opening up the space for unlimited possiblities...

Dear all:

I was trying to comunicate you thelepatically. ¿Did it work?
Mediterranean dance. ¿Do it has to do with the circle and claping?
Look a this video of three Asiatics in a 12-day Mediterranean Cruises and choreographing a dance. It has to do with an improvisation that Florent proposed us...

I brougth this text...about colaboration.

I hope you are doing very well.

I will be more serious next time.


The lecture of Bojana Kunst unedited

Collaboration, possibility and inhabitancy

“What we do not choose is what we can most easily share, or what we can’t avoid sharing” (Brian Holmes, Collective creativity, 87)

I. Common

Russian group of artists and theoreticians, named after the famous Lenin book What is to be done / Chto delat, participated in the latest exhibition in Kassel, Fridericianum, dedicated to Collective creativity with a work entitled with the same enigmatic name oriented towards the future of activity: What is to be done. In the dark room there were two screens, one beside each other, on one there was a straight succession of slides, still shots of the members of the group What is to be done, on another there were subtitles of their discussion, talking about ways of working together, ideologies of the collectivity and collaboration, oscillating between irony and dedication, individual approaches and more objective statements, it was a talk of friends and collaborators at the same time. This was the group of young people, standing with some drinks and cigarettes in some anonymous urban place in the middle of the cold night, there was a kind of the weed ridden wall to stand on or seat down, the background was dark and enlightened only with the lights necessary for the video. The group of people could not be more contingent in their nightly arrangement, almost incoherent, nothing kept them together as the anonymous place of the night and non-obligatory discussion, there was something light, almost easygoing in the dark and cold air. But then at the end of the discussion the last slide of the group standing together turned to be combined with another image on the second screen, where we can suddenly see the well-known painting of Victor Popkov, The builders of Bratsk from the sixthies. The image done in the style of socialist realism was showing the group of workers, their bodies and poses collectively dedicated to the task. The spatial arrangement of the chto delat people and the workers which heroically build the Syberian city of Bratsk was entirely the same but at the same time two images could not be more apart.

What is interesting in this project is exactly this connection between two displays of being together, the connection which is disclosing us the ways of being together, of presenting the common of the group. In the first image the common seems more as an contingent supplement of the photographic frame, the supplement of the common moment, of being together in the present. In the second image the common is the only thing which is depicted, the people are there together because of their common future, the common here is not the appendix but the core of depiction. The gap among the same displays has therefore surely something to do with the ways of depicting the common of the group, which is not only the disposition of the people in the space as on the documentary photography, but it is also a disposition of the time, an allegory of the common and community. Young artists and theoreticians are not together, because their togetherness would be subjugated to progress, teleology, finality, to the future common goal. The common here is more an appendix of the framed moment, the community framed in the still shot is more like a community as would be described by Jean Luc Nancy: “community on the contrary is ordinary being together, without any assumption of common identity, without any strong intensity, but exposed to banality, to the ‘common’ of existence.” It is therefore not the common dominated by finality, which can take different forms (total man, society without classes, liberated body, liberated subjectivity etc) (like form the images of the theatre of the sixthies). It is not the common tightly intertwined with the active transformation of the history in the 20th century, but the common reduced to the ordinary being together, deprived of all the historical tasks. If we are following Jean Luc Nancy, this would then be the common of “always already”, this what we already share in relation to our banal and daily life (like the question of our own finitude, by example), the “sacred profane” under our feats which arrange us together incoherently on the picture. This is then the common where there is no exchange, no universality, no economy, no coherence, because it is at the same time common which is unshearable, it could be then more the common of the common awakening of what already holds us together, what is already giving us the possibility to be together, but the possibility which always has to be revelaled anew, possibility of the common has to be always regained, required again, because it is “always already” there.

