07.-09. September 2022
Uferstudios für Zeitgenössischen Tanz
PARTICIPANTS (over the whole period)
Alice Chauchat (she), Ana Letunić (she / via Zoom), Barbara Greiner (she), Christina Ciupke (she), Clement Layes (he), Elena Polzer (she), Ixchel Mendoza Hernández (she), Laurie Young (she), Lea Moro (she / via Zoom), Maria F. Scaroni (she), Olympia Bukkakis (she), Sabine Zahn (she), Sarah Parolin (she), Sheena McGrandles (she), Siegmar Zacharias (she), Sophia New (she)
Micha Tsouloukidse (he) - documentation
NTS (over the whole period)
Alice Chauchat (she), Ana Letunić (she / via Zoom), Barbara Greiner (she), Christina Ciupke (she), Clement Layes (he), Elena Polzer (she), Ixchel Mendoza Hernández (she), Laurie Young (she), Lea Moro (she / via Zoom), Maria F. Scaroni (she), Olympia Bukkakis (she), Sabine Zahn (she), Sarah Parolin (she), Sheena McGrandles (she), Siegmar Zacharias (she), Sophia New (she)
Micha Tsouloukidse (he) - documentation
Barbara, Clement, Ixchel, Laurie, Maria, Micha, Olympia, Sarah, Sheena, Siegmar, Sophia
STRUCTURE AS PLANNED
10h00 — 10h30 ARRIVAL
10h30 — 12h00 DEFINITIONS BLOCK Hosted by all the hosts
12h00 — 13h00 LUNCH
13h00 — 14h30 SHRINKING EXERCISE Hosted by Sarah
SARAH: Introduction about Backbone: backbone is a research project that is open for one year that is hosted currently by myself and Barbara. the participants are different practitioners from the dance field in Berlin. And we get it together to investigate the topic of sustainable labor, in dance in Berlin. And through that we address the issues of work conditions, payment, production, exhaustion, and all kinds of different topics that are coming up in this year of research. Thinking about "Safety measures": let's really figure out a safe word or just cough very loudly. This session is about Governance. First session was about Individual Practices, which we addressed not as artistic practices, but individual practices in the sense of I'm a human in the world, I labor and I produce, and I impact on others and on the planet. The second one was about Ethics. Backbone is funded by Tanzpakt Reconnect - the notepad is for the documentation... Let's make sure also the guest get the notepad in the end... If there's anything that someone doesn't want to be published, let Micha know immediately!
OLYMPIA: maybe we can say something like "off the record" if we don't want it to be recorded
SARAH: ok let's go!
OLYMPIA: introducing the first block I love to make things very concrete... making space for a diverge understanding of the topic. First, we will do a brainstorming about governance.
SARAH: We will do some time for the actual brainstorming, and then for the resonance. So we will do a list with keywords. When we first talked about in the preparation in was already striking how different the understandings of governance were. I hope this will be the case today too. I remember that probably what provoked the conversation was that I tried to give a scientific kind of economic definition for governances according to organizational science, which is something that I've been busy with a lot. And that, applied to the art context, created turmoil. And so we can try to do that again. but I don't want to put mega stones in the room, and everybody needs to refer to that. gives an overview of all the three days Something about the last day: the idea was to have a case study so that we can host together to solve somebody's problem, basically. so the invitation to everybody from the very beginning, start thinking about something that you can bring up to the group so that the group could work for you in order to solve it.
SARAH: how organizational science defines governance: the way an organization, so, not an individual - governance exist and there is a multiplicity of individuals, that's the first thing. and it generates rules over the way information flows. This is how organizational science thinks about governance. again: governance defines and generates the way information flows in an organization of more than one individual. so the first point is INFORMATION. Eg: Task lists, like I need to check if the reactor is clean or not... Or like telling someone else to clean it. It's economics. Then there's other ways, here we go
OLYMPIA: making notes it's useful to think as broadly as possible. We could think about the actual government. Eg. the thing with Tanzpraxis here in Berlin is something that could have never happened in Melbourne: like artists talking to the government and the government listening and talking to artists like this.
SOPHIA: Because you have a separate arts council?
LAURIE: it is also the ministry of transportation: Ministry of Transport and the arts. So that's quite indicative of how art is valued.
SIEGMAR: Can you write it down?
OLYMPIA: writes it down on the huge paper sheet
CLEMENT: What you just said makes me think about value
LAURIE: I think about governance in relationship to law making
SOPHIE: And from there about power and control
MARIA: I think about access to resources - in a material way.
OLYMPIA: That's interesting, it makes me think about the question if money is also a flow of information?
MARIA: The government as a busy parent... like kids bringing to the attention of their parents what they need
SIEGMAR: I'm thinking of protocol. I've been working on consent, on how to work together. Things came up like what's the legal protocol, what's the institutional protocol, but also what's the protocol of care, of shifting powers? Protocol as a way to institutionalize it, to take it from the shoulder of the individual. another question was how can we change those protocols? Eg. with corona, shows were canceled, normally there's no money, but then this was changed due to new contracts with institutions. we can always make protocols that are creating more possibility than the legal ones. there's also this question of how to develop an attention to change in response to a crack?
OLYMPIA: about the real time adaptability of protocols?
SIEGMAR: Adaptability. I mean, we were working under under the heading of regeneration, but you have the thing that you don't want to change everything, there's some things that you value, but then you realize over time that some things just need to change, and how do you develop ways to do that without one person deciding that or one person having to ask for it all the time, but that there is a collective that will develop collective protocols of self governance, so to speak.
BARBARA: when i researched i ended in this evaluation process, how to evaluate an organization, it's a constant part of it
SARAH: Should we write down also rules?
SIEGMAR: i would like to bring in deprivatisation and deindividualization, and positive collective
BARBARA: i would like to add internal / external in regards to evaluation
CLEMENT: i just thought about efficiency, governances should be efficient, but i would like to include a chaotic emotional experience of myself within the structures of governance. you could access it in a rational manner, but your emotional turmoil makes it difficult
SIEGMAR: maybe we can collect all the negative and positive things? are there other ways of thinking about governance, like we mean governance but say sth else?
CLEMENT: eg. in the funding structure there's only rationality, but no emotionality
OLYMPIA: it reminds me of the governance of the self, like a super ego. its simultaneously supposed to be a very impulsive, childish form of labor, and at the same time, have the Prussian discipline, like the parent.
MARIA: the government can be also a threat, so in Italy there's a lot of corruption. like the small self, the needy, the fixing the grabbing? how to find a reasonable way to understand who's benefiting from what? there's also sth about honesty?
SARAH: should we put down accountability, honesty? and can i put down corruption?
BARBARA: and the bureaucratic contradictions too
SIEGMAR: i'm wondering how do we know what the system is to which governance applies. in sarahs example it was easy, but in the arts scene, funding, community etc. it's much more complicated. how do we feel governance, how do we transport it? so how do we know when governance applies, that we are part of the system? when does it apply to?
SOPHIE: When does it come into play?
SIEGMAR: eg. when I'm in Italy there's a clear territory, but in the dance community it's different. how do i know if i'm part of it, can shape it, can profit from it?
SARAH: can we put down functionality? and what made a lot of sense to me: when am i part of the system?
BARBARA: as working in Tanzfabrik, it was easy to understand, but as a freelancer it was much harder to match it. an institutional frame helps to... frame it
OLYMPIA: institutional vs. freelance frames
SARAH: then it becomes a personal, a political frame. makes me think the questions i'm asking myself when i'm in contact with an institution - i have to define myself. part of this definition are multiple levels of precarity and the levels of privilege, and then the finance. And I can either be a time bomb walking around the theater corridors, or I can be a resource for the institution, or I can be something that is completely exploited by the institution. And the way I define my behavior inside those walls, conceptual or physical is actually the way I interact with the institutional governance.
BARBARA: the institution has their rules... and how to interact with their rules, how can i interact with them even without being part of it? in production contexts its much more flowing, i don't have a system, a model there
SARAH: two things come to my mind: task devision, and applied accountability / responsibility
MARIA: the freelance thing made a leap to management: what's the difference with management and governance? while we keep talking here a lot of ethics come up
SARAH: Management should be on the board
MARIA: its very shadowy
CLEMENT: we talk a lot about good governance, its an important aspect of institutions, but theres so much more to it for individuals when they go through these frames. we could write good governance with a question mark
OLYMPIA: when you said shadowy, it reminded me of Deliveroo drivers, like freelance work in general, as they don't have some kind of sick pay, which usually the government provides.
MARIA: the root is the mercenary warrior - freelancer. it's the shadow side of my work, because it has to do with money - it comes down a lot to that. we're talking about power here. money is dangerous, and powerful, and liberating. with management and finance, i have a lot of fear, but with governance it feels more like an energetic backbone - it's a whole different vibe like management. management feels like trust, governance feels like scary
OLYMPIA: for me it has super colonial connotations, because it's like the queen in Australia. Like her representative, who's the Governor General. the last time that we had a progressive government was in the 70s. for me it brings to mind the governor figure, an anti-democratic figure. regarding in the shadows, there's sth about opportunity, enterprise - and access to a welfare net. European citizens can get a small amount of money if it doesn't work out. i had that for nine years, the whole idea of freelance art is based on the welfare net that can be accessed if it doesn't work out
SOPHIA: maybe democracy too?
OLYMPIA: under corruption?
SIEGMAR: what are the thresholds?
LAURIE: you can have a non-democratic elected government?
SARAH: i tried to think about the subject in regards to self organized spaces. sth that happened in many contexts is the idea of shifting management into hosting. hosting or facilitating is management in less hierarchical structures. i would put that too. i have a super strong rejection towards protocols, i use it a lot but i would never use it in community spaces, and it made me think about agreement. and then i thought about the juxtaposition again, and it made me think about temporality, how do we regenerate? So what is the root of finding systematic agreements that can be changed? And what do we do then? And that I think also questions the efficiency of a model, right? how do you run the code through? how do you feel it as you go? how do you make sure anybody can at anytime raise their hand and say it doesn't work?
SIEGMAR: regarding protocols, i have the same kind of weirdness about that term. And you just said something like, a system of agreement. So it's some kind of systematization, that is not just individual decision, and at the same time, yet, this constant kind of adaptability. if we talk about agreement we need to talk about commitment and consent, also a way to check in. so there's also a commitment to a possibility of systematization. but then what are the tools? can be practices, also as a form - sth we can go back to. feedback could be one. all of these words are a bit weird in our context
MARIA: that resonates a lot. in social pleasure center we tried all this out. we practiced so many things: it is fundamental that we all studied consent, read non violence communication books, or practice mindfulness practice Heart to Heart dialogue. So we can descend, but we trust that that's how we communicate. And I just found myself in a very like minded context, in the arts, but it was interesting how... there's something funny: when I was somebody who tried to say something, the culture of communication was more one of like, criticality and defensiveness. what I got used to in the circles that I cultivated that there is a implied and decided and practice culture of listening, which we change, how we can agree disagree and change protocols and so on.
SIEGMAR: we talked about it as building culture. is it next to governance? can they be the same?
MARIA: about the listening thing... the word listen stuck with me
OLYMPIA: i have a suggestion. there's many ideas in the room already. it could be nice to specifically move onto that. we could draw connections and then everyone explains why they connect it?
SARAH: maybe seven more min, and then open the curtain?
CLEMENT: i want to add that governance in self-organized contexts, it's connected to having an aim, a purpose, its opposed to management which is more day-to-day handling, but then the question of having a collective aim is very complicated. so the question of governance and self-organisation is very difficult - but in our context i don't know how to do it. do you have an idea for a word for this?
OLYMPIA: direction stood out
MARIA: the commitment part... you work on a declaration, so it has to do with commitment. the first thing on my list was happiness, the wellbeing. the boat should go towards the wellbeing of everyone. management feels local, governance bigger
SIEGMAR: the purposefulness could also be a how, not just a what. like how we work and live in relationship towards each other - that's a purpose i could sign up to.
SARAH: in regarding to you clement, sth resonated and it was what is explicit and what is implicit. it relates to the culture of communication, what's explicit and what implicit? practicing explicitness. this summer, I went to a nudist organized campground in Croatia. I've done a lot of FKK, I practice nudism heavily in my life, but I never been to a place that is organized for that purpose. they said, everybody from this line onwards, no clothes, everybody from this line backwards, clothes. so you're driving the car, you need to stop the car before you cross the line. I was bleeding heavily with my bleeding pants, and I had to do it and then go back to the driving, it was a bit disgusting. Going messy, not elegant. And then you live in this environment. Everybody's naked, which is cool. You do a lot of nice things naked, the security's naked etc. So there is a certain level of not only hygiene but safety that I was questioning. so the space has a super highly implicit governance model, that you basically just respond to only because of one element that is very much related to the body. I was really impressed. I didn't like it very much. But when you were speaking, I was thinking about that very transparent model of governance that is highly implicit: nudist campgrounds.
BARBARA: why is it implicit?
SARAH: there was a lot which was not written on the wall... the only thing that was written on the wall was "take of your clothes". but the rest - how to live together - was implicit.
CLEMENT: i have been to a lot of nudist camps, and i made the opposite experience: you never know how to behave, there's a lot of unspoken rules. probably it depends on the camp.
MARIA: what's the value that is carried? if you come to a nudist beach, it's about the freedom to be "natural".
OLYMPIA: there's also the tension with gay spaces. eg. with Vabali - if you go to a gay space, it's completely different. there's a necessary desexualization that happens in straight places, in opposition to gay spaces.
SIEGMAR: another different culture: saunas in russia, turkey or Morocco, where you actually rub each other and wash each other, massage each other. And the grandmothers of the grandchildren wash each other, whatever. So as soon as my German son and I start doing that, people would like... alienated.
SARAH: what could go on the board from this is assumptions? and then let's transition to olympias game
SARAH: i propose a connection between building culture and explicit / implicit
MARIA: are we just drawing lines, or also writing things down?
SARAH: just drawing lines
CLEMENT: i propose access of resources and implicit / explicit this knowledge of how to handle a situation
MARIA: because then you know if you are part of the system or not...
BARBARA: that also applies to the governance system - if you know how it works, you can engage
MARIA: I propose consent and assumptions... it's obvious? no? when i interface another entity / person, with consent we wonder what other peoples invisible modes are. consent is a practice of not assuming, or rather asking. when things feel oppressive...
OLYMPIA: this applies on a micro macro level also. on a global level, there's an assumed consent to be governed.
MARIA: how you make room on this global level?
OLYMPIA: i propose agreement - cooperation - real time it relates to consent as well. a mode of governance that could manufacture consent in real time
SIEGMAR: where is efficiency? its actually not true if it takes more time when things are not done efficiently.
SIEGMAR: i like that - i would like to connect consent and efficacy / affect
OLYMPIA: it brings up that we are not used to being self governing. so everything takes time, to build up a skill.
SIEGMAR: wirksamkeit is cool weil da wirkungsmacht drin steht, which is agency
SARAH: what is missing for me is tools. put it under protocols? i like it much more than rules. and then you get into an apocalyptic landscape of post human culture, there is like a big forest and the dinosaurs walking through and finding the ranch. that state, this idea of materiality that is necessary and useful.
SIEGMAR: i like it with the materiality. and tools are transferable. so that means its not only individual.
BARBARA: a very simple connection is task - division - accountability - responsibility?
SARAH: I have a strange connection to that. the first thing that came to my mind was "know your place" and then i thought about self awareness. it has a cynical nuance.
SOPHIA: it comes back to power. i have this beautiful anecdote of the little campsite. my daughter listening to this older boy in high school, just burped out the most racist, sexist, homophobic nastiness, while she was trying to walk in the corridor. And I said, Why didn't you speak up, she said, Because I'm 16. And he's 19. And there's a hierarchy of your school structure, and I cannot speak to him. this whole understanding of knowing your place, where you can't speak, you just have to come home and go, there's this horrible experience, and you can only talk within certain places to certain people. this kind of hierarchical structure of the oppressive side of governance, potentially, of knowing your place, it could be really liberating, but it can also be super oppressive
OLYMPIA: it has a double meaning. from the government to the governed... as like an affirmation or something like Know thyself. like to know your place to come to a knowledge about your position. that's actually necessary in any sort of democratic environment.
CLEMENT: it's more how the chains of commands are working. i would write more about the structure
OLYMPIA: i like that it is ambiguous. we need to have some understanding of the structure to understand where we go. it can be a threat also
SHEENA: it relates to: Is it someone who puts you there? Or is it somewhere where you choose to be? that's where this kind of ambiguity comes for me, it relates to the kind of power. knowing that you have a skill, a tool set, its a certain kind of self awareness - not only be taken to a place, but also take the place
OLYMPIA: like saying "its not my job"
SARAH: we can call it "your place"
SHEENA: the double side of it
SARAH: the more empowering way is how can i interact with the system, where am i responsible?
OLYMPIA: where to put it?
SARAH: i propose democracy - accountability - know your place
LAURIE: i love the example of the nudist camp. explicit and implicit agreements. how to have a dialogue. so governance creates the possibility of a dialogue towards power.
SARAH: what comes to my mind is antagonism
LAURIE: i'm not sure. its more about disagreement through dialogue
SARAH & MARIA: dissent
SIEGMAR: almost every thing that we'll talk about is like, if we talk about good governance feels like this, bad feels like this. which are the ways in which sth gets experienced as oppressive, or generative? what are the ways that everybody has the agency to revise?
LAURIE: is that what you're saying with chain of commands clement?
SARAH: i link agency and tools
LAURIE: there's something very evocative when you mentioned system. Don't know what that is. government as a system, and I don't really know how to talk about that. But that feels useful.
OLYMPIA: anything that you feel doesn't belong there anymore?
LAURIE: what i meant about systems is that it takes it away from good and bad, more of a structure
SHEENA: good governance?
OLYMPIA: ...good governance being something that we actually are involved in, like something that happened. I think there's an implication when we're talking about good governance, sth like democratic or self or responsive.
CLEMENT: good governance was also transparency
MARIA: can we evolve the good governance to a transparent system?
SARAH: it made me think about expanding good into a transparent system. good and bad are really reductive terms. governance is a transitional space in which things can flow in one direction or the other to achieve health - or stagnation, death of the ecosystem. and how to get there.
OLYMPIA: its an important impulse to replace the word good.
SARAH: crosses the good in good governance and replaces it by transparency
SHEENA: i also liked that you brought up health
SIEGMAR: or wellbeing
SARAH: or stagnation
SIEGMAR: or oppression, if we go to the bad side. oppression came up a couple times, or harmfulness
CLEMENT: governance also hides sth hypocritical - but when you say healthy its more thinking from the perspective of the people working
OLYMPIA: i'm suspicious of the healthy thing
OLYMPIA: talking from the health history of this country, it is... well... laughter transparency feels more neutral, whereas health feels super loaded
SARAH: governance is anyhow an abstract concept. we declare sth, and we work around it. the moment we assume we declare that we want to build sth that is transparent... or healthy. Or corporations assume things, like you want to build an efficiently, and product oriented, and profit oriented governance model. But I think there's not one...
MARIA: i feel the orientation towards well being is much better than health
OLYMPIA: I think coming up with a bunch of problematic attempts at replacing good is far more generative than just sitting with the assumption of good. there are so many good ideas or terms, that can be useful, and then fascism ruins them.
SIEGMAR: they just need more explanation. in theaters its declared that nobody should be harmed. but this is only meant in a physical way. but it has to be explained to the mental / emotional level, we need to think about that. what responsibility can everybody take? how much are we gonna tolerate certain practices on my watch? what are ways of intervening, changing it?
SARAH: I added aim, and linked it with direction
OLYMPIA: are we satisfied?
SARAH: should we launch this challenge?
OLYMPIA: It needs more time. everyone will write a definition of governance. and then from there we will try to build something coherent.
SARAH: let's do it now. everybody takes five minutes to write.
CLEMENT: it should be a personal definition?
OLYMPIA: yes - potentially influenced (or not) by our discussion
everyone takes some minutes to write down a definition
SARAH: you can also do a puzzle of keywords
IXCHEL: there is no care on the board?
OTHERS: there is...
back in the space, ppl are talking about covid and theater and how it seems that it doesn't exist, and how to deal with it while making a show
COLLECTING THE SENTENCES
OLYMPIA: let's go around and people can then share their sentences, or what was frustrating in the attempt to write them
SHEENA: governance has at its core the aim for well being and transparency among and through a group or network of individuals that share an aim of building and practicing ways of doing through [...] it works with processes of consent and accountability to build aims that are shared and multi directional
SIEGMAR: governance are the ways in which a group of people committed to develop and adapt instruments and practices towards creating agency of the participants of a system which is orientated towards the physical, mental and spiritual well being of its participants. Governance is also the ways in which each and every one is responsible and accountable for this shared goal.
SOPHIA: Governance is the attempt to create a transparent system that citizens can engage with and orient themselves in relation to.
BARBARA: governance models give tools / practices to create agency and access through shared knowledge and consent and can be regenerated through external and internal evaluation.
CLEMENT: governance: love, information and its meander. we don't really want to govern, we want to care.
LAURIE: governance: a system comprised of one or more individuals responsible for the parameters of agreement and consent regarding bodily interdependency.
IXCHEL: governance: a set of practices of care within a collective interest that aim to organize the way a group is functioning within the system.
MARIA: there is a we in a context of resources that is able to communicate and individuate the desire to belong together, the needs that define that togetherness, and the aim as individual to maintain a dimension of productivity. it relies on mechanisms that can change or can be in an evolution - protocols tools rules - to allow for both the preservation and transformation such collectivity. governance depends on kindness, conflict resolution, accountability, consent.
OLYMPIA: governance: the making of decisions, norms and tools to facilitate, regulate and enforce (?) the collective existence of a group of people.
SARAH: it's a set of tools, practices and agreements that define agency in a system or an environment. Governance can be named in different scopes: transparency, wellbeing, sustainability, etc.
everyone claps and yays
SARAH: now we can leave behind our notebooks and go to the vast space, and we play a game called the shrinking game
SARAH: explains the shrinking game
the shrinking game is the adaptation of a practice that I encountered through another artist Michele Rizzo, so we were kind of playing around with his shrinking practice, and my passion for video games. we gonna build little landscapes and give each other a tour on how governance works on our islands. its 20', the invitation is to build a landscape that describes the system you are part of. we imagine ourselves shrinking into these little landscapes
she gives an example about her system, explains it and builds it: money is a chair, people are hangers, administration is a hand sweeper and a shovel, hierarchy is a bottle, knowledge is a base cap, and then explains how to navigate this landscape of things
while i tell you about my journey, don't look at me, but try to imagine yourself in this landscape, see what resonates, orient yourself there. And feel it in your feet, how it feels under your feet, try to really look at it from this perspective, how vast it is how gravity works, if you have superpowers, apply them to the landscape. so eg. if you're curious about hierarchy, how things look like when you're on top of this, just get up there and look back. And then I take 5', and I give you the story of my experience of this governance, the environment I inhabit.
talks about her experience as a producer
as a producer, I feel a lot of responsibility. my people are a very diverse group of folks, who are not well organized. it takes a lot of time to map it out. i usually never understand who's on my side, in my team, if i have a team. i'm def not alone, but i feel alone, i don't feel someone taking care of me. i don't have a boss, but I also don't have anybody responsible for my well being and my experience of self. it's blurry. systemically i am in a position of antagonism, a mercenary warrior, hierarchies are outside of me, but i confront a hierarchic space every day, sometimes with others, sometimes alone. after the hierarchies comes the administration, which is a place of darkness, but also a place that can create clarity and resources, and unfortunately its an opportunity to get to money. which is the end of my landscape. - this is the game. there's no right way to do it.
SIEGMAR: are we doing it for ourselves, or for each other?
SARAH: everyone gets 20' for their landscapes, and then we see how many tours we can get
people start into the process... some continue laying on the floor, looking at the ceiling, others start to collect stuff: olympia gets her backpack, sophia a chair and a fan, siegmar gets her backpack too... seems like everyone goes for their backpacks now... ixchel gets a yoga mat and some hangers, sheena collects some things like her shoes, a bike helmet and a stone on a yoga blanket... everybody seems like very immersed in their tiny landscapes already, its happening in pensive silence, just some gusts of singing from another studio here and there, looks like people are almost meditating in front of their landscapes, sitting or laying down
SARAH: let's gather
SIEGMAR: let's do all of them!
SHEENA: i'll give you little round. this points to the stone is heteronormativity and patriarchy. the blanket is love, family, solid ground. the golden eggs are self doubt and anxiety, they appear. the brown chocolate is my kid that appears everywhere. the things are my projects, some of them are clearer, others not. And the tampons are money, not very connected. It exists, has a function. and this is my collective work that I wish was more connected to my project work, it's touching but it's not quite touching. It's kind of stringy and very electric. It gives me a lot of Spark in my life. These tags here represent concrete spaces in my life. This is my home, this is the Heizhaus, this health insurance card is the place in the countryside that is very healthy right now. the bar represents joy, desire, as a parent and an artist, it falls in and out between love and the rest of the world.
OLYMPIA: these are two, one, which you can only get lost in, and one which is directional. two texts And they're linked, obscuring the capacity for time management. the stäbchen are there to eat, and the necessity to remember to eat. the empty anti antidepressant package is mental health, it rests on the possession of money. in order to sustain that, there is a focus required. And that focus is also ignoring the fact that that's true, in order to make sure that it continues to happen. this is an obstacle course of focus, which is tangled up in the process of bureaucracy, and bookkeeping. Which is necessarily the only way that you can actually get through to here points to sunglasses which would be focusing more by extracting more the outside surroundings, in order to be able to do creative labor. but while this one notebook and paper has no way out, this one earphones actually is possible.
BARBARA: its on a blanket as a fundament of shared knowledge, its neatly but its actually not. these are different projects, people, it has different aims, different colors, they can't be defined clearly, the blanket is the frame we are in, in could be fundings, institutions, the keys are not the same: some are easier, smaller, some are super big, more complicated. the laptop is something solid. the connections between are unclear.
SIEGMAR: the landscape is determined by seeming borders. someone decided its borders, even between live and death points to a dead wasp there's value system and evaluations. and hierarchy points to sth linear a lot of my work is the attempt to replace the linear with the other side of the landscape. there's humans, but also non-humans, that are dead. a lot of this is very messy, and it thrives towards love. and this thing the bag, a little outside happens to be there, its repressed admin work that might create a bit more clarity the hierarchy falls down ah and actually, part of what I feel governed by is to react to material conditions a lot.
CLEMENT: off the record
IXCHEL: how does it work... maybe its a way to surf within the existing systems, through practices of care in the micro level? its parallel the two yoga mats it gets twisted through the practices of care, and there's the hope it transforms into sth a yoga blanket maybe there's a different way to get into the same aim. But then with the hope that this transforms into something else. and the hangers are the complexity of the system.
SOPHIA: off the record
some people are saying what they liked about this tour, there's a longer discussion about it because it described a different kind of system
MARIA: its a ball, it bounces around. the landscape is not walkable, its a gambling situation. its a body that makes bodies. there's no babies, but dance is in the center of it, its a technology, it is a beacon, it is like a labor that attracts a lot of resources. it relies on healing, listening coming down, time is non-linear, it circles around, so there is the same shit that comes along, but also make a time there is no time, so you can think about death or take care of dying parents or get completely shit faced and celebrate pleasure and find access to eventually other places that end up in linear time, where you can build a place where there are different points of view that can look at each other. and over here is a spillage where nurturance creates abundance.
SIEGMAR: it looks like a spider
MARIA: the two layers are making time, and gather resources. its another dance where we can play. its all dancing. dance means a lot.
OLYMPIA: it looks like a nice place
MARIA: it's amazing
LAURIE: this is my rather dry landscape. I'm a little bit like a ball, like a ping pong ball that settles in different holes in and out. very conscious to often be the only BIPoC in the room. going between these different institutions - theater, or academic - enveloped and meshed in the freelance community. and this is the dance community that i'm kinda part of, but also not, and I kind of bounce in and out and so trying to navigate these different spaces. But then this points at... is reproduced three times, because I have Germany where I live. And then I have Canada where I still do a lot of work and am very emotionally connected to and Australia, which is where half of my family is and we spend a lot of time. so it gets mapped out across three different geographical locations, and i'm trying to find myself within these different spaces in this constellation spread out throughout different parts of the world.
time is over
SARAH: know we have 20' to have a chat, maybe in relation to what we saw, experienced, what we talked about in the morning. i really hope you did the shrinking game, i totally tripped for example during marias proposal. - today we talked about many applications of governance, and the levels of dependency. i think this will inform the next days for me. it didn't feel like many of us are busy with bigger organizations, until sophia brought in the example of the off the record
MARIA: its all quite entangled.
OLYMPIA: i focused more on my own thing, because I feel the systems of governance that I'm implicated in, are not entirely visible to me. And I think that is, if I'm really cynical about it, an intentional effect of freelance work. And so when I tried to think more broadly about stuff, I actually just went to super internal, like, how do I arrange things so that I can work? But I wonder if that's an effective, particular structure of work that we work with? i would pose the question if people found it difficult to think on a larger scale? maybe because it is harder to think on a bigger scale?
SOPHIA: my question would be, is it obscured because you can't know all the things that you are necessarily implicated in? Or those systems don't allow you to know that they exist? i mean, you think it's purposefully obscure? like for instance with art funding...
OLYMPIA: theres a paranoid aspect, but also just being so busy being your own company. when i worked on a callcenter it was different: I knew what my relationship was to the manager, and to the person who was paying money into my account. This was made very clear to me. But this is not clear at all with freelance.
MARIA: my impression is that in Berlin there is this very emancipated individual. its very different then that what you just described to me, but it comes already with a lot of sense of interdependence. its more emancipated in my impression, how this context operates is very advanced.
OLYMPIA: it could be true, but also one of the clearest systems we saw, with a clear battleground, was the off the record. educators should be more empowered. i often feel empowered by my work, which is cool. its better than call center, which made me sick. But I think it's also one of the functions of freelance, that it obscures the actual systems of governments that are governing our lives.
SIEGMAR: i'm interested in the system which is not very defined in its functions. how do different systems overlap? the emancipated performer - in which ways are they emancipated, in which ways not? what ways of governance are we replicating, co-creating? what i also found difficult - how many systems am i opposing? i'm always invited in a system as a wildcard. what does that ask from me? its weird. the other side of that is the impostor syndrome. you can only have these feelings of wildcard or impostor if there are clear structures.
CLEMENT: to connect to that, as soon i thought about the governance of a threater its so disconnected to my daily life, i come only back to it once a year, its very abstract, so thats why i kept it very small and concrete for me... it would be interesting to see whats beyond this
SIEGMAR: i wonder what are the sensations of pushing against, or energizing. when is the movement with resistance, and when is it accelerating? when my energy moves...
MARIA: i'm really interested in topics like class, race, positionality, so it brings up certain aspects that are more in the shadow for others. i wouldn't mind to revisit the stations in smaller groups of three to check what's under it, describe the structures... picking up the thread and go smaller
SARAH: one step that is interesting is going to the now today, and then we place someone in our landscape. eg. i take maria as a co-warrior in my landscape, and barbara as a backup in my system, etc. and we could do that with everyone. instead of going more higher or below. But first it could be about connecting it with the reality of the community, so that you inhabit your own space with others. and from there you go below or higher... but no time
SHEENA: i'm wondering if we can include that in the case studies on Friday
SARAH: sure. we were during the designing relating a lot to the wheel of social change and its different roles, this could be elaborated here too. you have the weavers, you have the storytellers... its something parallel, you have one or multiple roles
OLYMPIA: maybe its a too big question, but around scale, in relation to capacity for self governance. in lots of trade unions struggle, there is this idea that there's certain hard lines that are drawn in the sand, and everyone has to fall in line. or with Social Democratic parties. and i sense no desire for these hard lines.
SIEGMAR: for me, there were some very clear no's. what are the no's that we don't wanna tolerate? for me its about behavior, what do we not wanna tolerate? there are some very clear no's, like the ism's. its healthy that there are no's in a community
SARAH: can you finish your thought olympia?
OLYMPIA: i want more red lines. I want there to be aesthetic decisions that just cannot be made, because they are unethical. i want more people to be able to do that, in my life, it's part of becoming an adult, it's accepting limitations, like the end of the sandbox. So it would be nice, but people might get hurt in my case... like you can't have certain things, otherwise work and the world is worse. that people shouldn't be outright racist in the studio is something that I think we can collectively sign up to. But then if someone brings up an instance of homophobia that happens somewhere in the scene, then all of a sudden becomes a little bit more complicated. I just have an open question, because I feel very much empowered by this, its the first work that I've had, where I wasn't getting yelled at for some decisions that a CEO made. but at the same time, the capacity to form discipline, forms of self governance, it seems harder. And I'm just curious about what this connection is because I don't know. I usually like to think structurally but I could only really think about the obstacles in my brain this time.
SHEENA: tomorrow we start with the talk? its another pool of information
BARBARA: its a 40' input and then a workshop
LAURIE: maybe this can be recorded?
BARBARA: we can ask
SARAH: we can still use the space for longer, if someone needs it...
