From 21 to 27 September 2019 Polo del ‘900 hosted the training of the students selected for the Eutopia Dystopia performance. Here’s an account of this immersive experience with artist Inga Gerner Nielsen.
The way we are training the performers can be divided into three areas: theory of performance and art-based research, interview-methods in a performative frame and how to perform with your body and words in the fictional frame of an interactive performance.
Through theory and practice, the students are shown how academic methodology, such as qualitative interviewing, can be combined with art to create an immersive interactive experience for the audience. By interviewing each other about memories, experimenting with blindfolds, and investigating their own movements, the students will learn how to be interactive performers, by also understanding what it is like to be a participant.
As we integrate the futuristic scenario (where the EU no longer exists, and we have lost all digital memory), the students will be taught how to investigate the European identity of the people of Turin, and collect their findings in a somatic archive.
When casting performers for the installation, we set out for an interdisciplinary group of students with one thing in common: that they wanted to work artistically with their social skills. As an interactive performer in my one-to-one performance installations, you must be dedicated to sensing into your audience; to find out how you can build trust with every new audience you meet. This trust is crucial when you have to guide them into sharing personal memories with you.
Although all the students were chosen based on video interviews, we were hardly prepared for how wonderful and dedicated the group of young Italian students were. They have received every lesson and exercise with curiosity and determination to learn. Whether we were discussing art and phenomenology or asking them to imagine themselves inside a green bubble, they were active and dedicated. As we advanced in the process and required more of them, they advanced with us and were ready with questions and experiments. The issue of European identity and human connection found in this community are very important for them, as well as for us, and we look very much forward to continuing the training sessions in November!
The next steps
In the upcoming month-and-a-half, until we meet again at Polo del ‘900, we will continue to stoke the fire that we started in September. Primarily this will be done via the Betwyll app and in artistic practice.
The students will engage with the social reading activity on the app, but from the perspective of 2039. This will not only be a good way for them to start to get into the fictional future perspective of the performance, but will also provide the readers with a glimpse of the performance that will take place in November.
Furthermore, the students were given the challenge of a small art-based research assignment. First, they will choose a memory of an artistic or profound experience. Then, every day for seven days, they will articulate that experience in a creative medium and document the process and their method. This is to give them insight into what it means to conduct research through art, which is part of what will shape the performance experience.
Lastly, we will select the final methods of interviews and interaction and go through second-hand stores for costumes and props. We are looking forward to continuing the work, and look even more forward to coming back to Turin in November!
In the performance installation Your Past belongs to Them Now, the audience will meet the performers in one-to-one situations set in a dystopian future scenario. In the fiction, the performers are part of a future resistance group dedicated to researching new ways of sensuously re-activating memories. The stories shared by the audience during their time in the installation are turned into an exhibition of a somatic archive of lost stories about European identity.
The performance will take place at Polo del ‘900 in Turin from Friday, 22 to Sunday, 24 November 2019, in a durational form. The event is free, with limited admissions: it will be possible to access the installation in small groups of 5/6 people, based on reserved slots. Entries will be regulated through an online reservation system that will be activated in the next few weeks.
For the occasion, on Friday evening, 22 November, FRidA – the Research Forum of the University of Turin – will organize a special edition of Parla con FRidA. An informal occasion to meet and chat with the multidisciplinary team of researchers involved in the project and discuss the issues raised by the performance and the social reading on Betwyll. More details will follow soon: meanwhile, save the date and follow us on Instagram!
Inga Gerner Nielsen has a BA in Sociology and a MA in Arts in Modern Culture. She is the co-founder of the performance collectives Club de la Faye and Fiction Pimps, as well as a partner in the futurist association House of Futures. Her artistic and scientific work is driven by her desire for framing and investigating how people experience and reflect upon the world. While studying sociology, she has developed new qualitative methods to document and study the subjective experience of performance art and the social situations it portrays. She is s a censor at Performance Design at Roskilde University and teaches courses in immersive strategies and performance documentation and research methods. Recently she’s been teaching Art in Context at Universität der Künste Berlin and New Performative Practices at DOCH, Stockholm University of the Arts.
Dagmar Bille Milthers received a BA in Art & Technology from Aalborg University in June 2019, and is currently working as an assistant to Inga Gerner Nielsen and academic employee to the Faculty of Humanities at AAU. From these positions she will use this project to assist in writing an academic paper on the use of interview techniques in a fictional frame with Associate Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, professor Falk Heinrich.
Eutopia Dystopia is a two-year project realized with the support of Compagnia di San Paolo under “Bando CivICa, progetti di Cultura e Innovazione Civica”.
Special thanks to FRidA – Forum della Ricerca di Ateneo for their engagement in the project promotion and research.