Short of writing, full in memories.
Here is a video made by Ilmė Vyšniauskaitė of the "experiment" at artsdepot, London, May/June UK.
by Ilmė Vyšniauskaitė
[portuguese subtitles available]
Today was the definite end, the de-installation. "No more problems at the artsdepot!" so I said to the staff at the café. They laughed gently, sailing along with the nice imagination of it. I slept a bit longer today, and then cycled up north as has become usual. Putting things down is always easier than setting them up. It is since I was very young that this strange relationship between the economics of construction and destruction amazes me. The wind was calm, warmer as well, and so were the streets. Today is sunday after all.
As I got in, all prints were already gone. The walls had returned to their problematic blankness. Ben, Chris and Cátia had already begun disassembling the "machine" as well. The screen and the bag were down, the electronics were all disconnected. We turned the structure upside-down so that I could start loosening all the joints and, one by one, the feet were removed and all the tubes were organised by size and function. The clamps were taken out and separated from the rest of body, which felt a bit like dissecting a body dear to you… as though you were collecting the relics of a martyr, or a saint patron to your hometown. Where will they go now?
For this room is normally used as a dance studio, all problems were gone and I was left in a wide white room full of mirrors. Thank you to all of those who had the courage and energy to confront their problems. I am also deeply grateful to everyone here at the artsdepot. This has been a wonderful week.
Today is the last public day here at artsdepot. Ilmė and I have already been feeling somewhat nostalgic about this in anticipation. Soon, it will be all over and the "monster" will return to its sleep once more. Today, Katie, who often works as duty manager, spent the day with us. She is also a dancer - to no surprise - but also a choreographer and artistic director, and told me a lot about her navigation of the dance scene in London. Her company - Tobymoves - is called after her grandmother's nickname - Toby - who was also a professional dancer once. We discovered that we share some experience in leading independent performing arts groups, in that we both know how hard it can be at times and yet, feel it is still one of the most rewarding things of all.
In the earliest hours, as many other children who came with their parents to see "The Very Hungry Caterpillar", little Daniel and his father came to visit PROBLEM as well. After having succinctly checked the room around, flying over all the prints, the father asked me, incredulous and a bit confused: "how come are all these problems in Portuguese?" That's how I figured out they were Brazilian. The caterpillar was waiting for them, so Daniel had to go without having punched any problem. Many children, up to a certain age (but some adults as well), are magically attracted to this strange hanged cylinder. The bright yellow, orange and red stripes really pull them out of their parents' confounds, and ask them to risk touching it. Uncertain, sometimes cautiously, but always drenched in deep desire, most little ones come to realise that the colours had tricked them into believing in a much lighter object. The bag does weight some thirty kilos indeed! At times, it has even swung back and knocked some of them down… but it's all part of it.
After the first rough contacts children establish with the colourful monster, an archaic kind of volition comes to incite them to further experiment; to test and to play with it some more, to tacitly learn by physically trying the weirdest shit on it. This is - I have noticed - the moment when parents freak out the most. They worry that their children might be doing something wrong; that there are invisible laws they are breaking. For adults, a sudden enthusiastic glow in the young ones' eyes means perhaps that there are cultural conventions - typical of spaces such as art galleries - which become threatened, or readily breached. I tell them that "it's ok!", that "there are no rules!". Many still doubt the openness, yet everyone eventually comes to fully enjoy their five-minutes hardcore accomplishment.
Five minutes is a lot. Most professional fighters only endure intense routines lasting no more than two minutes. In relation to their capacity, those three hundred seconds make anyone struggle, and not just a little bit. People sweat like pigs, they scream, they think of giving up and announce an early defeat, they blush and get red all over their skin. The blood pumps as many cannot remember the last time it did so. And that is all part of it: to be put in a position where the only way out is to develop a deep relationship with your problem; to come to think of abandoning the fight, but not doing so; to suffer and to feel good for having transcended - even if just for the last ten seconds - an insurmountable impossibility.
Just before lunch time, a very interesting group appeared. Matthew and Chaise - two friends from school - came with their mothers - Marta and Tanya - and all did it! First, the young ones joined forces to address the fact that they both dislike "being chased around the playground by the girls all the time". Then the mums fought the "ignorance of relatives"… There was a decisive moment when, after some intense discussion about whether or not they should include the "relatives" part, they thought it was important to properly open it to the public and to confront it directly, which I highly approved.