SHEENA: so we'll just check in after the talk tomorrow...
everyone thank you's
Ana (via Zoom), Barbara, Clement, Elena, Ixchel, Lea (via Zoom), Maria, Olympia, Sarah, Sheena, Siegmar
STRUCTURE AS PLANNED
10h00 — 10h30 ARRIVAL
10h30 — 12h00 PRESENTATION BY ANA LETUNIĆ ON PARTICIPATORY GOVERNANCE Hosted by Lea
12h00 — 13h00 LUNCH
13h00 — 14h30 POSITIONING GAME Hosted by Olympia
- ana and lea are present absent via zoom, everyone introduces themselves to her, checking in with the tech *
PRESENTATION BY ANA LETUNIĆ ON PARTICIPATORY GOVERNANCE
LEA: introduces ana i thought i needed to talk to ana when the topic governance for backbone came up. she's a cultural policy researcher and performing arts curator, based between Zagreb and Berlin, involved in different publications. we already collaborated several times, eg. in Croatia. ana is that enough of an intro? she is also involved in many networks, like lifelong burning. ana, i hand over to you
some tech difficulties with zoom and recording are occurring. finally it works out
ANA: i'm doing a phd in Hildesheim in participatory governance. i'm not an expert, but i'm very invested in the topic, like i wrote articles, and its a very relevant topic in the cultural field, also in my home country, Croatia. i can sent the paper. let's start the presentation:
SLIDE 1 "participation is not simply about joining in the game, it is also about having the possibility to question the rules of the game" (nora sternfeld 2013)
SLIDE 2 key concepts: participatory (activities in which ppl take part) - governance (government and authority, a management system of organization, government, authority and management [all of which terms are related to power] shared with ppl the citizens, synergy of actors from public institutions and civil society initiatives and organizations) "participation without redistribution of power is an empty and frustrating process for the powerless" (arnstein 2004) participatory democratic processes are only possible in the context of political maturity. otherwise, participation stays on a declaratory level
SLIDE 3 context: increasing inequality in the cultural policy structures and the treatment of the cultural sector - the crisis of the representative democracy, deficits in the democratic traits in cultural policy decision-making processes - large inequality between the decision makers and the artists / the scene, raised insecurity and the precariousness of the cultural and artistic work
SLIDE 4 participation: stemming from the idea of de-etatization and decentralization of power structures - establishing higher democratized models based on sharing responsibility and common decision making - reconstructing the existing policy provisions or providing alternative ones - contributing to the improvement of democracy. there should be caution regarding what the policies can do - its not a fast track, but providing an alternative
SLIDE 5 elements: constituting - statute of organization, and formulation of governing process where modifications are influencing strategies and operational elements; strategic - referring to the creation of policy and resource usage rules and directly influencing the operating group of elements; operational - a set of elements that are carried out on an everyday basis and help in the implementation of defined rules in groups of constitutive and strategic elements
it starts raining!!!
SLIDE 6 possible models: extended co-operation or delegated responsibility: public and civil sector cooperate, but solely at the level of providing public resources to the civil sector - co-governance or collaborative governance: main responsibility is in the public institution - joint governance: joint public property governance body, here it's more representative - hybridization model: partnership between public and civic models. this implies a completely new institution that takes the role of governing resources
SLIDE 7 recommendations: all this call for a reconfiguration of current models. the words for a new language for cultural policy: trust and understanding (very important ingredient) - support - knowledge - visibility - regulations - research - fluidity and change; the cultural policy frameworks are usually not adequate to whats going on in the scene
SLIDE 8 how do we imagine a participatory governed dance center?
any questions, ideas? how does it correspond to what you talked about yesterday?
BARBARA: thank you very much for the lecture ana! should we change the sitting situation?
- ppl change to sit in front of the computer camera
SARAH: i have a question... thank you ana. my question is if you could tell us about some examples you encountered during your research, groups, ppl, institutions?
ANA: i made this research in the context of post-yugoslavia, i can tell you about those. there are also socio cultural centers in Germany, but i cant remember their names. i can show you some websites, but some of them are not in english. after the second war there was this movement of founding cultural centers, this wave of democratization. we inherited some of that infrastructure. some of them have very diverse programming. then we had the privatization, and a lot of the public infrastructure has gone to decay. and recently there have been some new incentives, also from the EU, for socio cultural centers. so most of the cases have either industrial heritage or have a history of sociocultural centers. ana is about to show some websites Pogon (Zagreb) it is an old factory tells the story of Pogon* the city is even investing more in the space
LEA: was the participatory governance model present from the beginning? where are the challenges and the risks in creating such a space? when has the model been applied?
ANA: very important is the level of consent of the members of the scene, regarding whats needed. it's about solidarity, about overcoming differences between the members. neglecting differences in order to get a better position with the cultural policy makers, the city. this level of consent is very important. there are risks, but this is democracy, thats what commons are: putting the private interests aside and having the common interests in mind. the space before was used by individual organizations. there were many issues with the government and the scene, but the scene managed to go through that. now a left-green coalition is in power, and the ppl who advocated for the space are now in political power. so things happen quite fast. the scene in Croatia is not very big, but quite rich aesthetically. the scene was not so happy how the center was programmed, and changes are about to be implemented. let's see how this develops. the resources should be equally accessible to all the scene members. i hope this helped?
- sarah raises thumb *
BARBARA: can you name the downfalls, the most difficult moments?
ANA: I was part of the talks when the center was established. the talks with the city were really difficult, bc there were so many different ideas. the biggest problem was how the city politicians were looking at contemporary dance, as sth really redundant. this was the biggest struggle. now it has changed, but back then the dependance on the public authorities was really challenging. - I know in Berlin there is this discussion at runder tisch tanz about the tanzhaus. how is this going? is there an idea about participatory governance in the structure? or will it be a purely public institution?
BARBARA: there was a group working on a concept, with a diverse background, and most ppl didn't know each other before, so they needed a lot of time to get to know each other. and they developed this catalogue, a strong collective model how this could be governed, with lots of attempts to include everybody. now the report is there, but nobody knows how it will continue.
ELENA: someone told me that there's a lot moving, but it's not transparent. we have the difficulty that the Berlin scene is so gigantic, also bc of the advantages. 2001 when i started it was quite small, and these days i feel we don't know each other anymore bc we are so many, we are rather diverged in different bubbles. i feel we're missing the solidarity aspect
BARBARA: ...and the consensus aspect
ELENA: ...which is why ppl lose patience and just start to do sth, which is also fine i think.
ANA: that sounds like a big obstacle. again the question is who represents who, the scene is so big, how can members of the scene feel represented. maybe we can discuss this further? i prepared a list with questions. we could divide into groups and think about the ideal governance of a dance center. but there is a question?
CLEMENT: i want to feedback your presentation. yesterday we talked about the aims of governance, and that it could be the wellbeing of the participants. in your presentation i felt this is a very important aspect. and how is this important in your study?
ANA: i also feel that's the primary goal. the public infrastructure that belongs to the citizens, to use it in the best interest of the thing. another model of governance could really contribute to the wellbeing to the scene: it could help to plan easier, not worry so much, having a stable infrastructure etc. the scene deserves this kind of infrastructure! shifting the idea towards that the institutions actually belong to the scene, that would be a more just system. commons comes from the pastures in early ages where ppl let other animals eat... public is sth else than common - public is what we have now, common is more like direct democracy. and contemporary dance actually has this background, bc so much is shared! so the scene can organize according to their needs.
MARIA: when elena talked, the topic of numbers came up. in Berlin i feel even if there would be a center it wouldn't be enough. so here we have the history of Jugendzentren, spread in every Bezirk. my question is, even is this is very unlikely, i wonder if you have a notion - is there a public institution that governs and is governed mostly with the aim of production and circulation of cultural products? I wonder if you know of any policymaking that has been able to convert in hybridized places of production, into partly places on production and partly Cultural Center. here we have a lot of theater and places, and a lot of space - how to enter in a dialogue to enter and change the nature of the public space? do you know any examples here, of any hybrids, conversions?
ANA: in Austria, Salzburg, each artistic director can leave the space to the local scene to program them themselves...
LEA: ...and this was decided by the ppl leading the space, it was kind of an obligation...?
ANA: in terms of policy, it never comes from the politicians. there's always a space for residencies, research... but it mostly emerges bottom-up. i don't know of any examples of production houses.
SIEGMAR: i wanted to share sth. unfortunately laurie is not here. because actually Laurie Michaela, myself and Sheena as an appendix applied for the leadership of the Sophiensaele, with exactly this concept. And to change it into a cultural center. we said very clearly to reduce the premieres to 60%, and have more resources to support the artists. but also ppl not from the scene, but more cultural publics. we stopped talking about audiences, but talked about cultural publics. the problem in Berlin is the Freie Häuser which are modeled after state theaters, and had to prove themselves as equivalent for 40 years. and we wanted to go away from that, establish sth else which actually has been practiced in the scene since long. But we don't have the infrastructures, and how can we instead of inventing new ones actually get the existing ones to shift? the biggest challenge is to speak to the politicians, to change the requirements of what a Freies Haus is. all of these things were part of our plan, but we weren't selected - but curious who got it. how on the one hand advocate for new spaces like Heizhaus, but also on the other hand take existing structures and shift them - not completely dismantle them, some things were really good, but build coalitions. we need more coalitions between the spokes ppl, bc in Berlin there's so many different scenes and institutions, that actually what we need is the solidarity also amongst the spokes people to not make a differentiation between the artist-run and the curator-run spaces.
BARBARA: i have the feeling that one of the rejections towards such a model would be an outcry in the scene...
SIEGMAR: ...no, it's not reducing the programming, it's shifting the idea from premier-based visibility to other ways of working, and which is creating enough public and actually allows artists to work in different ways not towards the premier constantly, which we are doing anyway. And the funding has actually shifted in the last three years, that is finally acknowledging those processes of work. So that actually things that are process funded, research funded, collaborative funded, could been showcased or shared in different ways with a cultural public, rather than thinking that the engagement, the interface with the cultural public is only the Vorstellung.
BARBARA: still i feel the amount of ppl who want to present is so high, it would be a problem
SIEGMAR: but it doesn't match now either
SARAH: i want to throw in sth else. when things become obsolete... its always so clear how to start, but never how to end. its a thing of our times, we are so comfortable with the apocalypse. its so interesting in our scene also, because all the analysis of what is actually obsolete and what is actually not is so subjective. which is great, and then you can repurpose things: coal mining to sauna with beautiful lakes with filtered water. So the different stages of the same infrastructure can be reapplied, redefined, according to multiple variables. and I think the variable that we're all mentioning now, especially in Berlin, is that the diversity variable is becoming the dominant variable and therefore, it is extremely obsolete to even think about a dance center. my question to you is: what are the practices of the moment that we step into these processes of imagination? How do we also imagine our own absoluteness? when you set into the work of imagining something, how do you also imagine the end of it? a lot of people before us did beautiful work and gave us beautiful things that were happily using, but what they were really bad at imagining the end of things.
ELENA: and the ppl back in the days also didn't leave
LEA: but if you would have taken over Sophiensaele like this, sth would have come to an end... Heizhaus is not a comparison to it
SIEGMAR: the way how i understand sarah: how can we build in our exit in the infrastructures? and how to let go, so the idea can be taken over by someone else, because after a while, you might not actually see what needs to regenerate
ELENA: for example, there is the festival of the independent scene in hamburg. and the people who invented that one built into it, when they invented it, that they would have to leave the curation position after three or four years. So they were building their own exit.
SHEENA: i think thats really important, but then the question is also what about sustainability, how to get out of the project temporality - how to live and die with sth?
ELENA: maybe it's a question, sustainable for who? shifting the cycle of curators is very sustainable for the institution, but maybe not for the curator as a person. So, what's the perspective?
SHEENA: in HZT, my experience was you are on a semester by semester contract. and in opposition to that, i see what's possible, for example, with Nina with this professorship for life, also how it does allow individual growth. and with Heizhaus, it wasn't involved in the original pact, and then Barbara instigated the inclusion of that, and the we came together to curate it around the idea of social choreography, and this year the collective has regenerated itself, olympia and Angela Alves are also with us, and what we are trying is that is has a social model, it should be accessible, it should include the communities around it, and for the first time we are trying the idea of a cultural community center, next year there will be also residencies. whats it asking is being there under different [...] how i have seen operating ppl in the scene is that we are so much connected through premieres, but what can be other modes to be connected? thats sth we gonna try. less about making it for these communities, but actually bringing people in who are part of these communities in curatorial and leadership position.
SARAH: there was sth else we need to do with ana right?
BARBARA: let's keep the questions for the next session. do you want to share them?
ANA: sure! the examples that you shared were really amazing... and the thought sarah shared: institutions have their life cycles. when i think about capitalism, and the practices that we are making in the field of contemporary dance, i feel institutions should become safe spaces for us. because those are spaces where the contemporary dance practitioners are developing and sustaining practices that wouldn't survive otherwise in capitalism in the market. the way to continue: to see what is already there, and proceed it. and that institutions can better respond to apocalypse. now the questions
opens up a sheet with many questions and reads them*
Who are the involved actors?
How are responsibilities delegated between the actors?
What is the governing structure?
Who has the authority of decision-making?
How are decision-making processes defined and regulated?
In what way is communication between different actors ensures and sustained?
Who are the owners of the infrastructure?
Who is using the infrastructure?
What are the contractual conditions and relationships between the owners and users of the infrastructure?
What are the modes of using the infrastructure?
How many actors are directly and indirectly involved in using the infrastructure?
What are the internal rules and regulations on the usage of the infrastructure?
What is the main purpose behind the use of the infrastructure?
What are the modes of engaging the cultural and wider social community in the activities of the space?
What are the planning methods for developing the infrastructure towards enabling further program development?
what the scene needs is multiple dance centers, with some sense of community between them! i can share some more materials if you want to do some further reading.
EVERYONE: thank youuuuu
ppl talk about touring, and the pressure that emerges when that question is open right from the start of the creation process. sarah gives workshops about touring, and everyone wants her to do it again
SARAH: let's start
OLYMPIA: i want to look on our individual definitions of governance again. the proposal is that we read the proposals of other ppl and only write down things from others. we write down what resonates with us. let's take 15'
group 1: maria, ixchel, clement, sarah
ixchel: a set of practices of care within a collective interest that aim to organize the way a group is functioning within the system.
sarah: a set of tools, practices and agreements that define agency in a system or an environment
maria: there is a we in a context of resources that is able to communicate and individuate (1) the desire to belong together, (2) the needs that define that togetherness, (3) the naming, aim or reasoning for individuals to maintain that collectivity. it relies on mechanisms that can change or can be in an evolution - protocols tools rules - to allow for both the preservation and transformation such collectivity. governance depends on kindness, conflict resolution, accountability, consent.
clement: love, information and its meanders. we don't really want to govern, we want to care.
group 2: siegmar, sheena, olympia
siegmar: governance are the ways in which a group of people committed to develop and adapt instruments and practices towards creating agency of the participants of a system which is orientated towards the physical, mental and spiritual well being of its participants. Governance is also the ways in which each and every one is responsible and accountable for this shared goal.
sheena: governance has at its core the aim for well being and transparency among and through a group or network of individuals that share an aim of building and practicing ways of doing through [...] it works with processes of consent and accountability to build aims that are shared and multi directional
olympia: the making of decisions, norms and tools to facilitate, regulate and enforce (?) the collective existence of a group of people.
group 3: barbara, elena
barbara: governance models give tools / practices to create agency and access through shared knowledge and consent and can be regenerated through external and internal evaluation.
OLYMPIA: i recommend to write the definitions down on a paper so you can move them around
CLEMENT: i find the thing of the desire to belong together very interesting. and the question of why do you come together.
MARIA: and if there is no party, no coming together, where does the power go? like if we stop voting and caring about politics, what happens?
SARAH: governance exists when there is a government, when there is a body to be governed. so there is a we
MARIA: exactly - citizenships
CLEMENT: but to bring it to our context: whats the desire to come together? thats a very crucial question for me.
MARIA: for me, I'm always more on the social side... so if you come together, you have to advocate: whats the basic income, what are your rights as a worker, how the public funding then gets distributed. you need to gather, you need to have this voice to talk to the policy makers.
IXCHEL: maybe the important part is transformation?
- the group moves on to collect some terms on a big sheet of paper and discusses the terms *
SARAH: i would say sth about environments / systems of togetherness
- talking about the Berlin dance house and community projects *
ELENA: was ich mit dem utopischen meinte: mehrmals machen, auch wenn's am anfang nicht so gut wird...
BARBARA: wo kommt die mature activation her? weil wenn du das drin hast, setzt das schon was voraus... die assumptions...
ELENA: aber leute sind ja in unterschiedlichen phasen. mich interessiert das cross-generational, also knowledge - aims - ethics muss nicht nur von jungen leuten kommen, sondern auch von älteren. die älteren haben das einfach schon länger gemacht. da bin ich ja gerade. es ist halt was anderes, wenn jemand seit 20 jahren zu etwas arbeitet, als wenn jemand mit 18 gerade ein buch gelesen hat und ein bisschen aufgeregt ist.
BARBARA: und aber auf der anderen seite müssen die möglichkeiten geschaffen werden, dass auch junge leute mit ihren erfahrungen mit rein können.
ELENA: genau, wie finden wir es gemeinsam? es muss parallel existieren.
COLLECTING THE EXCHANGES
OLYMPIA: so... i see the first stage from yesterday as thinking like cats. Like a group of cats. And then here we're thinking a little bit more like dogs. we're more like pack animals. We're trying to understand what we're thinking about through each other's words rather than through our own. this is pure, like everyone just says everything and everything that everyone says goes up on the board. now i wanna try thinking like bees. we try to come up with a sentence what governance is. i'm interested to do it simultaneously as a group. and our resource is this paper. what occurs to me is this tension that siegmar wrote down: what governance is vs. what governance could be. so that was my first thought.
BARBARA: we reworked mine, bc elena was not there yesterday.
MARIA: a management system of an organization
OLYMPIA: do we agree that it's a system? any dissent?
SARAH: multiplicity of items and actors
SIEGMAR: territory and agencies... i hear it more as a systematics.
SARAH: system in the sense of a set of organized elements.
MARIA: an organization of territory and agency?
OLYMPIA: i like system bc its so broad.
--> the final collective sentence
governance is a system of tools, practices, and resources, that organizes agency in a group of people. We desire a governance that is redistributive, adaptive, and practice-based by committing to consent, accountability, and kindness. this necessarily involves protocols of external and internal evaluation in order to achieve a long term collective interest of this group of people.
SARAH: ...of tools, practices, and resources?
MARIA: ...of longterm care?
OLYMPIA: is care really in it?
MARIA: if you don't idealize care!
OLYMPIA: i see
MARIA: care just came up a lot
ELENA: what about access? it comes up in the disability context a lot
OLYMPIA: thats why i think care is problematic
SHEENA are we going utopic? Are we saying what it is now? Are we saying what we want it to be?
OLYMPIA: we could go with what it is, and then add an appendix
SHEENA: let's just keep going
MARIA: something to the collective existence of [inaudible]
IXCHEL: maybe its a system that aims to organize?
BARBARA: no it doesn't aim
SIEGMAR: there's too many assumptions
SARAH: i also think that aim should come later. now its about what it does: organize agency in the sense of how things can, and should, and would interact with one another.
SIEGMAR: there is different agencies, with different degrees. what we want is agency and access. i want to have a conversation about access.
OLYMPIA: i'd like to announce we successfully made one sentence. i'm really surprised! we've intentionally put in a bunch of ambiguous terms, like agency, organize... any clarifications here?
SIEGMAR: i would like to talk about tools and instruments. everything uses tools and instruments, but some are super harmful
SARAH: now we make the mega mix, what it should do
OLYMPIA: we desire a governance that...
SARAH: ...aims at...
BARBARA: ...aims at wellbeing...
MARIA: it ties to power, distribution, redistribution of power
OLYMPIA: we desire governance that is redistributive of power and resources. that was a great thing in anas lecture: the topic of participation without a say. the amount of times that I've been invited into processes where they're like, and we can all get a say, and then I will decide at the end - there's no point in that. its like I'm just being smart for you. Which is just like going to work.
ELENA: its about continuous redistribution
MARIA: also information
CLEMENT: i have to add, redistribution is great, but its not enough. what is beyond? that was the thing with communism... what's the desire behind?
SIEGMAR: but we are still with the desire towards
SARAH: together with redistribution goes the idea of change, transformation
SIEGMAR: with adaptation you need reevaluation
SIEGMAR: its not just cognitive... but its all in adaptive
OLYMPIA: its contained in redistributive
CLEMENT: adaptive is nice, bc its not the neoliberal adaptable
SARAH: can we say practice based?
ELENA: ana said sth about the maturity of ethics.
SIEGMAR: I'm missing the accountability and consent part. practices are so vague
OLYMPIA: abuse is also a practice
SIEGMAR: ...by developing, enforcing... i like enforcing!
MARIA: by committing to practicing nonviolent communication laughs
OLYMPIA: i had a therapist who was into non-violent communication. I'm not putting nonviolent communication here laughs I would love to violently communicate with that therapist who sucked.
SIEGMAR: committing to...
MARIA: AND YOGA laughs
SIEGMAR: ...practices of consent
MARIA: its about the actual practices, in opposition to values, which are more empty words, practices that need to be practiced
SARAH: responsibility, love, care, trust... let's leave them on the side
SIEGMAR: what about practices of trust? you really have to practice them. one example is conflict resolution. what counts for you?
OLYMPIA: what do we specifically feel as a group this needs in order to move on? whats the real burning problem here?
ELENA: for me, it just shouldn't be a monolith, this aspect of evaluation should be in it, or what sarah said, things need to die
OLYMPIA: is that not in adaptive?
BARBARA: but how to reach that?
SIEGMAR: let's bring that to the practices we are specifying here.
OLYMPIA: we want ongoing practices...
SHEENA: we have so many practices - rather protocols
SARAH: wow, we're putting protocols in
- everyone laughs
OLYMPIA: does anyone feel violently misrepresented by this?
SARAH: it's super vague
OLYMPIA: a bunch of artists tries to write one sentence... what did you think was gonna happen?
SARAH: We spent a few hours saying that what is very relevant is this thing of well being, the idea of long term care, there is a day of preservation of a collective interest. but you don't apply that same thing to multi directional aims.
SIEGMAR: multidirectional formations
MARIA: survival? dying better?
CLEMENT: it shouldn't be part of an extractivist, neoliberal thing.
OLYMPIA: thats what i want us to try to do, its uncomfortable
ELENA: staying with the trouble
SARAH: long term collective interest. it's built on a collectivity, and the collectivity has decided what they want to do. and it can be many things, but the thing is that you together do something long term. so there is this idea of temporality. and then towards a collective interest.
SIEGMAR: to be sarcastic, the longterm collective interest could be the 1000y reich of NS. so the idea of the nazis was to build an empire for the ayrian empire
OLYMPIA: consent, accountability and kindness don't really scream third reich to me laughter* but at the same time its important! because of this thing with the collective interest - like the same reason that I had a problem with health... when you're talking about collective interests being in the dance context - like with Ausdruckstanz - this idea of collectivity very easily segwayed into these Nazi marches so actually, this emancipatory dance that we do now could actually start to serve the next fascist dictatorship. So it is good to be careful.
MARIA: its interesting... because there is something about the group that people come together. [inaudible]
SARAH: i just need to logically analyze this sentence... it doesn't sound like fascism and policing to me
OLYMPIA: Great! The definition is done, sounds like it could be in the Grundgesetz!
CLEMENT: but then it relies a lot on the practices...?
OLYMPIA: i'm not so interested in the sentence, but more that it was an attempt, that was about to fail, and now i have a better feeling of what governance is.
SARAH: thanks for guiding us through this!
SIEGMAR: how do ppl feel when we're defining governance, maybe not in the definition, but in the practice of it, setting up borders, limitations, no's? what are those processes? What experience do you have with that? And what would be your desire for a real governance, to set out limits and limitations? how do we have these conversations? I find that really hard, but I'm very interested in it, because I do think there are ethical limitations in there.
OLYMPIA: i have planed a game for the second half, but we can also talk. its an interesting question. do we agree on speaking? cool! one of the reasons that I have a strong desire to do this is I've been in this Arbeitsgruppe for work cultures, through the ZTB, for the last one year. the idea is that we make guidelines and then we publish those guidelines, people sign up to them. and then the next time you're in a project where someone, like a nice person, pushes a boundary, you say, I can't do that because I'm committed to this. its best practice. the part that I wrote and provided was about work times and studio practices or fees. one of the things that i said was: studio days: no longer than eight hours, six hours is considered best practice. I feel like people resist this - also inside myself. and for a working week: five days max, best practice would be four. after writing that when I'm planning my next thing I'm like, I don't actually dare to do a four day working week, but i am doing a four and a half day one to see if I can do it. by having things there that you can say yes or no to, I think it's really useful. But in the group, there has been a lot of resistance to making any sort of clear recommendations. one of the things was that we don't work on Sundays. But then one of the people was talking to a production where they were all mothers, and it was that they could only work on the Sundays. but it was still generative to say, this is a recommendation. and then there can be exceptions such as this, but to be concrete about them.
BARBARA: i stepped out bc it was so concrete
SHEENA: i think it's really good, because it also reflects on how you do it yourself, or how you want to participate. And then what's possible within the kind of structures that also come at you as well, whether that's financial, whether that's institutional
BARBARA: if you have three weeks and everyone is fine?
ELENA: how do you get the feedback that everyone is really fine?
BARBARA: but thats another discussion, its about being transparent about your conditions, and not so much guidelines
IXCHEL: it helps to say im not ok
SIEGMAR: in Belgium i heard it really helped ppl to stand up for this, even though its not done ideally, but it helped to say no
SARAH: it changes the way you work. in Belgium, everything is hyper institutionalized. you become a machine of institution yourself. it changes the way you make plans. for example, you make a contract for a dancer, and you have to put in one full day, which is only for the intake meeting, and the debrief meeting and the dancers [inaudible] to attend to this, because if the dancer doesn't have the chance to be presented with the work and the chance to evaluate the work, the contract doesn't exist. so when you plan budget, rehearsals, you have to plan that in
SIEGMAR: do the things take place, or are they fictional?
SARAH: they take place. t's very expensive.
SIEGMAR: great. the very expensive thing is money that is not our money. it just needs to be budgeted. that's what has already happened, even in Berlin with minimal wage is that all of a sudden budgets are 80.000€. That used to be 40.000€. but it's not our fucking money. We're just putting numbers on the paper. why should people not be paid properly? Just because we've done it for the last 200 years?
BARBARA: No, I'm not saying that. It's about setting transparent working condition. but of course, the responsibility has to be there for everyone and how to motivate this.
MARIA: from the workers point of view, I found myself in a situation where having a guideline especially for other people that generally speaking are quiet and quietly suffering, as all dancers, it was useful to be able to advocate. especially with a non German institution and be like this is a reference point. otherwise, i feel that I don't get paid right. so there is something not just about basic rights, but also to quantify a kind of labor...
BARBARA: but we are referring to a system, a very old established working system
OLYMPIA: i was in a project where i worked 9h a day for two weeks, and afterwards i was really ruined. it sucked. I'd never have done, what nine hours in other work, but like nine hours of listening to a choreographer tell you what to do. It sucks. especially if that choreographer doesn't have a nice voice, it matters. Australia is one of the first places that won... the stonemasons put down their tools, and marched for the eight hour day, and then they died. people died to get us eight hour days. when we have the power to set our working hours, which our ancestors, most of whom are workers, literally died for that, then why not? the fluidity of our of our working conditions - in other industries that always serves the boss, like casualization, or like zero hour contracts... this is why, again, my suspicion comes back. we take on so much responsibility to reflect if we make guidelines that are in some way wrong. We don't put that much pressure on our Liberal government. We just expect them to make mistakes, and actually to not work in our interest all the time. I wouldn't do it because if I don't have a weekend, I get really emotional. And so I'm just not very good at working for longer than five days in a row. but if someone can only do it that way, and maybe it's their first project or something like that, then I still think it's better that they do it quietly than loudly saying, it's good that we were able to be so flexible. a little bit of shame can be healthy in a community.
ELENA: theres also the reminder to ourselves, that eg. if we do shows on the weekend, take Monday and Tuesday off. we need to take some days off. the other thing i want to say is about transparency: I think there's just several steps to the process because you can be transparent and say, Here, come take my workshop for free. And then if I like the way you work as a dancer, you're allowed to be part of my production and learn from me. And I've heard this. This is how some people do their work. And that's being very transparent and still, it's shitty.
OLYMPIA: should i start a speaking list?
SARAH: i consent to moderation
SHEENA: all i'm hearing is the idea of a union. the call for regulations, or a place where you can go with problems, like central, like PAF, LAFT, etc. a union would be a good conversation!
SIEGMAR: the other thing i am interested is the relationship between organizing and things that are measurable, and things that are not: abuse, bullying. there are ways of setting up spaces where they don't happen. but when they happen, how to make them public? if they are not measurable. like catalogues with names. like each production has a nominated contact. sth that is build in as a form, not just an idea
SARAH: i personally hate guidelines. i'm such a fan of practice based tools, initiatives. we always go back to the example of a dancer that is maybe unaware of their rights and coming out of university and feeling a lot of pressure from the system that is presented to them as a work environment, and very often is not empowered enough to step up for themselves and understand how to use the rights. the moment that we do that exercise of realizing our own governance system - it's something that we need to practice and constantly evaluate and constantly take into account that the system that we built for ourselves are in constant transmission to others. So the moment that me and barbara initiated backbone, we asked ourselves: how is backbone respond to those questions? we do it intuitively, or we set up a governance invitation that we explain to everybody, that is more or less clear for everybody. And that there would be five steps for evaluation and then there will be a final evaluation. So there are things that we are actively practicing in order to meet problems that we think are very relevant. And I really have this impression that if everybody in every work context would do that, things would be very, very different. But we don't sometimes, it's not because we have no time, i think it can be safe to say this, that we've been very lazy with this stuff.
ELENA: can you explain it more?
SARAH: when we started the with Backbone, we had the reflection about how do you bring an invitation to artists in the scene, and we decided to use the practice of individual meetings. so we said, okay, it's gonna take a long time for 25 people, but we want to sit one on one with everybody, we want to avoid the big gathering. And we want to give everybody the chance to talk to us, and then step out [inaudible] even before meeting with everybody in the room. And this is a decision that we made, it's a proposal that we made according to parameters that we found were responding to the values of the project. And so we actively practice that. And some people were very grateful for it, because it empowered them to do stuff that otherwise would have been very shameful for them to do. so then we will have an evaluation about these things collectively after we experienced it together. And then maybe next time when you initiate the process yourself, you might remember that of this experience. And you would think, for this project that I'm initiating, this is the practice I choose. And I'm going to communicate it intentionally. So I'm going to tell everybody, I intentionally set up the structure of invitation this way, because I intentionally want to stress that it's important for me to create a safe environment for everybody to speak up. And I believe it's better if you do it one on one, if you do not agree, these are the parameters for which you can change this arrangement. And this is the timeline for which you can change. So you include in the way you work, this idea of evaluation, transparency, giving agency, practicing consent, and you do it not through the artistic work, but you do it through the governance structuring work. tells about Peaches you initiate these type of conversations that answers those questions.
CLEMENT: it made me think about recommendations. in France i had rights as a dancer. Sunday break is a right, not a privilege. this was very comfortable.
SHEENA: if its so controlled in France, then obviously the institutions are also part of that as well. So if it's Sundays off then there's no premieres on Mondays for example?
CLEMENT: its actually less about the Sunday, but about not having to work more than six days in a row.
MARIA: i have a question, can you share the thing that you mentioned that you are working on?
ppl talking about the LAFT-recommendations
OLYMPIA: I think what was useful about the guidelines is that if you establish a norm that enough people publicly put their names to, maybe even some institutions can be convinced to support it, which actually works in terms of shame. I find it personally really useful, because now that I get funding, I suddenly have become an employer. And I come from drag, where I'm used to everyone works for free. and then to let go of that self exploiting mindset, when I'm not in drag spaces, but then still have when I'm doing. it's really helpful for me to have LAFT, for example, and then just be like, I'm not going to work for free, and therefore no one else will. but I'm a communist. so I don't want other people to work for free, so that I become famous. But how does your model deal with people who are not interested in that - in justice? because of my politics, i'm particularly interested in finding more ethical practices for working. Not everyone has those politics, or more often people have those politics, but don't apply them to themselves. the reason I think the guidelines are strong is because they help someone like me who needs an orientation and what other people think. But they can also potentially coerce people who don't have those politics. And I'm curious if you know of an example where it can work on people who don't want to pick up those practices.
SARAH: i don't use guidelines, whats interesting for me is to create a space for negotiation. the self determination of the worker is the most important thing for me. as an employer i need to create a safe space for self determination. And then from there, you empower negotiation and you make it possible. So the moment when we come down to a negotiation, we will compare it with some guidelines that we will use as reference. And then we go from there. So guidelines for me are the ground zero. But the interesting space for me is to achieve the tools for self determination. Because only like that we can really take into account how diverse we are. the choreographer in a wheelchair that is running Italian National contract for orchestra member [...] We live in a system that is exceptional. And so we need to practice the exception. And that's what we need to get very good at. And looking for guidelines, and have people keep working on them. And let's keep doing the work. But we need to go the extra mile. - And I come from a socialist country. the theater is one of the most advanced in Europe. Belgium, France and Italy have a national contract for stage workers since the late 50s. No other country in Europe has that. And they're extremely useful documents. They're also a curse, in a way, because they fostered only one kind of politics.
