“Art … “

“It has no identity.

It exists but is not something.

Something forty years ago Godard said, “not a just image, just an image.” Even longer ago Barnet Newman said: “-What I want with the paintings? I just want the paint on the canvas to look as beautiful as it does in the can.”

Two artists that might not conventionally be bunched together but what appears to connect them is a sortof grand modernist belief in something, should we say “pure”, and something pure cannot issue any kind of responsibility, it’s pure because it cannot produce responsibilities, it has no relations, it’s not a subject, it is a warmachine. Godard’s “just an image” is an image void of moral, ethics, politics, it is an image that is void of identity, of life, and yet exists, similar to Newman’s paintings. It is my conviction that we today must re-issue Godard and Newman’s observations although not its modernist pathos – no there’s no essence around, not since 1969 [Kosuth], even less after 1971 [Nixon dissolves gold standard] and so on… This is not a matter of searching for an essence, universality, something “pure,” on the contrary it is rather about the production of its possibility as potentiality, to make “it” show up, force it out, smoke the shit – because only that which is “pure,” that which is not subject, that which is just an image, thing, movement – only that which is absolutely irresponsible, worthless, can change how change changes. It can of course only be an endlessly short moment/an eternity, because the moment when this some something produces extension, is granted relations, location, context, it is nothing else than conventional and inscribed in capital, NL, politics, ethics and moral. But just before that, art can be an accelerationism [accelerationism must be kept strictly libidinal] capable of anything, it’s not an openness it’s absolutely open, it’s unconditional at the last instance, it is as pure as simple existence, it is and fucks the rest. And you know what, to start off it sure is capable of setting our entire political economy on fuckin’ fire.”

Marten Spanberg

For the whole article visit http://imathens.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/set-it-on-fuckin-fire-marten-spangberg/

A Performative Sensory Journey

I was 15 years old the first time. They ask me to fill in a form about myself in advance. I am sitting in a barn in Vordingborg with eleven other disoriented and curious strangers. Soon I notice a beautiful dark woman holding my gaze. With a tender smile she stands up and gently takes my hand. She leads me through a forest, laughing playfully and running so fast, I have a hard time catching up. We leap into an old row-boat and an elderly gentlemen rows us to a little island. There we go down the path of overgrown trees and she secretively hands me messages written on leaves and eggs from nests that she finds along the way. She doesn’t speak English. Her mysterious spontaneity makes me laugh and when I least expect it she shouts and takes a photo of me. We arrive at an abandoned house and there she puts a blindfold over my eyes. Suddenly I am being pushed in a wheelchair and hear the most incredible sounds around me. The sun is warming my face like fingertips all over my skin. As she takes off my blindfold I find myself in front of a huge black-board with a big white horizontal line in chalk. ”I want you to draw your own time-line. From birth until today. I’ll pick you up in five minutes”. Then she leaves the room and shuts the door behind her. I have five minutes to define what I am. What major events have impacted my life? What has shaped me? I still have the hard-boiled egg with me today. As well as the polaroid photograph.

It was just me and her. Every moment was about us. About me. She saw me. Took her time to really communicate. We were present and only there for one another. Afterwards I kept asking myself if I am in control of my life or not. And I still do today. Did I ever chose to be a part of what has happened to me? Or did I just allow myself to be swept away by my surroundings?

