Music, Marginality and some Misgivings about the ‘Utopia of Access’

For many, this year’s Venice Biennale has had a veil drawn over it; one that draws us back to core questions concerning any ‘Utopia of Access’ – the theme of the Research Pavilion. For artists around the world, most directly, perhaps, those living in the south of England, the death of artist Khadija Saye, one of the victims of the appalling fire in the high-rise building in West London known as Grenfell Tower, circles about the Biennale in a manner hauntingly reminiscent of the smoky greys she employed in her silkscreen prints. Saye’s mission to recover ‘diaspora’ as an artistic category could not alter her real-life situation; utopian access in one arena – Venice – was not matched by the more everyday right-of-entry in another – a safe home in which to live.

Confronted with this brutal juxtaposition, can the philosophical allure of Utopia feel anything but irrelevant; and what might this mean for the relevance of this year’s Venice Biennale? The festival’s manifestations are akin to the city’s geography, with its pavilions separated by inky canals and accessible by restricted means (usually by boat). Canals create, and become, margins, places to cross or navigate, but sites of their own meaning as well.

Separation – the denial of access – creates hierarchies but it is the situation of those at the extreme margins of this separation that highlights this most forcibly; in reflecting upon their plight, our attention is drawn further and further towards the liquid margin that is the enforced dwelling-space of the most comprehensively disenfranchised. Venice is at the centre of a spider’s web of travel routes converging upon its strange, unstable, historically-saturated location. Just as its own destiny is inseparable from its inexorable descent into the waters of the lagoon, its cultural attractive force is one that can both engulf the individual visitor and contributes to its own millimetre-by-millimetre inundation. As with other great centres of cultural tourism, ‘La Serenissima’ is being forced to ask difficult questions about access: how to establish priorities and maintain order.

Art-forms in Venice have their own order and prioritisation; the Camino Events pavilion with its music research was a marginal event, outside the Biennale mainstream and physically distant from it, as if the general message of utopian access and the arcane nature of the inner workings of art-music might somehow be impossible to reconcile. Many non-musician artists might concur with this sense of music’s inaccessibility – especially in its most recondite classical and contemporary manifestations. They might also lay the blame for this upon musicians themselves. But is there something more intrinsic to music’s nature as a sonorous art-form, and what does this mean for music’s place in a utopia of access?

There is an association between the denial of access to social and economic security that results in the deaths of Saye and others and the sense of ‘privilege’ that stills surrounds art-music as it is conceived and practised in the West. It is imbued with a forbidding combination of ‘pastness’ and chauvinism with aggressively contemporary elitism and a naively arrogant marginalisation of differently-situated musics; this mixture, in turn and paradoxically, condemns it to the role of ‘Other’ – within the spectrum of musical expression and among the cultural community at large.

However much such criticisms of the contemporary state of art-music may be justified, music in all its manifestations has something of the quality of the inky water of the canals; it draws its meaning through the measured passing of time, obscure in its depths and ungraspable by the eye. Beyond any barriers of privilege that it may have wilfully erected around itself, it is arguably the hardest of the artistic media to pin down, to illuminate and to open up as an ‘authorised’ artistic space for all.

But is part of the concept of a utopian access involved precisely with accessing the supposedly unauthorised spaces? If so, while in many ways more marginal than ever, perhaps music also retains a potential for resistance by virtue of its being without clear margins. Survivors of Grenfell Tower sing hymns in memory of those they have lost; music also echoes up and down the Venetian streets, seeping out of the city’s places of enclosure: many pieces within the Camino events have involved musical wanderings, leaving the site and returning.

What would a Venice Biennale primarily devoted to music be like? Or is such a prospect doomed, as with any utopian project, to remain an unrealisable vision?


Darla Crispin
Vice Rector for Research
Director of the Arne Nordheim Centre for Artistic Research
Norwegian Academy of Music, Oslo

„ … to say ,I prefer not to’ (and continue working)”

 „ … to say ‚I prefer not to’ (and continue working)”

A Work Oriented Staging of Open Access and Collaboration in Artistic Research

by SARN – Swiss Artistic Research Network

August 12, 13, 14th 2017

Facebook event 


In a theatrical space in Venice SARN invites colleagues and the public to work on stage during three days and discuss and investigate the notions and practices of work and collaboration in the field of artistic research. Related to the particular architectural typology of the theatre and its role as theoretical staging in ancient Greece, we want to reflect work in terms of theatrical and theoretical staging and sharing. With regard to artistic research, the assumption is that theory understood not as knowledge but as touching defines the modes of collaboration in artistic research. The work in Venice will function as a model for a re-staging at the SARN Conference in Zurich from 8 to 9 December 2017.