Doing it "properly", means that you put your whole body and soul into it, that the entirety of you life gets implicated in the act of throwing a single punch, that there is nothing safe beyond the performance. Nothing is hidden, nothing untold nor forgotten. It means that you trust the time, and that in such moment you see an opportunity to change something about yourself, and the world you live in. Of course, not all people do it equally, and I cannot project an ideal experience, extrinsically into people's bodies. However, at the same time, a powerfully positive transformation was achieved by many (in many different ways) and such can neither be falsified nor simulated, and that is the true nature of this project; PROBLEM it is never a simulation, it is real life, happening inside you, before everyone's eyes. So far, the environment has been right, and along, the mood of this place, its vibrant life and its community made most people feel that they were allowed to be simultaneously vulnerable and strong for five strenuous minutes, and trusted me to help them doing so. Thank you!
In the end of an exceptional performance, Marta and Tanya could not help but to effusively emanate this primordial animal life from within them, that everyone could feel. It turns out that they both work for leading charities that deliver activities related to well-being (such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga and other spiritual practices) to youth in debilitated socio-economical environments and yet, both agreed that a space there must be, not just to suppress the noisy anger of contemporary urban societies, but to teach it how to remain violent - yes - yet in a non-destructive way.
Everything is violent in the world: being born is violent; dying is violent; having to partially consume the world - bit by bit - in order to sustain a physical metabolising body is violent. However, this condition of ours does not need to necessarily be aggressive or irreversibly destructive. Violence is a given, yet what one does with it is much dependent on how it is socioculturally coded. Additionally, to many people's surprise, the public aspect of doing it before an audience is, indeed, a key aspect of conducting violence towards its non-aggressive realisation. People nowadays speak of non-violent direct action a lot, but most often - in my own terms - I think that they are actually thinking of non-aggressive/destructive direct (and often violent) action. [Thank you Marta and Tanya for the very nice review!]
Since Kacper was not around today, Little Lellie naturally assumed the role of "The Challenger". She fought three problems, the last of which was "when people say no to what I want"… Along the learning curve, and with much enthusiasm, so much attention she paid to the whole procedure, that many of my facilitator's tropes she ended up writing down on her little notebook, in such a cute, typical primary school naïve way. Somewhat like a haiku, it read: "punch nicely, kick as well, laugh at Rodrigo, breathe, do not lose your breath!".
Alexandra, a dear dancer friend of mine who is writing down her Phd in this very moment, managed to find some time to come an support the project [even if she told me "This place is far! Feels like going to bloody France!"] and, at the same time, confront the fact that she sometimes does not trust her own ideas. Ali started punching the core of the problem - nice and steady - and, seemingly untouched by fatigue, finished with such gracefulness, one can only envy. Most dancers have been touched by some sort of celestial dust for sure. Before closing, Liv came to complain about her boss, who had underpaid her by £217 exactly, and then little Niko released his anguish from "going to nursery". His mom then finished the day with "Daddy spending our holiday money to go to Madrid for football".
Today I met a new friend. As a volunteer, Keith spent the day with us, pondering carefully on which of all problems should he put up, there on the screen, to then pummel as hard as he could. He was the oldest participant so far, and one of the most inspirational as well. Keith took most of the day to then decide to publicly confront "some people in authority", which he did with the strength and vitality of a teenager! We both shared our inspiration for the Suffragettes and agreed that there is a massive need to organise and resist - at all times - reminding the institutionalised forms of power what they are there for.
Talitah was also with us. Again, the first hours in the morning are normally slow, and so, it has become a tradition that we have some good conversations during those quieter times, before people come to solve some problems. Talitah works in East London, quite close to where I teach piano. Today she was doing this session with her class on Discrimination. Similarly to how Augusto Boal did with his "Theatre of the Oppressed", she is bringing some theatrical techniques into her classroom in order to enact situations where an array of injustices are not just portrayed, or talked about, but actually performed and actualised. This exercise on hard ethical decision-making eventually makes children revolt against the conditions they are put into, and then, it is much easier for them to refer back to how it felt to have gone through such complicated situations.