This time I find myself in the hallway to a tremendously inhabited and cosy home. The telephone rings. I pick up a red receiver from the 60s and answer with a timid uncertain “.. Hello .. ?”. An inviting female voice responds. “Hi Tuva. Welcome. Are you ready? That’s good. When you hear the bell, walk to the red door on the left. When it rings again, it’s time for you to move on. Great. Safe journey.”
I am met by a pair of curious eyes in a hatch in the door. They look deeply into mine and she whispers “Close your eyes”. Her voice is sincere and comforting. She trusts me, and therefore I trust her. She grabs my hand cautiously and leads me into dark a nothingness. My hearing is sharpened, my touch sensitized. Her breath touches my skin and I shudder pleasantly as she carefully allows my remaining senses experience my surroundings. Every matter I encounter, it feels like I am experiencing for the first time. My being slowly relaxes and our innocent physical conversation becomes a dance. And soon a game. Free from self-consciousness, I am like the child playing with that foreign girl or boy by the pool on a holiday abroad.
Next, I am like a blind man who have just regained his sight. I stand amidst a verdant bedroom and I am met by an intense aroma of earth, moss and fresh cut grass . A voice speaks to me from a bed, a bed of grass. I lie my head down on the mossy cushion and as if my skin is full of holes, my whole body breathes. The young woman speaks to me of freedom. I can do whatever I want. I can cry however I want. No one can see what I am thinking. A bell rings. I crawl out through a childish world of stones and wooden figures. On the stone in my pocket it says “It’s okay to be human .”
In the end, I am being taken care of by an animalistic silhouette. She instils a primitive maternal feeling and describes a childhood memory to me. A memory about her father. We sink into a soft sheepskin and she holds me tight as I lie there in her arms like a helpless child. She whispers in my ear and her presence gives me strength in this powerlessness. We are all children, no matter how adult we try to be.

I am 20 years old the last time. I am picked up by an old van on a square in Copenhagen and where they are taking me, I have no idea. We are dropped off in front of a huge elder-care building from the 50’s and met by a group of men and women in different ages, dressed in white and with trustful tranquil facial expressions. We are all breathing in the same quiet rhythm. An older imposing woman walks calmly towards me with a warm intensive gaze. Her hand slips into mine and she whispers ”I pick you because of your curiosity”.
”How is paradise? Can two people be one flesh? Should you learn how to see with your nose, ears and tongue? Is what you see determined by your mood? Can we be one with the moment?” … I chose ”Is it possible to see your way of seeing?”

In one room I speak with a young asian man with Cerebral Palsy. He talks to me about love. A girl he gave everything to. A girl he loved, but whom he lost. He becomes emotional and impossible to understand. Then it is my turn. Is there anyone who means more to me than myself? … .
Another room alludes to the past. ”Is it possible to dream of a room you have never been in?”. Chaos. Death. Newspapers everywhere. It reminds me of a hospital room. From the wardrobe I can hear a story being told. It is packed with teddybears. I am alone. I can do whatever I want. I can feel however I want. Nobody can see what I am thinking. I am asked to write something on a newspaper before I leave. When I step out I think ”I cannot blame my past anymore. It doesn’t exist.”.

Do we perceive the world primarily through our senses or through our thinking? What is reality; our intellect or our emotions? These experiences are stored in my muscle memory. These impressions follow me every day because they are not primarily experienced by my intellect, but by my physical senses and nervous system.

No content forced upon you. No one who sees what you are also seeing. No correct or incorrect experience. The audience arrives ready to leave distracting everyday thoughts behind them. Instead of meeting an invisible fourth wall dividing the actor and the spectator and all focus on the actors, we meet actors who are not acting. A human who is their self and who is there for you. And you are there for them.

It’s called “human specific”, and I find it intriguing because it has contributed to some of the few experiences in life I have had of “being one”. Other times have been in a Meisner repetition, Per Brahe’s Balinese mask class, deep collective yoga meditation, sex, or on stage. However, the average person who does not practice anything creative does rarely have the opportunity to be so present with all of his or her senses that they can allow real contact with themselves and their surroundings.

It is natural to intellectualize conventional art, taken in with only sight and hearing. Art today often ask the spectator to use critical thinking instead of gut instinct. We will put more weight on concretizing what we see in words rather than let the art move us. The experience is broken apart even before it is revealed.

21st century’s capitalist society is deeply rooted in Lutheran work ethic. Even when we watch art, we feel the need to perform well. During the performance, we think about what we should say to our friends afterwards. We should analyze correctly and say what is socially acceptable. Our focus is divided. The subconscious and the nervous system reads the symbols and creates emotion but the ego and the survival instinct interrupts this process by judging whether the reaction is suitable or not. Through the presence of others, we look at ourselves from the outside and do not see the world through our own eyes, but how we think we are supposed to see it.

