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daily chronicles

What are we doing here?

The mystery of art

Text by Claudia Galhós

Isn’t it always between you and me? Even when it isn’t about you or me. Or us? Even when is about art, it may be that its breathing and existing as a living being, and even its possible or various possible meanings, habits that space between me and you – being this me and you any considered equation of at least two people in a relation. This is where art lives. In the space between. And like life, its power lays on its enigmatic quality. In the fact that there is always a mystery and something we don’t quite understand. Or like an never ending puzzle that we are always trying to decipher and reconstruct.

There is a kind of fresh rebellion in the old building, made of stones, that hosts TryAngle Monytemor-o-Novo. Is a resistance wishing to tore apart all attempts to fix words and ideas. Mysteriously, it seems to react in consonance with the rhythm and breath and desire to question all system and all status quo that is filling all the possible and even the unimaginable spaces inside and outside these walls, where artists have been experimenting. It is all part of the same temperament. Transforming reality, questioning reality, inventing reality, exploring the limits of reality. Always in a dynamic interchange, that interferes, interrupts, disturbs and reconfigures all human patrimony, even the most delicate and affective and vague memory.

This is part of what Jorg Ritzenhoff is working on, in the recording studio (one room of Convento da Saudação transformed specifically in a recording studio for TryAngle) in his “Fado-Fade”. For the last days, he has been recording artists singing a song of their choice. It started with the portuguese fado song, but now there are songs from all over the world. They just have to be sad in some way…

This thursday happened the first twist. In a improvised raffle, by chance, in the morning meeting, he transferred each one’s song to another person. So, now someone else is singing the song of another person, no matter if the new singer has no clue of what he is singing because of the barrier of the language. The result was that Linda Blomqvist is singing Sofia Dinger’s song; Sofia Dinger is singing Shang Chi Sun song, Raman Zaya is singing Jacinto Lucas Pires’s song etc… But this is just the first twist planned by the german musician… Other transformations are on the way…

The interchange is part of the research Shang Chi Sun is doing for two hours every morning in the Barn – the studio called The Barn – with Sofia Dinger. They search for a counterpoint in improvisation between the voice and the body working both together. This is something Shang brings from his world of dance and that he wants to explore preciselly with Sofia, because she comes from theatre. And is because Sofia comes from theatre that this experiment interests her. Shang explains: “As a choreographer, there is this recurrent research between the use or not use of text. I am really interested in the body and the sound. With Sofia we are searching how I can take this research into a different place. With dancers, for as much as they dance, at the end, sometimes, the movement has no weight. And actors can come with a strong impute, but sometimes when they are not talking and are using the body, things are a little heavy, it may be too heavy and not abstract enough. But I am wondering that sometimes when the actors moves, there is a possibility there to explore how they can put the meaning in the movement”.

As a prove of the existence of this research, and any other research going on, there is one sheet of white paper with the basic information about each one: the names of the artists involved, time and place of the research. And maybe a phrase about the intention. In Shang’s sheet of paper there are two projects. He is with Sofia in the mornings, and in the afternoon, for half an hour or so, with the writer Jacinto Lucas Pires, improvising on words and dance.

The wall is the first place for questioning. And for materialising words that express first intentions and ideas to explore. The white walls are becoming full of imagination, doubts and images. These are the interior walls of the large room that serves as meeting room for artists, technicians and other participants in TryAngle Montemor-o-Novo. It is called the White Room. The space on the wall occupied with activities concerning wednesday and thursday (yesterday and today, september, the 12th and 13th), creates already this overwhelming image of a huge mass of undistinguished words and info glued on the wall. This is as image composed by A4 white sheets of paper where the names of the projects, some phrases of intentions, and who is participating in them, plus where and when. For such a short period of time, it seems impossible to do it all. And it seems impossible to decode it all. But then, if we get a little closer to the wall, and start going through all projects, one by one, it seems to become more clear. And it becomes possible to read the unity of that stain of words from its fragments. And all starts to make sense. But is only possible if accepting a fragmented relation with reality.

Curiously enough, while being able to decodify the fragments, at the same time each one hides a secret and makes evident another mystery. What is the “Monster Collection” Thomas Fourneau is working on? What is “Birds”, Alma Palacios’s project that she has been working with Alwynne Pritchard? What is this “Hunters” that Phillipe Vincent has been working with eleven of the participant artists? And what are these new sheets of white paper full of words written by hand that appeared on the wall late this thursday as a promise or a secret message for tomorrow, where we can read: “How to mute? Can I be you? 1 step: 2 or 4 dancers; 2 step: the same plus who wants. Thomas” or “Boys meets girls. Philippe” or ” Name of the town. Audio. Sound (Jorg), video camera. On going: translations, voices. Jacinto”?

This was the day of the first zap visitor, which was the portuguese arts critic, Augusto Seabra. It was him that brought this strategy to approach, and maybe identify, a work of art, when he remembered a conversation he had with the french composer Pierre Boulez. “Pierre Boulez once gave me a wonderful definition of work of art in an interview, remembering Diderot as a key figure of art criticism in the XVIII century: when you get closer and closer to a work of art, it gets more clear; but if you get even closer and closer, you discover another mystery in that same work of art. There is always a part of mystery or of surprise to a work of art.”

So the white walls in the White Room of Convento da Saudação is the first stage of the on going performance that TryAngle lab is. Sometimes it seems it has a life of their own. Texts and words and enigmas are spreading everywhere. In one side, Leandro Kees is creating a web of thoughts. In this case is not a sheet of paper proposing a project but is the project in itself, spreading like a maze of words. He started by naming it. It’s called: “What are we doing here?” And that question is in the first small paper he glued to the wall. The first arrow coming from the question points at one other word, “wall”.

Now the arrows are multiplying at the same time questions, thoughts and impressions are taking space on the wall in his complex web. He questions, for example “what is my role as an artist?”, but also “what is the role of the observer in my practice?” This was also what Augusto Seabra came to talk about: “Can criticism be a kind of artistic collaboration?” He says it is the space between you and me, but not about you and me. Or us. Is that space between and its interchangeable dynamic: “It’s always a kind of intersubjective space. There is no such thing as objective criticism. Is an intersubjective. But the important thing is to have an argument and a discourse. Like and not like is for Facebook. Criticism is another thing. Is writing your own thought trying to explain your own theories, your own way and your own perception of a work of art and the work an artist is doing.”

In the White Room and in the white walls another artistic project has been messing the codes and the conventions. Is Rui Catalão’s “La cité des ânes”. Is an intervention that questions memory, our perception of the world around us and how we interpret the interferences and disturbances of the status quo. It was him that turned inside out the sheets of paper of the projects concerning to wednesday, that now are not able to be read.

At the end of the day, the wall rebelled, and tore into the floor the projects of thursday. Leaving there, but turned inside out, the ones from wednesday, the words we cannot read. There was only one project from thursday intact, that had not been turned inside out. It was Raman Zaya’s project. The title? “Fragments of separated rooms”.