VestAndPage, DYAD IX (Open & Closed),
Solyanka Gallery, Moscow (2015). Photograph © Igor Chernyshov.

Project ID In-Between Identities

Performance Site Den Haag is glad to present a two-week international performance art project in The Hague:

“Project ID In-Between Identities”
25 June to 7 July 2019
The Hague, The Netherlands

Applications for the Intensive Residency Class by VestAndPage & Marilyn Arsem are now accepted on a rolling base until May 30, 2019 through http://bit.do/project-id.

DATES & VENUE|
• Open Call Residency Class tutored by VestAndPage & Marilyn Arsem: Tuesday, June 25 – Wednesday, July 3, 2019
• Exhibition, evening lectures and artist talks at Stichting Ruimtevaart: Friday, June 28 and Sunday, 30, 2019
• Collective performance opera: Friday, July 5, 2019 • Live performance program at De Helena and De Barthkapel: Friday 5  – Sunday, 7 July 2019

Project ID In-Between Identities is a temporary creative community project aiming to face artistically the issue of the crisis of identity, working in performance art through personal and the societal conceptions of individuality. In a 10-days intensive Residency Class, P.s. Den Haag provides for a space to develop solo and collective performances under the tuition of artist duo VestAndPage together with Marilyn Arsem, to be presented during the weekend July 5 – 7, 2019 in a public event. A collective performance opera, solo and collaborative performances by the participants and additional invited international artists, as well as lectures and an exhibition, happen in the centre of The Hague at the former school building De Helena, Stichting Ruimtevaart, and De Barthkapel, a suggestive old convent chapel.

• The intensive Residency Class is tutored in a joint methodological process by VestAndPage and Marilyn Arsem
• For the Residency Class, we are calling for a maximum of 20 international artists, performers, actors, movers, sound artists and poets interested in a collaborative and physical art practice, including all levels of experience and different abilities.
• We are able to offer the Residency Class for the total costs of €450.-  

This includes shared accommodation at The Hague Hostel and vegetarian meals during the period of the project (With arrival on June 24 and departure on July 8, 2019).

(Participants who count on private accommodation, or who intend to assist only the Residency Class excluding the public event weekend, please contact us for the price.)

• Applications for Project ID – In Between Identities are now accepted on a rolling base until May 30, 2019. To apply, please fill in and submit the application form on http://bit.do/project-id.

• For further information please contact: performancesitedenhaag@gmail.com. (Please whitelist this email on your account to not miss our notifications.)

VESTANDPAGE

Artist Verena Stenke and artist and writer Andrea Pagnes have been working together since 2006 as VestAndPage, creating live performances, performance-based films, performance visuals, and poetic writings since over a decade, exploring performance art as phenomena through their collaborative creative practice, as well as through theoretical artistic research and temporary artistic community projects. Their art practice is contextual and situation-responsive, conceived psycho-geographically in response to social contexts, natural surroundings, historical sites, and architectures. In a “Poetics of Relations” they examine notions of temporalities, memory strata, communication and fragility of the individual and the collective within social and environmental spheres, applying the themes of trust in change, union, endurance, pain sublimation and risk-taking with a poetic bodily approach to art practice and a focus on universal human experiences. While encompassing a range of subtly different concepts, they primarily express VestAndPage’s view on reality while adding or revealing poetic elements as a rebellion against the exercise of power and discrimination among human beings. www.vest-and-page.de

VestAndPage, Thou Twin of Slumber: Hemolymph, VIVO Media Arts Centre, Vancouver (2013). Photograph © Ash Tuyaksuyk | Vandocument

MARILYN ARSEM

Marilyn Arsem has been creating live events since 1975, from solo gallery performances to large-scale, site-specific works at festivals, conferences, alternative spaces, galleries, museums and universities in 29 countries throughout North and South America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Thematically, her work has ranged from feminist deconstruction of images of traditional women’s work, to performances concerning the Cold War, to the impact of US imperialism in countries throughout the world, to works about environmental issues. The topic to which she has continually returned over the years has been our understanding of time, its passing, and mortality. She presented 100 Ways to Consider Time at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, which was 100 different six-hour performances in 103 days, from November 9, 2015 to February 19, 2016. Over the years Arsem has experimented with different ways of designing performances so that audiences share responsibility in making the work. In some cases, the audience is given control over the actions of the performer, in other works the audience has taken a specific role in creating the event. This reflects an interest in redefining power structures and illuminating how meaning is generated and shared between people. She is a member and founder of Mobius, Inc., a Boston-based collaborative of interdisciplinary artists. She taught at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston for 27 years, establishing one of the most extensive programs internationally in visually-based performance art. www.marilynarsem.net

