EXERCISE IN NOT QUITTING
Material: tape & unfinished article
While trying to write this exposition I suddenly find myself entangled in tape sitting in my workroom by the computer. It does not help me to write better or more, but it gives me a satisfaction of having done something concrete. And perhaps more important: to perform and film the exercise is to embody and write this exposition and a way of exploring the questions that I am circling around. The questions are “what are the potentials of exercises in live art pedagogy as a way to imagine and creating new realities?” and “what are the performative agents in these exercises?”
THE POTENTIAL OF EXERCISES IN LIVE ART AND PEDAGOGY
This exposition is a web of exercises which have been part of different participatory performances, -installations and -workshops. The projects were undertaken during the years of 2014 – 2019 as part of my artistic pedagogical research about the potential of exercises in live art and pedagogy. By extricating exercises from their original context and placing them in a rhizomatic map alongside other exercises, I examine what the exercises consist of and how they perform. Exercises can be used to create something unplanned within a performance work and for the making of new performance art works and everyday realities. Each exercise can also have value as an artwork in themselves, as a performance event score. The exercises can be a creative act that at its best can open up new potentials.
This work is inspired by new material feminist theory, especially Karen Barad´s (2003, 2007) theory of “agential realism”, in which the material-discursive exercises are performative agents and have constitutive power. I look at both live art and pedagogy as complex practices and my focus is on how the material-discursive practice produces new realities. The exercise in itself can potentially be a performative agent, an active agent with the capacity to change a situation in intra-action with the environment. The exercise is an initiative for an action to take place and through the “physical practice of engagement” (Barad, 2007, p. 342)we are creating something new.
My proposal is that when the exercises in a pedagogical setting or in a live art event initiate for an action to take place the participants are “in the making”. Elisabeth Ellsworth (2005) argues for that pedagogues must mediate learning environments and embodied experience in a way so that “those who have not participated in its history – in making the knowledges already arrived at – may participate in making its future” (p. 166)Potentially the exercises are initiatives for making the future and can serve as a tool to recreate the future. I am looking for a pedagogy of the event, a pedagogy which is not instrumental – but focuses on the potential of what we can become. A messy, unexpected, untamed, complicated space. Maybe it starts from the simple, the exercise. The exercise can potentially destabilise, queer and decompose the existing.
A potential means “that which is possible”, it is an unrealized ability. Yet, the zone of potential is not judged on a certain right or normative potential. Philosopher Giorgio Agamben (1999) emphasis that all potentialities also includes the potential of not being active and thus we can also think that new ideas might just as well come out of being passive, of not performing the exercise. In that way there is a potential also in imagining and creating the exercises.
MY WAY INTO THE EXERCISE
My practice as a performance artist, director and pedagogue is quite diverse, I have been working in the crossfield of contemporary theatre, performance art, visual art and pedagogy. The diverse possibilities of the live event and the exploring of the relationship to the audience and participation, has been in my interest for years. It is through this interest that I got inspired working with exercises. I have been interested in how I as an artist and pedagogue can open up situations, knowledge and possibilities that have an openness connected to it, where I am not the person who has the right answer on how the participant should act. The exercises are very concrete and The workshops that I refer to in this research are workshops made for art students, while the art works are made for very different audience, including grown ups, youths and children.
WHAT IS AN EXERCISE?
It could be relevant to speak about a task, but a task points more towards a duty, while an exercise is to employ, to put into active use. (Encyclopedia) The exercises initiate something that has not happened yet, and it can become an event. The exercise can be a way into getting an understanding of what live art can be. If I look at it from the Fluxus tradition, an exercise has similarities to a fluxus event score. There are also many other references that have inspired me such as the Oblique strategies (Eno, 1975), Formulas for Now (Obrist, 2008), 100 exercises for a Choreographer and Other Survivors (Lilja, 2012), Transporteringsdans (Slaatto, 2013), Schoolbook 2 (Goat island, 2000), Exercises for rebel artists : radical performance pedagogy (Gomez-Pena and Sifuentes, 2011) Performance artist´s workbook. On teaching and learning performance art - essays and exercises. (Porkola, 2017) and many other workshops, works and artists using exercises as a tool.