Performance and fieldwork
Contributors: Contributors: Sandra Muteteri Heremans, Klara Hobza, Marx Machines Inc. (Filip Herbert, Anna Olszewska) Goda Palekaitė, Delia Popa
Curator: Anna Smolak
30 September 2022, 13:30-20:00h
Where: Siliștea Snagovului and surroundings, Romania (various locations)
Just after the end of the summer, on the invitation of the Experimental Station for Research on Art and Life in the Siliștea Snagovului village in Romania – a cooperative initiated by the Tranzit.ro/Bucharest and a group of friends – we choreographed a series of lecture-performances seeking out different vantage points from which to open up a view of a fragment of the rapidly changing landscape.
The title Lectures on the Weather was inspired by John Cage’s epic performance (1), an unsettling sonic and visual composition created in 1975, commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on the occasion of the bicentennial of the United States of America. For the piece, Cage used excerpts from the literary works of the famous 19th century American thinker and naturalist Henry David Thoreau. He drew, among others, on Walden, or Life in the Woods – a series of essays reflecting on Thoreau’s two-year self-imposed retreat in nature, an account on self-efficiency, materialism, work and leisure. Cage chose the quotations through I Ching chance operations to be recited simultaneously by twelve performers, all intended to be American men who had fled the country during the Vietnam War. Cage’s composition was preceded by his momentous speech that made clear his political and environmental concerns.
The first edition of the project adopted the format of a journey; the Lectures were performed in the bus that brought us from Bucharest to Snagov Palace, where Delia Popa navigating with humour the roles of a local artist and a tourist guide, drew our attention to how different powers and ideologies had left an imprint on the landscape. In the spectacular setting of Nicolae Ceaușescu’s former summer residence, Sandra Muteteri Heremans staged a rehearsal for a screenplay about the lives of African students in the Soviet Union, through which to deal with gaps in knowledge and memory. On the site of the Station, amidst tall grasses and wild vegetation, in a performance dissected by three voices, Klara Hobza – from anonymous contributions – drew together a poignant psychological portrait of those behind collective actions. We looked into the aesthetics of idleness and withdrawal together with Marx Machines Inc., while the silver-coated flag capable of dispersing electromagnetic signals fluttered above the Station. As the sun was setting, we boarded the Dolce Vita boat, with Goda Palekaitė to resurrect vampires and other creatures of the night to life and to love, as they also need a challenge if they are not to keep repeating the same old violence.
Lectures on the Weather developed as an open-ended platform for unexpected solidarities and complex affairs: human, gender, interspecies, post-human. The themes and ideas that the artists have touched upon, emerged out of conflicted zones, and inhabited transitory spaces. They voice feminist perspectives – the shift from traditional structures to self-organised, horizontal movements and networks; from silence to sound acting, from absence to emergence; they recognise the radicality of the emotional and the vulnerable amidst – and against – the intensifying pressures of the public life.
(1) John Cage, Lecture on the Weather, 1975/76
(For the full version of the text and the program see the publication pdf.)
Sandra Muteteri Heremans is a visual artist and filmmaker with a background in art history and anthropology. Born in Rwanda in 1989 and raised in Belgium, she is interested in how her upbringing has shaped her notion of history and imagination around the past.
Klara Hobza is a visual artist currently living in Berlin. She was born 1975 in Plzen, Czech Republic, later raised in Munich. Her themes are reflections on being in the world as an artist, the scientific process, migration, transportation, disappearance-reappearance and breathing.
Anna Olszewska is a researcher and curator based in Krakow, Poland. She is currently involved in artificial vision and post-growth technology research. Co-founder of the MarxMachines Inc., which deals with critical engineering and new experimentalism.
Filip Herbert is a freelancer, producer and wine entrepreneur based in Krakow, Poland. He has a background in cultural and visual art studies and is currently involved in cross-sectional research between economics and automatisation. He is a Re:Senster lab member.
Goda Palekaitė is Vilnius-born and Brussels-based artist working in the intersection of contemporary art, performance, artistic research, literature, and anthropology. Her practice evolves around the politics of historical narratives and the agency of dreams and imagination.
Delia Popa is a visual artist whose work includes painting, video, installation and performance. Her current research topic is the representation of local landscapes and topography in relation to ecological awareness and gentrification. Delia lives in Crețești, and in Bucharest, Romania.
Anna Smolak is an independent curator, born in Krakow and currently based in Brussels. In her curatorial practice, she investigates collaborative working models where the critical encounter with urgent ideas inspires imagining alternatives. She curated numerous exhibitions and projects focusing on the post-Soviet region.
The project is co-financed by The Administration of the National Cultural Fund. The project does not necessarily represent the position of The Administration of the National Cultural Fund. The Administration of the National Cultural Fund is not responsible for the content of the project or the manner in which the results of the project may be used. These are entirely the responsibility of the funding recipient.
Image: Klara Hobza: Sunset, Siliștea Snagovului, 2022