Conversations on Performance Art II

Tonight at Muu gallery Essi Kausalainen and Sara Pathirane were having a conversation, moderated by Annette Arlander, as part of the collaboration between Muu gallery and HTDTWP. The conversation took place in the exhibition of Sara Pathirane, My Chinese Landscape. We began by discussing performance as a working method, as a strategy in producing art works, that can take other forms than a live performance. See program here. The plan was to have the conversation in Finnish, but since we were fortunate to have curator Pau Waelder with us, we discussed mainly in English, see live streaming here. Photo by Timo Soppela (?)

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What did we do in 2017 – a summary

 

The research project How to do things with performance? began already in the autumn 2016, but the year 2017 was our first whole year of working. None of the researchers in the project did work full time in this project for the whole year, and some of us officially not at all, but a lot of things were nevertheless done.

We made some shared publications: The Ice-Hole Live Art Journal issue #6 , published last spring, based on material from the kick-off seminar in autumn 2016 was a good opening towards the Live Art scene, by being at the same time a documentation  of the seminar and a collection of perspectives,  standpoints and examples of how to do things with performance. Also edited by Pilvi Porkola, the Performance artist’s workbook: On teaching and learning performance art. Essays and exercises. (Theatre Academy Publication Series 61.) was published last autumn and contains, besides a large amount of exercises from performance artists all over the world, articles by all researchers in the project. It is also openly available online. The first text written together, based on a jointly held workshop, in Finnish, with the title “Miten tehdä asioita esityksellä – annetuissa (työpaja) olosuhteissa” [How to do things with performance – in given (workshop) circumstances] is published in TAHITI journal 3/2017.

The highlights of the first year conferences and seminars that we participated in with joint presentations, papers and events. The conference tour of the summer began at home, with a two-hour, four-part workshop “What is Given?” at the SAR (Society for Artistic Research) conference Please Specify! in Helsinki 28-29 April 2017. The next stop after that was a two-day event comprised of workshops, presentations and performances under the heading “Accessing Performance”, as part of the Camino events program of the Artistic Research Pavillion in Venice 17-18 May 2017. For this years PSi-(Performance Studies International) conference we did not receive a panel of our own, an thus each of us presented their work in the  (Artistic Research Working Group) as part of PSI#23 Overflow  conference in Hamburg 8-11 June 2017. At the IFTR (International Federation for Theatre Research) conference Unstable Geographies – Multiple Theatricalities in Sao Paulo 10-14 July 2007, we gave our papers in two different panels, “Performance Philosophy” and “Body, Space and Performativity”, because each panel had three presenters. Besides that we visited the  Sao Paulo Escola del Teatro and held a joint workshop- performance in four parts there on 6 July 2017.

In the autumn we again focused on work at home: 7 October 2017 we organised a seminar event “How to do things with performance?” at the New Performance Turku Festival, where both Pilvi Porkola and Tero Nauha also performed their own shows.  The Helsinki launch of the Performance Artist’s Workbook  on 11 October and the public discussions with Charles Garoian and Ray Langenbach  on 26 October, and with Tero Nauha and Pilvi Porkola  on 1 November, were organised in collaboration with Muu gallery. The main event of the year was probably the open research day we organised together with Esitystutkimuksen verkosto [the Finnish Performance Studies Network] How are things done, produced or effected with performance? at the University of the Arts Helsinki Theatre Academy on 8 November 2017. Our invited guest speaker was Bojana Cvejic, in collaboration with Moving in November Festival. We are planning a publication related to the theme of the day for 2018.

Besides these joint papers, presentations and events each of the researchers in the project has presented their work in the specialised conferences of their fields, performed in various contexts and published articles in both international and national publications. For example, Hanna Järvinen participated in the Nordic Forum for Dance Research Conference in Gothenburg in June and the Dance Studies Association conference at Ohio State University in Columbus, OH in October. She published articles in Nordic Journal of Dance 8(2) and in Tiede & edistys 4/2017, the latter in dialogue with choreographer Liisa Pentti. Most such presentations and publications are placed on the timeline of the project’s webpages on the Research Catalogue How to do things with performance .

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What remains for each of us as the main achievement of the year is another matter.

