3000 years ago, the Greek philosopher Hercalitus exposed to the world what we’ve been practising the past ten weeks. It was a doctrine on human existence and therefore an exploration of art. “A man can never step into the same river twice” meaning the changeability of the human and the constant motion of the streams, will always deconstruct its history and recreate its present. Like the repetitive touch of the same object will dissolve and rebuild from every meet. When we delve into the process of creating a sculpture, we realise the pulse of its own existence – its subtleness and oscillating nature. How everything is in flux and nothing is stationary. It is in the harmony between building up and tearing down where the moments of clarity occur. When we dismantle our intentions to extend our intuition. When we realise that exhibiting is not about exposing an integrated wholeness, but to let the surrounding world into a continuing succession of changes.
We’re looking into the eyes of our final exhibition. Asking ourselves if that is what we are looking at, rather than an undefined situation. A liquid experience. For five days, we’ve had the complete freedom to construct our individual realities and let creation grow from there. We divided into all directions. In front of the piano: to feel the cohesion between a light heart and a weighted key. In the corner of the studio: to see how a vivid mind can destruct the backrest of a wall. With clay in our hands: to figurate the incomprehensible. With sound as a platform for distortion: to create a merge between an asymmetric mind and a metronome. How was this myriad of pulses going to rise from its individuality and meet in a collective dialog? We asked each other and ourselves as we sat down on the studio floor. It wasn’t an overall theme of sensitive anti-art. Nor was it a common research upon the relation between human and nature. It wasn’t an immediate clarity that hit us simultaneously, fortunately. We met each other in doubt, not in uncertainty. We felt how each presentation spoke to the depth of us, we met the dialectic force of art – in a belief that our processes would extend into an experience, build on everything we’ve dived into the past months.
In two days, this week’s exploration, frustration and excitement will be packed into two trailers. We’ll shut down the lights, clean our pallets, sweep up the ashes and thank our workstations for their loyalty. And as we cross the mountains and hopefully reunite with the sunlight, we’ll look at each other and take a collective step into another river.
In Week 9 we tried to collapse the given structures and narratives we live by and also the ones surrounding us.
These included our perception of reality and our role in society, reality itself and society itself, beliefs, identities, illusions etc.
The week itself was structured by a narrative, one could try to describe it as a narrative in entropy.
First by recognizing and identifying the greater structures, studying their history and liquid quality to change throughout history and cultures, going deeper, and looking at its inevitable collapse.
What might be the alternatives? Do we then pick up the pieces and build from what we have or do we try to create something completely new and from what? How do we cope with this notion of collapse? What comfort do the narratives provide, there must be an explanation and a function, it’s not all illusion or maybe it is, but then isn’t that real?
Each day the students mediated and processed these topics through their own perceptions and mediums. This was in order to approach them and break them down and create a two-dimensional representation all compiled on the Friday to a printed and bound book.
A VOID A VOID Introduction
As winter slowly descends and the darkness begins to move in on us, our bodies react to the disappearance of the sun by urging us to conserve our energy. How we respond to the steady turn towards darker days matters: do we resist or can we embrace the fact that it will take months before the sun rises high enough on the horizon that we can feel its rays on our skin? Can we fight the darkness in a
way that our spirit remains a peace with the season we are in? Sometimes we see clearer in darkness because of the contrast it brings out. The winter months bring us the beauty of northern lights and the deep mysteries of regeneration that lies in decay and death.
The fight is a quest to be able to take a position that allows us to explore the mystery of darkness without breaking the light of our spirit.This is the kind of position that we have been exploring in the course of the last week. During five days of immersing ourselves in the stories we live by we have been asking ourselves how to tell which plots matter and which we can safely ignore.
