Artwork

(work in progress)
 


"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 (on the lines of Feldenkrais, Body Mind Centering, Yoga, Tai Chi…). It transfers to life art instruments, processes, practices, aesthetics, exploratory attitudes and it introduces an art sensibility and attention in everyday perceptions, in the senses, in what we already see, hear, touch, feel, do. Artwork is ambiguous – technique, performance, therapy, exhibition, workshop, educational and promotional event – an artwork and a new method at the same time. Artwork crew can work with interested people, individually or in groups. People can choose their degree of participation.

Technologies of the self, forms of life experiments were the domain of religion. Those practices can feel disciplinary, rigid and inadequate now, many not updated in hundreds or thousands of years. Forms of experience and practice that appear in dialog with contemporary situations and phenomena are proposed in art. Many artworks explore new thoughts, new sensibilities and forms of experience. Not just for the sake of novelty but out of an involvement with contemporary personal and collective issues. Why all the effort to create artworks just to be finished in objects and products to be consumed? They should be practiced. Art shouldn't just be seen, it should be lived. The therapeutic and transformative functions of art are often minimized and avoided because of the impression that they diminish an artwork, or expel it from the art field. Yet, there were artists who 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.

For each work there will be a text. The texts are based on notes written from inside, while practicing the artworks. They combine the style of explorers' live diaries with theoretical inputs associated with those explorations. In the past, unknown was spatially distributed, the extraordinary was geographically accessible. There were fantastic stories and speculations about places like Antarctica, Amazonia… which were firing the imagination of explorers. There were alien cultures, subjectivities that had the power to activate possible exits from the implicit certainties of one's time and space. Now cultures are more and more homogeneous. It feels like there is nothing to explore, that we already know what is, there is nowhere to go. In this situation, art can be one of the last possible explorations still available to us. Contemporary art has at its core the drive to surpass itself, to deviate from the consensus and mess with its own axioms, through works that expand what can be considered art. In art, and especially performance you can sometimes feel that body practices can give access to the meta-conceptual, to the levels where the implicit perspectives, realities are shaped. Artwork is interested in these meta-experiences, meta-practices that shape the quality of other practices, and what and how it is possible to experience things in general.

The first chapters of a future Artwork book:
Unhere
Collapse Yoga
Love

Works incorporated in Artwork:

Florin Flueras, Unhere (2020). In Unhere, performers activate states and affects corresponding to other realities than the situations in which they are (of visitors, clients, tourists, spectators…). They deviate from basic adjustments, seeming out of touch with reality, out of place, unhere. An extra layer is added to the ordinary function of the respective spaces, producing meetings between two types of audiences, attentions, situations, performers, experiences. Because we simulate the bodies that we encounter, Unhere can be contagious. In general we conform to environments, we want to be adjusted to "here and now", to behave adequately, even in art, and usually that's fine. But sometimes is good to undo the automated submissions, to open up or transcend situations, to go Unhere.

Alina Popa, Point Pet (2015). "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. … Some people have dogs or insects, even rats or piglets. I have a point. It is generic, an abstract pet, a disposition and dislocation, its leash is my consciousness and I groom it with my thoughts. It cannot gain weight but it oscillates qualitatively. It is a superior pet, companionship as alienation. It is the only pet able to accompany humans in the dreamworld. It is a weak pet. It distracts construction, of thoughts, desires, and important stuff, and distracts distraction, from anything."

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.”

Augusto Boal, Invisible Theatre, a loosely constructed situation in a restaurant, in which some of the cast were actors, while the roles of manager and waiter were unwittingly played by the real manager and waiter.

Florin Flueras, Unimages (2017), are deviations from plausible body states and self-presentations, performative anomalies that affect the 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. In times of superficial judgements and imposed perspectives, Unimages intervenes in the implicit process of transforming reality into comfortable images and certainties.

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.”

Geta Bratescu, Toward White (1971). She covered the entirety of her studio in white paper, effectively erasing the space until she was all that was left – at which point she proceeded to cover herself in white and paint her face the same color, effectively dissolving into the studio space itself.

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.

Florin Flueras, Collapse Yoga (2016) mixes Yoga with possible "negative" states as sadness, illness, anxiety, hopelessness, worry, renouncement, exhaustion, grief, boredom, decrepitude, failure and their traces in the body. It collides Yoga's aims for coordination, balance, strength, flexibility with the body's deep desires for asymmetry, incoordination, weakness, relaxation, unbalance, abandon, collapse, freedom. It affects the normativity of the human form. Collapse Yoga is sometimes practiced next to intimidating buildings, monuments, in charged public spaces associated with cultural stiffness, harmful ethics or bad politics. It can tune our bodies with natural, cultural and personal collapsing environments, affecting maybe some of them. There is a correspondence and influence between the body's politics and society's problems.

