February 26 – March 1, 2021 | ONLINE
with works by Lois Alexander, Julia Bell, Boglárka Börcsök & Andreas Bolm, Hollow & Omsk Social Club and Melanie Jame Wolf
Work It Out’s Roundtable discussion in collaboration with Montag Modus & DUST Collective
The performance project “Ecology of Attention” focuses on attention in the digital age, particularly on how new economies and technologies are transforming the attentional regimes. In five chapters, the project investigates the concept of attention as a social and cultural phenomenon and explores how its many definitions – as a currency, a capacity, a filter, a spotlight or a moral responsibility – come together.
The title of the last Berlin-based chapter “stand out of our light” is borrowed from James Williams’ eponymous book that discusses the phenomenon of the digital attention economy and its risks from the perspective of autonomy. Williams argues that the consequences of the attention economy pose a threat to human freedom as “systems of intelligent persuasion […] increasingly direct our thoughts and action”.
COVID-19 has presented us with a unique situation. The pandemic has, in the past year, generated radically new attentional conditions: new kinds of screen time, new forms of social mediation, new intensifications of both isolation and solidarity. Its impending presence has dominated our conversations and thoughts— unifying the attentional focus. Online engagement has become the primary form of connection with the outside world and the boundaries between work and pleasure have in many cases broken down as living rooms have become offices. While this crisis may be, in a way, “universal,” our experience of the things we attend to is not. The socioeconomic gap has grown massively as a result of the pandemic, and this has further caused an attentional gap. Embedded in the word “attention” (from the Latin attendere) is the act of waiting, and we are all being asked to “wait” until this is over.
But only those who are relatively rich in privilege, opportunity, and community can afford to do so. As a result, attentional states vary. The privileged have time to spare and suffer from boredom or distractions. Those who lack in privilege can only think about survival, triggering a kind of hyper-focused anxiety. These opposite attentional states are equally deficient because they are extreme: the former is too promiscuous; the latter, too narrow.
As our ability to focus fades, how does our sense of direction change?
Simone Weil believed that attention is the motor behind freedom, and that freedom lies between thought and action. According to her, the capacity to give one’s full attention is the absolute foundation of our moral obligations to each other.
With this in mind, "stand out of our light" invites artists to speculate on a reorientation of attention, one that is aimed towards autonomy, and to present new works in a series of online events.
Radical Attention – an Interactive Reading
Attention pays. In today‘s online economy it has become a commodity to be bought and sold. Bombarding us with free smartphone apps and news websites, developers and advertisers have turned what and how focus our attention into the world‘s fastest growing industry.
In exchange for our attention, information and entertainment is ever at our fingertips. But at what cost? In this essay, at once personal and polemical, meditative and militant, Julia Bell asks what has been lost in this trade off. How can we reclaim our attention? In a world of infinite distraction, how can attention become radical?
Julia Bell will read from Radical Attention and present some exercises in attention – bring a pen and paper – inviting you to write by hand, not on the screen. There will be an opportunity to ask questions and post responses at the end.
Julia Bell is a writer and Reader in Creative Writing at Birkbeck where she is the Course Director of the MA Creative Writing. Her work includes poetry, essays and short stories published in the Paris Review, Times Literary Supplement, The White Review, Mal Journal, Comma Press, and recorded for the BBC. Her most recent book-length essay Radical Attention was published by Peninsula Press.
Melanie Jame Wolf:
“Hard Fascination” is a study of the Close Up. In moving image, the tight framing of the face by the camera's gaze is coded as an insight into a character's emotional response to the action. Different genres make use of this intimate shot to generate different affective registers. In soap opera, the close up operates in service of melodrama. It thickens the audience's experience of deep entanglement with their most beloved and most despised characters. Elsewhere, the close up produces pathos or amplifies abjection.
When an extreme close up fills the frame, the face becomes readable as a landscape. What are the politics of this territorialisation through a queer-feminist lens? How do they intersect with Gertrude Stein's proposal of the Landscape Play? What are the pleasures and perils of this poetic device as it draws us into a sticky, haptic encounter with what Laura Marks calls, 'the skin of the film'?
The title “Hard Fascination” toys with its own trebled possibilities of magnetic enchantment: difficult, strong, turned on. It references Attention Restoration Theory, which states that the capacity for attention is depleted over time by stimulus requiring hard fascination, such as cinema or gaming, and regenerated by softly fascinating phenomena like images of nature. Consciously departing from a genealogy including Dreyer's “Passion of Joan of Arc”, Warhol's “Screen Tests”, and Bergman's “Persona”, “Hard Fascination” proposes a performance-led revision of the close up.
Melanie Jame Wolf makes performance, moving image and installation works for theater, screen and gallery spaces. Her practice is focussed on accumulating a critical taxonomy of performance techniques from everyday, popular entertainment and artistic contexts. Recent works explore the libidinal economy of stand up, impersonation, and the trope of The Actress. Concerning herself with the poetics and problematics of ghosts, class, pop, sensuality, gender, narratology, and the body as a political riddle, Wolf pursues an ongoing interest in analysing the idea of performance-as-labour. She does this in order to understand performance as a potential strategy for survival, and as an engine for fluidity of subjectivity from a queer-feminist perspective. She approaches her work as an expanded choreographic practice. Leaning into a hyper-stylised pop aesthetic, she is invested in humour as a strategy for critical possibility, and in working with language in subliminal and surprising ways.
