In our workshop we explored urban nature, sensed our surroundings and examined different ways to experience the city. Normally during our excursions we are happy to look for places that are left aside, in the shade. However, this was not possible with CARPA6 conference, because the conference venue, the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, is located in the very centre of Helsinki. In our workshop we asked: What is bodily energy and how is it generated? What does the encountering between two or more subjects or between subject and object produce? What is the importance of corporeality and embodiment? What will happen when the spoken language is excluded, and what language does the body use in these situations? The exercise consisted of collective exercises based on bodily sensations. During the exercises we paid attention to our senses and let them guide us. The exercises opened different ways of observing and experiencing the environment. Our aim is to understand sensory experiences from the perspective of human and through that open up the question of non-human experience, which leads to the question of existence and ecology. We explore the ethical power structures of authorship and the politics of body.
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Ajauksia group explores and delivers experiential sense knowledge with artistic tools. Its working methods are based on equal decision-making and anonymity, bodily and sensory exercises. Art can interrupt, suspend and penetrate the everyday life of the consumer-experiencer. Together we can deconstruct and re-liberate the construct of art and discover a polyphony of voices.
The core ideas of our practice in the Ajauksia group are shared responsibility and respect with space for diversity and dissidence. We ask: What is bodily energy and how is it generated? What does the encountering between two or more subjects or between subject and object produce? What is the importance of corporeality and embodiment? What will happen when the spoken language is excluded, and what language does the body use in these situations?
The workshops consist of collective exercises based on bodily sensations. During the exercises we pay attention to our senses and let them guide us. The exercises are opening different ways of observing and experiencing the environment. Sensory input offers possibilities to variety of experiences, a dialogue and encounters with the environment. Our aim is to understand sensory experiences from the perspective of human and through that open up the question of non-human experience, which leads to the question of existence and ecology.
We explore the ethical power structures of authorship and the politics of body. What is shared authorship? How does it come about? What is the role of ownership and power in the context of authorship? Can they be deconstructed, and if so, how?
We explore and deliver experiential knowledge with artistic tools. Our working methods are based on equal decision-making and bodily and sensory exercises. We are also exploring the possibility of an artist acting anonymously. Art can interrupt, suspend and penetrate the everyday life of the consumer-experiencer. Together we can deconstruct and re-liberate the construct of art and discover a polyphony of voices.
The excursion in the CARPA6 conference – the locations and the given exercises:
1. Inside Kiasma:
Participants come to the starting place. We welcome them. We mention some practical things regarding like the duration of the trip and a bag storage. We ask people to close the mobile phones. We lead people out.
2. Joint start, in the yard of Kiasma:
Welcome to the workshop by Ajauksia group.
I am — We, the members of Ajauksia, introduce ourselves by saying our first names.
During the workshop we are trying to slow down to disengaged from speech, to give ourselves time and space.
All these exercises are proposals. You can stop the exercise if you feel so, and you can move to the side. If you want to stop the workshop, please let us to know it.
You control the intensity of your experience. The exercises make propositions to be aware and respect your surroundings and the other ones around you.
Do you have any questions?
Okay, let’s start. Centre yourself and feel how your body is standing on the ground. Open your senses to see and feel the whole surroundings. Feel the pressure on the bottoms of your feet and the other natural sensations of standing. Let yourself be present. There are three steps on this walk:
(1) Lift your foot off the ground. (2) Move your foot forward. (3) Let your foot touch the ground, heel first. During the walk keep your attention on the sole of your feet. Feel your feet touching the ground. Feel how the ground feels underneath your feet. Be aware of the beginning, the middle, and the end of your stepping. Relax and let your walking be easy and natural, but slow.
3. From the yard of Kiasma, through the Citizen’s Square, in front of the Helsinki Music Centre, into the yard of Hakasalmi Villa:
We walk for about ten minutes while sensing movement and observing the environment.
4. In the yard of Hakasalmi Villa:
This is an exercise in three parts. (1) First, choose one thing, it can be for example a plant, a tree or a construction. Something organic or non-organic, but not any human. Go to it, look at it, touch it. If possible, give your weight a bit to it. And finally, breathe with it in the same rhythm. You can move here at close range. You can take time about ten minutes. Then, come back here. (2) Take a partner. Show each other your things. Then, go to your partner’s thing and experience it. Your partner goes to your thing and experience it. (3) Finally, share your experiences with your partner, by talking. Tell your partner what you thought or experienced and listen to what your partner tells you.
