We are no nearer to knowing what will happen on 29th March 2019. The action but I’m planning to mark this day, Collapse: Brexit 2019 does not rely on knowing what will happen : perhaps the whole ‘divorce from the EU’ will be delayed as it seems that the UK politicians themselves do not know what to do. Collapse indeed relies on not knowing, and sensing how this not knowing can become a generative process for the imagination, this is why I call this a Poetics of Activism: it’s not about knowing where you stand or your allegiances, but knowing that you don’t know everything that is part of a complex world, and this need not make us hopeless or prevent engagement and participation.
I’m still looking for participants I would like to join me in collapsing on 29 March. This Collapse will take place no matter what happens.
“I found Collapse utterly utterly compelling” Astrida Neimanis, author
Since the 23rd June 2016, the UK has lived through a period of uncertainty as we wait to find out what will happen when Brexit becomes effective on the 29th of March 2019. The waiting, the not-knowing, the many voices offering conflicting opinions give rise to frustration, anxiety, resignation and sometimes hope, and affect the political, social, personal and embodied facets of our lives. Brexit, or the prospect of it, has polarised communities and families – nobody knows what will happen.
For as long as I can remember, the UK has been a part of the European Union. When this relation is set to end on 29 March 2019, I wonder what lies beyond that point. Perhaps nothing will change at least not on that day, but over time it will alter in institutional and imperceptible ways. The biggest concerns of the government and the media at the moment are the economics of the separation, but the effect of these will slowly filter into social relationships and other perceptions of the world. Will the UK become more insular or will it look further into the distance, way past its neighbours in Europe to seek new fortunes elsewhere?
Collapse is a word used to describe the much apprehended downward movement of financial market, though nowadays it is used ubiquitously for describing any scenario that appears cataclysmic, be it natural, social or political. Now I am proposing the Collapse of the human form from the vertical to the horizontal, as a ritual to mark Brexit. On 29 March 2019, I invite you to join me in the City of London to participate in Collapse: Brexit, 2019.
Collapse is an ongoing series of performance interventions that I’ve been developing since 2015. It is a dance duet with forces beyond our control: gravity, time and weathering. It is a movement ritual that engages with resistance and surrender, and proposes a poetics of activism. This action is not a protest, the poetics of activism is the proposition that through doing ‘walking the walk instead of talking the talk’ we can come to recognise the embodied aspect of our politics. In becoming horizontal the body encounters multiple perspectives that allow for reflection on the complexity of the present moment.
I am seeking participants for Collapse: Brexit, 2019. The process of the project will comprise a 3 hour movement/training session at Siobhan Davies Studios a week before the event. Participants will then join in the group Collapse on 29th March. Independent Dance are supporting the event through their network platform.
The invitation to Collapse is open to people of all ages and abilities, the training offered will address any concerns as well as providing a platform for sharing and discursive exchange around a poetics of activism.
In February 2018 I visited Japan for a whirlwind tour of only ten days. This research trip was part funded by a Research Support Grant from Goldsmith’s University as part of my PhD. I was able to indulge my interest in a conversation around AI with Sasha Drozd at Tokyo Institute of Technology and then bring this inspiration to my collaboration with artist and sculptor Kyoko Fujiwara.
Another artist and colleague from the Nakanojo Biennale group, Kaoru Murakami was there to see The Invisible Realm: a Path to Arcadia, the performance which gathered ‘the fruit of our labour’. After the performance she commented that my movement quality seemed very different from what she’d seen before. Her short review is really fascinating where she mentions being reminded of a recent NHK programme around AI-created animation and movement. Read it below.
The performance was shown within Kyoko Fujiwara’s solo exhibition at the Iwasaki Museum on 9 February 2018. Sound design was by Joel Cahen/Newtoy and all photos by K. Hayashi.
Review of The Invisible Realm: a Path to Arcadia
While Dominique was performing, her hand was shaking like an old robot or a badly made 3D animation. She looked like a sick old woman too: but she wasn’t. That’s because she didn’t show any emotion on her face. I wasn’t able to see any feelings in her, moreover, she didn’t seem to have any age. I felt her movement was unnatural. It looked like a character in a video game, which was forced to move by someone.
