27 November, 2019 7.31amA dark sonorous and friendly voice.
A person too tall for the table he sits at.
Contact sheets of streets in Düsseldorf in black and white, projected onto the wall behind him, slightly moved to his left side.
Photographs of Berlin, black and white as well.
Düsseldorf as Düsseldorf looks like, still looks like, even if it is 1976 over there.
Berlin as Berlin doesn’t look like anymore.
A photo caption: “Ausländische Mitbürger am Landwehrkanal.” (Foreign citizens at Landwehrkanal. Although ‘ausländisch’ has a different taste than ‘foreign’, more bureaucratic.) Until when did one write it like that. Privileged situation(s). Longstanding relationships. “Comrades in a socialist sense”, Thomas Weski says.
Männerfreundschaften. (There is no equal word for this in English. Friendships between men. Male bonding. Never women.)
On the one side the space: the stage (without looking like a stage at first sight, no elevation, no borders) with table, chair, microphone, laptop, a glass of water. On the other side rows of chairs, theatre style, pressed to the wall. Grey on grey. In the space in between, on the floor: a plate, grey as well, on top of it opened books, surrounded by a yellow borderline.
A blurred S in a Dutch accent makes two English words sound identical. Projects become products. The plate is a trench, without any overlaps, without displacement, no tectonics.
A young-sounding voice that parries critical inquiries in a friendly but somewhat slightly attacked manner. A lecture that is said to have been given just as often. Material generates itself only from material. No light from the outside. Circling. When will the paper just be empty, finally. What would happen if I just left or turned my back on the show over there?
You show me pictures, I show you _____ what?
“A circle does not only define what’s inside but also what’s outside.”
Whoever dares to enter the space will be absorbed. A chair on the doorstep is the most comfortable place to watch. The distant and faint hum of some electrical device. There is a world outside. And there is coffee (waiting for me).
Die Grenze verläuft nicht zwischen oben und unten, sondern zwischen dir und mir (The border does not run between above and below, but between you and me) was once written on a firewall of a house where there used to be a wall. The Wall. At some point it was painted over and then there was a Nike advertisement.
You’re standing over there, I sit over here, and if we’re lucky a spark will leap the gap and I will continue to think your thoughts.
28 November, 2019 7.33amTo listen with eyes closed while sitting on the floor with others, loosely arranged. (A listening task by/with Jana). Footsteps. Quick strides through space. Heels making loud clicking sounds are put on the ground in a hesitant way. I hear the hesitation, the tiny lag of movement, the short halt of the foot in the air before it is put on the ground. The heels make a loud clicking sound anyways. No one here stands with her feet firmly grounded. Soft soles. Dok dok. Again and again the walking, striding, running stops. Paper rustles, is unfolded, then changing women’s voices read out a quote. There is no necessary distinction between drag and subversion. Judith Butler. Irgendwas von oben herab aufgelöst. Something dissolving from above. Ernst Bloch. (My walking is my dancing, my talking is my dancing, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker could say, but does not, not here.) Dok dok. Hedwig. Luise. Life reform. Dance of the Avantgarde. Confident voices, unconfident voices, solid intonation, non-solid intonation. Dok dok. There is a kind of hecticness in the room trying to be covered up with slowness. Dok dok. To open ones eyes and see: It’s the loosened floor tile half left from me. Dok dok. Again someone walks upon it. Again some quote, again Butler or Bloch or Gabriele Brandstetter. While the quote is being given all the performers remain in a pose. Being Natural is Simply a Pose they call this evening. But it’s not the poses that are natural. What seems natural is rather the de-skilled, that which happens without being planned. Dok dok. Slowly groping one’s way forward into untrained terrain. What does it mean to use body and voice in a specific way to appropriate a physical practice that is long gone. A try, a trying out, an attempt, an approach, a testing. Every approach is a test. And a restaging as the videos on the wall prove. Why this decision? Shoe soles are a decision. Every walk is a decision. Every book that is taken from A to B and placed on one of those ladder shelves is a decision. Every stride is a decision. Every footstep is a decision. (It gets difficult to neglect one's critical and deformed gaze the longer one’s eyes are open. Should I have closed them again?) Many footsteps. Many too many footsteps. To fill the space with meaning. Where there was _____ before. Cut. A space filled with ladders that balance shelves. One could use them as a standing desk. Or as a table. But there are only two chairs for manypeople. They are supposed to sit on the floor covered partially with some painter’s cloth. “Is her spirit clear? Does he have a good heart? Can they fix up our generator?” “Stefan!” The tech person jumps up. Two women at a ladder shelves that has the height of a desk and two chairs beside it. Everyone else on the floor to their feet. Two women that speak about (certainly hesitant, assuring one another, doubting): Who speaks? Who in the room does have the power to give the floor to someone, or to refuse. “It’s about social contracts.” Cold tingling feet from sitting too long in an uncomfortable way. Who speaks in here? How can we decolonize our methodologies? How do you invite someone to speak first? To be invited To be exposed How to disrupt a preconceived situation? Huey Newton sets a tap for William Buckley, smiling friendly. My friend wants to know on which side of the revolution you would have fought? Talking back. Some say revolution, others call it war. Being situated. Who are we asking the questions for? Cut. Being situated as someone who doesn’t belong to the addresses but still takes part. Participating as good as one can. Participating as participating works. I don’t speak any of the marginalised languages that are on today’s list, but nonetheless I get my blue make-up that makes me a participant. Anne-Christine