^ What can a process do? A passage from ritual to rituality

Usoa Fullaondo

An Affective Athleticism


Braiding oneself


What can a process do? 




What can a process do? A passage from ritual to rituality is an investigation grounded in a transdisciplinary art practice.

Although existing works can be seen here, the combination of new and old texts and fragments of previous pieces, the design and division of the website into four sections, and the visual and sculptural material that emerges from this process all give rise to a new work whose materiality is shaped by the particular characteristics of the Research Catalogue (RC), the platform on which I am presenting my research here.

The main objective of this exposition is thus to pay attention to a particular methodology, to how the work is made rather than to what is being made. The meaning of a question is to be found in the particular method we use to respond to the how. “Tell me how you search and I'll tell you what you're searching for” [1].


Based on Aby Warburg's hypothesis that images possess an intrinsic meaning which makes them partly independent of the context that gave birth to them [2], this exposition emphasizes the fact that images can be reused and reassembled in ways that set up new relationships and bring about new meanings. The juxtaposition of different languages and formats can be likened to Warburg's idea of the Atlas [3]. This exposition is conceived as a synoptic presentation of differences in which I try to spark connections between different components, rather than trying to generate similarities between them. This methodology gives rise to a concept of relationship which allows for multiplicity, mutability, and gaps or lacunae, and creates a dispositif for reconfiguring the order of sensitive material by gathering together images, videos, sounds, and texts – sometimes presented as fragments – in a non-linear, non-narrative process.


This exposition, then, is proposed as a construction in itself, rather than a single, concrete, closed investigation.


The vertical as the space of definition (as in the sublime aspect of the painting hanging on the wall) and the horizontal as a space which potentiates transformation (as in a table) converge in RC in the particular resource of the computer screen in which the exposition is vertically inscribed and apparently given its final definition. The screen surface also allows the user to correct, change, or begin again, so that there is a constant opening of encounters, digressions, interruptions and multiplicity.


Although different production times and materials intersect in the viewer’s experience of this on-screen exposition, I attempt to create in her/him a sense of place and of an open process; a new point of entry into the hidden spaces of creation. This is done without denying that the sensation I wish to create is a product of previous work with physical material in the studio and exhibition space.


It has taken time to build up this exposition: the book, Un Atletismo Afectivo, was produced in 2016, the documentary, Trenza, in 2017, and the pieces that came out of the production of these two works (gathered in the section Braiding oneself) were made in the course of 2018. Although each of these are part of the same creative process, they are developed in separate sections so that they can also be understood independently and sequentially.


All of these works are based on my relationship to a particular space: the fields of Aixerrota, next to La Galea, a line of cliffs in Algorta (Bizkaia, Basque Country).


Un Atletismo Afectivo is an attempt to carry across the runner's self-immersion into the making of art through images of my work and studio. It includes writing, collage and photography. Trenza observes the transformation of the same place into a space for a yearly paella feast using visual, written, and aural analogies, or analogies to relationships and affect, in three different processes of creation – nature, life and art. This piece, therefore, adds a third process, connecting artistic creation and the construction of collective space for celebration from a different point of view: the animal’s. Here, the process is based on the bowerbird’s building of its folly for the courting of the female bird.


All images, video and media in this exposition are copyright of the author.

This constitutes an attempt to resituate the human in the animal continuum. And this is possible “in a way that does not erase what is different about the human, but respects that difference while bringing it to new expressions on the continuum, immanent to animality” [4]. To highlight humanity’s singular belonging to the animal continuum carries political implications, which I wanted to manifest here through play, charm, intuition, and rituality, all of which also characterise the artistic act.


The main hypothesis of this research is that the desire to bond [5] impels the act of making. The runner feels a desire to belong and to rediscover a close, well-known landscape. The desire to relate to others and the love of a space drives people to build a shelter for a collective celebration. The drive to do things with others gives rise to a playful celebration, and is also characteristic of the artistic act and artists’ relationship with their viewers. The need for attachment is obvious when the male bowerbird builds a folly for courting the female. This movement is conceived as an opening up from the individual towards the collective; a process in which uncertainty and the weight of the process itself prevail over the project’s final resolution. Trenza does not end with images of the celebration. Instead, a new process is generated that comprises part of the fourth section of this exposition, Braiding oneself. This final sequence, which was not originally intended to be included, was made during the montage of the piece and found its place when I considered that it happened as a result of the postproduction that interwove the three different narrative strands. I decided to film myself plaiting my own hair. In this second movement, I, as a subject, turn my attention inwards, but with the clear aim to distinguish this inward movement from the runner’s self-absorption. A plait is an adornment we predominantly associate with women (at least in the west). We make it with a part of our body – our hair – as an outward, aesthetically-intended extension. It also relates to the desire to bond in the sense that it is generally seen by others rather than ourselves.


This footage articulates the fourth section of this exposition. However, it differs from the original film sequence in that it also includes material generated from and during the making of this visual exposition that led to a new process based on traditional cross-stitch embroidery.

The element of playfulness that runs between the three different sections occurs because of a tension, defined by Johanes Huizinga [6] as a characteristic of play. Tension as uncertainty veers towards resolution. Play is an uncertain activity, because its result must be prolonged until the end. Knowing beforehand how something will develop and leaving no possibility for making mistakes or for surprises to arise go against the nature of play, and, in my understanding, against the nature of art. The various processes I describe here are grounded in the principle of uncertainty and are perpetually open to improbability. The desire to attach is the force behind the action in all of these processes, but their outcomes cannot be known beforehand. Instead of ordering actions according to certain aims to be achieved, the artist – as someone who plays – experiences a multitude of possible consequences and does not only consider the most favourable of these, but also makes use of the least favourable, the unexpected, the risky, the irrelevant. Thus, the principle of uncertainty links to the notion of affect, which is defined by Brian Massumi as a virtual co-presence of possible potentials that can be brought into play as each step is experienced [7].

My work of recent years is grounded in experience, understood as the result of human bodily interaction with our close environment. The structure of these everyday experiences is also part of the happening, and as such can be modulated by what Erin Manning defines as “minor gestures” [8]. One of the aims of this exposition is to show how artistic creation is able to activate such minor gestures through rituality, thus potentiating our relationship with our contexts and giving priority to process above predetermined aims. Such gestures “can be opened up to their potential in ways that intervene into capitalist time. They can become forms of resistance” [9].

[1] Ludwig Wittgenstein, Observaciones filosóficas (México D. F.: Instituto de Investigaciones filosóficas, 1997), p. 66

[2] Alejandra Valcubero, "Una aproximación metodológica en el análisis de obras de arte" in Arte, individuo y sociedad. Vol. 22 (Julio-Diciembre) (Madrid: Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 2010)

[3] Georges Didi-Huberman, Atlas, ¿Cómo llevar el mundo a cuestas? (Madrid: Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, 2010), pp. 18-19

[4] Brian Massumi, What animals teach us about politics (USA: Duke University Press, 2014), p. 3

[5] Juan Luis Moraza, "El deseo del artista" in Deseo. Textos y Conferencias (Madrid: Colegio de Psicoanálisis, 2011), pp 1-16 (p. 14)

[6] Johanes Huizinga, Homo ludens (Madrid: Editorial Emecé. El libro de bolsillo, 1972)

[7] Brian Massumi, Politics of Affect (UK: Polity Press, 2017), p. 3

[8] Erin Manning, The minor gesture (USA: Duke University Press, 2016), p. 15

[9] Ibid.