category /36

    • a.pass post-graduate program portfolio in the form of a self-interview


      appendix: polish website/archive of the research project (the website is in Polish, but references and content materials are in English)






      What brought you to the research that you have been engaged with at a.pass?


      First, I want to talk about movement practice; it is my base and the operational system. The movement practice has always been experiential and collaborative. It has grown through learning from and with others, listening to words, moving, formulating instructions, exploring their potentials, or teaching. It has always been working with the space in which it was happening and the materiality of the body and those beyond it. I have been exploring this practice as a practitioner– a mover. As such, a performer is always an agent and an observer of the performative. To perform one needs to be aware of the performativity that is already happening both within and beyond them. I’m interested in making the experience of the ‘performer’ available, for the audience; that is, to become an agent on the inside. Through the audience/performer’s relation to the textual material they are invited to activate the words through their participation. 


      Second, I will tell you a story:

      We sit together on a blanket. We are seven, but I say we are five. We are on the lawn in front of a 19th century gallery building that hosts the performance that you imagine you are taking part in. I say all five characters' names and indicate, with each, to a specific person sitting on the blanket (I don't know your real names). I say: we are at the beach, we are wearing bathing suits, one of us is topless. I say: there is a birthday cake in the middle of the blanket.  I describe how it looks with appetite: it has three layers, covered with whipped cream, and decorated with a few strawberries. I say: suddenly, we hear the noise. I say: we turn towards it. I say: we see a dog, a big one, hairy. I say: it is running towards us, fast. I say: it is very close. I say: it is hitting the cake, eating it, destroying it, and making a mess. I say: pieces of cake and drops of whipped cream are landing on our bodies. I say: we are looking at each other, we see our bathing suits and skin are filthy. I say: we are leaving to take a bath in the sea, to rinse the remains of the cake. I get up and leave the place. You follow. (A performative walk in summer 2018)


      What were the questions you entered a.pass with, and what was their trajectory? 


      My a.pass research proposal had three questions[*] which I was busy with throughout. But, from the very beginning, there was also an underlying inquiry that I’ve only recently named 'the undercover project’. I find it more important than the questions posed in the application. 'The undercover project’, though not proposed directly in my application, was the real motive to enter the a.pass research environment. I unfolded the project in the following questions: How can I engage in research questions not by building a construction (a product) based on elements that are accessible to me in the moment of posing the question, but by continually digging into the problems they evoke? Can I, through practice, dig into implicit relations and assumptions within my research? Can I at least for a while, or sometimes, suspend the connection of my practice to the product it might bring? Can I, instead, turn around to the field I want to explore and experiment within it? Not to repeat the representations but go into interactions with them? Exploring these possibilities is important for me for further functioning within the arts, for refreshing the sense of it, for negotiating with its demands. It was necessary to ask how I want to cultivate my base of the practice beyond, or better to say, under different the manifestations that it may take. 

      Through the research process, I realized that my initial questions were attached to a particular imagination of a product and the context in which it could circulate. I wanted to reformulate my approach to working, to look for other possible openings of my practice. At the very end of a.pass, I realized I was unconsciously repeating the logic of production; using research as a means to produce something. Whilst, I don't see it as necessarily wrong to use research outcomes for further production, in my case, the logic of production was keeping my research in a very narrow frame, thinking towards the future in terms of production was haunting me. Therefore, through a.pass I was able to build skills of resistance. The skills to make a space in which I could engage with research questions and share them in new ways. The booklet I am sharing through the end-presentations is the unperfect footprint of risking entering a different mode of questioning. It is the beginning.


      What is your current research? 


      The research materializes as written texts, which experiment with the form of the score—a choreographic tool. These scores are to be read by a reader on their own. They are written as scores (in its broadest sense), as tools that produce a specific situation, but rather than thinking of them as instructions, I propose to think of them as a literary form. A score as an instruction assumes a particular mode of attending and a set of abilities to enact it; to focus, to imagine, to act. As an instruction a score attributes value to doing. Here, I counter that attribution of value by opening possibilities of various ways of attending and propose to look at the performativity taking place in an intimate sphere activated through reading. I understand it as an interobjective[†] space created by a reader, a score, and an environment. The participant is invited to explore different ways of engaging with and interpreting the score. The reading of a text is a way of following this proposition and observing one's attendance.  I called this kind of attendance 'speculative doing'—observing, sensing, perceiving, and maybe imagining a further action, physical doing. 


      A score is a structure for participation. What do you propose to participate in through these scores? 


      The score directs its readers’ attention towards the relations within an environment of which they are part. In particular, I explore how we take part in the materiality of the environment as well as the relations we are already engaged in and have potential to engage with. Building upon observation and somatic experience, I explore environmental relations through navigating attention and developing fictions. This begins with observing our own perceptual and imaginative patterns  by turning our attention towards our embodiment and our surroundings. Exploring the relationality through one's sensual nature puts subjectivity in the network of dynamic relations where human and non-human materiality cannot be sharply separated. It engages the images, beliefs, and scores of 'being a person' and asks how, as such, do we understand our participation in the environment[MOU1]. Fiction is implemented here as a speculative tool for practicing relationality, a tool to create affects—fictional spaces can, and often do, influence patterns of perception.


      How do you use text to explore these modes of participation? 


      The way of attending I am exploring and proposing demands effort. As William James said: 'Only those items which I notice shape my mind—without selective interest, experience is an utter chaos.'[‡] To open up towards an experience of the material environment, I am looking for ways of giving attention to the possible mergers or dependencies between the bodies of participants and different materialities. An observation is an entry point, a practice to create attention. The research plays out in the area where we observe the grounds that we stand on; to give attention, 'to excavate' relations, processes, and influences we take part in, cause, or are submitted to.


      If observation is a tool, what does it serve? Is observation a mindfulness meditation or an awareness exercise? Is your practice a form of human meditation within the earthy matter?


      Observation is a tool for exploring the fantasmic minds—real or, at times, fictional sets of relationships that we are part of. It is a method to get acquainted with the unstable nature of fantasmic relations; their changeability, or even the transformation of the worlds known to us. To live with this transformation is to enter into collaboration with a process of decay, overcoming and transforming our own perceptual and existential limits or habits. The observation here (as opposed to how it functions in mindfulness) is not to experience 'myself in the present' but to direct the attention beyond the borders of my body, towards the other, our relation, dynamic of it, and the self, understood as being part of a bigger mind. Observation assumes the unknown (what is yet to come, what is excluded from perception) as potential and invites it to influence the known. 


      As a presentation, you propose a booklet, an object to keep in hand, to read in your own space and timing. What kind of encounder do you propose?


      Bridging the idea of reading with the participation implied in a score, entangles the readers body with the text in an intimate way. Attending to a conscious observation is a very personal and intimate engagement. I propose the exploration at this level to let this 'close to yourself' experience—the intimate—be influenced. To engage with observation is to explore how you, on this intimate level, are in, and develop, relations with others (human and non-human). How do you perceive and perform your participation within structures? What do you attend to? and what do you exclude yourself from? I was interested and inspired by the precarity of the proposed format and situation. Will the reader try to engage with the imagination within the text? or read across it briefly? Will they engage with the choreographic aspect and relate the text to the body?

      On the other hand, I thought of it as the choreography of precarious times—'poor choreography' or 'poor people choreography'[§]. To create or participate in it, one doesn't need any production machine, theater, scenography, or performers. One doesn't need to buy tickets or even to go out. You can participate in it while being in lockdown, it is accessible wherever you need to be. These ‘poor’ conditions are interesting exactly because they activate a private space and a sense of public-ness within.

      Observation and further speculation are ways to explore our position in the world's material organization; in its systems and structures of power and control. A poet, Forrest Gander, talks about the 'anti-spectacular' potential of poetry which, using just words can focus attention for long hours and cause profound influence even in the context of the “resplendent visual world which often cannot focus attention on anything at all”[**]. I am looking for this kind of anti-spectacular potential of 'written choreography' operating on perceptions, senses, and imagination.


      Attention and observation happen in time. Is time a theme in the research?


      With this research, I reconsider what it means for a work to be time-based. The environment and the processes happening within it confront us with the passing of time. Different matters have different temporalities, temporal scales, and different dynamic registers of action. The ultimate reference and a tool to think with is, for me, geology, which brings us to the earth as the basic structure of our material being. Geological time teaches us about the constant movement of any and all matter, and it gives us a more-than-human perspective to time. 


      I become troubled by thinking of the ‘nowness’ seemingly implicit in performance. 'Being here and now' is often the main category of performative practices. This ‘nowness’ is central to the somatic and improvisation practices that were formative for me and my work. Whilst I appreciate their methodologies—the ways in which they teach us how to give attention and how to be affected—they tend to give attention to an individual experience and place importance on what a subjective 'I' goes through. I have the impression that this approach to practices builds a community whose members develop a  sensibility for their own experience isolated in time and space. It creates a bubble of nowness that celebrates itself, that is, celebrates the individual, and does not create an idea of community with what is not immediately accessible, here and now. I try to work with elements of the somatic within an open-ended environment, in order to revisit individual or collective memories, create and share fiction, and re-observe the environment close to the body. Can we, with somatics, think of a body as something which is not determined by an 'I' and not limited to our materiality, but as an expanding entity in time and space? Can the performative act activate an embodied experience to explore an entity’s sensorial community of different matter and temporalities?


      What would be the next step for this research?


      I will keep on exploring writing. I want to work on a performative space where the intimacy of silent reading can perform in a public, social and collective space. I am thinking to collaborate with a visual artist to create a performative space where fiction-speculation is co-created by text, matter, words, and participants' bodies.




      [*] The central questions of the research proposal "Immersive speculation: choreography activating potentials" are: 

      How can choreography be a form of speculation on environmental transformations?

      How can this speculation address the actual environment in which it is happening?

      How can the viewer with his/her presence be placed inside this speculation?

      [†] Timothy Morton, Hyperobjects; as explained in chapter Interobjectivity; University of Minnesota Press; 2013; s.81-95

      [‡] William James, 'Attention'; in: F.R. David, AUTUMN 2020; uh books with KW Institute for Contemporary Art Berlin; s.39

      [§] When I talk about precarity I'd like to refer to two artists who help me think about it. First of them is Ligia Clark and her Relational Object, second Lisa Nelson with her precarious composition scores, eg. one named 'Poor people yoga'. 

      [**] Usłyszeć ciszę, interview with Forrest Gander; in Julia Fiedorczuk, Inne Możliwości. O poezji, ekologii i polityce. Rozmowy z amerykańskimi poetami (Other possibilities. On poetry, ecology and politics. Talks with american poets); Katedra Scientific Publisher; Gdańsk 2019; s. 113.


      Selected references:


      María Puig de la Bellacasa, Matters of Care; University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis; 2017

      Julia Fiedorczuk, Inne Możliwości. O poezji, ekologii i polityce. Rozmowy z amerykańskimi poetami (Other possibilities. On poetry, ecology and politics. Talks with american poets); Katedra Scientific Publisher; Gdańsk 2019

      Forrest Gander BĄDŹ BLLISKO (BE WITH), translation Julia Fiedorczuk; LOKATOR; Kraków 2020.

      Peter Handke, The Jukebox and Other Essays on Storytelling; Picador; USA; 2020

      Philippine Hoegen ANOTHER VERSIONThinking through performance’; Onomantopee; Brussels 20202

      Toine Horvers, moving-writing; Toine Horvers and stichting Suburban; Rotterdam 2020

      William James, 'Attention'; in: F.R. David, AUTUMN 2020; uh books with KW Institute for Contemporary Art Berlin

      Timothy Morton, Hyperobjects; University of Minnesota Press; 2013

      Georges Perec, PRZESTRZENIE (ESPACE), LOKATOR, Kraków 2019

      Ana Vujanović, Landscape dramaturgy: “Space after perspective”; Ana Vujanović’s website (2018)

      Kathryn Yusoff, "Epochal Aesthetics: Affectual Infrastructures of the Anthropocene,


      Anne Juren, Fantasmical Anatomy research

      Ligia Clark Relational objects

      Ilana Halperin, Geologic Intimacy


      Blocks in which I participated:


      2 September-1 December 2019

      BLOCK 2019/III 




      16 January-27 March 2020 (block closed)




      4 May-31 July 2020 / home (partial participation)




      14 September-3 October 2020 




      Thanks for...

      The always generous support: Lilia Mestre
      Mentoring of the end project:  Myriam Van Imschoot
      Mentoring throughout the research process: Kristien Van den Brande, Elke Van Campenhout, Valentina Desideri, Nicolas Galeazzi, Philipine Hoegen, Myriam Van Imschoot, Krõõt Juurak, Anne Juren, Sara Manente, Anna Nowicka, Jeroen Peeters, and Femke Snelting
      Facilitating the a.pass program through curating blocks: Lilia Mestre, Vladimir Miller, Peggy Pierrot, Pierre Rubio, Sina Seifee, and Female Snelting. The companionship, support, and challenges: the a.pass researchers with whom I crossed (Deborah Birch, Rui Calvo, Anapaula Camargo, Chloe Chignell, Diego Echegoyen, Signe Frederiksen, Quinsy Gario, Stefan Govaart, Adriano Wilfert Jensen, Mathilde Maillard, Muslin Brothers, Nathaniel Moore, Vera Sofia Mota, Flavio Rodrigo Orzari, Ferreira Lucia Palladino, Federico Protto, Piero Ramella,, Túlio Rosa Christina Stadlbauer, Federico Vladimir Strate Pezdirc, Kasia Tórz, Katrine Turner, Amélie van Elmbt, Andrea Zavala Folache)
      English proofreading and editing of my texts: Chloe Chignell
      Making all this possible: the team of a.pass (Lilia Mestre Steven Jouwersma Joke Liberge Michèle Meesen)
      Facilitating shifts of perspectives: Jakub Szymanik

      My participation in a.pass and the realization of this research would not have been possible without the support of Grażyna Kulczyk’s Research Scholarship in the field of choreography granted by Art Stations Foundation.

    • research portfolio
    • PORTFOLIO Rui Calvo
      17 January 2021
      posted by: Rui Calvo
    • case of: Rui Calvo

      I am deeply grateful to Lilia Mestre and the a.pass researchers who worked in front of my camera, being vulnerable, violent, playful, cheating, confused, confusing and much more: Andrea Zavala Folache, Caterina Mora, Diego Echegoyen, Federico Vladimir, Flávio Rodrigo, Lucia Palladino and Nathaniel Moore. I also thank my mentor, Sara Manente, who participated as a performer in two videos. They were all engaged in doing and thinking with me, each with a different background and contributing in a unique way. The trajectory the research has taken is also due to their collaboration.

      I have a background in cinema and I came to a.pass in order to take a distance from this field. I wanted to think of the audiovisual narrative otherwise. My initial questions surrounded different ways of filming bodies while not imprisoning them in rational discourse. How to create characters that push these limits and reject the logic of belonging, of confirmation? The a.pass proposals and the reading of different texts throughout the trajectory produced new desires that led the research into an eternal conflict between theory and practice. My focus was on filming bodies, their faces, their gestures. Over the course of my research trajectory in a.pass, the constant practice of shooting people from the program who were interested in taking part in the videos, and editing the material gradually, brought new important questions to explore, but the initial one always remained there, always being transformed and gaining broader implications. I have allowed myself to make choices that may be considered naivety or failure, but they were important for discoveries and new paths. So in this portfolio I will present the proposition of each video I made in a.pass; the instructions given to the performers to work in front of the camera; the videos themselves; some notes of the discussions with curators, mentors and researchers about the practice; and quotes of books and texts I was reading – all according to my point of view in the present, while writing and most importantly, editing, as a way of thinking, filming, and rethinking the whole trajectory.