The reduction of the common to its everyday banality and to almost egalitarian equality of all the experiences , can be one of the reasons why the people from the group What is to be done seem to be entangled in a much lighter way into the discussion, they even seem to be together there only incoherently, contingently, they are present in the contingent surrounding of the anonymous night and autumn cold. The workers on Popkov’s image are on the opposite side not really contingently together, they are determined by finality which is in their particular case finalisation of the magnificent future socialist city of Bresk. That this finalisation can be completed with sucess the rest of their body is also needed – and they are on the picture together depicted in the common of work, even if they are actually taking the break - they can be resting only as representatives of the mass of workers still working behind them, hidden in dubious darkness from behind. Even in the moment of rest, pause, break, when being on ease with the body and mind, smoking, they cannot be reduced to contingency, incoherence, they are always in a pose, where connection between them is clearly visibile. (*the rest and neoliberalism) Both images are similar excatly in this moment of suspens, which opens up also similarities in their spatial arrangement: the empty moment of posing and doing nothing. But there is also a huge difference at work here, which can be best described with the subtitle from the last frame of "What is to be done" video: “There are thousands of workers behind the builders of Bratsk, but who is behind us?” Behind the first video there is void space, anonymus darkness, empty night in which young people seems to be drinking and talking, behind the second image we know that there is something going on all the time. First group is framed together in a void, second one in a space which is so occupied than you just cannot be apart. In the first group the common is a contingent appearance of proximity of the people talking, it is true, that they are talking about their work, but the work here is not what is common to them, the common here is the void of night, an anonymus place and time, when and where they can smoke, drink and talk and taking the positions in the void. In the second image the community is arriving from the domain of work, it is produced all the time, even in the moment of rest, of suspens of the work. That's why we have here two spatial arrangements – first one in the void, another one in the place which is already full, which is already named: the place where the common being and spatial arrangement is already pressuposed. Or as Jean Luc Nancy said: "That is why community cannot arise from domain of the work. One does not produce it, one experiences or one is constituted by it, as the experience of finitude. Community understood as a work or through its works would presupose that a common being, as such, be objectifiable and producible (in sites, persons, buildings, discourses, institutions, symbols: in short in subjects)." The common being in Popkov's case is the modern city of Bresk, which is already defining the common before being build (it is defining the places, institutions and subjectivities). Or to take more present example: the common being as a flow of global collaboration, this common of the symbolic capital, flow of money, people, signs, traveling, producing, negotiating: this the most popular global common of work which is with its simulated images deeply defining our understanding of relationality, multipliticity and the other – as the flowing sign of the global common layers of communication. That's why Nancy (among other reasons which are also interesting – especially the understanding of the community and loss, which can be also very nicely linked to traveling, but we can touch this in our discusionns in later days) is saying that what we need is an inoperative community: "community necesarrily take the place in what Blanchot has called unworking, reffering to that which, before or beyond the work withdraws from the work, and which, no longer having to do either with production or with complection, enocunters interruption, fragmentation, suspension. Or a little bit later in his text Inoperative Community: Community is given to us – or we are given and abandoned to the community: a gift to be renewed and communicated, it is not a work to be done or produced. But it is a task which is different: an infinite task at the heart of finitude." This exsistential revealing of the common is opening up the singular towards the finitude and death, towards the immanent presence of our being, which is singular yet at the same time given to community to enable the signularity itself.

I would agree with this description which opens community to the void, to the procesuallity of being together and to the impossibiltiy of the presuposed common being, but at the same time there are many questions still open, which I would like to briefly touch in this talk. Let's say these are pragmatical questions, posed from the side of activity, if I'm not linked to you throguh the common of the work, what is then the connection? How are we disclovering and communicating togehter the gift of the common? Or differently – how to talk about activity then, when we are together in a void and nobody is standing behind us, but nevertheless we know more then ever that the question about what is to be done, even if it is a much contaminated reference, is still a very important question to be asked? What is then our activity and how can we describe our collaboration, our suspens, the moment of interruption? This is a particulary vivid question for performing arts not only because we wish that the critical production of the collaboration would be in its core, but also because performing arts are through the history full of contaminated references of the common (contaminated reference in the sense that the reference can be used but at the same time it is always ambivalent, it should be always approached criticaly and with the awarennes of our own ways of using it): theatre was always thorough the history linked with a certain representation of the common, being intitutionalized in its burgeois audience or later in the more open version of participation and equality among stage and audience. This production of the common which is always in the core of theatrical representation is the reason for many myths about theatre as the space of a certain mythical experience and communication, confirmation of equality (which always happened inside a certain class – borgueois by example), as the space of equal participation and possibility of everybody can do it (in the theatrical experiments of the sixthies by example). Today, when performance is tightly linked with the contemporary processes of globalisation which can be also understood as the complex multilayered and multiple flow of constant collaboration, negotiation and communication, of the sybolic capital we can say, where the difference between simulation and real is not important anymore, one of the main references of the common is interculturality: this possibility of performing arts to open op to the other, to translation and transformation. Performance on the global cultural market is tightly linked with the production of the common contemporaneity and deeply interwined into the thinking of the processes of translation. We are all traveling, collaborating, participating, we are togehter producting constant flows of collaborations and many encounters which are becoming our own symbolic capital. This certainly open up the performing arts field for the visibility of the other, it opens up many different possibilities to work together and to talk about work and the question as in our example video "what is to be done". But at the same time we have to ask ourselves how this flow of collaboration is not already pressuposing multicultural understanding, translation and participation as some pressuposed common being, something which is defining our ways of being together in advance and not allowing the encounter to fail, to suspense itself, to fragmentarise, to disolve, to transform, to evaporate. Or differently: we cannot encounter ourselves in the void, because the world is already settled under our feets, the roads are already open, the maps are written, the buildings are already named. In the time of fetishized collaboration we have many difficulties to be given or abandoned to the communicty in the Nancy's sense - since we hardly can collaborate and alternatively spatialize our own collaboration, we can hardly locate the space of encounter in the world which is bursting with network of different encounters. The paradox is that these encounters are more and more mapped and framed, the roads seems to be open but at the same time the channels to cross them are more and more specified and controlled, you have to belong to the certain community of work to cross them (being a dancer, philosopher or dentist – as my gentle brazilian dentist from yesterday who would like to go to spain for more money). Therefore i think we cannot talk about collaboration not thinking also about the space – and this maybe seems as a little paradox, because I said that collaboration is happening in a void.