Still in the morning, Yamuna came with her two sons, who helped her beat "self-doubt". The first kick was quite telling of her trained skills in doing so. It turns out that she is the owner of a gym and her husband is a professional boxer... I could tell the children were pretty happy to be around flying kicks and some very fierce punches. Dariyan then came with his mom, who helped him realise that one of the things he gets most upset with is his "Ipad getting out of charge". Florence wanted to defeat "mushrooms" and so did Maia afterwards. [I hope that, in their minds, they had dealt with the aversion to mushrooms instead]. Leah, from the cafe, fought "fear of living", and had none by the end, she said. After also telling everyone that she would now resume boxing classes, a big hug made us part with tired bodies but warm hearts. Golda came again to address her "relationship". She used to be a dancer as well, so some moves were just fantastic! I love when the aesthetics of a certain sense of style, the people's personality, and all idiosyncrasies merge unnoticeably with the efficiency and utility aspects of the performance.
Raina confronted her difficulty in "controlling anger" and told me afterwards that the marks she was left with on both her hands will remind her of not having to shout at her kids no more. Rafi came to complain about his older brother, Yoni, who "punches, kicks and pinches" him. Milin and Jasmin did not have much time left, so the solution was to couple up both of their problems together. "Getting annoyed too easily and bad dreams" received the usual treatment. The Berkuvits family helped little Avi dealing with his fear of "ambulances". His mom had to be recently transported in one, so his relationship to such strange wagons had to be dealt with here, so much so, that at a point he took the mom's walking-stick to try and hit the screen as well! Good fun (given that I managed to prevent such major damage in time).
In the end of the day, I cycled to Gants Hill. That's where I teach piano on Fridays. Having returned home, I realised that today I had cycled for hours in total, many of which in a sprint mode. Gods of wellbeing, give me rest now.
Collaborative group behaviour was perhaps the most emphatic feature of the day. Dancers and non-dancers alike all danced around a cloud of punches and kicks, thrown at a variety of problems, in what constituted a true performative political act of participation.
In the morning I met Julia. The story gets old, but yes, she was the invigilator today. I took a while to figure out she was Italian. That came about clearer as she started menacing to solve the Italian political state of things with some physical violence! I learned that she is an actress who has been living here in London for fifteen years! [hence the pristine, neutral, yet slightly American, accent]. Again, lots of interesting conversations about music. Not exactly a reproduction of yesterday's examinative approach to the field as a whole, but similar in scope and focus.
Another Italian came straight away to solve "political problems". It was Denis, who was working today in "The Very Hungry Caterpillar", a show based on those amazingly illustrated books from when I was a child. Denis was not restrictively punching the Italian contemporary politics but the general rise of the far right globally. The conversation quickly turned to the act of voting (or of not doing so), political education, political responsibility, the culture of participation (or the lack of it).
In the meanwhile, Francesca, Alex and Becky formed a triadic coalition to oppose "body shaming". One of the most inspiring performances so far. The three were in dresses, kicking the damned real hard! Golda arrived, just a bit after, with "mental health" to take care of. She also had hearing problems, but those were not the concern at all, since I do speak quite loudly and gesticulate illustratively a lot. Mr Babinski, "the challenger", came again, aiming for the ten thousand, this time, with "terrorism" to deal with. He finally got what he wanted - to reach the absolute top - and told me afterwards: "what would my own installation be like…?" rubbing his chin. I told him that if someday his works be out there, I'll be the first one attending.
Ella, Talia, Emmy and Jess released a ton of stress accumulated throughout their last year at the dance college. Olivia, Lydia and Molly also had a roll of problems to solve in relation to that, but decided to conglomerate and synthesise them, ending up with "injustice in the musical theatre industry", which they told me, for them, included a whole deal of sexism and other forms of physical and sociocultural discrimination. Still around the same context, but coded not so overtly, Harriet and Molly wanted "fake people" to disappear from the surface of the earth. Similarly, Lauren, who was also helping me on the day, fought "people who cause unnecessary drama".
"When I don't get what I want" was a problem initiated by two three years-old kids. Their parents had to go, so the cause was partially abandoned midway gone, but to no loss, for Ilmė and Julia jumped in to adopt it as their own problem, and destroyed it! Andreus one of the (cutest) twin brothers of Nikia, does not like when the sister does not allow them to play in her room. Nikia, in turn, was amazingly agile and persistent with her aversion to home learning. To finish the day, little Ethan fought "all badies" (from all films ever), at once, and won!