OLYMPIA: that brings us to the end of the day!
- short chatter about tomorrow's reading practice... and if anyone has a case study... the desire for a union... what's going on in ZTB... *
Alice, Barbara, Christina, Clement, Olympia, Sabine, Sarah, Sheena
STRUCTURE AS PLANNED
10h00 — 10h30 ARRIVAL
10h30 — 12h00 READING SESSION Hosted by Sheena, Olympia maybe Lea
12h00 — 13h00 LUNCH
13h00 — 14h30 CASE STUDY! FIXING SESSION Hosted by all the hosts but introduced by Sheena
- new ppl have joined. it's finally sunny again
OLYMPIA: tells about yesterday's activities, the lecture from ana, and introduces the reading session
SARAH: gives an overview about the day, introduces "off the record"*
OLYMPIA: there was a conversation we had about scale. And about self governance and getting your shit together. and i thought of an exercise that could be useful. it is a positioning game where we take turns and someone picks an object in the room and places it or just points to it. And then everyone positions themselves into relation to that object.
- ppl are looking for the collective definition of governance *
OLYMPIA: it works like this: one person picks something in a room, says what it is, everyone positions themselves and the person who picked the object asks one person why you are where you are. that person answers and then they picks another object in the room, says what it is, people move, then they ask another person...
SHEENA: in the framework of governance?
OLYMPIA: yes, governance is also arranging where things are.
SARAH: so the closer I go to the object, it doesn't mean how much i...
OLYMPIA: ...it's not about agreeing. It's just about positioning. And that can be as broad as possible.
SARAH: So I can say for example, the pipe is a bureaucracy...
OLYMPIA: ...yes, and you can also hug it and say because you're chained to it. you can say "the floor is money"
SABINE: so you name things
- ppl go over to the sheet with the collected terms about governance, reading them again
OLYMPIA: anyone has the desire to start?
SARAH: got it. shall i name it? points at the ramp* efficiency!
- everyone else positions themselves towards sarah on the ramp
OLYMPIA: so now you ask one person why they are where they are
SABINE: I'm sitting on my knees because I want to be sustained by efficiency but I don't want to feed into efficiency - and that's why I'm also not very close to it but also not totally far away
OLYMPIA: now your turn!
SABINE: chooses the fire extinguisher* its an always available help for emergency situations. a supportive tool.
- everyone else positions themselves towards sabine next to the fire extinguisher
OLYMPIA: I'm here because I really hope that it's there, and I suspect that it might be there, but I haven't seen it yet. being younger and coming into the dance scene more recently I very often find out, i'm like: oh it'd be good if that existed, and then it does, I just didn't know about it.
OLYMPIA: points at the tape hanging from the ceiling its Neustadt Kulturförderung.
SARAH: i need a dynamic position
SHEENA: gets on a chair, trying to reach it
ALICE: she's really far away i know it exists, but i don't know what it is. it is on the horizon
ALICE: chooses the wall, lays in front of it its the distribution of resources.
SHEENA: touches the wall with her back i'm also touching the wall and I'm also having some distance and my back is towards the wall because I feel it's something I do it's something I'm involved in and something I believe in, but its not always something that [inaudible]
SHEENA: chooses the table, knees next to it it's listening.
SARAH: inspects the table what are the components? how does it work?
SARAH: christina, you wanna go on?
CHRISTINA: chooses a chair this is assumption. clement?
CLEMENT: not really looking at the chair i'm trying to look away, not sure how to handle it.
CLEMENT: puts keys on the radiator this is magic. barbara?
BARBARA: stands quite far away i love when it happens, but i'm too far away from it with my work. but it does happen.
BARBARA: chooses the fan, gets kinda close but not too close* this is evaluation. sarah?
- ppl choose very different positions, from very close to very far
SARAH: is super close its a one directional practice that can be fucked around with. So you can turn it into other things, you can leave traces, and i like to experiment with it.
SHEENA: with the plug in her hands* i find it very useful, but don't manage often to plug it in.
ALICE: everything i do is trying to make evaluation impossible. but then sometimes i recognize maybe we speak about different things, if its about the artistic practice.
CLEMENT: can i ask sth? why is it an interesting tool?
SARAH: for me its a butch approach: you build something, and then you switch it on and see if it works. And then it works. And you go like, okay, but I want it to be like, consume less energy, be more efficient, make less noise, occupy less space. So you switch off, build down, build up again. So evaluation, in a sense of gathering more information about the status of something, can be an experience, an operation, can be a project itself. And then it processes informations in order to grow. I would say it's a bit like when you have a new collaborator, and you ask, how's it going for you?
OLYMPIA: thats what i was thinking. when i'm doing Künstlerische Leitung, because a lot of the time I collaborate with my friends, I want them to still be my friends afterwards. so i'm evaluating during the process. like, are you working too much? is everyone working well together? that was why I was on my knees, because I feel like I have to be a bit of a servant to it. Because it stops me from thinking about actually making the work. Because it's two jobs actually, all of that relationship management, and then actually being the solo body on stage. It's impossible.
SHEENA: how many of us do evaluations after they do a show? like sitting with all the involved persons?
CLEMENT: i wouldn't call it evaluation. i would call it meeting...
OLYMPIA: very unbureaucratic
BARBARA: fair enough
CHRISTINA: evaluation is something we always do constantly. And as long as it's just with us, it's more self evaluation. but in order to make it productive you really must go for it, almost externalize it - then it becomes productive.
ALICE: its striking me, sheena - i've never done it.
SABINE: for me, the word evaluation refers clearly - its an articulate structure. thats what i associate with it. so that made me hesitant about it. but i had lately moments when i started to refuse this kind of check-in questions, bc theres always a logic behind those systems.
ALICE: but its interesting to think what parameters we can consider as constant. so on the one hand, there is the specificity of each project. and on the other hand there are values. to make new ppl feel well.
OLYMPIA: i have some collaborators that i work with every time - with them i always talk before the next piece starts, like we sit down. but i make a conscious decision to not do it with ppl i only work once, to save energy. bc i feel the feedback we would have for each other wouldn't be very useful. but i tell everyone in the beginning that the involved ppl need to tell me if sth is not working, so i hand the responsibility to the other person.
SARAH: i do the same thing. yesterday it came down to something I never put on the board. But for me its super relevant in regards to governance, which is self determination. it's the idea that anyhow, as individuals, elements or clients, there is the ability to determine your own self and your own needs. in the moment when there are hierarchies... for example, a choreographer dancer relationship, that is clearly the responsibility of the choreographer over the time of the dancer. this idea of empowering self determination is always the way I approach evaluation. for example, with my collaborator, I do a lot of training - long term training of new producers. like 1-2-3 years, together with somebody who just came out of university and has no idea of the work environment that they're jumping into. And we use a lot of BDSM practices - a lot of safe words, like going over time, not understanding, feeling shame - feeling threatened, feeling too much competition and being uncomfortable, or wanting more competition. So we set up a bunch of parameters with time, so that people can evaluate themselves, why giving me information. and in a collaborative way, I do the same if I can, or if I'm in the position to set up those parameters. It's something that you can expand and find a lot of joy in.
CLEMENT: i just realized i almost never do evaluations with venues
OLYMPIA: Mateusz (Sophiensaele) asked me to do that
SHEENA: i sometimes do it with festivals
CLEMENT: it could be really interesting, to even make it part of the contract
SHEENA: regarding olympia, its about if you wanna build a relationship
ALICE: i wrote to ppl afterwards, to offer a reflection. recently i got good feedback after a piece for HZT
CLEMENT: it's very hard to be critical. Because you always feel like you're going to have problems.
- person comes in a asks for the workshop of the feminist school *
SABINE: maybe a protocol helps.
OLYMPIA: i do it actually all the time, with check ins with a disabled collaborator. otherwise i can become like my mom. if i know there's different access needs i am much more proactive. And it often involves constant reassurance. like reassurance that it's okay to raise stuff. Because people from different perspectives feel more or less able to exercise self determination.
SHEENA: sth else i realize, in the making of the process i am constantly feeding back, and then how to give that awareness to all areas.
BARBARA: i find it interesting how different evaluations are. usually in a production its about the bad things, but its so rarely about the good things, strengthening them. and then with venues, I'm not writing back, just if things go well, i thank them. maybe changing also this practice...
ALICE: for this you need to be very brave, i never do it.
BARBARA: it would be so important to do it
OLYMPIA: if a situation is really bad... Maybe it's not true. But I would suspect that they're not going to listen to it anyway. if it's really bad, then it's clear what their motive is. and then i ask myself, am I more happy to never see this venue again? Or am I more happy to be the bigger person who actually tries to give constructive feedback.
BARBARA: i had this situation with HAU, we wrote an application, and we didn't hear back for a very long time, and then we feedbacked that to them, and in this case it felt really good. And I had the feeling it had a bit of an effect and i got an answer on it.
SABINE: but this is also a very concrete situation. usually when things go not way its an entanglement of problems, which takes a lot of energy to unpack. but the problem is that there is no real culture for that, its super individualized.
CLEMENT: thats sth that could be added to the definition
OLYMPIA: what's the time? wow only 40'?
SHEENA: let's do the reading? did you cut the things olympia?
- some sheets of paper are spread in the middle, it's two different kinds of texts, ppl sitting around it
--> its two parts from the essay "AESTHETICS OF EXPLOITATION: THE ARTIST AS EMPLOYER" by Vika Kirchenbauer from 2017. it can be found here: http://www.vk0ms.com/aesthetics_of_exploitation.html
OLYMPIA: introduces the session* we have two texts, and have the possibility to look through them. And then using them as kind of a prop to have a conversation in the same way that the game was a way for us to have a conversation. as you read something and you find it interesting you can read it out.
SHEENA: clement you wanna start?
BARBARA: we do it together?
OLYMPIA: let's have a quiet moment to read it.
- everyone grabs a piece of paper and reads. turns out that the text is cut in a way that not everything can be read. discussion how to do it. some read in silence, some discuss whispering
ALICE: reads from the essay* "Surely no one is surprised that mostly young professionals from more comfortable backgrounds establish themselves in circles that demand un(der)paid performance in order just to get in. These un(der)paid positions also lead art school graduates—those without the convenience of a security net—to abandon their own work, succumbing to exhaustion working for more established Artists under precarious working conditions.
The question of how an artist structures the circumstances and condition of her own art production also becomes an aesthetic one. Is it, for instance, worth producing a film about in/visible un(der)paid labour and communist utopias in conditions of production where none of those involved earns a living wage—including the producers? Is that which is being expressed more valuable than the material reality created as part of the endeavour? Will its artistic contribution to political debate naturally outlive and outweigh the pains inflicted for its becoming?"
...is that enough? - immediately, it brings me to to my own situation. I'm not an artist with a big aid in the sense of having big money. And because the work has small money... I make work with the money that I have. So on an hour basis, I pay people very well, but I hire them extremely limited, and that is also a form of precarization of everybody, because it means you need to do many, many different projects, because each of them will give you not enough to live from. it's a bit different from saying it doesn't matter, the work is so great, let's work for free. But I think there's different models of self exploitation and exploitation of others that are happening.
SHEENA: just to understand, you mean you hire them for a very short time, so they need more gigs then? but i also found out that some ppl i work with really desire this.
ALICE: and they are young ppl?
SHEENA: they think 10 weeks is too long
ALICE: interesting, because it's really the discussion between freedom and precarity.
SARAH: I'm a fan of precarity. i mean not for others, but its something that I choose, and I'm very aware of my choice. it's something that i really look for. but maybe my position is a bit different. Because as a producer, you always have the big split, whether you work in an institutional framework or not. And I never wanted to have a full time salary, but because I had many times the opportunity to do so. But I would have hated myself and reach levels of alienation that I cannot imagine, and pay the price for that. which is precarity, in that sense: the freedom of doing the things I want to do. Which comes with a lot of privilege. when you were reading, the first thing that came to my mind is, i am an economic migrant, bc in Italy, if you can not rent a house, and have to pay rent, you cant make art, its impossible. Every artist that you see around that is Italian and is not living in Berlin, or Brussels, or Paris, owns a house. they have passive income from generational wealth. its the only way in Italy. if you own a house you stay - you don't, you leave. so you have this kind of class struggle with your peers. bc of that, the system is getting even more precarious.
OLYMPIA: and it really affects the art ppl make! if you go to NYC, the art is really embarrassing, bc its just rich kids.
SHEENA: Or it's the opposite, where everyone is working five jobs, and then it's something they can do two hours every evening.
CHRISTINA: so what do you do when ppl come with this requests to you?
SHEENA: sth that came up was, ppl desiring company structures, but that also means you can be booked out for two years, and you can't say yes to other jobs... so its always a negotiation. but i'm always a believer in making other working situations work.
ALICE: it means to give them time.
OLYMPIA: what you said about the tension between security, or precarity and freedom, alice - i'm not sure if i agree. if the funding situation is we have 10.000€, and the decision is whether to employ people for a longer time, but pay them less or employ them for less time, then... I don't think that tension is necessarily there as present in that decision.
ALICE: no true, in that case its clear, but with a bit more distance the result is crumbs.
SHEENA: like gig economy?
ALICE: yeah exactly. like basic income, or collaborative models. i don't see any other way around that problem. i want to go back to sarah, and precarity. precarity is the dependance on someone else, etymologically.
SARAH: ah, thats how you use it.
ALICE: its the contrary to autonomy. which is an illusion. so the question is, what kind of dependance do we choose. for me, I would say at the moment, my precarity is on invitations. Because it might look like I'm very free to manage my time and my energy. But in reality, I'm obliged to all the time compose, in order to maintain some sense... you're laughing. i'm 45y old.
SARAH: maybe one more word is needed here: i totally agree with what liberates you from precarization. i use it more as an entrepreneurial term. i mean choosing my own risk. So it's not even about choosing the dependency but choosing the risk that I want to take. it can mean i have a family i support, it can mean i don't mind if things go bad, like i'm happy to live for some years on the edge. i know i can get a lot of pleasure from service work, which i did a lot. how i am emotionally build allows me to take these risks. So this idea of risk, which has to do with entrepreneurship, and then on the other side, the idea of precarity, that has to do with dependency. I think these four variables mixed together have a lot to do with the way our environment works.
OLYMPIA: the reason why i was laughing is bc i find both things very terrifying. i am very scared to go back to service work, because i hated it. it made me feel dumb. this is my first job where i feel i like it, and i am good at it. and i don't need to look at institutions like my parents. and i know this is very childish, this emotional response. and then... like having auditioned, or having been on juries - It's never personal. I never feel like I have the right to decide that someone's good at something else. I just have to make a decision. And I'm sure a lot of people in juries also feel that way. But still, if I get rejected, then it's because they HATE trans people. this childishness is still there with me. is that true for anyone else?
SABINE: i also take myself very serious, like can the other person not be educated?
CLEMENT: some ppl also behave like parents...
- laughter *
OLYMPIA: like being parented in the 19th century.
CHRISTINA: i am also devastated by rejection. but its also the most productive moment for evaluation for me. thats a strategy to get out of these emotions, and to gain more knowledge. i really have an urgency for evaluations.
SABINE: for me at this moment the assumptions come in. things that may have nothing to do with what is actually going on. thats the 19th century parents. this process takes a long time, like to learn. bc i don't know how the system works. and it takes too much time to find sth out. i like deviations.
OLYMPIA: thats interesting. when i'm at my best i try this, but i'm not always there. HAU did this call for the queer manifesto. in drag i am a capital A artist. I'm able to employ people from drag when I get funding. And it's really significant, it makes a difference over a period of six months, like make someone's life much easier, because people are living on 800€ or 900€ a month, particularly after Corona. And so when there's an Ausschreibung like that, that's a really big deal, because it was 1.500€. So that makes someone's life livable for a long time. but it was also for a lot of queer artists who had never gotten funding. it was before i had gotten funding. so i payed myself 400€. Ricardo was disappointed in the applications. but how should ppl learn about it? but then he also said he would be willing to give feedback, but no one had really asked for it. but so many ppl are so discouraged from rejection, and the more distance ppl have to power the less likely it is that they dare to ask
SHEENA: but i also don't have this desire of overanalyze. and then also class comes in. i sometimes don't know how i am sitting here, from this little village in Ireland with no culture, and I'm managing to be in this context. and i think there's sth about who you can anchor on to, maybe less institutions? elena is a huge resource for me.
ALICE: do you pay her? like she is a huge research as long as you can pay her?
SHEENA: no, thats not true. I've been paying elena for the last years through if I've gotten funding, but her work has extended 365 days a year. And now it's only the first time through Reconnect that I have some extra money to pay a structure. i'm trying to shift my sense of dependency, moving away from institutions and rather place it in ppl. its more generative, emotional, trust and liability also comes in.
SABINE: still, it means the thing has to continue rolling.
SHEENA: a lot is on me. i am responsible for many ppl to keep getting applications.
SABINE: exactly. so there's this pressure of not getting rejected, but then the pressure is actually even bigger if i recognize other ppl depend on me, so they have to get other jobs if it doesn't work out. and then, there's always this moment that I feel like, shit: It's so close to going down the pipe, not because we don't want to continue researching together, but because there's no other way, because there's no energy.
SHEENA: if its about desire, i wouldn't push it if it's not what I would want to do.
OLYMPIA: its about momentum here. i was writing my own applications, which I can do. I'd write them in English and translate them to German. I can do most of it myself. And I got vaguely good with budgets. But then once I started working with a producer, now she just does the budget, and then checks my German etc. And it's only one day's work. So it would theoretically be possible for me to finance that outside of an application. i could finance the producer from a drag gig. but i didn't have to, bc we got regularly funding since we started working together. But then, if that momentum were to drop off, then it would be harder to start up again. And if I didn't speak German properly, then that would be more difficult for me... People spend over 500 euro on a team to write applications. and that makes me thing particularly of ppl with children - parents.
BARBARA: i thought about what you, sarah, said about SPIN. its clearly that you, the producers, are bringing in the money. this memory just came up. this can change the pressure towards the people you work with.
SHEENA: in Berlin, producers don't have pressure of securing funds.
ALICE: how do you mean?
SHEENA: its usually on the artists
OLYMPIA: its different on the UK no? that could also be because it's disability arts.
SARAH: I think we there's many different ways of doing the same thing. in backbone, there were many different questions from different artists. many were like: how do I have an overview? How do I not enter a crisis mode every three months? backbone comes from an assumption that both Barbara and I make, that in order to make work sustainable, we need to expand the timeline of our scope. if I'm able to think over a trajectory of 5 to 7 to 10 years, I have much higher chances to [inaudible] mechanism of exploitation, precarization, and short term constant crisis management, which seems to be the thing that we're all talking about. So then the moment that you're in that orientation, of course, you want to maintain momentum, because the moment the momentum drops, then you enter in a crisis management system. but for me, if we were to have a conversation about how you structure your practice, I would never advise anybody to rely on momentum. diversify momentum! if you feel that you're in that position, the first counter act you do is to find a way to diversify that. So, you use the momentum you have not to exploit it, but to build another pillar, so that they can be another momentum. all of these decisions are very strategic decisions, are very business like decisions - or even guided by this very beautiful human drive towards growth and organic harmony, which I think humans have. capitalism uses it for profit and accumulation, but I think growth, efficiency and productivity can also be very fruitful elements of spiritual growth and community commitment. So this is to say that it seems that there's many variables in place and not one right way to do things, but: I think it is necessary to understand that we operate in a system that requires craft, and this crafts are diverse and very often artists cannot have that craft. so that what needs to be implemented is how do we create networks of dependency between each other that foster skill sets, that take us further that where we can go by ourselves. so in that sense, cooperative structures are interesting, but there is something that I have to say: whenever an artist says "I feel very responsible for this" there is something wrong with that. There is something unhealthy about it. It's something that I will never put my money on it. If I made a risk assessment, I would be like, that's a fragile thing. if you give me the example you gave, I am like, okay, I want to see you in three years, I hope you don't exhaust yourself. I'm also playing around a lot with this idea of nursing, rather than supporting, working for. i've been very much of a nurse to the arts. Truly, and I love it. And I would really like people to share the passion, which is not easy to share. very often, what I see is that it's very easy for an artist to nurse a fellow artist, because it's super hard to nurse yourself. i stop here.
OLYMPIA: i have a question specifically about this idea of, like feeling responsible for other people. Vika who wrote this text, she is very busy with class. she made a work about how uncomfortable she was with the attention she got from an art institution. I also feel this sense of guilt, whenever I ask my producer to do something without knowing that there's already money in my bank to pay her despite the fact that we will probably get that. and then i always wonder, shouldn't i be doing that? maybe this comes from the working class background. i resonated with your idea, but also it feels like...
SHEENA: maybe responsible is not the right word. elena doesn't need my money. its more that i desire the relationships that i build on. And I want to keep working with those and keep working for those structures. And I think it's more in that level of things rather than its connected to certain kinds of financial economy. And through getting money in, it allows that, it makes that possible. i know that with other ppl its also possible without money, but i feel better with money. i am really learning how to give over responsibility. recognizing that i am actually not a control freak but love if other people take over work. otherwise i would have a burnout, like this year. i also thought of northern Ireland, where you can only get 5.000€ max. for a project. Berlin allows you to be more airy fairy.
CHRISTINA: i can connect. i feel very guilty, which is even worse when i am an employer, which is maybe also bc coming from working class. - but as I'm not working with groups, I'm always working with collaborations, the first thing I want to establish is: Okay, maybe I wrote the application, and I got the money. But so what. it flows from me to the other people. And maybe I because I'm longer in the field, I got it. but that's not the point. It's not my money. It's just the money, which is there for art.
OLYMPIA: so you make collective decisions?
CHRISTINA: yes. i always try to share responsibility.
ALICE: its always a work of christina ciupke and Boris Hauf.
CHRISTINA: this is very productive for me.
SHEENA: but who is doing the production for you? do you share that too?
SHEENA: wow, amazing
BARBARA: it does work differently with different people. its about how the invitation is taken from that person, and how much this person also feels that invitation. even so the invitation was always the same, it was taken differently.
CHRISTINA: i was pulling myself to the margins... and then it goes, even though maybe in a different direction.
SABINE: maybe thats a different thing, but yes - it goes. and that could be more important than that it needs to be that thing - that it goes. i also thought more about this thing of momentum you mentioned sarah. That's not a very wise decision, to put all on the momentum. But I'm interested, what would that diversification at that moment actually mean?
SARAH: what i can say is - i didn't get back to barbaras question regarding SPIN introduces SPIN: SPIN is a cooperative that I'm part of in Belgium. it's now composed of nine artists. we do not work together, we do not make work together at all. So everybody has their own teams, their own work, their own trajectory, their own network, but we radically share financial risk. And this is, for example, the level of diversification that we experience to be super efficient. in my personal life this is something that I love: to start businesses with people that are not my family, or friends, or direct collaborators. it is something that brings a lot of air in my way of thinking about money. me and Barbara, we knew each other, but we were not super close friends. And we said, let's start a project together. let's share the risk of that. And I think this is for me, a very fruitful way of distributing weight differently. And also stimulating solidarity differently. one thing for me which is super important is that when the artistic work carries the solidarity, the commitment, there's something wrong with that.
SABINE: what do you mean by solidarity?
SARAH: for example, if a group is making work, and the way that the risk is shared among the group depends on the artistic work - thats a short circuit, it's an unhealthy environment. Because it puts too much pressure on the work and too much pressure on the collaborators. it's actually linked by an artistic commitment, which has nothing to do with risk management. playing with these elements, for me, it's very important. we've been doing it for many years, its working quite well, we have conversations with institutions as a group of nine artists. we are one big company. So we're like Meg. But Meg is Meg. It's been it's like nine different artists. we go to the same government thats funding Damaged Goods and say, we're like Damaged Goods, but we have nine directors, but they don't get it. they want a face of the company. And then we go like, no, that's not the point, 1-2-3 times, and then we get less and less money. So they're clearly winning. But we're still happy with it. But yeah, this idea of sharing risk - what does that do? - my recent discovery is that we should share risk on other conditions, like ground work. administration, for example, bureaucracy, rental of storage spaces. alternative email hosting, anti Google servers, we have a loooooot of stuff in common that each of us is paying for by themselves.
SHEENA: one question: bc there IS an entanglement with the quality of the artistic work. depending on how my work goes, my next work will do like this or that. i'm just trying to understand how to detach all those things. how to detach the economy from the quality of the artistic work.
SARAH: maybe the assumption is that the market works like this. that the market is full of good work. but thats not true: its full of ppl who are good networkers.
SHEENA: no, its not, that's very true. but we've seen maybe an artist who like burnt their network because they made one bad show in the wrong place.
SARAH: the question is: what kind of artist you wanna be? what kind of what kind of trajectories you want to have? You want to build a company, you want to be in a rotation system of one piece a year? then you build a certain structure. do you want to allow yourself to work for others? And make one piece every four years? That's a completely different structure. Are you a total touring animal, and you want to be on the road 300 days a year, and make suit back shows, like UK style? if that's what your practice is called, you start from there. And I think the moment that you define that, you understand which system you're applying. your examples were all examples of certain kinds of artists, that have certain ways of operating, and their desire and fulfillment depends on their signature. and then we can add the historic context, the fact that we all inheriting the big capital A Artist model - like Jerome Bel, Xavier LeRoy. that's one way of doing things. If you want that there is a way to do that. But do you? And that's the first thing, because those people that did those works and build that system, they really like it. And then they pay for it. It's not easy. It's a shitshow. It's a horrible life. They're deeply unhappy.
ALICE: depends on ppl
SARAH: its a toxic, mega ego place.
ALICE: i'm taking a side now. until now i was really with you, and then just to say "it's fine, if this is what somebody wants" - no.
SARAH: But it's true. If we look at the history, Xavier stopped that kind of system, Jerome as well. there is a reason - because it's unsustainable. Meg split the company, put young artists inside, makes one big piece every five years, shifted her production cycle completely. and then, you don't have any more the big touring names, you have a big established company that do not tour anymore. Outside of Germany, nobody knows who Sasha Waltz is anymore. young dancers studying in Spain, they don't go and see Sasha Waltz anymore. So if you look at the market and the history of the market and the cultural policies and institutions, you make a matrix, you understand what the trends are. and then you position yourself: in a competitive competitive way, if you have a competitive profile, or in a non competitive way, if you don't.
OLYMPIA: we're 10' into lunch! I wondered, actually, whether this text - because it's a little bit more into ethics, or individual practices - would serve a conversation of governance, but we actually very much ended up there. So kudos.
CASE STUDY! FIXING SESSION
- ppl have a hard time coming back bc its finally SUNNY outside again *
- sheena announces she needs to leave at 2pm
SARAH: this last block is the one which we left mostly open. sheena had this idea to work on sth together, on a case study, sth to fix. on Wednesday we asked everyone to think about it. anyone has a case study?
SHEENA: yesterday, the topic of a union came up, which also resonates to which we talked about today. sth i would be interested in.
SARAH: i personally would be only excited 6/10 regarding the union topic.
OLYMPIA: it seemed yesterday a lot of ppl where interested in it
ALICE: can you say why?
OLYMPIA: i worked for a trade union, and i apply that to the way how i do governance in my work. i would find it interesting to find out what ppl feel what we would be doing in such a union. but today is also a different group than yesterday.
CLEMENT: yes, the change of leadership in an institution, and how this is handled. it concerns many ppl. when a director in a theater changes many ppl are preoccupied. but when siegmar is not here its less interesting, bc she applied
BARBARA: i don't have a case study, but what i'm missing with the union topic is the payment aspect, bc we don't have the money, and if its about sth longterm we needed to think about finances. thats an obstacle for me
SHEENA: regarding the support system: finding out what am i asking for help for in the scene. how do i feel i can reach out beyond the idea of presence ideology? there can be that individual leaning on / leaning in thing... but i'm interested in how to understand the potential of the bodies in this room
SARAH: maybe we can bring all this together. When we talk about solidarity, we address it like where do I go to ask for help? And very rarely we articulate it as how do I tell people what they can ask me - how can I define myself as a resource? and of course this are two different things because probably things you ask are different from the things that you can give. But I think the moment that we think about it as a network or as a system, it's necessary analysis to make. Maybe what we could do together is to actually design a network of solidarity.
SARAH: theres a bunch of things we want to keep for ourselves, things we want to share, etc. we could draw that, and maybe that idea sparkles some phantasy?
ALICE: for me it connects to sth you said earlier, a network of skills or capacities, as resources. so we could start by putting things down by ourselves, and then maybe others could help us and say "what about this?", and then maybe i say "no i wanna keep this to myself", and then we map out needs, and then we see in the end what is missing
SARAH: social muscle club?
ALICE: exactly! what do i want to give, what do i want to receive? and then we see what is just in this little constellation not available?
SARAH: i would like to add that i don't want to do it under the umbrella of "lameness". what i mean by that: when I talk about solidarity and need, I think about the things I don't have. But for example, being an artist and making work is something that I would put on the things i can do. so: without putting aside the core of what we do.
SHEENA: can you say it again?
SABINE: the actual things you do you take usually out of the map?
SARAH: put ALL OF IT in. don't just think of the things that you can offer ON TOP of what you're doing as an artist. thats when it becomes interesting
SHEENA: whats also interesting is: my offers to you as a group are different to another group or person, and same with my needs, what i am asking for... i think we need a bigger piece of paper?
ALICE: let's start with little lists?
SARAH: does it sound like a nice idea? olympia?
OLYMPIA: let's try! what you said about the union thing - let's try and see where we go
ALICE: for me its just very vague what a union would be
OLYMPIA: i'm a bit confused, because I always thought that solidarity was something that you gave. I always felt like asking is for charity. And then like, giving is for solidarity. solidarity means that there has to be something offered first
CLEMENT: i was wondering as well, in which kind of economy that would work? eg i would give a massage, but not to everyone... like "everything i could give", but to whom?
OLYMPIA: queens against borders is this solidarity project i am doing, building solidarity for queer and trans refugees. the way that it worked for the first three years was that everyone who wasn't a refugee worked for free. And then people who were refugees, who was the other half of the organizing and performance, got a solidarity rate for what they were doing. the whole principle of doing that was: we never expected to get anything back from the people that we're doing it for, but if no one does, if no one extends solidarity without expecting anything back, then solidarity doesn't work. the reason that it's different to charity, or being nice, is that it's it's always a first step in a process of building something that's bigger.
SARAH: maybe the shift is: the social state is a very active, immediate help. But also the way a social state works is that you pay a pension contribution for somebody that's actually getting their pension today. there is the assumption of solidarity at the base of societies that have care as one of their welfare elements of what a government should provide for its citizens. An assumption of solidarity is the acknowledgement of dependency and interdependency.
OLYMPIA: no. whats fundamentally lacking in capitalist society is solidarity. we have a shared respect for capital, but not for the sociality of a human being. so solidarity as a means of building the potential for a different way of doing it. in Australia, you'd never, even in the social welfare state, use the word solidarity. It sounds too communist.
ALICE: in a way, this description is really radical, but doesn't it exclude the union?
OLYMPIA: how so?
ALICE: bc everyone needs to pay the union, no?
OLYMPIA: it has many aspects what it would do. It could also be a vehicle to take state power.
ALICE: i would like to hear that
SARAH: we are having two discussions: one, making arguments around how to think about solidarity as a proposal. And then there is this idea of defining what is the interest in talking about unions? maybe we should clarify? we're doing two things at the same time.
BARBARA: i was wondering about solidarity and resources... maybe first collecting the resources? i didn't get the jump to solidarity
SARAH: i meant we can take a picture of a solidarity network
OLYMPIA: the reason i am interested in this is: why do we make this map? do we make it in order to have the more social democratic, redistributive model of a dance scene that is more livable? Or do we do it to make a model that would actually be transformative. and I don't think we need to actually make that decision. But this is why I was particularly interested in that question.
SARAH: ... and then the score is the map ... and then we build a system with us inside.
SHEENA: who is it serving? i thought of artists in Mexico, where they cut funding, where they did sth similar. it wasn't then only for self serving the scene, but it became an economy in itself. they even started an export import business with Cuba. so, is this just about serving this economy, or sth more?
SARAH: we are the circle of humans that would be a base for this definition. we would first build a system for us.
BARBARA: reads the common definition of governance again*
governance is a system of tools, practices, and resources, that organizes agency in a group of people. We desire a governance that is redistributive, adaptive, and practice-based by committing to consent, accountability, and kindness. this necessarily involves protocols of external and internal evaluation in order to achieve a long term collective interest of this group of people.
SARAH: we're still stuck on what the collective interest is
OLYMPIA: but we can find that out during that process
SARAH: one paper for each of us
SHEENA: we define now both levels: what we offer - and what we need.
- everyone gets a pen and a paper, and starts to write *
BARBARA: hard exercise! i thought it was easier
ALICE: did you start with what you give, or need?
BARBARA: i didn't write anything yet
- ppl are sighing, staring at the ceiling *
ALICE: start from what you do, and how that can be a resource
BARBARA: that makes it a lot easier
OLYMPIA: today was very relaxed
BARBARA: all days were
CLEMENT: feels this is only a beginning
ALICE: one more minute?