      In the beginning of the block, I had in mind:

      • The body is disciplined to mean something, to the detriment of the dimension of presence. So... Reject psychology. Empty the inner meanings of the gestures and impulses. Refuse to know the mechanics of choice.
      • Acting: a process of self-exploration according to the statement above. It’s fun, playful, madcap... Lived experience as much a product of convention as dramatic experience.
      • Masks > Personalities. Masks are used to adjust oneself to the situation, to the other people involved in it and also to the camera. Deal with masks.
      • Physiognomy: an interest in guessing what meaning lies behind this person’s face; an idea of revealing. Need for a social control of the inner person.
      • Facingness: observe faces and gestures inside a narrative without converting them into signs to reveal the inner psychology – preserve the opacity of this person.
      • Audiovisual narrative where the bodies are not a translation into images of a screenplay and/or a discourse. The production of the character is unstable and influenced by the filming process itself. More interest in the process than the product, in the strength of an instant than in the logic of an action. Create forces that burst open both narrative and representation: the relationship between an image and an object that it should illustrate.
      • Not a screenplay: preserve the natural language of the performers. No learning lines.

      “Une notion comme celle d’identité, aujourd’hui entièrement policière (connotations psychologiques comprises, du ressort des redresseurs de moi en tous genres), recouvre bien un aspect de cette perte: le visage doit être identique, non au sujet, mais à sa définition. Il n’est plus la fenêtre de l’âme, mais une affiche, un slogan, une étiquette, un badge.” A notion like that of identity, today entirely policed (psychological implications included, the responsibility of all kinds of redressers of self) does contain an aspect of this loss: the face must be identical not to the subject but to its definition. It is no longer the window to the soul, but a poster, a slogan, a label, a badge. - JACQUES AUMONT


      FIRST VIDEO (june 2019)




      Shooting part I: frame Caterina’s body in wide shot. She is moving, dancing, rehearsing. An introduction to the next shot, creating a curiosity about her.



      Shooting part II: Caterina’s face.

      • practice my role behind the camera when I don’t have a script or a goal regarding content. What am I seeing through the camera in this context?
      • practice a close relationship between the performer and the camera, or a dynamic of intersubjectivity between the cameraman and the model.

      Instructions to Caterina:

      1. Silence. Don’t talk. Stay in the chair. You can look around, you are not supposed to stand still. Sometimes I want you to look at the camera, establish a relationship with it, as if it were someone else, a character.
      2. Staying in the chair, look for a spot in the room that catches your attention. Observe it and describe what you see.

      Caterina’s feedback: “I was not super much thinking and I was just trying to be, like, calm. [...]  At first I was trying to be pretty and then I was a bit bored of myself… And… It’s not that I, I was thinking into something… I was just trying to focus on being here [...] But I was trying to be calm. To not to do, so... but I think I did a lot. [...] Or try to not have an opinion of what I was doing.”



      Shooting part III: Flávio’s face. It was filmed later, without Caterina and it was less improvised, since I was planning the filming according to what happened in the previous shoot.

      Instructions to Flávio:

      1. Silence. Don’t talk. Stay in the chair. You can look around, you are not supposed to be completely still. Sometimes I want you to look at the camera, establish a relationship with it, as if it were someone else, a character. I will not count the time, but you should stay like this for a few minutes. So, in your time, I won’t say anything, you look at the camera and say: “I’m gonna put a song” and then you get up and go left. When you return, talk to me but looking at the camera, I have questions for you. And you also must have questions for me. Do you think you are acting now?


      Editing: connect Caterina’s and Flávio’s close-ups as if they were shot and countershot. Since they don’t interact and don’t talk about the same subjects, observe what their faces and gestures express in that mixture.


      Video's presentation feedback: Philippine Hoegen, one of the mentors of the block, sees a mixed relationship with the object, a game with it, in which there were no signifiers for Caterina. Surface x psychology. She says that the fact of framing implies a choice and immediately creates a relationship. Nicolas observes that a causality was created during editing, but not only that. A way of editing that controls and loses control, falls in love with faces. Caterina thinks I should be busy with clarifying the methodology of editing, and my role as an editor. It makes me think back to my interest in the strength of the instant over the logic of an action. How to play with this strength in the editing?


      SECOND VIDEO (july 2019)




      Unlike the first video, this one is about interaction between performers, and most of the time the camera is far away from them. The general situation of the scene is not clear, but each of them has two or three instructions to follow, a score in which they hover between fiction and being themselves – a creation of subjectivity through filming. None knows the instructions of the others. A score to ensure that the performers are not subordinate to the causality of narrative, that they surpass the limits of a given role and don’t reduce themselves to a character or an identity.

      Instructions to the performers:


      . all the time you must be eating a fruit or talking

      . you don’t want Diego in bed


      . read a book (Strangers to Ourselves or Sexus) that you find on the bed, sometimes aloud

      . attentively observe Flávio and his body

      . invite Diego to bed

      . “Do you wanna go back to Brazil?”


      . make questions about the couple Lilia and Flávio

      . say many times: “I’m ok. Don’t worry.” “Do you want me to leave?”

      . don’t look at them too much and when you look, disguise that you are looking


      The close-ups are shot after the improvisation, a sort of interview in which I ask them questions related to subjects they were discussing in the shooting.

      The improvisation is shot three times, alway restarting from the beginning, like in a rehearsal in which a scene is improved and a dramaturgy is created. But the aim is to create a score that allows people and relationships to be constantly in construction. To go further in this goal, the répétition (rehearsal and repetition in French) will be practiced in a different way in the following a.pass blocks, recording an ongoing situation that stops only when the shooting finishes (this subject will be explored later on). 

      The wide shot shows the space in its entirety, a recognizable space (a bedroom) that somehow situates the fictional situation. But it’s more a backdrop for a pursuit. Placing people together in bed is charged with meaning, and I want to see how they would deal with this without having a clear fictional framing. 

      Since the camera doesn’t get close to the performers, it doesn’t interfere much in the way they act. In some videos further on, I will hold it closer to them, making the intrusion of filming more noticeable, and opening the possibility for the performers to experience a different embodiment via the intersection of context and camera.

      In this video, I don’t see a different temporality being created, nor a puncture (something that appears in the middle, between fiction and reality) or an awkwardness. Sometimes something close to this happens, like at 17:50 in the timeline of this video: Lilia says she feels more respected now that she’s getting older, then she covers herself with a blanket and talks about disappearing, not being framed. Her words cause discomfort in Flávio and Diego. There is a moment of silence in which they don’t know how to act. It’s an important quality in the development of the research, which I will go further with in the next videos.

      During the video’s presentation in a.pass, Nicolas Galeazzi, curator of the block, observes that some instructions given to the performers have different qualities compared to others. For example, “all the time you must be eating a fruit or talking” produces something different to “you don’t want Diego in bed.” This is another practise I develop in the following block.



      "Learning to be awkward, to be graceful, to leap, and to fall is a training in attention and also in revisceralizing one's bodily intuition. It is a training that collapses getting hurt with making a life, but that includes the welcoming of exposure alongside of a dread of it. There can be no change in life without revisceralization. This involves all kinds of loss and transitional suspension."  - LAUREN BERLANT

      “Which is preferable: changing my personality and keeping my body, or changing my body and keeping my current manner of experiencing reality? A fake dilemma. Our personalities arise from this very gap between body and reality.” - PAUL PRECIADO

      “Contrary to the Lacanian theory of the mirror state, according to which the child’s subjectivity is formed when it recognizes itself for the first time in its specular image, political subjectivity emerges precisely when the subject does not recognize itself in its representation. It is fundamental not to recognize oneself. Derecognition, disidentification is a condition for the emergence of the political as the possibility of transforming reality.” - PAUL PRECIADO

      “Perhaps Lingin suggests, rather than transmitting clear meanings, the encounter rests on an acknowledgment of an elemental otherness that is related to our own. ‘We don't relate to the light, the earth, the air, and the warmth with our individual sensibility and sensuality’. We communicate to one another the light your eyes know...’” - AVIVAH GOTTLIEB ZORNBERG quoted by KAREN BARAD

      “Living compassionately, sharing in the suffering of the other, does not require anything like complete understanding (and might, in fact, necessitate the disruption of this very yearning).” - KAREN BARAD

      “Saying 'the truth is a creation’ implies that the production of truth goes through a series of operations consisting in working a matter, a series of falsifications in the literal sense... each one is a falsifier of the other, each one understands in his own the notion proposed by the other. It is these powers of the false that will produce the true.” - GILLES DELEUZE




      One of the proposals of this block is a weekly meeting where each person presents 5 minutes of a practice, work, or something regarding their research, and about which another participant asks a question, and a third one answers on behalf of the first. Each asks and answers on the basis of his/her own research. I present videos that I shoot one day per week with performers and edit right after filming. Throughout this process, my questions from the previous block remain, but with new contours, and alongside new questions. The room where I film the videos is dark and not recognizable as a place: it’s not a living room, a bar, a rehearsal room, thus troubling the space where the performers can situate themselves (in fiction or reality). This creates the conditions for sub-narratives to arise and evolve. The instructions given to the performers have one or more of the characteristics listed below:

      • that they stimulate repetition
      • that they depend on personal interpretation according to their own feelings and opinions
      • they don’t depend on personal interpretation, opinions, or feelings; the performers do it and right after have to process what was done: they are not protected by a character context
      • that they demand attention to find the cue, a right moment to do it
      • that they divert attention
      • that they interfere in the flow of the action, of the narration
      • that they activate an otherness (“Is it me who did it or not?”)
      • that they demand the knitting of stories (the self does not produce fiction, but is instead produced by fiction); personal stories are mingled with tasks that move towards fiction

      One new fundamental element of these videos is violence. There’s violence in the stories the performers are asked to tell, but none are told the instructions of the others, so there’s a tension of not knowing who has instructions that demand disrespect or aggression, nor what they might do with them (so they play a dynamic of glances). There is the violence of framing bodies, allowing the spectator to see what the performers see and also to watch the seeing, which the performers can’t. The cut in the editing becomes more prominent once the context (either real or fictional) is more unclear; every cut becomes an ellipse. The ellipse can be considered violent, but it can also be seen as a way of interfering in the moving image, freeing it from the surveilling eyes of the spectator.

      Having to admit some aggression and to move within dissatisfaction (the inconvenience of other people), I ask them to not take the agressions too personally and to look for something in between the score and the improvisation. What kind of encounter is possible in such a context of tension, vulnerability, exposure to the other and to the camera, ongoing rupture, misunderstanding and indeterminacy? What kind of encounter is possible in a situation where the body has no stable response to an intention, because neither the filmmaker nor the performers have access to one? How much are these violent thoughts already embedded in the performers? If in the beginning of the research there was still an idea of character – though already unstable and influenced by the filming process itself – now this idea is even more troubled. What can be imagined in that scenario? What kind of alchemy is produced with those elements?

      The instructions are given to the performers right before filming and, once I start shooting, I record uninterruptedly for one or two hours in the same space. So the actions, lines and stories contained in the instructions are repeated many times in an ongoing situation, creating a different temporality. The state of not knowing is prolonged. It’s a framed encounter in which improvisations are perpetually rearranged and rearticulated. The language spoken is mostly English, which none of us has as our mother tongue, and which therefore evolves as queered communication. This becomes an important element in my work within this context.

      The video below is the final edit of all the videos I made throughout the looming score.


      Instructions for the visitors:

      • watch the whole video before reading further
      • then read the instructions for the performers 
      • remember that each video was originally shown without revealing the instructions to the spectators
      • and that the whole series of looming videos were shot without the performers ever knowing each other’s instructions

      Instructions for the performers:






      first part






      everyone but Lilia

      • you cannot be the first to say something.


      • first sentence you should say: “I realized that when you socially don’t notice the violence, it is because you do it.”
      • take notes


      •  what are the others hiding or showing/revealing? 
      • say “Stop that acting”
      • always non-stop looking at the one who speaks


      • always start speaking using “I” 
      • hit the table to get attention or interrupt someone


      • repeat the sentence until it is understood or you are convinced that you were understood
      • when someone says something, you stare at him/her for a while






      second part







      • tell again the train story you told in the first video, repeating it throughout the shooting, each time filling the story with more details


      • say to Flávio “Listen to her”


      • always start each sentence saying “I...”






      third part







      • tell Lilia’s story about the train as if it had happened to you
      • do not move while speaking, only when you need to show an object or make a clear gesture while telling the story


      • ask details about the story, always mixed with comments about the perception of Flávio in the present, his behavior, his gestures (e.g. What are you looking at? You’re warm. Your eyes are tiny. Your eyes change when you say [this word]).






      forth part







      • tell the story about violence that you told in the first video, making only important gestures in order to explain it. Stay clear-eyed in the scene of violence, repeat the story giving more details, creating facts, trying to communicate.


      • describe the gestures and behavior of Lucia and imitate them


      • ask about the other involved in Lucia’s story, imagining this role in the story
      • play with a balloon
      • ask Lucia many times: “Is it violent?”






      fifth part








      • Tell Lilia’s train story as if it had happened to you
      • Touch Lilia
      • Repeat some of Lilia’s words
      • Smile a lot 


      • Say to Caterina that the story didn’t happened the way she’s telling it
      • Ask Caterina to choose an insult against a woman and Lilia repeats it
      • Describe people who pass on the streets and their behavior

      The camera’s potential to interfere with the improvisation of the performers is not yet as incisive in these videos as it could be. Most of the time I am holding the camera far away and getting closer only by zooming in. In later videos, the camera, as well as my presence, will be more intrusive or at least there I will make attempts towards this. Jeroen Peeters, one of my mentors, participates in a filming practice as an observer and draws my attention to the question of whether I should be more present in the shooting. I think about my voice, my gestures (hors champ or not), the camera and my thoughts as possible agents of interference.* Jeroen also remarks on the private dramaturgy that is produced in each performer. I could also play more with my interference, allowing it to facilitate or threaten what is being produced.

      * For me, it seems that “interference” is a concept that was always part of the research, but it was Lilia who drew my attention to it in a conversation in my last block.



      “It is repetition that which ruins and degrades us, but it is repetition that which can save us and allow us to escape from the other repetition. Kierkegaard had already opposed a fettering, degrading repetition of the past to a repetition of faith, directed towards the future, which restored everything to us in a power which was not that of Good but of the absurd. To the eternal return as reproduction of something always already-accomplished, is opposed the eternal return as resurrection, a new gift of the new, of the possible.”  - GILLES DELEUZE

      “Tout l’effort du développement ‘technique’ du cinéma [...] revient à naturaliser l’image cinématographique, c'est-à-dire à la domestiquer, à la familiariser [...] Adieu à l'inquiétante étrangeté, adieu à l’altérité non récupérable, adieu au réel non encore cadrable.” The whole endeavour of ‘technical’ development in cinema [...] comes back to naturalising the cinematographique image, meaning domesticating it, familiarising it [...] Goodbye to troubling strangeness, goodbye to irretrievable otherness, goodbye to the as-yet-unframeable real. - JEAN-LOUIS COMMOLI

      “The lack of elements to glue things creates an openness, a possibility of never settling. We cannot block out the irrationality, the perversity, the madness we fear, in the hopes of a more orderly world. [...] Indeterminacy is not a lack, a loss, but an affirmation, a celebration of the plentitude of nothingness.” - KAREN BARAD

      “Relationality always includes a scenic component, a fantasmatic staging.”
      “Transforming the story of cause and effect to a spectacle of cause and side effects.” - LAUREN BELANT

      “...identity allows us to distance ourselves from any actual manifestation of queerness”
      “...accept the inauthencity at the core of something, understand it as a social institution, while still self-consciously and undeceivedly, succumbing to it.”