With :

  • David Burrows (Slade, London)

More infos soon

  • Johnny Golding (RCA London)

Johnny Golding, is a philosopher and poet. Her practice-led research covers the intersections of contemporary art writing, physics and time-based media filtered through sense, surface, dimensionality, and the erotics of encounter. Recent publications include: ‘Human Remains/Remaining Human: the exquisite problem of becoming-corpse,’ ‘Diffraction, Entanglement and the Sensuous Unnatural Act called Art,’; ‘Ecce Homo Sexual: Eros & Ontology in the Age of Incompleteness and Entanglement’; ‘The 9th Technology of Otherness: A Certain Kind of Debt’; ‘Ana-Materialism and the Pineal Eye (Becoming Mouth-Breast); ‘Fractal Philosophy: Attunement as the Task of Art.’ Edited collections include, On the Verge of Photography; Twice Upon a Time: Magic, Alchemy and the Transubstantiation of the Senses;  Wet  Dry   Thick  Thin  (Getting beyond the Raw and   the Cooked) and On The Cruelty of the Classical Canon. Johnny Golding is Professor of Philosophy and Fine Art at the Royal College of Art and is currently finishing her latest monograph Radical Matter: Art, Philosophy and the Wild Sciences (or the courage of sense, after Einstein).


Johnny_Golding_photo by Aura Satz Mar 2017

©Johnny Golding – photo by Aura Satz Mar 2017


“He says indifferently and alike – how are you, friend?” 

            Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, 354.


This experimental deep listening piece, set in a darkened space will set explore the delicious tactility of friendship. It seeks to expose friendship as a living, raw, sensuous, multi-dimensional and secret intelligence shared by sentient beings at the moment of our extended encounter.  I want to say, in this extended encounter that it (friendship) will require nothing of identity politics, selfhood or social agency, though its very expression enables and indeed solidifies, all this and more.  Unlike companionship, it generates a strangely emboldened shared knowing, a suspended aliveness of Otherness without recourse to an old-fashioned mastery or binaric split between ‘self and other’. This is not a suspended aliveness as in ‘free-fall’ or some kind of nihilistic relativism that generates an always-already ‘in between’ or ‘transitioning’ state of affairs. Leastwise it is ‘romantic’, though its irruptions may have launched over a thousand delicious plateaus. Friendship requires a wholly different logic of senses, emotions, libidinal economies, calculations and intentions, closer to the Socratic parrhsia (truth) and its reinvention by Foucault in his Courage of Truth, as epimeleia (the technologies of care). To develop this deep listening piece, I will be drawing on a specific encounter, a wild encounter, one stretched over a seven year period with a semi-feral mustang whose precise split-down-the-middle brown/white face, earned him the Ojibwe name “Manhattan” (corrupted from “Madweijwan, the ‘heard-flowing’ of where the two rivers meet). At the core of this experimental voice piece will be the attempt to harness a particular type of raw energy, a sexual / erotic presence, even joy – an athleticism, respect, trust, odd form of mastery and slowness of time (despite or, even perhaps, at a gallop), that not only goes beyond the traditional (and anthropomorphically bound) tropes of ‘fraternity’ or ‘brotherhood’, but beyond the linguistic turn itself, with all the trappings of ‘subject’ and ‘object’, the ‘becoming-x’ and the ‘transcendental’, now thrown to one side.  In so doing, a form of consciousness and indeed a ‘new’ form of communication may emerge, one that speaks a wholly different language game, embodied in the brea(d)th and fractal singularities that today go under the such headings as quantum entanglements, ana-materialisms, incompletenesses and undecidabilities. All this – and more – I learned from befriending a wildly playful and somewhat dangerous horse named Manhattan.


  • Ronny Hardliz (Doc Mobility fellow FNS – Independant)

Ronny Hardliz is a Czech and Swiss Artist and currently a Ph.D. candidate at Middlesex University in London. For his thesis he collaborated with Goldsmiths College in London and the ETH in Zurich and it was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation and by Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. He holds a MA in architecture from the EPF in Lausanne and studied architecture and urbanism at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. He practiced architecture in Berne, was a teaching assistant at the Academia di Architettura di Mendrisio and artistic member at the Swiss Institute in Rome. Since 2003 he pursues an art practice committed to the exploration of architecture and was research assistant at the School of Art and Design in Lucerne. He recently lived in Rome, Prague, London and Berne with his partner and two charming daughters.

In an experimental set up with a moving camera and a live broadcast of what the camera records the simultaneity of set staging and stage presentation will be tested: the actor on stage moves in sync with the camera, whereas the actor in the moving image projected on stage remains in sync with gravity. The moves chosen for this set are particular to Venice: waves. The project thus challenges the effects of seasickness on the digestive functions of the culinary framing of the event.


© Ronny Hardliz

  • Rolf Hughes, Rachel Armstrong, Simone Ferracina (The Experimental Architecture Group)

Venetian Bric(k)olage: An Ecology of Found Practices 

The Experimental Architecture Group (Rachel Armstrong, Simone Ferracina and Rolf Hughes) will conduct an ‘open’ experiment in designing a ‘living brick’ prototype for Venice. Over the course of the day we will explore the characteristics of a unit of design that is relevant to the challenges that Venice faces in the 21st century. Continuing a long tradition in Venice of ‘upcycling’ matter, where objects are re-appropriated and re-valued rather than discarded, we will draw together a range of new possibilities for creative material synthesis. Waste materials will be collected from the city and used to begin to negotiate a set of relationships through which an alternative way of working with matter is possible. Potential connections are negotiated through conversation, speculation, trial and error. Specifically, we will examine the ‘living’ stones of Venice’s waterways, which are encrusted with ‘biofouling’ where mussels, barnacles, oysters, algae and bacteria generate bioconcrete in the tidal zones. The synthesis of waste in the city will also be explored, especially with respect to the 13 million plastic bottles per year that find their way into the lagoon (Coates, 2015), the algae that feed on the agricultural run-off from the Po delta and the domestic waste released into the city’s waterways. We will develop a poetics of receptivity in relation to our ‘found’ materials, which may at any point challenge our initial proposal. Bric(k)olage and an “ecology of found practices” will be used to gather, order and sort our themes and materials, develop a range of prototypes, further interrogate our reading of our findings, and generate new transferrable knowledge that aims to identify a positive role for artistic research within the built environment, embodying an ethics of life while embracing humanity’s respectful stewardship of the living world.