OLYMPIA: did everyone find it more difficult to write the things they need, than that what the can offer?
- "yes!" "no!"
OLYMPIA: for me it was all about age. [sth with older and younger ppl, inaudible]
SHEENA: should we do a round?
offers: advise, feedback and workshops to as yet unfunded artists ... experience of trade union and Student Union politics ... critical opinions from a marginalized / outsider perspective
needs: mentoring - unexpected offers of solidarity - the audience - political work of elders
offer: dance knowledge: technical, historical and aesthetic - support of group processes, creative or else - support of individual artistic processes - teaching - conceptual advise - support for conceptual development of art projects or structures - performing - editing / support ppl find their own writing voice - cook - dance - keep ppl company
need: guidance for production work - space and people to practice with - money to pay regular collaborators - internet literacy and web programming skills - massages and bodywork
offers: begeisterungsfähigkeit - potential new ideas & formats at the combination of field, and work fields and work ways [?] - thinking them through, connect them to different supportive tools that I have access to or that I developed - different spaces and spatial thinking - contexts, in terms of social, discoursive etc. - ppl, their crafts, motivations, and occupations - an intuition of how things could make sense together - to make things combined and reconnect - finden & erfinden of formats of communication
needs: knowledge transfer - a continuous relationship to someone who is not my collaborator - structures or models that can help me to nourish my network
offers: dramaturgical structures, like organizing bodily material - being a co-dreamer, being a co-organizer, being a co-collaborator (in the theater, behind the scenes), being a co-project thinker or listener - spaces (i love them, working in them, for them, offering studio spaces, possibilities of making stuff happen) - working collectively and sharing how - making transitions in pieces - playground body or babysitting
needs: a you-can-do-it partner - art strategy, future planing (how to how to know what I want and how to make that happen) - playground buddy - massage, body love - spontaneity - gatherings - more connections to curators and programers - more co-thinkers and projects
offers: specific knowledge (production, driving, sailing, traveling, DIY, service work, organization & coordination, financial management) - unpaid time
needs: housing - healthcare - good food - free, unorganized time - autonomy - money / resources / offerings that allow me to travel / further my education / access culture and arts - party - healthy sex live
offers: choreographic expertise, especially with object-oriented choreography - Feldenkrais - space for rehearsals and events - mentorship - performing - stage design - boat tours
needs: mentorship esp. with governance - babysitting - grandparents for my children - french library - somatic treatment - bike maintenance - organization and production management for the company - and finally, the dream of a fantastic institution: a space for conviviality and spontaneity
offers: administrative experience - getting things done - application writing - accounting - budgeting - 1-2 ears to listen - garden with a place to sleep - some network connections
needs: more knowledge with better strategic planning - good work life balance
offers: movement practice - experience of longterm artistic practice - time to listen - time in general - building working relationships - creating environments of commitment and trust
needs: getting faster - building structures of friendships - expertise from others which i don't have myself - develop more longterm thinking - time for productive daydreaming
SHEENA: wow, theres a lot of bodies / buddies [?] in the space
OLYMPIA: there is this book from Nancy Fraser and Rahel Jaeggi, which is called "capitalism" explaining the book they take this idea of the foreground and the background in every understanding of how society works. So you have production and reproduction. That's the most classical one. and they extend it to a whole bunch of different things like humans, and non humans, and nature etc. And I think this process has made really clear the enmeshed nature of the formal and non formal, like interdependencies or economies etc. that actually make the formal, more visible work that we do, actually possible.
SARAH: the first thing that came to my mind was, we assume scarcity all the time, but then when we go through all these skills we recognize all the abundance! usually the offerings are bigger than the needs, so it creates a surplus of offerings. and thats always a good place to start, thinking: what do we have extra? and its interesting, very often the offerings were bigger than it needs, right? So then it creates a profit of offerings. It should at least, if that's true; but of course it's not, because the need have roots that are deeper...
SABINE: listening to what you all said, it shifts certain logics what the different ways are how things could be combined... how to say? it produces a different landscape of what i initially thought. even art making shifts things.
SARAH: one more thing that I was thinking is: to hear all of the list creates this idea of reciprocity. i heard things that I could plug in, in order to facilitate Olympia giving free workshops to young folks. so then the aim is that the plugins are always oriented in a non-reciprocal sense, and very often to the outside of this environment. Which makes total sense. And it's one of the reasons to do things together.
SHEENA: has to leave - and announces her upcoming piece*
ALICE: now what we've been doing was to look at the tools, practices and resources. What we didn't discuss is the system.
OLYMPIA: thats interesting. because as soon as you start to frame something in terms of a union, then you're thinking about it in the context of a particular lineage of organizing. and that it couldn't plug different things in, in the same way. an interesting question is what kind of body / system / form of governance could hold more of these things?
ALICE: i thought of "nebenan", this website. elaborates on it* it's super local, just for each neighborhood, and you can write eg: I have a bike to give away, I need babysitting etc. - so exactly what we're speaking about. i've never used it. the problem is... actually no, there is no problem. but how to make it available so it goes beyond what i know. like an index? imagine there is only a signal group, where you get overwhelmed by messages?
CLEMENT: there was this experiment, this system of local exchanges, where they were replacing money by [inaudible] and then you create a kind of fictional money, and its functioning only within this environment, and so, in a local way, you avoid the regular money...
ALICE: but, sorry to interrupt, it starts from the idea that ppl are going to abuse the system.
CLEMENT: just to finish, the quality of it was that it was avoiding that there is only trades. So this was not like, I give you Feldenkrais you give me books, but i give you Feldenkrais, and then you can also benefit from your resources. i agree, it's not what we do, but it was a way of tricking the system, avoiding to pay taxes on this interactions.
ALICE: why you would create a currency, its to engage that ppl engage not only in taking, but also giving
OLYMPIA: i notice what you, alice, described happens a lot in Berlin, more than in Melbourne. sth about conviviality. ppl don't throw away their stuff that easily. what is it that makes these neighborhood, Kiez organizing things more likely to happen?
ALICE: my assumption is it might come from the squatters movement, i grew up in that culture
SABINE: i couldn't say for sure if this is true or not. but its also non-elitist. eg. in other places you simply wouldn't take a t-shirt from the streets. it also has its other sides. i think its rooted in the last 40y. before it became the housing problem, a non-growth oriented production way.
CHRISTINA: i think its also because Berlin was poor. after the war, there was absolutely no future. And so everything was cheap, like renting was cheap. nobody had the need to own anything. you just rent, and then you go to a new flat. it was less about owning, more about renting, and not needing the security. where i come from - south of Germany: whole different story. its all about money, mine, property.
SABINE: there is some kind of generosity here, yes, a sloppy generosity.
SARAH: i was thinking sth unrelated. sth that the union does is reminding the ppl of their working rights. the big mission that the union has is to be a reminder, to be an active reminder, so its educational. its almost romantic for me. my dad is a taxi driver, he hates uber, so the union fights uber with him, they hate uber together, uber wins, they become uber together. i was thinking about the fragmentation of the world that we live in, and in the field we have a strong individual position, and we suffer from the lack of clarity of how to come together. so i was wondering if an institution that clarifies that interdependence is rather educational, that works as a reminder. it could be a place or something that we all feed in, and build together in order to help ourselves, in order be reminded of doing the work of what do you need. And what can you offer? And redistribute the offerings and direct them to the needs to those who can offer? I think the qualities of our being an entity is very different from the union. so maybe we don't need so much somebody that defends our rights, but somebody that reminds us of how we function, in order to be empowered.
ALICE: it can be to value the underlying structures?
SABINE: but isn't the union more an entity that reacts? aren't they more of a Vermittler-Rolle? it feels blurry for me, whats the inside and the outside
CLEMENT: it's very hard to speak up for yourself, but the union helps you to do that.
SABINE: whom are we reminding? ourselves? is the reminder really valuable for ourselves?
OLYMPIA: the answer is: ourselves, but also the government. bc we are freelance workers, paid by public money, so it means we work for the government.
SABINE: so it's like we take your stakes...?
OLYMPIA: when i worked in a union, there was a policy that the union will help a manager against their manager, but... like, if there are three members, they will help the cleaner against the manager, and then the manager against the CEO. so it can also be a way of intervening in disputes inside us. in terms of reminding us of our position, I think that can be super useful. and unions also started schools, at a time when workers didn't have access to education. I think a lot of us actually could really use a bit of education about that - or at least a forum for discussion: that is run democratically by us, about who we are, where we stand and what our interests are. it's also a reminder to people that their interests are different from their bosses. I think that's something that people can get really lost in, especially in smaller workplaces, which are harder to unionize, which is also our workplace. But it could be a reminder that our interests are not the same as someone in a position of power, even if we might have a feeling of common humanity or conviviality. it can stop us from gaslighting ourselves into thinking that we're more powerful, or more powerless than them.
SARAH: for me, the union is a solution of an unevenness of power. even though i am not sure how well it applies to our context. it can also be called a fictional institution. but our problem is not conflict resolution, but distribution of resources, and transparent connection. with conflict resolution, it's true, but as entities that have their own self governance, then the mandate for conflict resolution should anyhow be sitting in the self governing body, otherwise we would overcome the autonomy of the self governing body.
SABINE: thats what i was wondering about
SARAH: but its fine, conflict resolution should be everywhere. or also passing on intergenerational issues. this group was very willingly composed by people that have experience in the field, people that have been running projects, and that at least employed people for a certain amount of years. That's how we made the invitation. we didn't want to invite young artists, bc we wanted to have different kinds of conversations. sth like a practice-based institution, across the field, that could keep track of these issues. so that not every generation has to go through it again and figure it out by themselves. this is one of the things that I hate and love about Berlin: I arrived in Berlin 12 years ago, and people told me, Berlin is over. And I don't even know who was before me, and then I meet people that have been here for 25 years, and they're actually my peers.
ALICE: i heard this when i moved here in 2012, and i still hear it now. that Berlin is over
SARAH: there is something about leaving no traces in Berlin. but you actually live on top of the work that somebody else has done before us constantly. but somehow, everyone who comes to this city has to start from the scratch. this is such a violent thing, it is such a failure of the left wing culture in the city, overcoming that would be so important.
CHRISTINA: i was wondering, does it always have to be an exchange? maybe getting away from the need and offer thing, but go to a different thing: negotiating interests. needs could also be offers.
OLYMPIA: we are talking a lot about it: this capacity, the need for something that would be an information, an exchange, like the operator on the phone? so often the stuff that is around ... like with Tanzbüro and their workshops for applications, and everyone's always saying that they have so much trouble with it, and then I did it. And I didn't know anyone in it. But also I don't really know anyone who's done that workshop. and people just don't know that it's there, even though they went to university next to it for two years. there is a big gap. People don't really know where to go for information.
SARAH: sth nice to do could be to question the existing things, and why do they somehow not function? And the community outreach. Community-wise is very hard. You don't meet them around. You don't know who they are. There will be many other ways to make it work better.
BARBARA: sometimes i also feel that laziness is involved. you also need to arrive. and of course you have to start knowing, but then also engaging.
CLEMENT: the question of the union was very present when i came in 2008. there was a union in France, and here wasn't, so we discussed it a lot. and it always comes back, like sth that would be nice to have. but also i hear from ZTB that its hard for them to make artists commit. it feels to me like a place where I stopped going because of these endless discussion about what could be. so i stay away from it. i have another desire, for smaller things that fit better in the bigger system.
ALICE: what makes it really nice for me here is that we are talking together as peers from different perspectives. thats different than going to an office where ppl have super specific knowledge. like i am sure i could profit from that workshop of Tanzbüro, but i also don't want ppl who have no idea from art creation to tell me stuff. maybe i'm wrong with this, but... I want to make the scene together, more in a collegial mode, and i'm still figuring out whatever concrete model would work for me. eg. a salon - if we could have a nice bar once a week and and just hang out there, have a happy hour.
CLEMENT: we tried sth like this: we had for each application round, like a week or two before, there was a space open for people to come together to write application, even people to advice for the writing. some people used it. but not so many, and at the end, you don't have time to go etc. what would be amazing is what you were suggesting before actually: you go to Fortuna to really have an office space. And then you will just meet people and you will work, that would be so amazing. That would be such a resource for everyone. I think it will be used a lot.
OLYMPIA: i need to leave... thank you and bye!
- "thank you olympia" *
ALICE: i was thinking about this with sheena: with all the ideas that have been mentioned, wouldn't it be nice to have a workshop moment, in the sense of working in little groups, in an open space format, and we could have all the all the ideas that were proposed there. and then people can come and say, this is one thing that I would like to figure out and just make it! just one day or two of actually getting a bit concrete.
SARAH: maybe we can close like this. as you know, backbone goes until December. every Wednesday, barbara and me are in fortuna, from 2pm-8pm. so everyone who wants to come to fortuna to think about the future, is invited.
CLEMENT: can it be a bit more concrete?
SARAH: we will write an email with some more infos next week. ppl can book themselves in.
SABINE: which future is it about?
ALICE: the future of backbone, but also individual support.
SARAH: the calendar is shared, you can book yourself in, and the one who is the first starts the session. and then we have another session in the beginning of December: 10.-11.12. in Sophiensaele, topic: research. we will have the Kantine, and there will be a party. and we want to try to continue it for some more months in 2023, and write applications for the next round. we want to go for Kulturstiftung des Bundes.
ALICE: its also an interesting frame. bc the Berlin scene is internationally so invisible, which could be an argument for the application, to make it more visible.
CLEMENT: there could be backbone in Croatia, in Brazil...
SARAH: ... backbone on the beach!
23, 24, 25 May 2022
PARTICIPANTX (over the whole period)
Alice Chauchat (she), Barbara Greiner (she), Clement Layes (he), Elena Polzer (she), Elena Rose Light (they), Gretchen Blegen (all pronouns), Julia Rodriguez (she), Laurie Young (they/she), Manon Parent (she), Maria F. Scaroni (she), Roni Katz (she), Sabine Zahn (she), Sheena McGrandles (she), Siegmar Zacharias (they/she), Tiphaine Carrère (she), Xenia Taniko (they/she)
Micha Tsouloukidse (he) - documentation
Alice, Barbara, Clement, Elena-P, Elena-RL, Gretchen, Julia, Laurie, Manon, Micha, Roni, Sabine, Sheena, Siegmar, Tiphaine, Xenia
STRUCTURE AS PLANNED
10h00 - 10h30 coffee + arrival
10h30 - 12:00 Between us (Roni)
Emphasize: Questions Problem, Case Studies
During the interview everyone chooses three questions
Bringing them into the group
12h00 - 13h00 lunch break
13h00 - 13:15 Touch and Consent (or lack thereof) practice (Siegmar)
13:20 - 14:30 Working in smaller groups / Getting Concrete - Case studies from the morning - expanding on questions of the morning (Alice)
COFFEE + ARRIVAL
ppl arriving slowly, in the beginning a bit of stress in the air bc the breakfast caterer had to cancel due to covid, but after some minutes of ppl getting stuff from the kitchen it gets relaxed and chatty
gives a review on the last session in radialsystem on individual practices; this time less structure, less input
ALICE: these three days are a preparation session.
BARBARA: we want to get concrete in this session. so we're gonna try to really collect concrete problems and questions, burning issues, we want to touch and go into case studies. the topic of ethics is very broad, so we don't want to just touch it on the surface.
ALICE: we want to go deeper with this issue.
BARBARA: you want to add something here?
ALICE: the idea is that in order to go beyond general notions, what is ethically good, actually open ethics as a place of problem. if we look at a concrete situation, we can unpack it and see why there's an ethical issue at stake. to separate it a bit from the making, that could be maybe more in governance, the making of rules, but also, what is the space for hesitation? how do we deal with the situation without refusing to take responsibility? this is why through everything, whenever concrete cases come to mind, note them down, so we can see what we feel is appropriate or useful, to bring forth and to work.
gives an overview of the day
on Wednesday morning, we can we can gather again and see what is needed, because last time we found we were left with so much and didn't have time to chew on it a bit more. But also this is a preparation for the whole year, and the preparation for something to hopefully build together. so it's just a way of how to get to know each other, because one of the things that came up is trust and trust building, so I guess all of this is contributing to getting to know each other in our differences.
on some practicalities, and suggests an introduction round
everyone says their name and pronoun
SIEGMAR: my pronoun is she/her, and I'm trying to build up the courage for they/them.
facilitated by roni
RONI: this is a performative format that I've been using to facilitate conversations in many different situations. i think it might be useful for us for generating content for the coming three days. So we're basically playing a game where we're having a collective conversation as a group, but it's happening by two people sitting on the couch talking to each other. And these two people switch. The other thing that is important is that the conversation is happening only via questions. it's a ping pong of questions. we're trying not to give answers by formulating questions. We're trying to stick with the idea of questions. how do we switch? if I wanted at some point to not not be here anymore, I want to go back to the audience, or when someone is asking me a question that I don't want to respond to, or I don't feel comfortable, or just I had enough, then I can just get off and come back to sit in the audience. then there's an empty space here. And whoever feels inclined, comes up. And it's nice if you're inclined to respond to the question that was just asked. So we're continuing the conversation. that's how to get on and off the stage. And if one feels, this is something I really want to go on talking about, then you can say hold, and then I'll hear the hold, I'll come down, and you'll come up. it's a bit about being attuned to when is the right moment for you to to join the conversation. and it's also a performative format. So I want to share with you the performative strategies: allow time for contemplation and silence. converse as if you'll be doing this forever, make yourself comfortable. oscillate between extremes, political, confessional, practical, philosophical, personal, social. Allow your response to the question to manifest in your body and your face. No need to hide anything or stay composed. Let these questions have texture through the voice. Let the sensuality spread in the space between us. Keep saying yes, follow the flow rather than diverting elsewhere. If you do direct somewhere, do it softly. Talk about things you care about. Put yourself on the line. allow doubt, self doubt and uncertainty. Use eye contact with each other in the audience. We are not looking for answers. Don't use a question to give answers. This is not about your opinion. Once in a while, allow yourself not to be concise to get lost in formulating the question, to think out loud to thread a few questions together. And there's an underscore to the performance: we're already friends, we want to get to know each other better. We allow ourselves to be intimate and to be seen that way. We assume intimacy, we constantly open up to each other and to the audience through the gaze, the physical posture, the content of the questions. So it's like a conversation among friends.
so there will be a lot of questions in the space for the coming 60 minutes. we want to ask you to note down the questions that resonate with you very strongly. You can collect as many as you want. It can be your own it can be other people's it can be questions that come up when you sit and watch and not necessarily something that has been said but something that comes up to you while you watch. we'll share them afterwards.
ELENA-P: do you know we share the same name?
ELENA-RL: can you pronounce yours?
ELENA-P: do you know the background of your name?
ELENA-RL: do names need to have some kind of meaning or ancestral linkage to have power in our lives?
ELENA-P: does magical thinking have a place in your practice - artistic, daily life, etc.?
ELENA-RL: when you say magical thinking, what do you mean?
ELENA-P: is there more to existence than can be explained by the current state of scientific analysis?
ELENA-RL: is this orange a planet?
ELENA-P: can you sit on it?
ELENA-RL: does your body determine its existence? how do you consider your body in relation to objects?
ELENA-P: If I'm in relation to the world, is it relevant that I always fully understand what my body is doing?
ELENA-RL: how can i stop thinking?
MANON: how can i see the right thing?
ELENA-RL: what is right in your spiritual world view?
MANON: what do you mean by spiritual?
ELENA-RL: what framework do you use to guide your decision?
MANON: how is the world organized?
ELENA-RL: do you organize the world?
MANON: do you think my world is as beautiful as this orange?
ELENA-RL: is beauty a guiding principle in your world view?
MANON: is beauty not a guiding principle in your world view?
ELENA-RL: when we say beauty, do we mean beauty in a western sense? is it possible to define it in an intuitive, personal way?
MANON: do you think beauty is connected to racism?
manon eats oranges and shares them with siegmar
MANON: would you like to have more than one?
SIEGMAR: how do you shift from scarcity to abundance?
MANON: when is the point when you feel full?
SIEGMAR: what could it be not to be full physically, but have the pleasure of higher distribution?
XENIA: what is enough for you? when is enough for you?
SIEGMAR: how do you determine limits - in your work, in relation to love, in relation to desire, in relation to future & past?
XENIA: are all of these things you mentioned connected - and how?
SIEGMAR: what would it mean to sense, perceive and act upon those limits?
XENIA: on a scale from 1-10: how much have you become aware of internalized ableism in your life in the last 3 years?
SIEGMAR: what is the last thing you didn't do you don't regret?
XENIA: how do you communicate your boundaries and needs with people you're not intimate with?
SIEGMAR: how do you build intimacy as a way to interact with the world, like in your work and with people that you don't have personal desires for or close connections?
XENIA: i go right?
ALICE: is action on the base of an assumed trust a trespassing of the others, does it make possible the actual building of trust?
SIEGMAR: if trust is not assumed, but earned, does it mean it comes from a place of scarcity?
ALICE: what is it that trust does not make possible?
alice starts eating an orange
RONI: what has not been made possible for you recently, in the last two weeks?
ALICE: if we don't build institutions, what can we build that can nourish and sustain a future?
RONI: are you asking that question from a place which is the same place where you said the other day there's no such thing as an institution?
alice makes gesture "its complicated"
ALICE: it's really hard to not answer sometimes
RONI: because you want to answer? maybe you can just tell me?
ALICE: how do you build sth that can sustain beyond your own person and relationships without an institution, whereas an institution lives from the people who carry it? sth that reaches beyond yourselves and your personal networks?
RONI: when does a structure become an institution?
ALICE: how do you call something that has enough stability and resilience to persist beyond individual commitments and relationships, so that it can be accessed by more people than the immediate ones?
SIEGMAR: how do you build these resilient structures without reproducing racism?
ELENA-P: why aren't we allowed to use the word institutions?
SIEGMAR: isn't it sometimes more interesting how things work than how they are called?
ELENA-P: Why was the word resilience and racism in the same question?
SIEGMAR: how would you call a bouncing back of the nervous system other than resilience and how would you call a bouncing back of a violent structure to itself other than resilience?
people are aaaaahhhhhing
LAURIE: how does vibrational thinking feel like for you?
SIEGMAR: sometimes i wonder how to sense the vibrations of, for example, the humming of the bees on the same level as the tension in the room, as the internal shaking of my nervous system, that then sounds in my voice and to ask, how can I be with that, and sense how that can actually make the conversation go in a different order. Or how can all of that be on the same level that enables something that is shaking - you know how in German there is a thing: when two joints are not fixed, one says it has "Spiel", so this thing of actually being clunky and having "Spiel" - how do we live like that?
LAURIE: how can a vibrational force that is a repetition of a movement back and forth can be a way to regulate nervous systems?
SIEGMAR: do you know that our nervous systems are completely interwebbed? how can I then not co-regulate you? and how can that be anti-racist work?
RONI: you can't leave
ELENA-P: would you like to leave?
ELENA-P: was i contributing care work?
SABINE: how would you describe care work?
MANON: how are you today?
SABINE: i'm still pondering about things on the last question... its really about words i stumble upon... what is the dimension between terms like boundaries and limits, what is it that they emit?
MANON: when was the last time your boundaries were crossed?
SABINE: how do you place this crossing / being crossed within your further action?
MANON: if i was taking your hand, would i cross your boundary?
SABINE: how can crossing boundaries open a door?
MANON: if you were to open a door to a new dimension, how would you enter?
MANON: are your dreams ethical?
SABINE: in which dimensions do dreams appear?
MANON: do you think setting up a fertile ground for dreaming could be revolutionary?
SABINE: through which situations or incidents does the way you want to set up XXX for dreaming change?
MANON: does feeling the wind on your skin change your minds?
SABINE: does working in certain situations change your worth?
MANON: do you think caring so much about work rather than life is ethical?
SABINE: how and where is it possible to distinguish the two?
MANON: are you your work?
SABINE: how much does work carry life?
ELENA-RL: what if we substitute the work practice for work?
SABINE: do we have to name them different forms of practice?
ELENA-RL: How can we do things in our everyday lives that push forward our value systems without transforming them into a codified system or mode of practice that can be commodified by the arts economy or the economy at large?
ALICE: would you like to exit the art economy?
ELENA-RL: How come every time the question of my personal relationship to the creative economy emerges, I imagine some kind of dichotomy between city life as entrenched in the economy and a rural communist lifestyle as outside of.
XENIA: do you think that the artistic economy and working in the arts is a gift economy in relation to the capitalist market?
ELENA-RL: who is giving the gift, and who is receiving it?
XENIA: when you go to the studio, are you giving sth or receiving sth?
ELENA-RL: is it valuable to imagine ourselves as self-sustaining givers and receivers within ourselves, or is it more valuable to imagine a collectivity beyond ourselves?
RONI: how do you choose the ppl you work with?
ELENA-RL: do you feel that there's a certain destiny/alchemy that bring ppl in your life?
RONI: have you ever gone through an artistic breakup?
ELENA-P: In terms of your question about collaboration, can we learn how to productively use the word masturbation in artistic practice in terms of satisfying our own desires?
RONI: do you know that this practice was originally about masturbation?
ELENA-P: it is wonderful to realize.
RONI: how do you feel about open calls with note about identity?
ELENA-P: do other ppl owe us their current word for their own identity? can we trust they are simply as they are? without privileging certain groups?
ALICE: are rules meant to be an economy on time and attention?
XENIA: did you just get up because you're getting upset and you felt your nervous system on an overdrive because speaking about racism in a round of predominantly white people feels like masturbation?
ALICE: do you think that your main motor of intervention is the feeling of being upset?
XENIA: has covid changed this pattern for you?
ALICE: which pattern?
XENIA: the pattern of attention.
ALICE: does having time help you to make better decisions?
ELENA-P: is it necessary to sit on that sofa in order to ask another question?
ALICE: how do we decide if breaking the rule is gonna bring improvement?
SIEGMAR: what would it be for rules to become an ecology rather than an economy?
ALICE: can we think politics rather than ecology?
SIEGMAR: can we think ecology beyond metaphor?
ALICE: how much do you repeat things that you have learned bc you know that they will function, and how much do you experiment bc you're interested in the unexpected?
SIEGMAR: Why is there an assumption that the unexpected is the unknown? And how can the unexpected be something that we know and how can the unknown be expected and how do we build community with that?
ALICE: in your garden, would you say that it's more about making the known common? [...] where is the knowledge? what is my question?
BARBARA: is there knowledge in the seed?
ALICE: is this a metaphor?
BARBARA: can a metaphor help you imagine a reality?
ALICE: How can we talk about something specific without allowing it to immediately represent something general?
BARBARA: can we go from the very general to the very specific?
ALICE: what did you had in mind about ethics when you came here today?
BARBARA: is ethics connected to values?
ALICE: are there some values that you claim as guiding in your life, and that sometimes tremble?
BARBARA: can trust be a value that can shake?
comes back in
ALICE: is trust a value?
BARBARA: can we build intimate relations without trust?
roni's phone rings - time is up
BURNING QUESTIONS ON THE WALL
RONI: each person can have four questions - the most burning ones
ALICE: also the ones that were not asked on the couch
manon writes the burning questions on the wall
ALICE: what was the last thing you did not do and what you regret?
BARBARA: when does structure become an institution?
SHEENA: what does trust not make possible?
RONI: are there values that guide your life, but sometimes tremble?
JULIA: how can we speak about something specific without making it general?
CLEMENT: how do we decide if breaking the rules brings improvement?
ELENA-P: do others owe you an explanation of their current identity?
XENIA: if we don't build institutions, what can we build to nourish and sustain the future?
MANON: does your body determine its existence?
BARBARA: how do you choose the people you work with?
CLEMENT: is assuming trust a gesture of abundance?
ALICE: how can a structure gain resilience, without becoming rigid, especially in its exclusionary mechanisms?
XENIA: is it possible to talk about ethics, without engaging judgement and disembodied discourse?
CLEMENT: how do you shift from scarcity to abundance?
RONI: can we think ecology beyond metaphor?
ELENA-RL: what are our motors for intervention, other than nervous system activation?
SIEGMAR: how do we build structures - how do we build institutions - how do we build cultures?
ELENA-P: is being in abundance a place of privilege?
XENIA: what is my question?
ELENA-RL: what is enough for you - me - us - them?
BARBARA: what does trust not make possible? - "it's there already"
MANON: how can the unexpected be something that we know?
ALICE: are boundaries and limits the same? are boundaries limits?
SABINE: how are boundaries connected to pleasure?
ELENA-P: why did the words "safe" and "security" not come up today?
RONI: let's have a look at the list and see if sth is missing.
ELENA-P: are your dreams ethical?
SABINE: how to build something sustainable beyond personal relationships?
RONI: shall we lunch?
super tasty food from Ana Conda in the sun and talks about community projects in the countryside
TOUCH AND CONSENT (OR LACK THEREOF)
facilitated by Siegmar
NEW PEOPLE: Gretchen, Tiphaine
SIEGMAR: the format basically developed within sex positive work and how to give and receive touch. we're not going to go into the whole history as a whole background, because a lot of that is actually discussable. Also on ethical grounds. but what is really nice and easily accessible, are the four formulations that divide the positions of giving and receiving. what is really beautiful in doing that is that it separates the idea of doing from the position of desiring. normally we think the person that does desires what they do. these two are linked, but in this situation, they can actually be two different motors. the formulations are: may I touch you on your knee? And then the person who receives the touch says, Yes, you may, or no, you may not. And the other active role is asking for a touch, would you touch me on my knee? And then again, the person who gives can say, Yes, I will, or No, I will not. So basically, those are the four formulations that we're proposing to practice. And the idea is to go into pairs. And first, please, let's do a round of No. So that we really sense in the body, how that feels, when somebody says no. the idea is to really take some time and think of what you really sense, or if you can find a desire so to say something that you actually mean. So that when you know you're going to receive a no but still trying to really ask for something that you would like. we just do that a couple of times. And then let's have have a quick check in how that felt and then we go to the next round. So hopefully the whole thing won't take longer than 15 minutes.
people are going to wash their hands - then find a partner
Gretchen + Tiphaine
Julia + Manon + Siegmar
Elena-RL + Alice
Sabine + Roni
Laurie + Sheena
Elena-P + Clement
Barbara + Xenia
ppl are murmuring, laughing
SIEGMAR: the aim is to come to the state that i can say yes. if that doesn't work, say no. it's about doing: say yes, and then feel it.
what people are doing: kisses on cheek, stroking arm, stroking neck, massaging back, touching knee, touching the face, hugging, tousling hair, putting legs on each other, laying on other peoples leg, tapping the back, laying on top of each other, hugging from behind, putting head on shoulder, laying next to each other, stroke hair
SIEGMAR: if people suggest sth, and you don't agree, you can suggest sth else - no, but...
what people are doing: seeing and touching tattoo, laying on the stomach of the other, massaging with elbow, generally a lot of MASSAGING, squeezing the chest, the arms, brushing the upper body, sitting on the lap, touching the head
SIEGMAR: let's try another round with no and see how it feels?
SIEGMAR: so then, how was it?
RONI: what I liked about the last round is how nice it feels to be so precise.
ALICE: it was sometimes complicated, i had to figure things out, but it was very interesting.
XENIA: it was interesting to start with the no, what was nice was receive a no with the same feeling like usually receiving a yes - it felt like the beginning of a cultural shift.
SIEGMAR: in the beginning I was getting nervous with the no. Like, what does that mean, for me? What does it mean for the other person? And then indeed, in the end, it was an option. And it felt comfortable to say no.
ELENA-RL: the hardest part was saying no, when i actually felt a yes - felt like a betrayal of myself.
MANON: it was very similar for me - it brings me back to circumstances with social pressure, where it's expected to say yes or no.
ELENA-P: not so much here in this situation, but usually, i don't really know if its yes or no - because i don't have the time. often i recognize it three hours later. How do you make that space in yourself? Or learn to make that space?
ALICE: We can also practice asking questions with signifying and meaning that we don't need an answer immediately.
SIEGMAR: another option - i really want to give an answer, but at the moment i can't. Yes i want to answer, but i really don't know. But but can you ask again?
XENIA: i can relate to that. when I said no, I felt more like I'm saying no to it now. And that felt really liberating. It did almost sth like decompress time. And so even if I say no to this now, it doesn't mean that I won't get it in the future.
LAURIE: there was something for me about saying no, but always having a smile on my face. I don't know if it's like a typical PoC response or this sort of oppression? No, actually no, but I present this as Yes. I felt that very strongly.
BARBARA: i liked saying no, but in a in a comforting way.
RONI: the more you say no, the easier it gets.
SIEGMAR:...and the more real it gets.
ELENA-RL: I also found when the other person's no's were genuine, or real, I felt better about it. I felt great. Now I really know. I felt agency and a sense of everything's out on the table. It felt like healthy transparency.
ALICE: It's easier to take a clear no because […]
ELENA-RL: exactly. I felt liberated by the clarity.
SIEGMAR: another thing that I find really great about this is that i say no just to practice, to not have to argue for it or have to prove a point.
