Karoliina Loimaala: Performances in Kunstenfestivaldesarts

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I have spent some spring time in green Brussels during May, the month of a big performing arts festival Kunstenfestivaldesarts. The festival lasts for three weeks, and every day there are several performances – meaning you cannot really conquer it all but you have a lot of choice. The festival tries to offer a wide spectrum of things to see. Dance, theatre, films, concerts. When I scroll through the program, it consists of an international field. Artists from Europe, Africa, South America, Asia. In the substances I encounter themes such as boundaries, us, them, absence, presence, history, today, technology, politics. The performances take stands on racism, division, norms, worries about where we are going, and take shots in the history of dance. I have concentrated more on dance performances, with some video works and one concert. I have walked in gallery spaces and black boxes. I see performances, reflect and write about them, and try to think of them in relation to my own artistic practice. Brussels is my other hometown besides Helsinki where I´ve been spending time for the past year in the MA program of choreography. It´s interesting to return after some time and influence in another place. 

Going to the performances, something that really struck me was Monument 0.4: Lores & Praxes by Hungarian Eszter Salamon. An immersive six-hour-long dance piece, composed from war dances and dances of resistance from different continents, performed by a cast from four continents. Energy, transformation, power and fragility in shape of dances we see less in the western European context and talks letting a thought out in the air concerning hierarchy, democracy that we practice starting from our own bodies, continuing it further and further. Can we say thank you to the body and treat it with better care? Can we expand this thing out of our own bodies and multiply it? What are possible methods to trigger transformative power and where does the power take place? 

Another something that pierced my mind were video works by a Tunisian artist, Ismaïl Bahri. I followed what seemed like simple processes, a paper burning, reflections on an ink, or wind, shadows and shapes on a white sheet while listening to silence, noises of traffic or dialogues with passers-by. Through a focus an opening happened. Time dissolves and your tissues soften while entering a process of experiencing a performance, a process starts. A simple thing framed with care and respect toward the thing itself, opens a world. It´s like a veil that catches you from behind you when you are in love. You´re held and you´re not quite sure by what. His works brought the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead into my mind. A world of actual occasions and only experiencing subjects. How is the burning paper experiencing? What is the view of the ink, or the tree I see looking at me through the ink, or the wondering guy passing by the filming event? The prehensions do not just happen in my mind but all the minds and forms of organic or non-organic matter, from the paper cup to the pavement we just passed. I perceive the films as very poetic. And they add on to the cast of international human artists, that don´t relate merely between themselves but to the entire world.