Coates, P. 22 May 2015. Thirteen Million Plastic Bottles: Venice Awash. [online]. Available at: [Accessed 16 July 2017].


© The Experimental Architecture Group (EAG)



  • San Keller (Artist, Zürich)

San Keller was born in 1971 in Bern, Switzerland, and currently lives and works in Zurich, Switzerland. He is well known for his participatory performances and ephemeral actions that frequently approximate social experiments. The overall tone of Keller’s oeuvre is critical, conceptual and playful and reflects on the relationship between art and life. His investigation of art as a service ultimately gives the audience the opportunity to question out-dated paradigms and experience them in a new way, while also placing them under critical scrutiny. His actions start off with contractual arrangements that set up the rules for his works, but since they rely on the participation of others, the course they take and their ultimate outcome is unpredictable.

Recent exhibitions include: : Performance Process, Museum Tinguely, 2017; Action!, Kunsthaus Zürich, 2017; Oben ohne, Galerie Brigitte Weiss, Zurich (2016); Invent The Future With Elements of the Past, Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich (2015); Twisting C (r) ash, Le Commun, Geneva (2015); Disteli – Keller – Warhol, Art Museum Olten, Switzerland (2013).


© San Keller

  • Petra Köhle ( Lecturer at MAPS, associate researcher, ECAV – Sierre) & Nicolas Vermot Petit-Outhenin

Petra Köhle and Nicolas Vermot-Petit-Outhenin have studied photography, theory and fine art at Zurich University of the Arts, Central Saint Martins University of the Arts, London and Universidad del Ciné, Buenos Aires. In stagelike settings, they experiment history and examine how repetition, translation and transduction become constitutive for future scenarios. Their often collaborative practices include photography, installations, videos, performances and books. Exhibitions/performances amongst others at Aargauer Kunsthaus in Aarau, Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Museum of Modern Art Frankfurt, Kunsthaus Glarus, Centre d’Art Contemporain Chanot Paris, Shedhalle Zurich, Sinop Biennial in Turkey and during Printed Matter at PS1 in New York. Koehle/Vermot have published several artist books in the edition fink such as There where I should have been yesterday. I am here today and [f: la répète]. They are currently finishing their practice based PhD at Kunstuniversität Linz in collaboration with Zurich University of the Arts. Petra Köhle is lecturer at the MA in Public Spheres, research collaborator at ECAV and a board member of Swiss Artistic Resarch Network. Nicolas Vermot-Petit-Outhenin has been invited for lectures and presentations at Bern University of the Arts, Sint Lucas school of Arts Antwerpen and others. He is currently participating in several research projects at ECAV and a board member of Shedhalle Zurich.

Nach (T) Kritik 

Nach (T) Kritik is a setting for an excessive and open (self)criticism. Unreasonably we take the time until the eyes close and re-open. To say I prefer not to (and continue working) – throughout the night, until the sun breaks and reason enters our consciousness again. A protocol keeps the discussion firmly and is published, in the best case, edited.


© Lionel Richie – All Night Long (All Night)


  • Christl Mudrak (Independent artist, Berlin)


Christl Mudrak lives and works in Berlin. She creates spaces that influence the observers’ both physical and psychological state as their perception capacity is challenged by specific pictorical concepts. Graduated at Berlin-Weissensee she obtains a master degree at the Goldsmiths College of London and doctorated with her thesis “Psycho Spaces. Dissolution of Space in the Medium of Painting” at AVU Fine Arts Academy of Prague, teached at the Architecture Faculty of ETH Zurich and as a guest professor at the painting department of Weissensee Art Academy, Berlin. Among her most recent projects and exhibitions are: Vertigo Site, Museum Kunstwerk, Collection Klein, Nussdorf; Congratulations, dear Clara!, a collaboration with a milk farmer from Hinterzarten; Drop Space, Sezzession, SEZ Berlin; Canvas Space, Auf Zeit!, Kunsthalle Baden-Baden; Residency Springhouse Dresden; ausgezeichnet! Kunststiftung Baden-Württemberg, Museum Biedermann, Donaueschingen; Black House White, ETH Zürich; Moxie, Stellenbosch, South Africa; Cleaning and Cleansing, at MySpace, Kunstraum Kreuzberg; El Caidero, Artenara, Gran Canaria.


