Thursday, March 22, 2007

When we do workshop - we do performance - interview with Angelika Fojtuch and BBB Johannes Deimling

Modelator: You have made the first edition of the PORT PERFORMANCE workshops in Gdańsk, where the second edition took place?

Angelika Fojtuch: The second edition took place in Estonia from the 5th to the 15th of January in two port cities: in Tallinn and Pärnu. We started in Tallinn, spend there five days and after we went to Pärnu .

M: You change cities of your worhops. Why the idea of traveling is so important for you?

A.F: Each place has another taste of culture and history and it is important for us to offer this varieties to our participants. The cultural and historical context pave the way for exchange and meetings with people from other countries. Also with our travelings we want to create an international net of Performance port cities.

BBB Johannes Deimling: The idea of traveling is also connected with the nature of performance art, which is art in motion. It is not like an image on the wall. It is alive in time, in space and it creates ephermal images and situations with the body. So we took this topics and created - a traveling workshop to underline that art is in motion.

photo: Vicky Papailiou
M: Why you choose port cities? How is it connected with the idea of PORT PERFORMANCE?

A.F: For me it is quit natural, because I come from Gdynia a typical polish port city. My Father was sailor, so I grow up with the border between sea and land. We as PORT PERFORMANCE saw similarities between the port city and the performance art. Both are “places” of exchange and the port became a metaphor for this.

M: The Workshop in Gdańsk was very intensive, you managed for the participants a lot of interesting activities like eating bread and fish on the beach in the early morning, meditating, cooking together, learn polish history etc. You made participants to explore their personal borders. We have read on your website, that one of participants said about the workshop in Estonia: “Everything that happened in Estonia in 10 days could have been enough to experience in one year”. What did you made with them this time (laugh)?

BBB: In Estonia it was more intensively than in Gdańsk. In gerneral we could make for sure much more easier workshops with more spare time, but for us it is important to have that intense work, because performance is also an intense moment. Intensive situations offers a lot of possibilities for to get known about yourself and your personal borders. This to discover and to realize is a good research for to devolope your personal peformative art. We create such a tension with living in contrasts, like a quite comfortable accommodation in Tallinn and in Pärnu a poor and pure living situation where the participants have to find ways to solve thier needs.

M: Can you tell us something more about this place where you lived?

BBB: It was the place of Non Grata, an international performance art group, that is quite known in the international performance art scene. This place has only a fire heating and no shower… We had only one room for everybody and our sleeping bags on the floor to sleep.

A.F: We took the low conditions of this place as a possibility to make investigations that prepares to performance. If I don’t have a shower - it is a great situation to find out HOW can I solve this problem. This is the first step to understand the wide field of improvisation, that is a ground of live art; extreme situations are very often present in art world and during the time of creating an art piece.

BBB: Imagine a situation like that - you have an idea for an art piece that you want to develope and you come to the place, and suddenly the place is not like you supposed, and then you have to change ideas to handle that situation.

A.F: You have to be very open and flexible. We could observe different ways of handling this pure and poor living situation, some found a shower in a sink in a kitchen, which also wasn’t a real kitchen. One of the participants wanted to make a shower outside of the building, so he collected pipes and all needed stuff, but finally the girls who needed a shower at most, decided that it is to cold to have a shower outside.

BBB: This moment was fantastic because that guy really understood our task! We told the students in Tallinn that in Pärnu everything would be more pure, but nobody expected that what they saw. When we entered the new place everybody was really surprised!

A.F: The contrast between a hostel with a great view on the harbour in Tallinn and the pure place in Pärnu was very big!

photo: Angelika Fojtuch
M: So… in two words - extreme experiences!

BBB: The days that we spended there, were like an adventure. We ate together on a ping pong table, which was improvised as our dining table. It was also our discussion table and our office. We didn’t have had another table. So in general we had to deal those things. All the time we had to improvise. That was at the first moment for sure something like a shock, but after a while it became to normality. For me is was nice living in dadaistic situations.

