> Born in Opole (Poland), Roman Dziadkiewicz is graduated of PhD at the Academy of Fine Arts of Kraków, where he currently lives and works. He is a multisensual artist, researcher, activist, songwriter, and occasional artist- curator. Engaged in long term studies, he is involved in interdisciplinary and intersensual projects, actions, workshop strategies, graphic design, text-based projects and also collective activities on the border of art, social and educational spheres. His interests are particularly oriented around the question of challenging and disintegrating the artwork, correlations between daily life, cultural/ ritual, contexts, texts (narrations, history, stories) and politics/publicness.
Permanent performance / collaborative research project
The term “munus”, what comes from old Latin language, means: a service, office, employment; a burden, duty, obligation; a favor; a spectacle, public show and a gift, in the same time. This “knot” of contents is the core of the family of terms, like following: com-muni-sm, communite, to commune, to communicate, communication. There are semantic fields (with common or divided elements) I would like to deal with – by myself, with my body, my perception, my basic, poor communication tools in relation to the workshop team and others. The proposal can be taken as an experimental engine for interpersonal activities. The searching for the vanishing point (core) for interpersonal relations is a mythical, performative goal for the project. I start with nothing, absolutely nothing, point “zero”, “O”, empty sign, pure potentiality, a question mark and invitation to the collaboration and/or support… Then (I/we) will make first steps, will move, develop, exchange, search, link, give and take, take and give. With any expectations… So…
“Take me to the station
And put me on a train
I’ve got no expectations
To pass through here again”
[M. Jagger / K. Richards]
« I don’t make performances, I make experiences »
Interview with Roman Dziadkiewicz by Valérie de Saint-Do
It seemed to me (maybe a little falsely) that much of the project would be about performance, especially in public spaces and in train stations. Here starts a collection of interviews with the performers of the team with this question in mind : What is and what means performance art today ? My research begins with the Kraków-based performer Roman Dziadkiewicz.
What does performance mean to you ?
I don’t call myself a « performer ». I work with some elements of the tradition of performance. But I take it as a part of more complex way of thinking, where performance is a part of a triangle. The triangle is based on three capital points : everything related to language, eveything related to pictures, imagination and perception, and then everything related to body and action. I situate performance or performative activity on the latter angle. It is a little bit different than within the performance studies, where performance necessarily connects itslef with language.
You refer yourself to « traditional » performance. What mean « tradition » in performance ?
(Silence.) In one way, you can take it as a very fresh field of contemporary art, which is still a bit out of institutions, on the move. From a regular position, performance is a bit marginalized. At the same time, performance art has its own international network of institutions and festivals. So, if we take it in historical way, 1960’s and 1970’s are the most significant periods. But we have also roots for it in the 1st avant-garde. But it has also much deeper roots – not only in theatre – because theatre is so much related to language – but more to something that you could call « popular culture », or « folk culture » or interpersonal relations. Russian theorist of culture Mikhaïl Bakhtin wrote about these non religious but sacred roots, based on dialogue relations. Performance would correspond to some sort of secular acts in public spaces, f.e. in the market squares, within social relations, which I take as crucial roots for contemporary performance. There are hidden parts in our unconsciousness but still active in situations of conflict, stress or unfamiliar happenings. All this are the roots of our performatives potentialities. In this way, performance deals with social, interpersonal relations, and thus dives very deeply into daily life.
What about the context ? Public spaces, audience ?
The triangle I refered to is about strategy of activity, about several forms of language you decide to use – it can be either verbal, visual or physical – but each of them are immersed in contexts. So, the context is a space where I can put the triangle in. It actually creates the act, and inter-act whatever its shape : act of the body, act of the langage, act of image.
Does it make sense in any context ? And especially, does it make sense to perform in a place which is already dedicated to art, when people come just as an audience ? I would think that performance precisely make sense when it comes without expectations…
The situation in which you have particular places dedicated to art and to have visitors is also a very important context or frame for activity, which could be related to performance, directly or indirectly. This institutional frame is very meaningful. I don’t want to keep performance out of it, without confrontation. If you tell me « it is not a good place for performance», I would answer : « Why not ? » Maybe, if you put a performance in a white cube, you have another kind of confrontation. On the other hand, I feel a bit fictional the opposition between institution, white cube and public spaces. Each artistic activity, each performance, is generally related to institutions, even though this institutional context is less visible. We have still this idea that in public spaces, the performance is more free, more independent, but usually, it is false. Institution is something more than walls and places. It is an economical and political context and the meaning of production of particular work. Usually, a performance in public spaces is in the same economic situation and dependency than in a white cube.