Melanie Jame is a 2020/21 artist in residence in the International Studio Program of Künstlerhaus Bethanien, supported by the Australia Council for the Arts.
Boglárka Börcsök & Andreas Bolm:
Night Bodies. Night Lights.
"In photography, I can never deny that the thing was there. Past and present are superimposed… The photo is literally an emanation of the referent. From a real body which was there proceed radiations that come to touch me, I who am here. The duration of the transmission doesn’t matter. The photo of the departed being comes to touch me like the delayed rays of a star.”
(Excerpt from a conversation between Bernard Stiegler and Jacques Derrida about Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes)
Based on 16.000 portraits taken on glass plates between 1905 to 1935 by a studio photographer from Hungary, Boglárka Börcsök and Andreas Bolm share their research in the form of an immersive ‘thumb cinema’ in a darkroom, entitled “Night Bodies. Night Lights”. In this work in progress, they explore the relationship between photography and moving image as an extended choreographic practice.
Concept: Boglárka Börcsök & Andreas Bolm
With the kind permission of József Attila Muzeum of Makó, Hungary
Andreas Bolm is a filmmaker and artist living and working in Germany, Hungary and France. His films portray people in their social and familial environments, examining the fine line between documentary and fiction. His films have been screened at many festivals worldwide, including Festival de Cannes, Berlinale, MoMA New York.
Boglárka Börcsök is an artist and performer based in Berlin and Budapest. She is working at the crossroads between dance, choreography, film, video and voice work. As a performer, she worked with several artists internationally. Previous projects include performances and exhibitions with Eszter Salamon, Ligia Lewis, Kate McIntosh, Tino Seghal, Boris Charmatz and Joachim Koester presented in theaters, galleries and museums worldwide.
Since 2018, Börcsök and Bolm have collaborated on the documentary film THE ART OF MOVEMENT and on the performance-installation FIGURING AGE.
Hollow & Omsk Social Club:
Sprawled Soilware: Windspeed
In the depths of the universe, in the magma of the earth, in the atoms of the material world dense bodies loom, so dark and gravitational no light escapes them. No one knows if they are animals or minerals or both. Generally, the stable timespace manifold keeps the pull of their event horizon separated from human sensory perception. There are whispers however, that with the swelling eruption of cosmic flares portals have been broken open. Here, the event horizon breathes and inflates—beckoning the interface where dark bodies tickle with their tongues, suction with their orifices, nibble with their tiny teeth and caress with the enormous tips of their feelers the skin, the glands, the eyeballs, the bottom of the feet of the user at the cusp of the portal threshold...
The Hungarian artist group Hollow (formerly known as Szeri-Páll-Muskovics) teams up with Berlin-based Omsk Social Club to explore the organic and inorganic depths of the dark unknown. Merging the methodologies of contemporary dance, sound, poetics, augmented reality (AR) and real game play (RGP), the group stages a consensual hallucination as multimedia performance project, inviting participants to become absorbed, estranged or both.
Chapter 1: Windspeed
"Windspeed" runs on the mental algorithm also known as apophenia.
"Windspeed" explores walking as a psychoactive substance or embodied cybermancy.
"Windspeed" is an experience, a shared memory of fiction and reality, in which the dying embers of fourth-wall separation can either cool or encode something new...
In the year 2021, Mercury’s position on February’s full moon creates the unique conjuncture which allows Thermadite, spawnbot of Windspeed, to hijack the telecommunications network of Telegram. The chat becomes a site where timespace distorts into a nonconsensual hallucination. You allow yourself to be charmed into the waking dream of a lucid trail.
ALL IS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF ACCESS: https://soilware.net/
The veils have thinned… Face the stroke of Thermadite’s tendrils here: @thermadite
Cammack Lindsey, https://soundcloud.com/cammack_lindsey
Gergely Ofner, https://gergelyofner.com/
Alexander Iezzi, http://www.alexanderiezzi.com/
Hollow is a Budapest-based artist group, formerly known as Szeri-Páll-Muskovics. The collective works with a variety of media, technologies, and game mechanisms to create immersive and liminal environments that exist on the verge of virtual and physical space. Their performances and installations are characterized by the combination of augmented reality, poetry, choreography, and experimental role-playing. They investigate speculative topics and alternative future scenarios and are inspired by improvisation and continuous transformation. Hollow’s performances change their shapes; they move, melt and mutate according to the moment and the space they occupy.
Since 2018, when their collaboration started, they have performed and exhibited in art quarter budapest, MU Theater, Budapest, Trafó House of Contemporary Arts, Budapest, House of Arts, Brno, MeetFactory, Prague, Divadlo X10, Prague, and they have been included in Hungarian and Czech festivals such as Y: Possible Futures in Prague and dunaPart 5 Platform for Contemporary Performing Arts or Placcc Festival in Budapest.