      (an extra block to keep working on our research while having a lot of questions and a myriad of uncertain responses in self-confinement)








      “Lies are so hard to keep track of. It's like you're constantly being reborn every time you begin a new sentence.” - DENNIS COOPER

      “L'art de vivre, c'est de tuer la psychologie, de créer avec soi-même et avec les autres des individualités, des êtres, des relations, des qualités qui soient innomés.” The art of living is to kill psychology, to create with oneself and with others unnamed individualities, beings, relations, qualities.  - MICHEL FOUCAULT

      “Ideia de identidade só funciona quando a subjetividade está reduzida ao sujeito”. The idea of identity only works when subjectivity is reduced to the subject. - SUELY ROLNIK

      "Shame is the affect that mantles the threshold between introversion and extroversion, between absorption and theatricality, between performativity and — performativity." - EVE KOSOFSKY SEDGWICK




      The aim of the Settlement workshop is “to create a poly-central gathering that is self-structured, self-organized and open to contributions from anyone. You are cordially invited to join this process by establishing your own space in the a.pass Settlement and sharing some of your ideas, practices or works with others. The materials and structures available at the a.pass main space will be a common resource for all who join to create whatever is needed to facilitate this process.” Trying to adapt my research to this proposal, I work on making a set for my filming practice. A nondescript space, a potential landscape that doesn’t represent a specific place but whose elements engender different connotations according to the acting of the performers and how I choose frame (dark spots, a red curtain, a corridor).

      The following video is shot in that space, mixing up a private and intimate sphere with a theatrical scene. Although the performers discuss the news, tell personal stories and perform violent gestures, there is no predetermined discourse. The aim is to have no project, to preserve a way of filming that is a form of thinking in real time, to create the conditions for something to emerge, to articulate new meanings or to dislocate the subject of meaning altogether. In this shoot, the performers acknowledge the camera and the viewer’s presence more, resulting in uncomfortable physical responses to the act of being filmed and encaged, or to the feeling of being “unmasked.”

      My work with the camera and the editing opens a negotiation between what I watch, what I feel about it, what I would like to produce. There are moments that flow in their whole duration (“real time”) and other ones that I cut more, creating a cumulative effect of time.




      Some extracts from the interview with the performers of the video above (Andrea Zavala Folache, Caterina Mora, Lilia Mestre) about their experience and Kasia Tórz as a mediator. The transcription is faithful to the syntax of the speakers.

      RC: How would you define the agency you had? 

      LM: about interfering, possibility of interfering. Dislocating as well what’s happening. And also [...] to not do, you can stop anytime. [...] it’s not sequential instruction in a way. I think interference is the best word. Which is a generator.


      I think we are on standby and then things start to happen. There’s quite some rupture [...] It doesn’t need to be violent [...] but to cut through.

      KT: Andrea, do you also share this notion of interfering?

      AZF: Yes, in the sense of… I thought the agency I was given or I was taken was one with autonomy, like that the agency was autonomous to... to be responsible of when to interfere or change track of things or when to enable the score or disable it. It makes me think also of interdependence, so interfering as a sort of… that this fear that creates the action where the three of us are agents, is one that is interconnected. So it’s an interdependent relationship of… I have my autonomy but it doesn’t take away the responsibility to actually, anything I do can be changing how things will resolve themselves or get lost.

      CM: So for me about interference, I don’t feel it more in terms of the dramaturgy because I feel more the continuation actually, the repetition of the rule. And when I see interference is more in terms of the rhythm, so something in the rhythm of what’s happening is being cut but something that appears. But for me the agency is more related to how much can I push the rule, how much the rule resists. My agency is kind of being as obedient as possible.

      RC: How much agency you have? Is it something you can play with or... are you in a trap? Does vulnerability allow boundaries to be open or the opposite?

      LM: The instructions are my guidelines to interfere. [...] I do feel trapped but not badly. It also feels like “Ok, this is what you can do”, so it’s also relaxing to know that “ok, this is what you can do”. It’s not a trap in a negative way, like finding our way out of there. But I feel that the conditions are well established, I can’t... I’m well situated. Maybe the environment defines very much where you are and how you can move within that space.


      In terms of vulnerability, I do feel vulnerable... There’s nothing bad. I never felt bad. Neither to feel trapped. Neither to feel vulnerable. Neither to interfere. So there’s something there supporting these actions or these qualities that you are naming. So I also feel confident that I can feel vulnerable. Sometimes I think it’s needed somehow so I’ll work for that, to try to be in that place of vulnerability. This is my own thing.

      KS: Have you ever questioned the instructions or had a desire to add something or to cheat a bit?

      AZF: For me, the cheating is totally inscribed in the rules somehow. I am given enough information to know I can’t know all the rules… So there's an impossibility for me to know everything, you know, to hold all the information of the rules. So then there’s gaps of interpretation that opens up a... Maybe that’s also for the agency, a sense of being able to interpret and cheat. But I think when I was performing... It’s kind of actually hard to cheat because the rules are not so many so there’s a lot of space to do many other things… so the rules imply that not everything that I would do it’s a rule or something the director has told me to, so then all those other things are they cheating? So to cheat I guess would be to not obey the rule so even that it’s impossible. I mean unless we have a long conversation about exactly how my interpretation can follow a rule, but so I feel like it’s a sort of puzzle that I enter. [...] And the fact that I’m giving the information to have enough knowledge that it is a puzzle, then I feel a lot of trust from both Lilia and Caterina, and from Rui. And then the vulnerability can actually be embraced in a way. I like to think that vulnerability doesn’t contradict confidence. That in order to be vulnerable, especially in performing, you need confidence to actually be vulnerable for something. So that trust for me is really key. You know, that you trust my interpretations, my cheating, my following the rules, all of this is part of the puzzle. And I don’t feel totally trapped in it but I understand that walls are needed somehow.

      RC: The instructions allow cruel actions, but these violences are not often followed by a reaction  (no punishment, no confrontation, no resolution). Do you feel surprised by some of the actions of the others and how do you deal with it?

      LM: Instructions are not much given of how to react but more how to propose. (...) In relation to the one when Andrea calls me cunt, that was hard actually. I mean it was difficult to… And then it was very interesting to see how I could somehow compensate that humiliation somehow, right?  How can I reunite myself again as a character? So it's a moment of being disarmed, you’re like “ok”, and then how do I build it up, how do I create some consistency that I don’t collapse. How to rebuild to be able to play, to be able to be there.

      AZF: I also felt that when I called Lilia a cunt, the violence was in realizing that I would not do that in my life. So what am I saying “yes” to here?. Like am I doing it for the sake of art or a friend? So the fiction of the apparatus sort of save the violence but there’s still an ethical question in me of how far do I go for art. Because if I would be an actress following a script, people would know I’m a character. So it’s sort of excused in a way. And here because part of the script is taken out or something, it’s almost like I’m playing Andrea so I am close to reality. So people don’t know how I am playing with fiction actually, so the fictions that I play for myself are not totally visible. Then that kind of unappointed fiction or undefined fiction is what is the most violent of the work. But at the same time there’s still a part of fiction so I don’t feel extreme, not actually that it is causing any deep trouble.

      CM: It often happens I’m kind of surprised in my interior. And then it’s a bit shocking because… the camera is there not far away… Depending on how this surprise is, I’m also trying to integrate it. [...] A lot of things are happening because I’m always producing in relation to how I feel, to this surprise… And how I deal with this surprise.

      LM: I was thinking about our relationship outside of the camera, the situation. So I mean the level of complicity or friendship that we have already between us and... How does this play within when we are playing? Because we are all doing indeed ourselves and we are all part of this program, so we carry something with us already in the projection of who we are towards each other, so there’s another score in there also. There’s a system of relations that it’s there. If we were foreigners to each other it would be another one. Here we have a degree of knowledge of each other that comes from a.pass. We are all very much foreigners, we all come from different parts of the world with different stories. So we carry that and then we carry some common ground within the program and then we go inside that room.

      CM: The most violent is the editing, when I see how it’s also then afterward manipulated.

      LM: Always something can turn, the things can turn around, into another direction. In this sense there’s a bit of maybe immanent violence, there’s a sense of this quietness. It can be fun… I always feel a certain tension there where things could turn. I put some violence there. (...) Like, something can come from the back, something can come from a place that you didn’t… So maybe this is because we know that the instructions are different and then we don’t know them,  so there is an alertness in a way.

      RC: Each instruction has a different quality in the repetition. What does it do? It’s a skill-development instead of character-development?

      LM: I think that’s very hard actually, to repeat. Spontaneous is maybe more “ok”, you just throw yourself, let’s try this. But then repeat that you have to think twice. And then I think in a way it’s there where the work starts. Like how do you say it, and then maybe sometimes you just say it halfway... This is one thing, there’s a lot of practice in there. I feel the most acting practice comes from that place actually, of how to repeat things. And then I also think It creates a certain intimacy. [...] maybe not intimacy but history. Like I’ve been there before. I have heard it before. I’ve heard you say that before. I’m not telling that story myself. There is something that builds like a common history. Like the story of the train that it’s there since the beginning, now Andrea also knows that story but she doesn’t know exactly where it started, how it was originally. This story became something that we all know collectively and we all have different relations to that thing. [...] You don’t know anymore if it was real not real, how and what happened actually, but somehow you have an idea of that story.

      CM: [repetition] creates a condition that escapes, it’s escaping from the succeeds and failures, another condition of doing it. It doesn’t have to succeed because it doesn’t have to fail. [...] It creates a condition to navigate in all [...] What I like from repetition is that all the time it pushes me in the same position of doing something I don’t know if I would do it in a situation.

      AZF: For me is also a concrete form of awkwardness, that I value a lot as well. It’s kind of like being “hey, how are you?”, “hey, how are you?”, “hey, how are you?”. Like if you just give yourself whatever word and then you repeat it, it becomes absurd as well. Or everytime you say, there’s no training of it, other than saying it, so the intention changes so it’s awkward to say it again without knowing what’s the difference in the intention [...] If all I have to do is say a line and I have to rehearse it, but now I can’t rehearse but I have to repeat it, so it becomes more and more awkward for myself.

      LM: For example, in the laughter, it’s an interesting one. To have to laugh. Because I feel definitely awkward because there’s no reason, right. But then at the same time I have to say it was like listen to yourself, I know what a laugh can be, a real laugh. There’s also the question of the real laugh. Can I really do it for real?

      CM: All the time it allows displacement, the repetition. 

      RC: And the role of the camera?

      AZF: It’s like a level of being hyper aware, of self-awareness, alertness maybe, surveillance. I don’t think I forgot at any point that there was a camera.

      KT: Did you enjoy it also?

      AZF: Yeah. I guess that’s the creepiness of exposure and performance. It’s pervert. (...) I think I got at some point reminded that my agency has the right to challenge you as well and the camera. And I am so hyper aware of where it is that at any point I could just do this:

      [Andrea is the one in the lower left]

      LM: I think it happens more when you [Rui] are inside, in the beginning you were not inside. It was much more disarming because you don’t know at all, you just have the camera away with everything and you don’t know if it’s coming closer or further, so you are much more disarmed. Once you are there then… cause there’s also the possibility of getting away from the camera. You can also leave. You can also go. And in a way I think it becomes a character, there’s also Rui there. It’s also intrusive in a way, like “I’m looking at this, I’m interested in that”.

      RC: But it’s less voyeur?

      LM: Yes. I think it’s less voyeur.



      My initial question for the apass research fellowship departed from the place where humans meet their non-human environment. From there it took a few turns.


      In my artistic research, I explore the relationship humankind has with its other-than human-companions and the environment we are all sharing. The research started from my long term engagement with honeybees MelliferopolisBees in Urban Environments - and the work done by the Institute for Relocation of Biodiversity – an artistic container to explore the ethical implications of issues related with loss of habitat and the collapse of diversity. Lately, I have also started working with bacteria in the frame of my project Kin Tsugi Transformations and reflecting on the ethics implied with microbiological lab work.

      Although the precise expression of a research question, keeps slipping and escaping, I got very interested with a procedure that has been unfolding around the “new” definition of museums, launched by ICOM, the international council of museums. (see more about the MuseumDefinitionProcess.)

      From my perspective, although many aspects and possible roles of museums are considered in the re-definition, a major shortcoming persists. This has to do with a form of denial of other-than-human life forms needing to be acknowledged as also having rights. Taking this serious would give them a place in our re-thinking of the order of the world, and hence their inclusion in the definition and practice of museums.

      To think this further, I propose practice based experiments and explorations of how we humans relate to other species, like plants, animals, bacteria and see what forms of communication can be installed to both create a “language” towards and with them, as well as ways to express the experiences.

      Behind all this, is a wish to create a “museum of the future” that maybe calls for more than a redefinition but rather a deconstruction of the museum as such. It is a container that operates decentralized, ephemeral, at times paradoxical, and it does so by collecting practices, thoughts, interventions and embodied experiences.

      During the almost 2 years of Apass fellowship, some experiments manifested - partly public, partly more intimate. 


      March 2019, Contribution to Festival Performatiek, at Kanal:

      "Diversity is all around"- Installation and video projection. 

      Climate change poses a significant threat to the continuing existence of many species.
      The Institute for Relocation of Biodiveristy identifies fauna and flora in danger, and creates video tutorials to assist the species in relocating to safety in a new natural habitat.

      In the episode Diversity Is All Around, the Institute focuses on abundance of variety created through human intervention and care as well as surrogates to alleviate the losses.

      During the first block of Apass, from January to April 2019, Vladimir Miller was our curator. The settlement practice that he offers led us ultimately, to settle our entire group and work at Centre Pompidou Brussels - Kanal brut, the newly designated Citroen garage building in Brussels. He also introduced the writing practice. Simply writing. No matter what. During this block, we also were offered some workshops, of which 

      First thoughts about "publishing" and to make public (versus intimacy , fragility and vulnerability) were discussed, together with performativity - a term that I had to grow into, but that is today very much part of my thinking. Some of the co-curators gave important input, in these first weeks - for example Peggy Pierot, who launched us into the theme of nomadism and how and where to feel at home - a theme that touched me as it has a lot to do with my research. Also Philippe Gehmacher, Alex Artega. 

      A workshop with Moritz Frischkorn about logistics and the choreography of objects, made me think about my Institute for Relocation of Biodiversity in terms of linearity, flow diagrams and processes. 


      Summer 2019, Troubled Garden:

      For the duration of a few months, apass moved headquarters to the Zenne Garden - a community garden in Anderlecht. Nicolas Galeazzi was our curator. He proposed being outdoors, getting in contact with the soil, the plants, the rain. And he proposed a practice of adopting. Everyone adopted from someone a project. One that was stuck, that I did not want to continue, that I have forgotten, no time or energy for and that I would like to pass on to someone else. 

      I gave "Vegetal Speed-dating" to Laura Pante, and adopted a score from Pierre Rubio myself. A score to make an endless poem, an exercise of being present with what is and naming it. It is called "I am made of" and resulted finally in a Letter to a Wheatgrain - I am made of and became a contribution to Migrant Ecologies at Svalbard Seedvault in June 2019. Amongst other contributions, it was added to the seedvault in Norway, in a ceremonial performative act. 

      Converstaions and mentoring with Pierre Rubio, Kobe Matthijs, Marialena Marouda, Philip van DeDingen, Sally de Kunst - all gave extra input to my research. 


