"Artwork" borrows from somatic, spiritual, therapeutic methods and aesthetics but it is mainly a way to recontextualize and activate artworks in a "technique"/"method" format. From its Unworks core (Unexperiences, Unimages, Unvisitors, Unhere, Unexist) it extended to works by other artists. Artwork is ambiguous – workshop, performance, therapy, installation, educative/promotional event – an artwork and a new method at the same time.
Technologies of the self, forms of life experiments, were the domain of religion and spirituality, very much based on tradition, discipline, dogmas and rigid practices. Nietzsche saw the potential and the need in approaching life through art but he noticed that, sadly, the artists are not applying their craft to it. Often the therapeutic and transformative functions of art are minimized and avoided because of perception that they diminish an artwork, or even expel it from the art field. Yet, there were artists that transformed their lives or parts of their lives into art. Artwork explores the opposite, the transformation of art into life – the embodiment of artworks based forms of thinking, feeling and acting. Artwork aims to contribute to the urgent project of affecting the forms of life that power the current realities. Art shouldn't be just seen, it should be lived.
Some of the works incorporated in Artwork:
Florin Flueras, Unexperiences (2016), from the posture of visitors, performers shift their attitudes and moods, embodying and slightly distorting suspicion, awe, confusion, pensiveness, sadness, boredom, joy, alienation, satisfaction, dissatisfaction, hypersensitivity and other possible states in which art visitors can be. Affecting the ways of encountering the work becomes the work.
Alina Popa, Point Pet, "I once took the point on a walk in the forest. It was not a wild forest. It was crossed by a large alley, comfortable to step on even with shoes made for asphalt. I was flying it at a distance not much higher than that of two humans of average height on top of each other. I wanted it to enjoy the perspective of a high branch of a tree, and to look down on me, yes, the abstract always looks down on humans."
Lygia Clark employed her Relational Objects (1970s-) in healing processes, to treat patients with psychological problems. Thus, she restored the link between art and medicine, which was present in ancient cultures.
Robert Barry, Telepathic Piece. “During the exhibition, I will try to communicate telepathically a work of art, the nature of which is a series of thoughts that are not applicable to language or image.”
Florin Flueras, Unimages (2017), introduces glitches in the behaviors of certain visitors-performers, subtle anomalies in their self-presentations and images, deviations from the plausible comportments meant to affect the others' automatic readings and perceptions. The capacity of seeing and understanding, of forming coherent images about what is in front of our eyes, may be questioned and refreshed.
David Levine, Farmers’ Theater, Mr. Barlow, whose last role was as Edgar in “King Lear,” rehearsed for 3 weeks a play about a farmer in 1950s East German farmer, but he is not performing the play. Instead he is putting his character preparation to the test by actually planting the potatoes, in character, from 8 to 18 using “acting as a technique for absolutely turning into someone else.”
Francis Alÿs, Paradox of Praxis (Sometimes Making Something Leads to Nothing) 1997, the artist pushes and kicks a block of ice around the Centro Historico for nine hours until it melts.
Vito Acconci, Following Piece (1969) following people around the streets and documenting his following of them, until they entered a private space. Acconci submitted his own movements to the movements of others, showing how our bodies are themselves always subject to external forces that we may or may not be able to control.
Jay Chung, Nothing is More Practical than Idealism (2001), “I produced, wrote and directed a 35mm film to be shot without film on the camera. Each stage of the film's production was carried out exactly as if it had been for an ordinary film. Cast and crew included the sound and boom operator, cinematographer, assistant cameraman, production assistant, prop master, assistant producer, still photographer, and approximately ten actors and actresses. Of these, only those who absolutely had to know were told there was no film in the camera.”
Doris Boerman, Skin (2019), an abstract crib, the gallery attendants as babysitters, presenting the baby, making silence in the gallery…
Florin Flueras, Collapse Yoga (2016), integrates states like weakness, sadness, illness, anxiety, hopelessness, renouncement, exhaustion, boredom, decrepitude, failure, grief… and collides the aims of Yoga for improving strength, balance, coordination, flexibility, with the deep desires of the body for asymmetry, incoordination, weakness, relaxation, unbalance, abandon, collapse, freedom.
Maria Hassabi, Plastic (2016), "a lot of the elements I use work against our current culture’s sense of time and placement. The works are slow and still, the dancers are mostly placed on the ﬂoor, sometimes in unpredictable locations. Some of the repeating images I use are of bodies falling apart – or what we call ‘forgotten bodies’."
Linda Montano, 7 Years of Living Art, 1984, "Daily, for seven years, I will: Stay in a colored space (minimum three hours). Listen to one pitch (minimum seven hours). Speak in an accent (except with family). Wear clothes of one color (1 year). Focusing my mind on the location of that center during everyday life actions."
Fischli and Weiss, Visible World, nearly 100 hours of their unremarkable journeys video in which everything they see appears to demand their attention.
Alina Popa, You Are (2017), "The patient in the room is activated when she receives therapy from as many visitors as possible at the same time. The therapy can be given by simple touch, no healing skills required. To be a patient lie down on the mat and take what's happening as therapy, even if 'nothing' happens."
DD Dorvillier, No Change or "freedom is a psycho-kinetic skill” (2005), presupposes a horizontality in the relationships between object, body, movement, sound, performer, and spectator.
