THE WAY | Practice
Artistic Research Project
THE WAY | Practice
This project is the continuation of the artistic research I started in 2018 “THE WAY | Artistic Research & Kendo”. In the previous stages, I had discussed the concepts of ‘awareness of surroundings’, ‘learning through repetition’, ‘learning through practice and failure’ and similar concepts through the correlations between Artistic Research and Kendo (Japanese Fencing) in terms of practice methodology.
In this project, I wanted to discuss with creative people how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the practice environment and the mindset of practising.
HET HUIS UTRECHT
Artist in Residency Programme
Sep 28 – Oct 9 2020
In September 2020, I was granted a 2-weeks-long opportunity to use the Studio 2 of Het Huis Utrecht for artistic research as an Artist in Residency. In this period, I collaborated with Thijs Veerman as co-researchers. Nina Bos supported us in dramaturgy.
We spent the two weeks with debates, reading, writing practices, as well as interviewing our guests and collecting audio-visual material.
We finalised the residency with an art installation open to spectators for two days.
What is practice and why do we practise?
How do we practise in lockdown conditions?
What do we need to stay productive?
Do the restrictions stimulate creativity?
We made an open call for creative people around us and shared a questionnaire with 50 of them. Among the 28 people who filled the survey, 4 people were available to participate. We had interviews via Zoom and invited those who are able to come to Studio 2 in Het Huis Utrecht. We discussed our questions with them and they shared their main activities that kept them going during the lockdown between March and June 2020.
As a method, we collected this material and made an assemblage. We also included our own practice into the collection.
THE WAY | Practice
Susan Tyler Jenkins
Walking Practice – Utrecht
Finding a way to find a way to belong to a new continent and people
Cultivating a sense of belonging
Letting go of what should be, what was, or what there hopes to be…
Yoga Practice – Delhi
Slowing down and listening to the self
Self-discipline and self-improvement through conscious practice
Mental preparation through a ritual
Iaido Demonstration and Drawing Practice – Utrecht
Focusing on a relaxing practice to escape anxiety
Finding a new way of learning and staying productive
Reading, performing, demonstrating, drawing, reflecting, repeating
Street Photography Practice – İstanbul
Witnessing the strange
Documenting the ghost city of 18 million
Performing the documentary photographer
Running Practice – Eindhoven
Listening to the body and its needs
Being in the movement, continuity
Performing the family tradition
Kendō Practice – Utrecht
Connecting through teaching
Stimulating others to stimulate the self
Performing dignity and perseverance
Iaidō Practice – Utrecht
Learning from failures through repetition
Chasing the perfection to the end of the world
Performing the sword master
When we asked questions to our artist friends and ourselves, the first thing we encountered was that there was not much technical change in the working conditions. In fact, we all continued our individual production at home or in our studio. But what changed in practice was that the interaction was reduced, down to almost zero, or stuck on screens.
It could be observed that this great transformation in our lives has brought different results in different segments of society at different stages of the pandemic. It was evident that many people were in a rush to learn new things, improve themselves or finish postponed things at the beginning of the lockdown, and they lost their enthusiasm, fell into despair within a few months or at least returned to their old routines.
However, it was different for people whose normal job was creativity. Since the temporary activities that other people cling to in order to cope with the lockdown process are actually a method of survival for creative people, it would bring different results if they got bored and stopped producing.
Our interviews revealed that although the way artists deal with the change is not fundamentally different (learning new things, improving oneself, finishing postponed works, etc.), in the long run, their practice has turned into a kind of self-reflexion, and the self-actualization activities took a form of performance.
Some focused on the therapeutic effect of physical activities, while others sought solutions in spiritual or philosophical methods. While some try to discipline themselves in accordance with the norms of the society, others try to regulate their thoughts by changing their rhythm, slowing down or speeding up. The common point of everyone, whether they are trying to hone their art or trying to keep their mental balance, has been to not give up but find solutions, creative or recreational.
We could say that the most important reason for this effort to survive was to stay in touch. While we were looking for every way to keep communication alive, the pandemic has strongly placed screens in our lives. Most of the time, screens were our only chance of connection with loved ones. We tried to stay in touch with the world by meeting with Zoom and similar applications or filming ourselves and sharing it on Instagram or other social media. This need of looking/seeing, and more importantly, of being watched/seen, inevitably brought the idea of performance to our table.
Intrinsically, do we all need to perform something to survive? What for do we need to perform?
Does our creativity rely upon that?
To conclude our residency in Het Huis Utrecht, we created a collection of these performances including our own practice. We found the method of ‘collecting meaningful material’ as an appropriate approach.
On the second week of the residency, we curated an assemblage of practices. It seemed to be a good presentation method to display all these practice/performance videos which once shared through screens, again through the screens. We finalised the Het Huis Utrecht AiR program with an audio-visual installation.
Even though we were able to reach to a limited number of spectators due to the pandemic restrictions, we received valuable feedback from many of these spectators.
Many thanks to everyone who participated and supported us.