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.

You gotta say yes to another access

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The current rhetoric of the Open Access project – as put down i.a. in the Berlin Declaration – seems to want to answer the mechanism of exclusion intrinsic to the academic system of publishing. In their article “The Political Nature of the Book” (2013) Janneke Adema and Gary Hall draw an interesting parallel with the way artists in the 1960s confronted the commodification-oriented gallery system by opposing it with a new form of experimentation – using the book as a democratic medium. Similarly, over the past decade the potential of digital publishing has been presented in the scholarly world as medium-specific possibilities to develop counter-institutional forms of dissemination. An overall academic optimism arose: open access would achieve the complete accessibility of research results and thus – in the spirit of the current state of the democracy – break down the boundaries between the academic community and the rest of society.

This optimism, however, was almost immediately framed by the rhetoric of the neoliberal agenda: research should constantly be measured by the yardstick of transparency, accountability, discoverability, usability and efficiency. The net result was the emergence of a culture of peer-reviewed journal articles. A form of publishing that neatly copied the quality control procedures and the preservation structures of the profit-driven academic publishing houses. A form of publishing also that ultimately tried to exclude any form of experimentation for the sake of maintaining the confidence of the academic community.

How should artistic research relate to this development? Should it be, in the spirit of this form of research, a critical, self-reflexive, processual, non-goal oriented way of thinking about dissemination? How can such a form of conceptual openness be peer-reviewed? Does artistic research perhaps need a recalibration or a revision of the assessment criteria (such as relevance, ground breaking, originality, ambition, risk, topicality, beyond the state of art, scientific approach, suitability of methods, feasibility, broader impact). And ultimately, does it have the ability to question the radicalism of Access anew?

Jan Kaila and Henk Slager

This text is a curators’ statement that will also be present in the Research Pavilion for visitors to read.

Word from Commissioner Anita Seppä

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Uniarts Helsinki’s Research Pavilion for artistic research opens its doors in Venice on 10 May, the same day as when the Venice Biennale opens. The Pavilion’s venue Sala del Camino, a beautiful ex-monastery located in the Island of Giudecca, is an ideal place for art exhibitions, as well as workshops, concerts, performances and artistic interventions. Just on the other side of the Canal lies Giardini, the heart of the Biennale, with its energetic art tourists and souvenir shoppers. The island of Giudecca that’s surrounding the Research Pavilion, on the other hand, has a very different atmosphere: it is characteristically domestic and quiet.

Two years ago, in this uniquely rich cultural environment we hosted the first Research Pavilion under the theme Experimentality. The Pavilion for 2017 builds off of that, but also presents a radically new concept. First of all, the Research Pavilion will be a distinctly shared project, a joint effort set up by the talented people from all the academies of Uniarts Helsinki: the Academy of Fine Arts, Sibelius Academy and Theatre Academy. As such, the Pavilion will extend its scope to cover not only fine arts, but also music, performing arts, dance and theatre.

Second, this year’s Research Pavilion has a strong Nordic presence. We have invited the central networks of artistic research in Sweden and Norway (altogether 22 arts institutions of higher education), and their representatives Ingrid Elam, Cecilie Broch Knudsen and Geir Strøm are members in our Scandinavian steering group. This group of experts serves as an advisory body in the project and will also contribute to future strategic planning. In this political climate, as new walls are built up on a daily basis to hinder free mobility and international cooperation around the globe, it feels especially important to intensify the cultural partnerships between our closest neighbours and other transnational networks.

During the summer of 2017, the Research Pavilion will host three art exhibitions, which also present new international forms of collaboration with the famed Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and Zurich University of the Arts. In addition, the tremendously interesting series of artistic research activities called Camino Events will bring over a hundred professionals and students from around the world to Venice as guests of Uniarts Helsinki.

The first exhibition in the Research Pavilion is You Gotta Say Yes to Another Access, which will give thirteen Nordic doctoral students the chance to work on this year’s theme of the Pavilion, the Utopia of Access. In July-August, Florian Dombois from Zurich University of the Arts will go to the lagoons of Venice on a boat with golden sails to collect material that he’ll use to build a wind tunnel in the Pavilion for his exhibition, Galleria del Vento. The final exhibition Hauntopia/what if features works by doctoral students from the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. They will study traces of “ghosts” of the past and their effects on both the present time and our utopias of the future.

The Research Pavilion will articulate to an international audience how contemporary artistic researchers and researchers in the arts process topical questions and utilize fresh methodologies with respect to the theme Utopia of Access.  During the summer of 2017 we’ll see how experts of fine arts, music, dance, theatre, performing arts and curating produce art, research and pop-up events in the Pavilion and the surrounding urban space. Without a doubt the outcome will surprise us, in one way or another, as is to be expected when it comes to utopias.