Collective Actions Group (CAG) (1976-79) Most of their actions typically followed a standard format: a group of fifteen to twenty participants were invited by telephone (at a time when, of course, phone lines were tapped) to take a train to a designated station outside Moscow; they would walk from the station to a remote field; the group would wait around (not knowing what would happen), before witnessing a minimal, perhaps mysterious, and often visually unremarkable event. On returning to Moscow, participants would write an account of the experience and offer interpretations of its meaning; these subsequently became the focus of discussion and debate amongst the artists and their circle. Monastyrsky argues that the group’s actions result for the participants in a real experience, but not in an image of that experience.

Vito Acconci, Following Piece (1969). He was following people around the streets and documenting his following of them, until they entered a private space. He 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. "I am almost not 'I' anymore. I put myself at the service of a scheme."

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.”

Florin Flueras, Love (2021) explores practices for embodying love – hypersensitivity, ecstatic affects, overwhelming feelings, subtle affective connections with things around… The sensitized love bodies are inserted in "inappropriate" contexts where something else is already happening – from art spaces to supermarkets and anything in between – adding an extra layer to their ordinary function. Audience mingles with people who are unaware of the performance. Meetings are produced between two types of audiences, attentions, situations, performers, two degrees of performing and experiencing. Because affects are contagious, the atmosphere can get love charged. Temporary zones of possibility might open. Artworks are usually visual, sound or conceptual. Love is affect based.

Roman Ondak, Good Feelings in Good Times is an artificially created queue. It is intended to be performed inside the museum, but can also be adapted to other spaces. The queue is always part of an exhibition and is created in or around an exhibition space. It is formed in front of a spot where it would make sense for a queue to form, or, for an enhancement of its effects, in front of slightly unexpected but not totally irrelevant spots.

Doris Boerman, Skin (2019), an abstract crib, the gallery attendants as babysitters, presenting the baby, making silence in the gallery…

Ivan Moudov has stolen museum audio guides, by plugging a recorder into the devices found in major museums across the world. In a gallery setting in Bulgaria, he enables the visitors to take the tour, and visualize the artworks for themselves. He does the same with museum labels – exhibiting them on blank walls. In this way, the artist invites his viewers to perform art history themselves, by imagining and envisioning the artworks, which then exist in their minds, if not on the walls of Bulgarian institutions.

Florin Flueras and Alina Popa, Second Body (2012) is based on a practice of adding a more sensible and abstract perception to everyday behaviors. Second Body starts as a theoretical talk and progressively turns into something else, through the recontextualization and abstractization of all the usual postures, gestures and attention needed for the task. The talk becomes more and more affected by this practice and its subject slowly becomes the body and its drift into a second, unknown body.

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’."

Pilvi Takala, The Trainee (2008). Employees at an office for the accounting firm Deloitte were troubled by the behavior of a new recruit. In the midst of a bustling work environment, she didn’t seem to be doing anything except sitting at an empty desk and staring into space. Whenever someone would ask what she was doing, she would reply that she was “doing thought work” or “working on her thesis.” Then there was the day that she spent riding the elevators up and down repeatedly. When a coworker saw this and asked if she was “thinking again,” she replied: “It helps to see things from a different perspective.” The employees became uneasy. Urgent inter-office emails were sent. The staff unwittingly took part in the performance. 
 
Florin Flueras, Fear of Darkness (Dead Thinking)(2014). Darkness can be felt, especially as fear. The fear of darkness is the moment when the senses cannot extract much from the world: what is available to us, what we know, is not enough in order to be in control and maintain ourselves stable. Then a sensibility for the unknown can appear, first in the form of a cold chill of fear in the body. It is not the usual fear coming from a fantasy about the future but a dark-fear that comes from a feeling of the present. It is a fear of the potential and unknown in the darkness, a fear that directly touches and affects us physically. Fear is the substance of darkness. Fear of Darkness amplifies the shivering of dark-fear, it permeates the body, the body becomes fear, unknown. Fear of darkness is the royal bridge to the unknown. A bridge that we will have to cross rather soon, as society as well.  Fear of Darkness can be activated in forests at night, in the dark or even the luminous spaces of art venues, in any place with the potential for shadows.
 