In a participatory human specific performance the audience can on the other hand decline any responsibility to self-consciously perform, but by actually willingly participating more than in a conventional performance. It creates a safe space where the audience can feel and think what they usually do not dare to. Human beings instinctively want to be in control in order to identify themselves. This concept allows the need for control, created by self-consciousness, to disappear. If the artist forces the audience to have an opinion about a specific subject, the spectator will be reluctant to take it in. If all responsibility lies within the spectator, as in conceptual art, what the audience see will be shaped by their thinking. No one wants to be controlled without first voluntarily relinquishing.

We have all been a part of an audience who do not dare laugh because the self-consciousness spreads, and we have all experienced how the laughter volume increases when someone dares to take the first initiative. The collective affects the individual. In human specific performances you are instead alone as a spectator and each installation differs, depending on the individual who experiences it. It is not possible to feel threatened by the presence of the collective.

The spectator is involved physically and verbally, perceiving creative, emotionally stimulating experiences through all of their senses, as well as exchanging energy with a stranger. All focus is facing outwards. Neither the actor nor the audience is in control.

I find it important that theater be political, that art should inform and transform. Nothing in this performance was explicitly political, but it was more powerful because the audience were guided to insights, not fed with them. Everyone left with an experience that had touched and challenged them, existentially, politically, socially and personally.

In the moment, the performance does not evoke thoughts but generates feelings. The thoughts come later when you least expect them, without having to force them. The context of the performance is individualized depending on one’s needs. This condition is common for an artist, with the stage as a free safe space, but to give a person, who expects to be only a spectator, that experience – is a unique life-changing gift.

Tuva Hildebrand, March 27th

“The individual life is a dream – communication is reality”

How do we know that what we perceive is real?
What is most real – the senses or your mind?

When we are born what is most real is our physicality, which our senses are a part of. By experiencing the world with our senses we gradually form an understanding of the world around us. This understanding gets stored in our mind and in our subconscious and later starts to form an ego – the ego is what makes us self-conscious.

For me, this means that the mind cannot be more real than the senses, as the senses come first and help to “fill” the mind with information. When the ego is formed our mind is suddenly in a reverse relation controlling our senses.

The problem that we then has to ask ourselves is; how can we know that the objects, the world, we perceive are real and not just a result of our imagination? Well, if they are just a picture our mind is making up, then nothing we experience is truly real. Our mind will then be filled with non-real information and the mind itself not be real either.

The only thing that would then be real is what our physical body or mind do not have any control over; our subconscious.

Therefore I believe art in different forms is the most true action or object as it arrives from your subconscious; dance, poetry, acting, painting, sculptures etc. When the art is done fully and well it is made in the present moment and is not controlled by the senses and the mind – a stream of consciousness.

 

Is ‘reality’ actually a dream and our dreams true reality?

Dreams are not seen as physical reality, but they tell us our inner truth as they derive from our subconscious. If we state that reality is equal with truth then dreams are more real than the physical reality we experience.

The human avoids the truth when he cannot handle it. Instead of taking in what is going on he makes up his own reality. He does not understand his partner’s actions as he is not taking them in so he justifies it by stating that the partner is not real to herself.

“Reality” is impossible to justify. As soon as you try to justify it, it is lost because we validate it and distort it with our mind.

WE search for the truth. Search for reality. Search for touch. Search for belonging. Search for freedom.

REALITY=TRUTH

TRUTH=FREEDOM

FREEDOM=VALIDATION

VALIDATION=BELONGING

BELONGING=COMMUNICATION

=

REALITY=COMMUNICATION

“Ignoration is the lowest form of non-validation. Being hated by someone even shows that you still matter.”

Image

“The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because its only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on. If you can change the way people think. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. You can change the way people live their lives. That’s the only lasting thing you can create.”

Writing on the Janez Jansa Project and Conceptual Art

The main focus in this essay is on three Slovenian artists and their project the Janez Jansa Project which is currently in progress today, taking the conceptual ideas of how to create art to the extent that the artists as personal human beings are the conceptual artwork.

