exchange of ideas. Out of this process sprang an open platform inviting anyone worldwide to participate in a trans<local film screening and discussion series that juxtaposes eco<activist documentary with philosophy and thematically related art projects. The collective cooking and discussions that follow these screenings bring artists and eco-activists together in vibrant dialogue.
With this project, the overall aim is to connect activist and artist groups working on related questions and to create a trans-local exchange of experience, techniques and knowledge based on the idea of sharing “seeds” generated from within the groups. Simultaneous events on the respective materials and concepts of soil, social) fermentation and fungi have taken place since January of this year and during the first event, groups in seven countries took part.
Nathalie Fari – TRANSLATING SPACES: The body as translator at the emergence of on-site performances (UK)
I would like to present the concept of Body Mapping in the format of a workshop. The core of this concept is the exploration between the body and space, especially the different ways in which the body occupies, acquires, uses, enlivens and inhabits a certain space. It is therefore seen as a sort of ‘translator’ (or agent) who interprets the experience of these spaces by generating a performative language or singular action. In doing so, the body will not only be trained to develop deeper awareness, and to work on its expression, senses and perception, but
in addition the concept enables the emergence of a wide range of social encounters, aesthetic experiences and spatial situations.
Since 2010, I have been working with this concept at various time intervals, constellations and locations (mostly in Germany and in my home country of Brazil) witnessing several intriguing, curious and transformative moments. Therefore I decided this year to initiate a wider research project (with the above working title) which uses the methodology and approaches of Body Mapping as a framework to investigate and discuss about the following topics: performance as research, participatory- and site specific art, social choreography and collaborative performance
work. The main questions of this investigation are: How can body subjectivity be used to create a sort of ‚temporary community‘ that enables an artistic (or performative) and social empowerment? What happens when we adopt other people’s (e.g. the audiences) perspectives and when the boarders between what is a performance and what isn’t blur? Which artistic strategies are available to facilitate other forms of interaction, especially when the body is seen as a translator?
Per Roar – Transformative practice: observations from a transformative process in a community of practice (NOR)
In the proposal Transformative Practice I will present and discuss my experiences from working with the production BY CARTE BLANCHE in 2015/2016 in which the dancers in the repertoire company Carte Blanche in Bergen, Norway, went through a process from being executors of others steps to being in charge of a whole production. The project was instigated by their new artistic director Hooman Shariffi who replaced the traditional role of a choreographer with a (choreographic/artistic) coach who followed and supported the whole process, while the dancers took on the responsibilities of following up the creation of the piece. In my role as this coach, I want to share the experiences of the transformative aspect and practice that emerged through this process, while drawing on the avant-garde dancer Anna Halprin’s understanding of the transformative (Halprin 1995) and Avery Gordon’s notion of transformative recognition (Gordon 1997).
Ragnhild Freng Dale and Rafael Dernbach – Decolonizing the future: science fiction as speculative, transformational and ethnographic practice ( NOR and UK)
The future has been colonized
by nerds in suits
that ended history
that they call theory.
To project into the future, to predict and to prophecy are old human practices that have increasingly been delegated to experts and machines. Today, it seems any imaginings of the future are reduced and confined by the language of
economists and technocrats. This is our task to change. Our thesis for the proposed workshop is that (science) fiction can help us as artistic researchers to develop a more intimate relationship with our subjects. Reclaiming the practice of speculation and prophecy can become a powerful transformational experience as much as the source for interesting research and documentation. We will give a short writing workshop, in which different speculative strategies from science fiction are introduced. We will develop in a few short exercises ways to activate our fictional and speculative muscles and antennae. Our own collective as much as personal concerns of the present will hopefully appear in a different light afterwards. And this is in dire need, as Frederic Jameson claims: “It is easier to imagine the end of history than the end of capitalism”. Why the title? Why decolonizing the future? We are convinced that colonization is not just the existence and cultivation of oppressive structures in the present. If we want it or not, we are all embedded in the oppressive structures that make critique difficult and blind us for alternatives. And this blindness keeps colonization alive. Thus, colonization does not only haunt our past and present, but also the way we can talk and think about the future.
Sam Skinner – Imagining the material community (UK)
The concept of community has continually evolved, traversing place, ethnicity, morality, symbolism, and communication. What if we evolve it further, beyond the human-centric, to entangle (it) with matter in all its unruly liveliness from weather systems to the molecular – forging a more open, distributed, nomadic sense of community?
My presentation will explore what a concept of a material community might offer this question. It will investigate modes in which agency cannot be owned, but is necessarily distributed and shared. An ontology that shifts focus from configurations of bodies, flows and signs, to what their concatenations allow or constrain, what they can do together. We will explore what modes of inter-dependency and autonomy might be enabled through such differential participations of affects and bodies? What artistic mediations support bringing these heterogeneous bodies together, and to what end? These are working questions that aim to move beyond narrow either/or binaries, and spark praxises of “yes and”, in order to develop collective, open, and experimental works of composition that understand community in a number of ways, which we might describe performatively, as an action, or in New Materialist terms an intra-action that works through and between different materialities and spatiotemporalities.
