How to form a landscape with somebody? How to organize, embody, conceptualize and visualize 'public space' on a micro- as well as on macro level. How to create public spaces that generate generosity? How to visualize these humble attempts?
First exploratory preliminary research in April 2021
During the COVID lockdown in April 2021, we left in Jolien's caravan, without internet or electricity, without GPS, crossing the boarder through Eupen, right through the Meuse-Rhine Euregion. Off to nowhere, to wander with each other, between and across national borders, which was illegal at the time due to covid restrictions. While letting our practices dialogue with each other, recording our conversations, photographing and filming the environment, as well as exploring our intimate dynamics to each other in this small space.
Performance November 2021
After the wandering, we did a performance at Croxhapox in Ghent, titled: ‘Grensoverschrijdend’. Literally translated; ‘Crossing Border’, referring both to crossing a territorial border and an intimate border, associating with “cross-border behavior, transgressive behavior”. Without much info needed, the affinities with your residency in the context of the cross border performance festival Performing Landscapes, become tangible.
Many questions, much research and much literature was consumed during this trip. For this, we refer to the paragraph ‘OUR ARTISTIC PRACTICE’ below. In a next step, to open up our research and reflections, we plan to visit Wim Cuyvers in the Jura – Montavoix - where he has his ‘refuge de passage gardé’ (between May 4 and 8, 2023). The research we want to do there would focus on further exploring the area; the political, social and cultural developments that are present within this geographic context and deconstructing the literature on landscape across borders and to have a dialogue about the terms public space, landscape, intimacy..
OUR ARTISTIC PRACTICE
Relationship to our environment: The Public Space
Jolien examined during this trip and previous wanderings, her position as an architect. In her opinion, the Western architect looks at a landscape from a detached position: from the office, in front of his/her computer. In a second instance, the architect distances herself from a landscape by viewing it purely functionally and objectively: as a space to be filled. She asks herself whether she wants to be this kind of architect. Whether this way of being in the world is the right one? In doing so, the core of her question circulates around this quote by François Jullien:
“Is it only through vision that we can perceive a landscape? Is the space opened by the landscape truly an expanse cut off by the horizon? Do we observe a landscape in the way that we watch a 'show'? What, ultimately, does it mean to ‘look’? In giving landscape the name 'mountain(s)-water(s)', the Chinese language provides a powerful alternative to Western biases. The Chinese conception speaks of a correlation between high and low, between the still and the motile, between what has form and what is formless, between what we see and what we hear. In this tensional field established by the landscape, the perceptual becomes at the same time affective; and from these forms which are also fluxes emerges a dimension of "spirit" which brings in complicity. No longer a matter of 'vision', landscape becomes a matter of living. An invitation to explore reason's unthought choices, and to take a fresh look at our more basic involvement in the world.” - François Jullien - Living off landscape
In April 2021, she brought Kim Snauwaert, who at that time was conducting research within her own practice on the performative body within heterotopic space. This in light of the discourse of sexed bodies and the politicized body according to Rosalyn Diprose. An artistic investigation in collaboration with Lars Kwakkenbos into generosity, citizenship and transgression. Within her research, Kim focused on how to make people - whose voices are less easily heard, whose behavior is initially considered undesirable or contribution to society in society is questioned and whose generosity is less visible than that of others - more visible. How to create transgressive spaces that potentially produce new forms of generosity, not only within theater, but also beyond the confines of the medium? And how to also help institutionalize those transgressive forms of generosity.
Together we searched for common ground in each other's practice and came to the conclusion that our shared interest was partly situated in redefining and curating public space. And especially the idea of public space as defined by Wim Cuyvers; "Ideally, it is the place where really anyone can go for anything and at any time.' It is 'the space that nobody has yet taken, that nobody has yet appropriated, the space that nobody has made economic, the space that nobody has yet privatized, the space that is in no sense private, the space that for a moment, in the true sense of the word, is public. It is the space of powerlessness and not the space of power, the space of being and not the space of having (the private space), indeed: it is the space of not having. It is the space for transgression and waste, the place for need(ig)e(s)…”
Relationship between ourselves and public space: Sexed bodies
In a second instance to bring our practices into dialogue with each other, we also want to respond to Rosalyn Diprose's notion of sexed bodies. In 2002, Rosalyn Diprose elaborates a multi-layered vision of generosity in her book Corporeal Generosity. She argues that generosity occurs at a pre-cognitive, sensitive level but that bodies in our society are evaluated asymmetrically and discrimination happens through bodies. Within our society, norms and laws are determined by the influence of social contract theory, which holds that citizens surrender some of their freedom in exchange for the protection of its government. Diprose problematizes the consequences of that view. Thus, in such society, it is decided who is to be "protected" by whom. Who consequently are the 'weak' and who constitutes the norm. Within this logic and within our society, it is the case that women are often the ones who need to be protected from men. This also pulls through at the sexual level or on the body: politicized. Where women can therefore "lose" something and men "take" something. This leads not only to the complication that generosity of women giving or taking sex is forgotten. But also that the generosity of a woman's sexuality is denied or forgotten. In doing so, Diprose presses the fact that integrity is not necessarily lost in opening oneself to others:
‘By questioning the anti-body logic and individualism of safe-sex discourse, it is possible to resurrect the sexual encounter from its negative philosophical associations without resorting to the rhetoric of liberation or ignoring the problem of sexual violence. While saying yes to sex does not liberate one’s existence, the discourse of safe-sex, as I have outlined through radical feminism and Sartre’s existentialism, is inherently conservative. For just as violation amounts to reducing the ambiguity and generosity of existence and hence the other’s possibilities, so does an ideal of absolute independence, mutual exchange, self-control and body integrity.’ (Diprose, 2002, p. 93)
The point is that laws are being invented for women that restrict their freedom under the guise of "protecting the weak in society. We contrast this discourse with our personal experience of fear and feeling unsafe during the wanderlust we had together. Transgressive is a verb we like to include - in addition to transgressive public space - in our research. This both in landscape, and bodies, intimacy, and with corona...think also of Gloria Anzaldhua's book "Borderlands"...King Kong Theory by Virginie Despentes and other feminist literature or identity politics.
Relationship between each other: Intimacy
A third section within our artistic research is that of our personal narration. Of which we wonder to what extent we want to include it in our artistic practice. Namely, the coincidence that during this April wanderlust Kim just fell in love with a woman for the first time. And Jolien was just going through a breakup, also this for the first time with a woman.
Furthermore, we want to further deconstruct the relationship and intimacy created by the space and its environmental factors and include it in our research.
We are currently looking for partnerships.
TRANSGRESSIVE FORMS OF INTIMACY THROUGH LANDSCAPE (WORKING TITLE) APRIL 2021 (CONTINUOUS STATE OF DEVELOPMENT). In collaboration with Jolien Naeyaert