Wakening II,
the second of four performances (Wakening I-IV) on four consecutive nights,
as part of “1 A.M.”
a double bill with Riverbed Theatre Company
Song Shan Cultural Park, Taipei, Taiwan.
December 22-25, 2017
Photo by Craig Quintero

PERFORMANCE SITE DEN HAAG  
P.S. Den Haag is an artist-run organisation based in The Hague, creating space for a wide range of performance art practices and educational opportunities. Since 2016, P.s. organises performance art events in The Hague with international guest artists facing topics that aim to inspire insight, research and discussion. www.performancesite.nl

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ABOUT PROJECT ID IN-BETWEEN IDENTITIES

By Marilyn Arsem and VestAndPage

Stuart Hall outlines in the essay “Cultural Identity and Diaspora” (1990) that modern identities are no longer fixed but emerge as “unstable points of identification or suture, which are made within the discourses of history and culture.” In his words, life stories are not determined exclusively by class, race, gender, and religion, but instead there is a mixed ancestry; an identification with diversity in countries, traditions, values and beliefs. While the raised global interactions are causing a re-evaluation of traditions and lifestyles, an awareness of individual and collective change springs from the urgency to find new modes of shaping our identities and life stories. Performativity as a language calls for continuous transformation and functions as a form of social action, while contemporary performance art as a logical art form shapes, communicates, confirms and honours the value of differing life stories in multiple contexts.

Is it identity something given, defined, constructed over time, therefore everchanging?

Is it a profile? Is it a concept?… How can a human being come from a concept?

Who am I? What am I? Am I the other face of you? Am I what I think I am? Am I what you think I am, when you see me, as you see me?

The merging methodologies offered by Marilyn Arsem and VestAndPage in this joint immersive Residency Class explore ways of excavating our own psyches through artistic practice, in order to locate and develop a performative language around the ever-shifting notion of “identity”. We perform identities every day through how we present ourselves publicly, and how we engage with each other is often based on our assumptions about others’ potential identities. A fluidity emerges as we move between diverse contexts and encounter a variety of people and communities. We shift between presentations of ourselves that we are actively constructing, to other more unconscious manifestations of ourselves. The quest for identity is not only a crucial political issue, but a profoundly philosophical dilemma – if the value of philosophy lies in showing the fly the way out of the bottle to the path to truth and freedom (Wittgenstein), in fact we continue turning around the problem and trying to solve it by assigning more labels that only cage and box us further. Like the fly imprisoned in the bottle, we could define our identity in a thousand ways but would never be able to understand it in its essence and extension, as long as we are unable to uncage ourselves.

Does art and performance art hold the chance for this to happen?

The senses of the fly reveal the world to be all encompassing, and yet the fly cannot access that world. Instead, it keeps hitting the walls of the glass prison not understanding the very nature of the barriers to freedom. The senses, if left to induce purely instinctual reactions, can tell part of a truth of the world but not all of it. And in the same way as for the fly, the senses do not reveal the way out of the bottle – and the idea of identity is next to impossible to grasp. Yet, if we imagine ourselves free of all labels, judgements and separations, we can begin to understand id-entity as “sameness, oneness, state of being the same.” That is the meaning of the word “identity” – from the Latin id(em): the same, and entity, “that which is”, forming the Latin ens “a thing” and esse “to be”, in turn from the neuter of present participle of the Greek verb einai “to be.”

Is identity a place we enter, or that of simply being?

VestAndPage contribute to the Project ID Residency Class with their co-creation method of art making, distinguished by a collaborative and transdisciplinary ethos. Starting from the notion of “identity crisis” reflected in social and philosophical systems, participants are stimulated to identify artistic-social, philosophical and finally poetic approaches through art and proactive collective dialogues. For VestAndPage, this aims to favour independent relationships among the participating artists, which can lead to long-term networks growing after the conclusion of the project.

Taking inspiration from Wittgenstein’s philosophical intuition, which subtends that any definition due to language represents an identifying limitation, we aim attention to the sensorial exploration of the Self in relation and intuitive response to the surrounding. In this “Poetics of Relations”, there is no announcement for the senses to perceive, no result prescribed on paper. Our bodies are spaces that are empty and full at the same time: spaces of silence and sites of forgetfulness, perception and discovery through memory activation; there where to perform stands out as an act of survival amid people, objects, norms, and ruins – all of which are parts of ourselves. We are immobile with only the breath, our inert bodies setting free the awareness and readiness to stand between light and dark, holding tragedy and bliss at each side at a hand. We regain the quality of presence to finally spark motions, images and words that emerge and echo from the roots of silence, like footprints in the water that still do not know how to walk. We inhabit the absence of ourselves in the rusty grain of a metal beam, a scrap of cement, in the fragility of a spider web, the vanishing of air, the texture of a sound.