The difference might be in the people who watch it, and who will interact or not…
Yes, a kind of accident is still possible. And I really like accidents. But if you make a performance in a public space, you have a small group of people interested in it, and watching the performance from the beginning to the end, and usually, some people pass by, and will stay for a moment and pass by again. If you want to interact, I don’t think that the short time show would work. This is why I am against short performances. I feel that the potential of the living body in time and space is much more effective. In the same time, this short format of performance is more and more conventional. This is why what is important to me in performance is experience and long-term investigations, based on researches, rehearsals, tests or samples. Finally I prefer the term experience instead of performance for my work.
Is it always prepared in advance, or is it possible that you welcome a kind of improvisation in these experiences ?
Usually I prepare myself, or, if I work with a group of people, we prepare ourselves to be ready, to be open to have such an experience. Wether an action takes 24 hours or one week, the preparation can take few months. We discuss the elements and prepare some equipment, we collect iconography, make rehearsals, which are autonomous works as well. And we prepare ourselves to be open to others, as much as possible. Then we start to create interpersonal situations. It is about Munüs project as well…
Could you define more precisely the word Münus ?
I found inspiration in different roots, but also some reflections after the long-term work for the project in Kraków. Munüs comes from a kind of crisis which questioned the content of the project « Mechanisms for an Entente ». What is it about? What will connect us? There were so many discussions during the Open_Studio with students and participants about relations, history, geography, diagrams and the tools for collaboration… But still, there was something like a hidden panic about what we want to connect and with whom, with what. What is really the engine, or the gas, for these mechanisms? Then, I’ve heard a lecture from the Italian philosopher Roberto Esposito, who put the term Munüs, and I realized : « This is what we’ve lost! » But at the same time, this is not the pure answer. It is impossible to give a clear definition of Munüs, which is a core for com-munism, com-munication, com-muniti. The word comes from old Latin language, and has few different and sometimes opposite meanings. Each of them is related to exchange, to situation, which involve two sides: a gift, for example, but also debt. It is also « performance », or « show » or « service », or « obligation ». If you collect these terms, you have a set of tools related to possible interpersonal activities and their ambivalences.
Would you relate it to ideas of anthropology like gift/counter-gift, or Potlatch ?
There was also the Kula ritual, from the islands in Oceania, studied by the anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski. It was a ritual of exchange on a bigger scale, in an archipelago. The Kula are kind of ritual objects that circulate in opposite directions, and connect islands together. There are different islands, but they keep a common identity by this exchange. Guillaume told us that « money » also derives from Münus.
We evoked what comes before a performance or experience. What about after, about traces and archives? Is it part of your work to keep archives of what you are doing (images, sounds)?
Within the field of history of art, I think that this is still a relevant question for researchers: Who did decide that performance needs documentation, pictures or videos? Maybe galleries, which started to be interested in performance? At the beginning, most of them were against materiality, documentation and petrification. A kind of soft institutionalization started a bit later. And it produced a need of documentation – good pictures or objects to be put in galleries. In another hand, I absolutely understand this need, because to deal with material reality is a very important aspect of activity in art. I am against pure conceptualism reduced to ideas and language. The interaction of objects, bodies, images and language is what I want to work with. In this context, images and comments are something that we can transfer and move from temporal activity, keep them as documentation, connect to other and build up next levels. But the question remains: for what, and why? Is it for merchandizing? And who decides of it? Sometimes we feel that we make decisions but decisions are made without us. But what is clear for me is that we need or we should create our own archives. It is a kind of political fight to have power to cover our own archives. If we don’t archive ourselves we will be archived by others, or we will disappear…
DIAGRAMMATIC OF ENSEMBLE. INTRODUCTION
by Roman Dziadkiewicz
01. Ensemble is a category borrowed from Marx’s “Capital” which we got thanks to Étienne Balibar’s careful analysis. In “The Philosophy of Marx” French philosopher reveals that in original, German version of “Das Kapital” Marx used French term “ensemble” to describe the category of “entirety” – the entirety of social relations. Entirety (ensemble) as a format, a space of coexistence, a collection of contextes, an environment of action and submersion has lately become a challenge for researches, for artistic and social experiments carried out in a group of collaborating artists, theoreticians, actors, dramatists, psychologists, musicians, sociologists, culture researchers, students, tricksters, experimenters and other people of all orientations and sexes who have interdisciplinary workshops and who are open to experiences at the interface between individual and collective traditions.
02. Therefore ensemble is not a group (how it is commonly presumed in music or theatre). For our studies ensemble is an actively influencing environment with active (and passive) players in it – dramatis personae, humans, not-humans and any other parameters and variables, diagnosed or not. The category of living picture (tableau vivant) refers to visual language and image (triangular pixel, representation) as a morpheme, a basic cell, which we use to create such a reproductive language. Living picture has a reproductive potential, pulsating with senses, variable (dependent on perspective), impossible to symbolize unambiguously or to petrify in a sign.
03. Ensemble is an environment of submersion, immersion. It is a living picture, meta-hologram, generating its own reproductions, multiplications and multitude of perspectives. The borders of ensemble are variable, possible to recognise only in a fragmentary way, because ensemble is being perceived always from inside. An observation of ensemble is also participating in it. Attempts of distancing from ensemble broaden the space of ensemble. Eventually we can say, not risking much, that ensemble is the whole world (in a global cognitive capitalism).