ELENA-P: The harder part is when someone says no. To accept that. When you realize you formulated a question that wasn't a question. Would you do this for me? Well, that instead of saying I want you to do this, and then they go, No, but that was the question. Actually, I just assumed this is part of your job. [...] Both saying no to the question, and no to the statement. And then also, what does that mean, and how we are together? i have a friend who's constantly asking for things by asking, Would you like to do this? No. But if you need me to do this, I would. So then how do you formulate instead of do that, there's tons of rhetorical propositions, like, can you please, or I need you to do this? Or, you know, what are the escalations here, I am dependent on you doing this, or I would like you to do that.
SIEGMAR: would you like to do that vs. i need you to do this is such a difference.
RONI: It's so interesting to reflect on that in the work context, with calls, emails etc.
ELENA-P: I write emails where I either say, I need this - from you - until - because - if I don't get it by then this will happen.
ELENA-P: it's about giving back agency to both sides. I think what's important is can we find strategies how do we deal with this in unequal power relations? That's fine among each other, even fine among what's called the artists-producer relationship, which can also hold power imbalances, maybe less. How do i say: Impuls-Festival, no, you do not get your press text tomorrow. because you did not tell me so that you need it by tomorrow. I can do it by Friday. and not even asking it. I can do it till Friday. Period. this in such a power imbalance - what strategies do we all have with this?
MANON: This is bringing in the subject of threat. Threat. It's a huge thing.
SIEGMAR: But there is a difference between threat and consequence. And I think that's really important to make that difference that not every consequence is a threat. There will be consequences. Threat it would be if he talked to me that way: "I will never program you again."
XENIA: But there is an underlying invisible thread behind sometimes with those institutions, and sometimes it's hard to tell.
SIEGMAR: And some of them we bring in. [...] And I think that's really also a culture of how to speak with each other, and how to also peel off the layers of fear that all of us bring in.
ELENA-P: Also think of assumptions. what is an assumption? What is a fact - like somebody says, I need this by then otherwise, this deadline won't be met. That's a fact. It's there. We're just assuming they're not going to program us ever again, because people are not fulfilling their deadlines. That's an assumption. So I try to make myself ask more questions. And I also have tried to practice a compassionate curiosity. I have compassion for the other colleague, that there's a reason why they have that tone of voice, which is really getting me super pissed off. That has nothing to do with me. from a compassionate state, I'm also kind of curious why they are in that state. And that takes out the fear and the anger. To stay solid, in yourself, because compassion, like opens up a different state of being for yourself. And then you can say yes, and no, in a different way. You're not stuck in this emotional world.
SIEGMAR: And then where it becomes even more complicated when we're in a room like this, where there is differences in power relationships, but then there might be shifting from day to day or moment to moment. how to really cultivate a way of talking with each other and building something together? Where do we actually rehearse these openings? to avoid falling into patterns, these formalistic approaches help. we wanted to do this as an intro for the next session with smaller groups.
WORKING IN SMALLER GROUPS / GETTING MORE CONCRETE
SIEGMAR: get into smaller groups, select three of these questions and elaborate them with concrete examples.
RONI: also think about practices, or situations from your work.
SIEGMAR: let's do it!
SHEENA: three questions with three situations?
RONI: could be as many as you want.
ALICE: it could be also one situation.
SIEGMAR: it's about the conversation.
proposes counting to three to create groups
group starts counting to three
SCENES FROM THE SMALLER GROUP
FIRST GROUP: Laurie, Alice, Gretchen, Elena-RL, Xenia
QUESTION: what does trust not make possible?
ELENA-RL: I did a collaboration in nyc with a latinx colleague. i facilitated this exercise on desire. but my collaborator refused: this is your white privilege. so this game can't be played by all people at all times.
XENIA: when i'm not assuming trust, i am really comfortable with boundaries. whereas when i'm in a relationship, or with friends, i easily tend to say "i trust you".
ALICE: rules. what are the structures to set up to not wait for the crisis to happen? there's a lot of entitlement in relation to trust.
LAURIE: elenas case is a really interesting one. also thinking about this in relation with the wheel of consent...
ELENA-RL: i could add that in that moment, i asked them how to help, to support in that white-led theatre. i was like "fake it til you make it". and they were "i can't do that. and fuck you for assuming that i could do that". i felt like "shit, you're right, you can't do that". we talked very concretely about why my work had been curated, but theirs not. and it came really down to that affect. it's sth they didn't wanna feel. it came down to: until there's a different person in power, nothing's gonna change.
XENIA: the concept of trust isn't work. there's this "spiritual whiteness" - if just i come into the space and bring in trust, then there will be trust. but this is just wrong. it's not available to everyone.
LAURIE: what does trust imply? what does it actually mean? i have trust in people, but do i / can i have trust in institutions? is there a negotiation that i can participate in with agency? it's about an embodied lived experience of trust.
ALICE: i want to stay on this but bring in a concrete strategy, regarding this "we can't do anything until another person is in power". its developed by a group of artists in Zagreb. "whenever we meet ppl from the scene, we never speak about our own work, but just about other peoples work". in production meetings, after a theatre show etc. - to make the scene stronger! maybe that strategy can be remodeled in the sense that amplifies these discourses.
ELENA-RL: i really like that. but i've seen ppl overperforming it.
ALICE: minding the references! not making it about MY work, but work in general!
XENIA: trusting that it's not trustable.
ELENA-RL: that feels like a feminist killjoy vibe.
ALICE: what would it mean to collectively build radical distrust?
XENIA: in a way, that means just assuming that the system is super problematic. maybe not distrust...
ELENA-RL: ...but scepticism?
SECOND GROUP: Manon, Sheena, Elena-P, Siegmar, Roni
QUESTION: social justice practices
MANON: we are not a family, but a community.
SIEGMAR: culture vs. structure. how to build a structure that is build upon cultivating structure. what would it mean? once a month checking the temperature? who are the people who check on you, who remind you to do certain things? but also appreciating the people who are doing it! how can an individual practice become a collective culture?
SHEENA: it also depends so much on the intention behind it, the accountability.
ELENA-P: for me, there's two things. One is also, how do we build communities that people want to be part of without feeling like they have to? that's part of the accountability. the other thing is, I get this very weird sensation that we and ultimately more younger generations have this obligation to care, or obligation to take responsibility. And I find it really important that we honor it if we don't have the energy, like people don't keep feeling they have to pour from empty cups all the time, because that's the right thing to do. If you're not abundant, you're actually going to be not helpful.
RONI: these kind of conversations we're having now refill my cup, and that's sth I'm willing to do them.
MANON: ignorance is the most violent thing to do. for me to answer to somebody saying you did something wrong is still a way to engage. anger is a gesture of care.
SIEGMAR: conflicts always arises in moments of dependency. love is one of the strongest moments of dependency. i want to be here bc i value you for that, for this. Conflicts are so nourishing bc they don't have to be harmful, but they make me grow.
RONI: its a bit like the no-practice. And then it gets easier to do these kind of conversations.
ELENA-P: i try to learn how to value things that i don't value usually. its difficult to be "useless" for months, but i try to do that.
MANON: I want to talk about a situation, it was one of my main jobs. The production person was abusive, and it's nothing obviously threatening, but it's underlined. I observed that for many years. because there was this financial dependency on this project. very often I sucked it up, thinking if I say something i could lose the job, because she has a lot of power in the companies today. Half of the company didn't say anything.
asking sth about subjugation
MANON: there was no checking in there was nothing around these practices.
ELENA-P: by going to break open those terms, we can learn sth from the formal social justice processes. if both parties are part of the community, how do we bring both back in? So it's asking the so called victim, what would make you feel that this entity is whole again, and what would you need for that?
SIEGMAR: what structures can help in abusive situations? checking in, speaking up for others? what are the different situations were we can help others?
THIRD GROUP: Barbara, Julia, Sabine, Clement, Tiphaine
QUESTION: How to build something sustainable beyond personal relationships?
BARBARA: responsibility is a big word for me at the moment. i really rely on other peoples responsibility.
CLEMENT: in this question of trust, if you count on people who you don't trust, how to maintain the connection? how can we maintain the connection also when it's not going well? eg. with theaters? eg. in cases of crisis?
BARBARA: a very concrete example: in that moment where money came into the whole system which was so based on sharing and and trust the system collapsed, because then suddenly there were many different responsibilities entering the space. I had the feeling the whole base the project was built on was gone. so when structures change or situations change you have to adjust your structure or your values.
SABINE: i try to trust in concrete things - we have these agreements. friendship and personal relationship - they are sustainable in a longer term to facilitate things. that also touches the question why i don't put my artistic work in a university. not everyone can have good relationships with everyone. i am still putting a lot of work in space making. i decided that i don't want to fight for putting my work into a place. i'm organizing other things, but i don't put my precious, fragile things into spaces. what i trust is personal relationships. i don't trust other spaces. that's my question, are there ways where you don't burn your trust?
BARBARA: do you have good or bad examples?
TIPHAINE: i don't have clear examples, but more grey ones. its sth around being clear, allowing the ethics of relationship to be negotiated...
BARBARA:...making it a practice.
TIPHAINE: exactly. it can be based on many things like transparence, self-care, and listening to that. i don't think that there's one way. it's an intention. and knowing that it's compromised when you compromise. knowing that it can fail. its such a process and a practice, there's not one solution.
BARBARA: going away from assumptions to evaluations. Don't assume things are just happening. having a regular practice of evaluation. because in person relationships of trust, assumptions are usually right. but not with other ppl, where it needs to be practiced. So if you don't have this level of relation, another tool needs to come in, which is maybe evaluation.
TIPHAINE: For me they are good experiences that navigate around those topics. it's never 100% sustainable, but at least when there is room for that, it doesn't feel harming somehow, but when there is no room for that, then there is room for anything else that can be really... And I see, looking backwards there are experiences that fall in those two umbrellas somehow.
CLEMENT: if there's pressure, it can't be sustainable. and you can't create always a safe space for ppl. inside an institution, you see the work frame, you understand what ppl want, but outside, it's much harder to recognize.
Alice, Barbara, Clement, Elena-P, Gretchen, Julia, Laurie, Maria, Micha, Roni, Sabine, Sheena, Siegmar, Tiphaine
STRUCTURE AS PLANNED
10h00 - 10h30 coffee + arrival
10:30 - 12:00 Fake Political Therapy (Alice/ Siegmar) (big paper!)
12h00 - 13h00 lunch break
13:00 - 14:30 read together Anarchist Relationship manifesto + We Will Not Cancel us then cross-read them (all together or in smaller groups)
COFFEE + ARRIVAL
ppl sitting outside, drinking coffee, having cigarettes
BARBARA: Should we start?
gives an overview of the day
we're going to do political therapy today. And then we're going to gather what we did yesterday in the small groups. And then we were thinking to read the texts together and then discuss them, the texts are the "anarchist manifesto", and "we will not cancel us".
RONI: It's just a skeleton for the day, we can modify it.
SIEGMAR: Let's also collect things for tomorrow.
ALICE: I thought we gonna do a little report from yesterday? that could be useful for the therapy.
PRESENTING THE OUTCOMES FROM THE GROUP WORK YESTERDAY
SECOND GROUP presents: Manon, Sheena, Elena, Siegmar, Roni
RONI: we talked about how to bring in the question of social class into our conversations. How to make it possible to share resources, if that's even a possibility, what are the things we never talk about? In regards to money and financial situation and all the complexity that has to do with that? Because even if you have money from your parents, you don't necessarily have a good connection with your parents. its the complexities that come in with social class. And in relation to public funding. So how much do you apply for? How much do you take from what's there? How do you make it available for others? If you do? We talked about why we don't have a dancer's union. And how do you address conditions and how difficult it is to address it to your employee. And we were also talking about the assumptions that if you address it, then you'll maybe get fired. But also we don't know these things, but we are stuck in a fear mentality of bringing things up and... how to be outspoken without feeling that this will have a huge impact on your entire career.
SIEGMAR: also we spoke about how to interact with abusive relationships, working relationships, and what structures could be rebuild, or what cultures could we build around? Speaking from every position, so even if you're not the predator, or the so called victim, how can the other witness become an active role? And could there be a kind of culture of checking in, so that it would be something repetitive like once a month or there's a forum where these things are brought up and where we collectively can build structures of calling out and calling in.
RONI: we were talking about the emotional labor that it takes to do all of that and when is it something that also fills your cup or just empties it.
SHEENA: and there was the question of scarcity...
RONI:...yes, how to move from scarcity to abundance...
SIEGMAR: ...so that these are at the same time critical and building practices.
RONI: the point about it is some of these are individual practices, and some of it are collective practices. how do we do both and encourage each other also? as we keep on doing the individual practices, we also try to create a structure for ourselves that can encourage that and even if we just do it individually, how do we support each other with that? because even just like speaking up in a circle about something is already an action, it can be controversial, and you can have impact. so how do we hold that?
SIEGMAR: there was also an interesting point that came up about how to build critical mass not in numbers but in gravity. so if you would speak as a representative of Backbone, how to gather that gravity with regards to fair practices and with regards to a kind don't fuck with Backbone kind of thing. it's not a speaking for but it's speaking as Backbone or any other structure that we call Backbone right now.
RONI: i think that's it.
ALICE: that's a lot.
THIRD GROUP presents: Barbara, Julia, Sabine, Clement, Tiphaine
SABINE: we mostly spoke about the last question.
CLEMENT: ...the shift from scarcity to abundance, but we couldn't address it, so we moved to the last one.
SABINE: the relationship with friendship and trust, are these different things, how can relationships be sustainable? i wrote down: clarity. how can we build trust by being clear and build decisions? how can we be clear in our motivations in decisions? what's at stake and what not? maybe you want something else in the work, when you work with friends, and then it gets sometimes complicated, or there's this feeling of betrayal.
BARBARA: we also spoke about different contexts - art world, curators, friendships, not friendships, what we need in order to build relationships, uncertainty, fear, how are decisions made in this kind of relationships, not being always the nice artist who serves, and how this is connected with power.
CLEMENT: We were talking about how trust can be built somehow within the personal relationships. it's something sustainable, actually, because it happens that you have personal relationship, and there is also this insecurity, because it's not based on a clear contract, it's more something floating. and if it's with a friend, or if it's with a curator that you are close to, then this can change also.
BARBARA: we tried to find concrete examples...
CLEMENT: ...but its always a bit painful.
SABINE: it takes more time, in order to be truthful there would be a lot to unpack.
MARIA: For example, you've been doing (names big international festival). Everybody knows that (name of festival director) is an alcoholic abuser. On the other hand, everybody knows that he also mobilized miraculously this crazy amount of money to create a contemporary dance festival, which is a minor art extravaganza. So there is this paradox, you know, and I have it every year when I'm invited to teach, and I know the team and all these people who work there they're very kind and very passionate about what they do. And a lot of people get so much out of it. But there is this thing. Does anybody have a story about how to deal with them? how do you think it's this paradox of holding grief? how do you feel about it, because I feel weird. But on the other hand, I also need to work, I need to be paid, I love to do what I do.
ALICE: I want to make it even more complicated. everybody who works in that team, all these people suffered from the behavior in relation to power of (name of festival director), so he's mistreating his entire team. i had the discussion with (name of team member) every year. Why are you still here? And then it's exactly these things that you were speaking about before - it's still an extraordinary thing that is being achieved here. i always stay away from (name of festival director), except if I want to be drunk because then i meet him on his level. But it has nothing to do with working, also because I don't need to sell him pieces, because I don't try to show my pieces. that's where he has a handle.
RONI: I don't understand the last part you said.
ALICE: I think if you're an artist who is trying to tour works in (name of festival), and who is not in the attention row anymore, then you have to get to (name of festival director) and recite that you did show work at (name of festival). Yeah, well, that was a long time ago. maybe now it's happening a bit by chance. I have another story in relation to this.
MARIA: it's also the topic of accountability. that happened. it was a call out, it was around harassment and around racism, it's pretty big stuff. And he systematically refused to do the accountability. then what do you do with people who refuse accountability? You boycott. Yeah, but you cannot boycott because this is so powerful. so I feel like that went through, there was like this kind of situation...
SIEGMAR: there was an uprising. so then you can either take yourself out of the relationship, or you try to get them out of the relationship. And then you have to live with both consequences. And if not, it means how can you build alternative relationship situations with it? So if he is the mega umbrella, then how can you build the pockets underneath? But basically, I think if somebody completely refuses, eventually you have to do self care.
RONI: there's also the other possibility of really rising up and getting together a huge group of people and getting them fucking fired.
ALICE: close (name of festival).
MARIA: It's the same thing with Amazon - you have to find other shops, then you find other relationships.
ALICE: With (name of festival director) and (name of festival) - it's his private money every year, he gets himself from that. it is his festival, that's the joke. It's not just his fantasy about power, it's the structure.
CLEMENT: I was there, four times in different situations. And what's very strange for the students is, it creates something in the scene, which is very weird, you feel you have to mingle in a certain way, I always felt it's very difficult to be there in a quiet manner. this is sth we could discuss, how to encounter these kind of spaces, because there are a lot actually, without being so damaged by it. Because I was always like, either I try to engage and actually slowly get disgusted by the situation, or I'm separating. But then I also want to belong to that scene. could we find ways, by talking about it, how to engage in a way that is satisfying for us? to open up about how it feels to be there, how it could change a bit, a feeling that I will not be alone, more supported, maybe that's one way to also improve, without having to make the big gesture of calling out.
ALICE: oh, it's done, every year, part of the thing is also to accept that it's important to keep on calling him out, he will always say "Go fuck yourself", but he will still not close shop, but there is no way to go there and not have your feet really deep in the mud. But it's interesting, because when I was listening to you, I was thinking of counter cases, like positive examples. And they also exist and I think we need to... in order to speak about the same thing.
SIEGMAR: but that's always the case in abusive relationships, that there are counter examples.
ALICE: noooo i don't mean that, i'm thinking of other people, not (name of festival director).
BARBARA: good festival practices.
FIRST GROUP presents: Laurie, Alice, Gretchen, Xenia
ALICE: i think we started with trust?
LAURIE: what does trust make not possible? it seemed to gravitate towards institutional trust. elena [elena-rl] brought forward a case, from Brooklyn, a space in nyc, they were working with a latinx performer in a workshop space. And basically, as I understood, the Latin X performer did not feel welcome in this space. And that was a new experience. And I didn't quite understand why not. And they were like, well, this is a white space. And I've encountered prejudice here, and I can't relax here. I can't just fake it till I make it. I don't want to fake it, I want to be seen. So that became one case that we kept on circling around.
ALICE: Elena [elena-rl] was was reporting this, just assume trust, you can trust that if you pretend it will become true, whereas the collaborator would say, No, but it won't. I can't do this in that way. And and then we were speaking a lot about exactly what are the assumptions around the the way we speak about trust, you have to give trust, you have to invite trust, and so on. One thing I think you said, that distrust reveals the power structures?
LAURIE: it's an invisible mesh. And actually come also coming from your practice of the consent work, like, what happens if we honor the fact that I don't trust this institution? what is that the inner bodily feeling like this is not good. what does it reveal? honoring this intuition - they haven't proven to me that they can be trusted. Why not? What are the parameters where I need to be where trust can be developed? it's interesting to think about it in terms of friendships or long term relationships, you can build on that there's this kind of balancing of give and take, that can happen in these invested relationships. But what happens if you don't have that and you just have to trust this institution. going back to this bodily sensations.
ALICE: also the possibility to to approach this as a source of information and not only as a problem that should be fixed, to think that maybe what should be fixed is not the lack of trust, it is the reason for that. and then, how about practicing radical distrust, not as something of being against everything but just another way of being attentive.
SIEGMAR: the phrase of radical distrust - physically i get a feeling that this is dangerous - because i think thats whats happening all around us already. from a physiological and neurological point of view, trust is the thing that lets us experience safety. if that is destroyed, or if that is disappointed, or that gets cracks, and we start experiencing the lack of that thing... the only reason why I'm saying this is, I wouldn't call it distrust, I would call it criticality, or being attentive or really transparent etc., but I find to bring it to distrust, and to put that as a value, that's what all these practices of exclusion are about.
ALICE: everything you say makes sense, but on the other hand, we were trying to wrap our heads around asymmetry and inequality and how to change this and how to change the fact that some people, we will have resources for the possibility to assume trust in a way that other people will find it much more difficult and that this is a standard.
SIEGMAR: if we're building culture and language, then distrust is not a word...
LAURIE: a reference that came up was feminist killjoy, the melancholic migrant, the unhappy queer - language is really important here, but it's about understanding what these imbalances, hierarchies are.
ALICE: to get away from the loneliness - what can be a solitary practice? trust is related to safety... merde what was it? what is the word?
SIEGMAR: queer migrant
LAURIE: maybe it's about im unhappy because i can't trust, and how can i be happy?
SIEGMAR: maybe it's also about unpacking what we mean by trust - do we mean the same thing?
ELENA P: i was listening about this, i didn't find it so helpful for my work. Why are we immediately talking about having to have this intimate relation of trust, for example in institutions? I'd like to introduce the words expectations and assumptions. If we can all learn to be very explicit about our expectations of each other and our assumptions of what the other is going to do for us, or we're gonna do for them, then that starts to build a basis that will be clear. And then there's no disappointments happening. Because how is the other person supposed to know what my needs are? it's a little bit more of a non emotional, pragmatic approach. trust is this huge thing... it's a little bit more pragmatic, and it's about negotiating. i would like to shift that as a possibility - not immediately going to trust relationships.
RONI: it's about being trustworthy - there are actions that need to be taken in order for me to trust.
ELENA P: if you have a negotiation of expectations and assumptions, and then they agree to something and don't fulfill that, yes, then we're moving on to the next discussion about trust. but it's not immediately on the table. I want this, I give this - there is going to be a gap in there all the time. Talk about the gap openly, people become trustworthy to your emotions.
ALICE: in this example of the workshop we talked about - there were two young artists - how do you present your work and gain interest from the theatre? so before there was even the possibility that they would want your work, the question was "how to make them see you and be interested". and then the one collaborator was like "we just go pretend and feel very self assured", and then the other was: "I can't. you know, they will not listen to me in the way they do to you". it's another modality that is not accessible to me in the same way. And it's very concrete.
ELENA P: from what you're saying, I don't hear the fault immediately, automatically with the institution. I don't think it's anybody's fault. it needs a lot more spaces that we don't have currently to acknowledge that there is racial trauma, there is gender inequality, there's all kinds of things which inhibit people's ability to just say here I am. obviously, they've had experiences where they think, and probably rightfully so in an American context, that they will not be heard. They also haven't first found out if the institution does it, it's completely different if they've been there before and already experienced an actual bad behavior, and then they react, I think that's a difference.
SIEGMAR: But this is again pointing towards victim and doer, and what I really think - the responsibility is how to develop cultures of all the ones in the space of the witnessing. and then there's another term i want to bring in - its used by somatic evolutionism, but also adrienne maree brown, it's called the Speed of Trust. I find that super interesting, because it doesn't see trust as a quantifiable identifiable thing. But it says, there is a temporality to it. And there is practices that need repetition. it's also not enough to do one round of consent and say, oh, now we all consent to the situation. But to actually find out, on how many different corners do we actually have to check in again? so I'm trying to avoid the word trust, which means that people, everybody in the room can ask, I need a check-in or I would like to suggest a check-in, maybe I don't need it, but maybe I'm wondering whether somebody else needs it? And then what is this format of the check in? first of all it's about how to find the repertoire of practices that are good for this group. Because it's different in every group. so we don't need to have a generalized universal facilitator thing, it's just for this people in the room and then to start practicing them in repetition.
MARIA: i wonder... these things really changed my life, its about practice practice practice. But I'm very skeptical when we are talking about the art context, I think it's a change that I wouldn't see in my lifetime. I'm negative in that sense. that's probably what fuels me or my relationship to art making per se. I feel that there is a field of good intentions, but it is not possible within the freelance lifestyle, like cycles of exhaustion and overwhelm of trying to make these collective things, but the collective is unbearable, if you're not very well resourced. so I wonder, I come in and out of this. what are my expectations? once I go and work with (name of choreogrpaher) I’m like, forget about it. Doesn't exist here. but other things exist that can compensate for some sense of belonging, leaning in, but I have to negotiate with myself a lot, and then find two good colleagues, that I can have that. but it's not the thing.
SIEGMAR: i agree, but I don't think it has to be universal. its like, I know, I'm not gonna get there. And yet, if I do want to keep making work, how do I negotiate my being in this thing? the arts scene has so many different layers - like i can be okay with this layer, engage with this language like that? but I do need people and things that resource me.
RONI: exactly. maybe you have another circle where these things do happen, this can also feed you and then when you go to your other spaces, like another professional context where the things happen, this gives faith.
ELENA P: for me it's a problem of scalability. Can you do it within 20 people, we can do the 60? where's the breaking point? I would almost call it where it starts to dissolve again. and then, as a person who's able to trust, how can i also open space for ppl who don't have this ability to trust? like somebody who's young and says, based on my past experience, I'm not able to trust anybody anymore. I can't get past a certain trauma or something, or am super introverted. but then, how do I make communities and spaces that also include people that I don't even know how to find them? how do I reach out my hand blindly into the dark?
says sth about saving
ELENA P: it's not about saving, though. It's literally like opening a door. I was thinking a lot about my own closeness or not. It's not wanting to save anybody. how do I make the community in a way that everybody inside, including myself feel safe, while also making sure it's open enough that people feel okay. Coming in, for example, in a community that's already existed for two years, which has its own little internal talk, and then it's hard to enter.
BARBARA: this also relates to personal relationships in institutions, you are working with people you do not necessarily have personal relationships. how do you establish a certain culture of trust? Or how do you establish concept of openness? you need to establish different means, like evaluate your action. it gets harder in an institution, I think. that's why there's always this conflict: the dramaturgical team can be very aware and open and then you engage with the administrators team, and they have a very different approach of how to speak with you.
RONI: i did racism last year.
ELENA P: That was great example of our small group that had an internal joke. So let's open up the jokes that everybody hears them. i was telling the story from the stitching textile art community, where one woman randomly said, oh, yeah, I did my anti racism work last year. first i left it there. And then very gently later spoke about how I believe my own anti-racism work to take years and it's ongoing and it's continually repetitive and the problems keep happening and you just stay with it if you're white enough to stay with it. And she did hear that, I could see her face. that's a story about being accountable for each other with gentle reminders and compassion. But yeah, I did my racism work last year.
ALICE: wow, the room is full of unsolved, at least processable, issues. today we want to bring in a practice developed by a group of people, which Valentina Desideri has been developing and carrying around, and it is called political therapy. So we propose to practice that for ethical therapy, since that is our word here today. the basic form is actually a one-on-one thing, and there's a few underlying assumptions. First, the patient does not actually need to be healed. Second, the therapist does not have particular powers. The third i can't remember. now this is a card deck for fake therapy. its online, you can print a pdf and glue your cards. we gonna do it in a group.
SHEENA: where do you find it online?
what we need is a problem. in a group like this it could take some time, but we need this one problem. that will be the first step that we will aim for: to define together in the most concise formulation possible a problem that we want to engage with, something that we identify as an ethical problem...
SIEGMAR: ...in the form of a question.
ALICE: the one playing therapist plays the deck, uses it about guidance. the guidelines are: enhance what's already happening, constraints about time, relax your whole body, become a channel of energy and keep your spine long, keep the back of your neck open and relaxed. the person who has brought the problem lies down and embodies the problem, the other person uses the card as guidelines to give an intuitive treatment, focuses not on the specific person but as a carrier of the problem. So the main focus is not so much the problem, but what's actually happening between these two bodies, and to pay attention towards whatever is happening, for duration of at least 10 minutes. then the therapist decides when its done, and then discuss what happens, and then have a discussion what happens, always based on the experience. And then both will discuss what happened? When was the experience? where did you feel sth, at which moment is something passing your mind? that is a long discussion that can go in many, many directions, but always encouraged to read it through the experience of the treatment.
SIEGMAR: normally we do it 1:1, we split up in groups of two, do it, then we come back, with the embodied experience we speak to the person. it doesn't have to be that you have to think how am I embodying all the social injustices of the world, but what has does it feel like and where. so for example, if there is heat accumulating or blockages, so how do you speak from what you actually physically experienced to the question in the room? we see what that does.
ALICE: and we will all use the same four cards?
SIEGMAR: no, different ones.
ALICE: the biggest challenge will probably be to articulate the problem, or the question.
ALICE: in the meantime, we could talk about positive examples. i had Agnes Quackels in mind, she is now the director of kaaitheater in Brussels, but she also used to be a producer. and i also want to mention Jacopo [Lanteri]. for me these are people who are really at work, who want to find ethical relations with the artist, with the people they work with. with Agnes its really interesting and amazing, we are quite friendly, but she never programmed me, and it was never weird. that because I always could feel there is a natural, genuine interest. And there's zero problems. thinking of yesterday, we were also experimenting with receiving a no, and that it is so much easier if the no is very clear.
RONI: also, am i my work? there's a difference between you and your work. sometimes people are interested in you and they're not interested in your work. And how do you sit with that? what can grow from that? What can happen from that place?
ALICE: And then it's also possible that something becomes really interesting. there can be redirection. then instead of being in a seller-buyer relation, which can be really flat, it becomes a collaboration, as being being in the scene together. but it takes time. our job is not only to make deals, it is to actually nourish an interest that we all share and then to understand where it is and in which way.
CLEMENT: how could we ask a question here that goes towards sustainability? I don't know how to formulate it, but it is interesting.
ALICE: whatever you identify as a political problem.
CLEMENT but then it's lack of sustainability for me. Because this feeling of floating constantly, you never know, if something's gonna happen, or not.
ALICE: I wonder about precarity, precariousness now. I know both problems, but then for me, they're not exactly the same. precarity is existential somehow, whereas sustainability is about the possibility to build and to develop and also to pass on. maybe precarity tends to be very personal, it's experienced individually. Whereas sustainability is something that is more collective, sth that is not dependent on your individual conditions. but let's do some rounds of questions now.
RONI: maybe people need time to think about their questions?
ALICE: maybe we do several rounds with questions, where we circle back, and people can also repeat questions, so maybe we arrive like this?
ELENA P: can i propose a visual for this? everyone writes down a word and puts it in the middle, so things can be mapped, moved, removed, added etc. its more physical like this, we would build a map.
people are writing down their questions, putting them on a giant piece of cardboard, walking around, looking at the proposals, chat
RONI: let's continue.
ALICE: we do rounds, while we repeat our questions, or reformulate it, or take over another questions.
RONI: how can we develop trustworthy relationships in different temporality and scales?
ELENA P: i'd love to hear every question once.
SHEENA: my three key words: expectations, sustainability, community accountability - and the constant feeling of being alone in collective work - what do we really share, what are we committed to, how can we be accountable?
LAURIE: what is Backbone? how can we build truly intersectional spaces?
SIEGMAR: what kinds of supports are needed - without assuming it? how can i develop practices of accountability towards others, but also towards myself?
BARBARA: what about responsibility - my own one, but also towards groups?
ELENA P: i determine my own identity. to explain that: i feel this relates to lauries desire - i like spaces that allow that I do not make assumptions about the person entering about who they are. so thinking about processes of inclusion and exclusion.
ALICE: how can individual experience and collective practice inform each other? this brings the question of institutionalization - should individual practice be institutionalized?
JULIA: how to be more radical with ones personal ethics, that they could be expanded towards a collective?
MARIA: i thought of precarity - what is the expectation towards art from where you come from? how does exhaustion get acknowledged? we are embracing the glitch as normal. how to refuse flow as a sign that things are going well? the non-flow is maybe a symptom to recognize that things are not being normalized. it's like a holding of a paradox between particular symptoms.
SABINE: i wrote down generosity and / in clarity - how to maneuver clarity - and how to utter things that are not clear yet to be formulated? this goes in the direction of sustainability in the long run.
ALICE i like it, and i want to ask: how can we actually build a truly intersectional space? also in relation to language?
ELENA P: something that constantly disturbs me in our spaces, that we need to have a need to agree in a language. And this isn't actually everybody's language, and that's not okay. And English has its own history and its limitations, whereas other languages would open up other's hearts first. we also have german, french, italian, japanese, spanish... if somebody has a different word that more aptly brings in aspects that the English language is not capable of expressing?
SABINE: maybe even saying things in your own language?
CLEMENT: i put sustainability - everything is uncertain, but can we build structures underneath that counter this feeling of lack of sustainability?
ALICE: can i ask if it is a question of artistic growth, finances, or general wellbeing?
CLEMENT: i had a lot of traumatic experiences in the last years, never knowing what will happen, it creates a feeling of unsettlement. for me, it's a lot about creating. Yes, relations that create stability.
ELENA P: i hear two questions: lauries question around intersectional spaces, and the question of sustainability & accountability.
SIEGMAR: some people haven't even said their questions.
GRETCHEN: my question is very much related to accountability and responsibility - how to invite it, but not police it?
ALICE: invite accountability without policing it?
GRETCHEN: yes, exactly - touching on it but also not touching on it - both micro macro.
MARIA: i feel super stressed about this thing of raising a question - i need people to ramble in order to understand the backstory of the experience.
ALICE: maybe we can "re-flesh" the questions into concrete cases.
SHEENA: the case-studies and concrete scenarios really help.
ALICE: lets pretend we know what the question is, and after lunch we come back and embody it...
SHEENA: ...and the question is?
