Project: Lecture and mapping with a thinktank, working around the concept of "performing objects"
Organisation: Thinktank Performing Objects http://performingobjects.blogspot.be
Moderator: Liesbeth Huybrechts
On a sunny day, the 9th of April, I organised a mapping with a thinktank, working around the concept of “performating objects” (http://performingobjects.blogspot.be). The thinktank is an initiative by Kristof Van Gestel and Marjolijn Dijkman. The group is formed by eight artists who use the thinktank as a reflection environment around their personal work as ‘performing objects’. The group has had four meetings in the past wherein they introduced their work to each other. Sometimes this exchange takes place in practice, for instance via presenting a work in space. The exchange could also take place via talking about objects in images and words.
The group regularly invites external people to feed their exchanges. I was invited to talk about the concept of ‘thing’ as developed by Latour and how I apply it in my own practice: in my theory development in the book Participation is Risky (http://www.valiz.nl/nl/ParticipationIsRisky ), in our Social Spaces projects (www.socialspaces.be) and in the MAP-it tool (www.map-it.be). Kristof Van Gestel was the host of the session: his home was the inspiring location of our exchange (filled with performative objects), where he cooked food and provided drinks. Two other artists of the thinktank were present, being Bas Schepers and Herman Van Ingelgem.
To make the concept of ‘thing’ as socio-material assembly or ‘a matter of concern around which people gather’ tangible, we used the Map-it tool to map the workings and future of the thinktank around performative objects (see map).
We started with mapping the values that were central to the thinktank. These values were experimentation (with or without producing new work as an outcome), exchange and learning. Experimentation was defined as the core value of the thinktank: through practice the artists wanted to intervene in each others work and come to new insights or even new ‘things’. This experimentation now takes place via exchanging ideas while meeting, eating and drinking. Through this experimentation also mutual learning takes place. The core people involved in this process of experimentation are the eight artists that all take the role of artists, but also of thinkers giving form to the working sessions and of ‘documenters’, documenting their experimental exchange sessions. There was a little debate around the fact if people form more diverse disciplines should be involved in the thinktank, but this idea was ‘bombed’, since the artists preferred to keep on working as a quite homogenous artistic group. The participants preferred to invite other disciplines as external guests to the sessions.
The mapping showed that some aspects of the thinktank were unclear, namely 1. how to interact with the art institutions and the public/participants and 2. how the experimentation sessions would concretely take form. The participants were thus searching for playful methods to give form to their working sessions and to interact with the outside world. The idea was visualised on the map that the exchange could possibly always take place in one of the homes of the artists. In a first ‘tour of the homes’ one of the artists could invite the other artists at her/his home and introduce the visitors to her/his art works as performing objects. In a second tour the visiting artists could do interventions in these homes, shifting the ways objects perform in these spaces. The homes could then also function as spaces or ‘salons’ that outside participants can visit. This last idea places the homes as exhibition spaces in a situation of tension with the art institution as exhibition venue.
The map that resulted from this first mapping session on the future of the thinktank will be introduced to the other 5 artists to develop this idea further during the next thinktank session.