A.F: Sharing accommodation is one of our main ideas to put participants together, that creates by itself an inspiring field for research on Performance Art. In Gdańsk and in Estonia accommodation wasn’t just an accommodation. It was more than a task, living together is a social situation that creates an own society, own ways of rules and atmosphere. Another very important thing in the estonian workshop was, that it took place during the winter time, because the coldness is by itself another field that confrontates your ego with another border. Living together you could use also for to warm up eachother.

M: But you didn’t have had snow!

A.F: Oh yes, we were very surprised!

BBB: Our estonian friends felt really ashamed that there wasn’t any snow for us (laugh)! And after our leaving the big snow came, and there was minus 18 degrees! - all that what we have expected.

M: What is the meaning of coldness in your workshop? Just to experience something?

BBB: For sure, that what we are speaking about you can experience during a surviving camp. But we are not interested in to make a surviving camp! The idea of coldness and intensively experiences we connect also with the hard situation in the free art market. We give our participants intense situations that they have to solve. This shows the possibility for improvisation and than to find ways to survive in hard moments: in real life and in the process of making art.

photo: BBB Johannes Deimling
A.F: Coldness brings humans to their physical borders, and performance art is an art of exploring our personal borders. Performers have all the time to learn about thier personal borders, and coldness gives them one clear feelable knowledge about it. In our workshops we are interested in kind of “dangerous”, uncomfortable situations, because this is that what can kick you, push you and wake you up. Your condition or possibilities to handle difficult situations is depending on that what you bring with you. All participants of the workshop came with another expectations, experiences, problems, needs, and all these things cause various reactions in extreme situations.

BBB: For me performance art is like jumping into cold water. Even I have made a lot of performances in my life, every time it is that jump into cold water, where I can improve my personal borders everytime new. So for sure coldness is a metaphor.

M: In the second edition some people from the first edition took part. Do you see any differences between them and the new ones?

BBB: For everybody the workshop situations we’ve created was equal. Even for us it was a new way of making this workshop and even we knew this country before, the workshop gave us and the particpants new challanges. This was very good, because each workshop, even we do it in the same city should be connected with new ideas and experiences.

A.F: We offer during our workshop our point of view, our understanding of performance, which is based on privacy. A student who decide to come the second time for our workshop knows what he has choosen and what he can expect. In this situation we know that he accept our way of thinking and he likes it, and what is more important - he wants to follow this way. For those participants, who came the second time, the workshop in Tallinn was a next step. They were a little bit more sensitive for the meaning of places that we offered and what we wanted to do.

BBB: For some of our new students was that what we were doing not so clear. Some have had a lot of questions, similar like it was during our first edition. I mean e.g. when you go to Pärnu, and you don`t have a shower and you have to improvise this need – for sure you ask yourself: For what is this good? There were also some of the new students directly riding on the Port Performance wave with us, what was fantastic to see! For us it was a value to see that you can make steps in performance art. We saw people who were on our first trip in Gdansk, that they really learned something and that they could use what they have learned. Some took everything what they could get during this time. And this is also an important thing, because we offer a lot, and people who are attentive, who see our strategy – they can have 100%. For those who have questions connected mostly with themselves – they will stick to find answers while the others fill up thier pockets. Of course we work with questions, because without questions you don’t have progress.

A.F: Sometimes in questions are hidden expectations. If you expect something, you wait for it, and if it will not happen you are disappionted, and you are close for this what happens, and that what happens could be interesting for you, but you will not receive it, because you expect something else. When somebody decide to come for our workshops he should come with a lot of questions and open for different answers.

M: What topics did you prepare this time?

BBB: We focused on culture of Estonia, also on history of this country, and especially on two cities – Tallinn and Pärnu. In whole Estonia are as many people as in Warsaw living. Pärnu, which is for many of us a small village for Estonians it is a big city. And they have there even an airport! We wanted to show our students also an art society, energy and culture of Estonia, that is unique in europe. The second topic was for sure personality and privacy, the two legs on which we put the creation of performance art. And for to give an idea about this subjects, one day we went to the wood carver Endel Saarepuu. It was so amazing to see his personal world! It was very similar like when we went to Kuba Bielawski`s artplace KLOSZ.ART in Gdańsk. A touch of personality, persons totally involved in their subjects and with a passion of art! One of our best “lectures”.

photo: Angelika Fojtuch
M: What a wood carver can give for a performance artist?