ALICE: sth is forming itself around there... aller lets go to lunch.
again, super amazing food by neue häute, and super amazing casual talks about housing in berlin
PART II OF POLITICAL FAKE THERAPY
ALICE: so we know what the problem is, we gonna get past it, can some of you come with a concrete case? then i suggest we pair up, one person explains it to the other, then we embody it, and then we pull four cards, lets all have the same cards, and then the patients will lay down. And then we will come back together and draw a map where we will be talking from our experience of either receiving or giving the treatment and through through this start to find ways of thinking about the problem.
LAURIE: what is the actual exchange between the two people?
ALICE: let's say you have a concrete problem, then you lie down, let it fill your body, and the therapist then looks at the four cards, connects with their intuition, and gives intuitive advice.
RONI: so we share the concrete examples in the pairs.
TIPHAINE: each group will have their own example.
keep your spine long and the back of your neck open and relaxed
relax to the point that you might be falling asleep
become aware of your energy in the centre of your body
pass your hand a centimeter away from your partners body and notice the shifts of temperature
people are gathering in pairs. the patient explains their problem/situation, then lies down on a blanket, the therapist starts to apply the treatment
things that are happening: passing the hands a centimeter away from the partners body and notice the shifts of temperature, stroking the limbs, covering the head with a hand, massaging the feet, pulling the feet, laying on the patients shoulder/arm/neck, patient gets rocked on the hips/arms/upper body, touching feet/hips/legs/ankles/knees/fingers/calves, shaking and stretching the arms, softly rocking the legs, applying pressure on the hips/shoulders/legs/knees, bending the knees and softly moving them, putting hands under the shoulder blades
also the therapists are laying down on their backs, doing some relaxation, while the patients stretch
people are gathering in a circle again, alice arranges the notes on the cardboard
COLLECTING THE EXPERIENCES
ALICE: in the classical form, we would write the question in the middle, but we can stay in our pace. describe specific things that you perceived, and we will see where this leads us.
SABINE: do we name the question, the concrete experience?
ALICE: if you want to... we will just invent something now.
SABINE: there was a physical situation where i felt... there's a german term, "sich dazugesellen", for me it corresponded to what has been addressed, it was very physical: i'm here, but also myself. it felt like i was "mich dazugesellen" to the situation she described.
ALICE: as a physical process?
SABINE: yeah, it was a physical situation... and it felt like i can "mich dazugesellen" in that situation.
ALICE: it's interesting you were not laying in the same direction.
SABINE: yes... it had a different bodily direction, the configuration looks very different.
ALICE: it's not an instrumental relation.
SABINE: yes, it's more like a chain, they go like this
sabine illustrates something
elena shows the thing she's knitting on, its a perfect illustration of what sabine described
ELENA P: i'm following up on this...
describes the knitting process, and what happens if you pull on it
ALICE: So whenever it's constructed, it's a volume. The moment you undo it, it's just a line left.
continues to elaborate on the knitting process
when i was laying there, i began thinking about my way of mending. theres two common ways to mend a hole. first, you can put a patch on top, then you hide the problem underneath. the only way to see what was originally the hole is if you would turn the garment inside out. So actually you're subverting its intention, or also its actual use. I don't like that. I like to do the second, more labor intensive process of building up the fabric, again from itself so you're weaving into it so that the mend is not on top as a layer, it is in it which allows that you could see the previous hole and it is somehow a strengthening of the original fabric. It's much more intense, like a much more exhausting process. I was thinking about these two while being held.
ALICE: whatever you hear, you can write it down on the map.
MARIA: in italian it's called rammendare. it's from a profession which doesn't exist anymore, my mother used to work as one. she had a laundry and we had all of these different people who would do certain fabrics and put them in pairs... i received the hands and holding, and the question was "how to change the paradigm from one-ness and flow to disruption", but also how to learn to find it revitalizing rather than frustrating or exhausting. and then the topic of friends and lovers come up, or strangers in dance workshops, and how dependent i am.
people are writing things on the map
ALICE: i kept coming to the question of adjusting in relation to comfort. [...] first there was a lot of adjusting, towards myself and also roni, and then i decided to stop doing that. adjusting in relation to my understanding of comfort, and in relation to what the other person is comfortable with - and how to make that truly intersectional. it was interesting for me that comfort became an important physical path in this exercise.
ELENA: it reminds me that the words safety and security didn't come up yesterday...
ALICE: ...but they came up, in the smaller sessions in the afterwards.
ELENA: it's just observing where they surface, and in what discussion.
ALICE: it's about a possibility with comfort and adaption, not a beauty or so.
people are writing, others are walking around and looking at the things written
ELENA: may i add one more? while i was laying there, i and others had a desire to be held, which could be called mother/parenting, and it is not a contradiction that at the same time they resist that, and accept that, and also hold space that it is ok to not expect others to do that for you. it's a mix of accepting the need, while not necessarily fulfilling it. i used the word mother not in a gendered way. its a certain behavior that everyone has, benevolent and nurturing energy, accepting that we all have that need, we need it fulfilled from the outside, but the question is where to place it.
SABINE: i recognized i need some kind of being hold, and sometimes i catch myself thinking what am i thinking here, can't there be someone who will just hold me, never knowing if sth could be over by tomorrow already... but also, recognizing we live in a neoliberal world, so this is how things are. the good news is we made it that far, the bad news is this is the world we live in. but accepting the need is something else and accepting the structures.
ELENA: it's about accepting the need, and also accepting that it applies to everyone. when someone can provide sth, this only applies to the now.
ALICE: i am encouraging you to go back to the physical exploration, and continue the same conversation from there.
JULIA: i was trying to articulate the problem, or the question, and i recognized i couldn't get to sth. and suddenly sth happened, i kept having conversations with myself, but then also thought that maybe Gretchen is having an internal conversation too. where i want to go is what was really nice is, the need to hold on to language and operation wasn't operating fully, because sth else was happening. And I was not directing that towards sth like she's taking care of my problem, what gretchen was doing could apply to any body. it was a way of unfocusing. and i came up with two words, urgency and connection.
ALICE: do you remember what gretchen was doing when those words clarified?
JULIA: one came when she didn't had her hands on me, the other came in the middle, it had sth to do with the knees.
GRETCHEN: from my side, there were two topics, first it was rather meta, but then it became very concrete and allowed me to focus my energy more clearly, and the meta was more of a holding, trying to hover with that. i feel we're speaking a lot about this hovering together. And then the more concrete the examples get it allows us to connect.
ALICE: i wrote "connection through concrete situations", i also heard "in the general state", it were two kinds of connections.
ELENA: i want to add "hovering together".
ALICE: the connection with these individual situations happen when they get collectivized.
LAURIE: i was thinking about the word flow while i was with maria, what bodies can flow through space, when is flow interrupted, met with resistance, but i was also hovering, i couldn't really land, because she was thinking in polyrhythms laughter so i always returned to the feet, to feel grounded, land, trying to understand the relationship to the ground.
ALICE: it's interesting that you just returned to the feet as the place that grounds. you said through which you can feel the rhythms. it's not that first you need to be grounded and then you can go and sense it, but from the ground you can sense it.
BARBARA: i can connect to a couple of those things, this thing of having the feet on the ground, in safety situations, holding, stretching, making your body grow, and on the other side holding your head. how can we create this safe spaces, situations when we feel insecure?
TIPHAINE: I felt with this practice in the room and this moment in time, that opened space for healing in that moment in relation to everything that we are busy with all the time. maybe the power of being there, not doing anything, balancing the risks. just feeling your intention - it doesn't have to be perfect, but being intended was already good. it was recovery time.
ALICE: you were the therapist?
TIPHAINE: i was the receiver.
ALICE: can you describe this again?
TIPHAINE: the feeling that i was intended, not having to do anything, going back to my body, allowing me recover. maybe it doesn't solve my initial problem, but there was sth else that was good enough.
BARBARA: i could make a lot of money, by a ten-minute session.
ELENA: i want to pick up on a very calm statement - you said, it wasn't really therapy. but also the therapist is not always right, they have good and bad days. and institutions are the same. so accepting that even structures are right sometimes, and wrong sometimes.
ALICE: but this is why it's called fake therapy: it's both calling in an intention and pushing away the idea that sth needs to be fixed. there is no diagnosis, theres nothing wrong, and also taking away the power relation. in professional situations there's also the trust in skills, which is not happening here, we just make good relationships. it's like playing those positions, and in the same time holding back from playing too well.
ELENA: in our relationship to institutions, we do this every day: we assume they have certain skills, but in my experience they often don't. And they're much more sick than I am. so I'm wondering about this and these desires, and how we build different structures that we wish ourselves to be more helpful than the ones we're surrounded by. it's extreme to say, but the sickness from the institutions keep seeping into us.
SABINE: i'm wondering about the container, the 3D of a thread thats being woven, a container thats being prochained, the thread could be undone, it doesn't have to stay in the container, thats the problem with institutions, all the disappointment that comes along with that. i'm also wondering about the sustainability of this, if this can be in the process of changing, gets undone, instead of being "verknotet".
ALICE: to stay with that metaphor, but change the perspective: it has a predetermined volume. but what if the institution is a membrane, that adapts through that what one's go through. then the membrane might be like a chain of of people and relationships, and it can still be an institution. The reason why I always bring this word again and again and again, is because I'm becoming tired in this moment in my biography with the labor that's at the very beautiful but short life of collective self organization. can we hold each other without all of this that is really draining? you see it on the face, the people who are very engaged in these kinds of things, everybody is exhausted. can we turn around and think okay, then maybe it is not that we have to stop working towards the collective as well? there must be a form that becomes a little bit less of a matter of who has the good strong shoulders and the hooked elbows. can we create that chain with more...air...? I have no idea. But these are the desires.
ELENA: I wouldn't think about that word because I live in a continual collective working structure, with the difference that it is one of the few collectives that does not consider itself artistic. I wonder sometimes if this is the difference, there is something about artistic and ego.
ALICE: can i jump on your boat? i'm also engaged in a house project, and the people who put on the most stress are the artists! it's all skill from building projects. its relaxing when it's often not the entire group. And then when you just have people who go to their work in the morning, there's a very different call, which doesn't mean they do nothing, but they have very little ideas to inject into really making things different.
BARBARA: that brings in the question of functionality.
ALICE: exactly: functionality, and what is good enough?
BARBARA: is it very clear what you're doing?
ELENA P: actually not anymore - its very open, its very sustainable. its including even artist members meanwhile. the membrane is getting stretched. On top of that, we didn't have revolutionary ideas and structures. is there a story we need to let go, or re-tell? like with marias case, that collective work is always so exhausting? where can we find joy?
EVERYONE: we dance!
RONI: going back to the body.
EVERYONE: yes absolutely!
ELENA: i'll leave this resource here.
puts a book in the circle
OUTLOOK LAST DAY
ALICE: there is no plan for tomorrow, just options, but there's so much in the room from these days. and repetition is always great. everyone have that in mind to figure out about what we will do tomorrow.
BARBARA: it's a preparation. we can also think about how to bridge to the next session in september.
ALICE: thats a really good point. we thought about this in the preparation: how can it be more sustainable? what are we even preparing for?
LAURIE: my question was genuin: what is Backbone?
ELENA P: i would like to hear your answer, barbara.
RONI: i find your answer not so interesting anymore, barbara.
RONI: no, i don't mean it that way. it was about making space. and now it's not about that anymore. what do we want Backbone to be?
BARBARA: it turned more towards this question now.
RONI: what is actually needed?
ALICE: experiencing these two days was already super interesting. collectivizing what is my organic community. we've all met at once before, it's different relations. in fact, it's not about choosing each other, we choose the community. i find that really relieving, i like my chosen community. that already helps in feeling much less alone. i don't know you personally, i don't know you're private life. but there are some issues that we can care about together.
BARBARA: that's why i find this question of laurie so relevant. because it's a very diverse group in the sense of not knowing each other.
ELENA P: there's been other spaces like this, and i have a strong desire to link those already existing bodies of work. there has been "Working Utopias" by Christina Ciupke and Anke Strauß, i had a conversation with Ming Poon, and there's Maria's Social Pleasure Center. I want to link somehow or at least acknowledge each other's existence in a way that builds larger resources.
ALICE: what i want for this is a journal, that can be passed around for other people, to be inspired, maybe a blog? a resource that might lead to other people joining.
TIPHAINE: today i thought of the calendar on the website, to share all of our events.
ELENA P: i love blogs and zines and thinks. AND it brings me back to my major problem: when i have to write it down, i always wonder with this translation, it feels like a limitation, a flattening.
ALICE: i will try to remember and find and bring "walking theory" from the early 2000s on self organization. they asked many different organizations and groups all the same questions, like how are you structured? How is decision making going, you have money, where does it come from? what do you do, what is shared? just to see this as a panorama is already so inspiring.
ELENA: i would love to ask institutions more of the same questions, so to continue that role.
ALICE: yes, let's make a new issue of this. maybe tomorrow we can ask all these questions tomorrow, what Backbone is? For me at the moment Backbone is this being... it is the promise that it becomes this and that.
ELENA P: i got that funding for a series of talks on the subject of degrowth and desire, and I really wished to integrate that here. I really want to somehow at least have some connecting threads to each other. How we can keep each other's integrity intact. [...] it's very random that I came here.
BARBARA: yes, there's so many different projects happening altogether.
Barbara, Clement, Elena-P, Julia, Micha, Roni, Sabine, Sarah, Sheena, Siegmar, Xenia
STRUCTURE AS PLANNED
10h00 - 10h30 coffee + arrival
10h30 - 10:50 Intimate micro lectures (2 x 10min) - invitation to process (Siegmar)
10:50 - 11:10 Plenum summary on what the burning issues are now, each reporting on issues told them by their lecturer (2' each)
11:10-12h plenum continues
12h00 - 13h00 lunch break
13:00 - 13:10 make the groups on burning issues
(13:10-13:25 Touching as a way of listening?)
13:25-14:30 smaller groups on selected burning issues - draft plans to work on those issues
COFFEE + ARRIVAL
INTIMATE MICRO LECTURES - INVITATION TO PROCESS
facilitated by siegmar
BARBARA: welcome back. we kept the last day quite open, let's discuss what to do. we thought of the micro lectures, but yesterday we didn't find the big question, so it's all open again how to continue. how do you feel to continue?
ELENA P :there was one big question from laurie: what is Backbone?
CLEMENT: for this, I would like to hear from different perspectives what are the needs in relation to ethics? it would be a good step for me to see how to move on.
SHEENA: for me concretely that would be great, there were things like meeting points, a reunion, support systems, calling in and out, for me it would be great to have sth concrete. maybe using the micro lecture for this?
SIEGMAR: i can explain what the format is. it's called the intimate micro lecture, and its about, for example, talking about your next project, and you have a certain language around, and you keep repeating repeating repeating. and the question is how can i learn other words, and how can I do that in relation to somebody else? the proposal is simple: one person speaks, the other listens, and the person who listens decides where they wanna be spoken to. the mouth should not be further away than 20cm. but it can also be much closer. for example speaking to the knee, or the neck. what's also important is that the person who listens, doesn't say anything, not even hmmm-hmmm, because the body will speak anyway. So then you start speaking in relation to this body. the other thing is, its gonna last 10', which is a long time, so at some point you have to figure out how to continue. try to focus on one topic, one need. and then when we gather, the person who listened will present it. so it's a way to collect needs and possible support structures. and then we can make cluster groups. topics like unions, support clusters, pr for other people, and then in the group situation we could dive into it.
XENIA: that made me think of another proposal that we didn't do, the bag of needs. maybe it would be interesting to have a step before that. the bag of needs is basically a format to use in every kind of collaborative situation where you encounter or are about to work with someone else. And everyone takes a certain amount of time to write down what they need, what their intentions are, also what they bring and what their boundaries are, in relation to this particular situation that you are envisioning. it's less about lunch break, but more about what do you need from...
SIEGMAR: ...what do you need from Backbone?
XENIA: ...yes, from Backbone, but is specifically in relationship to this ethical framework? so that there is, before we go, a kind of pathway from the individual, starting from the individual needs.
RONI: maybe i have a need that Backbone doesn't want fulfill, does it have space here?
XENIA: i think thats why it's nice to start individually.
SIEGMAR: exactly. let's do both, but i would really encourage you to chose one need, even though i have more.
XENIA: my proposal was to have some introspection before, like 5' of brainstorming, as a supportive round. i find it really helpful to bring the three together: needs, intentions, boundaries, because I feel they're very tightly interwoven.
BARBARA: it's just speaking, the listener doesn't take notes?
SIEGMAR: you offering yourself as a listening body.
SHEENA: let's do it!
SARAH: 10' is an enormous amount of time, should we make it shorter?
SIEGMAR: thats the point... it's an enormous amount of time to get lost in your thoughts and kind of figure out what else comes up. but should we make it shorter? ok, let's do 7'.
micha gives sarah a recap from day1+2
sheena is laying on her back, siegmar are laying behind her and speaking to her head
sabine is sitting with her face on her knees, barbara is sitting behind her and talking to her back
roni is sitting against the wall, clement is sitting next to her and speaking to her shoulder
julia is laying on her back, xenia are laying next to her on their stomach, speaking to her ear
sarah and elena are sitting next to each other on the sofa, sarah is talking
people are whispering intimately, its hard to understand anything from afar, and it feels intruding to get too close
SIEGMAR: now the listener decides what do they wanna be spoken to.
siegmar are laying down, sheena speaking, laying with her head on their chest
sabine laying on her side, barbara speaking from behind her back, with her head on her hands
clement sitting against the wall, roni sitting next to him, speaking to his shoulder
xenia laying on their back, julia laying behind them on the side, speaking to their head
sarah and elena are sitting next to each other on the sofa, elena is talking
SIEGMAR: how should we do it? should we put another paper, and collect it there? or just put in on the cardboard here?
RONI: i think the other paper is too small. its nice to have the mapping option.
SARAH: i have an idea. maybe we have similar needs, and then you get a longer piece of paper.
SIEGMAR: but we could just shift them together.
SARAH: my brain is really badly working.
XENIA: it's like a graph, a mural board.
CLEMENT: there was sth huge in the response of my body. it just came to my mind, we could also shape the words into a thing that feels like homemade material.
SIEGMAR: should we just collect them, and then arrange them later?
ELENA P: i just wanna add this to clements idea, i really liked it.
starts to walk on the map
XENIA: it would be very nice to hear everyone just say it first.
RONI: that's what will happen.
SIEGMAR: the person who listened just gives a short summary of what they heard and puts it on paper. And then we look at them. And then we start making clusters and put them to [...] whatever we wanted.
ELENA: I would find it helpful if I'm only repeating what I heard and somebody else can help me to make notes.
SIEGMAR: it's a huge responsibility. i can start with what i heard from sheena. two main words were world building and loneliness. how to find ways to speak and articulate this sense of loneliness, especially in collective processes, where might that come from, what it would need to not feel it. this would be a commitment, but different ways of commitment to collective world making, but also how this world making can be bigger than a project, go beyond it, imagining a future together.
SHEENA: the main word i heard was accountability. siegmar came with a concrete need, a frame of whoever shows up, coming together, to come together around these questions of how to be accountable as a person, how can you be accountable for yourself, how to be in this complexity of decision making, saying yes or no to sth, how to hold the space for each other, as sth regular, a practice, a practice of being accountable for one another.
XENIA: the tow big words of julia were continuity and gathering. gathering, as in which way it is different to community, like coming together in a regular basis, for example coming together for dinner once a month, that there is a continuity of coming together, asking of what we have in common, of what brings us together, and at the same time not knowing exactly what this is.
XENIA: gathering, continuity, unknown - asking a question and not knowing the answer, an unknown common.
JULIA: what i heard from xenia - i heard that they were talking about a structure that can happen in a long term, and that the beginning, the entrance to make this happen could be by putting more attention to spending time together, also this time is spent together through the practices we can share, and thinking about it as sth that goes beyond one year, a structure that is connected to specific people, but also that can open up to another constellation. what was also quite present was the word commitment, a commitment to a common ethos, practice, that could lead to a collective.
RONI: i will continue with sth similar, with clement, what i heard. the words were sustainable, and collective, and the wish is for a sustainable collective structure, that is somewhat independent of funding bodies, so you can continue working independent on funding, in terms of space, administration, and then something like collective success rather than individual success, and another thing is working longterm and continuous, without getting stuck, but rather also opening up, inviting.
CLEMENT: can i add sth, is that part of the game?
SIEGMAR: no, no.
XENIA: can i add sth? can you also put "opening up" please.
SARAH: i love this.
CLEMENT: i would correct it...
SIEMGAR: ..its on the table already.
XENIA: we're responsible for your success.
CLEMENT: im relieved.
CLEMENT: what i heard, she was talking to my heart, my diaphragm, it was about creating a context for her work to be in, to not be an isolated artist, which is due to the pandemic, but also before that, both supporting and responding to that context, she mentioned a community based project with an afghan woman where she would have liked to have more support, and where i could relate to was a need for a sense of dialogue.
XENIA: i also wrote down "a context to make work in".
RONI: thats good.
SIEGMAR: sarah should just write what she writes, and then the others could add.
as sarah is making posters for everything that is stated
SABINE: maybe we continue. barbara was picking up on... feeling isolated, feeling like the one that shoulders things, and then i remembered she asked me to speak to her shoulder, starting from a situation were she wants to change sth, but not being part of a collective of producers, so it's about finding a way to create a structure where it's not that you have the feeling that you shoulder everything, and that it breaks in the moment when you don't shoulder it anymore...
mobile phone interruption
SABINE: ...i remember there was a moment when i physically felt my own structures, and then there was a moment when it was liquidized a bit, which was when she talked about the function of Backbone, the concrete things, related to the question of yesterday, how stretchy can the membrane be. Is this structure about aesthetics? Or does it not matter? Is it even healthy, that it's not about aesthetics, any aesthetics that are shared? then we can actually come back to the relationship question. Is it maybe also very good that it's not based on personal relationships? is it about a big number of people or is it about a very small number of people so that it can be hold? what what does it hold? And how can it still stay extremely flexible? and one thing that is also very important: what can we exchange? it's not about producing and being an artist, this should not be the border, the membrane.
ELENA: I would like to also include people that do all the other practices that also involve the art that we make. It just incidentally happened to a bunch of producers and a bunch of people who happen to stand on stage are the people who do the admin of this here.
summarizing her paper
it says membrane stretching / flexible including all / different practices of making.
BARBARA: what sabine talked into my shoulder connected very well to my needs, being responsible by oneself, being the one who is always initiating things, and she brought many examples of doing things by herself, the fear of putting all the energy that is left in the structure and not having energy for own projects, this discrepancy, not having energy for the things that are needed, wanted, like art. also being in this space, even though she knows people from that context, she doesn't know many people, it's not a chosen community, she felt a healing process in that regards. sharing intimate things in a round where you're not friends.
SIEGMAR: a community of practice rather than of chosen friends.
ELENA P: sarah told me she likes having lots of needs, but then she decided to speak about one of them: sophisticating communication, to have more awareness of how oneself and others communicate, communicating and performing kindness. Not only in our work environment, but also for example in a post office, not only with other people, just genuinely with things around us and how we approach things.
BARBARA: performing kindness?
RONI: that's not a need.
BARBARA: just kindness.
ELENA P: i also have to say we didn't keep to the rules, it was more a dialogue.
SARAH: yeah, its true. elena spoke excessively about the need to slow down, in a sense of facilitating the possibility of either extending yourself into a practice that you don't know or extracting yourself from a practice that you need to look at from the outside. so it can be listening to yourself in the sense of, actually, what do I want to eat for dinner? or stopping something because the capacity is not there anymore. To hold things together. if I have to focus on what was the need that was named, it was the need of having this ability, which had a strong time element to it. So I would say slowing down, and at the same time the need to manage one's own capacity.
ELENA P: i like it, i like the wording a lot.
XENIA: i wrote "slowing down (extending yourself into a desired practice and extracting yourself from others)".
ELENA P: can i add sth, like the word reduce?
XENIA: attunement to individual capacities.
ELENA P: on first day i was saying that I was observing why we didn't use the word safe and security. And I just realized afterwards i said the word subversive, that nobody needed to say subversive or guerrilla or any of this, it hasn't happened. just an observation, somehow it wasn't in the space. And I find this really interesting, because it often is in similar discussions.
XENIA: i want to throw in one more word, it's the word of autonomy, which is really huge for me. this thing of being autonomous and in community, or being autonomous and interdependent is something that I heard a lot, because it really addresses this topic of loneliness. And this paradox of how to be autonomous and also be part of something. So I was wondering if I could write it on another paper?
ELENA: it has also a relation to kindness?
XENIA: i really feel it's belonging?
RONI: do it!
SIEGMAR: ten more min to lunch. we can look at them and then make groups for when we come back.
RONI: should we do the silent mapping? creating islands without talking?
everyone looks at the words, they get arranged silently
ELENA P: i removed myself because the trickster energy is gonna carry me away.
discussions around how to structure the things, how to put them together
SHEENA: so there is three groups? so then after lunch we go into these groups?
RONI: and it would be good to share before we leave.
SIEGMAR: I have the need to really think of concrete examples of what could that be. when I am just gonna take my example, accountability. I'm thinking within all layers, so from the macro Union Building - fair practice guidelines - to what is it actually to practice commitment in a group that we know is not going to show up every month? And how can we find ways to sense this commitment? Or what are the possibilities of thinking them, even for people who have, for example, not showed up until today? I think, for me it's really a continuous rehearsal of that. what are ways of communication? how do we address things? How do we bring them to the group? it's not like there's an accountability group that starts policing everybody, but what else is that? also, because next time we have governance, and accountability? So hopefully it gets more and more practical. And concrete.
SARAH: lets maybe try to be really sharp and come up with a practical proposal, for example for the next six months...
SHEENA: ...or longer.
SIEGMAR: also in relation to people who didn't come, where i might build up not so nice feelings, what could be commitment in this group that is practical and real, and feeds into the group even though I'm not here?
asking about what Fortuna could be
asking about these meetings and other people involved
I'm noticing how I'm emotionally confused about it. And how I feel about it. You're saying there's people in the mailing list and i've got an email so on. This is me having a fun weekend, i guess it would be nice to be more expansive.
some people are stating that it's confusing for them as well
SIEGMAR: it's very typical when we come in and think we are not part of the group. how can we take these questions seriously and resolve them for the time being together?
ELENA P: related to what, we also talked about this question of trust and presence. How do you build a certain presence in the space, if people are changing on a daily basis, they have to leave. And at the same time, wanting to give people maximum freedom that of course, they have other shit to do and other responsibilities - like how to balance that?
SHEENA: its all of those things here on paper - it's a shifting landscape, what to lean on?
BARBARA: it's not only about trust, but trustworthy relationships, which are not necessarily based on personal relationship or friendship, but on a different level of commitment.
ELENA P: and also acknowledge that they are personal relationshops in that place, which do inhibit what you're saying, because you might feel if I just say sometimes what I say off the record, it will maybe come out wrong in a way that somebody takes it weird. I really noticed that yesterday, I had this myself in a moment. I noticed it really came up when we were talking about racism. do I start to censor and police my language based on who's in the space and I don't want to be known as an asshole - on the other hand, it's good if we can openly talk about these things.
ELENA P: may i add one? honoring the anxiety?
SHEENA: this thing connected to commitment, that I'm starting to not feel so kind towards others. how do we practice other forms of commitment? Or how do we understand commitment, is commitment only based on presence? I think about that in relation to these other connected projects that I have. Is it only about showing up? And that means that you're there? You're trustworthy? You're present? Or what other forms or value can you install? If you don't show up, but you put in money? what do we recognize as commitment? And then how is that connected to value? and how is that connected to judgment, expectations, assumptions within also this group. it was set up here, but now we have these entanglements, we're working towards more autonomous structures within it outside of Barbara and Sarah. But then, can we start to name what what we expect in terms of commitment?
SIEGMAR: it's also important that we can bring, test, and let down things again, but it's important to keep the loop going.
CLEMENT: i had an experience in a collective situation like this. it depends how the resources of the collective, how are they used by individuals. and then there's this thing, I see someone is personally using it, some others might also feel that I don't trust anymore.
SHEENA: What do you mean, I feel like I am totally personally using this?
CLEMENT: what is the relation to the artistic success as an individual versus the collective trying to build something that is long lasting? why do I choose to be here and not with my work?
SHEENA: you're making a decision that this is not your work? Or this is?
SIEGMAR: How can it be as well as? How do I use it for my personal idea of success, and contribute to the practicing of collective success? for that it has to have some kind of critical mass already. that's what is interesting for me, because I have a lot of collective things that crumble every time because of these premises that we have of what productivity is. i fear that if we base it on the same premises, it's going to crumble. so I'm really interested in finding out, what are the new, the other ways of articulation?
SABINE: And for me, this is where the membrane comes, and the long term. for me, it was a long term trust and that things don't have to be named all the time, but can also be there.
ELENA P: how can i radically think of everything i do as desire? for example taxes. and what to do when i recognize i don't desire sth? shifting from the responsibility to choice. My desire is to eat something now. is it time?
BARBARA: it's absolutely time to eat something!
SAME CONSTELLATION OF PEOPLE CONTINUES
SARAH: let's get closer to the board in relation to the questions. as a mood board, like how much am i feeling represented.
SIEGMAR: can we start really far away?
people start from the periphery of the space, slowly approaching the board, rearranging a bit
SARAH: nice, let's make a quick mental picture.
SIEGMAR: let's do the same with the single topics, so we have the groups?
SARAH: let's step on the groups.
BARBARA: we just positioned ourselves...
RONI: ...in the groups we wanna work on?
CLEMENT: i haven't decided because i need to leave.
XENIA: let's stick to the things, the wording on the paper.
people are gathering on the different topics
GROUP I sarah, julia, sheena, siegmar, xenia
GROUP II elena p, barbara, roni, clement
GLIMPSES INTO GROUP I
PAPER 1 gathering & continuity investigation, unknown common
PAPER 2 commit to imagine future together
PAPER 3 long term trajectory / commitment of togetherness
PAPER 4 work continuity guarantee thanks to common support / solidarity
PAPER 5 balance energy management between individual practice and support structure practice
PAPER 6 not being the only one, holding things together thanks to a new structure
XENIA: i might need to leave the group. or i will stay, to look at one side of the equation, which is the the commitment and the building.
SHEENA: there's a lot of individual work within building a community based structure. And I think that is always a negotiation on these questions around commitment. And what do we understand as work? I cannot think myself out of it either. That's why I brought up this question about loneliness. maybe loneliness is not the correct wording in this, but I think the individual is always negotiated within that somehow.
XENIA: for me it's about individual practices. and then there's another practice which is the world building practice.
SARAH_ another way of phrasing it could be the WHAT - HOW - WHAT COMES NEXT.
points to papers
because the commitment you have defines the purpose.
SHEENA: what is it that we are really practicing? is it a practice of togetherness? Is it a practice of support and solidarity?
XENIA: what's the basis of us coming together?
SARAH: i don't need to come together just to come together.
MOST OTHER PEOPLE: no.
SARAH: the group doesn't have a relevance just as a group. i would do things in order to achieve sth, for example basic income.
SIEGMAR: no, that’s not what we're talking about.
XENIA: so maybe we really have to define it what brings us together.
SIEGMAR: on the one hand, that can be an individual case, that is that somebody has a need to have somebody to bounce back a tricky situation that they're in, which could be negotiation with collaborators, negotiation with producers, with institutions, or law. Or then, for example, the basic income, or the fair practice guidelines, something beyond the individual case study, something that we want to start developing for Berlin. but that is not something that we can solve immediately. That's a long term thing, building, lobbying, making policies. Understanding.
SARAH: maybe here's the misunderstanding. the way Backbone is proposed is to offer resources where usually no resources are there for. the more money we have, the more we can achieve - for example three months completely off work. another option: we come and pay for research when someone is out of production. or we share skills, people learn how to do admin, or be in the studio etc. its very much about narrowing the focus, and understanding what is actually a need, and what is a proposal. for example this points to papers 5/6 is something i relate to, but am not interested in.
SIEGMAR: it's interesting how you frame Backbone - as sth that realizes things. but this is just one understanding, other people need it to be sth else. one proposal is for example: lets make it a structure that equalizes the lacks. basic income or invest in sharing skills are two very specific proposals. but what i've heard was much more mixed than what you said. it can be really interesting to differentiate between a project and a container.
XENIA: this is interesting because it helps me to understand my relationship to it. for me this is not about a project, but about building a structure. usually we come together, build something, and then leave it. so i'm personally much more interested in building something more longterm, some commitment. another aspect is - its not just about building, but also maintaining this structure. the goal is to build a non-institutional support structure.
SHEENA: but what do we mean as commitment? in that structure, how do we identify it? is it about showing up? Is it saying, Okay, you can only miss two meetings? for me this is interesting.
XENIA: I guess there's always some people who will be more active than others and building and maintaining structures. That's just how society works.
SIEGMAR: the two examples of sarah - a basic income or a research support - for me the two are very different pillars, and do we wanna think through them, or imagining a third?
SARAH: there is a third, which is a research centre. something that is not dedicated to a need, but dedicated to the need of investigation. it's to do this unknown, common and imagining a future together.
XENIA: i feel for me its always all three.
