p u b l i c a t i o n s   



'The Interview as Convergent Point - between Qualitative Research and Performance Art' to be published in Aarhus University's journal of dramturgical studies Peripeti - edition Artistic Research


abstract : The article unfolds how the combination of qualitative research and immersive performance has given Inga Gerner Nielsen insight into her audience's aesthetic perception and imaginary realm in a performance installation. It sets out by stating that to ask an audience open questions about a performance only provides testimony of the after-rationalizations of their experience. The author introduces a phenomenological interview method, which draws on sense-memory techniques directing the interviewee to produce thick descriptions; actualizing the lived experience in the interview instead. In response to Norman K. Denzin's call for a performative dialogical social science, she argues why interview material should be conceptualized as performance and how working artistically with the interview setup can serve to highlight the inherent power dynamics. The article ends with examples showing how the interview was turned into a central immersive element of Inga Gerner Nielsen ́s artworks.

 

'Performing the Future - Experimental Future Studies' by Gry Worre Hallberg, Gitte Larsen, Madeleine Kate McGowan, & Inga Gerner Nielsen, in House of Futures publication ISSUES #2 about the project In 100 Years - Starting Now


http://houseoffutures.dk/downloads/ISSUESarticles/ISSUES_Performing-future.pdf


 

 

 

'Sensing the Future' by Inga Gerner Nielsen in House of Futures publication ISSUES #2 about the project In 100 Years - Starting Now

 

http://houseoffutures.dk/downloads/ISSUESarticles/ISSUES_Sensing-the.pdf

 

Based on interviews with participants, the article, 'Sensing the Future' gives insight into the performance interventions of Fiction Pimps at the House of Futures seminars In 100 Years - Starting Now. The articles thus conveys an examples of the performance strategies, studied in The Mise en Scène of Research (2012): 

 

abstract: The thesis, The Mise en Scène of Research, introduces performance & action research by the performance agency Fiction Pimps and describes how it was used in the House of Futures interdisciplinary project ‘In 100 Years’, which brought people from different fields of science and humanities together to create visions of the future. The focal point of the thesis is a discussion of what we as action researchers and performance artists want to bring to that visionary process.

         The first part of the thesis presents the theoretical, artistic and activist outset of Fiction Pimps. This includes a series of suggestions, inspired by the work of the performance collective Club de la Faye, on how to state the agenda of the research project by exposing the imagery inherent in its critical theories and methods through the use of interactive performance art. Theories are then introduced to argue why theatre and performance art may be seen as ritualistic with the potential of mirroring or even initiating a transformation of contemporary culture in a state of crisis. This finally leads to an introduction of the performance & action research method, ‘Future Mind Tours’, and how performance art was used to frame the ‘In 100 Years’ seminars as a ritual in order to contribute to the progression of a seminar culture.

         The action research is presented as a way to gain insight into the participants' experience of the experimental modes of knowledge production, which were introduced as part of the seminar process. Furthermore, it is stressed as a critical means to enhance both participants' and particularly the researchers' own reflection about the way we imagine and manifest social events like ‘In 100 Years’ in the future.


Reflections in Kopenhagen Magazine about performing in 5 Apartments by Heavenhttp://kopenhagen.dk/magasin/magazine-single/article/apartment-3/

v i d e o  from 5 Apartments (turning the images of my proposal into flesh)

"I am Odysseus" said the siren

Generous Attentiveness, a video article that Investigates how the Interactive Performance Installation Your Past Belongs to Them Now by Inga Gerner Nielsen applies qualitative interviews as artistic methods. To be published in Peripeti, Aarhus University's journal of dramaturgical studies. 


Abstract This video article is about the methods used in the interactive performance called Your Past Belongs to Them Now by performance artist Inga Gerner Nielsen. 

 

The fictitious setting of the performance is a future Europe in 2039, after an electrical shock has deleted nearly all digital memory. The performers play activists, who are using the digital disaster to focus on somatic characteristics of memories. They want people not only to recall important factual events but specifically to regain the bodily feelings of these memories. In this performance, the audience members are participants who are taken through exercises of remembrance using phenomenology-based interview methods. The performers are local students, newly trained over two weeks in these specific performance methods. 

 

Using interviews as an artistic method is not new. It is often used to collecting artistic materials prior to the performance or as a means of gaining insight into audience experiences and opinions post-performance. However, the use of interviews in the interactive performance installation Your Past Belongs to Them Now is novel in that the interviews are part of the performance proper. They are not only a generator of performance content but also yield a specific aesthetic and very personal experiences for the participants.