Let's help ourselves with the video What is to be done again and then go to same other examples how to link the collaboration and space, or active spatialization which is much better notion for my use. In the video What is to be done young people are framed in the series of still shots, and what is interesting here is that they are always in a different spatial positions here, their bodies are always posed in a different order (probably defined by the contingency of their talking together). We are all the time seeing only the series of still frames, with the subtitles of the talk among the people in the shots. The frames are following one after another, and on each frame the positions of the people talking are changed. This constant repositioning of the group which takes place in the anonymus night (in the dark void), these bodies changing in relaxed and at the same time engaged positions, this talking of the people to take positions (in both senses of the word: to take position in a talk and to take position in the space – which is also tightly linked with the understanding of performative – to talk and act) can be a good comparaison how can we link the collaboration and the question of the space, through which we could unweal how are we opened and abandoned to the common. The people are together, they encounter each other because at the same time they are disclosing the ways how the space is construced, they are opening up the space through the positioning of their subjcetivites, they are in a void night, but at the same time this space is constructed through their ways of talking together, defined with their desires, activites and their positioning in the space. This void becomes a political space par excellence, nevermind if this is only an anyonimous space of the night, because it is the space of constant positioning, changing through negotiation, disagreement and disput, inhabiting through encountering, a true public space, indeed. (in opposition with the Popokov's picture where politics is already pressuposed and the place is only its mimesis, representation) I don't know if you are familiar with the writing of Henri Lefebvre about the space (The Production of the Space), but it can be very helpful, especially if your work will be, as I understood, connected to a site-specificity. Lefebvre writes about the active spatialization, which is replacing a static notion of the understanding of the space. The meaning of the named space is never its designated activity or phsical properties but their interaction with far less obvious subjectivites and with the actions and signyfying practices that elicit (mask) these. (Rogoff, 23) So space cannot be understood thorugh named activity for which is intended (a tennis court in which a game of tennis is played, an important place which importancy is nowadays most commonly named through the framed wiev of the tourist) or through the titles thats its buildings or other solid entities might uphold. The space is all the time produced thorguh the active processes of spatialization which are connection between designated activites, physical properties and structures of subjectivites with their social relations, anxieties, desires etc. How the structure of subjectivity is spatial can be shown with an example from the history of the places for negotiation, collaboration and communication. Famous example from Levebre is "antechambre", antechamber, the space of negotiation between king and royal petitioners. This constant space of negotiation, where petitioners become more empowered because they were meeting the king in person, and the absolute monarh has to diminshed in power, as his space has been infiltrated with commoners is not only showing us how the space is socially defined, but also something else. This space of negotiation has to be strictily physically codified, it almost never changed and it is the most monumental of spaces today – like parliaments, corporation builidngs, institutions (theaters are slowly disappearing from this map): it has to be architectonically full of signs that the flow of subjectivites can collaborate, otherways the space is always endangered with politics, with the constant flew of opinions, disputs, masked and non-visible subjectivites etc. Why is this so important when talking about the collaboration? Because when we understand collaboration as a kind of spatial activity too then collaboration became a matter of positioning, of taking the place thorguh encounter. In this collaboration we are not taking the place for the other (which is strictily allowed and codified in the institutional places of collaboration) but with the other in a void, we demand the space, we inhabit it, we are all the time in the proces – as would Irit Rogoff said – multi-inhabitation of spaces throguh bodies, social relations and pshycic dynamics. Only then the night of "What is to be done" group can become a political night, because it is a night fully inhabited but at the same time open to the void, opening up multiple possiblities for acting and encountering each other, but at the same time still standing in a dark, the space is full of meaning but not transparent and enligtened. (This of course is in a strict contraditiction with the nation states by example, which are instisting on a singular spatial multi-inhabitation under one dominant rule with the (and it is no wonder that then the pragmatic result of a spatial multi-inhabitation within a context of a nation state is an armed conflict). The darkness which accompaying the collaboration is of outmost importance here: the common is namely never visible because the space is also not illuminated, but it is only appearing as a contingent appendix of the positioned relation. Lefebre warns us excatly on this illusion of transparency – where space appears as luminous, intelligible, as giving action free rein, it is a view of space as innocent and free of traps. The institutional space for negotiation is a prime expample of the illusion of transparency – the most immanent and present powerfull examples today are of course corporation builidings, which are with their glass and fragility pure examples of transparent freedom of corporate activity, action, collaboration and communication, innocent and abstract, designed as possibility for freedom.