In the start of the development of contemporary art in early 20th century there was the Cabaret Voltaire organization with Emmy Hennings and Hugo Ball, who also were a part of the Dadaist movement. Instead of entertaining and escaping from reality, which stage performance before was mostly about, Hennings and Ball revealed daily life and issues on stage in radical actions such as masturbating and urinating on stage.

Dada was a movement allowing artists to collaborate and be free in their creation by having continuous meetings. They explored the conceptual idea about art being about the process. Their work was not profit driven, neither about getting publicity. The people who founded Cabaret Voltaire and Dada withdrew when the movement became conventional. For them, it was a way to through art escape from the war and the materialism. As soon as the work became public it had sold itself to the capitalism the movement had tried to escape from.

In the same era as Dada, there was Duchamp, who is often mentioned as “the father of conceptual art”. Duchamp developed the thought of art being about the process even further. By his work Fountain (1917) among others, he established the concept Readymade, also known as found art. It is the idea of putting a non-art object into an artistic context by giving it an artistic label. There is no relation between the artist and the artwork, which causes a lot of questions around whether it is justified to label the work as art or not.

Conceptual art is about the concept rather than the aesthetics or the result. It is about showing the investigation, defining the intention of the work and the idea, rather than let the process result in a shape or symbol that can be interpreted subjectively. An idea within conceptual art is that it wants to take away the division of artist and spectator, which today is developed even further into the idea of interactive performance. The work shall not entertain and serve the audience without them making any effort to experience or understand it. Conceptual art forces the audience to be active intellectually and some times physically.

Conceptual and performance art seem to be bigger in Eastern Europe today than in Western Europe. A theory is that this is grounded in the fact that the Eastern European countries were more severely affected by the communist regime that ruled after WWII. For several countries the war resulted in a regime which was strongly right-winged, with dictatorship and closely fascist. Today, the Eastern Europe are still weaker financially than western the and many of the eastern countries are still not enough democratically developed to be a part of EU. They have strongly right-winged leaders, which differentiates the artistic needs and possibilities in Eastern Europe from the ones we have in Western Europe today. Which could be a reason to why conceptual art has a greater function there than in west.

A problem I find with conceptual art is that the people who choose to see it they often already have an opinion that goes in line with the politics of the art. Because it is clearly about one certain idea, it makes the possibility to like or understand it restricted, as the symbols which the performers communicate with are not so open to interpret. A performance which on the other hand consists of the result of an investigation, might deliver more abstract symbols and be able to be interpreted subjectively by people from different backgrounds.

As an artist it is impossible to reach out with your message if it is not public. An idea is then that if we want to reach out with an idea to as many as possible perhaps we have to sell our selves to the conventional, commercial and profit-driven art, by putting our message into the conventional.

NAME – Ready made

In Slovenia until 2007 there were three well-known conceptual artists, Emil Hrvatin, Žiga Kariž and Davide Grassi, collaborating and working individually with producing, performing, directing, making visual art but also publishing articles and books. Their work are often conceptual, indirectly left-wing political, have a strong social connotation and are sometimes even provocative. By showing their artwork in public they criticize the capitalistic, materialistic and prophet driven society in Slovenia and the control media has in it.

In 2007 they started the Janez Jansa project. The starting point of this project was the three of them legally on the paper changing their original name to the name of the prime minister in Slovenia at that time – Janez Jansa. The Prime Minister Janez Jansa ruled between 2004 – 2008 and his party is according to them an “obscure combination of nationalistic ideology, neoliberal economics and totalitarian tendencies in overruling mass-media”, they also express that if this continues Slovenia will end up as a post-fascistic society.

Since the day they changed their name they consistently present themselves as Janez Jansa, it is the name used by media, friends, family and collegues among others. In every work they have created before the name-change, every document and in every different registers they are in it now says Janez Jansa. There are many aspects of the reason to the name change and the consequences; I will now try to explain a few of them.

A direct assumption when hearing about this action is that it is a provocation against the prime minister. The Prime Minister had a slogan which was “The more we are, the faster we will reach the goal”. As the prime minister indirectly ruled all the posts in the government, they interpreted it as the prime minister meant the more of him and applied it literally. The three Jansas also joined the prime ministers party – which is a “common” political act to indoctrinate and get inside information from the enemy. Although, officially they have never mentioned that it is a political act, the only answer they give is that it is for “personal reasons”.