 

The interview technique applied in this performance is, in its basic form, not much different from the instrumental interview of the human and social sciences. What makes it different, however, is the keying of the interview as a performance, requiring the performers to keep a least two perspectives in mind when interviewing the participants: the immediate somatic and psychological experience of the interview and the collection of remembrances that make up the performance. Through the participants’ engagement in this very personal and intimate experience, they are producing collective memory in the form of a decisive aesthetic atmosphere as well as concrete objects and texts that can be looked at, read and interpreted by other participants, which, in turn, yield other recollections and imaginations.

 

Contrary to qualitative academic interviews, the objective of the interviews used in this specific interactive performance installation is not generalizable knowledge about a certain topic but personal experiences and the creation of a performance installation. 

 

Idea: Falk Heinrich, Research Center of Art and Technology, Aalborg University

Dramaturgy: Falk Heinrich, Dagmar Bille Milthers & Christine Hvidt Grønborg

Text: Dagmar Bille Milthers, Falk Heinrich

Footage and selection of video clip: Christine Hvidt Grønborg, Dagmar Bille Milthers

Interview of performers and participants: Christine Hvidt Grønborg, Dagmar Bille Milthers

Video editing: Christine Hvidt Grønborg

Speak: Dagmar Bille Milthers, Christine Hvidt Grønborg

 

 References: 

Goffman, E. (1986). Frame analysis: An essay on the organization of experience. Bosten: Northeastern University Press

Kozel, S. (2007). Closer. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Kvale, S. (2005).  “The dominance of dialogical interview research -A critical view” in Barn 3, 89-105,  Trondheim: Norsk senter for barneforskning

 

 

 

p o r t  f o l i o

p e r f o r m a n c e   d o c u m e n t a t i o n 

 

Participants' stories in the somatic archive of Your Past Belongs to Them Now, Eutopia DystopiaPolo del '900, Turin 2019 in collaboration with TwLetteratura,supported by Compagnia di Sanpaolo

Excerpt from The Interview as convergent Point - between Qualitative Research and Performance Art (2020) :


"My first solo work was an artistic reflection on the complex premise of my genre; that you cannot really experience it without engaging with it. At the entrance to the gallery 68 Square Metres, I introduced the guests of the performance installation to how they will be able to experience ‘Seeing Pink Narcissus’; by allowing me to direct them to see a boy as beautiful as James Bidgood saw him (Bidgood being the director of the homoerotic movie ‘Pink Narcissus’ (1971)). As with the interviewee in my interviews, I use the first contact with the audience to introduce their participation with a metaphor: They will come to maintain a fiction based on the myth of Narcissus, who fell madly in love with the most beautiful boy in the lake. In ‘Seeing Pink Narcissus’ the audiences´ eyes perform the role of the reflecting water; how and from what angle they see the body in the gallery space is what the boy gets to see of the boy in the lake. In other words, being able to see his image depends on the reflection in their eyes 

          [...]in this case, I kept my own curiosity at bay. Knowing that my presence in the space would introduce another gaze into the situation, I let the interaction unfold only between the performer and the audience. If I wanted to acquire insight into the interactions, I could ask (the performer) Rasmus afterwards to perform a choreography of the ways in which he moved under the gaze of the three different audiences. ‘Seeing Pink Narcissus’ is an intense artistic score for the performer to phenomenologically explore and give physical form to the specific audience’s mode of perception in the performance. Many of my works require the performers to direct the audience’s attention into themselves; their method in doing so stems from my work with the phenomenological interview."

instruction on the table in the introduction room to Seeing Pink Narcissuscurated by Iben Elmstrøn, Sixty Eight Art Institute 2014

images created by participants in The Crack, by Fiction Pimps in House of Futures 2010

Excerpt from The Interview as Convergent Point - Between Qualitative Research and Performance Art (G. Nielsen 2020)


"We met the participating audience in the morning, on the second floor of the building and led them - one by one - into the installation we had made in one of the offices. We created the feeling of a labyrinthic passage through a series of paradoxical questions, asked whilst ritualistically washing their hands in front of a broken TV. The flickering noise of the screen and sounds of water became an analogue part to a roaming digital soundscape which constituted the audible expansion of the room. We intended to slur their normal visual orientation. This, we told them, was to bring them into the "state of vertigo"; out of linear chronological time and into the universe of Chôra; a 'non-place' referred to by Plato as a ‘space’ for giving and creation (Ramö 1999:314). 