Linda Montano, 7 Years of Living Art, 1984, Related with the 7 chakras. "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.
 
Milan Knížák, Difficult Ceremony (1969) was a twenty-four-hour event in which participants were instructed to spend time together without ‘eating, drinking, smoking, sleeping, getting high, talking, or communicating in any other way (for example, by writing, sign language, etc.). 24 hours later, the company parts in silence.’

Alma Suljevic, Annulling the Truth (1999). Alma put her own life at risk when she was involved in the deactivation of actual land mines.

Florin Flueras, Unexperiences (2016) are activated by performers who shift their attitudes and moods, embodying and slightly distorting suspicion, awe, confusion, pensiveness, sadness, boredom, joy, alienation, satisfaction, dissatisfaction, hypersensitivity... Sometimes their hyper-embodied and at the same time abstract reactions seem to be related to the space, other people, objects, or to shared expectations and conventions. Unexperiences are inserted in "inappropriate" contexts where something else is already happening – from art spaces to supermarkets and anything in between – adding an extra layer to their ordinary function. Meetings are produced between two types of audiences, attentions, situations, performers. Unexperiences can be contagious producing deviations in experience. Artworks are usually visual, sound or conceptual. Unexperiences is affect based.

The Kipper Kids, Boxing Ceremony (1972) - one performer beats himself until bloodied whilst the other acts as referee. "I would do a oneman boxing match and beat myself up. Martin would be my referee. It was a real masochistic ritual, and yet I would feel cleansed, as if I had confessed and gotten something off my chest after I beat myself up."

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."

Morgan O'Hara, Time Studies, 1975. "A body of work which consists of a daily record of how I spend my time. I was at first working on the question of life and meaning. Over time, the meaning became for me the practice of attention itself. This body of work consists of color-coded grids, charts and diagram drawings and many notebooks."

Manuel Pelmus, Abstract Togetherness, 2018, two performers moving together in two locations, starting at the same time during two hours every day, without any live streaming or seeing each other. Moved by the same materials, imagining each other's presence by supporting one another from a distance. 
 
Alex Mlynárčik, Eva’s Wedding (1972). Mlynárčik found a young couple in Žilina who were planning to marry and offered to organise the entire ceremony as a performance. They agreed to perform as the leading actors in their own wedding. Mlynárčik embellished this ready-made event at his own expense,

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.

Florin Flueras, Ion Dumitrescu, Military Performance (2010). A unit of Romanian Army was invited to perform a drill with guns and to teach a workshop at the National Dance Center Bucharest.

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). She sat all day, every day, for three months at MoMA New York, engaging in silent one-to-one encounters with members of the public, giving “unconditional love to complete strangers”.

Mette Edvardsen, Black (2011). "The space is empty. There are no things. Through spoken words and movements in space a world will become visible, where the performer is the mediator between the audience and what is there. … only the body is physically present, performing actions and handling invisible objects, constantly trying to bridge the invincible gap between thought and experience, between here and there."

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.”

Florin Flueras, Undreaming (2015). Through induction and simple body practices, Undreaming walks half asleep through philosophic, politic, scientific, supernatural and artistic perspectives on its surroundings. The perspectives are activated in the bodies of participants, together with a suspicion of the nature of reality. If, as in many cultures, dreaming (the simulational capacity of consciousness in the West) is what makes a world appear, Undreaming can be what makes a reality dissipate into another, through the process of waking up, maybe in a performance, maybe repeatedly. Unlike most art, Undreaming is more about the process of perception than the objects of perception. More than being about an aspect of reality, it is about the capacity of entering and exiting realities.

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.”
 
Inter-Action (Ed Berman), Community Cameos (1970s). Three actors were each trained to live and speak as one of three historical figures – William Shakespeare, Captain Cook and Edward Lear. Each actor, having intensively researched his role, and wearing period costume, would behave as a time traveller not only in public situations (schools, community centres, etc.), but also when taking the bus or taxi to and from jobs, or when checking into hotels.

Tehching Hsieh, Rope Piece (1983-84), he was tied to fellow artist Linda Montano for a year.

Alina Popa, All of Nothing (2014). A paradoxical attempt of producing nothing in the situation of a performance, while live commenting on how this (doesn't) works. This process produces 'something' that has to be continuously negated. "All of Nothing negates that the performance happens where and when it is performed. It lingers in vagueness and dissipation, looking for something that appears in the blind spots of nothing."

