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.
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.