             Immersed in a space like 'The Crack', conversations between ourselves and the participants seemed weaved by a kind of dreamlike material, one which so easily breaks as soon as it leaves the inner realm. Reaching the limits of language, phenomenological description may break into the poetics of image, gesture or the categories of metaphor. The setting of the immersive performance installation provides a blurry ambiguous space to search for other ways of giving shape to our experience. In ‘The Crack’ we invited the participants to construct their image of Chôra. Some spent what felt like hours sitting or lying on the beige carpeted office floor, eating sweets, drinking cheap whisky and cutting out pictures from old geography, art and science books." 


Din Fortid er Deres Nu / Your Past Belongs to Them Now, Vendsyssels Teater 2018 in collaboration with RELATE, Research Center of Art & Technology, Aalborg University

Excerpt from The Interview as Convergent Point  between Qualitative Research and Performance Art (2020) :


"Your Past Belongs to Them Now is about training the performer in checking in directly with the audience, to see if they feel their story is represented in what has been noted down. Exhibiting it directly afterwards, in an archive of stories as part of the installation, is a way to keep the process of analysis available to the audience. The project EutopiaDystopia is an artistic discussion about how we produce historical and sociological archives. It is an artbased research project looking at how we can produce an archive which consists of different subjective points of view, in stories which include somatic sensations and experiences which might require other modes of expression.

        In this article, I have presented ways of documenting the audience's experience in interactive performances through imagery (i.e. ‘The Crack’) and through embodiment on behalf of the performer (i.e. ‘Seeing Pink Narcissus’). Integrating immersive techniques in interview methods may help to alter the sensuous mode of being of the interviewee. Furthermore, this practice could serve to open up the interview to sensuous or even celestial aspects of experience, otherwise excluded within a traditional scientific paradigm. This I find initiates another mode of inquiry and research findings, which traditional qualitative methods have no means to render visible. Thus, I propose to work artistically with the interview method to enable new modes of knowledge production and analysis, from within a performative, dialogical social science.


The phenomenological interview becomes a stage for the former audience members to perform their story. But in my interviews, they are not entirely free to choose the style of their storytelling. The phenomenological technique fixes the story, or performance, in the lived experience of aesthetics of the performance installation and the social situations played out within it. In respect to Kvales call for clear specification of the power dynamic in an interview, I want it to be obvious that I am like a director working with an actor; I help the interviewee to remember, connect with and describe her initial feelings and aesthetic observations. The installation turns the audience members into performers. The phenomenological interview turns them into authors. And their descriptions into performance texts. Conducting the interview within the explicit performative setting of an art installation might help make the distribution of power and ownership in knowledge production more transparent.

     Working with immersive performance as interview I do make a claim to my interviewees’ inner world. This article has shown how the phenomenological interview method provides a step towards getting insight into the audience’s experience – in order to then start materializing it directly as part of the art work. In ‘Your Past Belongs to Them Now’ I try to create a critical awareness in the audience about this fact, offering them a choice to either give their story to the archive, or take it with them when they leave the installation. I am very keen on inserting a critical element of risk into the very existence of the immersive art piece. At the same time, I am very humbled by how willing almost every audience member who enters the installation is in sharing their inner world with us.


The idea for this performance emerged from a single quote by the French philosopher and activist Simone Weil, who said that “Attention is the purest and rarest form of generosity” (1947). During the rehearsals, I found myself repeating this sentence over and over, as it so profoundly points to the social quality the interview and interactive performance can nurture." 


search the body with desire 

to find a spot you chose to enjoy

let your gaze rest on it 

 

do not touch him 

 

unfold the whole image

through longing

to let the body see

the most beautiful boy

 

show the boy his image

in different frames

moving slowly from one to another

protect his image from dissolution

 

do not touch him  


caress the boy with your eyes only

be there for him only / there 

alone in his pink and blue room

/ that is this gallery

The interactive score of Seeing Pink Narcissus was first developed when directing 

The Velvet State with Fiction Pimps as a staging of Roskilde Festivals' Art Zone in 2011. 

 

The Danish art magazine Kunsten.nu made a review of the piece, saying :

"As the only one of the festival's artworks, the project makes it to meet the festival participant with a pronounced empathy and create a situation where the individual and the art dissolve into an exemplary play with your senses, your body, and social norms. As we enter the inviting universe of The Velvet State, a tranquil dis-guise of reality begins, in which we as 'immigrants' are put into a position where we must settle into new dialogues, infrastructures, and views on life." 

 

Full review at https://kunsten.nu/journal/paa-flugt-med-kunsten/

 

Pictures and links to reportages and other reviews at http://houseoffutures.dk/blog/velvet-state/