Notes on the Symposium/ Residency ‘Dysfunctionalities in contemporary art II

Notes on the Symposium/ Residency ‘Dysfunctionalities in contemporary art II

Limassol – Cyprus
30 November to 4 December 2016
organised by the Cyprus Chamber of Fine Arts (E.KA.TE.)
with the support of Cultural Services of Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture, the Department of Fine Arts of the Cyprus University of Technology (CUT) and the International Association of Arts (IAA).

The symposium was as inconclusive as art itself is, a fact that I consider a great success.

During the five days of the event, we immersed into an array of meals interrupted by lectures and workshops. We ate and talked, then listened and acted/reacted; then ate and talked again. Whatever was the plan at the beginning, or our proposal if you wish, passed through the sieve of the exchanged thoughts and the physical presence of each one of us. What came out as result is a version of the initial thought plus a momentum.

My proposal in brief was this: The blog post as prose – a workshop for performing documentary texts.
Abstract: The workshop is based on texts published on the blog ‘artB-the status of artists’ which is part of the artistic practice of the author. The aim is to exercise association and empathy to the artists’ status. Both professionals in the field (visual artists, performers) and amateurs (general audience) will be asked to read/ perform a blog post as a monologue; the participants convey the text in variable expressions, according to their position towards the artists and their practice.  The read outs/ performances will be registered on video and/or sound recording equipment. The result will be presented online through the blog.

The symposium part of the gathering served me as a loose workshop. It allowed me to study the brain waves of my interlocutors, rather than present my idea or explain what I would want from them. When the time came to execute the idea, we were sufficiently aligned so to have the work done in a few hours.

In the meantime, and in-between it all, I filmed with my handy-cam (a little Sony wonder); on came the sea front of Limassol, the square where we mostly gathered, the museum (Lanitis Centre), the workshop of Katerina Neofytidou at the Limassol Centre of Letters and Arts, and more. I also used separately the other miniscule machine, my sound recorder; on here I captured the sound of the bars at the old centre (our room was right above them), the silence in the museum, and of course the read-outs.

The initial editing was done sitting on the bed of our room, on a laptop/ notebook, using MovieMaker. I reached an acceptable result at 2 a.m., right on time when the bars turned the music off and everyone could eventually sleep. The three videos were presented the next day at the basement of Iroon Monument, in a hasty last gathering. We, K_Van, MJ, and I, had to run right after to catch the bus to the airport of Larnaca. Later, back home, I slightly re-edited the videos to their published form.

Though there has been no conclusion, let me note this (underlying?) thought:

All what passes the gates to society is functional. There is no use in looking for dysfunctionality in successful art.

Yet, why to look for anything dysfunctional, in art for that matters? Would it be because functionality presupposes an acknowledgement of rules and beliefs, even as a reaction to them? Or, other way around, because society aborts whatever can not be assimilated in its structures? Isn’t the dysfunctional the only possible free field for the intellect?

I left the symposium with new thoughts, and gratitude for this ultra temporary intellectual spread.

P.S. This post is another view of the symposium, by K_Van.

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The ideal state

“Five youngsters from level 2 were lying on the ground hit by astonishment from the sudden cracks of knuckles of the upper man, just before he disappeared. ‘He cracked twice’ the one whispered to the other with obvious fear but still detached as their life level demanded. The workers on level 1 just below them also followed the protocol, pretending not to notice what was happening beyond their sky. ‘He was a controller’ the youngsters startled while returning to normal mode. ‘He has information on us now… and went back to his level’. They looked with no other movement to their sky. There was nothing to see except of the normal flying devices. The spy had become invisible; he belonged to the third level of life, the accomplished state, where everyone and almost everything was transparent.

The land had established since long -and after a history of experiments- the ideal state of equality in unmixed horizontal levels. Visitors from upper to lower levels were mostly uncommon since all knew well their place  and their function was without doubt too. After the first shock which lasted a small few seconds, Ruhtra, the team chief, stood up and, while already walking away said ‘Faron will know’. The other four followed him to their mentor. Faron listened and without other comment pronounced as real teacher: ‘Fallen Angel’. Mentors were not supposed to say much on level 2, so the young men having nothing else to expect, left, with the two words floating in their heads.

