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daily chronicle

The whole of humanity and the public utilisation of toilets

thursday, June 14th

 If you go to the toilet in Theatre des Bernardines, you can read: “To just take into consideration one’s own interests, harms greatly the whole of humanity”. If we dislocate this phrase into the context of art and of life in general, we get an important statement that says immensely about the way people interact with each other and the difficulties sharing a life together implies, as well as collaborating in equal measure in the edification of a real community. This is something a collective artistic residency like TryAngle has to deal with, and becomes even more evident when there is a tendency for projects involving a large group of people.

Let’s go back to the quite recent history of arts in general and dance in particular, and remember the change operated with the vanguards of the beginning of last century. With it came the discussion about the value of physical effort necessary for the production of the work of art. Also came the question about authorship that, for example, we can find in the readymades of Duchamp. After, there was the development with the movement of the Judson Church Theatre in New York, in the sixties and seventies; and the new dance in Europe in the seventies and eighties. Various questions that were already been dealt by artists of different languages emerged in these decades in a more defined and advanced way. Examples of these are: What is relevant in art? What action, gesture, composition might be considered art?

Those were also times of emergence of even more importance given to the thought and the theoretical research connected with the practice. Those were times of profound emphases in images, excerpts and actions of daily life; of defence of the commonplace and mundane in arts, where the extraordinary, the fake and the illusion of the fairytale was denounced and rejected as empty and mere entertainment and not art, and a way of breaking the trust between artists and public. But there was also the praise of the end or hierarchies, that resulted in concrete changes in the art world: resulted in a more collaborative and supposedly more equally stimulant process of creation for everybody involved, turning the interpreters most times in co-creators. Simultaneously it inscribed a tension and paradox in the process of creation that each time, at each new work, still reappears: for a short and predefined period of time, the group strives to live the utopia of a real community. This is an image very much present in the essential questions of philosophers, being “The coming community” from Georgio Agamben one of the most known books about the subject. And is a fact that is very present in the first edition of TryAngle. Although there are around two dozen project ideas presented, and although some of them, a few, are ideas for one or two participants, most have this desire of working with a large group of performers. And the result is that in one day, as it happened this thursday, the 14th June, almost all participants were, first (in the morning), in the theatre of Gare Franch with Willy Prager and the second day of his  project, “Reformulation”, and in the afternoon in Théâtre des Bernardines, one of various places available to experiment, offering themselves as material for Tzeni Argyriou project, “Shadows”. And this suggests different reflections: one, that contemporary creation is very much constrained in its possibility for working with groups of people – the norm are duets or solos -, and this translates a will a need to be together, which is not exclusive of artists; another aspect, is that being together and manage a group of people is a complex task. Besides all this, is a sign of maturity – both artistic and human – to be able to give himself as material for another person’s project. After all, the co-creation tendency might also be understood as the difficulty each human being has in letting go off his ego; neutralise, as much as possible, the expression of his personality and individuality; and put himself at the service of somebody else in an altruistic manner. But then, for the supposed leader, a higher responsibility is put on him: to do justice and honour this uninterested act. And this is not just about art. Is about the minimal action in life. Like the public utilisation of toilets…