Excerpts and impressions from our residency with Marit Mikhlepp at BAU, Amsterdam.

 

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Initial Statement:
None, and that was something insanely difficult to keep

 

The video above contains impressions and excerpts from the notes written together with Estonian artist Marit Mikhlepp, during our residency at BAU, Amsterdam in November of 2016.
Throughout a week, we occupied a giant studio space, where by doing self-made exercises on and with each-other, the room, simple household objects and occasional guest bodies, we started gathering an alternative theoretical framework for our individual and mutual practice, as makers working with transforming the everyday and the domestic.

The exercises involved, amongst others:
- Being followed in a room for an hour, without wanting to be noticed
- Counting to ten with eyes closed, and having to blindly guess where the other person has moved to inside the room
- Changing between lying-sitting-standing in the slowest possible speed
- Arranging relationships between objects like fold chairs, bowls, cutlery and plastic bags
- Walking towards, away, or together with someone in the space, stopping and moving at once, not losing eye contact

What is heard in the video are a few of the first impressions and thoughts noted straight after each exercise.
We set out with no preconception of the outcome of the week, other than trying to experiment as much as possible. 
We went blank, working of a theoretical Tabula Rasa and use only the experiences of the week and nothing else as a basis for a pool of knowledge and set of tools to be used in works to come.

Last year I set out to conduct this research project from with a theoretical corpus that arises from my practice.
The abstinence from academic literature, from the overconsumption of art, and having physical practices as the focal point of thinking activity all served and serve that purpose. Nevertheless, through more than a year working, enough intellectual material has gathered for it to become overwhelming, coherent and genuine may it be. 
In order to decide where to advance from this point on, a decompression of this body (body of work, body of knowledge and I as a body) needed to happen. Sessions like this, serve this exact purpose.

Some of the keywords we used as a guide both for our practice, and the nature of theory born out of it:
Nonsense, Anti-structure, Misbehaviour, Uselessness, Senselessness, Non-function, Zeal


The biggest discovery of the workshop was the usage of attention and directing attention as a tool for creating extremely powerful and easy-to-engage experiences. One does not have to create anything artificial or intrusive, nor having to worry about bringing something in, since everything that is needed for the work is already present at hand. 
Nothing is never truly nothing, a space is never truly empty, the same way as an object is never truly useless. Its usefulness may shift from one reality to another, but with the right attention, what is initially perceived as non-function, can become function.
If we accept that, all objects, spaces, situations and beings can potentially shift function and meaning, thus becoming an access point to new realities. In folk tales, in order to interact with beings of the supernatural, objects needed to loose their function in the everyday - whip used in right hand, instead of left, chairs turned upside-down and so on.

This principle was earlier this year explored in 'Court', but through our residency with Marit, its true vernacular surfaced.
The potential this carries, is that in order to create the experiences I thrive to do, nearly every environment, setup and setting can be utilised, provided that the conditions to play are given. Everything that is needed is already present. 
One only has to put attention to it.

 

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