      Later in 2020, this place became an important refuge when the pandemic struck Belgium. Inspired by the exhibition Learning from artemisia by Uriel Orlow, I conducted some resaerch on the plant family Artemisia. They are called wormwood in English, and are used as medicinal herbs. Its antiviral properties can cure Malaria, but are also suggested for the cure of Covid 19.

      I recuperated some plantlets of Artemisia annua from Joelle Corroy, that I had found via the Artemisia house and they grew, made seeds and will be distributed and planted again next year. A distributed plantation is emerging.


      Fribourg, Blue Factory - the unlearning centre - a trip to Switzerland in the heat of the summer 2019. 

      mini conferences (2 participants) on the topic of dispersing, dry toilets and 

      Collective reading moments of Bruno Latour Down to Earth and Donna Haraway Staying with the Trouble. Very helpful!!

      A reflection about Abundance at the Unlearning Centre, Fribourg. 


      The Other Within

      Foundation of a collective called the Other Other, later the Other Within (with Gosie Vervloessem, Kobe Matthijs, Marialena Marouda, Maria Lucia Cruz Correia) in the winter of 2018. with a first collective attempt to encounter the other and the other within during a sweat-lodge with Rik Verschueren in July 2019.
      March 2020 – a hybrid conversation online and IRL, during the first days of the lockdown. In December, the collective is invited to Workspace Brussels for a residency to take the Others' idea further. 


      March 2020 ff, S/Corona

      A part of the apass fellowship happened during the time of pandemic. The in between block was officially not curated, but Lilia Mestre proposed to keep us engaged with a score.  This became an online practice that we could do although we were confined and the school was closed. At times, we met with one or two other fellows, in the park. My brain was over-active, trying to understand what was going on and this practice was very useful to give my thinking shape, but also to stay in contact with others, and their thinking.
      The score was repeated several times. The whole series of my questions and answers (the score) can be found here: S_Corona_March2020.

      A collection of videos is part of it and was publicly screened in May and June 2020, in the shop window of nadine, Brussels: 

      Park or Room Domestication

      Infection is defined as the communication of a disease

      Terrain and Germ





      November 2020
      A series of conversations about  "new museums" is published as podcasts for the end presentation on the website


      Absorbing philosophical, biological, physical, institutional texts, talks, performances, exhibitions was part of the research. This was not always supportive in advancing my quest, but at times also very helpful. Some texts I had to repeatedly read, so as to find how it could connect and nourish the questions I hold. Some other texts talked so much to me that I ended up contacting the author inviting him/her to a conversation or a collaboration.

      Quote by Vinciane Despret
      I have sometimes thought to myself - and this is surely already the basis for a science fiction novel - that our imagination is so poor, or so egocentric, that if extraterrestrials were to visit the earth, we think it is us [humans] they would want to contact.


      A selection of references that have helped this trajectory to unfold:

      Agata Siniarska: In the Beginning was a Copy, 2017

      Bruno Latour, Peter Weibel: Critical Zones – exhibition at ZKM, Karlsruhe -23.05.2020 – Sun, 28.02.2021

      Bruno Latour: Down to earth, 2017

      David Abram: The Spell of the sensuous, 1996

      Deborah Bird Rose: Wild Dog Dreaming, 2012

      Descola Philippe: Beyond nature and culture, 2005

      Donna Haraway: Staying with the trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene, 2016

      Federico Campagna: Technic and Magic, 2018

      Jonathan Franzen: What if we stopped pretending, 2019

      Karen Barad: Diffractions: Differences, Contingencies, and Entanglements That Matter, 2007

      Karen Barad: On Touching, 2012

      Tim Ingold: What is an animal? 1988

      Ursula Leguin: The carrier bag theory of fiction, 1986

      Vinciane Despret: What Would Animals Say If We Asked the Right Questions?, 2016








      I have a proposal to deal with this portfolio: both of us will sit at our tables and we will write to each other on a common document. The conversation will be slowed down by the timing of the writing while we will look back together to this year and a half in A.PASS, from September 2018 until January 2020. In this period we have been leading a continuous conversation between us, which is maybe the smallest brick of the whole process. And I love small talk.


      Let’s try. In time we have been asked many times to show the process of our reciprocal editing. We were sort of reluctant to be explicit about it in the beginning. Or we just thought that the two voices were already very clearly different, that they didn’t need to be further explicated. Or maybe we thought that it was just impossible to say who did what. 

      We’ll see if we’ll manage to enter some small talk in here!




      I Block//School of Love

      curated by Adva Zakai

      (September-December 2018)


      What do you remember about the beginning?


      I think that we started from the end. At the beginning we stopped. Maybe we were supposed to start but we didn’t. 


      We first tried to see where were we. What and in which shape, through which language we could relate to the context. We observed our practices, questions, our doing in relation to the new context of A.PASS and of the researchers that were there in that moment.

      We used the first four months to suspend our doing. We looked back at our artistic practice and research, we renamed it, we rephrased it.  

      Do you remember what was the question when we started?


      We had many questions, actually. At the beginning our work consisted mainly in formulating questions. Most of them would concern time, attention, peripheries, noise and translations.



      What is there?

      Is it possible to transform the perception of the instant in the construction of a duration?

      What is such a translation?

      What is noise?

      Why should the periphery of the perception become the center of the research?

      How can the center remain open?

      What is sacred?



      Are some of these words still with us? Did some of them change?


      Now that you brought back these questions I can see again that we started from the end. From this last question. 

      What is sacred?

      If I look back to it, I think that we tried to stay close to what was sacred to us. 

      I would say that what was sacred was the distance between us. We didn’t know how to name this alterity which is the unknown space between me and you.


      The distance is what allows being together.

      The distance is the space/time in between things.

      The distance is the space and the time between me and the other. If we can look at the distance, if we can perceive it, we can look at what we share. All that we share is this “in between” which is the distance.

      It is not only possible being together despite distances, but it is possible being together only thanks to these distances.

      The distance is what determines the relationship.

      Walking is a measure maybe.

      When I walk without knowing where I am going, without knowing the path, with no project, I accept the existence of an other, something I don't know.

      Not knowing is an obstacle between me and the other.

      It is the obstacle that allows me to see the other as different from me.

      Not knowing is a distance between me and the other, that I can run across.

      I can run across this distance thanks to its opacity.

      If it were transparent I would not see it, I could not run across it. I could only pass through it, without noticing it and without reflection, with no clash.

      Not knowing is a distance.

      A distance is opaque.

      Opacity allows me to meet the other.


      “Space was holy to

      the pilgrims of old, till plane

      stopped all that nonsense”

      (W. H. Auden)

      “Distance” and “opacity” are two specific concepts that influence very much our work. They were related to the problematic relationship between “center” and “ periphery”, which caused us many discussions. Actually for us these terms were time-related concepts. I can consider the peripheries only if I take the time to distance the usual path. The operation we were interested in was the dilation of time which allows previously unconsidered possibilities to emerge. Between our artistic practices, indeed, artistic research is for us a tool for self-critique. We got then interested in framing self-critical institutions, which would be institutions that are conscious about their situatedness and complexity, that allow space for self-sabotage and reframing. 

      A is not equal to A.


      We wrote the following two texts for a writing score Adva proposed at the beginning of the block: “How would the future be, if your artistic research would have taken over the world?”



      The world will exist in the interrogative form.

      The end will be close to us

      and we might be friends.


      We will learn from flowers:

      the truth about every man is that 

      he/she is about to die.


      Nothing will be equal to nothing.

      Everything will be 







      -Money will be the principle of irreality-


      The dance of the dead will shape the light of the fire of the living ones.


      There will be no evolution, no revolution. We will keep on turning.


      We will wander in those utopian regions, placed somewhere and nowhere, between an infinite tenderness and an infinite solitude.


      Every road will be a cemetery

      and, in the crackles of the asphalt,

      there will be our little fallen flowers

      our masters

      our dead.


      There will be a desire hidden in every thing.


      We will become small

       - small, in order not to lose each other.


      Revolution is going on.

      It will walk in the forest. 

      It will breath, smell, look.

      It will be as an idiot. It will not know, like now, as a pioneer. It will say: I will not know but I will believe.

      It will be an animal. It will look around modifying the shape of its body to enter the forest.

      Attentively it will touch and get touched by the other. With no name, it will mutate and multiply, and it will continuously reverse the point of observation during its dance of attention.

      It will be multidimensional, it will be inhabited by a multitude of spectres corporeal and impalpable at the same time.

      It will not do a lot. It will not have anything to add.

      It will move with caution through words, bodies and light. It will be mostly silent.

      It will be stumbling, transforming judgement into motion.




      II Block//Troubled Gardens

      curated by Nicolas Galeazzi

      (May-August 2019)

      I would say that with the video “And the woods all around” we framed our use of the words center and periphery and, thanks to this restriction, something else broke in the scenario. 

      How did this framing transform these words? Would you say that, looking at it now, it made us move to the structure of the frame itself?


      We wanted to get rid of a problem we didn’t know how to solve. The dichotomy center/periphery seemed inadequate but still we wanted to use those words out of that geometrical/hierarchical relationship. According to the curatorial proposal of the block, we had to embody a question we were struggling with, give it in “adoption” to someone else and then eventually receive it transformed somehow by the “adopting researcher”. We created this video in order to hand our question to someone else and, in the moment we made it, the supposed content disappeared. What emerged instead was the problematic relationship between the artistic research and its documentation, which brought us back to the practice of framing self-critical institutions.


      This is how we started to look at the frame and observed where and how it would raise questions. We looked at the framed document as a "material", in Tim Ingold's terms: not as a fixed object that would encapsulate and preserve a point of view from the past, but as a malleable flux of possibilities. We tried to understand what kind of relationship it could open for the future. What did it do, for example, to call this video a "document"? What did it do to us, to observe it through its institutions (e.g. the video format, the website on which its accessible...etc)? What did it do to look at it from the situated context we were working in during the block - the "troubled" Zsenne Garden?


      Talking about self critical institutions, in this case the video attempts to show the complex cluster of media involved and the situatedness of their performativity. There is not a single possible mapping of this material, it aims to be open to critique and it does not pretend to have a “form” different from its “content”. For sure there has been a strong relationship between this operation and the fact that we were working in a permaculture garden.


      Twelve Permaculture design principles articulated by David Holmgren in his Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability:


      1. Observe and interact

      2. Catch and store energy

      3. Obtain a yield

      4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback

      5. Use and value renewable resources and services

      6. Produce no waste

      7. Design from patterns to details

      8. Integrate rather than segregate

      9. Use small and slow solutions

      10. Use and value diversity

      11. Use edges and value the marginal

      12. Creatively use and respond to change

      We realized that there is no map from the outside and as soon as we try to create a document, a map, we are changing the landscape we are in.In the book "What would the animals say if we would ask to them the right questions?” Vinciane Despret observes how observers observe the animals. The way the observer position him/herself in the landscape changes the reality itself.

      I remember you wrote a story when you were at highschool. Can you write it down here?

      I love your stories.


      Which story? 


      The one about distance.


      It would have worked well before, actually, when we were writing about distance!


      Now we are far enough to read it.


      You are right.


      One day, the teleportation was invented. At first it was possible to transport datas anywhere, instantaneously and with no mistake. Then it became possible to teleport objects and eventually human beings too. That day humanity faced extinction.

      You are particularly concerned by the future...


      My affect towards the future is related to the fact that at a certain moment I started to realize that this word, “future”, wasn’t used anymore.I remember the future as science-fiction: it is amazing to think of unpredictable possibilities to come, to imagine them. For a long period, in Italy at least, we didn’t use that word anymore. Many generations of children without the word future in their bodies. In that moment I started to use it again, to say it, to see if it was possible to feed it and open for it new directions/horizons.

      What I love about your story is that it shows how errors are those that allow us to relate to something, to engage with it - until death. The story also suggests that when the space-time is reduced to zero, there is no more other to relate to. This reminds me of what Byung Chul-Han calls "the society of transparency", where the "dictatorship of the self" doesn't allow any otherness to exist. If there is no otherness, there is nothing I can imagine anymore...This is the way I perceive things now, at least.


      It seems that without accident there is no event. Without error there is no possible development. We are stuck playing the same scene again and again, if nothing goes wrong. The point is that we don’t have any direct access to the future, of course. In the present we have only access to the past and this means that in order to introduce some difference, we have to mess it up, lose something and highlight something else. We have to edit it. We actually do this anyway, since we are not omnipotent and omniscient. It’s about recognizing that any “closed” view of/from the past is not only impossible, but also undesirable.


      We can design maps for the future. These are not meant to be "true", neither as objective points of view from the past, nor as consistent pre-views of the future. Once we have them, though, they will start to influence us.


      Maybe they are not “true” now, but by drawing them they might become true in the future!

      A chair is not so much designed by the way my body “spontaneously” sits, but rather it tells me how to sit.

      This is exciting. And it works the same for the way we look at things, the way we formulate questions, the way we perceive things...etc. These activities are also designed by what surrounds us,


      And it seems logical that documents are especially involved in designing future practices. This turns a little upside down the cause-effect logic and the linear perspective of time. Sometimes I feel that something “comes from the future”, that it is not related so much to a “now” that has already been, but rather to a “now” that is yet to come. Like in Aristotle's “final cause” theory - which appears quite bizarre to our actual common sense. Talking about things from the past that seem to come from the future...


      There comes my fascination for the figure of the augur. For the ancient italic populations the augur was a priest that  would read the will of the gods in the flight of the birds. He would go to the “templum” to do so. The “templum” was a portion of time and space from which he could read the birds flights.The “templum” was actually each one of the lines traced by the augur to frame the sacred space, a "cut" into space and time, a temporary suspension that allowed a reflection, a reading - the word "temple" comes from "templum", which derives from the ancient greek "temno=to cut". Also "tempo" (“time” in Italian) has the same origin. The augury embodies the action of taking a position from which, by observing what is there, it is possible to relate with different kinds of time simultaneously. You have to go in that position though, you have to move towards that place. An effort is needed. This is the frame where a suspension can happen. It is a time inside the time itself. It is what Agamben calls “Messianic time”. The time of contemplation. Contemplating is then holding this position. It is about staying with what is there, with what comes, through a specific frame. If the way I position myself can transform what is there - and therefore the future itself -, then the contemplation is a active and political state of being. I like to talk of “contemplative activism”.


      I can see a strong relationship between artistic research and faith. You have to believe that something good will come out of it even if you can’t say exactly what and how. Nicolas’ proposal for the block, the “Adoption”, was very precise in this sense. To give away a piece of your work and to believe that it will be fruitful for it to be put in someone else's hands, you need faith. You can only take care, give all your attention to what you receive, and hope that the others will do the same. 



      A: Adopting is a big challenge.

      B: To receive back the material we left.

      A: To give up expectation of realization.

      B: Can the documentation be originated by a script?

      A: We wanted to avoid narration.

      B: Why?

      A: The narration tends to identification, often.

      B: “This” is “this”.

      A: To put things in one line.

      B: How to avoid to do what we would have done anyway?

      A: I don't know what this book is.

      B: We don't know what it will be.

      A: We didn't finish it, yet.

      B: It's about avoiding linearity as the only option.

      A: What I wanted to do was not only to write a book, but also to create an experience...

      B: The problem is to translate these experiences we worked with.

      A: When we entered this space we really felt “home”.

      B: We are translating one's experience to the other.

      A: We are translating each other's experience to the other.

      B: We didn't see each other's presentation.

      A: But I slept in your bed...That's very intimate.

      B: How to translate something that's so close to me?