The presentation will reflect on my current PhD research that attempts to reimagine the old Liverpool Observatory for the 21st century, investigating creative community-centered open-data practices, the materiality of inscription, and new materialist expanded views of place and agency.
The discussion would be an opportunity to examine how intersections can be animated towards the creation of radical cartographies, genealogies and expressions, breaking community free from discourses of the state and boundary making, towards hybrid ecologies, liquid networks, democracies of objects, and vibrant collectives, where matter conjoins and animates all things equally, communally, differently.
Sezen Tonguz – Transformative power of public space as artistic venue (POR/TUR)
In this lecture performance, I will try to present different forms of occupy movements mainly happened in the world and more specifically in Turkey and how the artistic expression and involvement of citizens as ‘artists’ took place through the process. In the specific example of Turkey, I will focus on a still9 standing performance: standingman, including the opinions”of”Erdem”Gündüz”aka”standingman and some Turkish academicians in terms of situating the performance in geopolitical context while also giving an insight to the performer’s primary intention, experience and the reflections of it afterwards.
Looking back to fifty years in history, one can tell that 1960’s gave initiation to many remarkable events due to the “power to the people” movement in the post9war era with the hope to change the world. Since then the cyclicity of changing paradigms appeared to be much more frequent with increasing technological developments and communication tools. The balance of the contemporary society and its values keep changing continuously. Each epoch has its conditions and happenings that leave their trace in history. As in the example of Occupy movement, people from different classes, nations, ethnicities, religions, etc. came together in a global context and stood up for a possibility of more humanistic and equal living conditions via local manifestations where many strategies of Occupy were adopted and adapted to the local reality.
Shona Thomson – Sensing Places (UK)
Sensing Place has emerged from the practice of two programmers working with cinema, screen archives and storytelling, Shona Thomson and Andrew Ormston. It is a Scotland-wide partnership project identifying innovative models for cultural participation and promotion in rural locations with limited infrastructure. The project establishes a sustainable new creative participation model based on people telling the stories of where they live using both oral and cinematic storytelling techniques and heritage and involving an interdisciplinary cohort of artists. Audience engagement involves work with local promoters and programmers and a fusion of “intangible” local film and storytelling heritage with the creation of new work.
The vision behind the project is based on the affinity of oral storytelling and cinematic storytelling as intangible cultural heritage – using the stories that exist in published form, oral tradition and screen archives as a starting point for creative work and community engagement. It rests on the popularity and potency of screen heritage as a platform for cross artform and trans-disciplinary artists collaboration. It exploits the way that the digital shift has created opportunities for the distribution, presentation and creation of work in communities with limited cultural infrastructure and capacity, as well as the current interest in the creative community in working across different
creative and artistic classifications and media. This desire to create platforms for communities to tell their own stories is one aspect of the value of culture in place-making and in stimulating urban / rural cross pollination of practice and audience.
The project adopts an action research approach where each of the main participating organisations
is a research partner in the process of scoping, prioritising, delivering and evaluating Sensing
Place. The aim is to develop an integrated method that involves artists, archivists, community
participants and promoters in devising the programme, and in evaluating its impact. This work will
establish a proven method that can be adapted to local circumstances in any area lacking cultural
infrastructure and capacity across
Stephanie Hanna – Translating spaces: the body as translator at the emergence of on-site performances (DE)
Since 2013, I am asking people I randomly meet on the streets what one needs to do or have in order to have or lead a good life. Until now, I have done this in three former working class neighbourhoods in Berlin as well as in Görlitz. In each area, I presented the collection in audio installations and in a performative writing of the answers on the pavement, big enough to be read from the surrounding flat towers in Marzahn. I record the answers on audio only and take no foto or video of the people I talk to (only of me asking, sometimes, for doc pursposes). By excluding the image of my counterparts in this social research, the answers seem more intimate / private and subtleties of intonation become more apparent. Last not least, the imagination of the receptor is also activated differently.
In these street interactions, intervening unexpected in the everyday routine (or not) of my counterparts, I am transforming myself, expand my notion and knowledge of what it takes to lead a good life – and refresh this knowledge in the actuality of the encounter. When I find myself busy planning ahead, worrying, thinking on my daily ways, and thus not being present, I would love to meet someone that would wake me up to the here and now by asking me this weird and seemingly pointless question. In the installations and web app, the sum of the answers adds up to an oracle. Presented in walkthrough spatial audio installations, a reflective and philosophical space emerges. In each area, the answers manifested certain specific priorities, foci and habits of speech – but there are many more similarities than differences. It could be interesting to present these differences graphically. Yet, there is one too regular answer I do struggle with, and mostly ask further questions about: Money. (and here, I hope for an interesting debate)
Wanda Zyborska – Scarred Aged Skin and the Material Body: Ageing as transformation and becoming (UK)
There is a significant gap in visual representations of scarred, older (post menopausal) women and a cultural need for more and different representations of their bodies. The aim of my research in this area is to develop a series of sculptures, drawings and performances for exhibition that closely explore the underrepresented area of aged and scarred skin. This body of work constitutes transformative (becoming and accumulating as well as incurring loss and decay) interrogations of the surfaces of scarred, aged skin and the postmenopausal body within the limited extant field of artistic production about scarred and aged female bodies.
