Wild Card residency for Imola Nagy
January 4-20, 2017 at Uferstudios Berlin
Report on the Wild Card Residency program at Uferstudios
by Imola Nagy:
I was participating at the Wild Card #15 residency program in Berlin, hosted and organized by Uferstudios Berlin within the period of 6th January – 20th January 2018. In this residency, I was researching on feedback formats in creation for our future collaboration with Ramóna Takács. The residency program covered research possibilities on feedback processes and interdisciplinary collaboration. I was offered to participate in the Tour of Tanztage/Feedback Lab goes Public, the interdisciplinary project Kollisionen – organized by the associated partner of Uferstudios: HZT Berlin / UDK – and the project RESPONSES – how to communicate (about) dance. The RESPONSES project included a Laboratory on feedback in artistic processes and a Symposium on audience development and dance mediation.
In the first week of my residency I took part in the Kollisionen project week in daytime and I went to see performances at night at the Tanztage Berlin dance festival. The Feedback Lab goes Public program series took place after the performances.
In the frames of the Kollisionen project week one could choose one project out of seventeen beforehand. All projects were investigating a field of interdisciplinarity, but with different tools. The participants were mostly art school students from different disciplines. I was looking for a project, where I can move, so my choice was PLAY RECORD: musician’s with the project leaders Prof. Nik Haffner (dance, choreography) and Prof. Dr. Michael Häfner (GWK / Communication Psychology). The project description suggested, that we are to be investigating on musical resonance, whether it plays in the body or the head, whether music needs movement, and that we are going to make a music video investigating all these questions. Despite of the great input (mostly already only from musical side) of the project leaders, their helpful presence and all the technical support offered by the facility, the week turned out to be only about making a music video, barely focusing on the ‘how’ of the creating process, but on the outcome. Unfortunately, there was no need for movement at all. The students, who chose this project were in majority from film making, editing and design studies, which led to an unwritten agreement in most of the groups, to follow their way of making. I could clearly feel the difference between the undergraduates and me in how we would use available and offered support. It was frustrating me that all the offered technical support was to some extent ignored by my group and there was no interest in experimenting with new, unknown ways of creating. By that, we probably would have risked a less showy result. Despite of all this, we created a music video, that is professional, fairly enjoyable with special irony and light humor. It was fun all in all, really. I am just not sure this is interdisciplinary creation and if we fulfilled the idea behind the Kollisionen project week.
Information about this project and the trailers of the music videos, we have made can be found here: https://campus-kollision.de/play-record-musican-ce/
In the evenings of the first week of my residency, I watched 6 performances on Tanztage Berlin 2018 dance festival in Sophiensaele, a very charismatic venue of contemporary art in Berlin. The performances were fresh and interesting, all very different from each other, while the topic of ‘being different’ was present in all of them and that brought them together. Another common element was the Let’s Talk About Dance - Feedback Lab goes Public program, which followed the performances. This program became a traditional side-program of the Tanztage Berlin over the last few years, and is in connection with the multi-year Laboratory on Feedback by HZT and Uferstudios. This year - accompanied and supervised by Sonja Augart and Inge Koks -, the former Tanztage artists: Rodrigo Garcia Alves, Olivia Hyunsin Kim and Kareth Schaffer were creating inspiring settings for exchange. One night’s setting for feedbacking was adjusted on that evening’s performance, so every event was consistent and adequate in the same time. Their slogan was: ‘We are all experts of our own perception!’. To reflect on that, in these feedback sessions, audience members were communicating with each other about the performance in different ways. On Let’s Talk About Dance the aim was not to analyze the performance itself, but to use associations, pair-games, other art forms to express or reflect on topics and questions of our lives, that were present in the performance. I understood, that sharing ideas, words, moves, drawings, sculptures, questions about the performance we just have seen all together, can bring realizations, show new ways of understanding. Of course, it has to remain a choice, whether to take part in a session like this after performance or not – sometimes it is liberating to take home the piece as I got it, and not to discuss it with anyone. Here, it was relieving to experience a new kind of feedbacking, where people were brought together, new viewpoints were introduced by learning from each other’s experiences, yet the piece could remain the piece I have seen. It didn’t evaporate by too much analysing, like it does sometimes on feedback sessions. Maybe because the whole thing was not about analysing, it was playing and understanding. I find their research on audience feedback formats very important and a good example to follow. I hear a lot mostly from people, who are not strongly connected to any art field: “I didn’t understand it, I couldn’t figure out what the artist wanted to say.” I think it would be evitable for people to know, that there are more ways to understand contemporary art and their way of understanding is relevant. I believe, that these kind of meetings after performances could be a good catalyser for this process and maybe in long term more people would be connected to contemporary art, than now.
After Tanztage Berlin and before the Laboratory on feedback in artistic processes I had a few days off, which were filled up by dance training at the amazing Studio laborgras and by watching a rehearsal of an almost premiering piece. For these extra programs I thank Inge Koks, my main contact and helper throughout the residency, that gave me introductions to Berlins dance scene, it’s aesthetics, supported my questions on my own artistic choices I was reflecting at the time, and offered and introduced me to a wide range of relevant multipliers and artists.