SARAH: continuity is everything above five years. everything else is just "we like each other". we need to address this.
JULIA: i have the sensation that its also about figuring out about what do we wanna commit. and this is sth we need to figure out together. for me its about understanding commit to what?
SIEGMAR: staying with the money business: this has been realized through funding. what kind of resources do we actually want to address? is it always sarah + barbara applying? is it a cut of 10% from everyone? how to make it sustainable?
SARAH: but again, for me it's to make what last? there was this idea of the shop, you're sharing your practice with a diverse range of skills and that those skills can contaminate your practice and give other resources. now we are doing this black and white thing, the artist comes and asks the admin for advice, is this interesting? there needs to be a meta investigation motivation. thats me. everyone is building a bag of things that are relevant, while we are having these conversations. at some point we'll be drawn more or less towards different directions. for today we could imagine a practice for the next months. personally i don't have a stress with continuity.
JULIA: for me, i'll do my best to come to the other meetings, and these meetings really affect me.
SARAH: but then let's build sth around this.
XENIA: but the question is - continuity towards what? work - basic income - meta level?
SHEENA: i'm missing the what - what are we gathering for, what are we committing to, is it goal oriented, what actually is the desire and the pull to be committed towards sth? i just feel like i'm missing sth of the flesh?
SIEGMAR: what is it that you are in for?
SHEENA: i'm in for more sustainable working structures.
SIEGMAR: i'll translate that in my words: for me what's needed is on the one hand a project towards creating (like basic income), and on the other hand what is the structure to share research. i have a lot of experience with the second. i'm in for the research ways, of how to be together in a more political way.
XENIA: i always wanna ask what's your individual practice right now?
SIEGMAR: i know how to build shared research, i am really interested in basic income. 2000€ is not a basic income, but it makes sth possible.
SARAH: let's do a round with that kind of reflections.
SHEENA: what are you in for?
SARAH: i am in for the more sustainable working structure. i have a dream. i want to turn the arts into a seasonal thing.
SIEGMAR: what does that mean?
SARAH: like coffee or fruit picking. i wanna work in the arts half a year. for me it's just another way of saying I need to figure out a way to relate income and time in a sustainable way. and this is something that's impossible to do by yourself. i want to do it either with the state or with a self organized group of people. this is what i want for my life, and for my friends.
JULIA: this resonates for me, too.
XENIA: i'm in for more sustainable working conditions, community, and not so much for arts as a seasonal thing, more about living and working both.
GLIMPSES INTO GROUP II
PAPER 1 slowing down, extending yourself into a desired practice and extracting yourself from others
PAPER 2 reducing
PAPER 3 autonomy and belonging / interdependence / togetherness
PAPER 4 break isolation around making / thinking norm
PAPER 5 overcome loneliness
PAPER 6 a context to make work within
PAPER 7 collective success
talking about signal groups
BARBARA: should we gather?
COLLECTING THE RESULTS
collecting the sheets of papers in the middle
SARAH: so we do a presentation?
RONI: we can start. we have a very concrete, simple proposal: a regular weekly meeting in Fortuna, minimum two hours, possibility of having lunch, and then extended based on the present desires.
ELENA P: this is a model that sheena might recognize. it was developed towards the end of Agora, but we never implemented it. the idea is that it is organized not by roles, but by tasks of the people who are in there. boundaries are permeable, and being part of one of the circles is a time based thing. there's the red circle, which means people were willing to be all in and do this semi full time for whatever the structure is. those are also the people who like to take on the tasks that are necessary for the survival of that structure. it needs to be enough people in the red circle, but that structure also allows for other people to be closely associated. maybe they want to come by often and support things, but they don't want to be fully responsible. And then there's people who are loosely associated, maybe they think it's a good thing but they only want to give money once a year. And that they also feel belonging, it's like a structure of belonging to a structure. And the idea is that you can for years being the loose corner, and then suddenly, you decide that you want to spend two years in the deep insides of a structure. And there are consciously not concentric circles or anything, because it's not hierarchical. So what's in, those things are different tasks, is that they sometimes intersect. somebody who's loosely associated could also be doing the tasks that are essential for the survival of the structure because they decide to, for example, doing the taxes. you only come in once a year and do the taxes, which is super essential for the structure, but not all in in any way.
BARBARA: how flexible, how stretched can people can come in?
RONI: the proposal also came from realizing the importance of a physical space and a kind of home or a nest, and then realizing that this space already exists for this group in Fortuna, and thinking of how to fill up that space. Mondays are not being used for example. and with the needs, there came up the common wallet example again, where they just share breakfast every week. because we're talking about commitment, and this is where the commitment is also being expressed just by being present.
BARBARA: we started very ambitious with form, practice, function: the slowing down, reducing as the practice, the membrane is the form, and this proposal is the function.
RONI: we also kind of did it.
ELENA P: we went from like meta-meta to super specific.
SARAH: ok, thank you. who wants to do the recap of our acrobatics?
JULIA: for example towards this once a week thing, the question arose what are we committing for, practicing, gathering for? there was a round of what that individually could be, and somehow it landed into "more sustainable working structures" / "relate income and time in a sustainable way". it went back to the question of what Backbone is proposing - like how could that be possible, and what kind of practices, structures are needed for that?
XENIA: then we almost circled out, we also made a three group cluster, and then we landed at the initial idea of Backbone, and then checking what is going on now, and checking what is the continuity.
SHEENA: all of this proposed a temporality, a goal, a trajectory, a commitment. we missed a bit the flesh, the reasons to come together, to show up for each other, it was oriented around money, sustainability, working structures. but we didn't come up with a regular meeting, like how to do it.
ELENA P: everyone puts in 10€.
SHEENA: what perspective does that give us? it took us a moment to really land. these community based needs, what are they really? a structure that provides all of those things.
SIEGMAR: we could meet every monday and talk about it, but the question is, do we need to have the structure or the purpose first? and if we meet, then we could figure this out.
RONI: it could be also a container for the burning issues.
SIEGMAR: it just might need different, parallel structures for other things, which are not in the "fire pot".
XENIA: we were a small group figuring out what the group wants, and we came to a kind of common conclusion - sustainable working structures, but then... the structure would be the one of a working group, in my personal reading, it fulfills different kinds of needs, and the needs are not excluding each other. so then people know what they are coming for.
RONI: initially i thought you know what will every monday be about. But then I like the metaphor, when you read the newspaper, and then you're interested in this article, but then your eyes drawn to something else that you weren't sure you were interested in - as opposed to just a Facebook algorithm that you just get what you're interested in. that's also the commitment. like in a relationship, I'm committed to the thing, not to this specific part only.
BARBARA: bring your own topic into the space.
XENIA: choose maybe not so much the topic, but the way of relating.
RONI: there was this practice of the mycelium workgroup during MärzMusik, where the people facilitating it came every day and had to think of their own intentions for that session of that day. and that was what facilitated that session, rather than having a long preparation meeting. that was interesting.
ELENA P: another check in: not "how are you", but "what's alive in you"? another statement for the intention.
SHEENA: so is this fantasy, or is it happening?
BARBARA: the monday for Backbone is still blocked, we can discuss if we can have it every week from 10-12. sarah?
SARAH: yes, it's possible.
ELENA P: let's do it. for me its far, for others as well, but i would still do it.
BARBARA: we also spoke about communication, there's a signal group that is sharing information on these kinds of things.
figuring out who's in the group already, who isn't, and you might wanna join
BARBARA: we can open up the space in Fortuna.
SHEENA: i could join online.
RONI: how are peoples experiences with these hybrid formats? does it works?
BARBARA: no. in Fortuna we said no to it.
XENIA: it works when the person is a witness. if the person is speaking, it creates a very strong hierarchy.
RONI: should we do a check-in?
SHEENA: i have jour-fixes on tuesday or wednesday, not sure if i can commit to one more.
SIEGMAR: i also want to check-in about summer. we talked about this meeting as a prep meeting, not as a meeting that's important for the rest of our lives.
SARAH: actually what happened is that there was a weekly Backbone meeting so far already, to prepare things. so i'm surprised to hear it should be formalized more. my idea was to launch next week the call for those who want to take part to the reflection between now and September. And it's usually weekly, and it can happen on Monday, if that's something that we want to decide now, it stays Monday because it's just clear, and then maybe shifts throughout the day, according to those who actually want to show up. We do have the flexibility to do that.
RONI: for me these are two very different sessions, to speak about needs and desires vs. prepare the next session, i would not join the latter.
SIEGMAR: there are not miles apart from each other?
SHEENA: are people in town during summer?
SARAH: there is a strange rigidity here that we can just break through very easily. preparing a session doesn't mean anything. we can do whatever we want. this are invitations to gather and reflect. there is a misunderstanding: if there is a level of productivity that is expected from the meetings in September? there is no such a thing. we can also say, September is not dedicated to governance. It's just the group start now every week together, and keep thinking, and then simply in September there is an intensification. that's what the project is for - not to keep plan as proposed a year ago, by just two people, not 25.
BARBARA: it helps to imagine when the group meets again. in september we meet as a group again.
ELENA P: and that helps each person how to intersect that with all the other elements of what they're doing in their lives.
SIEGMAR: i find this idea good, to say "it is governance", but let's see what happens in between, like it happened with this session too. its nice to keep it stronger connected to the practice and where things can grow out of.
XENIA: i like a diversification of ways of spending time, i think its really great to allow for different ways to spend time together, that attracts me, even though you don't wanna prepare things but wanna be in touch with the others. it could be a nice solution to put those meetings together in the same space.
ELENA P: my heart feels really warm right now. Because I can totally identify with this. my summers are planned for family. And at the same time feeling a really strong desire to stay in connection to the process, having enjoyed the last few days and wanting to also contribute into the longer term of it.
SARAH: let's try, whatever.
SHEENA: i wanna ask who can commit to that, otherwise we're talking clouds.
SARAH: just to remind everybody that this process has happened already. if you remember, at the beginning of the year, you more or less organized, I hope, your agenda around these four appointments. And as you can see over the year, there's people that show up in certain periods of the year and then disappear in other periods of the year. And this is actually something that we already know, who is committing to be present around Backbone subjects for this third part of the year, we know, it's in the notes. So a lot of people already made themselves available for the process in chunks, meaning that they said no to showing up every week in other chunks.
XENIA: this check-in is only about the weekly meeting.
SARAH: i'm just bringing in the capital of the other ten people.
JULIA: what happens to the rest of the people who are not here?
SIEGMAR: everything that we have here will be communicated to everybody. From the people in the room, I've heard how different people, including me, from mid June till mid August, are not even in Berlin. So for example that's just something that we could communicate on signal also. Or we just say, whoever comes comes, and then... then probably we have the thing with the shoulders again.
RONI: who can commit?
SARAH: there's a bunch of people who are willing to join from next week on.
XENIA: what if it's organized in a more loose proposal?
SARAH: i have an idea. why don't we do breakfast every wednesday? me and barbara will be there, and everyone can just join? me and barbara will not work for the first 1,5h.
XENIA: there's at least two participants
SIEGMAR: just to finish it together - thats great to take the tensions away in the room, the more practical we get the better we can address them.
everyone gives a big thank you to everyone
19, 20, 21 April 2022
Xenia (they/she) - Siegmar (they/she) - Agata (she) - Gretchen (all pronouns) - Tiphaine (she/her/hers) - Giulia (she) - Angela (she) - Roni (she) - Laurie (they/she) - Annegret - Barbara (she) - Sarah (she) - etaïnn (no pronoun)
10h00 - 10h30 coffee + arrival
10h30 - 12h00 EXCHANGE #1, THE PURGE
12h00 - 13h00 lunch break
13h00 - 14h30 BODY #1, MARIA
(a room with a Spree view)
(coffee and jeans, chat chat chat, 1 pair of yellow shoes, unusual)
EXCHANGE #1, THE PURGE
Sarah: i like that we chose a very business setting while we had many options laughs. this is the first session, sit back and enjoy the program. a word about the space (we can expand) and tools (we can play with) for these coming 3 days. you can stay longer in the studio, that's the best studio ever, nobody should bother you, just say "i'm here for the workshop", for whatever that means. here's etaïnn, they gonna take notes, we want to experiment with note taking, everyone will access the notes, and you can say what you want to stay of record. (Self Care Club sweatshirt) so let's dive in. and go backwards a little, Backbone is an invitation to gather and create a context to have meaningful and non meaningful discussions about conditions in the art, ethics, researches..., that we use, share or could share better. Barbara and i have production based pratices, and are involved with structures and in mutualized systems that we wanted to share. there will be 4 different topics: individual practices / ethics of labour / governance / ressources. so that's the vague and vast dramaturgical contract we gonna play with and disrupt, we proposed a program but in no way we gonna try to get really anywhere laughs. this is the mega meta. when preparing the session we had a lots of discussions about what we mean when we say "individual practices". the definition we use, don't know even if there is a consensus with that laughs is: the ecology of ways of doing thinking understanding embodying that has to do with everything we do, from the moment i wake up, open the fridge, enter a workspace, take care of my body my children my lovers, or how i chose to spend my time, productive or not, from money making venture to rest, we intended practice as a way of thinking a human body in the world and in its system of interactions and connections. this has a lot to do with political activism, how to make decision...
Xenia: when we thought how to structure these days, we had a blank page. i can maybe add that individual practice is also the structure-making not only something that exists in the structure. the first session brings a little structure but can be very different in the next ones.
Sarah: we're cool? let's break the ice, we got 1 hours and 10 minutes, we gonna do a game called THE PURGE, very simple, now we gonna focuse on the future. i hope my introduction was vague and inspiring enough. try to imagine and make a list of the things we want to get rid of, burn, dismantle, have disappeared, withing this perspective of our own practices, feel free to share what you want to or not, truly, feel comfortable, and if not let's find ways to check on that. write one thing and fold paper and pass it on, give your paper to somebody, and then we gather when timer buzzes.
someone: fold it backward, it's easier, just saying laughs
people sitting at the tables, standing at the comptoir, lying down, reflecting, writing, changing places and postures, and passing their sheets. time's up.
Sarah: it's a way to get our minds to imagine change, by trying to gather this material that, again, does not need to make any sense. it's a game of imagination, that focuses on negativity, but tries to creates funny tensions in conceptualising things. it's just an invitation to organise concepts, and if a strong contradictory arise in you, name it and we will invent another category. read out loud the list on your paper and make a proposal where that sould go on the board. whoever?
Xenia: i can start. it says "pressure" and i'm gonna put it under PRESSURE laughs
someone: how many "pressure" do we have?
someone: "pressure to produce".
someone: i have "time pressure".
someone: i think "pressure" can also go under PLEASURE.
someone: i don't understand PLEASURE...
Sarah: in the practice proposed to me in the past, it's to facilitates articulating disagreement, someone can see it as negative and someone else find joy in competition, so all readings can coexist. it's more useful to think about negative inputs as potential pleasures. if it does not resonate, leave it.
Agata: "financial anxiety", there's no pleasure in that for me, so, TENSION or PRESSURE. what is the difference between TENSION and PRESSURE (folx make gestures, tension is horizontal and pressure vertical)
Roni: i have "i don't want to do taxes anymore just pay a fix percentage" laughs
someone: it's not about getting ride of taxes.
someone: i'm adding p(l)ay in the PLEASURE box, because that would make things easier.
someone: "don't want projects to indue fiscal year", so all the projects have to finish by a certain date.
someone: do we need a fourth category?
someone: what's the feeling of the room?
someone: "time pressure" can also be activating you, like MOVEMENT? it's a general GENERATOR? TRANSFORMATION?
someone: "mansplanning by anybody", oh god everything's become play with me (while writing mansplanning)
Sarah: "end of human centric thinking", which i guess is a PLEASURE.
Siegmar: oh that's a good one.
Laurie: "to get rid of the expections that the art maker creates towards the projects", i put it under PRESSURE.
someone: but the end of anything is a pleasure then...
discussing what "end/ing" means
someone: "glorification of distructive behavior", PRESSURE.
Xenia: basically, everything was about ending, how it was written counts, i mean it's not clear to me...
someone: it makes you understand the tension about clarity, where you would put it and where someone else would, then you can see another perspective.
Barbara: "valuing productitivity as creativity", PRESSURE
Xenia: "don't want to predict how i'm gonna spend funding money", PLEASURE
Roni: "to get rid of competition", would be pleasurable.
Sarah: and i put "competition" in TENSION.
someone: i have "competitiveness".
someone: "i want to get rid of time pressure working towards deadline" > PRESSURE.
Barbara: i have a very different one, "the end of the pandemic" > PLEASURE.
Agata: well maybe question mark laughs that means also the end of pandemic funding...
Siegmar: "class" > PRESSURE and TENSION.
Angela: "politics of othering", in TENSION?
Siegmar: if you feel it should go there, then yes.
Gretchen: "don't wanna be pigeon holed" > TENSION.
Roni: that means that you're categorized into somethin specific according to identity or...
someone: "agism" > TENSION but could also go somewhere else.
Annegret: "gossip" in TENSION, also PLEASURE come on, laughs
Siegmar: "get rid of distinction between friendship and relationships", where to put it? wow, that's a lot, then i say it's a TENSION.
discussion about how sentences are phrased and how that matters
Laurie: "disconnect", so ending disconnection, that would be > PLEASURE.
Barbara: i have "disconnection from nature", but where to put it?
Annegret: i find it difficult to get ride of things, instead of listing things that i want.
someone: ok so PLEASURE.
Roni: all the things that separate me from my playful curious and enthousiastic inner creative child", PLEASURE.
Siegmar: all the things that, that's a great trick.
Sarah: "racism, medical gaslithing and violence", in PRESSURE, all three
Siegmar: could you add "patriarchy"?
Agata: and "misogyny".
Sarah: and "reductionism", in TENSION.
Siegmar: is presomption the same as asumption?
trying to define, laughs
someone: "get rid of back pain" > PLEASURE. many nods
written on the board > TENSION = feeling alone with what's hard / insecurity becoming overprotection / social anxiety / emails, the laptop / deciding theory vs practice / judgment internal and external / inhibition to rest / shameful resting / comparison...
someone: where do we put "i dont want to travel for one day"? PRESSURE, there's a big pleasure part also in the "don't want to", so PLEASURE too.
someone: "all political parties", i have no opinion.
someone: PLEASURE, "work hard play hard"
someone: and "growth"?
someone: oh not gross, growth.
someone: PRESSURE, "abuse of power", "overworking", can you add "impatience"?
written on the board PLEASURE get rid of backpain / get rid of factor 2:1 time needed: time planned...
Annegret: i have "lack of accessibility", PRESSURE, maybe TENSION?
Xenia: add "feeling of insecurity".
someone: "paralysing pessimism about future" > PRESSURE.
Agata: "all political parties", please, in...?
Barbara: "housing issues" > PRESSURE.
Roni: "prioritazing", "purge us from collective power games" > PLEASURE, and "chips for dinner"?
someone: "unnotiger Stress" > PRESSURE, a very good sum up for everything.
someone: "to get rid of product oriented structures" > PLEASURE.
someone: "jalousy" > TENSION.
written on board PRESSURE to be consequent / comparison / deadlines
there's energy in the room, everyone writes down, and stand looking at the board
someone: "following trends in your work" > PRESSURE.
Gretchen: "artists choosing the curators and structures" > PLEASURE.
Laurie: "restrictions", "feeling impossibility", PRESSURE.
Sarah: maybe we could take 15 minutes now, trying to not have a circle talking because we hate it, but we need it maybe? so get comfortable, and maybe each can present themselves and say what came up for you during the game, and then we have lunch in the sun. the initial idea was to burn all that list, but we need a fireperson for that, so Radial said no, then to connect it to Maria's practice but she's sick so she won't come.
Siegmar: what can be beautiful about that is the "feeling alone with what's hard", it's a great list of what is hard, and it brings this feeling of "i dont have to feel alone with that", that's what came up for me, it makes me very soft and also very angry at the same time, these lists.
Annegret: i wonder about finding negative ways, how conditionned i am to think positively, cause you mention political activism, so everytime something brought some rage i would emphasize on connection and rephrase it, reformulate it. what's the good balance here, to embrace also the anger that can be a productive force, and i'm not good with that.
Angela: i feel relieved because it's a practice of the invisible, and seeing all of you taking pens, and all the colors, and all this action, now i feel like yeah schön. in relation to what you said Annegret, it feels more comfortable to put things in a positive way. it's hard to think about your motivations in life, you need big motivation in the future in order to cope with all of these, it's much more easy to follow this road, but on the other hand what do we do with oppressions and discrimations? the action of looking at it and acknowleding it is super important. now maybe the relief is connected to me searching for a community that aknowledge that dynamics of oppression.
Xenia: relating to this, i have a visceral sensation, putting it on a wall and now sitting with it, the inbetween, it's a heavy weight on my head, looking at this, and i'd like to push it away but something feels like to stick, i have this image as glued things in your muscles. while doing this, and having to look very closely at it, the specificity of not saying immediately what i want but going through what i don't, what i want to get rid of, feels good.
Roni: it would be nice to hear how people deal with these, we all develop our own strategies, and i'm curious how you do it.
Tiphaine: it's interesting to write on our own, and then collectively, it's a coping tool we can use together, we all struggle with these independently and addressing these collectively, being vulnerable together, was empowering, as a group.
Agata: even though when we share and cary as a group, we have individual experiences with these, it's also a difficulty in this kind of discussion, we have completely different backgrounds, families, economical situations, education, and this build our experiences. it's very personal, so difficult to give space to this in a group. how can we recognize differences in a group?
Siegmar: the specificity of experience needs space. it would be good to start to really talk about each of us, how to understand each other's history and what do we have to learn and practice in order to start breaking it down, so it does not happend anymore. how do we stand in for each other? but not only in this room, with fundings, premiere evenings, taxes... what can we actually do? who needs a kick in the ass, who needs... sometimes i need that "you wanted to do that, so do it!". it would be interesting to practice.
Angela: i have the strong need to put "fear of boundaries and limits" in PRESSURE and not only in PLEASURE.
Xenia: for me it's a question mark...
discussion about how to understand this sentence
Angela: if this is about overcoming your boundaries, there is a sexiness in that.
Xenia: i did not mean it in the sense of oh you're afraid of these limits, so go and get it.
Annegret: the double negation is tricky, is it overcoming or accepting?
Xenia: i get ride of the fear of having boundaries, being afraid of them.
Angela: so it would be "embracing my boundaries and limits"?
Angela: so i add it in TENSION.
Sarah: i like how you forget these words belong to someone else. it happens weirdly without a suspicious feeling of collective ownership. in the absurdity of this operation and doing it with words of somene esle, not buildinge something that translate all but a space where any voice can exist in an imperfect way. reflecting on change, i find that building languages and structured conversations that allow differences to coexist is very useful. and i'm glad we're going there this morning. there is consensus a lot, the last one on the question mark was very funny and was not compelling, obviously, but interacting with our way of thinking, i find it very intimate to play and share with a group of strangers. there is fear in the body of these elements we do not get rid of. but all can be put in the pleasure box. it builds the ability to complexify without the fear of complexity.
Xenia: Maria was supposed to guide the afternoon session but she's not here, so it's nice to do something with this. the theme of afternoon session is "the body", because it's about indivual practices, we thought each could share a tiny bit of their practice. and i have a proposal, bringing voice practice in here, and one is making slogans and singing together, and usually we come out with non sensical things. we could sing or shout them, and make a litanie, as we talked about how all the voices can be heard here, and also something was said about anger. so it's nice to come together and sing them together. you can participate or listen. and everyone can propose. Roni proposed making boats with the papers. and we can decide how we want to close the session.
LUNCH BREAK OUTSIDE
(11 people, Sarah left)
BODY #1, HUMMING
Xenia: propose a singing practice i take the opportunity to share a regenerative voice practice, to stimulate the parasympathetic system, to rest and feel good, and some things inspired by Pauline Oliveros, so also deep listening stuff. i invite you to do accordingly to your capacities. and after that, we'll go through the words, and make a list, and proclaim them. maybe outside? we gonna talk about how we want to do it, after the singing. i'd like to start with some vibrating, we gonna focus on the inside.
everyone moves in the space, lies down, find their place. humming by themselves, changing posture, getting louder, then joining in a circle. sound-silence exercice, several rounds. then reading the board, some add words: ableism / white supremacy fragility silence / social media...
Xenia: intention is really important for this ritual, so we agreed to spit it in the middle. we can have some sentence to start.
someone: "no more"?
Xenia: no more, yes, we'll try to find a rhythme. no holding back on the voice.
after first round of reading-shouting
Siegmar: i feel a bit rehearsing the revolution here, i can go to TENSION now.
someone: what about the "?" category.
someone: we leave it for later.
Annegret: can we find a way of saying "no more" in a pleasurable way?
final humming for closing, and going through tomorrow's program
Siegmar: i'm wondering if we can have time to exchange our practices in the group during these 3 days, share and connect in different ways, seeing how different we are. how you deal with these problems yourself?
Roni: and also collect wishes for session 2, at the end of the third day.
Angela: we can have a collective sharing, where each says about their practice, i'm really interested how others do it.
Siegmar: The Common Wallet is great but they're also very advanced, i can't myself present something final, because i'm at the beginning of things but i can share how i'm doing it and where i'm at, and someone could pitch in and give advice. also, should we leave the words on the wall? because we were supposed to burn them.
Xenia: i think we gonna leave them.
Roni: yeah, and maybe we gonna add some stuff.
STRONG NEED EXPRESSED HERE: PEOPLE WANT MORE CONCRET QUESTIONS AND INPUTS from each other AND SOLUTIONS
Siegmar: i've been part of many groups, in one we were reading My grandmother's hands, by Resmaa Menakem, on somatic abolitionnism, by practicing affinity groups, when addressing big questions like "how to build culture of support?" can we dare to do that here? when we discuss what we wrote on the board like "white supremacy", can it be discussed in affinity groups, and what would they be? just wanted to put that into the group, and voice that we doe not stop to analyses, but also practices.
Roni: and also what is the culture of Backbone, the culture we want to build here? what's nice is it's long term, it's just the beginning. we did one week with Ada, last year, and i wished then to continue. and what kind of very practical tools we want to build and use? this is nice, it feels very familiar, these gatherings, which stopped because of the pandemic, but i feel an exaustion of the format, i'm looking forward to rebuild touch, connection with community.
Xenia: structure making.
10h00 - 10h30 coffee + arrival
10h30 - 12h00 INPUT #1, COMMON WALLET
12h00 - 13h00 lunch break
13h00 - 14h30 EXCHANGE #2, THE BAG OF NEEDS
(conversations about fashion, the group has some taste in outfits, Agata makes her own clothes inspired by Vilanelle's look in Killing Eve serie, talking about sleep strategies, and Christmas decoration...)
INPUT #1, COMMON WALLET
Sarah: Tiziana is based in Bruxelles, she's a friend and a very good friend of good friends. she joins today to talk about the experience of Common Wallet, an experimental economic practice a few folx started few years ago. we found that it could be interesting as a close input for the group. so we gonna dive in this story, and then will have time for questions. Tiziana speaks english, italian and french, if you feel more comfortnble in other languages.
Tiziana: i'm a bit sick, so i might follow my notes more than usual, otherwise i'm very happy to talk to people into dance, because this project is much connected to body, you'll see.
Sarah: great, you have the floor.
Tiziana: reading Backbone presentation, i see some common language: precarity, common ressources, mutualisation, more inclusive, empowered, less fragmented... the Common Wallet project started in 2019, with 10 people working in the performing scene, who decided to share a common bank account. i joined later. each member commits to add their individual monthly incomes, fees, child benefits, wages, author rights. each has a nominative bank card, with both their name and Common Wallet name on it. each uses the money according to their individual needs and independently from their contribution. all expenses can be rent, mortgages, telecom bills, expenses for children, going out, any personal savings. on the side we keep our personal account. the Common Wallet is not legally recognized, so we still have our own account. the project was initially created because of the conditions artists and workers live in. to replace the logic of control with the logic of radical trust, experiment on kinship solidarity and transparency. each member takes responsability for the whole group but also remains free to live the lifestyle that suits them better. if not it means it failed. it's a think tank, everyone dissociates the notion of work from the notion of money. we are performers, makers, visual artists, dramaturges, producers, one teacher, and an NGO worker since a year, so some have fixed salary, some contracts, others are freelance, some unemployemnt benefits (which is a belgian thing). most come from abroad, some are couples, have children, some not, the younger is 35 the older 51. we dont live together. at first they created a cooperative, in a spirit of mutualization, to push the usual limits, what would it be to replace control by trust, what would we gain in terms of time and ressources and energy if the structure remains dedicated to creativity and not controlling and functionning? people had to commit for 3 months. the cooperative did not succeed because it was too much energy needed for the administrative part but it became a live project pooling a longer term of saving account money and radical trust. it enties money from its hugly emotional idea of self esteem and social worth. in our relation to others, money is mostly used as emotional black mail or pressure. we examine the psychological tricks money plays on us, how does it shape the relationships, and leads to mistrust, fear of others, and the belief of one can only trust oneself. the highly transformative power of the Common Wallet stimulates the forming of the radical generosity by collectively addressing and resolving money issues: you're not alone anymore facing money. we're 7 other beings bearing that issue with you, in our case. learning or unlearning redefines your way to be in the world, on a psycho, ethical, social, professional level. we need tools, a bit boring for some, and some beautiful. we do weekly breakfast meetings every Friday morning, a check-in, we share where we're art, discuss possible problems and solutions. it's important to keep the project alive, we also have a Telegram chat, we talk cash flow problems and bills, etc. we have a rotating role of the monthly secretary so to keep tracks of the in and out and to keep the group updated on cash flow -is there extra income coming this month... and we have an Excel sheet to get an overview per month of expected incomes and costs. as we're most freelancers we got money in chunk. and we also have full working reflecting days a few times a year, to go deeper with certain issues. the rule is we don't have rules but basic principles, there are implemented in the way we act. our needs and desires define the values. keeping personal account is a must. what we need comes as the project goes, so if members change, the state and functioning then change, according to the needs. values instead of rules. we move from a contract of policing to a contract of trust, embodied in our breakfast meetings, the attitudes, the tone of voices, it really builds the trust. we also committ to a non judgmental attitude, it's difficult, and also not. when i joined, i had a lot of judgment, thinking it was about others, but in fact it was about myself, how i perceived money and work. first, look at your own shit. we commit to provide each other with less anxiety, more pleasure, hapiness. there is love, we could call it a polyamourous relationship also. the transparency is a huge pillar to the project. it's not about what one spends but how one feels. an important pillar is also: unreciprocitiy, it's an active contribution, it does not matter how much money you bring. there's no exchange of services, they tried at first, but that created some slave dynamic, so they dropped it. it's a pilote project for a broader society, it can be very accessible, it does not mean it's for everybody, and it can also be many other things. but radical trust and transparency can be cultivated, cherished, developed, yes. what is it about and not about? if the project lower the quality of life of each it failed (if you earn more and spend more and then you have to lower because of others earning less, no). it's not about making a successful economical model but creating a shared living interdependency. also it's not direct proportionnally, it detaches money from work and work from the individual, so the ownership. it allows us to expand the notion of familly into kinship. i had professional questions, was single, without children, was 46. my pleasure was to enjoy this security and this being together, not being left alone about money and also other parts of life. and the unkowning part of it is big, as principle, you can't anticipate, if one leave the balance changes, the personnality and expectations of a member can change it all. it's not about equality, money is not redistributed equally, you take what you need and bring what you can, so it's accepting that. it's not because i give that i have to receive back. if you have savings, it's a way of being we developped, keeping money aside, in case, for later, and we don't use this money. i want to share personal perspective. i'm talking about the Common Wallet by myself today. other members would give another presentation maybe. we all have priorities in perception to the project.
Sarah: it would also be interesting to hear about the failures.
Tiziana: failures, a very important point. i joined a year and a half after the creation of the group, so it was a process, i was given space-time to find my place into the project. so you put your money in and commit to trust. you don't get guidelines to follow, you learn by observing the process. i'm gonna read a love letter. during the confinement, we could not meet, and missed each other, so someone wrote that, and we answered, so it's very linked to the body.
Tiziana reads the LETTER
Dear Common Wallet,
Thank you for this text, Luigi. I see it as a perfect opportunity to make a first assessment. For my part, it's only been 8 months since I joined Common Wallet so I'm still learning to explore and integrate the language of this safe haven.
Since I did not participate in the construction of the values as the project was being set up, I think it would be more interesting, in my case, to tell how the encounter with these values occured during these 8 months.
I often link the idea of the liquidity of water to the Common Wallet. Wiring your income for the first time can be like diving in the open sea. Getting our momentum is not easy with the habits and protections we're taking with us.
Once in the water, you can see your own functioning more clearly: the muscles that you have overused and those that have atrophied. The muscles on which the relative balance was based were probably those of the sense of guilt that money induces and the state of insecurity it can generate. On the other hand, the activation of muscles related to the sense of sharing, gratitude and radical trust required a conscious effort.
Once immersed, the body gradually comes back into contact with all its faculties of movement. It finds itself carried by the water, by something bigger than itself, with the constitutive and fundamental needs of 9 other human beings as its guide.
What first struck me at the time of the first meetings was the radicality of the project and the intelligence with which the members communicate: direct and unvarnished exchanges. Everyone being aware that the viability of the project rests on transparency.