When we are then thinking about the relation between collaboration and active spatialization, we are thinking about different ways of inhabiting the spaces – which are not illuminating the space, but inhabitinng and spatializing it up in the darkness, in the ambivalency, in its multiplicity, so that the multiplicity of its subjectivies can also be visible and put into action. The collaboration is here understood as an active spatialization because it opens up the space for the unlimited positibiltes, for the alternative positions which are parralel, multilayerd and simultaneous, too. In such collaboration we are not encountering each other as an invidual subjectivites, where one is a one and another is the other, and one can be for the another, and the another can be for the other – in this encounter there is still to much to cross, to pass, to get over: intercutlurality we can say still implys to much of culture to be crossed, as interdisciplinarity still implies to many disciplines to be crossed. We are living in the world where we are crossing each other all the time, but what is this contingent urgency which nevertheless holds us together? If it is not the finality, history, religion, the end of man, if it is not a loss (loss of community, history, country), if it is not the belonging since the belonging to full of ambivalences, if it is not the common of the work, what is it then that holds us together? Irit Rogoff is in one interwiev talking about this problem when thinking about what holds the young people together revolting the negative processes of globalisation, figthing against the appropriation of movement, possibility, of language from the capital? There is one image from Oliver Ressler, an austrian artistis and activits, which I unfortunately do not have with me, but which is disclosing us some contingent links which are holding this people together. He made a series of photographies of the different cities after the "wrongly called" antiglobalised protests – there were only streets on the photos, windows of the well-known global shops all protected with the simple wooden desks, which became the best plato for the unending line of grafitti against the corporative greed and neoliberal economy. What holds them together is this contingent urgency, this incoherent image of a different space, an alternative and parallel narative, an alternative territory with a alternative flow of signs, we can say, another visualised geography, spatialized action. This is not anymore about crossing and get to know, but about opening the possibilities together, constructing the fragmented and incoherent language, a different mapping of the city and its commercial quartiers, if you would like to talk with the language of the mapping, ephemeral urgency of something which we cannot share, but neverhteless we are there together. What holds us together is positionality, but positionality cannot be without the space, so there is always positionality connected with another reading of the space, with another mapping of the territory where we can rearange the void and not participate only in the already given illuminated space for acting and negotiating.

Maybe it would be good to talk about some concrete examples now, but you will see all this examples are staying open, this is only a try to tell a different narativity, it is not a judgement. It is more articulation as a participation, as a beliveing of their criticality and possibility to open up different territories. I would say today artistic actitivity is somehow becoming the field of the articulation of possibility, but it would stay like that only of this possibility would be a complicit possibility, would be resposnible for the possible which is open throgh it – would always be implemented and deeply interwiend when being critical, demanding a space and territory for its articulation and opening different possibilites of spatiality. This is not possibility appropriated by the capital and media in the sense that our subjectivity is always feeded with the fullfilment of our desire as well as with redemption (that we will get in the future what we were lost in the past), but a complicit possibility in a sense that univisible subjectivites are becoming visible, spaces are opening up to the dynamic, maps are written differently and with different language, bodies are disclosed as a complex articulation of relations and positionality, materials are reused and re-read. In this way we are not only doing the work of parralel translation and meeting the other, where translation is always needed, but a work of transformation which has its consequences, never mind if there are minor (if as in the work of the group What is to be done nobody stands behind them, neverheless it is important to ask this questions). This is a way of inhabiting the space with collaboration – to open up the risk to be implemented and complicit, not only to negotiate and change the social positions as in the king's antechamber, but also to inhabit and risk with the position, the ways how we are developing knowledge and also to risk with the encounter – we never know, maybe we would be abandoned. Brian Holmes said in one text about collaboration and community that “What we do not choose is what we can most easily share, or what we can’t avoid sharing” (Brian Holmes, Collective creativity, 87).