DROP PAINTINGS, water on water – for Venice, 1st Space of PUNKTHAUS, 2016-2017

Single water drops are placed separately on paper with the brush. It seems that the drop does not want to separate itself from the brush. The gravity makes them stick to the paper and at the same time the brush seems to want to absorb water back into its body. One can study the behavior of the drop in this work, its ability to appear as a unity, its attachment to its environment, with simultaneous transparency and mobility. If the brush is removed from the paper, the drop remains on the paper and develops its full surface tension. The drop seems to keep its surface as small as possible, in a half sphere shape it is now on the paper and its tension is so strong that the water can not be absorbed by the paper. It takes about four to five hours for the fluid to be absorbed by the paper and evaporated by its surrounding space. It is only now that this can be seen on the paper, which is not absorbed by the environment and reacts to the background. This process is repeated several times. Drops are placed on drops. Sheet by sheet. Per sheet of paper, three or four droplets per day can be applied at high ambient temperatures.



© Christl Mudrak, DROP PAINTINGS



  • Miriam Sturzenegger (Independent artist, Bern / Emmenbrücke)

City Ground

Material fragments and deposits will be gathered from the ground of the lagoon and canals in order to be aggregated and shaped into a solid form which includes their speculative constructional / architectural revalidation. The particular architecture-ground-relation of the city of Venice calls for an inclusion of the underwater areas when thinking of urban ground, as the lagoon is presumably where remains of building substance are accumulated when cleaned off the sidewalks or washed out of the fundaments by the water, joint by other types of waste. Deciding to fish blindly in an open black box will alter the act of collecting by excluding preselection. It will ask for a technical extension of the arm and hand, a tactile scanning in order to capture material. At the same time, the ladle can become a mold, accepting a certain amount of material. Once the filling is pressed and water extracted, the vessel releases what can be regarded as a fictional core recording not only the composition of the ground, but also my own movement, or, simultaneously, as a raw module, a possible building block.

The work setting pursues a sculptural research on the physical, building deposits of cities, their manufactured ground and the making of material as an evolving memory of both natural and human agency. Fragments of construction materials which have dropped out of a controlled cycle, of a previous built structure and spatial order are gathered in public areas of cities. Though characterized in their composition and shape by a former function and place within constructions, by specific modes of fabrication and a historical context of urban development, they have lost their architectural meaning, useful value as well as fixed location and have moved into a geological sphere, adding to the volume of manufactured urban ground which stratifies and takes shape through cycles of construction activity. A document of time, of work and of the changing concepts for inhabited space, the found material asks for possible ways to be read. As an object at hand, part of a collection, selection and mobile arrangement of pieces in the studio, it turns into a tool which triggers thinking, serving as a placeholder, a microscopic fragment of a bigger whole, or a figure in a play. Sculptural interventions and tests on the material, adapting and interpreting processes of fragmentation and consolidation, shifting and reorganizing, guide a speculative investigation into building-matter-time-related questions. Taking place within a simple and overwiewable situation, my own activity relates to processes of physical transformation, spatial organisation, production and loss of information on a larger scale, while simultaneously producing the working process’ own archaeology.


NEWmiriam s.jpg

© Miriam Sturzenegger



Participating SARN members :  

  • Julie Harboe (Lecturer – Future Laboratory Crealab, Lucerne School of Business)

Julie Harboe is an art historian, critic and curator. She co-founded and managed the interdisciplinary art space forumclaque Baden, was assistant for art at Collegium Helveticum, ETH Zurich, developed a unit for artistic research with the artists at Lucerne School of Art and Design. She works as a researcher and lecturer at Future Laboratory CreaLab and Lucerne School of Business and as a facilitator for sustainable, bottom-up innovation processes with practitioners. She is co-organiser of the World Ornamental Forum, Davos and Future Forum Lucerne. Her focus is on transdisciplinary collaborations across research, education, business and art. For more infos go to:


  • Michael Hiltbrunner (Senior Researcher, ZHdK – Zürich)

Michael Hiltbrunner (*1975)
Studied folklore and cultural anthropology at the University of Zurich and Goethe University Frankfurt. Researches at the ZHdK in the field of archives of research-based artist, indexing the archive of Serge and Doris Stauffer at the Swiss National Library in Bern as a SNF research project. Independent curator, i.a., at the Helmhaus Zürich. Lives in Zurich.


  • Priska Gisler (Head Research Unit / Lecturer, HKB – Bern)

 Priska Gisler has been Head of Intermediality since 2009. In collaboration with and interaction with artists and professionals from the visual arts, literary writing and the theater, she has developed a series of interdisciplinary research projects that address current topics of artistic production as well as questions about the production of knowledge in different social contexts. Priska Gisler studied sociology and history at the University of ZH and promoted gender politics in public discourse at the University of Bern (with a scholarship at the University of Potsdam). After working as an assistant in sociology at the University of Zurich and as an assistant professor at the Chair of Science Philosophy and Research at the ETH Zurich, she led a research group at the Collegium Helveticum, a transdisciplinary laboratory of the ETH and the University of Zurich. In the meantime, there were research stays at MIT in Boston, the London School of Economics and the Goldsmiths College in London, lectures at the ZHdK, the universities of Basel and Vienna. In recent years, the focus of her work has been on questions concerning the handling of biological material, the policy of (knowledge) mediation, as well as the connections between law and culture, to an exploration of artistic and scientific approaches and insights (preparation Bergsturz ), With human-animal relationships (we are in the winter sleep) and the reflection of historical changes in the artistic field (aesthetic practices according to Bologna: architecture, design and fine arts as epistemic cultures in the making). She is (co-editor) of numerous publications and organizer of scientific-artistic events and symposia. As a reviewer and jury member, she works for the SNSF, various magazines and universities. She is a member of the board of SARN (Swiss Artistic Research Network).