I remember being astonished that it did not lead to more concrete initiatives. At the time, it even gave me an impression of wasted energy. As time went by, I realised that, although it depends on money, the investment is fundamentally human, not productive. Although it did not exclude the possibility of future initiatives, the project was self-sufficient.
I had brought with me the burning intention of buying a flat, while living from professional activities that did not suit me or no longer suited me. Whatever the cost, my main objective was to ensure the security of my old age. And that's it. Being single and childless at the age of 45, it is easy to see one's future through the agreed prism of individualism.
Through the Common Wallet, I learn to be more sincere and flexible about my ambitions and perspectives. While ensuring my old age remains currently relevant, the urgency has changed since I joined the project. I think I would like to buy something with happy money, which I will have earned with a certain satisfaction.
Isn't security first of all to feel integrated in the way we earn our living before deciding to invest? If not, what kind of atmosphere will the house of my old age exude?
This project also teaches me to appreciate my need for dependence on others, or rather interdependence, and to take a different look at the constraints and benefits that this implies.
This practice helps me to integrate the subtleties of the project into my daily life with ever greater openness and flexibility. Every numb muscle is stimulated, every enlarged muscle relaxes. At times, certain individualistic automatisms reappear unexpectedly, or I sometimes try to get rid of a questioning too quickly or too practically, without taking the time to really go through it with the group. Whenever this has happened, the mere presence of each person helped me to get back on my feet, without any confrontation or judgement.
Will the Common Wallet keep us together for the rest of our lives? There can be no certainty about that and I don't think we're particularly interested in that question. But it often comes to mind, with the fear that the project may stop one day. Once you get a taste of the rightness of such an experience, a point of no return is created. Because one has no desire to leave a place that allows such diffuse notions as money, transparency, daily routine, love, fears and listening to converge coherently.
In the last 8 months, certain taboos have been broken, delicate questions are less frightening and judgement is losing more and more of its strength. Quite honestly, I think I can say that I feel closer to myself than I have ever been and at the same time I am becoming a little bit of each of us.
Perhaps the added value of such an experience would be to access with more consistency and constancy the best part of oneself.
Thank you to all of you!
Tiziana: i read it as an assertement. the plus value of a Common Wallet is to share vulnerability through the money and the playfulness in finding solutions, the mental charge is distributed, as long as the problem is openly addressed to the group, so you have to share, and put emotions in the dynamic, it's essential. an important question is: we trust each other genuinely, it's radical and real, so we try to understand how come we actually trust each other as we do, not the other way round. the Common Wallet is build on the same attention as love, looking at each other, gestures... it's not possible to not produce thoughts and judgements. empathy transforms the judgment, that comes naturally, but it needs the decision of not going through that direction. it needs time to reflect on many things about your life. when you drop the judgement on yourself -this is what i am, want to be- automatically you drop judgment on others, so you're an observatory for the project. then the failures are very important. they were 10 in the beginning, one left because she wanted to find ways to eradicate money at all in her life. i arrived after, and came with different perspectives of course. i was very enthousiastic, now it's pretty different. and the dynamics changed, with Corona, zooms did not give a nice feeling, so we went to the park -we live in the same area, it's not on purpose, it's a fact. it was 3 degrees outside, and it was more chatting than a deep conversation, this fragilised us, it's a proof that it lies on the presence of everyone to come to the meeting and be transparent. then two members announced they wanted to leave, one because his father died and he had financial issues with legacy to pay, and a baby. we're still in touch but so far he did not come back. another left because she has children and works a lot, so she could not save enough to invest in her flat, she saved some for her kids and the future but it was not enough, so she left. then an NGO worker joined, we wanted to try out
how it goes with people who are not connected to art. so that person did not grow with the project, like me, and had a lot of questions, and struggles. another left because they dated someone in the group who also left, so he had too many various bank accounts to handle, a couple one, the Common Wallet, his own. the failures come from what you are and want now, actual or future perspectives and needs. Corona fragilised us. for some it's good for now, for some it's good for ever. and it's all acceptable, we don't need to anticipate and count in each other for the future, it's energy wasting, like the administrative work with the cooperative, and we want to keep this energy for our art. we respect decisions, still, there is some deception, because of the kin. we'd like to give more security and stability to the group but in the art field there's a lot of invisible work, the quality of what you do is not linked to the money you're paid, you work a lot and got paid little, so the project is that people find happiness and we deal together with the money problems, to put it aside. it's a force, and a failure, having to check anytime the common account -is there enough money? it's work, still. the commitment has to be strong then. but what is failure? it depends on how you look at the glass, half empty, half full...
Roni: i wanna thank you and share a little, i was triggered or irritated, for many reasons: i lost my wallet recently, i'm a failure of a version of a the Common Wallet, and yesterday my mother called me and said she was so lonely. she was born and lives in a kibboutz, in Israel, and when this system fall apart, common money disappread and women suffered from that, first line. how do you consider all these differences? i imagine the Bruxelles Common Wallet as a group of white middle class Europeans. also i have a kinship group here in Berlin, a strong chosen family, but we never discussed that as a possibility. if i was married, etc. i would already have a common wallet. were people friends before the Common Wallet? was there a ground before?
Tiziana: it's very interesting your irritation linked to the social precarity of your mother, one member in Common Wallet has grown in a kibboutz and brought lots of inputs into the project, she left at 18 and brought inspiration from that structure's experience. when we think about social structures, like communism, like kibboutzs, they are very defined by rules. the difference is with Common Wallet there are no rules but values that we adapt, so every week we'll have another thinking, adapting to what the group is today, not anticipating or looking backwards.
Roni: trying to be in the now with money is so interesting, and i do it in my private life, i bearly saved, my future is insecure in that sense, and what triggered me was that this is what my ancestors were doing, and i'm here doing the same.
Tiziana: what we save for the future is our personnal account, the individual is accepted, not refused because the group has to exist.
Roni: it's a huge difference. the fact that individual has space to make their own decision, and you think of it as an experiment, and not ideologically dogmatic, and your approach to do something, trying to create an alternative to your life, is different. you're chosing to do that from a place where you already tried other things and want to try something else. when they had not much choice, to live in a kibboutz. i'm curious to reflect more. the fact that she experiences that, she's from a younger generation, different from my mum's experience, and it depends from which kibboutz and the actual communality. and what about the friendship and love parallel?
Tiziana: C, M and LC made a show about money, A was C's partner, so the question was there, and they caught other people not in their circles, whose vision could be interesting, so when i joined i knew some of them and others i knew only their names. we don't very like to use "friendship" for our relationship, it's more a kinship. sometimes the trust can be stronger with someone that i don't know very well, than with someone i know, knowing their personnality (oh i trust her but she's not good with numbers).
Barbara: i have a practical production question, how does it work legally for your tax declarations?
Tiziana: we have no recognition, legally. if the state checks in, they gonna look through my personal account, not the common one. there are constraints from the bank, you have to be active with your account, so the amount that arrives on the Common Wallet is already minus rents and all... so you wire the all amount in the Common Wallet then i wire the money back.
Barbara: it could be money washing like.
Tiziana: indeed, but in case of control, we have all access to the transactions on the common account and can easily show it to anyone who would want to control. we also have press articles that make the project sort of a little official.
Siegmar: coming back to the social economical background. it's a life and live project, so some people are building property and some are not, so we're not equal. it's great and at the same time, can you engage in a mortgage with a Common Wallet? what's the relation to that acquiring property, if there's no financial future perspective. i'm curious about this. in Berlin, artists live a precarious life of the now. i'm thinking about the person who left because she could not redoe her kitchen. it should be possible then. i mean, i'm going to die financially poor but safe in the Common Wallet...
Tiziana: it's on the table, this issue, since a while. we shared the inheritage situation of everyone, who rents, who owns... some are financial cautious, some can advance more money without getting it back. owning a house, how far does it belong to you or to the Common Wallet? we don't go that far, what is important is to preserve individuality. we haven't found an agreement or solution for a long-term account yet. there's a discrepency doing things together and individually. now it's easy for me to commit. i don't have enough savings to ask for a loan, or regular income right now. but i know i can ask the other members who have more money. some are investing time in land and bought a common house, but not with the Common Wallet, so it's very separated from the future. what i'm building here is the ability to learn how to share and rely on others, so the stress is less strong as before, for me.
Siegmar: i don't want to become an owner. i found interesting the twist in there, on one hand there's immediate safeness, and on the other there is consideration about how to relate to money and society, i find interesting that it goes in different directions.
Tiziana: totally, i think about one member who just subscribed to a pension, a life insurance, she's not an owner, but it's how she sees the future. it's her decision, we're happy she find her way and that the Common Wallet could help.
Xenia: while you were speaking, a lot goes inside of me, just hearing about it, one i was interested is to accept inequalities so the differences, instead there is solidary. i'm curious about what solidarity means in this context? the failures were when people left. when the needs don't match the agreement. what about the inbetween zone, how you deal with different needs and ways of spending money? maybe you could give us an exemple?
Tiziana: what solidarity means... to commit so that the project fulfils the needs of the others. the group makes the situation possible for each to get their needs met. of course, we talked about the buying a Ferrari in our discussions -maybe this person should preferably not work in the art field then -it's a spectacular example, but we also take desires in account, they're as much important. about the grey zone, two years ago one member had to reimburse a huge tax to the governement, so we asked if all uf us could not buy Christmas presents that year, that was a problem for only one person because it was an important way of showing love in her family. as long as the problem is addressed, there is no problem. we're happy this person can offer expensive or not expensive presents to her family and that this person can pay their taxes. the ones who can do it do it, and if not not. does that answer your question?
Xenia: yeah, it's great examples of how to accomade different desires and boundaries.
Tiziana: that's why weekly listening is important in the project, new elements come and transform each person and need, so listening to the needs help cover the grey zone as much as possible.
Barbara: about insecurity issue, you said you are worried when the account is low or at zero. so it's a shared precarioussness then? you feel more responsible for a group, or alone?
Tiziana: indeed, it happens. i'll give another exeample, a bit serious but so eloquent: during Corona, a working loop solidarity was organised in Bruxelles, artists had to find other activities to live, they were invited to meet, and someone said they had to prostitute themselves to eat. this person said also that just the fact of sharing that with the group transformed it. being alone with a problem is killing, but sharing in words to others who are entitled to understand you, then it transforms the experience. so here's the shift when you experience it alone vs many. having 9 other brains to deal with and think about solutions transforms everything. so the secretary rotation role helps to moderate. if i'm stressed with other things i can not be stressed about money on top. of course, we try to avoid having a zero account, and for that we need to transform invisible work into paid work, it's the field and the world problem, so we invest energy to make that recognized.
(10 people, Julie left)
EXCHANGE #2, MAP OF HABITS AND PRACTICES
Xenia: we started yesterday with the future, and what we don't want, so today is about the present, we gonna share what your needs, your boundaries and your desires are. and your intentions. we had a conversation with Siegmar to facilitate this, also according to what was said and exchanged yesterday, so title and practice changed and it's called now MAP OF HABITS AND PRACTICES.
someone: nap of habits?
Xenia: MAP laughs
Siegmar: we talked about the board list, what we wrote yesterday, and how to find more about individual relationship to these, and thinking that there are practices and things that people are doing, sometimes intentionnaly sometimes not, and find out what that is. i did a workshop about what would happen if you consider something that you consider a habit a practice, so for example how would it be to consider procrastination as a practice instead of a habit? what changes in the relation and the agency of it? what does it do to make it something intentional, to first of all look at the habit and not put it aside as a bad habit, and ot see what changes if reality would change, without functionalizing it, not in order to be more productive. what does this do in the world and with me? another format i've been doing, and we can adapt, we draw, we take a constellation of 3 things from this map that for you are in constellation to each other, that you are engaging with at the moment. and think about what kind of habits and what kind of practices has it produced in you and your relation to it. and then to draw a map of that. and i brought very colorful pens.
someone ask a question
Siegmar: let it be up to you. and maybe that's the conversation we can have. it's a good question about individual. it produces you as an individual body in relation to your social body. you can draw numbers, symbols, lines, up to you. we have 15 minutes for that, the first inital drawing, your own map. then in a group of 3 people, we practice radical listening, one describes their map, one asks questions, one just listen, then after 10 minutes we stop, and we all draw an aspect of the person's map, take 5 minutes for that, and then each tells what they draw. and we turn and repeat the procedure, whe shift roles of listening, asking, explaining. the redrawing takes to considerate what moves, after the conversation. so we go deeper in everybody's practices and we start smaller conversations.
Xenia: there's voluntary and unvoluntary practices, and the unvoluntary practices may call habits then, but so the idea is really to initiate the three things you're busy with at the moment, the question is what habits and practices you have developed because of these, either as a coping mecanisme or a thing that inspires you, it has all these different angles but i think it's interesting to see how the practices are coming out of the dealing with these things.
Siegmar: a lot of this circulates around the question of agency and wellbeing. some people call it freedom but it's a problematic concept i think. but the question of agency is it in reaction to or in attempt to change or...? what is the relationship to agency and the relationship to wellbeing, of the individual and the social frame? no need to answer that, it's just another component.
15 minutes, everyone focuses on their map, sound of the gong, then reflecting in groups of 3
(i go from trio to trio to listen to and have a snippet of how the exercise works, so notes are more like a very short collage here)
they discuss Angela's map
Angela: it was hard to pick 3 words, i made packages, RESTING gives me deep shame, it's also a huge topic in my work, my bed is central they switch to german ...CLASS/ABLEISM... i wanted to play tennis when i was a kid but had no economical environnement for that desire... CAPITALISM and glorification of destructive behavior... "STAY SICK". drawings on the sheet: nature, a bed cover and a fist coming out of it but also a tree and some water. your body is political, how can i manifest from my bed?
Agata's map shows CLASS in the middle of the sheet / pretending the future does not exist / thinking about others / wanting to improve myself, and Laurie and Roni react
Laurie: time is also a ressource, the term "back" came often, "who has my back", it's linked to body and security...
Roni: we have opposite coping strategies, i wrote "everything is so exciting". to rename and redefine is a form of healing...
Laurie: my map is messy. DISCONNECT: i'm coming back to Berlin (earth, contact with family in Canada, home) TAXES: (financial) during pandemic in Australia i could not do artwork so i learned new skills, sign langage, composting and somatic trauma therapy, i feel it's deeply informed in my artistic work... physical movement is essential to my well being but i don't do it enough.
Roni: what is your relation to discipline?
Agata: trees connected communi through micellium and roots, even if not visible, you have a grounded balance always present.
Roni: yeah it was almost organic how you talked about it, an active healing and interconnectedness.
Laurie: it's interesting you reflect that back to me, i was not aware of it.
Siegmar: explains her map ...organs, this is a kidney but it can be a mushroom if you want, bubbles that can burst quickly, these harsh paralleles are practices of interruption, sometimes they unvolontarily cut what's supposed to be soft, and this is more about how can we build something else to be in the world...
reformulations by Sarah and Gretchen
Sarah: i saw wetness everywhere, the all system leaks constantly... this is an intentional space, and here there is an anarchic one.
Gretchen: i was touched by the wripple, going out but also up, and what i interpreted as a bubble, and how they intertwined, and the softness... the floating nets could be breaks up of what comes after the body...
talking about Moebius clouds and pancakes and energies circulating
NEED EXPRESSED FOR EXAMPLES from each one experiences BECAUSE THESE DISCUSSIONS AND CONCEPTS ARE SO ABSTRACT
Sarah: some of these habits are not even mine.
Siegmar: what are the things i do that are implemented by my surrounding? do i want them? can i change them?
10h00 - 10h30 coffee + arrival
10h00 - 12h00 INPUT #2, SPIN
12h00 - 13h00 lunch break
13h00 - 14h30 BODY #2, ANGELA
INPUT #2, SPIN
Sarah: i can do my presentation two ways, a very theoretical one and a very much concrete?
Sarah: this morning it's the presentation of SPIN, it's very much correlated to the Common Wallet, on a different angle. so we'll talk then we'll navigate the material together -some already know that presentation. SPIN is the official producer of Backbone, there's a financial relationship. it's all about how to turn things around so the governement think there's a collaboration. we're good, everybody's cosy? so SPIN is an organisation borned in Bruxelles 10 years ago, created by three artists of the performing scene, HB, KM and DP, when artists questionned how to make work outside of a company model that was done, in the beginning of 2000, all over Europe. in Belgium in particular the answer to that need for this artistic practice was what they called production büros, offering services to artists, but it creates then the gate keeping of the gate keeping of the..., one more layer of burocratic trouble for the artists to be able to reach the tools they needed. these three artists started a büro but in this they could not make long term decision about their own money, it was a project based system, that actually did not fit their art practice -the system does not fit everyone. they are very slow makers, H. produces a piece every 10 years, K. every 5 years, it was very stressful, they could not fit their own tempo inside the tempo proposed by the governement and the production system. how to build a long term support structure that can facilitate work in long term scale, that was their question and the basis of SPIN. it was 10 years ago. i came in 7 years ago and joined the second republic of SPIN. the first republic of SPIN was a very simple model: three artist, one producer, working to get Basisförderung, and then applying for fundings for the projects the artists wanted to make. and it failed in a second, the producer burned out, not cool, bodies on the floor. that's when i came in, and we enter the second republic of SPIN, that was a moment of restructuration, in
the artists life and also in the general artistic environnement, performing art in the north of Europe in 2018 went under a major crisis, everyone talking about austerity, artists were said they could not tour anymore, and at the same time a lot of european money funding circulates, just for the big companies to be used, and this create a lot of confusion. at that point these artists are quite established, they have visibility power in Bruxelles scene and internationally, they're doing great, so the situation and needs are very different when we design the second republic of SPIN. the second SPIN we have this clear vision to support long term artistic practice, research, between projects fundings, the only way to do it is to really look at each practice and to meet each individual need. that's why having one producer for all will never work. so every artist receives 15 000 euros cash money for a year that they can use however they want. either they need a producer this year, or to go to Mexico for research or... that was the key, regular cash money. so once things are clear, everything is possible. this is the model now we operate on. so there is common costs and separately everybody runs their own business. it works very well, but why letting it keep working, let's fuck it up. so now we're redesigning SPIN, it's the third republic, we're transitioning to a cooperative system where everyone is the director, all equal, wether we have artistic practice or not, producers, activists... and we want to invite more people.
Siegmar: so the project was founded through other projects funding?
Sarah: yes. it shows that 1, this kind of system works when diverse groups of people unite to generate tools and 2, that honesty
being an active or passive or no financial provider having a pot or not,
some are making money, some are spending money. we do not talk about our work collectively, unless we want to do it, then privately. there's no artistic control of a sort, art practice needs absolute autonomy and we agree on that. even if we go see each other shows, and don't like it maybe. sometimes we do things together, mostly activist or advocacy work for the scene and for everybody.
Barbara: why do you make this separation between money makers and money suckers?
Sarah: me as individual i know how to generate money and i enjoy doing it, K. if she needs to make 20k or is interested in making money she needs to hire someone like me to do it, so that stress does not affect her art practice, so either you carry the structure either you lean on the structure.
Roni: when are the moment where people switch the roles?
Sarah: the tempo of our organisation is very slow, it's a cycle of 4-5 years, so you commit for this period. for the cycle to come, i'm gonna have a fellowship from SPIN to be supported by the organisation for 2 years. with the actual model we don't need necessarily someone else to take my role, let's see.
some confusion, more questions
Guilia: it's a structure that precisely respond to the need of precise people.
Xenia: so any who has a pot, can use this year money?
Sarah: we work from 5 years to 5 years on the financial system, you build a sustanbility plan, so you won't need to top on. we take conservative decision about money. you agree with everybody and you jump in. if i change my committment in the middle, mathematically the only person hurt is me, if i unplugged, for the next cycle we will have less money. when i make money now for the organisation, it goes in a big reserve pot for the future. the new model of SPIN is cutting edge. SPIN applies for a basis, and has a structural funding for wages of direction, administration (we're booked as we all work for SPIN, so we get two thousand five a year).
Barbara: commissions and co-productions are different here in Germany.
shared feeling in the room that it's frustrating, and indivualising
Siegmar: so each artist don't put these costs in their project application? great.
Sarah: it's piracy, we pay the artists to be the producers of themselves. in Belgium taxes are very different, in the German system the administrator would have to pay the others and prove it. nobody invoices. it's between a Verein and a Generalversammlung so every year we decide with the account what goes into commercial and into art. we have a lot of people working to make it legally possible (lawyers, accountants...) we pay for development, a typical belgian money laundry system. when you need to transform something into cash, you put it in DEVELOPMENT. and infrastrucstures and technologies because we live in different spaces. So when you got a POT, you add your own resources, coproducers, project funding, and you can use the pot for research or writing a book or... you always give back to SPIN to the solidarity fund (used for emergencies, like the pandemic, we were able to pay wages to everyone) and the rest sits under your name on SPIN bank account, and when we design the next SPIN we start with that money. one IBAN, savings don't go under 150 000, that's the solidarity found. in the eye of the governement we are one. to distinguish we use Airtable, it's a fictional tool, to label each one's money, and we have guests. everything you do, you add it on your account, expenses, workshop fees, performance fees, everything SPIN makes an invoice for, your income... each artist looks at how much they made and decides how much they want to leave on SPIN and how much for themselves. so artist don't pay taxes on it, and others can use that money. K. gives a workshop in Vienna and SPIN invoices 3 000 euros, K. decides to be paid by SPIN only for 1 300. every 20th of the month we have the wages discussion, you send your contract request. the difference with the Common Wallet is that there's no solidarity. at the end of the year you need to be self sustainable, you can borrow more that you brought, it's supported by common savings.
Xenia: it prioritizes security then.
Sarah: i prefer not to pay taxes and support others with my savings.
Siegmar+Roni: so you don't do it for yourself, and you don't do it yourself, there's a whole organisation that does it for you.
Roni: this is what we try to do at PAF.
Sarah: some years SPIN needs a push, some years not at all. it's easy to open it to guests, a lot of people plug in, they don't get a pot but use SPIN for administration, and contributes to SPIN with a % (minimum is 3%) and leave their savings. so you learn to use a SPIN wallet and get a prepaid of 10 000 euros. it's useful for those who have no european administrative base. so now, the last generation of SPIN, we give for granted thatwe have a safety net (so we're able to borrow from the bank if the governement does not fund us) and offer a year contract. artists are SPIN employees (and you got insurance). in Belgium you pay a huge lot of taxes. it's now based on income. we're all equally present all the time in the organisation, but we can chose how much % you work for SPIN and % for yourself (you can't put it in SPIN if you're teaching at university). and we have a residency program where artists can try the system for a few months without giving to SPIN. or you can use a wallet for a year and you give back to SPIN. SPIN is one company and we work with all the structures the artists inside work with, so it's a force to support less legitimate artists.
Roni: is there anything in Berlin like this?
Sheena: yeah, we started something in Tanzfabrik.
Roni: but historically?
Barbara: politically, artists wanted to get out of the strucure system but now we're going back to discussion, we need structure.
Xenia: there's more fundings than before, in the last 10 years, and it works for the artists who make it, who cut it.
Barbara: it worked for a long time, until the pandemic.
Xenia: or it never worked and it was invisible.
Siegmar: within SPIN, these are all very established people, so there's a huge flow. it's like basic income.
talking about Tanzpark program, Guilia shares her experience about this
Angela: SPIN is an organisation that actually hacks the system. we should maybe not discuss the funding structure and how it supports us, but find ways to hack the system. so how to do that? where are the ressources to start?
Sarah: Backbone is basically the old SPIN republic.
Barbara: we got Tanzpark for a year, but we see long term.
Xenia: so if Backbone wants to apply to Vorderung in Berlin...
Roni: i know that in the year to come i'm gonna make a piece, so i can prepare very well.
Xenia: sounds like a plan laughs
Sarah: it's good to start to play with the system. in December we'll have this discussion and need to show the governement what is this long term support, and how to credit Backbone, as a co-production?
Roni: let's start to talk about this already now.
Siegmar: if we start to mention Backbone as a co-producer then we create visibility.
going back to the words listed yesterday, discussion about having a common wallet, a common PR structure...
Xenia: we're lacking curators, i mean there's a reason why maybe laughs
Sheena: i have a +1 curator. we can invite people too, with the money.
(11 people, Sheena joined, Guilia left)
BODY #2, EMBODIMENT OF PASSION
Angela: it's a crip tool and also an access tool, a way to make your production work accessible to folx specially with chronic inflammatory nervous system. how can i crip my own work? adapt the structures that i'm thrown into to my needs? so of course i need to know what my needs are. i try to connect practices of self care with artistic work. if i think about body practices, my aim is not to prepare my body for a working day but i can use this time to connect to my body, check in to my body, because the conditions disease i have is unpredictable, i have to really take time in the morning. i tell you what, showing us the screen EMBODIMENT OF PASSION this is science-fiction, it's not happening, it's a concept, my dream is in the future.
Barbara: it's a fake practice, it's very popular laughs
Angela: i'm showing this for the first time, i'm not rooted as Sarah. it started with an invitation for a residency called "New Techniques", 4 weeks, the task was developping a new dance technique. i thought it could be a possibility to take this time to think about practices that support me in a way that i can stay sick and work healty laughs. i want to crip things, i like the word "crip" because it's an action, to make my life sustainable without overworking, stressing myself. of course i do. it's not a game, if i don't respect my boundaries, i'm gonna pay the consequences so i'm forced to find solutions. it's not negative, it's also good: it pushes you to self advocate, learn how to communicate. i wanted to see if there was some embodiment i can use for my practices. so for these 4 weeks i wanted to lay down, rest, read. but then sure it was pure stress, we got all this money, and they asked to spend it. i invited then friends into the project, and i was the host of this whole group. the benefit out of this is i learned about working methods. we all do embodiment of passion. it's only a concept. this is why i cannot teach it to you, it's more a task for everybody to find their own embodiment of passion practice. if you're in a production, working with people, the first part of the day would be the embodiment of passion part (warming up, preparing for the day). the first part is a practical part, each does their own practice, or share a practice: walking in a park, having a bath, going to the studio... this practice is to calm down the system. in dancing we work a lot with flesh, bones... i wanted to work with more visualisation, how does the nervous system look like? it's only visible in a fluid, it lives in water, it's impossible to see it outside of the body. so we were finding images for picturing the nervous system, the most beautiful part of the residency for me. that's the Perel (someone at the residency) releasing technique, that we could do, it's about 25 minutes, they're gonna guide it, it's an audio. and the other part of the practice is more active, about where the passion comes from. neuroscientific fact: if you want neuroplasticity, the nervous system to redesign and heal, movement is a very important thing but not only, you need not a functional movement but a movement with an emotion, a strong curiosity or pleasure or passion. i chose passion instead of pleasure, because when i thought about what gives me pleasure in dance i have to be passionnate. i'm into sports, i always wanted to play tennis, my dream was to become a pro while a teenager. when i have physical limitations, sometimes my feet get numb and i can't walk, i have this feeling of as if they sleep. then i got a passion for flamenco, that is very feet activating, so i was executing the movement and feeling healing at the same time. if now i'm in the dance industry, i want to find the passion, create myself and spaces where i can do it. we could all play tennis now.
Barbara: we don't have all this passion i guess.
Angela: when you start a project, you need to set the structure and prepare the working space. we did too many things in this residency. if you're in the leading position while being sick it's problematic. what about your needs? how to do that: when an artist applies for funding, get the money but then does not want to lead?
going through her powerpoint
Angela: with preparation, check in, check out... so at the end of the day you have 3 hours to work on your project and that should be enough. laughs in this residency people wanted to swim, and this is not allowed to spend public funding into swimming.
Barbara: but it's research.
Angela: yeah, if you bring a swimming pool to the dance studio laughs but going to a place and buying tickets, like going to a butoh class, no. in the end it worked but we had to write an extra letter, to justify it. people where asking, what is this? why do you need tennis and massage and all this, what are you doing? for the next project i do i have osteopathy included for everyone.
everyone is lying down and listening to Perel's audio message
Sarah: i'm wondering if we can have a wrap up also of the 3 days, it's in your hands.
Angela: it's a bit backbonish, me in residency asking someone to create a practice for me, and now sharing it.
Xenia: it releases the backbone.
Angela: it's a gift from them to me, that i use for my practice.
Siegmar: i was inspired by the sentence "i try to stay sick to work healthy", i have a collegue, after a burn out, she started to introduces her needs in our work session, without any guilt trip and control, but to make them center of how we work together.
Angela: i have been invited for a group residency and the person was really caring about my needs. in this context i need a place on my own, at least for 20 minutes, so i had my studio with a bed next to the space, and after a couple of days, everybody was in there, others asked to use it too, and there has been moments where we were all sitting in the bed, talking. others benefited from it, it became also a tool, not only my room, my personal access, not emphasising that i have special needs. and it was a wonderful experience. there's lot of shame and guilt, to sneak away when others cook, to have my private space when i need to rest.
Siegmar: (going back to the burn out situation of her colleague) what was great is this stepping in culture, how you re-enter the working space, more conscious, but also more fluid. it was a soft slow learning process with that group.
Xenia: that's why i enjoy being in PAF, to have the opportunity to be part for 10 days, in this architecture, in terms of a community architecture. stepping out and in, resting in the space of the community. so it's super nice to hear that experience.
Sarah: so it would be nice to have a 15 minutes closing.
Barbara: i did like the clear structure you gave, the body inputs and exchanges, the exchange could be more extended. i enjoyed the conversations inbetween. it could be longer. the concreteness we spoke about was already planted in these days and could go further.
Gretchen: i'm very grateful. i also appreciated the structure and time frame, 5 hours a day felt good. a lot of questions came up while being together, about Backbone, and how that lands with individuals. me personally i was missing an introduction to people, i'm having a desire for a little bit of landing, how we are in the space together.
Angela: i was happy these three days, there were so many accessible things for me. having slices of time, like this arrival between 10h and 10h30. i love that there's lunch also. it's pragmatic but it has a huge impact on how i have to prepare to come here. for me it has been not concrete but this is something we will build up. Barbara and Sarah curated this group of people who're meant to do what we learn. and being in a female group also was good. it was intense, emotionally. thank you, really.
Tiphaine: it was great to be a guest, hosted, and interesting to reflect, being less active here. so it's precious to have these moments collectively and share practices, what was shared was very important, and a great potential of evolution for what we're doing.
Xenia: i'm still reflecting. i'm very grateful for having this time.
Siegmar: also super grateful to come together like this again. everything was super interesting, and i wish for more. just the Common Wallet and SPIN, what we can learn from that, is super helpful. i was quite busy with who is here and not here. i share Gretchen desire to not find out what Backbone is but what it could be, what we're trying to build. so on one hand i'm thrilled, excited, and i also feel the frustration of falling into patterns. we know how to perform spaces like these. so i'm wondering. the structure was great to start and be in the room. how can we build the structure not to stay general and abstract, and what is this "we"? there's a lot of questions. i'm happy and curious how to work through them. for me conflict is not a problem, i'm super happy to have friction, and frustration. it's worth it. that's where i'm at. i'm very grateful for this kind of deep start.
Agata: i'm very happy. i like the amount of people, with Corona it costs me a lot of anxiety to be in big groups. i appreciated having this half hour in the morning, i was rushing to be there at 10. as Siegmar said, we know how to perform this format groups and topics, already, the question for me is more like if we can approach them differently, i don't have specific ideas, i have no tools for that. i found super great the exercise we did yesterday in trios. i'm part of different groups for years and i had the feeling that this reached more than all the discussions we had on how we should work together. these are very emotional, for me, emotional topics and it needs space also for this, so always the particular and the structural can apply. how we see these different things, like jalousy, how we can state and discuss them and not just pretending it's fine and we care about each other. that all the dynamics have space in the group, how we can have the entire spectrum of these movements. as a starting point, it was very great.
Roni: i relate, how this time it can go to knew places, i'm super excited and also scared it will not. i like a lot the individual shine, so it would be nice if it happens more. i really like the possibility to invite collaborators, that's really important. so thank you.
Sarah: i was very happy with these days. the experiment was to have a weekly, a very constant potential gathering, which in the beginning would have been quite utopic. thank you Xenia for join the preparation last minute. it takes a bit of faith and time to dedicate. i'm happy to work together. and yes to the soft start, Xenia you were right. we were trying to have not much time for "me time", but i do miss free conversation, and more context, we did not open that space, to enjoy each other, but looking forward this moment more open. in terms of Backbone interaction, i love inviting guests, it makes a lot of sense, we would like it not to be a curated group. so make it your own. it's a paradox, we can work through. we have Wednesdays in Fortuna, all the Mondays, we can gather. i hope for the next session that the preparation would be more participative. this is the occasion. the structure is there, so everyone can reach out.
Siegmar: how to do it, with adding people? the in and out circle makes me uncomfortable.
Barbara: people inviting are hosting, so the communication does not get lost, with a huge group.
Sarah: we take care of administration work on your name, we can't do the care for all who join. so you give them the introduction.
Xenia: i really appreciate these sessions and would love that to be continued, the integration of the body, and emotion needs the body, it really grounds things, it's great, it can be really intense to be in this kind of groups, i would love that to continue.
Sheena: (who have a kid) i appreciate doing it also and would like to join online. i'm busy with the question of how to show up.