      A: To work with someone else's project and not mine-still working on what I am interested in.

      B: I have a strong tendency in reacting.

      A: To embrace something that doesn't belong to me even when it starts hurting.

      B: “Maybe it's still possible, maybe it's still possible...”

      A: To work with the resistance, not against it.

      B: To move out of the landscape, to see how can I relate to it and then to move back in.

      A: It's not only to zoom in and out, but also to blur the lines.

      B: You don't know what belongs to whom.

      A: I like this a lot.

      B: To show the responsibility in the adoption.


      III Block//A looming score_sharing politics of damage;

      curated by Lilia Mestre and Sina Seifee

      (September-December 2019)



      Our third and last block has also been centered on an “adoption” process. This time, though, we would share some materials and we would adopt the other’s questions. The first thing we shared was a video which put together some shooting we did at Zsenne Garden during the summer and a text that we developed later on. 


      This video is a translation of a map we realised to observe the garden. This map would put in relation the landscape with the words we wrote about what our research would do in the future. My affect, when I arrived in Zsenne garden, was a portion of sky in between the trees. Being inside, immersed in the industrial area of Brussels, I could still have access to a vertical horizon. Then we imagined a conversation of the Augur with the birds.


      I liked the question Rui wrote for us after seeing the video:


      In the video, there are treetops framing the sky with clouds and the birds’ flight (frame inside the frame). There are dialogues between 2 non-visible characters (A and B) written on the surface of the image (these characters are around, in a place out of the frame but close to the borders, or not)? There are sounds of things out of the frame, but these things belong to that environment (a sound of something out of the frame could be from what is around or not). Is this set of things made for us to see the birds and the sky in a proper way or to see something else? The strength of your frame is centripetal (to the documented objects, even if it is multicenter) or centrifugal (there is an idea of whole, “from here_to_there”)? Is the documentation about something in the frame… or something around… or something else?


      I wouldn't be able to give him a singular answer. I liked though the idea of a centrifugal force, which preserves the possibility to have a central object of attention, but at the same time it indicates the presence of vectors - within the same system - that tear it apart, that spread it all over the place. Being the frame of the camera an institution, that looks like the description of a self-critical institution to me. 

      What got less clear, then, was if this had to be considered a “document” or not...but at this point investigating the definition of “documentation” was not the main issue for us...


      We wanted to re-open these documents, to see if and where there was space for us to enter. We slowly throughout the block tried to create space between the materials, between the documents, among the way they were translating each other in order to observe what kind of movement, what kind of dance they would bring.


      If the “form” and the “content” of the document cannot be separated, the documentation corresponds to its staging. We moved from “documentation” to “memory”, not as the ability to preserve in one’s brain the image of past objects and events, but as a highly performative operation that makes the past and the future converge in the present experience.  


      I have all the ages at the same time in my body. Memory is an agent on the present. Memory enlarges the space of what is here and now transforming a linear perception of going forward, of flowing, of proceeding, in a multidimensional and multitemporal landscape.


      Memory embodies distance and opacity.

      Before A.PASS we had been working a lot with games. How did they come back in?


      I always used games. It is a way to be with others. A game is a way to be fully involved and light at the same time. Whoever knows the rules can have access. And accessibility was an important point of our discourse as well.


      And rules also have very often the form of a “map”

      a game is a map

      a frame

      a self-critical institution


      you can put the game there, in the middle

      it’s clear that even if it is your game once you play it is not about you, it is about this middle space which is in between you and the others

      and I need the others to be different

      and see the difference

      which is the distance that allows us being together


      We were very happy to work with scores during this block: I would say that scores are a specific kind of games. To design scores was a great way to work on the staging of a map. The score draws a specific landscape, but - if it’s well designed - something unexpected will often emerge. The rules of the score are the “templum”, the suspension in space and time that dilate time and nourish our faculty of attention, just like the frame of the camera and the limits of the stage.

      NAME IT/Writing Score


      [There is a table. Two laptops on it. Two silent writers facing the public. One projector shows a blank page with the text on the wall behind the table. The public is witnessing]


      - You look, you sense, you feel everything which is happening in the room. Everything means 

      everything that catches your attention. Everything that emerges through you in relation with what is around you. Your writing is not traveling too far nor too close from where you are.

      - You can take your time, trust and write it down. 

      - You have to write 1st person, singular or plural - for example, if you see someone entering the space and saying hello to a friend you could write: "I entered the space, I said hello to my friend".

      - If by looking, smelling, sensing, perceiving the way you want what is around you a memory or a thought emerge, then take it as part of the space and write it down. Through this digression, you can distance yourself from what is around you and then come back.

      - The other writer is at your side writing with you on the same page. Try to consider it.


      I AM HERE. 


      I AM READING. 












      I'M WRITING. 





      A fellow researcher in A.PASS, Adriano, asked us:


      A promise of observation. Observation from you - of what concerns most of us.

      You were sitting next to each other. Soft, patient, listening. An analogue complicity situated between one big and two smaller screens.



      Not much is written, is this writing an excuse for sharing time/presence? For sitting next to each other and in front of us, while the laptops offer a small protection from full exposure and/or transparency.

      If that is so, what is the minimum of text and screen needed to give a cover for presence?


      We are interested in situations that are at the same time an exposure and a concealment. We wanted to show something that was clear and incomprehensible, intimate and universal. We imagined that “what is there” from my unique and ephemeral point of view, could be at the same time a paradoxical Manifesto.


      We tried to write a text that would manifest the operation we were doing through the score. That’s why it is a manifesto. It manifests a reality from a specific point of view, which is a map, or a game. In the score the sabotage is included. 


      To explore further the idea of “sabotage” we wrote an actual manifesto informed by our documentation criteria and created an “editing score” to make other people enter into it, moving it away from us and making it opaque again.




      [There is a table. Two laptops on top of it. There are two people: the “writer” is facing the public; the “reader” is sitting with his laptop facing the writer. Two projectors overlap their projections on the wall behind the writer. One of the two is projecting a very slow motion video of an almost invisible, overexposed, white goat. The other one projects the white page on which the writer is writing a text - which occupies exactly that one page:









      I AM HERE







      I AM ONE



















      I TRUST






      After the writer finishes to write the text, the score starts.]

      - When the writer stops writing the “manifesto”, the public can start editing it

      - One by one, the people in the public can whisper in the writer’s ear up to 5 elements to cancel choosing between words, letters and empty spaces. The writer cannot discuss if the indication is not clear: he/she has to find a solution alone.

      - The reader keeps on reading out loud the “manifesto” while it is being edited, following its transformations until the end of the score. When he/she reaches the end, he/she starts back from the beginning.

      - When the public stops editing, a new text is done and the score ends.

      [21st November 2019, Bruxelles]


      I AM NOW 






















      “Maybe love is continuing the discourse of another” wrote the Italian poet Milo De Angelis.

      I think that our experience in A.PASS had a lot to do with this. Giving attention to the other, adopting the other’s work, letting the other’s work enter yours, in a dialogue. 

      It is so precious to nourish our critical sense by continuing a discourse, without burning it.

      In the end it is really not about me and you, nor the others. It is about the discourse. 

      And, as always, it is a matter of love to make it last a little longer.


      Thanks to A.PASS. Participating has been a big privilege.

      Thanks to: Lilia Mestre, Nicolas Galeazzi, Pierre Rubio, Vladimir Miller, Joke Liberge, Steven Jouwerma, Michele Meesen. Thanks to all the mentors and participants and fellow researchers present, past and future.

      This is not the end.



    • Research portfolio for finishing a.pass:
      Download here: Sina Seifee dossier for a.pass end-communication.pdf

      In this dossier I am working towards an outline of my interrelated research practices in a preliminary character, the intersection of trajectories which I am just at the beginning of any kind of understanding. It contains grains of analysis, different styles of noting, but mainly, it is a try to create hybrid objects of study. As my work is “about” ajayeb (short for Ajayeb al-Makhlughat, medieval bestiary), also precisely, it can never be only about that. My research’s curiosity must also be inclusive of, more than a few but not too many, distributed agencies in layers of locals and globals, tongues and timescales. in my work, figuring, constructing an “angle of arrival” for ajayeb, I am trying to carefully approach the notions of emergence, process, historicity, difference, specificity, and by that, teach myself an artful practice rich with cohabitation, coconstitution, and contingency. 







    • research portfolio
    • Caterina Mora / The thing called "Portfolio" "why" this is "what" it is?
      04 September 2019
      posted by: Caterina Mora
    • case of: Caterina Mora
    •   p o r t a f o l i o     --> qui porte les folios, que pliega la research, that pretends question the vertical format  

      September 2019


      El "pensamiento" que pliega la research

      The thing [THINK] called "Portfolio"

      An essay, 

      Portfolios are mandatory published from January 2019 (there are just six others Portfolios in a.pass web before us). 

      I am in the "thanks" of others´s Portfolios, that´s why I start with the "thanks". 

      I am Caterina Mora and  I am listening this argentinian cumbia ( come closer please, click here).

      I invite you to listen it. 


      This Portfolio refuses to be in a PDF format because it refuses to being seen as something vertical and fixed.

      This Portfolio has a lot of HIPERLINKS.

      It might have grammar mistakes. I am not sorry, but I don´t have budget to ask for Proof reading. 

      This Portfolio doesn´t have pre-fixed order. You can look at it as you want (it is up to you). It is conceived as a transtructure determined by how apass has been transforming/changing/modifying me.

      That´s why there are evident thing and evidence. 

      You can enter through three options:

      chronological order block by block-CLICK HERE

      or the filter body practice-CLICK HERE

      or the filter "TRT" - CLICK HERE







      apass team: Lilia, Nicolas, Pierre, Vladimir, Michele, Joke.

      Special thanks to our technical support, incredible artist of time and resolution: Steven.

      The participants: Leo Kay, Elen Braga, Eszter Némethi, Geert Vaes, Hoda Siahtiri, Adrijana Gvozdenović, Pia Louwerens, Eleanor Ivory Weber,  Katinka Van Gorkum, Nassia Fourtouni, Goda Palekaitė, Christina Stadlbauer, Deborah Birch, Diego Echegoyen, Flavio Rodrigo, Amelie van Elmbt, Lucia Palladino, Mathilde Maillard, Muslin Brothers, Piero Ramella, Rui Calvo, Signe Frederiksen, Ana Paula Camargo.

      The companions of the End-Communications adventure: Laura Pante, Maurice Meewisse. 

      The helpers: Stefanía Assandri, Alexandre Ismail, Lucas Trouillard, Marina Pessino.

      People around me: Susana Paponi, Bernardo, Juan Carlos, Aphra Behn, Elvira Lopez, my family, Ana G., Angeli, María Martha, Ferchu, Josefina. Adela. Y Norbert.  

      Thanks to this specific places: apass 4th floor, apass 3rd floor, PAF (Saint-Erme, FR) rooms 167, 105, 117 and the garden, the Swamp School (Venice, IT), Unlearning Center (Fribourg, CH). 

      The mentors: Femke Snelting, Adva Zakai, Kristien Van den Brande, Vladimir Miller, Esteban Donoso, Juan Carlos Toth, Susana Tambutti, Kobe Matthys, Philipp Gehmacher, Philippine Hoegen, Timmy De Laet, Petra Van Brabandt, Sébastien Hendricks, Marie Bardet. 



      (you can start diretcly from here or coming back to the previous page)


    • Developing tools and methodologies for a dramaturgical practice informed by somatics.

      I came to a.pass with a research upon dramaturgical practice with a focus on the initial phase of a creative process, namely the phase where things are not yet shaped, the phase of nothing.

      Having in mind the dialogical relationship in which most dramaturgical practices take place, the first scores I developed were about dialogue and conversation. Gradually, the scores and methodologies developed borrowed the form of a somatic lesson.

      In my work I bring together text and experiential anatomy, shaping an expanded dramaturgical practice that can vary in form and content depending on the given context. The aim is to facilitate the appearance of embodied aesthetic experience by addressing the inner sense.

      The practice manifests in installations, scores and somatic lessons. Also, it functions as a critical commentary on authorship and the seductive power of language, mainly in relation to the use of instructions.

      Link to the portfolio: Practicing Interstices by Nassia Fourtouni

    • Goda Palekaitė (b. 1987 Vilnius) is an artist and researcher whose work can be described as a combination of artistic, theatrical and anthropological practices. It evolves around long-term projects exploring the politics of historical narratives, the agency of dreams and collective imagination, and social conditions of creativity. Their outcomes usually manifest as performances, scenographies, installations, and texts. In the last year her projects have been presented at the “Swamp pavilion” in The Biennale Architettura 2018 in Venice, Contemporary Art Center (CAC) Vilnius, Lithuanian National Drama Theatre, RawArt gallery in Tel Aviv and the Art Cube Artists’ Studios in Jerusalem, and Kanal Centre Pompidou in Brussels. In 2019 Palekaitė received The Golden Stage Cross - highest Lithuanian theatre award. PORTFOLIO:

      7 DREAMS WITH IMPLICATIONS by G_Palekaite_compressed (1)

      "During my time in a.pass I became increasingly interested in historical narratives and characters, who operated outside the official discourses, were seen as troublemakers, and excluded from the mainstream systems of knowledge. I am fascinated by the indistinguishable personal and political in the lives of these parrhesiastes, and the academic confusions their stories evoke. I propose seeing them as proto-artistic-researchers even though most of these people did not perceive themselves as artists, yet, I suggest their modes of operation to be comparable to those of some contemporary artists working today."

    • Research "history" Pia Louwerens at a.pass, July 2017 to February 2019, approximately.

      Hello everyone,

      Where do I start? Do I start at the beginning and end at the end, or do I go in a circle? Do I write about how my research developed at a.pass, because then I write about the people I met and the energy they contributed to my project, the theories and books I met and encountered as vividly as the people who shape the program.

      a.pass is a transdisciplinary and transindividual research platform. It, they and we are open to researchers from many different disciplines and carefully curate programs that facilitate exchange, discourse, friction and feedback. The postmaster trajectory takes one year, divided into three blocks of four months. There is a possibility to extend the process by skipping one block, which I did. I followed a.pass from Sept. 2017 - Dec. 2018, with a last presentation on the 1st and 2nd of February 2019, for which I am making this portfolio.

      Taking into account the results of my research, it is clear that I cannot write about my practice as if it is something that develops in one direction only, using certain “sources” to do this. During the program I felt more like I was at sea, being carried my many things outside of myself and in many directions. However, I accepted the challenge that a portfolio poses, and tried to keep it as clear as possible. I only included things that I produced myself, and I kept a chronological order.

      As evidence for this trajectory I have scanned the archived physical remains of my research, which are scripts and presentations in various states of decay. By way of contextualisation I have superimposed information on these artefacts, concerning the state of my research at that time.


      The Who Are You Talking To Talk Show / Geert Vaes

      Kiosk @ Elizabeth Park

      14/09/18 and 15/09/18 at 18:00 and 22:00, 16/09 at 18:00 and 20:00


      'You are invited to be a guest and/or audience member at The Who Are You Talking To Talk Show.

      A talk show where we all will try to playfully disappear and grow closer. So who will you be? And who will you be talking to?'


      'U bent uitgenodigd als gast en/of publiek van The Who Are You Talking To Talk Show. Een talkshow waar we zullen proberen om spelenderwijs te verdwijnen en elkaar beter te leren kennen. Dus, wie zal je zijn? En met wie zal je praten?'


      أنت مدعو لتكون ضيفًا و / أو عضوًا في جمهور برنامج "من هو الذي تتحدث إليه”.

