The rain begins to drip through the crack. We’ve been sat listening to a curator discuss her public practice, but the storm has hit and she is distant, her digitally-modulated voice softer than the pattering, insistent and loud, that now keeps us inside. Soon, too soon, the dripping becomes a steady almost-stream, creating a large puddle on the concrete floor. The foliage outside moistly presses up against the foggy windows, and we anxiously watch the ceiling, our minds no longer critically thinking through the environmental responsibility of the curator.
Later that day, we sit in a dark created by taped up bin bags in a different building. We’re listening to an artist talking about endings, but the connection (again, digitally modulated) is shaky so it sounds like she too is underwater. We swim through her thinking in the low tempo of the mid-afternoon.
[image 1: taken during Horst Art Lab (Vilvoorde, Belgium)]
Opacity as a strategy to “see with rather than within.”
A group of artists, one might assume, traipse through the tall grass along the riverbank. This sounds more romantic than it is – across the river are two large cooling towers, and there’s a steep concrete slope that keeps the murky water far from us. This is an annoyance to the academic leading the way, for she wants us to wash a collection of Brazilian crystals near the source of this river.
On the return back from a non-ending, each member of the now-group holds an individual crystal. Skimming the surfaces of conversations about colonialism, orientalism and pedagogy, the day ends with rain that once again brings the human voice to silence.
Is the Adriatic saltier than other seas?
One at a time, we read excerpts from the Cybermohalla Diaries (2002). Utensils are filled with water, arguments are had around a tap, a crowd is evoked in each text. Our voices, carrying across countries, don’t convey the complexity of what is captured, and we soon fall into a discussion around the ethics of foregrounding the aesthetics of collective work and the privileges and risks associated with visibility.
In the evening, the fountain gushes. We, like everyone, are drawn to the shore, interacting like Calder mobiles as the light fades.
[image 2: work produced during Decoding Social Spaces workshop with Christoph Schäfer and Margit Czenki]
I swim near the university campus for the first time. The water is cool and surprisingly deep.
Sat inside a café still feels unusual. She is speaking of a project about a water tap. A Belgian artist, invited to work with a community, understands that the water tap is a central location. They build an amphitheatre around the tap.
Later, I am back in the dark, this time listening to the very recognisable voice of an artist who always seems to be whispering. The ground is covered in ink, the space separated with gauzy segments of cloth.
“What if we thought of the experiment of the hold as the absolute fluidity, the informality, of this condition of need and ability? What if ability and need were in constant play and we found someone who dispossessed us so that this movement was our inheritance. Your love makes me strong, your love makes me weak. What if “the between the two,” the lost desire, the articulation, was this rhythm, this inherited experiment of the shipped in the churning waters of flesh and expression that could grasp by letting go ability and need in constant recombination. If he moves me, sends me, sets me adrift in this way, amongst us in the undercommons. So long as she does this, she does not have to be.” Moten and Harney, The Undercommons, p99.