BBB: At first we were also thinking about what can connect this two kinds of art forms. In most of all artist you can find something special, like a passion of art, craziness, continuing own ideas like a maniac and many others more. These things are important when you make an object, a picture, a sculpture and for sure a performance.

A.F: Important for us was also to make our students thinking about their own motivations, why they want to create art, and what can give them the power to do it.

M: Lets change a topic of our conversation. Why do you make a performance art?

BBB: In Performance art the creative act is the center of the meaning. After there is nothing left, that somebody can buy or own. An ephermal moment that I share.... and because of that undiscribeable good feeling after a made performance.

A.F: Performance is a live form of art where it is possible to communicate directly with people without words on different levels – even sometimes more understandable and precicely. And this is a great possibility.

M: Which performance artists are inspiring for you?

A.F: To look for inspiration on other artists works is not my way of creating my art and in a way I don’t like to look for this kind of inspiration. The motivation to do something needs a reason. For to have a reason you need to be involved. Involved you are the most in your private life. So if something inspire me it is: my life, or my family, or my feelings, and things that happened to and around me during my life. A better inspiration I don’t see.

M: Human beings can`t just say – o.k. “I`m closed for all world and I look just inside me.“ There must be something what provoke you to do something.

A.F: I am not closed when I don’t know the works of Marina Abramovic. I am closed when I colse my eyes for that what is around me, Marina Abramovic became important, because she took her life as a motor of her art. I am fascinated by my grandmother, my dog, my surounding… For sure there are artists who I like and I feel respect to them and thier works, but this is not that what I look for to get inspiration. I look for areas which “are not discovered yet” and my grandmother is not discovered yet.

BBB: The banality of the daily life is a ressort for ideas, a treasure for art. If you look on art history you can observe that artists use this field, because they know about what they are speaking. They speak about privacy, culture, politics, education, developement, economics, history, and so on... elements of life that they face with thier private experiences.

Dionis Damman, The last one, performance on Cuma, photo: Angelika Fojtuch
M: Why do you make performance workshop, and how this idea came to your mind?

BBB: The idea of PORT PERFORMANCE appeared here in Gdynia, in Café Monika. We were sitting there together in may 2006 and we were thinking what we can do?

M: After 3 months you made the first edition of PORT PERFORMANCE…

BBB: Yes, we did! Performance art is such a huge field that there are plenty of possiblities that you can offer to interested people. For example: how to “act” or react with your body. To discover what is your body and how you can use your body as a tool in communication, how to read body language, how to use your body language, how you can communicate with people using gestures or actions, how you can say something personal with the tools of your body and it becomes a unique readable sign. Suddenly you will see that you can share topics of your life with other peoples, you can communicate on another level. The art level is very nice level for communication, almost a free space for expressions. Also we see there is a need and a wish in our virtual society to discover the body as something real. We are interested in giving the possibilities of performance art, even the students don’t want to be a performance artist. The processes of performance art you can use for a lot of other fields in art and in daily life, like for example in a job interview. In Germany there has already started a discussion about how to use the strategies of performative art for teachings in schools and for studies in general. The focus is not the theatralic aspect of presentation, the focus is on the privat statement. Teaching and doing performance is very close together: When we do workshop - we do performance.

M: So what can workshops give to you as artists?

A.F: It is named workshop, it is named teaching but for me a much more better word to characterize what we are doing is the word and term – forum. It is more like meeting people who are interested in the same subject and who give each other inspiration. For me as an artist it is important that I can also exchange my experiences with the participants. So during our workshops we don`t teach in a traditional meaning of this word we create together an open field where performative art can take place.

M: We are interested in the party which closed the workshop in Estonia, and took place in a sauna!