      برنامج حواري سنحاول من خلاله جميعاً أن نختفي بشكل هزلي. فمن ستكون؟ ومن هو الذي سوف تتحدث إليه؟


      'Vous êtes invités à participer et/ou à assister au talk show :'Avec qui parlez-vous?'. Une conversation-performance où nous essaierons tous de nous amuser à disparaître. Alors, quel rôle jouerez-vous? Et avec qui allez-vous parler vraiment?'



      ‘Everything is Fiction.’

      It was 1980-something. I was a kid and I used the meadow at the back of our house as a playground. We kept chickens, goats, sometimes a sheep or two and Fik, the donkey.

      These pictures are taken after the rooster got stuck in a bread bag. After I saw him doing it for the first time, I made sure to always bring empty bread bags for him. I knew he would put his head in them, peck away at the remaining crumbs and eventually become so eager for more that he would get stuck until I would come to his rescue.

      The rooster didn’t know he was putting on a mask. Disappearing. Changing form. Shapeshifting into a creature that is half white bag, half a rooster’s bum and legs. By wearing the bag he draws attention, becomes something out of the ordinary. By showing less of his rooster-ness, he became more interesting to me. My aim as a performer has always been disappearing, going beyond the ‘I’, stepping into the unknown without knowing what will be the result of the exercise. The mask is a supreme way of vanishing and coming out the other end as more than I could possibly imagine.

      Putting on a bag is also a way of surrendering to the unknown. The rooster gets lured in by the promise of more crumbs. I get lured in by the promise of a heightened state of play. The rooster’s eagerness for food is my eagerness for play. The mask becomes the stage. The mask doesn’t need the physical space called theatre. The mask is the theatre. The false face is the battlefield and the playground where sense, nonsense and no sense fight for attention. Inside and outside the mask a sense of excitement and freedom reigns. The mask destabilizes the wearer and the observer. The rooster on the picture is obviously lost and doesn’t know up from down (he always needed to be rescued), and I, the observer, would always be mesmerized by the absurdity of the situation.


      I use the mask to disappear. And I invite you, the public, to also disappear. To become part of the process and to flow with whatever is being presented, to let ‘something else, something unspoken and unspeakable’ take over. I feel the need to explore the space between you and I. This space is the meeting point, the place where sharing occurs.


      I thrive on improvisation. This doesn’t mean that anything goes, though. It’s all about adopting a mindset that wants to shed the walls of the practice, make visible the mechanics and lay bare the inner and outer workings of the process.


      Wittgenstein once wrote an allegory where he describes mankind as living under a red glass bell. There are three ways of dealing with this, he says. One way is represented by people who are oblivious to the fact that they are living under a red glass bell, they see everything is red and go about their lives without thinking about it. Then there are people who realize that something is not completely right, they investigate and get close to the glass where they can touch the bell, but instead of doing something with this new knowledge they return to the middle and go about their lives. According to Wittgenstein, these people tend to become humorous or melancholic. Finally, there’s a third kind: the ones who try to break through the glass bell and aspire to see the actual light without the interference of the red glass.


      I ‘d like to invite you to take a stroll outside the glass bell with me. Hoping you might start to notice that what we call ‘I’ is a story. What we call ‘history’ is a story. What we call the world, a country, who we are, where we are,... are collections of stories.


      Note to self: These words I am writing (the same ones you are reading) are similarly building blocks of yet another story I tell myself (and you).


      I want to be your tour guide, to unmask the collection of narratives we surround yourselves with. What you do next, is up to you. You are free to ignore everything, to build a house at the edge, to try to break through or to go back to the middle and become a melancholic.


      In stating that everything is fiction, I also state that everything we are constantly doing is staging our own drama’s, comedies, thrillers… The notable mister Shakespeare observed it quite strikingly: ‘The world’s a stage, and each must play a part’.


      Using theatrical tools in non-theatrical situations alongside deconstructing or extrapolating ‘the theatrical’ has always fascinated me. Using performance as a tool to try to create awareness about our personal and societal conditioning (the grabbag of narratives) is very important to me. The theatrical is the place where I can investigate and work with the narratives, those given to us and the ones we create ourselves through an unending process of copy-pasting. I discovered that the theatre has the potential to show me my dependence on these narratives. That’s why I love to inject the fictional into the real without saying what is real and what isn’t. It is disrupting the logic of the stories we tell ourselves. Taking the character out of the play stirs something essential in people: their obsession with believing and disbelieving and their fears around sanity and insanity.

      There’s a story I once heard where a man visits his friend in the insane asylum. When the friend asks how are you, the man says: ‘Great! You see these walls here? They protect me from the crazy people outside. You should try to get in too, so you’ll be protected from the madness on the outside.’ Inside the mask, it feels more easy to see the fiction on the outside. I am very inspired by what the Situationists, the Dadaists or comedy genius Andy Kaufman did. They were all busy trying to make cracks in the ruling narrative. I think Andy Kaufman put it very, very well:


      What’s real? What’s not? That’s what I do in my act. Test how other people deal with reality.

      Yes, theatre is magic. For when I walk into a room as a character, the room changes. My reality changes but yours is also changing because you have only two options: you are playing along or you aren’t.


      It all comes down to giving and taking. And this only becomes possible when there’s a willingness from both parties (you and me) to engage and discover together. What’s required is openness, an attitude of trust and the willingness to spend some time together in order to be inspired, entertained, taught, surprised,...


      Participation is all about one pair of eyes looking straight into another pair of eyes sharing that moment of recognition. After all is said and done, the most important thing is other people (you!). And the closest I can get to you is by looking into your eyes. Especially when I look through the eyes of the mask. And this can be scary.


      When I put on a mask I take a risk, when I ask you to wear a mask I ask you to take a risk. The risk is to tread unknown ground. Inside the mask I may feel like an impostor, I may feel like other people know something’s wrong, I may feel like I’m losing control. When I put on a mask my senses heighten. It is impossible to sleepwalk because everything is different. This may cause excitement or fear. I am seen differently by others. The people I know don’t recognize me. My dog barks at me. I start to interact very differently with my surroundings but also with myself. When I wore my old man mask for the first time I noticed young people didn’t see me. The only eye contact I could make was with other old people. The world changed, people bumped into me. I became invisible for most and all of a sudden of interest to others. It changed my perspective on my surroundings but also on myself. I became another so to speak. When I change physically, the world and my place in it changes, and the way I participate in it too. I suddenly find myself venturing into a liberating state of play. And I believe playing together is one of the highest forms of contact we can achieve.


      So, could I ask you now to pretend to be a rooster?




      Swami Premodaya (Satsang, ‘You experience what you expect to experience.’, ‘Your perceptions are your limitations.’), Swami Prem Prasad (‘Freedom through De-Conditioning’), OSHO (‘The Path of the Mystic’), Meher Baba, Adrian Piper (‘Ideology, Confrontation and Political Self-Awareness’), Stuart Price (‘I’m lost in the space between the concept and the execution’, ‘I’m stuck in the void between the instinct and the institution’), Ludwig Wittgenstein (‘Licht en schaduw: een droom en een brief over religie.’), Martin Buber (‘I and Thou’), Caroline Astell-Burt (‘I am the story’), Robert J. Landy (‘Persona and Performance’), Luigi Pirandello, Hannah Arendt (‘Lying in Politics’), Sören Kierkegaard (‘...the jump into the absurd...’), Codrescu (The Posthuman Dada Guide), Robert Crichton (‘The Great Impostor’), Ferdinand Waldo Demara, Eli Jaxon-Bear (‘Sudden Awakening’), Andy Kaufman, Bourdieu (‘Identity is given, not created’), Antonio Gramsci, Stuart Hall, one man continuously calling me ‘Christophe’ in Morocco and my irritation with that, Rabia of Basra, Artaud, Frantz Fanon (‘Black Skin, White Masks’), Reni Eddo-Lodge (‘Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race’), Nassim Taleb (‘Antifragile’), James Baldwin (‘The Fire Next Time’), John Cage (‘Silence’), Lou Reed’s rendition of ‘This Magic Moment’, Tommy Maitland, Mike Myers, The Gong Show, Sarah Paulson, Kokoroko, Fanna-Fi-Allah, The Little Flowers of Saint Francis, Anandamayi Ma, Gangaji (‘Hidden Treasure’), RuPaul’s Drag Race, Tony Clifton, Charles Aznavour, Lilia Mestre, Vladimir Miller, Pierre Rubio, Nicolas Galeazzi, Philippine Hoegen, Peggy Pierrot, Kate Rich, Geert Opsomer, Sara Manente, Heike Langsdorf, Sina Seifee, Michael Sugich (‘Signs on the Horizons’), Abdelwahab Meddeb (‘Instants soufis’), Ranchor Prime (‘The Birth of Kirtan’), Shomari Dev, Loka Dev, Jai Dev






      Geert Vaes

      a.pass end communications

      (September 2017 - September 2018)

      “You, I and It walk into the World. I love to get close to You, I love to know You. You love to get close to I. You love to know I.


      I see You. I recognize You. I approach You. You don’t recognize I. Because I am wearing It. You tell It You are waiting for I. It starts a conversation with You. You show I another side of You because You are not talking to I but to It.


      It shows I You. I tell You I was using It to learn to know You. I lend You It to let me know You more too. We use It to get closer. It makes I love You and You love I. It creates US.”

      From the writing workshop with Peter Stamer in Block I (Vladimir Miller): ‘Your research told as a joke’


      1. The Rooster and the Bread Bag

      It was 1980-something. I was a kid and used the meadow at the back of our house as a playground. We kept chickens, goats, sometimes a sheep or two and Fik, the donkey.

      This picture is taken after the rooster got stuck in a bread bag. After seeing him doing it once I made sure to bring the empty bread bags for him. I knew he would get his head in, peck away at the remaining crumbs and eventually become so eager for more that he would get stuck until I would come to his rescue.

      The rooster didn’t know he was putting on a mask. Disappearing. Changing form. Shapeshifting into a creature that is half white bag, half a rooster’s bum and legs. By having the bag on he draws attention, becomes something out of the ordinary. By showing less of his rooster-ness, he becomes of more interest to the observer, in this case, me. My aim as a performer has always been disappearing, going beyond the ‘I’, stepping into the unknown without knowing what will be the result of this exercise. The mask is a supreme way of vanishing and coming out the other end as more than I can possibly imagine.

      Putting on a bag is also a way of surrendering to the unknown. The rooster gets lured in by the promise of more crumbs. I get lured in by the promise of a heightened state of play. The rooster’s eagerness for food is my eagerness for play. The mask becomes the stage. The mask doesn’t need the physical space called theatre. The mask is the theatre. The false face is the battlefield and playground where sense, nonsense and no sense fight for attention. Inside and outside the mask a sense of excitement and freedom reigns. The mask destabilizes the wearer and the observer, as is the case with the rooster. He is obviously lost and doesn’t know up from down (he always needed to be rescued), and I the observer would always be mesmerized by the absurdity of the situation. My interest in masking and disappearing awakened.

      ‘The mask as a tool of awareness. The proposed research aims to investigate how hyper-realistic silicone spfx-masks can be used as tools of awareness to shed more light on race, gender and class issues in an experiential, sensual and non-mental way. How to help performers and non-performers create another persona and let them experience how it feels to literally be in somebody else’s skin, wearing another one’s face in non-theatrical daily situations. How does this change their perspectives? Or doesn’t it change anything? How does this, in a broader sense, affect the notions of ‚I’ and ‚You’? How does it affect one’s outlook on one’s own community, conditioning, and beliefs?’

      This is the first paragraph of the research proposal I sent to a.pass in May 2017.

      Some of the questions I had, deepened and became richer, others faded into the background.

      What seems to be at the heart of the research is that I invite you to look through a different lens. And while looking through this lens, maybe you will see that everything is a construction of stories. What we call ‘I’ is a story. What we call ‘history’ is a story. What we call the world, a country, who we are, where we are,... It’s all a collection of stories. Our lives are collections of stories we build upon. These stories crystalize into the more or less cohesive narrative called ‘I’.

      So, we are surrounded by narratives, constructions, stories. We create them ourselves, they are created for us, we copy paste, add personal touches. We are inevitably moving through a narrative minefield: history, science, religion, countries, economics, politics, philosophy, love, you’s and I’s,...  Narratives are given to us but we actively rearrange them through an unending process of copy-pasting. We are all very creative in writing our own scripts, fitting our scripts into the bigger narrative, creating a dazzling array of storylines upon storylines.

      As a child, like many children, I was often busy dressing up as someone else, to the delight of my mother who would always be ready to take pictures. In creating other personas I found a way out of the narrative I was inhabiting. Later came my calling to study theatre and I became an actor and performer. Revisiting these pictures I realized: ‘I have been doing this since forever...’. What initially was just a very naive reflex: putting on clothes that were not mine and playacting and believing I was someone else, turned into a profession. I found the safe haven for transformation in the theatre. Later I started to take this urge to transform to the street, and in doing this I noticed the street transformed as well. By bringing the theatrical reflex into the street, the street becomes another character. In using this theatrical tool I hope to pierce through the veils knit together by the narratives surrounding us, and in doing so create more awareness.


      Wittgenstein once wrote an allegory where he describes mankind as living under a red glass bell. There are three ways of dealing with this, he says. One way is represented by people who are oblivious to the fact that they are living under a red glass bell, they see everything is red and go about their lives without thinking about it. Then there are people who realize that something is not completely right, they investigate and get close to the glass where they can touch the bell, but instead of doing something with this new knowledge they return to the middle and go about their lives. According to Wittgenstein, these people tend to become humorous or melancholic. Finally, there’s a third kind: the ones who try to break through the glass bell and aspire to see the actual light without the interference of the red glass.

      Wittgenstein’s allegory is related to Plato’s Cave. Plenty of similar allegorical examples can be found in mystical texts throughout the ages. What these metaphors and allegories all point at is that there is the possibility to look through the story, the mold, the mask. Using masks gives us the potential to become more aware of the multitude of masks and stories we surround ourselves with. Becoming aware of this we can generate more choices for ourselves. By using masks as tools we can address our biases and judgments and are able to reveal society's. With masks, we perform in the unconscious field of signs. We briefly are able to lose control and to step beyond our ideas of limitation.

      We all are master storytellers and interpreters. As long as we are all believers in all the narrative constructions surrounding us, we are doomed to live as characters in the fairytales we construct for ourselves and others. ‘The world’s a stage, each must play its part’ is a very striking observation of how we live.

      1. The Seemingly Empty Stage

      It’s 1980-something and this was my first ever performance. I am not visible. But I know I was there. The picture shows some audience member’s arms moving at the music. I am singing ‘We Are The World’ and attempting to do all the different voices (Willie Nelson, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Paul Simon, Kenny Rogers, Tina Turner, Billy Joel, Dion Warwick, Cyndi Lauper, Diana Ross, Bruce Springsteen, Al Jarreau, Huey Lewis, Linda Ronstadt, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles,...). I am very shy and I feel I’m turning completely red, but the fun of using different voices somehow pulls me through. It makes perfect sense I am not in the picture. It was another exercise in disappearing. The stage is the place for the performer to disappear and step out of her/his skin and turn into something more real than he or she could ever be. The audience is also not visible. The audience’s role is similar to that of the performer. Each member of the audience sheds its bag of flesh and bones and becomes part of The Play.

