Paula Kramer

Finland, Germany (residence) °1977
research interests: contemporary outdoor movement practice, performance, landscape, daily life, resonance, environment
affiliation: University of the Arts Helsinki

I'm a post-doctoral researcher at the Centre for Artistic Research of the University of the Arts Helsinki. My background is in Political Science (M.A., FU Berlin) and Dance (PhD, Coventry University) and I explore artistic research and site-specific movement practices, considering the implications of intermaterial confederations in dance as well as daily life. I am on the editorial board of the Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices and a founding member of AREAL.


Exposition: Practicing art - as a habit? / Att utöva konst - som en vana? (19/08/2016) by Annette Arlander
Paula Kramer 12/06/2017 at 09:09

I’ve engaged with this exposition on several occasions, in various settings and countries. Reading the text and seeing the films on a desk at ETLAB in Helsinki, in my home in Berlin, on a train to Hamburg and on a desk in the public library of the Topography of Terror in Berlin, quite close to a site that I currently work on – habitually, as a way of keeping up my practice, as a way of doing research, as a way of preparing performance?


It has kept me good company.


I am reviewing from the viewpoint of a “junior colleague” – I work in a neighbouring field and have known Annette’s work for several years. We first met in person in 2016, in the framework of the British AHRC research network “Rock/Body”. Since the autumn of 2016 we are loosely colleagues in the context of Uniarts Helsinki/TeaK.


I much enjoyed about this exposition the sense that it wants to be seen, read and understood. Both in language and in layout I find it straightforward, engaging and easy to navigate. The issues raised are interesting for people concerned with regular artistic practice, repeated actions or habits, for those working in natural environments, those busy with questioning/dealing with artistic research as well as (media) artists working with still cameras, outdoors etc.


My review deals most specifically with proposals brought forth in the text, which has to do with my own expertise but also with the limitations of the small screen and slow machine that I currently work with. The technology I have available could not do the films much justice.


Yet observing my online viewing habits more generally I feel that all of the video materials might be too long for a presentation context like this. I wonder how many people see the full arch of the films? However – I understand that the artistic position might be that 25 min 30 sec is the duration of the work. I still think it might be worth considering 3 – 7 min long films in the context of an RC exposition.


I cannot see the swinging films anymore without being reminded of a set-up during the 2017 SAR conference in which Annette showed some (different) film material that included people swinging. In a gym type setting we as audience members were invited to swing with films. I hope you as a reader can imagine this too.


Questions this review process raised for me:


- I wonder about formulations such as “let the trees, rocks, waves, wind and weather perform” (p. 1) and “letting the elements of the environment perform for them” (p. 10) [perform for the agency of technology, the automatic functions of the camera]. I struggle with the formulation “letting … perform”. If we speak about performance I wonder if entities and materials would not better be considered as performing “with” rather than “for” technology. Otherwise I would like to see the concept of letting a landscape perform framed or discussed further. How does this happen outside of or in connection to human perception and/or framing ‘as performance’? Who “lets” perform?


- I further wonder about the usage of the term “image” throughout the text when referring to short films – e.g. on p. 3 “four images of roughly one-minute duration”. I wonder if alternative terms could be “clip” or “take” in this context, although I also sense the emphasis on the still camera or frame that “image” might carry more strongly than the proposed alternatives.


- I am also still pondering the categorisations of artistic research on p. 8-9. In my own artistic research practice I cannot make the distinction between “product” and “practice” as different types of research, both are entirely intermeshed in my work. It is exactly through the creation of a “product” – i.e. artwork/performance, (which can be entirely processes based!) that I also express and/or explore a “knowledge interest”– etc. Since the author similarly recognises that the proposed divisions are contested, maybe there is another way of making this line of thinking more productive/operational. Is it not exactly across such divisions as “developmental” and “reflective” that artistic research unfolds its potentials? Whilst it is useful to be conscious of differences, I would rather think towards vectors, intensities and mixtures than separate categories placed on a quadrant (in this case).


- I resonate with and feel excited about the connection between speculation and practice in the very end of the text and the proposal that speculation “takes places by repeatedly creating the conditions for alternatives to appear” (p. 10). I would have enjoyed a further development of this section as a whole in this text and am similarly looking forward to see it taken further elsewhere!


Writing such a final peer review made me wonder about the usefulness of publishing a peer review. I agree that it is interesting to know who is asked to review which exposition and what these people think/contribute. Still a lot of the review process remains hidden. Maybe it is interesting to consider if also a final author’s statement could be useful, one that can speak to the process of creation and review as a whole, responding also to the final peer review.