From a series of letters to the artists of Flutgraben Performances Season #2 during the Corona pandemic in 2020
Many things you are mentioning feel familiar to aspects of my own work: the evocation of what you call a “visual ghost” in the encounter of an event and a spectator, its materialisation through sensations that lead to a certain kind of awareness, the specific quality of its mutual exchange, and its relation of presence and absence. In my response I would like to write about a particular aspect of my work while trying to relate it to your concept of the “visual ghost”: its distinctive evolvement in time and space. In order to do this I am going to give you a short outline of what I do as an artist.
Together with Sandra I am working on an art form that we call space choreography
. In this understanding of choreography we are not only and not primarily concerned with how dancers move, but with all the elements of a space as work of art, and their relations with each other. We are creating spatial arrangements that are made up of parallel streams of performers, videos, objects, voices and texts – or, put differently: we are making multilayered, moving installations in which simultaneous movements of bodies, images, words, and things are overlapping, exchanging, relating, flowing into one another. A characteristic feature of space choreography is its specific areal quality of a landscape – a landscape that is both autonomous from spectators and receptive towards their presence, allowing them to bathe in it at any moment but without a need for this to happen.
What I would like to focus on here is the overall relation of these works with each other, ie. looking at them as a whole. In every piece we are working on new ideas, images, and interests (like probably most other artists). But within space choreographic works there is also a deeper connection, like a shared structure that is expanding, or like landscapes that grow together over time. With every new work we make it feels like we are unfolding a whole ecosystem, actualising its various vegetation zones, topological zones, time zones. This ongoing building process manifests itself in the presence of what we call the space chorus
. The space chorus is a vital element of every space choreography, being at the same time that which sets it in motion, and its central motif. It is not a means to an end, it is not executing an action, but rather the source of space choreography’s realisation as movement, dancing in a flux of shifting relations among each other and visitors. Its very nature goes beyond the particular performers’ presence embodying it on a particular performance day of a particular piece. Also, when using the term “space chorus” I am not only referring to bodies present in a physical space, but as well to their presence in an image space. There might for example be new dancers in a piece performing along videos of people we already worked together but who are not here in person – it is still the same space chorus brought into being by both of them. The videos of the space chorus
play an important role, their image carriers being treated like a chorus themselves, always appearing in a many-faceted plurality of moving images spatially arranged and shown on various screens. Thus the way the videos are sharing a space together with live performers and spectators is creating a relational spatial structure out of various subspaces: image spaces, body spaces, listening spaces etc. In all videos the bodies of the space chorus are appearing in various indoor or outdoor situations, presented from different perspectives and points of view. In some of them the presence of the spectator’s gaze is called into consciousness, allowing for an awareness of the watching body in relation to what is to be seen. Sometimes videos from previous works reappear in later pieces. Sometimes they go through a process of transformation – for example a scene at a lake that first appeared in “Narziss Echo”, later returning in “Narkosis", “Choros”, and “Chora”: while in the first video a single body is seen standing in front of a mountain lake, in a later video a group of six is moving on the beach of a lake in a renaturalised former coal mining area. In another variation, taken at another location, another single person reappears, standing in a dried-up lake. Existing videos become starting points for echoes, references, transformations. This mutational continuation also takes place between live performed scenes and videos: What is seen as a moving image at some point is reappearing in a later work as a live performance – or the other way round. This process of relations is one of a simultaneous and successive presences of images and bodies and the way they are stimulating, affecting and crossing each other, flowing into each other. These moving body images function like windows into other places, literally presenting different time zones and image spaces, in which the space chorus’ movements are taking place. The videos are both spatial and temporal extensions of the space chorus’ presence, helping to create a manifold space in which present, past and future meet, ushering a mythical as well as sci-fi-ish atmosphere.
Each new piece arises from new focuses and inspirations and brings new spatial-relational qualities. While for example works like “Festung / Europa”, “Narziss Echo” and “Narkosis” all were spatial settings dealing with the challenges of a centred space, “Choros”, “Chora” and “Aeon” became explorations of more dynamic and heterogenous spaces – from the village-like quality of “Choros V+VI”, to the water-like flow of “Chora”, to the expanse into an unbounded open of “Aeon”. Each of these works is a both autonomous and concatenating actualisation of the various perspectives, relations, images of the same but expanding world in motion. While each work stands on its own, at the same time it opens up new perspectives on a shared, differentiating entity. Space choreography therefore is an ongoing process of self-creation, of a growing ecosystem, a living space, an alternate reality. Eventually I would like to end this brief foray with a thought that came to my mind when reading your characterisations of the “visual ghost”: with every new work that is given birth to, thus becoming a portal, this parallel universe materialises and becomes perceptible.
25 May 2020