Where do we direct our energies amid stories of calamity and collapse? How do we take a position where we don’t allow the old stories to tie us down and where we begin spinning threads which can lead us to new ways of seeing our lives? Is there an attitude which helps us to hold our attention in situations where we a lured into giving it away to the next news flash, advertisement, Facebook post or Very Urgent Thing? Is there a way of working with the imagination which gives us clues to what kind of reality we want to create? These are the kind of the questions that inform the work that is this book. During each day we took a little step further into the unknown. We started with examining the stories that make our reality and moved into what happens when these
stories turn out to be only half truths. We moved into a space between stories and looked at the ways in which our speech and thought can create double-binds that keep us trapped in other people’s’ stories. We found a reality-seeking attitude
that could helps us to constellate an alternate reality which we can slowly begin manifesting. We looked at our lives as an ongoing voyage where we can become seasoned journeyers that know how to create wholeness out of the fragments of
the modern age. Each chapter in this book represents a step on our collective journey in learning
how to navigate uncertainty. And each story, collage, drawing, reflection and image tells an individual story about what happens once you leave the certainty and comfort of the Official Version. Each day we worked through the theme of the chapter and discussed the questions it brought up. The afternoons were set aside for the students to explore these topics in their own creative work. They were completely free to find their own way of expressing themselves, and it has been delightful to see the accomplishment and quality of their inquiries. Working with such a group of engaged and talented artists has been a huge
pleasure and privilege. They have taken on the ideas they were presented with in a spirit of curiosity and sincerity and worked hard to create the content of these pages. This book stands out as an object which tells a story of the different places in
the imagination we explored together during the week. And it points to the possibilities of creating new meaning out of stories that seem torn, jagged and obsolete. We hope that the work that went into the making of this book has caused moments of both insight and perplexity which inspire new perspectives and strength to fight the darkness.
Jeppe Graugaard & Jonatan Spejlborg
Seyðisfjörður, November 2015
The World as we know it is framed by laws of nature and physics – a world which we navigate through with our senses and reactionary sensations. The way we experience it is in a constant flux, each day a new world – be it by the smell of rain in the morning or the sun shining through your window, a sound you’ve never heard before or a bird sitting silent and still on a branch, a bad nights sleep on a bumpy bus or a missed phone call, the unknown future ahead or the past making itself present.
Each spark of a sensation lights a path to explore the corners of the sphere that is the world.
By depraving or emphasising the different senses we can change our perception and focus on the micro experiences that are all around us.
By understanding the different permits of our world we can also remodel it, re-frame it, remix it and create a completely new one – a world that shines new light on the other worlds and our own.
Through out the past week as a starting point we investigated our immediate surroundings, our own bodies, the bodies of others, the space we found our selves in and the town we live in.
By depraving for example the ability to see we had to activate our other senses to remap the perceived image. Once reactivated we end up with a more complex map, a new perception.
We then started remodelling these premises to create a completely new experience for each other. By curating the sensorial conditions – cross-breeding, depraving, emphasizing and re-framing them we may evoke new sensations and experiences, new worlds will occur.
These conditions where by the end of the week presented to the public in a evocative bonanza of temporary experiences but hopefully new perspectives that will last for a long time.
The World as we know it is also a Multi-verse, not in the quantum theoretical sense, it might be that too, but by the myriads of experiences and perspectives each individual and group posses based on cultural heritage, religious belief, gender role, age, experience, ethnicity, sexuality, class etc. These social and cultural meta-narratives will be further explored in Week 9s workshop together with Jeppe Graugaard.
This week we moved away to get closer. We left the physical centre of our hearts, the fjord, and left town to dive into isolation. Monday morning we walked along the waters edge, where the horizon seemed to expand with every step we took – on a ground that slowly changed from a white skin to green vividness. The journey ended in Skalanes, and we began a week of complete indulgence.
Together with Goddur we placed ourselves in a second perspective and observed from above: with our only attention to experience a complete devotion. To silence. To each other. To the warmth of the sweat lodge, into which we vanished. To the sphere between the inner and outer nature. This week was an exhalation that formed into a mist which we observed, deconstructed and re-colored.
It was about creating what Gaddamer describes as “the double key,” a mutual understanding that occurs in the dialectic meeting of our relations to each other, nature, literature and art. When we open the door to our individual depth, another door opens to a universality of the human existence– a matter that is only formable in our indulgence to patience, curiosity and understanding. It is what Herder described as “The fusion of horizons,” an encounter between our introverted and extroverted perceptions of nature — that the rivers that branch on the mountains are similar to the veins around our spine. That when we meet each other in a shared language, we are capable of creating a new – and that when we meet each other in a myriad of different languages, we can create a common.
