Accessing Performance

Preparations for “Accessing Performance”, a two-day event on Wednesday May 17th and Thursday May 18th in the Artistic Research Pavilion on Giudecca, are in full swing in the studio space neighbouring the exhibition. Access is key: access to the space is possible when the right key is found, access to the local internet is granted with the proper password, and then there are all the technical practicalities of access such as finding the right adapter between the HDMI cable and a USB port to connect the computer with the video projector, to find the right cables for the loudspeakers and the computer and so on. This is all mundane and simple compared with the adjustments needed in building the complicated performance instrument consisting of a record player, a theremin, a sampler and more that Tero Nauha constructs for his performance “A thought of performance?” Meanwhile, Pilvi Porkola is setting up a tiny skeleton sitting on a book, photographing it for an updated version of the poster for her Library Essays, an audio work translated into English for this occasion. At the other side of the studio, Hanna Järvinen is finding access to her laptop, a challenge at this day and age when the tools we use are the property of the institutions that employ us and limit our access to what files can be moved where. As the video refuses to be embedded in the plans, circumvention of the technical controls is required, a simple hack that allows documentation of a past performance be included in this performance.

Both days have a full program, divided into three sections, all of which can be attended separately. In the mornings, from 10 to 12 there is an open workshop on performative writing and related practices. After a break for lunch, from 14 to 16 there is an afternoon seminar, featuring presentations related to the Academy of Finland funded research project How To Do Things With Performance. And in the evenings, from 18 to 21, there are performances and screenings. Besides Pilvi Porkola’s Library Essays and Tero Nauha’s A Thought of Performance, Annette Arlander will screen her video works Animal Years 1 (2003-2009) on Wednesday and Animal Years 2 (2010-2014) on Thursday, making this the first occasion where the whole series is shown consecutively.

So, Hanna, how does it feel to prepare for this event today?

As someone dealing with documents of past events and documentation of presentations, limits posed by both copyright and technology are a constant frustration. It is one of the points of this Research Pavilion that there is a tension between Open Access and art. Open Access is an ideal in academe, but it is in a perverse relation to art and to copyright: an artist should be able to make a living with their work, and the aura of the art work has traditionally relied on limited access, as Walter Benjamin noted.

Performance art in particular is all about its ontological scarcity – the fact that you had to be at a particular place and at a particular time to really have access to a particular work. Yet, paradoxically, artists and academics are all in the same boat, today. Open Access rests on the idea that the researcher does not make any money out of what they produce, that their salary is paid by an institution – which is increasingly not the case. In Finland, over 70% of teaching and research faculty is on short-term contracts, most with no hope for tenure or even career development. Academics are becoming like the artists whose work seems to be important only when it lines the pockets of institutions. In the case of academe, these are the international publishing conglomerates that demand payment in exchange for access: either access in the form of payment for publications or payment for imagined revenues lost in exchange for publication as Open Access.

For artists and researchers alike, current copyright law seems only to serve the dead, their heirs, and the institutions owning the actual product we others strive to access. Technology creates only further obstacles, particularly apparent today when the document on the institution’s property – the machine I used to edit a document of a performance I was taking part in making – tells me I have no rights to access. At the moment I placed the documentation into the machine that is the institution, the reverse of Benjamin’s dream of loss of aura took place: the work acquired a scarcity unimaginable at the time that Benjamin was imagining his utopia of technological reproducibility.

And Tero, what are your expectations?

The performance is a complicated apparatus, which makes it so exciting. I am interested in the gesture of thought, which is not correlated with philosophical thought, or philosophising. So, performance is not only based on these forms of thought based on philosophy, which is somewhat decisional and in that way how we build the world in every instant through decisions. The decision cuts and produces the world, the world that it is reflecting on. So, performance has this also, which makes it accessible, but it is also something we can analyse, reduce or reflect upon and withdraw from. Still, I have built an apparatus, which seems to be expanding. At first, some time ago, it was only my voice recorded on the vinyl record, and then the experimentation with Theremin was joined with it. Very recently, I have joined a simple sample sequencer with this apparatus. It is something that I can barely control, and I have very little access to all of its possibilities. But, through this, I have come to realise, that I am not interested in possibilities or potentialities, but in the virtual and inaccessibility. That is, something that will not be in my control of decision, but each and every time creates something else. The apparatus thinks in the same gesture, where I am partaking in it as a one, rather limited and decisional operator. I am not able to reflect on the performance while I am in it. Moreover, the afterthought is another kind of register. So, what I am interested in this is that performance is for quite the most part inaccessible for reflection, but at the same time the performance is really thinking while doing it’s thing — saying what it’s doing and doing what it’s saying.

