With the generous support of the A-N Go and See bursary TTP had the time and space to meet an abundance of amazing artists, to travel to new lands, and engage in numerous life-changing conversations. Our time at the Sisters Academy, in June 2015, led us to reflect on the ways we work as a collective, challenging what and how we facilitate projects, and so improve how we communicate with others and amongst ourselves.
Throughout our journey we contemplated the following questions:
Who and what are Tracing the Pathway?
What are the borders and boundaries between our four individual bodies and the body of the collective?
Is this an ecology? And if so how may it remain fluid and porous?
How do we differentiate between the nodes of this ecology and our working practice? Are they one and the same? At what point does Tracing the Pathway end and Fluid Ecologies begin?
How do we map these ideas in practice, on our website, and through the conversations we have with different audiences?
Since returning home the conclusions we have begun to draw have led to further questions and ruminations. However, what has been key to our findings is the empowerment of dialogue, exchange and the gifting of ideas, practice, and culture with others. These are the fundamental components of how any collective, in fact any human being, operates in life. By observing how Sisters Hope think and work (and all the other wonderful people we met on our trip: Jan Suk, Ivan Slacko, Mia Makela, Stine Lundberg Hansen, Peta Tait, Olav Harsløv, Nivi Christensen, Inge Agnete Tarpgaard and hello!earth), we have learnt a great deal about forging intimate and sustainable interconnections between people, places, art and life. Interconnections that are fluid and constantly evolving.
A fluid ecosystem; a fluid ecology.
Tracing the Pathway is one such fluid ecology, and in traveling to Greenland we can now fully appreciate the key nodes of our ecosystem: bodies, sites and encounters. These are the nodes we embody and carry with us on all journeys, in all meetings and conversations with people. These nodes are our tools: tools through which we create, tools through which we articulate ourselves; and tools for connection, interconnections.
With this happy realisation we look to the future of our collective and the next steps in the evolution of our Fluid Ecologies project on many different levels: human, administrative, conceptual, creative and interconnected level.
The Need for Human Connection: Having the time to be around bodies has reminded us of the vitality of human-to-human contact. Currently as a whole collective we only meet every 4-6 weeks online, this is due to our international and dispersed living arrangements. As a group of four we tend to only communicate through social media platforms, however having the opportunity to work this summer in a more sensuous and embodied way has reminded us of the importance of regular human contact, and of a unified, complete contact as: four bodies each unique and fixed, yet porous. As: one, shifting whole – an ecology dependent on its constituent parts.
In the five years Tracing the Pathway has been operating the four of us have only been in the same space three times. We pride ourselves on our ability to sustain a meaningful and fluid connection across borders, to work in different conglmorations of people, but we wish to offer the collective regular opportunities to work together as a whole. So on a practical level we have instigated an independent, yearly, TTP residency period, which is compulsory for all members to attend. It will be a time dedicated to sharing ideas and discussing the ethos behind our practice, to proposing exercises, and performance tasks, which we can then develop to present for an audience through our performance and workshop projects.
Administration Concerns: Spending time with at the Sisters Academy has also taught us the value of prolonged reflection and evaluation of our work. We have again only ever reflected on our work via conversations on the Internet. This raises issues surrounding the quality of communication, when for instance Skype lines drop, or the difference in time zones means we rush through meetings. We will never be able to avoid this mode of communication but we are in the beginning stages of considering how to turn this to our advantage, how administration can be a performance in its own. Sisters Hope, for example, work on their administrative tasks within the space of the Sisters Academy. Audiences have the opportunity to not only experience the Academy aesthetically and conceptually, but also in a way that reveals the mechanisms that allowing it to run and operate as a learning and artistic environment.
As part of the Sisters Academy there is also time set aside on the final day to reflect on everyone’s experience of taking part (you may read the notes from Sisters Academy Greenland session here). This evaluation took place within the site of the Academy but also beyond in a more social setting after the Academy had closed its doors to the public. As we walked and took part in a Greenlandic Kaffemik, conversation still flowed, ideas were shared and constructive criticism offered. It was a fantastic way to bring an interdisciplinary group of practitioners together in an open and honest framework. We therefore wish to adopt a similar method in order approach to evaluation, one that respects the way we produce and disseminate work. For us this means acknowledging that TTP projects usually centre on durational activities of curating and hosting artists, researching and performing. This takes an incredible amount of energy and to allow the body to recover from this process usually takes 1-2 days. It is important to recognise that the mind and body cannot always instantaneously switch focus from an active creative perspective to an evaluative/reflective one. We feel it is therefore necessary to spend one day re-acclimatising to the end of the project, by exploring the sites and locations we have been living and working in, outside of the project’s framework of engagement. How do we begin to see the site differently? How does our body react to it and what alternative encounters does it offer? By opening ourselves up to the environment we can gain some necessary distance from a project to then be able to assess and qualify our relationship to the work that has just been completed. So we will now take 2/3 days post-production to reflect on and evaluate a project in and around the space it took place in. We shall also do this in a creative way that is emblematic of our performance practice so that we are actively engaged in practice as we reflect on it. For example we trialled a walking evaluation method for our project Groundwork, in which we allowed photographic images from the project to guide where we walked around the location of the project, translating the contours of the photographs into the environment so they act as route markers.
Communication: Language was key to forging a relationship with all the artists and audiences we met. Whether this is verbal language, body or spiritual languages the terms and words, phrases and gestures we used to communicate were signs of our identities. We must remember that how we articulate elements of our identity, personifies who we are as a collective and what our philosophy is. On a conceptual level it became apparent that TTP needs to define the terms we use to describe our work and practice. In particular we should focus on the key words we use to describe our practice and what we do, aka the nodes of our ecology. How do we defining the meaning of body, site and encounter?
In mapping what and how the ecology of TTP operates and functions we hope to offer a fluid framework of communication, which may be of use to other collectives and/or to those engaged in practice-as-research.
Creative Projects: On a creative level we are inspired to think about how the meetings we had live on. How we disseminate our experience and communicate via different mediums to different audiences. One such way has been to write this blog, and our second approach is to translate the work we produced for the Sisters Academy into a book, thinking about how the evanescence of words, exchanges and encounters may be captured in the textures and depths of a page. The book is currently in production and should be realised via our own website in Spring 2016.
Interconnections: On an interconnected level we shall continue our conversations with the artists we met during our journey by taking part in future iterations of the Sisters Academy. We equally have plans to work with the other artists we met en-route, for example: we are at the begin of initiating a performance training and pedagogy exchange project with Jan Suk, Ivan Slacko and Stine Lundberg Hansen; we are seeking opportunities to perform alongside Inge Agnete Tarpgood; and there is the potential to return to Nuuk Kunstmuseum, in the not to distant future.
We are thrilled Go and See has prompted such a rich set of opportunities and to offer us a journey which we certainly be processing for many more months, even years to come. Our next blog will leave you with some of our most lasting memories and impressions of our exchange with Sisters Hope through the remit of their Sisters Academy Greenland.
To learn more about Sisters Hope’s impressions of the exchange and their experience of living and work in Greenland please check out:
Sisters Hope’s Website: www.sistershope.dk
Sisters Academy Greenland in Nuuk: www.sistersacademy.dk/about/nuuk
PSi Fluid States’s Blog: www.fluidstatesnorth.wordpress.com
and for documentation of Sisters Academy Greenland please visit:
Sisters Hope’s Flickr feed: flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
and Facebook page: www.facebook.com/pages/Sisters-Hope/146993448712871?fref=ts
This post has been guest authored by Cara Davies from Tracing the Pathway