Our identities exist in our corporealities and mind structures, which are made of the same material as our dreams are made of. The nothingness is like a well, where everything coexists in the very instant of its disappearance. And if for this reason we had sought this form that in our power of recall witnessed the existence of the whole, we would not ask ourselves with what charm or statement to dress ourselves today.

Marilyn Arsem brings to the Project ID Residency Class her more than fourty-year of experience in designing interactive performances, directing group performances, as well as her extensive solo performance practice. She works individually with participants to develop solo performances, focussing on the fluidity of identity and the different ways in which we present ourselves depending on the context in which we are operating. Arsem facilitates performance exercises to help the artists not only to examine how to manifest different personae but also to explore ways of engaging the audience in performance. In addition to providing coaching for artists on their individual practice, Arsem works with VestAndPage in the development of the group’s collective performance opera.

With her artistic wisdom and performance genius, Arsem focuses on the dynamic that an artist creates with an audience, and the kinds of roles and identities that are constructed and manifested through the work for both the artist and the audience. The artist’s use of time and space is part of creating that dynamic. Finally, it is the artist who determines the rules of engagement, and who establishes the kind of relationship that exists between oneself and the other. Experimenting with those variables within the context of the work, can open up more possibilities of ways to present the performance. Arsem proposes articulating individual goals for the work, the understanding that they wish for themselves and what they want to learn from it, and the experience that they hope an audience might have in encountering the work.

Marilyn Arsem and VestAndPage have conceived the joint Project ID Intensive Residency Class as an opportunity for artists to create an experiential space that extends personal knowledge and generates a genuine work-in-progress to grow an individually and collectively transformative culture. The participants are invited to explore through specific training sessions how to value time as well as the fragile limits that constitute the artist and individual. We will focus on the human body as a primary tool of artistic creation throughout its reading, its interactions with the others and within a given reality. To search for identity through performance art means to relate to the body as a still unknown landscape that invites us to search for hidden and potential manifestations — the vital flowing stream that traverses the body. The physical body is taken for a membrane that encloses, protects and reflects all those creative, emotional, intellectual and spiritual tensions that constitute the being as a site from where new meanings spring. To perform through the creative use of the body offers the chance to level what the deceptive mind might see as troubled, diverse and different beyond the boundaries of body representation.

Arsem and VestAndPage tackle issues such as existential conflicts, alienation, discomfort, and how to react to them through specific exercises of e.g. the aesthetic oversight of the performative space, and the questioning and evaluation of imagery, body language and movements. In a context of mutual sharing, session are conceived to confront life experiences through art, allowing for a non-casual synthesis between a plurality of self-biographies; to facilitate different levels and modes of interaction and relationships; to build mutual trust and strengthen group dynamics, quality of presence, and self-reliance. Arsem and VestAndPage intend this practice to result in actions that accompany the artists’ truth and human nature, to realise their full potential. To say it with Socrates, a self-aware person must act entirely within his/her capabilities to their pinnacle, to become aware of every fact relevant to one’s existence if one wishes to attain self-knowledge. Reality, social contexts, personal experiences and cultural backgrounds all follow the traces of the mutations of a Self striving to reconcile ethics with aesthetics, and to contravene or transgress the normative.

Performance art is seen here as a relational practice through audience engagement based on the ethics of care. Respect, responsibility, altruism, dissensus and behavioural patterns are aspects that can offer a value-free approach to ethics, and an opportunity to examine reality through the actual choices made by agents in practice – the artist who generously gives and provides. The process of art-making is eventually an instrument of creative freedom: a freedom that is political, social, civil, individual, intimate, or of any other genre – ultimately poetic. This serves to gain a deeper understanding of our human nature and the scope of human knowledge, redirecting the Self to explore unknown territories.

The Project ID In-Between Identity Residency Class is for artists who are eager to be wholly immersed into a reality that brings into focus prejudices and assumptions in order to undermine them. In this context you should not be hesitant to tune, offer, pull sharply, lay bare, and uncover. You are invited to join the common ground and have yourself over a barrel, to hazard, assess, lay it on the line, hit for, strike down, ground, try out, tax to the limit, collect, edge and hive, lay down your arms, hammer away – get started, break into, scrutinize, and step forth. Eventually, to enjoy the present state of being, trusting that vulnerability, fragility and failure are part of our human nature and the reality of ever-changing identities – with our precarious existence always at risk.