A remark on having to think about "how the heck am I to verbalise this problem of mine?!?" Mainly with groups, I have been noticing that the exercise of having to transfer one's problems onto the screen in written form, produces an interesting incurrent teamwork effect. The excitement of being (or seeing) someone about to enter some vigorous physical (as well as symbolic) experience makes people palpitate and burst with suggestions of how to write it down. Eventually, a consequence of this organic communal involvement during the redaction phase of the participation is that, quite often, more people than the person whose problem appears on the screen end up beating the problem up. What happens is that a group gathers incidentally around the bag - even if ever so gradually - to gang-solve a problem, since by means of discussion and reflexive consideration on how to put it in words that decently represent people's relationships to it, the problem inevitably becomes of many others more than the initiator's alone. This is such a surprisingly nice thing to witness, for what at first seems to be a quite taunting, solitary experience, turns into no torturous path, but a collective effort to get rid of some more broadly recognisable nasties. This means that, with or without specificities in the description of what the problem is to someone - in their personal life, at a considerable micro-level - the fact that a collective discussion takes place in advance of the fight guarantees that a much higher number of different people will produce and keep a subjective relationship to the various dimensions of the same problem, thus granting several interpretative entry points to it and so securing more possible intellectual (as well as emotional) engagements with the activity.
In the morning, Thomas, the new invigilator, as soon as he understood that the piece was not just about punching stuff, and had a considerable music load constituting it, was quite keen on asking me lots of questions about new music. About how it behaves in the world, about who does it, who listens to it, who likes it at all, who produces it, about the industry behind and how different (or similar) it is to the classical music one, or even to the machine behind the dance music scene. He asked me if you can dance to it. We covered some institutional education problems and cross-related the axes old versus new and mainstream versus underground. Then he surprised me with "how do you critique music?". We discussed the possible frameworks for contextualisation and attainment of some balance between internal and external validity... Isn't it so absurd that we treat so many different things as if they were the same? Calling what I do music, calling what a monk did in a monastery during the 12th century music, calling what some guy in the Guarani tribe does music... It clearly is not just music that happens when music happens ever! Waking up at artsdepot has been quite varied, but always intense.
Kacper came along again - as promised - but this time he brought two friends. Mati confronted "all the bad people in the world", and then Dominik, not without some initial reluctance, punched "school" quite hard. The three were, by far, those who have spent most time, not just at the bag, but also carefully examining all the prints on the walls, one by one. Joe - a clothes designer - came to fight "trauma", which she did amazingly, having told me in the end that "this" had had some unexpected therapeutic effects on her. Megan came with her mother, and later, her brother joined in. School-related problems inform, by now, surely the most recurring category. Eva, the duty manager, also did a problem today. She destroyed the entirety of (just) "life". Kacper though it was a deep one and Heenal said: "Well, if you see it in another way, when the graph goes away, it is almost as though it is disappearing from your mind". Poppy, from the dance school, decided "boys" were her main concern and just a bit before we closed, Bruce came to address his "obesity" problem in an inspiring, open way. For I took it as a gesture of the most courageous kind, I offered to help him on the cause, which he accepted gladly.
For the private-view, I met Tim, the development director, who cursed "Brexit" whilst punching it vigorously. In the end, he admitted having always thought that the act of punching something would always have to unavoidably be charged with such negative connotations but surprisingly was glad to feel something of a quite different nature in his own body. He felt relieved, and lighter. Some of my friends also did it! Madalina started with her "anxiety" being kicked away, then came Daniel realising that he had no reasons to fear "being a bad person". In the end he told me that the singing-machine felt a bit like Hall 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey, which is a bit unsettling, but I get that! Zula destroyed her "emotional self-harm" with some very well trained boxing combos. Dmitri reflexively took "audience participation"as the problem, which was quite funny and good to watch and finally, Sara, who was helping me film it all - and therefore [sadly] does not appear on the photos - confronted her "fear of failing" and with such agility, versatility of moves and continuous persistence, showed that failing is not an option at all. Having dinner in a local Persian restaurant was such a good finish!
