documentation

Working on Travel aka Trains and Boats and Planes

During 2019, I’ve been busy with an interview project about life and travels of artists. I’ve interviewed no less than eighteen bright and generous and smart people. The interviews will be posted on workingontravel.tumblr.com during the autumn. Very much worth a read! There will also eventually be a book.TBT_liten
Moa Schulman made the visual material.

The project is coproduced by Skogen and supported by Helge Ax:son Johnsons stiftelse.

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Summary from Someone You Trust

Another project that came to an end and continuation this year was Someone You Trust, that premiered in Skogen in Gothenburg 23-25 november 2018, continued to develop at Cirkör Lab in Alby 18-19 January 2019, and will tour during 2019: 11-12 May to Skogen again via Textival’s festival Intimate Acts, 10-11 August to Gylleboverket‘s performance festival and 29 November-1 of December at Inkonst in Malmö.

Here is a trailer for The Watching Act:

Someone You Trust – The Watching Act, trailer from Tova G on Vimeo.

SHORT ABOUT SOMEONE YOU TRUST
Someone You Trust uses the practice of rope bondage to explore time, trust and consent. The performance is divided into two acts. The audience can choose to come to both of the acts or just one of them (whichever they prefer). If they come to The Participatory Act, they bring someone they trust, and follow recorded voice instructions for tying and being tied. If they come to The Watching Act, they come to a performance alone or in company /whichever they prefer) and watch  Tova Gerge and Britta Kiessling follow instructions that are both similar to and very different from the instructions in the first act.

Both acts with and by:
text: Tova Gerge and Britta Kiessling
performers: Tova Gerge and Britta Kiessling
text eye and rope research: Christian Nilsson
sound: Elize Arvefjord
light, room, costume and mask: Josefina Björk
artistic support: Gabriel Widing och Ebba Petrén

Thanks to:
Everyone in the performing arts collective Nyxxx.
Everyone who helped us to develop the participatory act.

With the support of:
Japanstiftelsen, Längmanska kulturfonden, The Swedish Art’s Grant Committee, Cirkör LAB, c.off and Stockholm County Council

BACKGROUND TO SOMEONE YOU TRUST
The performance is a result of long preparation. Already in 2015, Nyxxx, Tova Gerge and Christian Nilsson invited the Berlin-based choreographers Dasniya Sommer and Frances D’Ath for a research week on performance and rope bondage. Nyxxx made a podcast in connection to that encounter.

Then in 2016, me and Christian Nilsson were given a traveling grant from Japanstiftelsen to study questions of intimacy in relation to the subculture of rope bondage established in Nagoya, Tokyo and Hamamatsu. We interviewed fourteen professional rope artists active in Japan, practicing what is known as shibari or kinbaku. It has a long, complex and international history connected to both art and pornography. The purpose of the interviews were to gather material for both theoretical and artistic writing. Because the interview material was so extensive, we got another grant from Längmanska kulturfonden to spread the results in different ways. This process is still ongoing.

There is also an even longer back story in mine and Britta Kiessling’s relation to shibari which is fairly long and diverse. Though we tie improvised patterns, we have studied with many teachers to be able to do what we do. Thus, a special thanks to Bergborg, Dasniya Sommer, Naka Akira, Hourai Kasumi, Kanna & Kagura, Gorgone, Pilar Aldea, Gestalta, Hedwig, Pedro and others, not least the ones who tied us or got tied by us.

 

Summary from the times of the novel

Last year in the autumn, I published a novel, Pojken. You can read a bit more about it in English here, and here, and in Swedish in the press section of this home page ).

It took ten years to write, and it was partly a very tricky process involving many questions of both construction and life. What to tell and what to leave out, for who one writes and why.

Now that it is seemingly over – when also the most intense encounters with press, the author presentations, the facebook discussions and all these things are seemingly over – it has just sunken into the background. It has become self-evident och see-through.

I just want to leave myself a couple of words on it at this point, rediscovering that something transgressive happened for me through the appearance of that book and that it somehow echoes still. I don’t know exactly where it will go from here, but I also see in it an invitation to write again.

This is the cover of the book, Moa Schulman made it.

Pojken-final

Where Were We, documentation

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This year, I’ve established a project together with Israeli choreographer Uri Turkenich. The project went through different forms. First, we played games with Inana, then we had a Derridian episode at Skogen, after that we danced with the cool kids in Berlin at 3AM and now in October we went physical in Weld. The project deals with intimate conversations as a performative practice. During the coming year we will tour a bit and we would like to tour more (so ask us to come by writing to me!).

Here is a documentation of the performance – a part of me learning to video edit, by the way. Above is an image from the performance (snapped by Marika Troili or Sofie Anderson; unsure) and here is a link to the festival we were part of at Weld. The project was supported by The Swedish Arts Grant Committee, but also by c.off, who made an interview with us here.