As I watched, I was remembering the words spoken by Hayao Miyazaki, the director of Studio Ghibli about movement that was created by Artificial Intelligence. He said the AI movement is ‘an insult to life itself’. This AI has learned certain movements and it can choose how to use the body. However, AI doesn’t feel any pain so it creates very creepy movement.
As Dominique performed, there seemed to be this Zombie-like movement that is completely free from human disadvantage. It is free from muscle pain, from ill-health and from the existence of internal organs. This creature only has a single intention, to move as a super strong and healthy body. I felt a dark impression about our own ethics while looking at her performance. We can be cruel to somebody like Super Mario who doesn’t feel pain. Humans are now trying to entrust something to AI, but if this AI could come to naturally control things, the time might come when AI had a higher sense of ethics than human beings. I was thinking how we, once we have lost human dignity, might be at that time?
I have just returned from the Sacred Places Conference in Liverpool which ran from 20 – 22 April at Liverpool Hope University. My presentation interrogates the notion of Sacred Flesh, by reflecting on my experience of visiting the Sokushinbutsu or Flesh Buddhas of Japan with Ko Murobushi in 2014.
Keynote speakers included Anne Bean, and a range of artists, scientists, astronomers, anthropologists and was a fascinating mix of ideas, thoughts and provocations that addressed where the sacred might exist within the contemporary. Together we were given free reign to dialogue with a word that seems banned or relegated to a secret, unspoken realm within a culture driven by logic and rationalism: it was like being allowed to breathe a little deeper.
‘Home’ as the extension of self: a sacred space can be a moving place for nomadic people.
Body as ‘home’: if the body becomes a sacred space, how does it then become violated?
Sacred spaces as being detached from the mundane and representing an idealized purity.
Irradiation of spaces by the bodies of performers, actors.
“staying with the trouble requires learning to be truly present, not as a vanishing pivot between awful or edenic pasts and apocalyptic or salvific futures, but as mortal critters entwined in myriad unfinished configurations of places, times, matters, meanings…” Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble
My work Rota is installed at Galerie Wedding’s Vacancies exhibition which runs until 24 September. I will also be developing a durational performance all day on 17 September during Berlin Art Week.
The concept of Vacancies is to reframe the gallery as a flatshare or WG in German. Each artist has proposed an axis of enquiry and the works respond to sharing spaces in the context of ‘Post Otherness’, a notion put forward by Bonaventure S.B. Ndikung and Regina Römhild in the ‘Post-Other as Avantgarde’ (2013).
Rota explores cycles within the temporalities of spaces by focusing on the mundane act of cleaning as a way to deterritorialise and allow the possibility of transformation.
After having branched out into Field Trip Asia last year, visiting Singapore and the Philippines in a travelling exhibition curated by Daisuke Takeya, Black Walks will be part of the Animart Conference in Delphi, Greece. I will present the project and screen some of the films I made from the performances in the programme ‘Made of Walking’ curated by Milena Principle
‘Kein Wintermärchen’ is a performance event taking place at Funkhaus, Berlin on 17 January 2016. ‘No Winter’s Tale’ doesn’t provide a red thread for finding your way through the maze, but it is up to the viewer to rediscover their own narratives, their own sense through a labyrinth of visual riddles and cryptic becomings.
I will be performing ‘RED – Twilight’ exploring the engulfing bowels of my gigantic red costume within the tunnels and recesses in the old radio building, Funkhaus.
Dominique Baron-Bonarjee (Berlin)
Gábor Czap (Budapest)
Marina Epp (Berlin)
Zoe Goldstein (Berlin)
Ksenia Lazarieva Guinea (Madrid)
Brigitta Horváth (Sers, France)
Tony Dionys Segers (Antwerp)
Saverio Tonoli (Berlin)
Iphigenia Vogiatzaki (Berlin)