In the second part of my residency I took part in the RESPONSES – how to communicate (about) dance program at Uferstudios. In the frames of this program took place the Laboratory on feedback in artistic processes on 18th & 19th of January and a Symposium on dance mediation / audience development on 19th & 20th January.
On the laboratory, a group of artists, theoreticians and dramaturges examined the methods, ways and modes of feedback and their effectiveness in artistic work processes. I had the luck to learn about very different ways of understanding, using, dealing with feedback or feedback-like systems in the participants’ artistic life, who were – without any exaggeration – much more experienced in this topic, than I am so far.
We started with introduction, starting questions and getting familiar with the history of Feedback lab and its topics from 2014 till present. The main structure of the lab was, that throughout the two days we spent together dealing with feedback, every participant gave a contribution of a 20-30 minute speech basically about what feedback means to them in their artistic processes or life, how they use it and what are the questions, uncharted territories they would be interested experimenting with. These contributions were always followed by group-discussions, questions, brainstorming on feedbacking. It was super interesting to see how differently we think about the same thing, or sometimes how we speak under the same word about different meanings. I learned a lot from the diverse thinking of these artists, and I understood, that there is no ‘good way of feedbacking’, really. Of course, my thoughts were not that narrow about the topic beforehand either, but the variety of viewpoints on feedback definitely made me and my thinking braver. On the second day me and Yaron Maim, the more entrant-like participants gave a response on the Feedback lab itself and on what we are taking with us from this meeting.
So here are some broad remarks that I collected for myself in these two days:
- Always aim for productive feedback.
- Ask questions.
- Understand the perspective I give feedback from, in advance.
- Try to go for frankness, when giving feedback. Always with respectful, but not too careful wording.
- Shape a vocabulary for feedback. Be precise, clarify your references.
- Feedback is a specific thing, different for each process.
- Be brave about how I ask for, or how I give feedback.
- The timing of giving feedback is crucial.
- As an artist, work out ways to understand and implement the feedback I get.
As a closure, every participant took the topic into the future by writing five questions, thoughts on sticky notes about what is still there in connection with feedback that could be further discussed, experimented with, worked on etc. While introducing our notes, we made a wall of sticky notes, where similar topics got grouped together in space. Those notes are for future feedback labs, and I really hope there will be space and time for those concerns to be opened up and taken to next levels.
On the Symposium on dance mediation / audience development (originally: Symposium zur Tanzvermittlung), mediation experts, artists and curators discussed topics such as "mediation in urban society", "dance and communication" or "quality in mediation" in various panels. The Laboratory on Feedback in Artistic Processes 2013-2017 and the Feedback Lab goes Public as part of Tanztage Berlin, - two of the programs I have been part of in this residency - have also been introduced to the audience of the symposium in a presentation. I could follow interesting discussions on the socio-political effects of art mediation, the responsibility of dramaturges and mediation-experts in these processes, the role of institutions in art mediation, the effects of art mediation on society, ways mediation can connect the artist and the audience or groups of people together. Later, in groups we dealt with designing structural visions of the future of dance education and mediation. I took part in the workshop: Future visions for dance education (originally: Zukunftsvisionen für Tanzvermittlung), where we first collected thoughts on the importance of mediation in three sections:
- For me, as a person
- For institutions
- For the society
We introduced many different ideas, views, wishes for the future of dance education, dance mediation and in the end, we drew up a content-related manifesto. I had the feeling, that the question of art mediation is a much more important topic for the present contemporary art field of Germany, than it is in my country, in Hungary. I was surprised and astonished in the same time, that there is actually space, time and need for the topic to be discussed on such a level, and to find solutions for. All my respect for this! In the end, some questioning thoughts gathered in me. The wish about art mediation is one way or the other to have art, - and in this case dance - in people’s everyday life. To bring people together, who would otherwise probably never meet, for example because of different interests. So, a part of it is the wish to educate. In the same time, it resembles my problem with sight-specific dance performances in a way: we are not missionaries to tell people what should interest them by putting art literally in front of their eyes, pushing it into their everyday life, without being asked to do so. This would pre-assume, that workers of the art field have a more valid knowledge on what people need in their lives, and therefore they feel entitled and responsible to inform everyone about that. We have to respect, that art is maybe not for everyone and dance does not interest everyone in our society. So, when we work on art mediation, we should do it in a way, that we would not in any case tell people what to do or what to love, still give opportunities for them to try out new things, welcome art in their lives. I guess there is a fine line here and it is important searching for.
I would like to thank the Workshop Foundation, Budapest and the Uferstudios, Berlin for the cooperative organization of my Wild Card Residency program. I learned, and I take a lot of thoughts with me.
Imola Nagy 2018.02.25.
04.01.17 - 20.01.17