This is an ongoing artistic research project between renata gaspar, myself and various non-human collaborators. We work with piles of sand, gravel and rubble and explore their materiality and the narrative possibilities of our exchange. the piles themselves bring particular attention to the interconnectedness of the spaces surrounding us. Working with piles enables us to expand our knowledge of the senses - A knowledge that grows through conciously relating to our surroundings.
a gathering of stories
A pile of sand not only is a gathering of several elements, but also an archive of various stories. a pile of sand marks a moment in between places, in between states of being, and in between functions and possible futures. Specifically, a pilematerialises the connections between sites of extraction of natural resources and the sites of construction of human society. Throughout the process of their formation, piles gather numerous physical and narrative identities. In this way, a pile of sand or earth is also a repository of experiences, a nomadic collection of stories whose form is always in a state of becoming.
ground needs care
Piles both shape and incorporate different places in their bodies. Their embodied connection to the ground paradoxically uncovers the interdependency of scales – soil, landscape, ecosystem, planet – and, the ways in which ground is also the terrain on which humans conceive and establish their socio-political, economic, and ecological relationships. The ground that needs care and repair. The ground wounded by compulsive mining, and other systems of extraction and exploitation of resources and people, under the legacy of colonial violence.
learning the language
Having a non-human as collaborator in our art-making invites an ongoing reflection on the kind of place(s) we build in and through our collaboration, and our roles in shaping it. How do we position ourselves, not only in relation to one another, but also in relation to the ‘voice’ we are attributing to the pile? How do we perform our acts of ‘translation’ when ascribing a language and specific topics to a non-human?
If a pile of sand could speak to us about power, what would it tell us? The installation stories from the perspective of piles is an artistic exploration of piles and their different meanings. The work includes a collection of photographs taken during ourjourney throughout Occupied Palestine in march 2016, fictional and non-fictional text, and pictures of different model piles.
Throughout the process of their formation, piles gather many trajectories, both physical and narrative. For example, depending on their location and context, piles indicate the place of a future infrastructure, or of a recently destroyed building, or like in most cases across Occupied Palestine, where permanent acts of rebuilding take place, piles can also suggest defiance and a mode of resistance.
Published in „Fieldnotes on Non-Human Praxes. Collaborative Processes between Performative Arts, Science and the Non-Human“, in: Collaborative Research in Theatre and Performance Studies. Global Performance Studies and the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, GPS issue 4.2 & JDTC issue 36.1, 2021
"We are in this together" - was an experimental reading group that took place within the context of the reallabor at Theaterformen 2021 in Hannover. Merging the themes of our own practice with those of the festival - climate justice and accessibility - we discussed works by artists and theorists dealing with our culturally shaped relationships to space and so-called „nature“. In various exercises we created different foci for the senses placing them at the center of our knowledge production.
This visual and written exchange is an excerpt from a collaboration between the two of us - as artists and as friends. It is a snapshot of our ongoing conversation about questions of space, place, and materialities – in this particular case using a pre-defined channel on telegram. It is a passage from an unplanned archive of correspondence, which began after the creation of the piece stories from the perspective of piles. This practice of correspondence (through our friendship) is the place where our different artistic backgrounds and personal experiences (as research artist/stage designer and performance artist/researcher, respectively) meet, interact, and influence one another. As mobile interlocutors between different places, piles carry on traveling along our friendship. The various journeys and connotations which piles can amass continue to tempt our curiosity - They motivate our dialogue about the terms of our surroundings, our living and our working. this selection of moments in our correspondence is a fragment of the ground upon which we began to build the piece correspondence on migrating sediments.
correspondence on migrating sediments is a three-part project consisting of a sound installation (Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen & the National Theatre of Namibia, Windhoek), a performance (TAK Berlin), and a Text that was created for the publication of the owela festival. The main character of our project – a pile of sand – is the only performer on stage (both when we conceived it as ‘installation’ and ‘performance’), upon whom a dramaturgy of sound, light and smoke is cast. the pile, a migrant in transit, speaks of her journey, not toward ‘integration’, as envisioned by dominant discourses on migration, but rather toward possibility and further creation. The pile’s tale of how words and concepts travel with the movement of her body expose the interconnectedness of sonic and semantic territories, as well as the untranslatability of some of the borders encountered (material and symbolic). Piles have their own language; a language marked by scattered lines of evasion.
My artistic research on the narrative possibilities of piles of sand or gravel began when I was strolling through the streets of Hildesheim, searching for strories that would make the dynamic nature of space more tangible. These first experiments resulted in a collection of images, woodcuts and anecdotes that I gathered in this booklet.