who also got blue make up although she doesn’t speak any of the languages of today's list and whose Czech is much much better than mine (while Czech is not even on the list of marginalised langanges while Slowenian is, which is a logic we would like to understand but don’t get any answer), well Anne-Christine and me, we transfer some publication facts (who, when, where, with whose money) of the Slowenian-English exhibtion catalog (which was on today’s list because it was found in the HGB library) on that yellow paper. Then we’re out. I don't need to be meant and addressed all the time, anyway. Others that haven’t felt addressed much quicker, have sneaked out and spread into the gallery. Seeing Martin sitting on the floor browsing through Claire Bishop's reader on ‘Participation’ makes me smile. Someone who has started to learn Arabic says that the publication on the so-called Arab Spring he was looking through was funded by German state money and the Arab texts inside were translated much too literally. I remember a story by Jorge Luis Borges called Averroës’s Search. The Islamic doctor and philosopher Ibn Ruschd who's called Averroës sits in his house in Córdoba (somewhen in the 12th century according to the Western calendar), works on a translation of Aristotle’s Poetic and faces a difficulty: There are no words in Arabic to describe the words tragedy and comedy, nor any equivalent to the concept of theatre at all. At a dinner someone reports from a strange coloured wooded house in China where masked figures played a story. None of those present at the dinner can make sense of this, not even the traveller himself. Being constantly misunderstood is not a bad thing at all in the end. Perhaps.
29 November, 2019 7.31am(The original version is a voice memo in German, because the memory that first came to my mind was sound and voice. The English written translation therefore lacks voice, sound, atmosphere (some distant sounds of a construction site nearby the place of recording) and the exact translation of pauses, long ones and short ones that indicate voids in memory or the time memory needed to become a thought.)
La — a ___ La — a ___ La — a ____La — a ___ (and so on, voice slightly ascending with the first a, then rapidly descending to the second a, please ask Ari Benjamin-Meyers in case you’d like to see the score)__________________________________________________________________ _______________________________ 29 November, 2019 ____ 7.31am__________________ ______________________ I remember the moment of relief when ___ Jörn Schaffaf and Ari Benjamin Meyers went on to the third part of their lecture and asked everyone in the room ___ to please put their chairs to the wall __________________________________________________ ______________The space opened up again _______________ and I thought: Luckily!_______________The lines on the floor came to light again __ that I haven’t followed _______ but to know that I could and to feel that the space was free again __ and to know that I could simply start to run and would move along those lines through the space __________ I could slow down my pace __ I could become faster _ I could change the lines _ yellow green red blue __ I could stop where there are inserts __ or not _________________________________________________________________________ the space seemed to have come close to its own being for the first time on that day ____________________________________________________________________________________________________I remember this nice anecdote that the English words rehearsal and hearse _ Leichenwagen _ are of the same origin_____________________________I remember that at the beginning when people arranged music stands, put note sheets on them and gathered in front of them and started to sing, I thought ___I’ll definitely won’t join, I cannot sing at sight ___ but then realized after some time that probably there were some really beautiful encounters happening between those who had started to sing and those who had joined the presenter and sang the second voice __ learned it __ rehearsed it ____and that I wanted to become part of such an encounter as well __________________ Jörn Schaffaf later said ___ that __ when he was part of this work (by Ari Benjamin-Meyers called Duet) as the one who sang the first voice ___ in the end there was always ___ happiness ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________What actually happened in the space while we went on a walk outside and listened to counter-(her)stories? ___________________ Heard about Adele Smith at the portal of the conservatory Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy ________________ Previously heard of _______ I remember ______ Käthe Kollwitz, Paula Modersohn-Becker __ Elisabeth Voigt, Lene Voigt ____________________Adele Smith ___ Clara Schumann _____________________________________________________________Louise Otto-Peters _____Clara Zetkin _____________Kurdish Women Fighters _ that weren’t meant to be part of this walk but were mentioned while standing at the memorial of Clara Zetkin (A flag of the YPG blows gently in the wind on that cold winter's day).
30 November, 2019 7.34am“What would it take to stop?”
Is a quote by Oliver Marchart that Simon Sheikh brought in.
What would it take to stop the current situation.
The performance of a living room (some seating furniture loosely scattered around a coffee table, a flokati and some snacks) doesn’t make a hangout.
(Like one swallow doesn’t make a summer.)
Two people are bombarded by friendly, but persistently curious questions.
And I sit amongst everyone and want to ask:
Do you have any questions for us?
Only to press the stop button for a while and to give the situation a turn.
But I did not do it.
Hesitating and wondering:
Taking on responsibility? For whom?
For me? For them? For those?
Talking back on behalf of others?
Yet being relieved when Julia asks exactly that question.
Do you have any questions for us?
As if being a host is to save your quests from uncomfortable situations.
Being even more relieved when of the bombarded ones stuffs some handfuls of potato chips into his mouth (which will prevent him from speaking for some minutes) and asks: And you, what are you doing here?
“Decolonization is not my concern, it’s the concern of those who colonized.”
What would it take to stop?