      My medium is theatre. I literally see everything as theatre. I think in terms of actors and audience, on stage and off stage, playing, rehearsing, improvising,... In stating that everything is fiction, I also state that everything we are constantly doing is staging our own drama’s, comedies, thrillers, musicals,... Everything is theatre. Therefore I like to infuse ‘reality’ with even more theatrical elements. Introducing a fictional character into the world but not telling he/she is fictional opens up lots of potentials to show the theatricality of the real. The theatre is a safe place when it does its work in the theatre space, but whenever theatre breaks out of the walls, then its potential becomes more dangerous, more subversive, more disruptive.

      Using theatrical tools in non-theatrical situations alongside deconstructing or extrapolating ‘the theatrical’ has always fascinated me. Using performance as a tool to try to create awareness about our personal and societal conditioning (the grabbag of narratives) is very important to me. The theatrical is the place where I can investigate and work with the narratives, those given to us and the ones we create ourselves through an unending process of copy-pasting. I discovered that the theatre has the potential to show me my dependence on these narratives. That’s why I love to inject the fictional into the real without saying what is real and what isn’t. It is disrupting the logic of the stories we tell ourselves. Taking the character out of the play stirs something essential in people: their obsession with believing and disbelieving and their fears around sanity and insanity.

      There’s a story I once heard where a man visits his friend in the insane asylum. When the friend asks how are you, the man says: ‘Great! You see these walls here? They protect me from the crazy people outside. You should try to get in too, so you’ll be protected from the madness on the outside.’ Inside the mask, it feels more easy to see the fiction on the outside. I am very inspired by what the Situationists, the Dadaists or comedy genius Andy Kaufman did. They were all busy trying to make cracks in the ruling narrative. I think Andy Kaufman put it very, very well:

      What’s real? What’s not? That’s what I do in my act, test how other people deal with reality.

      1. My beloved grandmother Marie, the playground and a little clown.

      It’s 1980 something and it’s the day to celebrate carnival. Mimi (Marie) is posing with me. I am dressed like a Native American although the hat and nose are confusing the image a bit. I am pretty sure this picture was taken before or after the yearly school kids’ parade through the village. When talking about masking and disappearing and reappearing it is impossible not to talk about Carnival, the time of the year where it is allowed to change at will, to put down the burden called ‘you’ or ‘I’. We are all fools playing the fool’s games. And carnival makes us aware of this. The parade is an outside stage in the street. Streets are generally not safe havens for performance or theatre but the group aspect of a parade turns it again into a safe space allowing the inner playfulness to come out.

      During my year in a.pass I held my experiments back and forth between the safe (inside the building of a.pass, the ‘4th Floor’, and with fellow a.passees) and the riskful (outside a.pass, in the street, with the people occupying the street at that particular moment in time). It became an important part of my research in a.pass. I learned to understand more the difference between IN and OUT. Inside the mask, outside the mask. Inside the safe haven (‘theatre space’), outside in the great wide open (no literal ‘theatre space’). Me inside my propositions, out of them or in and out of them. The dynamics change radically when I allow myself to be a player in my own frame, or when I am instigating and holding space for others to play. I am always searching for ways to let people participate. So when I started working with masks, besides the joy of me putting them on and playing with them, I also felt the urge to share the mask. To let the audience also experience the inside of the mask, to let them look through the eyes of the mask. The first time I realized this could work was with a presentation I held during the Halfway Days in my second block (curated by Nicolas Galeazzi). I created a small TV studio with a score. Two persons: one puts on a mask and different clothes, and in doing so turns into the character called Johannes Bouma, the other person asks questions to Johannes about the research of the actual person wearing the mask of Johannes. Everything is recorded by a camera placed in front. Here, for the first time, the mask started to work as a tool of awareness. People who normally weren’t very good at talking about their own work, were very clear talking about themselves and their work (as Johannes). Others started to realize things about their work in relation to the public. They started to relate differently to themselves and to the person questioning them. The mask mirrored, mimicked and magnified the person and his/her research.

      1. The Farmer and the Widow


      It was 1980-something and I probably wanted to feel the rush of disguising again… These pictures are all about a Flanders and its rural identity. Rural Flanders where my ancestors all come from. I am only the 2nd generation non-farmer. In these pictures, there’s clear evidence of remnants of ‘peasantry’. The traditional stove, the ‘fermette’ (a type of house that became in fashion again in the 80’s when people started to build new houses to look like old farms). These ‘fermettes’ are masks of what once was. The figures I portray are also molds from the past catapulted into that present moment when the picture was taken. I embodied my ancestors. The widow is my great-grandmother who I only know through pictures. The farmer could represent either of my grandfathers.

      During Block I (Vladimir Miller), when we were asked to prepare an excursion for the Halfway Days, I focused on my own personal flemish identity by visiting an amateur company rehearsing ‘Het Gezin Van Paemel’. This is the invitation I sent:

      'Het Gezin Van Paemel' (The Family Van Paemel) by Cyriel Buysse is a 114-year old theatre piece that's still showing the flemish what it means to be Flemish. The excursion will bring us to an amateur theatre company rehearsing the piece. Why are they, and with them, lots of other amateur companies, still so interested in this piece? Why am I? My questioning will be mainly about one scene in particular: the son who goes to tell his father he's leaving for America. An America he only knows through stories, an America that personifies a better life. How is this flemish identity created (the I) by the staying and the leaving? And how is America (the other) created? And isn't all emigrating originating in the America of the soul? How is this construction of I a mask/conditioning? How is history as a re-construction keeping in place all these notions? How will I go from here to using masks again? How will I finally get out of Flanders?

      I made a detour from literal masking to the metaphorical mask, in this case: a theatre piece. The piece was first written and produced in 1903. Since then it has become a standard in Flemish theatre, and mainly in amateur theatre. It has been performed continuously since the first performance up until now. The piece is a Flemish classic. It portrays peasant life in 19th century Flanders and still now the piece is revered as a flemish icon. It is a naturalistic piece narrating the misery and heroism of a peasant family: the poor ‘pater familias’ and his obedient wife, one son got crippled because the baron’s son accidentally shot him, one daughter is more Catholic than the pope, another one is made pregnant by the baron’s son, another son has to join the army and shoot at the socialists, yet another son is a socialist,... My excursion took us to Tielen, a small village in the province of Antwerp, in the region called ‘De Kempen’, a provincial, rural area. The local company ‘Tejater De Orchidee’ was rehearsing their version of the piece and I was interested in how and why they made this flemish classic. We were allowed to come and watch the rehearsals and talk with the cast and the director.

      The piece was significant to me because of its resonance. I remembered as a kid watching the movie they made after the theatre piece. There’s one iconic scene at the end of the movie when the oldest son goes to visit his father and says: ‘Father, I’m going to America.’ He invites his parents to go with him, to go for a better life. But the father is stubborn and tells the son he will not leave the ground his ancestors are buried in. This piece is all about identity and roots and therefore it has been performed again and again to flemish audiences. It holds up a mirror of heroism, and ‘we always overcome hardship because us, Flemish, we work and work and work’. I was wondering how much this piece still influences the ‘flemish identity’. I never really understood what that meant. ‘Het Gezin Van Paemel’ has helped and is helping to construct this narrative.

      Looking at the mask, through the mask of the piece helped me to understand better the myth of identity. It was very revealing for me to talk with the local actors and to hear their answers to some of the questions I had. I remember one of the young men talking about staying in the village because it felt safe.

      The local company’ made one significant change to the piece. In the final scene of the written piece, the old father and mother stay behind while all the children have moved or are about to move to America. In the piece as rehearsed by ‘Tejater De Orchidee’, the old father stays behind alone while his wife also moves to America. The last scene became a heroic monologue of the aging man who gets left behind. ‘I will not move from the land my ancestors are buried in. I will stay and work, work, work.’ It wasn’t meant to be a commentary on migration, but it became a quite dubious one. Heroism masking the true reasons behind migration.

      Theatre as a mask, a mirror, a lens, a prism… This excursion rekindled my thinking about and interest in theatre. It made me realize how -I talked about it on the first pages- theatre still is the medium I work with. The excursion made me also think about history (personal and national) as a mask.

      1. Black Lola from the Striptease Bar


      It was 1980-something and in this picture, I personify Zwarte Lola (Black Lola), a Dutch singer infamous in the 1970’s and 1980’s in the Low Countries because of her -according to that era’s norms- raunchy lyrics and stage presence.  

      Dressing up as a girl -and especially this one!- was exciting, mainly because of the reactions of my mother, sister, and niece. I also remember my dad not being sure about what was going on. It was interesting to my young mind to see the effect of changing gender roles. It unconsciously released some tensions for me around the male and female stories we tell ourselves. And it showed me once again the impact of play and dress.

      In my initial research proposal, I wanted to focus on race, gender, and class. During the research, I started to focus on more basic questions: What do these masks do? What does changing your appearance actually mean?

      To work with these more basic questions I tried out ‘Moustache’ at ‘Don’t eat The Microphone’ in Gent with Pierre Rubio (curator Block III). Inspired by Adrian Piper’s essay ‘Ideology, Confrontation, and Political Self-Awareness’ (see p.22-24), we went to the garden the hosts of DETM inhabited and invited participants to create mustaches and by doing so alter their face and outlook and reflect on identity and the stories we create.

      In my third block  I made 4 sketches (short experiments): ‘Moustache’, ‘Who am I?’, ‘Who are You?’, ‘Stories, Stories’. This block was all about trying out different ways in how to use my new masks because the 5 of them had finally arrived in June after waiting almost 6 months (they had a delay of 4 months). This meant I had 7 masks in total now. So I wanted to see how they worked. More about ‘Who am I?’, ‘Who are You?’, ‘Stories, Stories’ later on in this text.


      1. My Second Holy Communion as a girl.

      It was 1980-something and I’m at Mimi’s. She showed me my sister’s old Second Holy Communion dress with bag and gloves. I put it on. This was the first time I didn’t put in extra effort to have a wig, make-up, or anything. No, it was me in my sister’s dress. Here I realized the comical potential of it. I was a bit older and more self-aware. I knew that I was a boy and that boys aren’t supposed to wear dresses. This was a seminal moment for the joy is also a joy of knowing I can be subversive by willing to break through conditioning. This is the first time I became conscious about that. The smirk on my face is a very self-aware smirk. ‘Look at me, ain’t I just hilarious and foolish? Don’t you just love my daring silliness?’

      It’s like I discovered fire. Before it all was just a lot of fun. Now my innocence got infused with a sense of danger and seemingly unlimited possibilities.

      One of the 4 earlier mentioned sketches in my third block was ‘Who am I?’.

      ‘Who Am I?’ was performed at Zsenne Gallery in the center. Outside the gallery is a small square which our group of researchers inhabited for our Halfway Days that Block. I was sitting on a chair, next to a mirror, at the edge of the square, facing the gallery. I had a sign reading ‘Who Am I’. I had a suitcase next to me with masks, clothes, and objects. In front of me, I’d put a small table with two chairs. On the table were pens, questionnaires to be filled in by visitors and objects changing per character. I was sitting on a chair facing the people at the table, changing every 45 minutes mask and clothing and objects on the table. The visitors were asked to fill out the questionnaire which had questions about who they saw in front of them: ‘What’s my name? Where am I from? Am I married? What do you and I have in common? …’. I was being watched but I was also the watcher, looking at people thinking hard about what to write. Both parties (the people at the table and me) were sniffing each other and trying to make sense. The written responses were revealing. They showed biases but also a willingness to understand. This exercise showed me the necessity of good and meaningful questions. The better the question, the more meaningful the response becomes.


      1. The Real Cowboy from Begijnendijk

      It was 1980-something and I am posing on a horse in Bobbejaanland. It’s a theme park built by Bobbejaan Schoepen, a flemish cowboy who made a career first as a singer, then as a theme park owner. The park was all about the Wild West (it still exists to this day). Bobbejaan died, but when he was still around he would drive through the theme park in his big American convertible dressed up as a cowboy. As a kid, I thought Bobbejaan was awesome. Here’s an adult man, in Belgium, Flanders, who pulls it off to be a cowboy. My dream was not necessarily to become Bobbejaan or a cowboy, I think I was intrigued by the sense of freedom he represented. He was free from the flemish mold, he recreated himself. He was Bobbejaan. How easy it could be to get out... This picture is important because whenever I was on a horse (although most of the time I was riding a donkey or a ram because we didn’t own a horse) I disappeared and became a cowboy on the prairie. I completely identified with the mask I chose and by doing so stepped out of the mask I was expected to wear in daily life.

      I love to give people the opportunity to become someone else, to step out of the mold. This is one of the core themes of my research. Becoming...

      Another sketch I made in Block III was called ‘Who Are You?’. Here I invited my a.pass colleagues to work in groups of two. One person was the shapeshifter (put on a mask and disguise, create a new character) and the other one was her/his chaperone. Then they had the possibility to spend the afternoon in the city at a location of their choosing. The role of the chaperone became very important. The chaperone is the link between the masked one and the unmasked ones. He/She is not only a safety guard but also part of the narrative. She/He plays along. The duos automatically created backstories between each other (‘She was my girlfriend and assistant’, ‘I was his caretaker.’).  Becoming another with an accomplice adds to the experience, for in dialogue you are more aware of what you project and what others project on you. The accomplice became the mirror.

      Ideally, this experiment should’ve been held over a couple of days. My initial plan was to start with basic acting exercises, then to extensively create a character, then to go to a well-pondered place in the city, everything is done with the possibility for the duo’s to switch roles.

      I have been trying out this format in the past and would like to continue working with it in the future. Taking time is a very important factor I learned. Two examples (1. from the past, 2. in the future):

      1. Some years ago I gave a workshop in Helsinki called ‘Pretend To Be Old’. I was playing the character of Walter Bourdin (with one of my highly realistic silicone masks). Walter helped the people to create wrinkles with liquid latex and chalk powder. The persons attending the workshop attached weights to their joints and on their backs in order to move more like an aged person, they changed their voices, and eventually, we walked through Helsinki in a parade of fake old people. After the workshop, we sat together to talk about our experiences. People were very positive: they had had very new and unexpected experiences in pretending to be old.


      1. In my second block, I had the artist and economist Kate Rich as a mentor. One idea I briefly developed with her was to use Airbnb for my work. Airbnb started to offer the possibility to advertise Experiences. The experience I want to create is giving tourists the opportunity to visit Brussels as somebody else. I would venture into the field of micro-tourism. I invite tourists to travel into someone else’s skin. I want to offer a two-day experience:


      Day 1: performance workshop ‘Find your other you’ (4 hours)

      Day 2: Explore Brussels as the other you. At the end of the day, I cook for you and we chat about the experience. (4 hours)



      1. The hippie and the punk


      It’s 1980-something and I’m a punk and a hippie. These roles I chose myself, knowing they were roles to play, not roles to be identified with completely (as I did with the cowboy). Here I was semi-consciously trying out subversive roles. Roles that wouldn’t have been tolerated within my family or village. Not that I really knew what these roles were about but I had enough sense from watching television that these stereotypes were considered to be highly problematic: ‘They don’t want to work.’ ‘They let everything go to waste.’, ‘They destroy stuff.’ ‘They don’t follow the rules.’ Not following the rules was something that interested me very much, but I wasn’t very good at it. I was a very law-abiding child and was horrified about getting punished.

      At a.pass I started to become aware of the fact that my masking game was potentially problematic. Mainly because I also wanted to experiment with gender and race. I wasn’t fully aware of the minefield I was stepping into.