5. Joint discussion:
In the end, we invite the participants to a joint discussion and tell that they are free to tell about their thoughts and experiences during the excursion. They can comment, ask, give feedback or just listen. – After a lively discussion, we thank everyone for participating.
Ajauksia group discusses
We discuss, what the re-liberation of authorship, democratic decision-making and collegiality mean for us, in Ajauksia.
What does the re-liberation of authorship mean to you?
It means that I can be the inviter, asker, interviewer or instigator, and I can therefore attract others to join. I, however, do not name myself as an author, but I can be among the authors. Authorship is not in anyone’s ownership. Or, authorship can vary during the process, there can be several various creators and it can disappear and appear, on and off. We can take turns for instance, alternate or play with authorship to asking and questioning it.
I see authorship as a structure which strengthens and underlines an artist’s production and its ownership. Today a brand is created by an artist, which have harnessed for consumption purposes. In a broader sense I think of authorship as a part of society’s system, a structure, which is invented and established by the human self. These systematic power or dependency relations are matters which authors of art should recognise. How do they influence our behaviour andhow do we negotiate our dependency in our own artistic action?
What about democratic decision-making?
There are different actors who want to work together on something for a common cause. Procedures have to be agreed of which everyone approves. Democracy requires activity, it makes us work for the common good. Difference brings discussion, reflection, evaluation, re-evaluation, all the time. Plans that are agreed together show how new, forthcoming matters can be resolved. Democracy means equality but not sameness.
Democracy demands constant negotiation and also solving what is negotiable, which matters belong to mutual agreement and which matters are outside of collective agreement. Participants in democracy cannot only follow their own direction. Procedures agreed together mean that occasionally we act contrary to our own idea.
It is about being heard and agreeing to compromises – negotiation, accepting difference and accepting astate of disagreement and making space for that. We have been exposed to these situations and we have been able to agree and work together based on the agreements. It is a constant balancing act, coordinating one’s artistic proposals with the common aim.
What about collegiality?
A colleague is a person you can trust. Together we can reflect on our work and ask and give help to each other. Collegiality is reciprocal. It lacks hierarchy, or it has been decided to put the hierarchies aside. This requires that hierarchies are identified and acknowledged.
It is an appreciation of the other’s area of expertise or respect of the researcher’s perspective and learning from it – hearing and listening to another, starting to help and supporting another. An ability to act emphatically and equally. Democratic and collegial decision-making (planning the sense exercises) together with other group members, has directly affected to that the sensitivity of how I listen to other group members and participants during the exercise itself.
Ajauksia group consists of four artists from Finland, from different art fields. It organizes events like excursions in urban environments with an ambition to re-liberate authorship and the articulation of the body. The group has worked since 2017 in art and research contexts, for example:
- 2017: The Politics of Artistic Research. A Collective Authorship as a medium of Resistance workshop. SAR (The Society for Artistic Research) conference in the Uniarts Helsinki. – Marks in the view and a trace of the landscape workshop. Back to Senses – Exploring Future Directions of Arts Education. Hollo symposium. The Theatre Academy of the Uniarts Helsinki. –
- 2018: The Marks in the view and a trace of the landscape workshop. The First Global Radical Relevances Conference Otaniemi Campus of Aalto University, Helsinki. – The Marks in the view and a trace of the landscape workshop. 9th Art and Management Conference. Brighton Business School, University of Brighton, UK. – Sensory Exercise. Participative lecture demonstration in the Post Doc Art event Artists, Institutions and Social Responsibility. In the Centre for Artistic Research, Uniarts Helsinki. –
- 2019: Sensory Excursion in Urban Space. In the Convocation on Expanded Language-based Practices as part of the Research Pavilion #3 project in Venice. – On Democracy. Lecture as dialogue, in the concluding seminar of the Research Pavilion #3 project in the Exhibition Laboratory. Uniarts Helsinki.