(to be continued)

 

 

VT (Re-blogged): VIRTUAL (PRESENT) REALITY

Text published at the website www.virtualpresenttour.com, as part of the project ‘Virtual Tour’ by Mireia c. Saladrigues.
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‘Virtual Tour’ by Mireia c. Saladrigues (Doctoral Department – Academy of Fine Arts – Uniarts Helsinki) is in show at the exhibition ‘You Gotta Say Yes to Another Access’ in the Research Pavilion from 10th of May to 2nd of July.

Opening the Voice Box

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Crazy week. Good crazy.

We are rehearsing the opera Voice Box and in the five days we have finalised the music and the stage is getting there too. The flutist Jacintha Damström is also singing and doing circus and the pianist Maija Parko is playing and lecturing. But the hero of the piece is the coloratura soprano Mia Heikkinen: She is talking and singing, acting and dancing trough the whole piece…

And her voice is also the starting point of the whole piece! The very first word she sings in the opera is actually a map to the whole piece:

One voice with six registers – six lectures about this voice – six worlds. And obviously the huge jumps of the melody demonstrate, that this singer isn’t afraid of anything!VBM02väreillä.jpg

The premier of the Voice Box will be on 18th of May and after this will come the big question: how will we transport it to Venice to the Research Pavilion? At least I’m going to show some best of the video craziness. And then I would love to show you, how I analysed the singer’s voice. I created the Voice Map, which creates a graph of singer’s voice and makes the communication between the singer and the composer easier.

But if talking about voice analysis seems dry, maybe you should watch a video about it. I think using the style of a shopping channel is a perfect way to sell new artistic research and experimental music theatre!

Miika Hyytiäinen’s event “The Voice Map – compose for the person, not for a soprano!” is part of the Research Pavilion’s Camino Events programme.

Learn more

VT (Re-blogged): STARTING

Text published at the website www.virtualpresenttour.com, as part of the project ‘Virtual Tour’ by Mireia c. Saladrigues.  

Everything is more a less ready for the opening after the tremendously hectic and busy week. But Niran had quite a surprise this morning when she came back to the Pavilion. One part of her delicate installation, made of about 150 photographs and strings, had been moved. Cleaners may constantly face difficulties while doing their job. We all know of cases of cleaners that have swept artworks away. For example, in the Museion Museum in Bolzano, the installation ‘Where shall we go dancing tonight?’ by Sara Goldschmied and Eleonora Chiari ended up in the garbage. Here no one thought that the cleaning woman might need to plug the vacuum cleaner, so she used Niran’s socket…

  

‘Virtual Tour’ by Mireia c. Saladrigues (Doctoral Department – Academy of Fine Arts – Uniarts Helsinki) is in show at the exhibition ‘You Gotta Say Yes to Another Access’ in the Research Pavilion from 10th of May to 2nd of July.

Backdrop on San Marco (story)

Shooting Backdrop video on San Marco, on the 8th of May 2017

By Vincent Roumagnac

The contract had been established with a Venitian boat rental company to load the equipment on a small barge at dawn, on the bank of La Giudecca. It was 5.45 am when the driver tied the cordage to the dock. And the boat got loaded. The sky never ceased to clear up over the Canal Grande, it was cloudless, brighter and brighter, bluer and bluer, and last but not least, this beautiful morning of early spring was windless. The piece ‘Backdrop’ being thought as an air-conditioned work, being expected to play with the wind, and to be played by the wind, this windlessness was worrying. The city of Venice finally gave (or should I say sold), a week before only, the permission to access San Marco square and to install the piece by the Palazzo Ducale, after a long, tedious and especially expensive process of authorization to film, this Monday morning, at dawn, and for two hours only, including building and unbuilding. Expensiveness which had not been without opening some ethical questions,  in relation to the theme of the pavilion this year – The Utopia of Access – on these policies of costly taxation of the filmed cities, until almost considering the cancellation of the project. During the sailing to the Traghetto platform before the famous square, the sun had risen. Round, big, cut neck. And still zero wind. Seppo and Sami, the technical team of the Pavillion, had joined us on the bank beside the winged lion, and welcomed us with a large benevolent smile on their face, which, for a time, had dispelled the anxiety produced by this total absence of wind. Backdrop was then installed quite quickly, thanks to the invaluable help of the two guys, and of Simo, who had come to help me for setting this project (we had joyfully exchanged the roles, since I was the technical reinforcement back in 2015 when he showed his work in the exhibition of the first edition of the Pavilion). At 6.50 am Backdrop stood there, installed, stabilized, exactly on the location of the commedia dell’arte setting in the Canaletto’s veduta that I aimed to restage. Right there, numb, perfectly still. Not even a slight weak stream of air, just few useless pigeon sweep of wing. The greenhouse plastic was getting thicker and thicker, more and more heavily hanging from his steel arch, which was reflecting the vivid – and painful – anticyclonic brightness of that early morning in Venice. However, I started filming. Fixed frame shot, ‘Backdrop on San Marco Square’, one-shot long sequence. One-without-wind-shot, disappointing. Almost useless. And then, at 7:25 am, the wind rose suddenly, powerful. And the mist rushed into Venice at a mad speed. The Basilica suddenly withdrew, caught in this accelarated tsunami of gray moisture, and the Backdrop became animated; it flew away, and the wind finally entered the stage, playing, in front of the camera, its desperately waited and improvised hyperdrama.