They reached the main river without a word. Normally they would have analysed their experience and would now be discussing their opinions but instead they sat down in romantic positions staring at the river. This lasted a while. Haro scraped this silence stating ‘I’m scared’. He was the youngest, so still allowed to quote poetry but this old verse fell rather wrong to the team. ‘There is no time for philological analysis’ … ‘we must reach level 3, now’ chief Ruhtra said lifting his head up with mixed desire and anger. He stood up forcefully as in a move of impact, only to catch the others falling in sleeping mode. Before he could speak a word to reverse it they had disappeared in camouflaging colours, allowing only their  inaction to flash dimly in a rhythmic on-off, on-off. …”

P.S. the opening paragraphs of the story “the ideal state”. Keep tuned for the complete work.

"the acrobat" from the series "the state of sleeping" of 1995, acrylic on canvas, 130x130cm
“the acrobat” from the series “the state of sleeping” of 1995, acrylic on canvas, 130x130cm

Kron – part 2

Mr Kron fitted well in the buzzing community of happy passengers; we would never find a common ground. Yet, we had three more hours to spend together, including a dinner just the two of us. I could skip dinner altogether; still, this man would be eating next to me. We were isolated from the others. I was his companion and he was to blame for putting us in this position without asking. I began falling naturally into panic when Mr Kron said ‘What is your destination?’ My destination? This was getting out of hand. I would not discuss my destination with a total stranger, an intruder to my peace, a rude dangerous man. ‘Amsterdam’ I said quietly. ‘So close, you’re lucky. I have to change flight in Amsterdam to get home to New York; got seven hours waiting. I hope I’ll find an interesting book to buy out there, in English’ he said with a little laugh. I nodded without sound. I had read many books in airplanes and airports; once or twice I almost missed my flight because of a book. That, in other times of course. So, Mr Kron was still alive; he could still read books and even find them interesting. How old was he anyway? I turned to him unconsciously following this thought. He met my look simply without reserve then turned back to his tablet; he was playing games all this time while talking to me. Irritated I looked straight to his face; he was young, hardly in his twenties. He looked back at me and said ‘I was on Syros island for an animation festival, pretty cool’. You could trace no uncertainty in his voice; so mature for such a young face. ‘I met a girl from Sweden and, you know, I see myself coming back to Europe soon’. His face was shining of nice fresh memories, all content, all happy. I kept staring for a second then sunk to the back of my brain where the memory of my last love was hanging. It was neither painful nor pleasant; it was nothing. We were served dinner last of all passengers while flying over the Alpes with the usual shakes of this point of the flight. He laughed with the dancing trays; I looked at the shaking glass in my hand and let a soft sigh. Youth flashed in me for a second; then dispersed again leaving a hazy murmur. You’re gonna fall from a great height like everybody else. ‘Cheers Kron’.

Kron – part 1*

Sometimes it is really too late.
Sitting at the last row of the airplane on the window, I was looking at the passengers streaming in, hoping that I could be left alone in my peace with the seats next to me empty. I was still red and puffy from the dramatic goodbye of this afternoon. You see, after a bright early youth, where travelling was the greatest way for self positioning, things went back to the silliness of family life. There is more crying attached to goodbyes than the sense of flying freed from everything. Any non-irrupted life left in me finds no other way to manifest itself. Sadly, the person that I finally became failed to use the experience of youth. A couple came and sat on the same row across the corridor. I closed my eyes in hope; a few more minutes and my loneliness would be secured. A shift of air shook me and before I could focus back to image world, a sturdy voice punched me brutally. ‘Hello’. My eyes gasped on the letters K-R-O-N that appeared next to me covering the shirt of the man.  I said hello back with a faint voice, shocked by the intimidating move of this person who came and sat next to me in the middle seat when there was obviously no one else waiting to sit in our row. He must be of Viking descent for being so arrogant and brutal, I thought. If Kron is his name it suits him perfectly. Anger and despair filled my lunges and I turned to the window as last attempt for protecting my trip. To my relief, silence was established again; we were ready for take off. I closed my eyes and concentrated on absorbing the force of the accelerating aircraft. ‘Would you like a mint? It seems to help the body stay in balance.’ I must have shaken slightly because when I turned to him he was looking at me with a dubious little smile. I took the mint with a plain ‘thank you’ and the inexpressive face of someone in depression or in polite annoyance. I was already exposed; he already knew – I gave it away so easily – that I was an unhappy person, unable to enjoy what was offered to me. The image of my mother passed in front of my eyes. I was becoming exactly the same ‘lights off’ woman and even aware of it; a deeper hell than oblivion. The mint felt good indeed but the thick wall surrounding my body would not let any trace of satisfaction walk away. My head stayed numbed and my face features solidly sober.

Kron – part 2 will be published on Monday 19 December.

* This short story won the prize of the literary magazine Diavazo and the International Airport of Athens at the competition with theme “journeys by air”. The story was published in the issue of November 2011.