How to make a me
First impressions in TryAngle.
How to warm people up.
by Claudia Galhós
1. Why are we here?
It was the beginning of the afternoon on the first saturday of TryAngle Dusseldorf. The day was grey and the rain insisted in being present. The group was meeting in the lounge of Tanzhaus for a first presentation. Most of the twenty artists participating had arrived, and Helena Waldmann – the project curator – was there. The question came from Stefan Schwartz, the program director of Tanzhaus, host and project director of TryAngle Dusseldorf. Why are we here? There were only missing two portuguese artists – Claudia Gaiolas and Paula Diogo – and the french Montaine Chevalier, that arrived during the meeting.
The why we are here question came connected with a contextualization question. Why the idea of such a project came around? And for historical background there came Colina -Collaboration in Arts’ project, the first try out the portuguese choreographer and director of O Espaço do Tempo, in Montemor-o-Novo, did in 2003. Of course there were similar, but different, experiences done before. In the nineties there was SKIT. More recently there was Sweet and Tender. But if we go back, there was the Black Mountain College – even if it was a school in North Carolina, founded in 1933, but proposing a new kind of learning and teaching, experimental and interdisciplinary by nature, associated with names like Merce Cunningham or John Cage… But each historical, sociological, political, human and geographical context makes each of these experiences singular projects. For example, in the first Colina’s experiments there wasn’t yet Facebook, and the european economical crisis wasn’t heard of… But Rui Horta was the author of the embryonic experience for what Colina came to be, a combination of labs that put together artists from different art fields experimenting in Marseille (FR), Dusseldorf (D), Tallinn (EE), Newcastle (UK) and Aarhus (DK).
Almost ten years later, in a world in crisis, there is a renewed approach to this idea, that proposes a space and time, outside market logic of space and time, that still considers art at the centre of life and the need for artists to have the opportunity to experiment outside the pressure of production.
Time went by since Colina made evident the relevance and the need for such an open space. But there is still the need for such an utopia in current times. Or is it even more important and necessary? It was also Stefan who asked this. And with it came particular questions, or wishes, that Stefan shared, that crosses all three TryAngle labs. The will to feel what is going on in the art world. To peek on what are the possible directions for art. To search for the meaning of artists in society nowadays. To experiment, and maybe criticise, the ways of production, of working, of going through creative processes… To question how to make a living, the relevance of art… The doubts and inquires are already taking place…
One aspect that seems to have changed is the relevance and the presence of technology, which was massive in Colina but seems not to be so much in TryAngle, even if that resources are available, in terms of equipment and tools, but also in professionals that dominate the language, with a group of students from the Faculty of Design that accompanies the lab.
2. How to warm people up?
Helena Waldmann is an artist that works with a new theme, a completely different question, at each new creation she does. This was the aspect Stefan found most relevant when he introduced the curator of TryAngle Düsseldorf to the group. In her last piece, a dance piece, she worked about dementia.
Helena started by sharing how the flux of artists was decided, through the selection of the TryAngle’s associated curators. Helena and Stefan (Düsseldorf), Thomas Fourneau (Marseille), Tiago Rodrigues (Portugal); plus the associated partners, Goran Bogdanovski (Slovenia, from Fico Ballet) and Bruno Heynderickx (Norway, from Carte Blanche, the Norwegian national company of contemporary dance).
But then, the question emerged. How can we escape the formal presentation that every project starts from? What do you chose to say about yourself when you do a brief presentation of yourself? What do you leave behind?
[Note: The question of how to warm people up is Helena’s. It came up in the middle of the afternoon when she proposed a collective creation of a feast, not a party, a moment of celebration, which arose a huge discussion about pressure and the stress of distributing tasks for a moment that is supposed to be easy and free. In this text, the subtitle appears as a tease, simply pointing the complexity of situations and difference of opinions that a project of TryAngle’s nature produces.]
3. Make me a me
So Helena proposed a game. The game shifted the meaning of the question of how to talk about oneself. And so the question became: how do you talk about another person that you just met? After a brief conversation, what do you chose to say about that person and what you chose to leave behind? Maybe that way, what you chose to say, says something about the person but also says about yourself. Says about what you listened, what you asked, what you were willing to receive from the other. And this was what happened.
Pairs were made, and for 8 minutes they exchanged information about each other. In the end, each one presented the other. What did they say about themselves when talking about the other?
Here is the list of pairs:
Li Alin and Kingsley A. Odiaka.
Clorinde Durand and Nuria Guiu Sagarra
Frieder Weiss and Jan Machacek
Gudrun Lange and Gui Garrido
Jean-Jacques Sanchez and Gisle Martens Meyer
Jasmina Zaloznik and Claudia Galhós
Cécile Martin and Samir Akika
Tian Rotteveel and about Jayrope
Dejan Srhoj and Douglas Bateman
And the day went on… And at the end the celebration party came together.
by Irina Raskin
In such a format as the TryAngle program the word question should be written in bold letters. Designed as a laboratory with an open door policy and several facilities available for the participants, TryAngle’s aim is not to produce a fixed pieced of art. Rather it is an opportunity-space and time for initiating different projects and collaborations, attempting, following some approaches and reject others. TryAngle has no guideline or framing rules or issues – everything that will happen during the next two weeks, is going to be evoked by the participating artists. TryAngle wants to produce questions, rather than give answers.
But what are the questions that came up on the first day? The “warm-up” program of the first two days, assume questions of acquaintance. Who are the participants? Who are the initiators? Who are the hosts? What is the structure of this project? And what kind of location is this?
The following activities should provide some first answers and information to those questions: an introduction to TryAngle project and tanzhaus nrw; a little presentation, where in a group of two people the artistic participants presented each other to the rest; a jointed meal and the carrying out of a feast.
During that the conversations carried some concerns that went beyond just acquaintance, such as:
– Challenging one’s own artistic practice not trough a perfection of one’s skills, but rather through abandoning familiar fields of work
– The drive to create something new
– In what ways does the structure of the program intervene in the resulting projects
– Recognition of artistic practice as work
– Relation between art and money
– Possibilities of alternative models of artistic activity with regard to infrastructural circumstances
What became apparent on this day is curiosity, a willingness of questioning what happens and how it happens as well as the urge not only to exchange through conversations, but also artistically, to develop something together – to start with the work.
The first project was proposed by the curator Helena Waldmann: creating a feast altogether. Which drew a debate about two different kinds of approaches: Firstly, the possibility of predetermined frames, that fixed a certain format, where you can work in- or outside of them. Or secondly, that in the process of making, just through the coming together of the different “ingredients” the format unfolds itself, almost as a byproduct.
The happening of the feast actually proposed a mixture of both ways. But which way it will go?