Documentation, There Is No Outside-Text

As I have posted about before, me and Uri Turkenich made our first artistic cooperation this spring, with the support of coproducer Skogen (Gothenburg) and The Swedish Arts Grants Committee. Here is a video documentation of show 3. Slowly learning to edit…

Me and Uri really liked this project, and it seems we are going to continue working on the practices and themes that developed through it in a new show during 2016-2017. More on that later…

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Photo: Anna Lamberg, 29/3 2016, Skogen, Gothenburg.

Realizing the Unready

In the last post and the one before that, I’ve done some process reports on an ongoing work with choreographer Uri Turkenich. In the end of March 2016, we did a series of presentations at Skogen in Gothenburg with the support of Konstnärsnämnden, also sharing the space with some other artists. A long and complex conversation about the necessities of sharing spaces and processes led us to that conclusion. In our program folder for these evenings, this is how we explained it:

Uri Turkenich: This text introduces Tova Gerge’s and my thoughts about the curatorial aspects of the three evenings we organize in Skogen in the end of March. We invited three other artists to share these evenings with us and show unready work. We want to explain why we did that.

Tova Gerge: We did it because we will also be unready, and we think unreadiness can be a beautiful condition to be in, for both audience and artists. For audience because unreadiness gives access to a certain kind of vulnerability, and maybe also a power to influence. For artists – well, it’s too lonely a condition to be in a process of artistic production where the end result is our first encounter with others. And for us specifically, to meet the audience at an early stage makes even more sense. Our whole project is about differences and getting to know the other as separate from the own identity. This means for us to explore the vulnerability of being together as we are – audience and performers alike – with all our fragilities.

U: We also enjoy thinking about conditions of production of art, and wanted to try producing under different conditions than what we are used to. Producing art alone is a precarious condition. If we do it together, it can become more sustainable. So we are very happy that the author Khashayar Naderehvandi, the choreographer Svarta fåret and the visual artist Anna Ehrlemark agreed to participate. It’s not so obvious to be willing to expose artistic processes to an audience and present work before it’s ready. It takes a certain kind of courage to do it.

T: I agree, but also it makes total sense to do it. To me, art is about being in dialogue, with friends and strangers. When we invite audience to a traditional, finished stage product, the dialogue sometimes only happens on the level of fantasy. Me and the audience are in the same room during the time of the performance, but we never meet.

U: For me every time I perform for people it is a kind of meeting. I hear how they breathe, I perceive their expressions and reactions. And they see me too. So this dialogue can also happen with the traditional finished stage product.

T: Maybe what I’m trying to say is that when it’s a finished product, we tend to give up on the conversation – including the breathing and the expressions and all that – because we know not much can change anyway. If we don’t have the means to continue working, the opinion of the audience becomes our potential adversary. It’s like when you have a conversation in your head with your lover, and you think it’s pointless to have it for real because you know what they are going to say. We hope that this format of presenting unready work would make it possible to have the real conversation with the audience.

U: Last month, I organized a similar event in Tel Aviv and my mother came there. In this event, I showed a video work about being lost, and this scared her. Maybe she was afraid that I wasn’t doing well. And when we spoke, I understood that for me, being lost can be fun. Maybe more than that – I see a value in getting lost, because it means I took risk in doing something I didn’t already know how to do. And I put myself in a vulnerable position, which means for me that I am more open to others. I couldn’t see it before talking to my mother; I didn’t realize it was in the video before talking with her.

T: I like this story, because some kind of ideology of getting lost is also part of why one would like to present unready work. When we don’t know exactly where we are or where we are going, there is the possibility of allowing ourselves to share the space differently with the audience; not always taking them for a ride but also asking them for directions, being inside a question with them.

U: Yes, we are sort of asking people – Where are we? Either in words, or just by seeing their reactions.

T: Sometimes the mere fact of sharing something can make me realize how much I actually know about my position, even though I might not want to admit it to myself before sharing. It could be that I have a darling that I don’t want to kill, or I have a problem that seems unsolvable before I show it to someone else. While it’s a horror having people commenting on this if in the bitter aftermaths of something, I become grateful if I’m allowed to see it with the help of others before the crisis, fight, publication, premiere, release… So to show things that are not ready can reverse my approach to criticism.

U: So we show something that is not ready yet, but at the same time it needs to be ready in some way. I think there are different phases of unreadiness. I show it when I know there’s something to it, but I don’t know what it is yet. In a way, it’s the point in the process of production when the performance needs the audience to realize itself. I also think that at this point it’s more enjoyable for the audience to see it. I wouldn’t like to show it before that phase, there’s no reason to show it yet.

T: It is also a question of why one would like to show it. To “realize” it as you say – or to just get better tools for working, using a test audience as your motor. As I usually work with audience participatory work, to try things out in practice has been absolutely crucial for me also really early on in my processes. But I would call it testing, not showing. Maybe that’s why it was you – usually doing a stricter separation of the performers vs the audience than me – who from the beginning insisted on the importance to meet the audience mid-process also for this work. Together, we had to reconceptualize what showing to someone then means. I think now what we are doing here in Gothenburg is not testing something; it’s sharing something.