It became clear when we gathered around the heat in the sweat lodge– a constantly increasing heat which manifested itself and became a foundation from which our spirituality grew. It was an acknowledgement of nature being an omnipresent force raised above us. To find release, we needed to dismantle the barriers and welcome the heat. We had to inhale the nature in which we were born ourselves. As we laid in the grass beneath the stars, we let the cold mist merge with the warmth of our skin — to the sound of our pulsing hearts and deep breaths, creating a mesmerizing jazz rhythm. A release, an exhale, a newfound perception that opened further for the valves and intensity of our senses, which we all brought back and into the days of darkness to come.
Video by Edurne Urrestarazu
Saxophone piece performed by Carla Zimbler
This week we observed and investigated ourselves as projects. Without the intention to create a fulfilled portrayal, we dived into aspects of our self-understanding and challenged it: Could we change our perceptions of how we see ourselves? It wasn’t a search of defining our stand in the world, nor was it seeking to distort the fragments of our worlds down to a solid cast sculpture. The research was to exemplify our constant reflections of our own matter: the colour of our temper, the sound of our frustrations, the vividness and changeability of our self-reflection. In a day of complete solitude and silence, we met ourselves without barriers and disturbances. With the return of our voices and each other we climbed the mountain and welcomed the first signs of snow; into the small town, into ourselves.
Though we worked in our individual spheres, there was a common issue that merged into a beautiful complexity. How do you portray the myriad of existentialistic aspects that forms a self-perception? What material, media and processing is sufficient enough to describe the depth of our emotions? The search for an answer left the studio empty on the first day with footpaths leading in all directions. One with an idea of understanding the encounter between the inner nature and the one surrounding us. Some in complete isolation from anything but themselves. Some processing their research in automatic scripts to discover the dark matter our subconscious. One having a monolog in meta conversations through recordings. All being dragged into a gathering of silent human mirrors: revealing that self-portraying is about exploring rather than expressing our existence.
This week we floated along two parallel rivers, which eventually proved to originate from the same sea. Through photography and writing, we worked to create and portray our individual processes. Along with Renaud Cambuzat (FR) and Marine Arragain (FR) we’ve dived into the ambiguous and at times inaccessible feeling of intimacy. We cast light to our boundaries towards our self, each other and the surrounding world. Can we break down these assumed limitations that distances us from a specific relation? While this exploration took place, an investigation of creation and self-expression through words was being held. Together with Minerva Pietilä (FI) we deconstructed and challenged the language, and used its fragments to assemble new understandings. Could we use our intuition and imagination to dismantle the insufficiency of language?
“What you write is not you” was the first sentence that manifested inside the small study room of the writing workshop. It was suddenly perfectly fine to be alienated, frightened and doubting of what was being written. The assignment was simply to write from ones intuition. From this stream of consciousness the individual epiphanies of the writers could surface. Sitting in front of a newspaper, a constructed and defined reality, the unneeded words were blacked out. Some of the work was accessible with a clear meaning, while others confronted you in a disturbing turbulence of incoherence. Walking down the stairs and into the old cinema, you were surrounded by the same sphere of intensity. The frame of the assignment was simple: portray an individual, intimate relation to a person or a location. It was a merge of different perceptions of this exact feeling. Can intimacy occur between two strangers? Is it even possible to include the viewer into the depths of our emotional reflections? Baudelaire once said “to say the word intimacy is to say art – that is, spirituality, colour and aspiration towards the infinite, expressed by every means available to the arts” meaning intimacy and art endeavours to touch the same aspect of the human existence: a deeper dialectic connection and devotion.
Though the workshops were built of different materials, the final exhibition showed we were grounded in a common foundation: working with the at times inaccepable aspects of our self-reflection, which not only showed a mirroring effect of ourselves, but towards all who stood in front the work of art. Whether it was a mesmerizing video installation, a breathtaking reading or a singular photograph manifesting its presence on the wall – the exhibition combined our individual paths and revealed that we had actually been following each other all along.