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Body, Mind in Time

The curatorial theme of this ninth edition of Infr'Action is Body & Mind in Time, as to accentuate these two first qualities as being one and inseparable to our existence. They are united in the human being and is simultaneously the most important qualities in performance art. Alive, immediate, here and now. Just like life itself. It is an art where the artist is not acting or pretending to play a role, not being somebody else, not using other people as actors, but being one with the actions, making it the most stringent expression of the unity of body and mind in contemporary art.  

Primarily, performance art is an immediate expression of the human. A creative process in which body and mind are inseparable. In this process the artist start out to reflect upon what to express, creating an idea, and then reflecting on how to express it.  What materials to use or not to use, what motions to execute, which action(s) to do.

In the moment of the live realization of the work, the creative process usually changes from what was originally intended. A change decided through the body and the mind, being at that instant united as One. The performance artist very seldom follows an outlined choreography, like in dance or theatre. Instead her or his body and mind are influenced by the immediate context, the surrounding people, the location of the work, the mood at the moment of the execution. 

The artist follows at that moment an instant flow of emotions and thougths, uniting the body and the mind, and changes the action or not as it goes, in the direction of their complete fusion.Eexpressing this unity is not simple, it does not come automatically, but when the artists succeed  in doing so, it comes out with emotional and intellectual force.  It does not always happen, since this is an immediate here and now process of creation. But if risk is a part of the live action work ,and one of its inherent qualities, so is courage, honesty, intuition, and instant improvisation.

Body & Mind are unified in the moment of creation, and it is maybe this aspect of performance art that makes it such an exciting and attractive art form. Being confronted with the unknown, where one do not know what will come next, of not being able to predict what the artist will do, what will actually happen. That we simply experience the act of creation in tempo and in situ. The unpredictability and the unexpected, and the possible instant change of direction in a work, are qualities which stimulates our own imagination. We can only imagine what will happen next.  So we continue to watch and see what will follow… 

However, when you experience a work of performance art, you stand in front of the artist, making the work. It is not a  photography, it is not a video, it is not a painting you are looking at, but it is the very moment of creation that you experience. It is this true moment that makes performance art so vulnerable and in the same time so exciting. You don’t know what will happen in the next moment, in the following minute, second… you have to follow and feel what is going on in front of you. Trying to understand, trying to ask yourself the question : what does it mean, how do I feel, what does it make me think of ? It is through these questions that we develop our understanding and our own capacity of reflection. And maybe it is exactly this that it is all about : to make us think on our own, by ourselves, using our own imagination, our own experience and life to be able to understand what we see and experience, and finally trying to understand the other… and more important trying to understand ourself.

Then we have to think about the signification of an action. Where all details are  equally important to our understanding. The artists outfit and clothes, the object or the matter used, the motion or the non-motion of the action, the gaze, or the time...

If there is something that performance art works with it is time. Which besides our body and mind probably is our most valuable resource. What do we do with our time, how do we spend it ? Efficiently ? With quality ? Slowly, fast, in motion or in no-motion ? How do we give it value ? Do we give it away or do we sell it ? How do we use it ? What does it mean to walk fast ? What is the signification of moving slow ? And what is the intrinsic meaning of doing what appears to be nothing ? When we experience a work of performance art our conscience about time grows. And indirectly about how we use time as human beings.

Another important quality in performance art besides the artists body & mind in time, is the absence of a dominating material/tool/media. It is an absence that allows the artist to move freely between any, and to embrace all, or for that matter none. This quality is a singular one, where the artist is not bound to repeatedly use a specific material, tool or media but where the creative process goes beyond the material and its intrinsic limitations and repetitions. 

In performance art what matters is the signification of the body and mind, of the action being pursued, and the time given to it, its focus. All these qualities gives the work its presence, the invisible energy that emanates from the artist executing it. This differentiates it from other art media, limited to the object-trace of an emotion or a thought whether it is a painting, a sculpture, a photo, a film or an installation. Which finally, signifies the physical separation of the artists body & mind from the created work. In performance art this alienation of the body & mind in time never happens.  The signification of this can not be overstated.

Body & Mind in Time is what finally creates presence and in a further perspective : existence, the presence of the human being doing an action with an accentuated focus. The heightened intensity of these qualities generates the presence and emotions that moves us, or makes us continue to keep our attention fixed on the action we experience, without being able to leave the spot. This presence of someone, the artist, realizing an action with his full body and mind in our common here and now, can only but attract our will to know more. To ask ourselves the questions why, how and for what reasons is he or she doing this ? To explore the signification of what we experience, through the silent questioning of our own understanding.

Body & Mind in Time consitutes the basic tools with which the performance artist work, it creates presence and beyond that an energy that is highly emotional. Time incorporates here the process, the ”what will happen next” experience we have when following a live action.  But it is also this experience, as an effect of the time we give to the work and the subsequent feeling of waiting, of a continued waiting, that connects us to our own body & mind and as such unites us to the artists actions. To anoher human beings actions. A unification which accentuates the feeling of participation and sharing that is so strong in performance art. Of belonging, and togetherness with the Other. Being together as One.

 

Jonas STAMPE,

July 2013







INFR'ACTION 9


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