20180806

Bought a book by Michel Serres and started working on an application for the Doctoral Studies Programme in Artistic Research in Performing Arts at the Theatre Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki. I’ve written a 12 page research proposal called “Horse & Performance” (it’s taken me two-to-three weeks and I’m currently waiting for comments/guidance from friends). The English summary is the last part (I’m having trouble with it). Apparently I want to spy on people, talk to horses and ask them what they think about our perception of them.  I can’t read the the summary without giggling – Which has to be a good sign.

The “Horse & Performance” research investigates “what do we talk about, when we talk about horses” at Finnish horse-stables. The research is rooted on an ethnographic study which analyses how horse-hobbyist and professional construct the figure of the contemporary-horse. The ethnographic part of the research will focus on situations were people explain the animals behaviour trough unintentional utterance, murmured while working with them. I will also engage in an “performance architectural” analysis of the sites, where people meet with horses, trough which I will formulate an understanding on how particular sites (and particular technologies presented in them) affect our perception of the animal. The fieldwork will be contrasted to the work of artists and theorists who have contributed to the development of the “animal-turn”.

From these sources I will develop a set of post-humanistically geared exercises and grooming techniques, through which I will direct the question to the horses themselves and ask for their feedback. These exercises will be presented as public performances, organized in urban spaces. The feedback audiences provide will be used to further develop an understanding of the contemporary-horse. Performing publicly with an animals cause conflicts through which we can access views and assumptions people project on them. Techniques developed through this research, can be used to ask animals for feedback on how build environments should be organized. The research aims to advance the wellbeing of animals and to advocate ethical environmental design.

Here is a list of texts I refer in the full proposal:

  • Barad, Karen. 2003. Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter
  • Butler, Judith. 2015. Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly
  • Cull, Laura. 2012. Theatres of Immanence – Deleuze and the Ethics of Performance
  • Despret, Vinciane. 2016. What Would Animals Say If We Asked the Right Questions?
  • Haraway, Donna J. 2007. When Species Meet
  • Haraway, Donna J. 2013. SF: Science Fiction, Speculative Fabulation, String Figures, So Far.
  • Haraway, Donna. 2016. Staying with the Trouble: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene
  • Hribal, Jason. 2003. “Animals Are Part of the Working Class”: A Challenge to Labor History
  • Hribal, Jason. 2012. Animals are Part of the Working Class Reviewed
  • Ingold, Tim. 2011. The Perception of the Environment. Essays on Livelihood
  • Korhonen, Pauliina. 2014. Ratsastusreitit kaupunkialueella – Suunnitteluesimerkkinä Länsi-Vantaan ratsastusreitit
  • Leinonen, Riitta-Marja. 2013. Palvelijasta terapeutiksi – Ihmisen ja hevosen suhteen muuttuvat kulttuuriset mallit Suomessa
  • Mbembe, Achille. 2003. Necropolitics
  • Mitsuda, Tatsuya. 2007. Horse in European History 1550-1900
  • Kaimio, Tuire. 2004. Hevosen kanssa
  • Malm, Andreas. 2016. Fossil Capital – The rise of Steam-power and the Roots of Global Warming
  • Mejdell, Buvik, Jørgensen & Bøe. 2016. Horses can learn to use symbols to communicate their preferences
  • Morton, Timothy. 2017. Humankind
  • Ojanen, Karoliina. 2011. Tyttöjen toinen koti – Etnografinen tutkimus tyttökulttuurista ratsastustalleilla
  • Salminen, Antti & Vadén, Tere. 2016. Energia ja kokemus: Naftologinen essee
  • Serres, Michel. 2010. Malfeasance – Appropriation Through Pollution?
  • Schweder, Alex. 2011. Performance Architecture
  • Urry, John. 2004. The ‘System’ of Automobility
  • Weizman, Eyal. 2015. The Roundabout Revolutions
  • Weizman, Eyal. 2017. Hollow Land: Israel’s Architecture of Occupation
  • Wright, Stephen. 2014. Toward a Lexicon of Usership