04. The places of density of activity within the scope of Ensemble are not (should not and can not be) isolated laboratory spaces, enclaves of global system’s contestation or hermetic islands of Utopia. Densities of activity (artistic, research, teaching, social) are of a fold nature, they’re like whirl within the social (political) space, remain open-work and they are connected with their entire environment in an organic way.
05. Ensemble abolishes the classification of individual and collective for three-piece relation of individual-transindividual-collective. Ensemble generates the condition of multitude and transindividuality. It is a space of multi-directional dialogue which takes place in a state of continuity, polycentral and polyrhytmical. It is to cause interference and oscillation between work-fun-fight.
06. Power within the Ensemble is a category of relation, and a state of balance we call liberty. You cannot have power, it is carried out by dislocation on transindividual connections and balances dynamically in a complex system. Moments of its concentration are usually dissolved by the interplay of other parts of the system. Resources of power (and freedom) remain inexhaustible, they are renewable and virtual (multiplicating). All (current) accumulations or lacks may be also replenished (balanced) by adding outer units and modules.
07. Ensemble, as an environment of dynamic relations, transindividualities and fluid multi-directional flows, activates, executes and distributes three traditional demands of democratic revolution at the same time: liberty (creative output, expression, emanation, emotional agitation, effect, expression of senses and emotions), equality (dialogue as a nature of a collection) and fraternity (solidarity, friendship, love, observation, that means basing the whole system on relations and dialogues). It produces equality by horizontality, multi-directionality, candour and manoeuvrability of flows. In other words: free (liberty) flow (fraternity) = transindividuality (equality). Basics of ensemble’s ethics can be reduced to an accord of three analogous figures: do whatever you want to do (liberty), don’t hurt the others, don’t judge, don’t objectify (equality), connect and do not divide, add and do not deduct (fraternity).
08. Polycentral, polyrhythm, polyphony, polyamory, political character, polymorphism – ensemble generates training area of noise. Noise is a natural, indispensable attribute of ensemble. It’s not about liquidation of noise (massive, energetic, information), but about ability of living with and in it. It is about preservation of harmony between work, fun and fight. It is essential to develop a set of interdisciplinary tools, techniques, strategies and tactics to work efficiently in the noise of ensemble.
09. The essence of Diagrammatic of ensemble project is to work out such sets of tools which will enable to move within the ensemble in a state of immersion, noise and fragmentary perception in a full, creative, intense, critical and analitical way. Those tools will help to recognise the environment and participate in it by creating and converting.
10. Diagrammatic of ensemble refers to a tradition of working with map, diagram and any other visual techniques of knowledge and power’s representation. We make use of inspirations, iconography and formal elements of many traditions such as: cartography, diagrammatic, iconology, choreography, notes (especially graphic scores), ideogram, sign, grammar, grammatology, graphology, theory and practice of games (role playing, larp, carts, board games), working on models, theory of series, logic, bitmap and vector graphics, animation, strategy and tactics (military tradition and sport), dramaturgy and performative science. The essence of this work is to work out an elementary shift in “image thinking” towards work with dynamic archives, systems of database, series and their processing in subjectively constructed, pertified, dead picture (closed aesthetic map versus open map, database, performative map).
11. Diagrammatic of ensemble refers to the idea of dynamic diagram, animation, record of a change, aleatory movement. Diagrammatic of ensemble do not aim to petrify the senses and images into arbitrary and static forms of representation. It aims to generate activity, record the change and movement and to programme it. Diagrammatic of ensemble is a project which eventually consists on generating energy by work with the matter and information.
12. Multitude starts with three. The smallest cognitive and visual unit is triangle and triad is a morpheme of examined and generated meanings. Between “three” and “two” runs the boundary between life (movement) and death (petrification), between truth of world’s complexity and lie (antagonized manipulation and reduction of complex world to diametrical tensions and simplified logic based on the law of excluded middle).
13. These triads and their combinations: sense-dissense-nonsense, real-symbolic-imagined, denial-insolublility-confirmation, passivity-interactivity/interpassivity-activity, commitment –observation-distance, work-fun-fight, energy-information-energy are initial choice of living triangles. In progress of laboratory studies we allow them to do much, we provoke connections and collisions (events). They establish relationships and generate unexpected effects, which is to be informed in next reports.
14. Science fiction and philosophical reflexions about it is another important inspiration of the project. Science fiction tries to think of different logics, different reality (social, cultural, biological, interspecific, linguistic). We refer to the contemporary science, social sciences, sociology, political philosophy, aesthetics, performance studies, theory of culture, but also cognitive sciences, neurology, neurolinguistics, hard science and new technologies of production and reproduction (record) of knowledge and power.