Omsk Social Club forks traditional methods of Live Action Role Play (Larp) through immersive installations and into Real Game Play (RGP) to induce states that could potentially be a fiction or a yet, unlived reality. Omsk works closely with networks of viewers, everything is unique and unrehearsed. The living installations they create examine virtual egos, popular experiences and political phenomena. Allowing the works to become a dematerialized hybrid of modern-day culture alongside the participant's unique personal experiences. In the past Omsk Social Club’s Real Game Play immersive environments have introduced landscapes and topics such as otherkin, rave culture, survivalism, catfishing, desire&sacrifice, positive trolling, algorithmic strategies and decentralized cryptocurrency.
They have exhibited across Europe in various institutions, galleries, theatres and off-sites such as Martin Gropius Bau, House of Electronic Kunst Basel, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich, HKW, Berlin, Volksbühne, Berlin and Stems Gallery, Brussels. They have been included in CTM Festival (2021), the 6th Athens Biennale (2018), Transmediale Festival (2019), The Influencers (2018) and Impakt Festival (2018) amongst others.
In 2021 they will co-curate the 7th Athens Biennale with Larry Ossei-Mensah.
Sprawled Soilware by Hollow ＆Omsk Social Club is produced by Sín Arts and Culture Nonprofit Ltd with the support of the International Coproduction Fund of the Goethe-Institut. Coproduced by MMpraxis, Divadlo X10, Katlan Group, Art Quarter Budapest, Collegium Hungaricum Berlin
In her new video work „Black Venus", choreographer Lois Alexander investigates Afro-Diasporic spirituality, motherhood and reckoning with an absence of kin. In „Black Venus“, Lois is working with her body as a point of connection to unlock the potential for multiplicity and healing.
Concept, directing, choreography: Lois Alexander
Set design, camera & editing:Nina Kay
Music: Peel by KMRU (https://soundcloud.com/kamarujoseph)With texts by: Alexis Pauline Gumbs (Dub: Finding Ceremony), Claudia Rankine (Just Us) Production: Ben Mohai Special thanks to Lake Studios
Lois Alexander is a Berlin based choreographer and dancer from San José, California.Since 2016, she has been working with Christoph Winkler on several different pieces like Speak Boldly, the Julius Eastman Project and the solo, On HeLa. While living in Amsterdam, Lois created the solo, Neptune, which premiered during Tanztage Berlin in 2020.
Roundtable initiated by Work it Out in collaboration with Trigger Collective, Montag Modus and DUST
Work it Out's first Roundtable takes place in the frame of Montag Modus' “stand out of our light”. This format combines the atmosphere of a casual get-together of like-minded individuals with a playful, community-based approach to a Zoom event. The idea behind the Roundtable is to facilitate exchange between international art and culture professionals - but it also sends an open invite to anybody who might be interested to join for a relaxed discussion. For this first edition of the Roundtable, we, the organisers, invite you to prepare a chickpea soup together with us in the comfort of your own home and to dive into the interactive game based on "Manual for Collective Play“ structured and designed by Trigger Collective especially for this Zoom event. The game will be followed by an open discussion about the topic of attention.
The Roundtable takes place on 01.03.2021 at 19:00-21:30 (CET) on Zoom. Please register at email@example.com to get the Zoom link.
"Manual for Collective Play" was created for a previous edition of Montag Modus.
“This project is aligned with the values we try to uphold within our collective, where our aim is to always try to create safer spaces and non-hierarchical structures that help and support us in our lives and personal practices. We are inspired by old folklore practices that treat art as communal craft (rather than art for art’s sake) and by the idea of a creative playground. Looking at the world today, we are strongly aware of the fact that art as we know it and art as an institution cannot continue in the well trodden tracks of contemporary tradition. There is a pressure on us as people within our respective occupations to create and to produce - constantly and without the opportunity to experiment and to explore for the sake of joy alone. It can be a solitary, lonely task. Our Manual aims to tear us away from the expectations and demands placed upon us and to create a space where together, through following (or maybe not following) suggestions, we can take a moment to be silly and to explore the possibilities of sound and communal making with joy.
Trigger Collective was founded in 2018 within the Synth Library as an open collective of women and trans* people working in the field of music, revolving around the topics of re/search, un/learning, respect, equality and control. Trigger already published a magazine and organizes regular events to empower and to connect.
Collaborators: https://dust.institute https://www.workitout-platform.com @work_it_out_platform
stand out of our light | Ecology of Attention #4
Curator: Léna Szirmay-Kalos | Producer: Ben Mohai | Graphic Design: Adrienn Császár | Technical team: Sanja Gergoric & Bátor Tóth
Ecology of Attention is the annual topic of the Montag Modus interdisciplinary series that centers around performance art, choreography and time-based media. Montag Modus: Ecology of Attention unfolds in five chapters in 2020 and 2021, in Berlin and in Prague. It is organized by the MMpraxis curatorial platform and is funded by the Berlin Senate for Culture and Europe and the Czech-German Future Fund, and supported by Alte Münze (Berlin), Divadlo X10 (Prague), Flutgraben e.V. (Berlin) and Studio Public in Private.