For my part (Annette Arlander) I think the most crucial thing was to compose and present the video compilations Animal Years I and II in Venice, not because so many people would have seen them, but because it is now done. The most interesting and important practical finding, however, was the idea to create a video essay by combining the video installation material of a particular year in one image and add an academic presentation  as a voice-over speech. This I tried for the first time in the seminar in Turku, in my presentation “The Shore Revisited”, with the Year of the Goat (2004) as a starting point, and was so fascinated that I tried to apply the same principle in my presentation at the autumn research day, “The Cliff Revisited”, with the Year of the Monkey (2005) as a starting point. Thus, the base image for the compilation based on the Year of the Rooster (2006) and the presentation for the research day in spring is already done.

 

 

How Are (were) Things Done, Produced or Effected with Performance?

Our Research Day on 8 November  How Are  Things Done, Produced or Effected with Performance? was inspiring and challenging. Although the idea was to organise a bilingual event, we decided to keep it in English in order to be able to share the conversation with our international guests. The program for the day as well as the abstracts of the presenters are available on the Uniarts website and on the Research Catalogue, for those interested. Here below only a few lines as a summary of sorts.

After an opening by Pilvi Porkola and a welcome by Annette Arlander the moderator Tero Nauha introduced our key note speaker Bojana Cvejić, whose lectureImagining and Feigning” set the tone for the discussions during the day.  

Cvejić began with the suggestion that poetics can be distinguished from other kinds of thought exercised in art by the capacity of pondering the question: “What is the art I would like to see before I can see it?” To muse on a poetical principle, she noted, is different from creation by posing (or choreographing) a problem or devising a technical procedure within a received theoretical framework. While problems are posed in order to be resolved in composition and procedures are applied to technically shape a process, poetical principles direct the thought of creation toward imagination into futurity often leading to a poetic usage of language, she added. In her talk she explored elements of contemporary performance poetics in which imagination gains ground. “Rather than a faculty of forming images, imagination here accounts for the ability to think of something not presently perceived, for thoughts without experiential content. It involves feigning, as in Spinoza’s sense of knowingly entertaining fictions, and abductive reason, as in Charles Sanders Peirce’s notion of conjecturing a hypothesis without firm evidence.” And she related these ideas  to examples of contemporary dance.

The first panel consisted of an open rehearsal with students from MA in Comparative Dramaturgy and Performance Research led by professor Katariina Numminen and a paper presentation by performance artist Natalie Waerden, titled  Transition and Transformation” discussing the potentiality of performative actions to transform our sense of self.

The second panel combined issues related to dance and ethnography, with Hanna Järvinen speaking of “Democratic Bodies in Contemporary Dance”, Elina Seye describing “Practices of Performing at Senegalese Sabar Dance Events” and Lea Kantonen exploring “Performance as a Methodology in Indigenous Studies”.

The third panel was centered on various approaches in music. Mieko Kanno argued for  a close connection betweenMusical Performance and Algorithmic Thinking”,  Elisabeth Belgrano described her poetic project “An Orna/Mentor’s Performance”, and  Susanna Hast discussed her experiences ofMusistance” or musical resistance in combining political science and a lived feminist politics.

In the fourth and last panel, the members of the research group presented their ideas, with Hanna Järvinen as moderator. Tero Nauha gave a philosophical and poetical presentation on “Fictioning and Performance Thinking”, Annette Arlander showed the video essay “The Cliff Revisited”, based on material from Year of the Monkey (2005) and Pilvi Porkola discussed  her experiences of sharing Live Art methods with teachers in Tools for Teaching – Perspectives of Performance Pedagogy and Live Art”.

We ended the day with a brief general discussion, pondering the possible risks and dangers of a notion of performance that is too broad, for instance to be able to distinguish artistic performances from other types of practices. Personally I am biased as a reporter of the discussion, since I am all for an extended understanding of performance as action, process and becoming, and thus something that cannot be limited to humans only.  In order to continue the discussion I here quote physicist and queer theorist Karen Barad:

“To assume that meaning is a property of individual words or groups of words is to stay within a linguistic frame of meaning making. Discourse is not a synonym for language. Discursive practices are the material conditions for making meaning. In my posthumanist account, meaning is not a human-based notion; rather, meaning is an ongoing performance of the world in its differential intelligibility. Intelligibility is usually framed as a matter of intellection and therefore a specifically human capacity. But in my agential realist account, intelligibility is a matter of differential responsiveness, as performatively articulated and accountable, to what matters. Intelligibility is not an inherent characteristic of humans but a feature of the world in its differential becoming. The world articulates itself differently.” (Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway, Duke University Press 2007, 335)

Call: Research Day 8 November 2017

How are things done, produced or effected with performance?

The Finnish network for performance studies and the research project How to do things with performance? organise a joint research day 8 November 2017 10 am to 6 pm at University of the Arts Theatre Academy, Auditorium 1.