The topic is explored through my own art practice and my feminist engagement with the aesthetics and cultural contexts of breast cancer, sexuality, representation and female subjectivity within a theoretical context of Deleuze’s Fold, Judith Butler’s Performativity and Braidotti’s take on Deleuze’s ideas of Becoming.
I would like to begin with a 5-minute performance entitled Silent Scroll: Homage to Carolee Schneemann to demonstrate my visual practice as a performative, transformative intervention. I will discuss some possibilities for bringing about social transformation via details of public performance contexts and viewer responses in an illustrated presentation (15 minutes, followed by 15 minutes discussion) giving further examples of my transformative practice. Cultural views of postmenopausal women can alter through accumulative performative repetition as discussed by Judith Butler.
Part of my methodology is the use of imaginative collaboration with art and artists of the past. My performance Silent Scroll is an imaginative collaboration with the feminist artist Carolee Schneemann and her performance Interior Scroll (1975). Such transformative encounters allow the performative repetition or re-iterations of previous works in new ways. They combine creativity from the past and present to produce an art event beyond representation.
Art encounters like this challenge ways of being in the world and disrupt habitual systems of knowledge, producing new possibilities for change. The presentation and discussion will be an object example of the performance, chronicling and critique of the transformations under discussion, as documentation, exposition and dialogue.
Wiktoria Furrer & Slow Spicy Curatorial Practices Collective – Donate to curate or the art of micropractice (CH)
About «Donate to Curate»
On the first sight Zurich seems to have no problems. Cleaning workers keep the streets in a flawless
state, social services prevent trouble makers from disturbing public tranquility and asylum-seekers are
adequately hidden in containers. Against the background of this panorama of an economy-driven city
we want to question the current ego-logical model and search for other forms of living and working
together. «Donate to Curate» asks about the potentials of a community that is based on the
micropractices of giving – as described by the theoretic figure of the gift. In this case the art of
micropractice becomes truly an art of living.
«Donate to Curate» is an art and curatorial project, started by the Slow Spicy Curatorial Practices
Collective and as such part of Manifesta, the European Art Biennale 2016 in Zurich. The project
reclaims fallow ground in the post-industrial – nowadays revaluated – part of Zurich, that will be
modulated as a space for social experiments. The infrastructure will be constructed out of goods, that
have been donated to the project. Until summer 2016 the group will experiment with different
participative formats of giving and sharing as for instance the «Tea Kitchen», a series of microevents
and tea ceremonies at the kitchenette in the 6th floor at the University or a workshop for the donation
Proposal: «Tea Kitchen»
We would like to propose to perform a Tea Kitchen. This tea-ceremony will consist out of an a) short
input about «Donate to Curate» and the art of micropractice, as well as an b) intervention and c)
reflection/discussion).We invite all participants to reflect upon the notion of the gift and its meaning for communities while drinking an infusion of local herbs. After a short presentation of the project and some theoretical remarks we will collect donations from the participants, that will become part of the «Donate to Curate» installation in Zurich. At the same time the personal experience of giving will be the starting point for the discussion.
Zane Radzobe, Janis Balodis and Dmitrijs Petrenko – Performing the break: The Last Pioneer in the context of Latvian society and theatre (LTV)
The proposed presentation deals with two aspects of performance: research as the basis of a performance and performance as material of cultural and social research.
The presentation is going to be based on a work-in-progress developed by director Dmitrijs Petrenko and playwright Janis Balodis The Last Pioneer. The performance is envisioned as a semi-fictional story of three Russian teenagers in Latvia at the end of the 80s of the 20th century – the high of the National Awakening of Latvian Society during the early stages of regaining the independence from the Soviet Union. The text of the performance is at the moment compiled from the interviews with real life counterparts of the characters of the play – the generation of ethnically non-Latvian youth that were to become the last of the Pioneers in the soviet ideological system and faced the change of the political and social firsthand. The characters on the other hand are going to be performed by contemporary young actors in their early twenties. The strategy therefore involves confrontation of two time frames (1989 / 1990 and 2015) and two nationalities (Russian teenagers played by Latvian actors).
The presentation for symposium would consist of two consequent parts – approximately 10 to 15 minutes each. The first part would introduce the audient to the work in progress. By March 2016 it is expected that the research of the materials and the text of the performance would be complete, with stage work in its early stages. The second part of the presentation would discuss strategies of how performance can be latter used as a source for research in social realities or how it might facilitate social discussion. The presentation would be a collaboration of a playwright, a director and a theoretician.
The performance in question is potentially an excellent example since it deals with a subject that is heavily marginalized in Latvian society and consequently Latvian theatre as well – the experiences of ethnic minorities during the 80s, 90s and 2000s in Latvian society in the context of culture and values envisioned and realized by the dominant culture. Since Latvia of the 21st is effectively a country consisting of two separate ethnic / cultural societies whose narratives, experiences etc. rarely overlap, a performance like The Last Pioneer is a tool both for researching the Russian-speaking minority and inform / involve in discussion / research the attitudes toward a subject etc. Latvian cultural majorities.