John Baldessari, I Am Making Art (1971). He says repetitively "I Am Making Art" as he makes a series of simple body movements.

Jiří Kovanda, In 2004, for the show Being the Future, he spent the entire opening hidden behind a column in a remote part of the building. 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 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, Dog House, 1996. Kullik pretended he was a dog at a 1996 exhibition in Stockholm; he damaged other artworks and even bit members of the public. "This piece was a fight with logocentrism, with the suppression of the impulse of the direct gesture, of the visual and emotional shock."

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.

Dan Graham, Performer /Audience /Mirror (1975). An investigation into perception and real time informational feedback by overlapping his live minimal actions, his mirrored reflection and his real time commenting about his movements and audience's behaviors.

Florin Flueras, Ion Dumitrescu, Alina Popa, Pillar Artists, 2019. The pillar saints spent all their lives on top of pillars. Their withdrawals were performative, they were usually within cities. Pillar Artist is a twisted re-visitation of these ancient durational-performances, proto-monuments and pre-artworks. Audience is invited to become pillar artists for a while. The work entails a short training and signing of a contract which stipulates that the person accepting this call would live on the provided pillar for at least one hour.

Krõõt Juurak, Alex Bailey, Performances for Pets (2015). "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."

The Bureau of Melodramatic Research, Cry-Baby. How to Win Hearts and Influence People (2011). The Bureau uses the peeling and cutting of onions as a natural catalyst for the socially forbidden tears eruptions in the public space.

Mette Edvardsen, No Title (2014) "is about how reality exists in language and how this extends into real space. It is about how memory and imagination blur. It is about things and how things can be there and gone at the same time, and that what defines this is various. It is about things that are gone and about things that remain."

Florin Flueras, Ion Dumitrescu, Postspectacle 1 (2008), is a playful staging and embodiment of iconic images and events. It is also a friction and sometimes a fight between presence vs image, experience vs representation. The "amateur" aesthetics of Youtube culture, of self made performances, collides with the contemporary performance aesthetics of dance and visual arts in a work that is often dislocated from where it is expected to be.

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.”

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.

Mladen Stilinović, Artist at Work, 1978, seems to negate what the work actually entailed: the artist sleeping in the gallery. 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 down with the intention to unexist for a while, and notice how your mental and body functions are slowing down. If you are watching and feel that somebody has a too deep 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. Was he really dead or had he staged his disappearance? He died for his art. "He believed that going to sea was the only transcendental thing one had left."TD

Alina Popa, Heal the Line, 2018, "Instead of my body, there is a line drawn on the floor of exactly my height. My body could be any body, so feel free to adjust it in your mind to the height of the person you want to heal, even to your own. Imagine that touching the line you are healing my body, or someone else's, or your own. Please touch the line or come close to it as if it were a real body and perform the therapy that you would like to offer to me, to you, to a sick friend. The therapy is more powerful when it is collective, when the line is healed by as many people as possible at the same time."

Sarah Schonfeld & Adrien Missika, Partition Animale. "Pick one element from the Partition Animale. Ingest the chosen element. Exit the room. Pay attention to your body and mind for the next 24h. Take notes on any remarkable thoughts or feelings. Pay attention to your next dreams. Examine your next defecation. Assemble all your notes. Analyze what it could possibly represent."

Florin Flueras, Unofficial Unworks (2020) are Unexperiences, Unimages, Unvisitors, Unhere appearing uninvited in art venues and other public spaces, enacted by visitor-performers. As public we usually conform, performing our visitor roles, consuming quietly what is in front of our eyes. As artists we usually follow artworld's implicit codes, protocols, structures of validation, hoping to be seen, invited, appreciated. Artists can and should sometimes deviate from these dynamics. And visitors too. Unofficial Unworks points to normative equivalences between art venues, shops and other environments and affects some of their invisible influences.

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 passed 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.



Thanks to Eliza Trefas, Viktoria Draganova, Alexander Manuiloff, Voin de Voin, Swimming Pool Sofia, Radar Sofia, Aether Sofia, Goethe Institut Sofia and Akademie Schloss Solitude Stuttgart, for the three months residency in Sofia and production support.
To Laura Borotea, Gabriel Boldis (Minitremu) and Andreea David for inviting and supporting the early stages of Artwork.


At Swimming Pool Sofia, 📷 Ivan Donchev


























At Beyond School, Minitremu Târgu Mureș















At Technofields Cuca
 









Artwork at ETI Sovata