head to hand
Considering choreography and design as an “in-between space,” a space in which artistic experiences are discussed but not analyzed, learned from but not functionalized, Sepake Angiama welcomed the experiences of Hana Miletić and Ola Hassanain and her fellow performers and artist, and researcher Onyeka Igwe, raising the question of what knowledge can emerge when we shift our focus from visibility to tactility. How can architectural, social, and political meanings be approached and communicated differently through singing and humming, music and sound?
Hana Miletić’s intervention “Softwares” proposed a temporal pavilion made up of woven textile covered with a grid-like design. The gray-and-white checkerboard pattern of the grid immediately references the Photoshop transparency grid and a weaving draft. Both of these grids render the production of images visible, while also supporting this process through photography and weaving, the two media that Miletić works with.
The textile for the pavilion was woven on an automated Jacquard loom, which is considered to be the precursor of the first computer and acknowledged as an indispensable tool in the development of early software. In order to distort the binary and serial aesthetic of the grid, Miletić chose to produce a partly unbound fabric that is more porous and in parts translucent.
By using and reimagining the grid, Miletić wants to shift our focus from visibility to tactility, from head to hand. Here the artist recalls Bauhaus textile artist and educator Anni Albers, who called for a “tactile sensibility” because a lopsided orientation toward vision, as Albers suggested, presupposes too much focus on the eye (or the centering of the “I”), whereas touch is about accessing relationships, thinking through one’s quite physical relationship to the material and how, by extension, the material might affect others in its path.
The pavilion was temporarily installed in the public space of Muntplein, situated in relation to the administrative center and the opera hall, two institutions that produce notions of legality and culture on the same square.
“Hear Me Out” by Ola Hassanain has emerged from research carried out within the BAK Fellowship Program (2017/18), Utrecht. The performance takes as its starting point moments Hassanain identified as thresholds—particular gatherings taking place in public space that have resulted in tensions between the people involved and the governing powers/state. These conflicts reveal the apparent misalignments between the people’s choice to use public spaces and the hidden limits imposed by the powers that be on public space. Hear Me Out II focused on movements and actions derived from incidents of gathering from the artist’s milieu in Khartoum—the performers walked through the Muntplein area humming, singing lyrics, and voicing statements in both Arabic and English, fusing political songs with their audible political demands. Drinking tea in public space is an act that alludes to the struggle over the use of public space by tea ladies in Khartoum. In combining the act of walking and drinking tea, Hassanain sought to open up the possibility of different architectural, social, and political meanings and functions in and for a public space such as the Muntplein.
1. Audio mapping of Place de la Monnaie during the performance “softwares” by Hana Miletić.
Coordinates of the microphone 50°50’59.8″N 4°21’12.1″E
Coordinates of the artwork 50°50’59.3″N 4°21’13.7″E
During the day, musical performances continuously activate different parts of the square. The buskers are in a way an attractor of public and an alteration of the classic pedestrian flows in the square. This phenomenon tells us something more about the value of events in the use of public space rather to architecture. The Police stop a performer playing in the square and ask for his authorization. On the third day, we notice that all the performers have a precise and fixed point on the square where they always position themselves. We don’t know if those spots are assigned or whether the performers autonomously find them.
Hana Miletić’s installation reminds of a Bedouin tent in the desert, but in this case, it is placed in front of the Theater Royal de La Monnaie. The two different architectures, which belong to different worlds, strongly crash. Despite its magnificence and grandeur, the theatre seems not to have any particular influence on the square. It places also on the least used side of the square. There is a huge disproportion about the influence of the different buildings standing on the perimeter of the square towards the public space. The commercial buildings are attractors of within the urban space, thus creating important polarities.
It is impossible to “record” the smell, but for sure, it influences the use of the public space. On the first day, a public toilette was positioned on one side of the square. No one was sitting in its surrounds. Despite on the second day it was removed, the bad smell still persists. Unlike many other public spaces, Place de la Monnaie is a big empty “tray”. Probably it was designed as a “pause” of the built urban texture in front of the Royal Theater of La Monnaie. The texture of the pavement, completely empty, in fact, follows the cadence of the columns on the facade of the theater. Theater and square are then “connected” by some architectural rules that do not consider the use of the square itself. Paradoxically, because of the absence of structures and infrastructures inside the square itself, it should host infinite activities: playing football, skating… A boy is skating.
The square does not respect classic concepts such as function and form, rather it escapes this taxonomy. It is the contrary, the anti-form, the anti-function. Its possibilities remind of the mathematical concept of the fuzzy sets in which the limits of the sets seem to vanish, thus letting their elements floating and migrating from a set to another.
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2.Audio mapping of Place de la Monnaie during the performance ” hear me out II” by Ola Hassanain.
Coordinates of the microphone 50°50’59.3″N 4°21’13.7″E
Coordinates of the artwork 50°50’59.5″N 4°21’12.9″E
The performance starts with sounds around the square.
Considering the set of rules about the use of public space in Brussels, a musical performance needs to stay under the 60 decibel.
The performance works on what we can and what we cannot do in a public space.
The hardware for the performance is a set of microphones and speakers, but the central part is composed of three stools and a central element to make the tea. A series of simple elements are enough to transform the empty place de la Monnaie in something else.
In “Modernità debole e diffusa” Andrea Branzi analizes the state of undetermination and ubiquity of contemporary metropolis. Function is not anymore the centre. The more this element is not determined, the more the space gives us possibility. The hardware (Architecture) is ready to hosts more software (use) . Space needs to be more as fuzzy as possible. Fuzzy architecture. If the hardware is really basic, in this case is the set of rules who determinates possible uses. Drinking tea in a public space.
So, in a way, architecture is a set of restrictions. it is a set of rules and possibilities. This is extremely connected with the influence that a system of power can have on the shape of the city. Architecture is exactly the image of this act of governing. The hardware and its set of rules are the results of the tension visible on the public space itself.
How can we build a hardware capable as a fuzzy sets, without boundaries?
Perpetual motion report is a project by Parasite 2.0 part of “The new local”.