  • Camille Dumond (Artist, Geneva – SARN Coordinator)

Camille Dumond graduated from Work.master, Geneva University of Art and Design (HEAD) in 2014. Since then she has been working as a coordinator for the Swiss Artistic Research Network (SARN), specializing in Swiss artistic research. In 2015, in Geneva, she had her first solo exhibition at Quark art space (Pharcyde, 2015) and had several group shows in Switzerland  (Geneva City Fellowships at the Center d’art contemporain (CAC), Bourses Déliées at the Cantonal Fund for Contemporary Art (FCAC) in Halle Nord, Geneva). She has participated in group shows in Geneva and is pursuing several projects abroad in United States and France. She is currently a resident at Triangle France, artist residency program in Marseille.



 The Swiss Artistic Research Network will present „ … to say ‚I prefer not to’ (and continue working)” – A Work Oriented Staging of Open Access and Collaboration in Artistic Research on August 12, 13, 14th 2017 in the Research Pavilion in Venice, hosted by Uni-arts Helsinki.


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sarn :: swiss artistic research network
As of 2011 the Swiss Artistic Research Network (SARN) is a platform for the coordination and communication of activities between and around the artistic research community of Switzerland’s art schools and internationally.

Since the implementation of the Bologna Reform and the start of the MFA programmes in Switzerland (2008) artistic research has attracted interest and vibrant debate. In close association with educational programmes and external partners, as well as independent artists, departments for artistic research have developed methodologies, results and strategies in numerous projects. It is SARN’s key assignment to initiate interaction, discuss standards and disseminate swiss artistic research.

As established by the Conference of Swiss Schools of Art and Design (KHKD) parallel to the already existing Swiss Design Network.

The SARN board members are representatives of the following schools:

Academy of Art and Design Basel (FHNW)
Bern University of the Arts (HKB)
Ecole Cantonale d’Art du Valais (ECAV)
Geneva University of Art and Design (HEAD)
Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Design & Art (HSLU D&K)
Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK)

As representatives of the artists/artistic researchers we have a consultative role for the KHKD and thus see it as a key assignment to give the community a voice and visibility of the specific artistic qualities and independence needed to develop the field.

The networks main areas of activities are the SARN workshops, conferences and this homepage.

Central discussions and questions are:

  • visibility of artistic research
  • best practice and diversity in artistic research
  • funding and financing of artistic research
  • future PhD programmes in Switzerland


AstroNotes (on #CHARP)

AstroNotes (on #CHARP) by Simo Kellokumpu

In autumn 2016 I started to take a closer look at the choreographic practice that has been developing in my current doctoral artistic research project. I call this practice Choreography as a reading practice. In the autumn 2016, I proposed to the curatorial team of the Research Pavilion that the project-in-progress would be performed in the Research Pavilion in 2017. I was happy that my suggestion was invited to the Camino Events. 

Choreography as a reading practice indicates to that history of choreography in which choreographic practice is understood as a writing practice. I approach choreography as a reading practice in the planetary, interplanetary and galactic scale based on the artistic and experiential shift that has happened in my choreographic practice when it comes to thinking about the situational relations between movement, choreographic thinking, materiality, and embodiment. Choreography as a reading practice examines and focuses on decoding the movements that are moving my human body. How to take place in and with the planetary, interplanetary and galactic movements, which extend beyond telescopic vision? How to embody hyper-reading of the movements that set conditions for the choreographic (hypertext) to emerge? What happens to the movement when it is mediated to choreography?


In spring 2017 I invited three artist-researcher colleagues to work with me in order to discuss and multiply the viewpoints of this astropractice. The questions that I had in the beginning: How is it possible to perform, and make a performance or choreographic work with this practice? Is it possible to share it on stage as a group, or is it an intimate personal artistic practice? What kind of artistic potentials could this practice have? So far in my research project I have made and exposed artworks mainly by myself (except one shorter try-out as part of the process of the first artistic part), so working in a group towards staged performance, and examined artistic part, was a new situation in the research process.

In the artistic process of #CHARP, the working group approaches movement as a broadly understood phenomenon that constitutes and realizes the intimate and immediate situatedness of the body. The project specifies how do I understand the relations between movement and embodiment through and with choreographic thinking and practice. The project articulates how choreography operates when I examine how the body takes place without the idea of mastering the movement; how do I couple in another way to the surrounding movement-mesh, and from which position towards movement my body operates in this approach? How choreographic thinking and broadly understood movement operate together when choreography no longer indicates to the act of composing of a linear coherent unity, but is understood as processing of simultaneous incoherent multiplicity? How to articulate the movement from choreographing towards choreoreading?


In Venice the group experimented with the context and atmosphere of the Venice Biennale by taking time in Giardini, Arsenale, and in Prada Foundation. How does the Biennale move me in the material and conceptual planes, and how does the Biennale as the frameworks affect me in the sense of the ongoing intimate research project? We discussed how we experienced the artworks and their contextualization, and from which position as a viewer we experienced them, and how did Venice itself affect and choreograph us. In order to contextualize ourselves into the Venetian sphere, I think we would have needed more like two to three weeks to work on those embodiments on-, with- and through-site.

