SPACE AUTOMATISM

Ingvild Holm, Østfold University College, Norwegian Theatre Academy

Ingvild Holm is a performing artist with a multidisciplinary background situated between theatre, performance, actionist practices, writing and visual arts, leading to an interest in the power of spaces.

SPACE AUTOMATISM investigates how spaces for theatre and live art work, – what they actually do as materials and architecture, as well as their historical, social, economic and political structures. The project looks for content that we forget to communicate, choose not to talk about, or take for granted. It looks for possibilities and consequences in modernistic, classical and other more nomadic venues, to say something about what the specific site or institution does to the artistic content, in relation to how and what we produce and present, and how it communicates.

To do this I give the main role (in my research play) to space itself, and present new spaces in different art forms. I perform these protagonists in sketches or stunts, as live anthropomorphisms, and as visual art or texts. I don’t play in, but with space and architecture, as something to put on, to wear, as a physical problem. I investigate this through critical and popular traditions in object oriented forms which deals with processes, dysfunctionality and risk in a chain of smaller and bigger theatre machines and mobile sculptures.

The word Automat is Greek for something that moves itself. It is used on a machine that dispenses goods when money is inserted, and it describes the way our brains categorize and simplifies complexity. My institutional critique is not at all new, but in theatre it never really happened, or we forgot. To be big or small, periphery or central implies if you’re top or bottom, sexy or sad, but says little about content or quality. In Norway the institutions grow and ‘professionalize’ in big administrations and signature buildings, perhaps turning inwards towards their own language and preconceptions, and away from both the audience and the art? Being outside the institution is a truly precarious practice, and often means to make things that almost no one sees. To be inside an institution with a bit of money, a public department or at least some artistic credibility seems safer and easier, but at what cost? Can we actually choose ‘for Arts sake’? In times where visibility is crucial, – maybe the consequence is that Art tries to fit the institution, and not itself?

Norwegian Theatre Academy has a history from puppetry and German Figurentheater which provides me with object oriented theory, closely related to performance- and installation art, and to concepts of the historical avant-gardes’ art figures, über-marionettes, manikins, robots and automats, often derived from critical and popular forms. My artistic research project refers among others to works by Heiner Goebbels, Oskar Schlemmer and Charlie Kaufman, artists who make works without the live actor, and where ‘The thing is the thing’. In a material world, and as a material strategy, my investigation is done through animation of dead objects, but the research is about life, ethics, value, and the vital importance of Art.

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