I will just briefly mentioned several complicit projects, which are dealing with inhabitation and possibility and are spatialy active but not in the proposed space, but in a space with a void. One is a last project from the slovenian visual art collective Irwin, which is a group of five visual artists working together already from the eighties, well-known and important group in the contemporary art. Their last project East ART Map is subtitled: history is not given, please help us to construct it. The project is basically several years long research of the eastern europian modernism which is hardly existing on the visible map of western modernism, only represented thorguh a certain frames of expositions etc... They are collaborating with artists, curators, theoreticians to research the connections, realtions, ways of collaboration, contingencies, devotions, admirations, references of the territory of artists, which were inivisible, known only fragmentary, only as invidiuals (mostly heroic individuals), never represented as a spatial territory, as a scene (as we like to say). After two years of research a complex map began to emerge revealing rich and unvisible history of collaboration, done practicaly in the void. The most interesting part is not only the research, but also a visualisation of the map, different mapping which is with its visual imaginary fully complicit, it is taking the autoritative and risky role to talk about the history, to put it together, to collectively construct it, to make mistakes also, to fail, it is fully complicit in what it is doing, since it is developing another language, another visual imagery of this non-visible territory. It is filling up the void, we can say, but with a strict and risky inhabiting – it is not mapping territories, contracts, negotiations, but subjectivites, artistic flows, but it is at the same time risky and complicit when constructing another transparency. But this is also un-mapping, re-mapping the way how knowledge about western art was organised – therefore the risk is welcomed and needed, the inhabitation is all the time implemented in the space which is becoming visible thorugh inhabiting.
When thinking about this project I would like also other maps to emerge, other visualisations which are visualisations of different encounters (produced or not, it doesn't matter if there is this awarennes of complicity), like the complex and very fragile maping of contemporary dance in slovenia and contemporary dance in portugal, two histories of the ninethies which were practical having no production contacts, but many important encounters (non visible then on the map), many very important encounters for the people working on the field of dance. There is some similarity in analsysis of the situation, some dramaturgical sinhronicity which is connected with corissing the borders and coming to the western dance markets, some connection in the ways how these two scenes were emerging and spatializing themselves. This I'm opening here only as a possibility to think – because it is still to much in the air to make some conclusions.
When encountering, i think we are always encountering also spatialy even if we come together in a void. It doesn't so much matter who opens up the possibility for us, if we are aware that excatly this opening up the possibility presents the way of how the flows of money, capital and people is going on today, and it doesn't matter if this is happening in the art or in the economy, this is the gear which is pushig the world today. But at the same time, this possibility when it is not complicit, when it is not connected to the inhabitation, remains abstract as a corporative manual about collaboration. "It is namely the question that we asked that produced the field of enquiery, and not some body of material which determines what questions need to be posed to it." (Gayatri Spivak)

We are together not because we are encountering each other as individual subjectivites but because with our opening up the possibilities to each other we are also opening certain flow of incoherence, alternatives for oursleves, we are together in a kind of ephemeral urgency, contingent urgency.

because it is opening up the space for unlimited possiblities, and this unlimitation i mean here for real

Od tu moram razložit preselitev, kaj je tu tranzicijskega in tranzicijskega:

*** kako se oblikuje teritorij: to ni samo fizični pojem – mentalne geografije, mentalni prostori, kako subjekti vizualizirajo, konceptualizirajo njihovo identiteto .. »kulturna teritorialnost« (irit rogoff): derrida meje nakazujejo meje možnosti: z mejami se omeji možnost!! Z interdisciplinarnostjo je še vedno močna meja disciplinarnosti, ki jo prehajamo! Zakaj institucionalne prakse vedno postavljajo meje moznosti? (vprašanje od irit rogoff): kaj je tako nevarnega v imeti neomejene možnosti, da vedno zahteva konstantno urejanje ki je vrsta teritorialnosti?
Pozicionalnot – ni samo lokacija ampak je tudi attiutude – odnos do stvari. Zakaj je to zdaj pomembno, ne kontekst, ne zamejitev, pač pa vedno artikuliranje nujnosti, neposrednosti...kaj naj drži skupaj je kontingentnost, efemeralnost nujnosti, kotingentna nujnost. Kakšne so alternativne prakse za nas same?
Kar je pomembno so principi inkorehence, po katerih lahko deluje skupnost, ne pa samo individualne subjektivnosti…

What we do not choose is what we can most easily share, or what we can’t avoid sharing” (Brian Holmes, Collective creativity, 87)

Posted by bojana cvejic at August 18, 2005 02:53 PM