“Solution training 2017”, Vanessa Brazeau (performance) Image by Jan-Willem van Rijnberk
Almost 3 weeks have passed since I arrived at SEA Foundation to begin my residency. My goal has been to use this residency as a period of experimentation with research-creation, which is conducted through practical means – from active experience, trial/error and failure. I have begun experimenting with several work-in-progress that explore high-performance activities and their potential to initiate a dialogue around the dynamics of competition in both sport and neo-liberal society.
It has been a very exciting and productive experience so far – being immersed in the Dutch lifestyle and learning about the art scene here has brought new and important insights to my art practice. I have a lot of new questions for my work that I hadn’t put weight on before. For example, how can my work remain and be sustainable after it is performed? What strategies can I use to adapt my ephemeral, site-specific actions for concrete presentations in galleries? Will my performances continue to be relevant once they change form? How can I present the body without a present body?
With that last question in mind, I think it is a good moment to introduce the first work that I developed here. The idea of creating a physical urgency without physical presence is a concept I find very interesting. To explore this idea, I created KALDI BODY, a set of games with instructions to be played at the Kaldi Cafe here in Tilburg. Customers physically compete with each other in three different tasks over a period of three months. They are never physically present with, nor do they know the results of the other the customers they compete with. As human relationships become increasingly digitalized and isolated, I wanted to experiment with the possibility that physical action in a banal environment could still somehow become critical and meaningful. It is also about using the absurdity of these games to reflect on other actions within the context of everyday life, where non-physical competitions do have legitimacy – for example job interviews and open calls. We are constantly part of invisible competitions in Western society, and I believe physical competition is an excellent tool to make that visible.
I am also developing other experimental works based on my interest in irrational, physical decision-making techniques, which will be realized this week at the Trim Parcours in the Oude Warande. I will follow up with a second blog post to reflect on the outcomes in more detail. Here is an introduction to the concept:
In contemporary society, decision-making is often accompanied by anxiety, pressure and over-rationalization due to the ever-increasing influx of possibility. This excess simply adds to the illusion of freedom in our lives – but the options we are given are propagated by an oppressive system that limits choice to a particular framework. What we rationalize as the right or wrong is based on contingent circumstances, and therefore to transcend our predetermined conditions, we must randomize our choices. I have created a series of physical exercises to train people in random choice, to question the routine decisions that segregate, exclude and limit them.