20180611

An artist in Helsinki who’s active on twitter has been writing a critical commentary of art-life, culture institutions and exhibitions for a half a year now. The blog is called Hampaat (teeth) and it’s an interesting albeit a tad cynical source for local art-news and art-thought. The most recent post is called YOUR COLLEAGUES ARE THE PROBLEM. The text feels like it’s very critical towards someone but that person is not identified… Which makes me paranoid (am I part of the problem? *laughs nervously*). The author identifies the figure of the “reputation avatar” (derived from the work of Gloria Origgi, a podcast about her book online) and tries to pinpoint moments were artists work primarily to maintain their reputation. I often engage with work to merely to maintain my reputation (but I don’t think it’s a bad thing).

The criticism of art mirroring our times (as a justification for the lack of critical thought and practice in art) is something I agree with. Elaborate media-artworks which I’ve seen recently (most of which are related to AIs) should be read as blatant celebration of media technology, innovation and capitalism (and not it’s critique). A hammer cannot be critical of a hammer #ॐ. The artist status should not be used as an excuse from ethical concerns: When artist use AIs they have the opportunity to be just as unethical as the übers and googles of the world.

The author is also critical of the recent trend of “melding art with science” and claims that “the situation of art as a site of knowledge is rotten at the core”. I agree to an extent. Artist are sometimes portrayed more pure hearted then they are. There seems to be consensus that artist would use science for the good of people if only given the chance. Which is not true – Artist are not healers. The text also makes me ask that why would anyone want to learn about Barad from an artist who reads Barad (if they can learn from Barad herself)? And to ask that in what circumstances is learning from an artist about Barad (instead of Barad herself) more efficient/better/smarter?

I’ve liked the THREE QUESTIONS TO PEOPLE DOING EXHIBITIONS UNDER CAPITALISM best so far.

Pietari shared a gruesome story from Amsterdam Dutch rewilding experiment sparks backlash as thousands of animals starve. A case-study for understanding the intersections of cross species solidarity and post-humanistic theory.

20180322

Visited an event organized by Jaana Laakkonen at Asematila space during the weekend. She read texts inside a tent structure which was constructed out of paintings. Works were also exhibited on the floor and some were stored in plastic bags (“for ease of transport”, I was told). She offered them for display on demand and flipped through canvases like a persian rug-dealer in a bazaar. Some pieces had been painted outdoors and were affected by mold. It felt like the mold was a sort of commentary on post-representationalism: The paintings study post-humanistic models of art making, while providing a habitat for non-human critters. The canvas serves as an image, a map, a diary and a Petrie Dish.

I was offered a brightly colored publication. It features close-up photos of painting materials (textures), glimpse of sites she’s worked at and partial outdoor scenes. The publication does not have any text in it and it feels like a sneak peak into an artists practice – Like peeping into a painters studio through a partially open door (intentionally opened by the artist). I also received three printed texts (folded inside the booklet). I’ve only read one: “Does Art Escape When Posthuman Performativity Enters (On [Not] Delivering it)” which is an intimate story about the artists relationship with a dog, bundled with a work journal of sorts.

The event and the texts emphasize entanglement (Referring to Karen Barad & Donna Haraway). This emphasis was present in the way that the artists mixed together intimate stories, technical depictions of the painting equipment and posthuman theory. I had difficulties in engaging with the event because of the artists the personal presence. It was as if she had constructed a zoo around herself. The intensity and intimate nature of the texts, the mold and the artists body predetermined my relation to the site. If the texts would have been read by an actor I could have roamed the stage more freely.

It was an inspirational event – It is as if she was painting with texts. Post-truth-realms have made the representational value of art weak, which is why contemporary art emphasizes on text and performance. Text, performance and bodybuilding exercises (working bodies against material weights) are essential tools to keep us grounded, to keep us in the same world or even to develop new common ground. Working with texts, weights and witnessing events require effort which is why knowledge they produce can be trusted.

20170123

Youtube lecture by Karen Barad: Troubling Time/s, Undoing the Future. Quoting Niels Bohr: “Concepts are specific material arrangements”. Hence, there is no difference between an object and the apparatus and the world consists of phenomenon.