What they did later in 2008 was to open a public correspondence in the daily newspaper Dnevnik in Slovenia, in their names Janez Jansa, where they independently wrote about their work, travel impressions, culinary advice, their children’s adventures etc. It is a fact that they are indirectly in these articles subtle expressing left-wing opinions in the name of the right-winged Prime Minister, as they are strongly left-winged personally.

What these three artists in fact are doing is making their life an ongoing performance. When they changed their name they made themselves to an artwork in the way that Duchamp made the toilet a fountain by the concept of Readymade. Suddenly they put a new label on themselves and are revealing their life as Janez Jansa. They are the readymade object. Their life has not changed, they are doing exactly the same as before and they do not know yet what the result might be – it is the process that is central. The situation of having at least four public figures in Slovenia with the name Janez Jansa, the uncannines it causes and how that affects the perceivers is the art-work.

One of the Jansas explains that what he finds interesting with art is the position it puts the spectator in, how the spectator is negotiating with himself to decide how to perceive and understand the gestures and symbols of the art-work. In this case the perceiving is happening without any conscious comprehension, the spectator must directly in his daily life decide how to understand these gestures – that they all have the same name and the name of the prime minister.

 Another aspect is how big importance the name has on the art market, and the control the state and media has. We are all defined in different ways by media, and often generalized as a collective. When we are judged individually it is our name in different contexts which is judged. One of the Jansas is explaining that if several people has exactly the same name it is like a virus has broken down the system, we cannot distinguish people without have really seen, listened to them or got to know them personally.

In one way our name is the least personal thing we have. It is used by everyone except yourself, it is created for and by others, to be able to judge you, especially in the world of art. The name is not your personality and it is not your art-work. Your real name is actually how you act and what you create.

Today we have three famous artists often mentioned independently in media, they are not a collective called Janez Jansa, but now you cannot distinguish them from one another. It is a way of making it evident that we are living in as they say a “neoliberal-capitalistic” society where your name is working as brand on the market, especially as an artist. Conceptual art which is about the idea and the process is clearly against this way of being prophet driven. By changing their name they are withdrawing from the art-market, stepping into autonomy and stepping out of the celebrity.

A question that then occur is – how would it be if all artists had the same name? Would you still like to be an artist if you as an individual would not get any attention from it? Why are we actually making art – to get attention and be famous as an individual, to make our creation being seen or because of the process of art making?

If all artists would have the same name it is just the performance, the actions in a certain space in a certain time that is visible. You would only perceive the performance rather than unconsciously judging in relation to the name as we often do.

As spectators and as artists we categorize things according to who has made it, the name behind it, which is the opposite of what art should be about. Every art-work is different from one another, and even though one artist has produced something amazing it does not mean that it will be amazing the next time. I think it is easy to become blind and miss a lot of great art-work because we are choosing it by referring to well-known names on the art-market.

The importance of a name became even more evident when I read an interview with the artists and it said Janez Jansa everytime someone was speaking, even though they were three different people being interviewed. I found myself disliking that I could not create an image of each of them according to the importance of what they were saying.

The Jansas claim that they are making themselves undistinguished, but it is contradictful. Even though the whole thought about autonomy and withdrawal from the art market is working literally, the fact that they have changed their name have given them publicity. Though, the name-change has not caused major attention and they are still living exactly the same way as they did before. However, just the fact that I am talking about them right now is a sign that it gives them constructive publicity.

This way of being affected by the importance of the name relates to how we categorize artists and styles of performing according to movements, groups, and sometimes politics. We evaluate the artist and performance according to the category that the artist is put in, or that we decide to put them in as we see their work. Again, the definition becomes the name, instead of just looking at the context. This will limit us in our way of perceiving and also our way of creating.

A question is then whether the definition of art and ways of creating art will always limit us in our creative freedom and development. If we would only practise art and not define it commercially we might be able to dare to do more and break the rules to explore more.