Florin Flueras, Unhere (2020), is activated by visitors-performers that seem to be out of place, alienated from the surrounding, unhere. In general we conform to the environments, we want to be adjusted to "here and now", to behave adequately, even in art, and usually that's fine for obvious pragmatic reasons. But sometimes is good to undo these automated submissions, to open up or transcend the given reality, to go Unhere.
Amalia Ulman, Excellences & Perfections (2014), she played the 3 Instagram profiles that amass the most followers, being a wannabe it-girl trying to make it in LA: First, she was a young girl in virginal pastel-hues who loved brunch and cute bunny rabbits. Then, a sugar baby posing with a gun, having a (fake) boob job and fanning fat wads of cash. Finally, she found redemption and became a clean-eating wellness goddess.
Christian Falsnaes, Self, one synchronized anonymous body movements in a collective, moving through the streets of Berlin.
Dora Garcia, The Beggar's Opera, a character inhabits public space and deals with it in a half improvised, half scripted way.
Marina Abramovic, The Artist Is Present (2010) had her sitting all day, every day, for three months in the atrium of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, engaging in silent one-to-one encounters with members of the public. giving “unconditional love to complete strangers”.
Linda Montano, Mitchell’s Death (1978), Using performance as a means of personal transformation and catharsis, Mitchell’s Death mourns the death of Linda Montano’s ex-husband. Every detail of her story, from the telephone call announcing the tragedy, to visiting the body, is chanted by Montano as her face, pierced by acupuncture needles, slowly comes into focus then goes out again.
Adrian Howells, Held, Howells invites his audience into three twenty-minute scenes. First, they sit at a table, drink tea, and chat. Then they sit together on a couch in front of the television and hold hands. Last, they go up to a bedroom, lie down together, and spoon. Howells’s work maximizes the possibilities of what he describes as “accelerated intimacy.”
Bethan Huws, From New York to San Francisco to… Induction to an actor: “For you, and therefore for us, the works of art in the exhibition cease to exist; there is nothing in the gallery space except the gallery, yourself and the other visitors.”
Tehching Hsieh, Rope Piece (1983-84), he was tied to fellow artist Linda Montano for a year.
Jiří Kovanda, Since the 70s he has used his body for actions almost impossible to distinguish from real life (bumping into passersby, waiting for the telephone to ring, opening his arms in the streets of Prague).
Florin Flueras, Unvisitors (2019), Unvisitors are performers acting as visitors for the duration of the exhibition. The ambiguous meeting between real and “fake” visitors can create a slight dissonance in the space, an incongruence between the two types of presence. The visitors can become suspicious about who is performing but also the subjects of others' suspicion, becoming performers. A meta layer that includes the visitors’ own roles in the art experiences is added to the event.
Oleg Kullik, He pretended he was a dog at a 1996 exhibition in Stockholm; he damaged other artworks and even bit members of the public.
Krõõt Juurak, Alex Bailey, Performances for Pets (2015) is a performance created for domestic pets. Through research into pet’s tastes and interests and with consultation from pet behavioural therapists and psychologists this performance is an attempt to bring an experience of theatre and contemporary art to domestic pets.
Yoko Ono, Induction Paintings, ”makes it possible to explore the invisible, the world beyond the concept of time and space … you do not have to stick to the two-dimensional or three-dimensional world; in your mind you can be in touch with a six dimensional world if you wish.”
Mladen Stilinović, Artist at Work, 1978, seems to negate what the work actually entailed: the artist sleeping in the gallery. Eight black-and-white photographs documenting the performance show the artist curled up in a blanket, with his head propped against a pillow. For Stilinović, art and labor were opposites, and creativity only resulted from having free time. “There is no art without laziness.”
Florin Flueras, Unexist (2016), Text on the wall: "Lie on a mat with the intention of having a near death experience (not a death experience), and notice how your mental and body functions are slowing down. If you are watching and feel that somebody has too deep an experience, please gently stop it."
Jan Ader, In Search of the Miraculous, 1975, he disappeared at sea in the smallest boat ever to cross the Atlantic, while performing the piece he called In Search of the Miraculous. Was he really dead or had he staged his disappearance? He was the artist who had died for his art. "He believed that going to sea was the only transcendental thing one had left." TD
Hu Xiangqian, Reconstructing Michelangelo - Hu hoped to pass everything he knew to this “disciple”. 99 months every day and all day, discussing and practicing. The question was, what could be pass on? Hu’s performances never involve technique. Studying performance is none other than studying “confidence”. As for performance, what Hu thinks should be imparted is not technique but some sort of belief; the search for the “art of performance” involves learning about one's grasp of subjectivity.
Most somatic/spiritual practices aim at self-awareness and self-knowledge, Artwork, through works like Unimages, makes us more and more unknown, stranger and incomprehensible to ourselves and others.
Most somatic/spiritual practices aim at improving strength, balance, coordination, flexibility, appearance, Artwork, through works like Collapse Yoga, listen to the deep desires of the body for asymmetry, incoordination, weakness, relaxation, unbalance, abandon, collapse, freedom.
Most practices seek authenticity, connection and identification with our own emotions, Artwork, through works like Unexperiences, creates artificiality and distances in our own states, opening us to meta-experiencing.
Most practices aim at increasing the immersion in what we do, Artwork, through works like Unvisitors, creates distances, alienations, and performative forms of life.
Most somatic/spiritual practices idolize life. Artwork, through works like Unexist, connects us with death.
Most somatic/spiritual practices pursue "presence", Artwork, through works like Unhere, introduces disconnections from the time, place and situation in which we find ourselves, alienations that open the possibility of new connections.