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Love in Unofficial Unworks at Gallery Weekend Berlin and more TFB residency
Notes from inside, documentation as text, and some photos
All the freedom, autonomy, creativity, richness of art practices happens inside some implicit frames and mindsets that artists and curators interiorize. Depending on where you are in the artworld, you are under commercial, ideological, or entertainment imperatives. They overlap but usually one of them dominates. In events like this Berlin Gallery Weekend is the commercial one, in most biennales and publicly financed venues the ideologic one, in performance and dance it's the entertainment one. Despite all the implicit or explicit submission, there are some good works in all these 3 spheres, yet, I'm more interested in art and artists that challenge or play with implicit imperatives, certainties and limits. Usually they are isolated, and institutionally ignored, although, there are times in which common movements are rising, and these meta artists get some traction: Conceptual and performance artists who went against commercial rule in the 60s and 70s. Dancers around Judson Church in the 60s and "conceptual" dance of the 90s-00s went against the entertainment (spectacle) rule. Certain East European artists who went against the official ideology in the socialist block, forming little parallel artworlds because they were cancelled from the Artworld. Unfortunately there are also times, like now, when art is submissive and conservative, and the deviating artists appear to be extinct, but they probably aren't.
April 30, Cao Fei exhibition
The badminton field, the hens, the camping corner, the serene digital people with octopus tentacles coming out of their bellies, the strange filter on the big windows produce a permissive environment for my practice. As soon as I thought that, my body started to slightly deviate from itself and feel more the place. It's moving around slowly and focused, carried by this receptive state. It's really a better way of experiencing the exhibition. I receive more from works and people. Somehow I also give more, my state gives away that I'm going through something special. People are trying to figure out what I'm doing, my presence puzzles them. With so much stuff going on here, they might suspect that I'm part of the show. And in a way I am, we all are, especially in these contexts where the visitors are somehow integrated. They should assume some risks then. The guards are watching me suspiciously. I somehow understand them, they have the mission to keep things normal, yet I don't oblige. I don't like when things are policed to normal, especially in art. Nevertheless, now my body is more discreet in what is doing, in this affecting and getting affected.. Now it enters some very charged postures that catch extra affect – monuments of love. This might be too much, but writing on it while it's happening, might play it down a bit.. I had to stop, too much attention on me. It was ok while I was perceived as part of the exhibition, but when I became the main focus, my body became normal, at least it appears sufficiently so.
April 30, Samuel Hindolo exhibition
Seeing this painting with two jaguars, one slowly walking in a strangely inclined apartment, one sleeping in an altered space, I entered again in an art feeling mood, something is added to watching. My art reception got an extra dimension, maybe also because the paintings have these weird zones with subtle changes of atmosphere, like another diffuse reality overlaps on what is already vaguely, abstractly and weirdly depicted. This black squeaking floor works perfectly with the works. My body entered a sort of subtle dance, a strange dialog with the paintings, I hope the people don't see it as disrespect. They look at me, filming, photographing. Someone is saying something about performing. All I do is to be extra sensible in relation to these works, as we all should, I suppose. Writing about this makes it less performing I guess, I'm not anymore so much their focus.. This sensibility extends towards the trees that I see through the window, towards people here.. My body still softly breaks its form, subtle and less visible. People are still suspicious though, they feel that something is going on.
Love, other notes from inside, during Tanzfabrik Berlin residency
May 6 Tanzfabrik studio
I have this warm feeling in my chest, it spreads a sort of affective energy around while I'm turning, at least that's how I feel. I don't know if this is visible or feelable. We're in this big studio, perfect for big productions, and all we do is to play with these subtle body affectivity. Yet, it makes sense to explore Love here, as it makes sense to show it in big venues, precisely because of this contrast with the context. You expect images, objects or bodies doing some sort of "performance", and you're encountering love, or maybe nothing, because nowadays the affective receptivity is mostly gone. This is a place for choreographing bodies, for training and controlling them in order to be able to provide dance, representations, performance. Returning after a long time in dance studios, I somehow registered their energy, and I automatically entered a control, contemporary dance mode of being. Not anymore, now my body, especially my left hand, entered a kind of blessing of the space and of the world beyond the 4 walls. It's not an image, it's not making fun of, it's really blessing. There is an energy that is pouring out of my hand, and now of my chest too, even of my right hand with the phone, while I'm writing this. Now this love goes towards the sky, I feel like the religious representation of doing this, this is a bit too much. Because I thought this, my state completely switched to something neutral, discharged, the posture remains but it's abstract, casual, not religious anymore. As soon as I wrote this it became religious again. It went back and forth like that for a while, between religious and abstract blessing.
April 19, supermarket, Berlin
I'm always affectively connected with something. Sometimes with customers, some of them watching me with suspicion from the corners of their eyes. Sometimes with products, like my left hand with this musli pack here. With the words that I write on this phone and the eyes that are reading them. Now that I wrote this I feel in my chest this connection with you. I slowly spin around and the love from my chest spreads in space and time. Some part is now exactly here where and when you read this. Writing this, my here became for a moment your here in my future, your present, double presence. A client just changed direction when she saw me, maybe she saw that I'm not exactly here. Or maybe that I'm more here than normal. I feel here, I'm connected with everything from products to clients and employees. My perception is very sharp. I hear more, I see more and I especially feel more. My left part of the body is affectively touched by the client to my left… I walk very slowly, my charged hand triggers attention. It has the power to capture people's gaze. Someone just turned around to avoid me. The quality in my hand changed from magnetising the attention to sending love. I'm walking slowly with my hands in front blessing people and products, some people turn around to avoid this. I hope I don't scare them, although I might look like the saints in icons and this can be scary. My right hand writes and blesses at the same time… Love retreated in my chest, I'm back to normal, although I still feel more than normal. I'm back to shopping.
Unofficial Unworks are Unexperiences, Unimages, Unhere, Love appearing uninvited in art venues and other public spaces, enacted by visitor-performers, affecting some of their implicit conventions and expectations. As visitors we usually conform, performing our roles, consuming quietly what is in front of our eyes. As artists we mostly follow artworld's implicit codes, protocols, structures of validation, hoping to be seen, invited, appreciated. As people we conform to prevailing perspectives and certainties. Artists can and should sometimes deviate from these dynamics. And visitors too.
"Love" explores practices for embodying love – hypersensitivity, ecstatic affects, overwhelming feelings, subtle affective connections with things around… The sensitized love bodies are inserted in "inappropriate" contexts where something else is already happening – from art spaces to supermarkets and anything in between – adding an extra layer to their ordinary function. Audience mingles with people who are unaware of the performance. Meetings are produced between two types of audiences, attentions, situations, performers, two degrees of performing and experiencing. Because affects are contagious, the atmosphere can get love charged. Temporary zones of possibility might open. Artworks are usually visual, sound or conceptual. Love is affect based.
Performers Eliza Trefas and Florin Flueras.