      Another sketch I did in my third block  was ‘Stories, Stories’:

      I asked people who visited me if they were interested in trying on some of my masks. I took a picture and interviewed the masked person, asking very basic questions: ‘What’s your name? Where are you from? What are your hobbies?...’. I recorded the Q&A and put the answers (without the questions) into a text file, leaving me in the end with a picture and a written piece of information (A4) imagined by the wearer of the mask. I also went out into the park and asked strangers whether they’d be interested in trying on a mask, get a picture taken and interview. This resulted in 11 pictures and 11 texts which I presented to my fellow researchers on a table: matching the pictures with text (2 A4’s placed next to each other). It looked like a possible book (the talk show as a book?), in which I created a kaleidoscope of ideas and biases of people in Koekelberg (the 11 pictures and texts were all taken in Koekelberg).

      My questions could’ve been better, but I still think there’s a lot of revealing potential in this exercise. What happens when I take my masks to another place in the world? What does it mean there to pretend to be white for instance? What are the ideas we carry around? Like the ideas, I had about hippies and punks. These clichés are fertile ground to explore further.

      Also, what could we learn from putting the biases (imagined stories) from people in Koekelberg, next to those of Matonge, next to those of Ukkel,... Or how about the biases of people in Senegal, next to the ones of people in Canada, in Sweden, in India,...?

      1. Miss Piggy

      It is 1980-something and I’m relaxing on the couch as Miss Piggy. One of my first actual maskings. I remember the thrill of sitting on that couch and consciously playing with the proposed sexuality of the image. The mask helped me not to worry about ‘me’. I wasn’t ‘me’, I was Miss Piggy all the way. Even my mother taking the picture was a bit disturbed, she felt I was exaggerating. This was probably the last picture taken of me dressing up. Maybe we reached a point where we didn’t feel in control anymore. After this, I stopped play-dressing for quite a while. I had become a teenager, I was around 12 years old when this picture was taken. Only at the end of my teens, I would taste the sweetness of confusing other people again…

      This brings me back to Andy Kaufman. An important moment as a ‘player’,  ‘performer’, ‘artist’ was to learn to know Andy Kaufman. He brought playing to a whole new level. He turned it into more than just entertainment, he turned it into art, raising questions just for the sake of raising questions. Disturbing the status quo. Rocking the boat. Who are you? What do you believe? Is this really true? As in the quote I already put: ‘I am testing how other people deal with reality.’ Kaufman was not interested in making people laugh, although he was considered to be a comedian. He said: ‘I never told a joke in my life’. He just wanted to stir something in his audience. Anything. I also think this confusion is a good thing. It has the potential to wake you up. I have very vivid memories (not only because of the pictures) of all the disguising I did as a kid. Those were very alive moments, heightened states. And I have been chasing them ever since the first time I tasted the joy of pretending to be someone else. My research turned into an ode to play and rekindled my love for the theatre.


      10. Sharing with Tommie

      It was 1980-something and I’m sharing with Tommie. She was my pet poodle and my best friend from when I was 6 until 12. On the picture, I am sharing an ice cream with her. The ice cream reminds me of a microphone. I love microphones. That’s one of the reasons why I love the format of the Talk Show so much.

      For the last six months, I have been working with this format. Extrapolating its elements and abstracting them. One example was the first presentation of my third block:

      I created a literal Talk Show setting. Three chairs for the guest and one chair for the host separated by a big plant. There was a microphone. Mirrors, and an audience space. I was playing Walter Bourdin (old man mask) and I invited 3 fellow researchers to come up and take a seat. They could each choose one cut out picture of my face (Geert). Each picture-mask had a different facial expression: Angry Geert, Happy Geert, Confused Geert,... I gave two other picture-masks to researchers in the audience. Walter Bourdin (old man mask) asked questions about Geert and his research. ‘Angry Geert, what would you say your research is about?’ This experiment revealed a lot about my research and how I communicate it.

      The Talk Show set-up is also used in teaching and therapy. Anywhere where people talk with guests when other people are around to listen to the talking. I will continue to experiment with this format.


      1. Tommie Has Milk

      It was 1980-something and Tommie had puppies. They feed on her milk. As I fed on these references:


      Swami Premodaya (Satsang, ‘You experience what you expect to experience.’, ‘Your perceptions are your limitations.’), Swami Prem Prasad (‘Freedom through De-Conditioning’), OSHO (‘The Path of the Mystic’), Meher Baba, Adrian Piper (‘Ideology, Confrontation and Political Self-Awareness’), Stuart Price (‘I’m lost in the space between the concept and the execution’, ‘I’m stuck in the void between the instinct and the institution’), Ludwig Wittgenstein (‘Licht en schaduw: een droom en een brief over religie.’), Martin Buber (‘I and Thou’), Caroline Astell-Burt (‘I am the story’), Robert J. Landy (‘Persona and Performance’), Luigi Pirandello, Hannah Arendt (‘Lying in Politics’), Sören Kierkegaard (‘...the jump into the absurd...’), Codrescu (The Posthuman Dada Guide), Robert Crichton (‘The Great Impostor’), Ferdinand Waldo Demara, Eli Jaxon-Bear (‘Sudden Awakening’), Andy Kaufman, Bourdieu (‘Identity is given, not created’), Antonio Gramsci, Stuart Hall, one man continuously calling me ‘Christophe’ in Morocco and my irritation with that, Rabia of Basra, Artaud, Frantz Fanon (‘Black Skin, White Masks’), Reni Eddo-Lodge (‘Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race’), Nassim Taleb (‘Antifragile’), James Baldwin (‘The Fire Next Time’), John Cage (‘Silence’), Lou Reed’s rendition of ‘This Magic Moment’, Tommy Maitland, Mike Myers, The Gong Show, Sarah Paulson, Kokoroko, Fanna-Fi-Allah, The Little Flowers of Saint Francis, Anandamayi Ma, Gangaji (‘Hidden Treasure’), RuPaul’s Drag Race, Tony Clifton, Charles Aznavour, Lilia Mestre, Vladimir Miller, Pierre Rubio, Nicolas Galeazzi, Philippine Hoegen, Peggy Pierrot, Kate Rich, Pol Pauwels, Geert Opsomer, Sara Manente, Heike Langsdorf, Sina Seifee, Michael Sugich (‘Signs on the Horizons’), Abdelwahab Meddeb (‘Instants soufis’), Ranchor Prime (‘The Birth of Kirtan’), Shomari Dev, Loka Dev, Jai Dev

      I add this essay by Adrian Piper in its totality because it perfectly fits with what I’ve been researching, and she explains it far more eloquently than I ever could:

      ‘Ideology, Confrontation and Political Self-Awareness’

      Adrian Piper is a conceptual artist with a background in sculpture and philosophy. Her performance work and writing during this period asked the observer to consider the construction of his/her own beliefs and their relation to action in the world. Art historian Moira Roth has written that Piper's work of this period "deals with confrontations of self to self and self to others, exposing the distances between people and the alienation that exists in our lives—personally, politically, emotionally." Here she puts forth some basic considerations about ideology. —Eds.

      We started out with beliefs about the world and our place in it that we didn't ask for and didn't question. Only later, when those beliefs were attacked by new experiences that didn't conform to them, did we begin to doubt: e.g., do we and our friends really understand each other? Do we really have nothing in common with blacks/whites/ gays/workers/the middle class/other women/other men/etc.?

      Doubt entails self-examination because a check on the plausibility of your beliefs and attitudes is a check on all the constituents of the self. Explanations of why your falsely supposed "X" includes your motives for believing "X" (your desire to maintain a relationship, your impulse to be charitable, your goal of becoming a better person); the causes of your believing "X" (your early training, your having drunk too much, your innate disposition to optimism); and your objective reasons for believing "X" (it's consistent with your other beliefs, it explains the most data, it's inductively confirmed, people you respect believe it). These reveal the traits and dispositions that individuate oneself from another.

      So self-examination entails self-awareness, i.e., awareness of the components of the self. But self-awareness is largely a matter of degree. If you've only had a few discordant experiences or relatively superficial discordant experiences, you don't need to examine yourself very deeply in order to revise your false beliefs. For instance, you happen to have met a considerate, sensitive, nonexploitative person who's into sadism in bed. You think to yourself, "This doesn't show that my beliefs about sadists, in general, are wrong; after all, think what Krafft-Ebing says! This particular person is merely an exception to the general rule that sexual sadists are demented." Or you think, "My desire to build a friendship with this person is based on the possibility of reforming her/him (and has nothing to do with any curiosity to learn more about my own sexual tastes)." Such purely cosmetic repairs in your belief structure sometimes suffice to maintain your sense of self-consistency. Unless you are confronted with a genuine personal crisis or freely choose to push deeper and ask yourself more comprehensive and disturbing questions about the genesis and justification of your own beliefs, your actual degree of self-awareness may remain relatively thin.

      Usually, the beliefs that remain most unexposed to examination are the ones we need to hold in order to maintain a certain conception of ourselves and our relation to the world. These are the ones in which we have the deepest personal investment. Hence these are the ones that are most resistant to revision; e.g., we have to believe that other people are capable of understanding and sympathy, of honorable and responsible behavior, in order not to feel completely alienated and suspicious of those around us. Or: Some people have to believe that the world of political and social catastrophe is completely outside their control in order to justify their indifference to it.

      Some of these beliefs may be true, some may be false. This is difficult to ascertain because we can only confirm or disconfirm the beliefs under examination with reference to other beliefs, which themselves require examination. In any event, the set of false beliefs that a person has a personal investment in maintaining is what I will refer to (following Marx) as a person's ideology.

      Ideology is pernicious for many reasons. The obvious one is that it makes people behave in stupid, insensitive, self-serving ways, usually at the expense of other individuals or groups. But it is also pernicious because of the mechanisms it uses to protect itself, and its consequent capacity for self-regeneration in the face of the most obvious counterevidence. Some of these mechanisms are:

      (1) The False-Identity Mechanism

      In order to preserve your ideological beliefs against attack, you identify them as objective facts and not as beliefs at all. For example, you insist that it is just a fact that black people are less intelligent than whites, or that those on the sexual fringes are in fact sick, violent or asocial. By maintaining that these are statements of fact rather than statements of belief compiled from the experiences you personally happen to have had, you avoid having to examine and perhaps revise those beliefs. This denial may be crucial to maintaining your self-conception against attack. If you're white and suspect that you may not be all that smart, to suppose that at least there's a whole race of people you're smarter than may be an important source of self-esteem. Or if you're not entirely successful in coping with your own nonstandard sexual impulses, isolating and identifying the sexual fringe as sick, violent or asocial may serve the very important function of reinforcing your sense of yourself as "normal."

      The fallacy of the false-identity mechanism as a defense of one's ideology consists in supposing that there exist objective social facts that are not constructs of beliefs people have about each other.

      (2) The Illusion of Perfectibility

      Here you defend your ideology by convincing yourself that the hard work of self-scrutiny has an end and a final product, i.e., a set of true, central and uniquely defensible beliefs about some issue; and that you have in fact achieved this end, hence needn't subject your beliefs to further examination. Since there is no such final product, all of the inferences that supposedly follow from this belief are false. Example: You're a veteran of the anti-war movement and have developed a successful and much-lauded system of draft-avoidance counseling, on which your entire sense of self-worth is erected. When it is made clear to you that such services primarily benefit the middle class—that this consequently forces much larger proportions of the poor, the uneducated and blacks to serve and be killed in its place—you resist revising your views in light of this information on the grounds that you've worked on and thought hard about these issues, have developed a sophisticated critique of them, and therefore have no reason to reconsider your opinions or efforts. You thus treat the prior experience of having reflected deeply on some issue as a defense against the self-reflection appropriate now, that might uncover your personal investment in your anti-draft role.

      The illusion of perfectibility is really the sin of arrogance, for it supposes that dogmatism can be justified by having "paid one's dues."

      (3) The One-Way Communication Mechanism

      You deflect dissents, criticisms or attacks on your cherished beliefs by treating all of your own pronouncements as imparting genuine information but treating those of other people as mere symptoms of some moral or psychological defect. Say you're committed to feminism, but have difficulty making genuine contact with other women. You dismiss all arguments advocating greater attention to lesbian and separatist issues within the women's movement on the grounds that they are maintained by frustrated man-haters who just want to get their names in the footlights. By reducing questions concerning the relations of women to each other to pathology or symptoms of excessive self-interest, you avoid confronting the conflict between your intellectual convictions and your actual alienation from other women, and therefore the motives that might explain this conflict. If these motives should include such things as deep-seated feelings of rivalry with other women, or a desire for attention from men, then avoiding recognition of this conflict is crucial to maintaining your self-respect.

      The one-way communication mechanism is a form of elitism that ascribes pure, healthy, altruistic political motives only to oneself (or group), while reducing all dissenters to the status of moral defectives or egocentric and self-seeking subhumans, whom it is entirely justified to manipulate or disregard, but with whom the possibility of rational dialogue is not to be taken seriously.

      There are many other mechanisms for defending one's personal ideology. These are merely a representative sampling. Together, they all add up to what I will call the illusion of omniscience. This illusion consists in being so convinced of the infallibility of your own beliefs about everyone else that you forget that you are perceiving and experiencing other people from a perspective that is, in its own ways, just as subjective and limited as theirs. Thus you confuse your personal experiences with objective reality and forget that you have a subjective and limited self that is selecting, processing and interpreting your experiences in accordance with its own limited capacities. You suppose that your perceptions of someone are truths about her or him; that your understanding of someone is comprehensive and complete. Thus your self-conception is not demarcated by the existence of other people. Rather, you appropriate them into your self-conception as psychologically and metaphysically transparent objects of your consciousness. You ignore their ontological independence, their psychological opacity, and thereby their essential personhood. The illusion of omniscience resolves into the fallacy of solipsism.

      The result is blindness to the genuine needs of other people, coupled with the arrogant and dangerous conviction that you understand those needs better than they do; and a consequent inability to respond to those needs politically in genuinely effective ways.

      The antidote, I suggest, is confrontation of the sinner with the evidence of the sin: the rationalizations; the subconscious defense mechanisms; the strategies of avoidance, denial, dismissal and withdrawal that signal, on the one hand, the retreat of the self to the protective enclave of ideology, on the other hand, precisely the proof of subjectivity and fallibility that the ideologue is so anxious to ignore. This is the concern of my recent work of the past three years.

      The success of the antidote increases with the specificity of the confrontation. And because I don't know you I can't be as specific as I would like. I can only indicate general issues that have specific references in my own experience. But if this discussion has made you in the least degree self-conscious about your political beliefs or about your strategies for preserving them; or even faintly uncomfortable or annoyed at my having discussed them; or has raised just the slightest glimmerings of doubt about the veracity of your opinions, then I will consider this piece a roaring success. If not, then I will just have to try again, for my own sake. For of course I am talking not just about you, but about us.

      This essay originally appeared in High Performance magazine, Spring 1981.

      Above copied from


      12. What’s next?

      It’s 2000-something and what’s next?

      I end with a text I wrote in my first block. This text also serves as the conclusion of everything you’ve just read. I end where I started and I will continue from there:




      I want to gain and produce awareness about „otherness” in a direct, experiential way, using a „scientific” method: the mask. Inward and outward ‚signifiers’ (of race, gender, and class) produce and influence relations and positions. We are constantly building (constructing) interpersonal images and meanings. Which signals provoke/produce meaning in another? In other words: how is your body perceived and how do you perceive bodies? What is your position? Using masks or roles is to gain insight in ourselves and in humanity, the collective of others. We are not moving in contact zones, we are the contact zones (being ‚othered’ by other contact zones). Essentially I’m looking for a way out of exclusive thinking into inclusive thinking, out of ‘impathy’ towards empathy, out of mind into heart. This research is about going beyond the mind (I) into and eventually also beyond the other (You). To put it bluntly, it is about LOVE …



post-master program
pre phd-program
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