We invite everybody interested in performance studies, research on and in performance art and live art and in performance as research to debate the topic in English or in Finnish.

The main speaker of the day is performance theorist and performance maker Bojana Cvejic, whose most recent work Choreographing Problems (2015) discusses the relationship of philosophy and experimental choreographic practices by analysing some central works of contemporary dance. Her approach can be linked to performance philosophy as well, the aim of which is to bypass and overcome the abyss between making and thinking, art and philosophy. (Laruelle, Ó Maoilearca, Cull, O’Sullivan). Cvejic is one of the founding members of the group Walking Theory, which represents the new critical theory of the former Eastern European countries. She is professor in dance at Oslo National Academy of the Arts.

In the research project How to do things with performance? (2016-2020) funded by the Academy of Finland we have looked for answers with the help of some concepts like fabulation, fictionalising, framing, reimagining and repeating. Fabulation refers here to the social way we are creating shared meanings. Fictionalising, on the contrary, is a mode of thinking which does not strive to any kind of equivalence in relation to the real or reality. Repeating with variation can be linked on one hand to learning, the stabilizing of impact, and on the other hand to the production of difference.

These are of course not the only verbs central for performance and performing. We invite everybody interested in these issues to ponder how and in what way things are done with performance. Our aim is to compile a thematic issue on the topic to RUUKKU, journal of artistic research in Spring 2018.

Please send abstracts of proposals for presentations, in English or Finnish no later than 9 October to annette.arlander@uniarts.fi

Welcome!

Annette Arlander, Helena Erkkilä, Hanna Järvinen, Tero Nauha, Pilvi Porkola, Taina Riikonen ja Helena Saarikoski

The full call is available as pdf Research Day 8 November 2017 – Call

Kick Off, abridged thought.

First Theremin Orchestra  at Carnegie Hall, New York, April 25, 1930.
First Theremin Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, New York, April 25, 1930.

Briefly said,  a presentation with a voice pressed on vinyl records and theremin. A text in progress. 

The performance is not a copy of the original. The thought of performance is a mutation itself. It is performing mutation of the real. The performance do not represent a body. The performance is not anti-art or anti-philosophy, but subtraction of attributes. A body in performance is not a representation, but matter in the process of subtraction. The performance is mutation of the real, it is a fiction. Fiction is a clone of the real, the only way how we approximate with the real. Performance is real, it is not real and it is not-not real. This is not a project, which produces more predicates of subject, like militant, activist, leftist, ad nauseam. Not more philosophy, but less. Not more dialogue, but polylogue and a shift from agon or oikonomia to a heretical choice without a reason. A heretical practice has no superior identity, system, or absolute, but it is without reason. It is an advent of practice. It is fiction, which is the fiction is a counter-creation of the World. The fiction is not an analysis of the world, but it is a organization in advent… The art is not creation for better world, or for better fiction, but art is the end of the world. A body remains foreclosed in the radical immanence and it is performed. Art already thinks, without the representatives of the archbishops of philosophy. It does not think for or through the philosophers.

How to perform landscape with repetition – At the outskirts of the City

A seminar titled Site-specific Performance and the City was organised by Leena Kela and Christopher Hewitt as part of New Performance Turku Festival on Wednesday 5th and I was honoured to be invited to speak. See programme. This was right after our kick-off seminar the previous day, so I based my talk “At the Outskirts of the City”  – Harakka Island where I have done most of my work is at the outskirts of Helsinki, although it is fairly centrally located on the map – on an old text. It is published as part of the introduction to Performing Landscape – Notes on Site-specific Work and Artistic Research. Texts 2001-2011. Acta Scenica 28. Theatre Academy Helsinki 2012 and the whole book is available online as a pdf file, here. The fragment in question (arlander_as_28-fragment) is discussing the relationship of place and performance in general terms. In the background I showed the two videos I never had the time to show at our kick-off seminar, namely the first part of Year of the Horse  (2003) and the first part of Year of the Horse – Calendar (2015).

My brief and informal talk at the kick-off seminar at Theatre Academy on Tuesday concerned repetition, and was partly based on an article “Repeat, Revisit, Recreate—Two Times Year of the Horse” in PARSE Journal Issue #3 Repetitions and Reneges. 2016, 43-59, also available online, here. There I describe those two video works or rather the process of recreating an old work by revisiting the same site after twelve years. In my presentation I chose to show my small powerpoint notes-on-repetition, rather than take up time by showing the videos, especially since we had just seen some great live shows…