In Venice we performed 75 minutes and after a short break, we had a discussion in which the external examinors of my research project were present. Our performance in Venice was the second time we had audience, so in this way it was also an experiment, and it brought me lots of new questions to be clarified, such as: What is the difference between perception and reading? What is the relation between sense and meaning in this specific choreographic orientation? What are the differences of the exposed reading practice to other somatic or choreographic practices? Is reading witnessing, observing or answering, or something else? Is choreography as a reading practice productive or generative?


From now on, it is time for me to start to bring the existing material of the research together, plan and realize the commentary, and continue the artistic journey with choreography as a reading practice. Thank you the Research Pavilion team to host #CHARP!

Images (Vincent Roumagnac): 1. #CHARP processing at Etlab / Performing Arts Laboratory, Helsinki – April 2017 (performing Outi Condit) 2. Reading Thomas Demand’s Klause 2 (2006) at Prada Foundation (Group Show The boat is leaking. The captain Lied) 3. #CHARP  (performing: Outi Condit, Simo Kellokumpu, Paula Kramer) – Research Pavilion, Camino Events, 30.6.2017


Time: 30.6.2017  / Space: Theatre Space

Working group: Outi Condit, doctoral candidate – Performing Arts Research Center, Theatre Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki / Paula Kramer, post-doctoral researcher – Centre for Artistic Research, University of the Arts Helsinki / Vincent Roumagnac, doctoral candidate – Performing Arts Research Center, Theatre Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki

I am thankful for all the support of my artistic research project. #CHARP has been supported and developed with: Critical Path, Sydney / “Writing Movement” –group Institute for Theatre Studies at Freie Universität, Berlin / Ehkä –production, Turku / SAR Conference 2017 in Helsinki / Wihuri Foundation, Finland / Helander Foundation, Finland / University of the Arts Helsinki / Performing Arts Research Center, TUTKE, Helsinki / Research Pavilion, Venice

Special thanks to: Victoria Pérez-Royo, Alex Arteaga, Michael Kliën, Jan Kaila, Raija Vuorio, Annika Fredriksson, Claire Hicks, Daniela Hahn, Juha Huuskonen, Mikael Aaltonen, Anne Makkonen, Kirsi Heimonen, Leena Rouhiainen, Esa Kirkkopelto, the researcher colleagues in TUTKE, and the participants of the workshops of the project.

Becoming Disabled: A performative workshop and installation

Camino Events, Research Pavilion, Venice 30.6.-1.7.2017

Liisa Jaakonaho & Kristina Junttila


Notes on how it all began (Liisa)

When I heard about the theme of this year’s Research Pavilion, ‘Utopia of Access’, it resonated immediately with the topic of my doctoral research. My research is about ethical questions in and around my artistic-pedagogic work with differently abled people, in a social care context. So, questions of access and accessibility are something I think about anyway, in relation to disability. Also, I’ve been thinking about how to explore my questions in other contexts, through artistic practice – for me this is a methodological question, as well as a question of how to share the research. So, I saw the Research Pavilion as a great opportunity to develop my practice outside the original contexts of my research.

My aim was to communicate about my research on a new level, and to explore what kind of questions emerge in the collaboration with Kristina, and with all the participants. I was really happy when Kristina came along, and we found a way to combine our interests. I have always found collaborations a good way to stir and shake my own thinking and practice. In my research I am seeking for active dialogues – as that is the quality of my practice with the differently abled participants, I like to see that reflected in the methodology. So, I approached this as an opportunity to open up my questions for input and response from others.



Notes on disability (Liisa)

Our approach to disability was based on our experiences working with differently abled people (in my case people with intellectual and developmental disabilities), and reflecting on these encounters through the theory of critical disability studies. In the beginning of the workshop days we introduced two ways to approach disability: the medical/individual model, and the social model. In the medical/individual model disability is seen as a direct result of a medical condition, which is usually named as some kind of limitation, “lack”, or abnormality in relation to other people, who are seen as “normal”. In the social model disability is seen as an effect of the relationship between impairments, and social and material structures that influence our access to different social domains, and physical environments. So, in the social model, the aim is to change the society to allow access for people with and without impairments, whereas in the medical model the emphasis is on curative and rehabilitative strategies, focusing on the individual. Critical disability studies are linked to activism, as it all began with people with disabilities standing up for themselves to tackle stigmatisation and discrimination. There are many contradictions and controversies within and between the different approaches to disability studies; as the category of disability is so diverse and broad, so is the field as an academic discipline.

Because our aim was to find a playful, creative, and productive approach to disability, we were obviously more interested in the social model of disability. However, it felt important to also acknowledge the lived reality of disability – the need to diagnosis and medical support, and how those are not just social constructions, but also important or necessary for many individuals.

Notes on access (Kristina)

On the airplane, on my way to Venice, I realised I had forgotten my passport and I was worried that I might not have access into Italy. It turned out that I was never asked to identify myself. While stepping into the workshop I felt unsure if I have access into the world of disability. For me it is ethically problematic to say that disability is a social construction, since there are people with real medical conditions that deserve attention and respect. But with this in mind, we still found it valuable to explore disability creatively, trying to find the skills that can be strengthened through disabilities. In many ways our approach to disability was that it could be anything non-normative. In what way does the non-normative have access into the dominant culture?




