∆ORIST∆ — Andressa Cantergiani
by Francisco Dalcol[i]
A performance is always an action, the unravelling of an action, the creation of circumstance. It is an artistic manifestation that happens on its own time frame, in many ways, itself formulating its duration. The performance corresponds to its own duration, to the moment that is presentified. Once it’s finished, it becomes something that has already been.
But how do you relate with photography, videos and other works made from performances that have already happened, or that evolve into new actions by artists? Are those just records or an integral part of the work? Is there a way to define the difference between what is documented and what is staged? By the way, is this distinction really operative? Wouldn’t it be more relevant investigating if and how this imagens, sounds and objects lengthen the temporality of performances, and in some cases leaning into specialization and visual formalization?
These are some of the questions that give life to the curatorial thought of this individual exhibition at Ecarta Gallery, dedicated to the works made by Andressa Cantergiani (Caxias do Sul, 1980) in the field of performance art in the recent years, in different parts of the world. From a multimídia and transdisciplinar optic, the artist crisscrosses her feminist political statements with poetic actions that use the body as field of experimentation. Her work is born as an answer and as reaction in face of question in the social and political field. Misoginy, patriarchy, womanhood, harassment, coup, gentrification, urban transformations, the relationship between the public space and the controlling society are some of the guidelines that make her agenda, always recognizing herself from the place fomr which she speaks, as well as her roles – woman, white, middle class, mother, artist and cultural manager.
But how to organize and exhibition based on artistic practices like Andressa Cantergiani’s, that happen live, in front and in contact with the public, leaving photographies, videos and objects thereafter?
In an artistic performance the document occupies a privileged place in the meaning of the work, many times as a building block and not just as a simple record. Privileged and, because of that, prblematic as well. Firstly, because there’s a regimen that tries to create distinction between what is documented and what has been directed. In the first we would have the registration of a real action that happen and has been captured in images and/or sounds. On the second one, the registration of an action that has been oriented to be captured in images and/or sounds. The difference can, initially, tranquilize us when observing performance works like the ones made by Andressa Cantergiani. However, very little can be sustained in front of the creation of realities that is inherent to the status of photography and film, in the same way in which artists shuggle the codes of what is real and what is staged, destituting through their actions the solidity of those conventions. In the end, is as if the differences between the documental and the staged have very little relevance.
Secondly, because there’s the materiality of art, that, for a long time now, is not a condition or prerogative to the presentation of a work of art – and even of it’s existence as one. In performance the act is fundamental, your duration and the consequent engagement of connection that is stablished between the artist and the people present. However, it’s undeniable the immaterial characteristic of art has assigned to its documentation, in special to performative manifestations, the work to refer to something that isn’t anymore, because it has happened in the past. In this way, on one hand documentation “evokes the unrepeability of the time of living” (p. 78), as Borys Groys [ii] says, on thw other hand it tends to materialize the presence of absence.
One can demure this comprehension, pointing out a fetishization of the artistic strategies and operations whose potency is intrinsic to their happening, their here and now. However, there’s something deeper to be analyzed. The documentation of performance works doesn’t correspond only to the registration of a past action that happened in a singular time and space. It doesn’t also correspond only with the objective of amplifying the access to works that only those who had the chance to experience it factually.
The interest for documentation corresponds to ampler transformations, in which art operate, as Groys says in the “formation of an artificially moulded lifetime” (p. 77). Reality always being a construction, and art the operation that intervenes in this real, artificializing it, “time, duration and, thus, life cannot be presented directly, but only documented” (p. 77). In this sense the real is built and i salso mediated, “documentation of art is (…) the art of making living things through artificial things” (p. 78). Since this lifetime is produced and coordinated by the artist’s operations, any decision and choice is always the result of one’s positioning, converting them in act and political gesture.
In Andressa Cantergiani’s works, is not always easy to determine that photographies, videos and other registries of performances constitute just the documentation of the work or the opposite, that are directed actions for the camera. They refer always to past actions, but also register those actiones as if they themselves were made for the photographic of filmic dispositive. In other words, thought out to have their afterwards. This instigating indistinction gains power in face of the array of art works gathered in this exhibition, sometimes in conversation, other times in confrontation, offering an undeniable sense of extension of the temporality of their birthing performances.
From here on, one can understand the curatorial thinking directed to Andressa Cantergiani’s production, with a possibility of entrance and understanding. With this exhibition, we are searching a way of exploring modes and strategies of presentation and activation of performative works that had theis happening in another time and place. New works are also presented, that the artist developed for this exhibition, all of them attached to performances that had already happened. In some of them the tendency of materialization and spacialization is pronounced, be it for the creation of tridimensional object or the instalative character of the work.
This expography mobilizes the documentation of performances already made by the artist in conjunction with works that unfolded from this actions, articulating them in the gallery, less as reenactment of the works and more as a punctuation of trails, vestiges, residuum and materialities that rehearse their own performativity. It’s an idea close to what is proposed by Phillip Auslander [iii], when he says that the documentation of art has a performativity in itself. This takes us to the main question that appeared in this curatorial research developed together with the artist for this exhibition: that the documentation not only resends itself to the situation that originated the performance, but it’s also a part of it as it offers the condition for an extender temporality. In other words, the document can find a performativity that is able to perform the performance, extending your duration in the ways of an operation that artificially intervenes on that real, in the ways exposed above. As Auslander said:
Ït’s not about seeing the document as being this indexical point of access to a past event, but to perceive the document in itself as a performance that reflects directly the sensibility or the aesthetic project of an artist in which we are the public” (p.14P
To explore this myriad of questions that revolve around performance and its documentation, the curating mobilizes as conceptual mote the notion of “aoristo”, a remote verbal tense, that exist in languages such as Greek and Sanskrit, that refers to an indefinite and indetermined past. By lending the meaning of an action or happenstance whitout define the precise time of occurance and diration, the expression – renamed in this individual exhibition “∆ORIST∆” – is taken as a way of offering an expositive experience base in performative practices, interested in what lies between its past happening and presentification in the occurance of the exhibition.
[i] Art Critic, researcher, journalist and curator. Doctoring in Visual Arts – History, Theory and Critci (UFRGS). Crítico de arte, pesquisador, jornalista e curador. Doutorando em Artes Visuais — História, Teoria e Crítica (UFRGS). Curator of the exhibition “∆ORIST∆ — Andressa Cantergiani”, Galeria Ecarta, Porto Alegre (RS), 28 of June to 29 of July of 2018.
[ii] Boris Groys, “A arte na era da biopolítica — da obra de arte à documentação de arte”. In.: “Arte poder”. Belo Horizonte: Editora UFMG, 2015, p. 73-82.
[iii] Philip Auslander, “A performatividade da documentação de performance”. Revista Performatus, Inhumas, ano 2, n. 7, nov. 2013.