With my bicycle alive again, at half past eight, I was pedalling north. Oh man, how good it feels to surpass all those office-jungle-guys on their super geared machines… Partially, beating all of them - let's be frank - is due to my open ended systematic take on life, which makes me practically blind to most artificial rules, including those of the streets of London. Getting to Finchley by bicycle means first having to cross High Gate and, who knows, perhaps against the wind... The first part is hard on its own - I mean, it's called High Gate for a reason - and I'm not sure that anyone important there with the surname "Gate" has been smoking any joints… Now, try to add an absurdly furious wind, blowing southwards! I propose renaming this place, for it should from now onwards be called "High Wind Tunnel"! Yes, and if you imagine it as a germanic concept, crossing the Hochwindkanal suddenly gains some mystical-experience-inducing properties. In any case, it definitely wakes you up, for sure.
As I opened the doors to the exhibition room, Callum noticed that the board with my interpretation printed on it had fallen. Should it mean something bigger than just a fancy rectangle with letters on it falling? Anyways, we put it back... Today was a day much slower than the opening, but a special one nonetheless. Because this building hosts the London Studio Centre - a dance academy - there are lots of dancers jumping around here. Most of them were pretty nervous about the auditions going on during the whole day. Two of them, Emily and Jenna, came to solve a couple of problems, which - they both realised - were entangled together and so, they fought them conjointly. They were worried about money and, at the same time, a degree-show in the form of a national tour awaits them, which they are also a bit stressed about. Together they raised the graph up to exhaustion levels and told me that they felt very good about it, splattered on the floor afterwards.
Kacper [should be read as "Casper"] came in at a point and, with such charisma, anticipated my favourite response to the question "what is this?" by suggesting that this structure was meant to help people "beat the crap out of their problems!". His problem was "broken pencils". He hated them so much, that amidst punches, kicks and some knees, plenty words were grunted against the concept. Kacper enjoyed the experience enough to decide to hang around for longer than the little five-minutes performance, which I wish more people did as well. Basically, he remained around for the majority of the day, helping me by telling people what "the thing" was, and how they could relate to it, or what would happen in the end, amongst other things, and eventually became - by all means - what Ilmė and I intuitively started to refer to as the Official Challenger. He even challenged me [putting on a slightly outraged tone] to also state what my problem was. "We have forgotten that we are nature as well" went straight onto the screen, and there I went on to put my old kempo skills to good practice. It seems as though I never remember how it feels to do it again; being the subject of my own experiment. Half way gone, I was really beating the crap out of it, for real! Yes, you get sucked into the action, which then transforms your mind about life, punch by punch. The pain also insists in reminding you of the reason why it is there, in first place.
Heenal, the invigilator today, whom I had met the first time I came here, in January, resisted the idea of pointing out something negative, to start with, but then wanted "everything" to be the nominated problem. She also had a particularly different approach "dealing with it". She started slowly, steadily tapping the bag, and kept the pace, as well as the stable, undisturbed mood for the entirety of the performance; an unusual and intriguingly compelling thing to witness. Ilmė also fought one today! Again, challenged by Kacper, the problem was "discouragement", which she completely destroyed in great style. In the afternoon, Jide and his daughters, Wura and Ebun (my piano students), came to see the show, which made me really happy. Ebun sent her younger sister ahead, in an attempt to buy some extra time to think of hers. Wura thought for a bit and then told me that there is this colleague in school who always does everything they can to annoy her deliberately… After having checked all the prints around, Ebun came back to fight against "animal cruelty". After a quick chat with Jide about the hidden workings of the apparatus (way behind the concepts and the aesthetics), there went Ebun and Wura, surprised to know that their piano tutor also makes singing machines that you can punch!
There were some people who did not punch anything today, but who nevertheless found themselves quite engaged with the piece. One was Niall, a stage designer and installation artist who, interested in the aesthetic treatment of the whole thing, ended up telling me about an immersive theatre piece he is premiering in October at Change Festival. Another was Andrew, a wildlife photographer, specialised in robins and similar birds, who came in to ask me about the "thing". We had a good conversation about the great deal of tacit learning, which happens whenever one consciously performs something outside social norms, the quotidian, the mundane, and therefore invisible, untouchable, anaesthetic. He was the first one to say "I don't have any problem! What should I then do with it but looking?". Then he came to agree that a problem - at least from a Greek (more proactive) perspective - is much more about what you wish to do about something, rather than about the thing itself. From his active and acutely incisive watcher's perspective, he referenced me Graphis, as something that my piece reminded him of. It was a monthly art and design magazine, which he used to read a lot when he was young in the seventies.