BBB: As you know we didn`t have a shower in Pärnu, so during the workshop we were going to sauna, but not only for having a sauna...

photo: Vicky Papailiou
A.F: ... Sauna is specific for estonian culture and we took this opportunity for to discover the cultural meaning and also to discover hygienic aspects of the body.

BBB: After our intensive time we wanted for sure to do something special at the end. And everybody liked sauna so we decided to make there our final party! The “Sauna-task” is a good example to show how PORT PERFORMANCE use the circumstances or the context. In northern countries everybody knows that sauna is not only a washing place. Erik and Neeme, two real estonian sauna professionals spoke about the sauna as an important cultural place. For example, when you have big business to do – you go together to sauna, you come closer, you feel the sweat of eachother, you share that small room, you are naked, a way to show that you turst your buisness partner.

M: Do you think that from this people who took part in your workshop there are any prepared to start their individual creation of performance?

A.F: In our two final performance art events, that we call CUMA (Hawser) we could observe a lot of interesting and strong performative actions. For sure they are in the beginning to develope a handwriting. But like a hawser in CUMA we could observe that the students was absolutly able to fix thier own ideas on the challange of an open public art event.

BBB: To help the people during the workshoptime to develope an own performance art piece is our aim and we can say and we see that there is a huges potential.

conversed: Roma Piotrowska and Maks Bochenek


Workshop documentation Gdansk

Workshop documentation Tallinn & Pärnu

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Fotorelation from the opening of the exhibition "On Tectonics of History"

"On Tectonics of History" in Wyspa Instytute of Art

How and where can the influence of history be made tangible? On which intentions and politics of the image are the different ways of dealing with the past based?
The exhibition „Zur Tektonik der Geschichte [On Tectonics of History], curated by Andrea Domesle and Martin Krenn, is trying to expose the historical traces of the nineteen-thirties and nineteen-forties that can be still seen in the present and to reflect on how we deal with Nazi times. The exhibits show to which extent photography and film – oscillating between construction and representation – are able to contribute to finding the truth in history and to formulate images of history that are not yet consistent with our society. The exhibition focuses on contemporary works of art in the fields of photography, film and video. According to Aleida and Jan Assmann, documentary photography and film act as image storage for our cultural memory.

Joachim Seinfeld, When Germans are Merry
Especially since the nineteen-thirties, the technological achievements have permitted to make use of these two media and allowed for the steady increase of their distribution. The image of history in the minds of those who were born too late is based on those source images that convey illusory authenticity. Pictures of historical places, people and events have been reproduced unscrutinized in schoolbooks, television documentaries, historical museums or magazines. Not infrequently even propaganda and perpetrator photos of the Nazis have been drawn on as “image evidence” without ever putting up for discussion their history of origins. Contrary to this, the approaches of artists, for the most part, aim at trying to learn to understand the original documents as tools enabling us to construct history. In doing so they work, on the one hand, with historical facticity and, on the other, with photography, video or film and the images of history communicated by these media respectively. This approach can either be based on historical documents or on original locations that you visit and where the view communicated by the media comes under scrutiny. Control mechanisms and points of view of the original documents are made visible. Confronting them with a different meaning within the frame of the same medium, the artists extend and adjust the cultural memory. This exhibition attempts to point out by means of which different methods and stylistic approaches this can be done.
The Exhibition in  Wyspa Institute of Art, Gdansk is co-curated by Aneta Szylak.

Grzegorz Klaman Memory Monument 1999, installation, model, video


Klub Zwei (Simone Bader & Jo Schmeiser) Grzegorz Klaman Zdena Kolečková Anna
Konik Anna Kowalska Martin Krenn Susanne Kriemann Hans-Werner Kroesinger
Robert Kuśmirowski Pia Lanzinger Lisl Ponger Joachim Seinfeld Tim
Sharp Michaela Thelenová Maciej Toporowicz Arye Wachsmuth Peter Weibel Piotr
Uklański Artur Żmijewski

exhibition works-  18.03.2007 - 29.04.2007
tuesday, thursday, saturday and sunday 14.00-18.00