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.
The exercise can be seen as a restriction which initiates something, which makes something possible, an “enabling constraint”. (Manning, 2014) The exercise can at its best be a way of discovering how you can be a part of the political, sensuous and social world. The exercises initiate something that has not happened yet. The exercises can be a way into getting an understanding of what performance art can be. An exercise can be one-word, exact instruction, ingredients for a cake, a question to think about, a way to wake up, a way to write, painting the food parcels, hugging the family, it can be small performances, way to develop repertoire for a performance artist, acts of intervention in own life. In this “Map of exercises”, the exercises are somewhat similar in the way that they are all written instructions, they are all written by the same artist and are from live art projects.
But the exercises could also be so much more. In live art and performance art the question of craftmanship – of what is being rehearsed and repeated until it become your craft has been somewhat different from art forms where the tradition is to train a certain skill, like in dance or music for example.There is no predefined craft or set of exercises. And it is certainly not a goal to exercise in the sense of keeping physical fit. However, there are skills connected to the practice of live art and performance art as well – and by looking at what it is that repeats, we can also see what the skills are, what have a special agency. This exposition explores what it is that repeats in the different exercises. And how one exercise is repeated differently.
The focus on which performative agents that are dominant in some exercises does not exclude that in all exercises it is also about the intertwining of - and relationship between - the different agents. All the agents affect each other, and the same exercise will work different in each new context.
ABOUT THIS EXPOSITION
The next page is a map of exercises. These exercises are traces of earlier works and the exercises that come from a specific project are clustered together. By holding the hover over the title of the project, you can read a short synopsis of the earlier work the exercise come from. Further, I am also looking for how the exercises interrelated with each other apart from through the specific projects or context. Each exercise is complex and consists of different performative agents, such as for example place or time. In this exposition I have investigated what the main performative agents that repeats in the different exercises are. I look into how the exercises are mediated, what is the materiality or the technique of an exercise in live art? What does an exercise consist of? By cross-contextualizing the exercises, I look at similarities and differences of these exercises and it can work as a tool to develop further exercises. The exercises are colourcoded and each colour relates to each other by what I see as one dominating performative agent in the exercise. It is possible to click further on from the exercise and there will be documentation and an elaboration of how that agent can perform. The agents that I emphasize here are the formulation, objects, performer, audience, plance and time.
All the exercises that are part of this exposition has been employed, they are very concrete and I have aimed to obtain a certain playfulness. With this I hope that the exercises do not work as a way of conserving ways that are established, but rather can be in a constant flux and open up a potential for new things to emerge. The nature of the exercises is that they are performative, and anyone can try them out and repeat them differently from how I imagined them or they can work as inspiration to develop new exercises that can be performed in any other context.
EXERCISE IN NOT QUITTING
Material: tape & unfinished article
At the end of doing the exercise I find myself entangled in the workplace. Doing the exercise has been fun and I found a visuality for this exposition. I am in a messy, unexpected, untamed, complicated space. Maybe it starts from the simple, the exercise.
WHAT EXERCISE WILL YOU PERFORM IN THE MAP OF EXERCISES?