Coming back south was so much easier, with the still (now helpful) forceful wind. Fifty five minutes from North Finchley to Deptford. Oh yeah! F**k the tube. See you tomorrow.
Today was spring bank holiday so artsdepot was closed. I nevertheless woke up at eight in the morning again; way earlier than what I usually do. You see? I am a night owl, involuntarily unable to fall asleep when most people can take it no further. Anyway, The day was slowly spent taking care of things at home: fixing our bicycles, making more bread, preparing some garlic-infused olive oil and, finally, making a tiny video related to a concern recently raised at "the bag".
I cycle everywhere, whether it is raining, snowing, or meteors are falling, or even if Gozila decides to use the shard as a toothpick, after having eaten Buckingham Palace. Despite that, my bicycle has been down since friday - a day before the installation - when I had an accident which rendered unusable both the front wheel and the back break. That was the reason why I have been going up to Finchley by tube, something which I never really do at all. Actually, I have been noticing my skin becomes all grubby and somewhat burnished from the underground's air... Not a nice thing at all!
I took Sara's bike to get the new parts for mine and, along the way I noticed hers also needed some fixing, so I brought us some extra parts and refurbished both! Since I felt the DIY mode was to last, so I spent the day taking care of a whole bunch of other things, whilst letting myself be infused with Sara's research for her own exhibition, which she is showing in July. Amongst many other topics, the complex problematics of international land-grabbing was the day's main order, which reminded me of one of the texts some visitors have listened to whilst fighting against problems related to power dynamics.
Today was the first public day at artsdepot. Having arrived quite early, with the idea in mind to still retouch a couple of electronic parts, I met Talitah, who was the invigilator for the day. In a blink of an eye, she completely understood the piece and its conceptual framework, as well the principles and the basics of how to use it, and became - quite amazingly - as good as I am at introducing it to incomers. People get in, say hello and, much corroded by curiosity, ask us about the "thing". I - and during busy times, Talitah - explain to them that the "thing" is called PROBLEM and that it should be punched. Many also ask whether they can kick it, or relate to it in other ways. I always tell them that there are no rules! "You have a body, a problem, and five minutes to spend".
In the morning, we had Veronika, who came with her dad. As I have been noticing, like so many other children, she had a problem with maths and wanted to punch the hell out of it... Fierce and proud, she managed to wake everyone up with a stunning, joyful performance. Eventually, she understood that there was a ton of maths involved in programming the electronic "behind-the-scenes" of PROBLEM and so, realised that the devilish-subject was not so bad after all. Maybe the way it is hammered into young heads in schools is a problem... She returned a second time, which made me so happy, this time around, with her mum, whom she had dragged, in an attempt to show her the "machine that solves problems". Alicia - the mother - made her "troubles at work" be the target for the session but also warned me about her lack of punching skills. In response, Veronika quite promptly delivered a crash course on "how to punch stuff intuitively yet safely".
Katie (the duty manager) came at a point to check if everything was fine. Her visit brought us two invaluable improvements. First, there was this ventilation conduct, high up in one of the walls, which produced a discrete, yet present and unavoidably persistent, pressing, rattling noise; both deep, tinny and rhythmically infrequent which, although many people claimed not to notice, did make everyone feel just a bit more tense, for no special reason. With a little push of a button, secretly kept somewhere in the building, the noise was gone, and at that precise instant, so everyone uttered "aaaaaaaaahhhhh" in relief. The second thing was a health and safety malfunction which was solved for the good of everyone in the same simple way: removing things out of the picture. There were these chords, placed around the installation, implicitly making evident that people should not get too close to the art. Perhaps, even behaviourally conditioning visitors into performing the common reflexive response to "do not touch the art!", which precisely is to suddenly come to want it ever more burningly but to actually not do it. The result was that, today, lots of people were tripping over it, including Ilmė (who is documenting the project), and so I feared that rather than getting rid of problems we could be multiplying them... Gladly, Katie solved yet another problem for us! Everyone thanks you!