We were a diverse group of people working in areas such as dance and choreography, linguistics, industrial design, performance art, research and social work. Liisa and I proposed that disability would be approached through performative exercises, but we emphasised that everyone was free to use the tools that they felt comfortable with. With our materials and exercises as starting points, creativity took many forms: for example, drawing houses with missing parts, moving forward with the legs tied together, recording gibberish through writing, experiencing art blindfolded, and stacking cups.




On becoming disabled (Kristina)

The question on how to – or if we can – perform disability is complex, and it is something that could be interesting to explore more. In the workshop our way of doing it was to have a bowl full of suggestions on what your disability relates to, such as:

  • Tongue
  • Upper body
  • Eyes
  • Skin
  • Brain
  • Bones
  • The floor
  • Technical devices
  • Colours

Before each exercise everyone made a “lucky draw” to get their disability and some time to find a way to embody it, before they drew another exercise, which gave them an act or suggestion on what to do. After the exercises we gave space for sharing our experiences. These were some of the responses:

“To be it, to feel it, to become something different.”

“My disability related to bones. In Chinese medicine bones are related to wooden structures and I started to build with the wooden stools.”




”Then I started to lick the objects, the taste of the window was awful”

 “I went from disabling myself to abilising – what feels good?”

“My hair started to fall into my eyes and I had no way of removing it

“First I tried to blur my vision, but the light disability is less easy to explore, so I said – LETS GO BLIND”        

“I lost my connection. On the other side, I got more connected.”

“When I have a blind girlfriend walking across expensive art things and I cannot speak”

One theme that arose a few times was that it was easier to explore disabilities that had a concrete physical restriction, such as going blindfolded or blocking your ability to walk or speech. The blocking of a sense is often used in performing art exercises as a way to strengthen another sense or giving a new perspective. Here it functioned the same way, but perhaps more important was the tuning into what we were exploring, namely disability. As with all subjects it is easy to fall into clichés, and perhaps we did fall into clichés once in a while. But it is through the exercises that we get an affective relationship to the subject, and through the doing that we also could feel when we got further away from the subject. I noticed that since the group had such varied background, it was very individual where people’s boundaries and comfort zones on this were.



Notes on what happened (Liisa)

First thing that struck me, and was really thrilling, was how multidisciplinary our participants were, and that not all came from the arts. When we asked for people’s reasons to attend and their personal interests, many of them said that the theme of disability had attracted them, in relation to their specific fields. So, in our invitation disability worked as a concept that communicated across different fields. For me, this already felt like an achievement, in relation to the theme of access. It made me feel that we had managed to offer and communicate something that was accessible enough to bring in people that perhaps wouldn’t otherwise have entered the building.

We had planned the workshop to be a two-day process with the same participants, but in practice it turned out that many people could only attend one day, so it felt more like two separate workshops, with two different groups – although there was a continuation, with some people staying for two days, the exercises not just repeated, but also developed further, and the installation being built over the two days.

The workshop was documented whilst it was happening, using smartphones and mobile printers, as well as writing and drawing. The idea was that this way also other visitors of the Research Pavilion would have access to the work. Also, this was a way to cross the boundary between visual art and performing art; between temporal, ephemeral arts practice, and material artworks presented in an exhibition space. It also had a practical function for us and participants to share our experiences amongst each other; for example, people who attended only on the second day could use the installation as a reference point to what had happened so far.

Overall the workshop left me overwhelmed with the level of creativity, engagement, positive criticality, and enthusiasm from the participants. I feel like it was all much more than what I expected, and I will need time to digest and reflect on it. It was great how open people were to our proposals, and how they took the challenge of our theme seriously, but also playfully – just as we had hoped!

Many thanks to all the participants, supporters, and organisers of the event!






Kristina Junttila  is a performance artist, teacher and PhD-research fellow at the Arts Academy, University of Tromsø, Norway. She holds a master in Live Art and Performance Studies and theatre pedagogy from the Theatre Academy in Helsinki. In her research she is looking at the potential of an exercise in Live Art. See

Liisa Jaakonaho is a Doctoral Candidate at Theatre Academy of the University of the Arts, Helsinki. She is an interdisciplinary practitioner of dance pedagogy, movement therapy, socially engaged art, and performance. In her research she investigates ethical tensions in and around her work as a dance pedagogue with differently abled people. See



Listening Walks Conceptualised



A morning walk along the coastline of island of Giudecca transforms to an exercise in listening. The overall soundscape consists of dripping of a fountain, rumbling of vaporettos passing by and chiming of church bells over the canal from the shore of Dorsoduro. The layered frontal sounds are easily detected from near, mid and far fields.

Moving away from a reflecting wall to the nearby bridge reveals another sonic experience. The sonic environment opens up to the total of  360 degrees. The frontal sounds are still there, but now they are accompanied by the flapping of the waves of the canal and igniting motorboats right behind the listener.



These two encounters resonate with the theories and methodologies applied in sound studies. In a recent anthology edited by Christina Guillebaud it is discussed, how the notion of soundscape has been conceptualised and how it relates to the one of ambiance. The former has been understood to relate to visual analogy, two-dimensionality, maps and frontal perception. The concept of ambiance is characterised by such terms as multimodality, three-dimensionality and  immersion. The list here is by no means an exhaustive but a suggestive one. More profound analysis would require further questioning and contextualisation to history of the two disciplines mentioned.