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‘Backdrop’ by Vincent Roumagnac (Performing Arts Research Centre/Theatre Academy/Uniarts Helsinki) will be shown in the exhibition ‘You Gotta Say Yes to Another Access’ in the Research Pavilion from 10th of May to 2nd of July.

Hauntopia / What if

The concept of haunting has been employed to create a language for the many ways in which an unfinished past makes itself known in the here and now (Avery Gordon) and violent histories, or stories, cause ongoing disruptions, wronging the wrong (Eve Tuck). Haunting often takes place when an official narrative insists that the violence of subjection and injustice is overcome (after liberation from colonialism, after Stonewall, after the end of a war, etc.) or when their oppressiveness is strictly denied. Signs appear – we might call them ghosts or specters –, disturb us and produce cracks in the surface of normality.

These ghosts are alive, equipped with agency they do not subjugate under human control. They don’t “belong” to the person, who experiences them, they rather “appear” as agency in-between subjectivities, images and space. They draw us affectively: Something has to be done! As such, ghosts allow for a distinct way of producing knowledge in and for research. Haunting is “a special way of knowing what has happened or is happening”, Avery Gordon asserts.

In times of violent political conflicts, the exhibition explores the conjuring of specters as a proper method of arts-based research. It welcomes the appearance of ghostly events, signs, images, practices and objects that recount the ferocities of the past while also holding the possibility of a different future. Building on a glossary of hauntopic devices the work exhibited is looking for traces, negations even, of things, stories and future visions, while in many instances making use of formats that employ ephemeral, opaque or sci-fi elements. Thus the exhibition explores the range of a ghostly aesthetics, but with a reference to “What If” it also highlights that haunting can open up a future possibility or work as an exile for our longing; it stimulates an imagination of how things could be otherwise. In the utopia we mingle with the presence of colonialism, with tamed revolutionary moments, subjugated knowledge and other ghosts. We explore artistic practices that invite ghosts to appear and dance while simultaneously making traces of a possible future in the here and now.

Anette Baldauf and Renate Lorenz

This text is a curators’ statement that will also be present in the Research Pavilion for visitors to read during the Pavilion’s third exhibition Hauntopia / What if during September 8th – October 15th.

Galleria del Vento

When the wind blows, things change. This forces us to reflect. Our senses show us one part, a surface, an effect. Yet more lies behind, undisclosed. We sense that something lies behind, waiting to be discovered. Just as we sense that we might be rewarded if we make an effort, if we search, if we venture forth into the unknown. If we question, and if we question ourselves.

Will we be able to bear standing in the wind? Will we be able to accept that our way of thinking has flaws, that it deceives itself all too willingly? That we believe that we are thinking “independently” whereas in fact we are satisfying our personal patterns all too readily? And might switching between verbal and nonverbal expression be one of the few practices in which we can reveal both ourselves and our self-repeating patterns?

Where is the wind when it isn’t blowing? Where is research when it isn’t doing research? Does it still exist then? Shouldn’t we speak of “researching” instead of “research”? And shouldn’t we understand research as a human activity in which we ask too much of ourselves to reach the open, unclarified sphere? Isn’t “researching” an activity that leads us away from certainty?

Can objectives be imposed on research? Isn’t it rather like the wind, which we can at best guide and shape? Who wanted to lock up the wind? Who wanted to force art to do something? Isn’t this rather one of the few social spheres in which we can conceive of the impossible, the unthinkable? And doesn’t this make it a most important force, one which will strengthen society in the long term?

Yes, it’s draughty when we stand in the wind. Yes, the wind makes us feel cold. Without the wind, though, it gets sticky. Without the wind, it gets hot and oppressive. We are living in oppressive times. I see a world in which one country after another is closing itself off out of fear of the international wind. I see a world that is increasingly forbidding itself any imponderability, any draught, also at home, out of a demand for security. I am a friend of small winds. But I don’t like storms.

Florian Dombois

This text is an artist statement that will also be present in the Research Pavilion for visitors to read during the Pavilion’s second exhibition Galleria del Vento July 8th– August 13th.