In the afternoon, little Billy did a really good job in spelling out his anger from whenever waiting for the things he wants is just too hard. And so did Emma - or similarly - in confrontation with "when things don't go my way". Plastic waste was once again a problem people are desperately wanting to fight against. Marvellous, Mary, Michael, Miriam and Richael made a super effective team that solved problems conjointly, with a strong - if at times slightly uncoordinated - exhaustion management rotational system. Problems such as: "discrimination", "bullying", "hatred", but also "scoliosis" and "fear of death". After the family Meng lost some weight fighting "losing weight", I also discovered, with little Eva, that there is this thing called the Mensch... Strangely incidental in Yiddish and German - descendent from the latter - the term migrated in meaning from generally denoting a human being, to being the informal definition of a person who has good principles and behaves after exemplar moral standards. In some schools, it apparently serves as a distinctive exclusive means to identify and reenforce a certain role-model amongst the classes of children. So, Eva was upset because she was never nominated to be a Mensch. In a germanic sense, this could not be a thought more strange. Amidst the physical expulsion of all negativities, there came the words on the screen: "rewards and punishments are the lowest forms of education" by Confucius. People nodded affirmatively at the fact that neither the negative nor the positive sides of behavioural conditioning appeared to be any good. I smiled.
In the way back, Ilmė showed me the good ways of the London tube system and so I got back to New Cross in a bit of a more comfortable way, whilst hovering through the amazing pictures she took! Now I am in Sara's studio finishing up this entry and getting ready to further edit some sound bits for a perfect tomorrow.
PROBLEM becomes alive again, this time, at the artsdepot in London, and so, the last days have been quite hectic with general preparations, but also some special adaptations and updates. First, the receipts printer got refurbished. It had received a couple of hard blows in Portugal and became a bit wonky. After some intensive arduino and thermal printer hacking surgery, there it was again, alive and rolling, now with a fancy hard card box! uuuuuuuuuhuuuuuu
Today's morning was quickly spent transporting the "machine" to North London. Sara helped me big time, and then went back up to sleep, something which I so badly wanted to have done as well... The driver - Attila - was this good humoured Hungarian guy, who told me he had come the day before from Hungary, driving for two days in a row, with only two hours of sleep! Anyway, he was really nice and even showed me some Hungarian music in the way there. Callum awaited our arrival with Christian, Ben and Cátia, whom I met today for the first time. They were the ones who spent the day with me, helping with the installation. Thank you guys! During the lunch break, Cátia showed me around the area for a little bit. I'll be here the whole week, so I better find where the nice places to eat are!
In the morning, maths was the main call, for we had to find a decent regular way to divide all the prints through the walls. Those were from the previous "experiment" in Portugal, so people's problems can be seen in transparent acetate, accompanied with a copy of their little translated receipts. Bit by bit, the "monster" raised from the floor up and I noticed Christian was very excited with the prospects of using it as soon as possible. The whole thing only came to realisation at the last minute before we had to leave, but he's going to do it next week for sure!
Having returned home, I still had to finish some recordings with Sara, in order for everything to be complete and ready for the opening tomorrow. The last editing stunts and electronic preparations kept me up for way longer than I expected... "why does this always happen?!". It's three in the morning, five hours of sleep ahead, yet still curious and excited. Which problems are going to come up?
When someone says that they have a problem, you imagine perhaps that they are stuck with a complicated situation, that something is tricky, sticky, or even 'funny'. We feel as though life stops before a problem, as things get entangled and cease to work. It is a blockage, a barrier, an insurmountable impossibility!
However, the idea of a problem is actually based on an action and, in fact, a quite physical one. The Greek verb probállō is composed by pro- (forwards) and bállō (to throw). So, in PROBLEM, Rodrigo challenges you to rescue the proactive nature of what problems should be. Throw some punches at your own problems! In this interactive audiovisual installation, name any problem you may have: "My tea is cold", "Brexit gives me headaches", "Loneliness", "Sneaky pesticides in my food", "I can't find my socks", "Social inequality" etc.
Problem is a call to action, and a reminder, for we often forget we have a body; one that is simultaneously physical, biological, animal, social, cultural, political… From the smallest to the biggest, from the simplest to the most complex, abstract or unfathomable, every problem is welcome to be thrown forwards, towards a sense of unity.