Characterising the concepts of soundscape and ambiance leads us to think of hearing as a special sense compared to other senses. It helps us to further ponder not only the sensory environment, but also how we are relating to the world by listening to it aesthetically, politically and scientifically.

However, in underlining these specific skills and approaches we should avoid the pitfalls what Jonathan Sterne calls audiovisual litany, referring to generalisations on differences between audible and visual worlds. Perhaps even more important is that we should be more aware of not replacing audiovisual litany with multimodal litany. In doing so we would be sweeping the special requirements of act of listening and documenting the soundscapes under the rug.


Heikki Uimonen



Guillebaud, Christina (ed.) 2017. Toward an Anthropology of Ambient Sound.

Sterne, Jonathan. 2003. The Audible Past. Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction.



Heikki Uimonen

Venetian Sonic Environments

SanMarcoAmbiance is defined as sensory space-time. This sensing and feeling of a place involves a specific mood expressed in the material presence of things and how the mood is embodied. The lived experience as well as the built environment of the place is making the approach both subjective and objective. Ambiance is articulated when social, spatial and physical meet.

Venetian sonic ambiances are constructed in diverse ways in how people relate to places – or how they think particular places are relating to their sound-making. Tourists are entering churches with certain solemnity avoiding extraneous sounds. The Venetian busker is adjusting the outdoor acoustics by moving himself closer to the wall in order to project the sound of his bowed instrument to echoing campo. Open-door rehearsal of Vivaldi in Chiesa San Vidal is attracting passersby for the night’s Vivaldi concert. On Piazza San Marco simultaneous live performances of Mozart’s and Strauss’ music are competing with easy-to-digest jazz in front of the restaurants thus adding up to the image of the city as easy-listening-mid-brow music haven with a past.

12 million tourists are walking yearly the thoroughfares the ”Bermuda-Shorts Triangle” formed by Piazza San Marco, Rialto Bridge and Galleria dell’ Accademia. According to random participatory observation, field notes and field recordings the narrow roads were sonically quite diverse with sounds sources recognisable from each other. Keynote sounds – defined as sounds heard frequently enough to form a background against which other sounds are perceived – are composed of chattering of people and their footsteps reflected by the stony surfaces on the narrow streets and campos. Contrary to common practice in shopping and tourist areas there are no outdoor loudspeakers to centripetally attract possible customers. Somewhat scarce background music from the bars, souvenir shops and mobile phone retail stores of Rio Terra Lista de Spagna are leaking to ears of the pedestrians mainly from radio and commercial music television programmes.

Part of Venice’s charm is the lack of motorised traffic in the streets, which might not after all paint the whole picture of city’s soundscape. Marine internal combustion engines and outdoor motors make the distinctive drone signifying the daily maintenance of the city: the sounds of the public and private transportation and the crunching gearboxes shaking and resonating the vaporettos’ hulls are accompanied by the banging and clinking of the green-coloured iron barges collecting waste. Some of them are labelled as ”Veritas” thus bringing yet another layer to city’s multifaceted ambiance.


Heikki Uimonen

Davis, Robert C & Marvin, Garry R. 2004. Venice, the Tourist Maze. A Cultural Critique of the World’s Most Touristed City.
Thibaud, Jean-Paul 2001. A Sonic Paradigm of Urban Ambiances. Journal of Sonic Studies, vol 1, nr. 1.

Meri Kytö

Ambient Encounters


In his novel Canal Grande the writer Hannu Raittila describes Venice and its culture through the lens of the group of consultants arriving to the city. The cultural historian is overly enchanted by the city’s layered past and buildings, whereas the engineer with rational mindset and alleged Nordic mentality gets frustrated of the tiny espresso cups filled with way too strong coffee for his taste. The excursion is entering the city in dense fog and is forced to orienteer themselves by the ear and by touching the walls for keeping themselves not falling to canals.

Another angle is offered by urban researchers Davis & Marvin in their study on Venice as a tourist maze and the world’s most touristed city. A peculiar liberation and empowerment can be experienced, when one gets lost deliberately and goes off the beaten track in city’s narrow and winding streets. Sounds – or the lack of them – is definitely making the experience unique. For the contemporary visitor the blessed silence, quiet of the city, slow rhythms, sounds of water and diverse echoes can be tracked down to lack of motorised traffic in this surreal anti-modern world of ”dreamlike quality”, which some visitors might find unsettling.  In mid-1700 century  the unique soundscape was greeted with joy because of the lack of the rattling of coaches and trampling hooves; Victorians facing modernism and its transforming soundscape appreciated the gondolas gliding noiselessly by.

These ambient encounters and many more are discussed and analysed in Walking Sonic Commons  by introducing an open workshop on the Venetian sonic environment. Two-day documentation of sounds by the participants will be followed by an afternoon of editing the collected field work materials and uploading them to an open platform. During the discussion and presentations the acts of listening are contextualised to concept of sonic commons, archiving, accessibility and the researchers’ contribution to preserving cultural heritage.

Heikki Uimonen


Raittila, Hannu 2001. Canal Grande

Davis, Robert C & Marvin, Garry R. 2004. Venice, the Tourist Maze. A Cultural Critique of the World’s Most Touristed City.


Photo: Meri Kytö