Works in the 1st and 2nd semester
I don't want to the work to be about it, i want the work to be it!
I started the program with an interest in the liminal moment that happens during a rite of passage. This particular moment, where the domesticated laws that govern our reality seemingly collapse, allows the participant to undergo an experience of transformation. What appealed (and still appeals) to me in rituals and liminality is the sheer power that lies in this moment. I was not interested in approaching rituals form an anthropological, or a socio-cultural, or aesthetic perspective, rather using the framework of their operation as a backbone to construct new works. This was partially fuelled by a disillusion in most transcendental-art, that put the emphasis on adaptation of cultural tropes, or socio-political symbolism of spiritualism and religion, and end up re-contextualising it in artworks that did not bear any transformative effect, or potential for engagement.
The first year was mainly devoted to a series of continuous, and interwoven research projects in finding the liminal in corporal practices, such as athletics, dance. This provided a secular context in exploring this topic and emancipated from the idea of religiousness in its socio-political and cultural echo. The same way as theory is practice, the aim was to work outside the Western concept of the dichotomy between body and mind.
As a perspective, I choose to treat the Athletic, the Alchemical and the Artistic domain as identical. The Alchemical is in my context refers to a spiritual practice that manifests through experimentation (as opposed to Theological: a practice that manifests through study and discourse, or Fundamentalist, that manifest through literal repetition of the scripture).
Using a blueprint of training methodologies used in power-sports (Olympic weightlifting, Sprinting, Gymnastics), and a production-loop outlined by Matthew Barney in a note from 1992, I developed a production methodology analogous to biochemical process of Hypertrophy - the enlargement of muscle tissues.
The experience of trance-like exhaustion that happens in rigorous physical exercise is in nature very much akin to the state of liminality in a ritual: They both come into being once a physical/mental threshold has been crossed, they both give the sensation of 'falling' outside the usuals tempo of time and space, and they bear the potential of transforming the initiator upon returning.
An elaboration on and explanation of this principle and the production methodology can be found in the Critical Review of the 2nd semester.
This provided me with a theoretical corpus, which in an academic context would be referred to as esoteric, but if truth be told, I could actually use this to my advantage, unlike most theoretical works arising from the academia. Following that, I rejected the reading of academic material for my research altogether, and using production and research methods I was familiar with. In my Critical Review of the 1st semester, I expand on the process of shifting from an analytical and forensic type of research, to a research that operates through embodiment.
After some of the initial experiments, like hour-long shaking sessions, movement choreographies based on training intervals, automatic writing exercises in post-workout fatigue and in hypnagogic states (the moment just before falling asleep, or just before waking up), I was interested in adding a layer of language to the next work, extending it from a purely corporal experience, while still maintaining its approach to access the liminal through action - though maybe through a not so challenging one.
The result was Patience, a card game for storytelling, divination, imagination and confusion, developed for the Master research lab at the EYE, Amsterdam. In the game, elements of random outcomes, mental projection, headphone narration and synaesthesiac association were used.
The work and the feedback from it provided a good starting point for further explorations in the domains of games and situations, and as time went on, my interest shifted in embracing less props and inviting more people to join.
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