Space Automatism is a research into what place and context do to content and method in theatre with place itself as the protagonist.
The project treats political and structural questions in a series of site-specific and object-oriented situations.
SPACE AUTOMATISM comments on questions as structures, ideology, power and size, collectivity vs individuality, mainstream and clichés, but the works themselves are often small, playfully ambiguous, and not always explicit political. The starting points are personal places like my theatre space, my office, my institutions (Norwegian Theatre Academy and Norwegian Artistic Research Project), my home and my plastic garbage, or based on invitations to different venues. To discuss the specific places, I try to be or play them as objects or situations. Political and structural questions are treated as material and characteristics for the protagonists rather than problems and limitations.
As a single artist and a no longer collective (Baktruppen), I’ve been looking for ways to perform in solos without being the visible main actress. I’ve been interested in NTAs puppetry history, in object-oriented formats and art forms, and the concepts of the historical avantgarde’s art figures, über-marionettes, manikins, robots and automats. I’ve experimented with forms where improvisation, dialogue and presence are central, and with elements from Commedia dell’arte, performance art, installation, puppetry and slapstick comedy, – trying to re-explore their radical and political potential. The work re-uses site-specific elements in theatrical, performative and object-oriented hybrids. I’ve called it expressive minimalism, post-spectacular, low or popular, or even vulgarly unpopular. Maybe it’s performative scenography.
The research is performed at every possible opportunity, in many forms and sizes. It's not a few central works with an answer or something for a marked, but a more old-fashioned marked style of risky stunts and simple improvisation. The works perform, are, or play situations, places, disciplines and materials, with a site-specific concept and form. It asks what every possible place and context do. What their nature is, and what my nature becomes in that specific place and situation. My choices can be intuitive, pragmatic, playful and quick, but the method makes it possible to work with institutional and critical questions in a free and non-hierarchical structure, – where no place is more important or central than another, and to explore interests as the institution and the public, the public and the private, low-status materials and art forms, art and politics, the absent actress and object theatre, anthropomorphism, Object-oriented ontology and even Marxism.
Read a longer and performed reflection for the third and last presentation at Norwegian Artistic Research Forum 6/3/2019:
The Method is the Sculpture.
Or an older abstract from spring 2018:
SPACE AUTOMATISM investigates how spaces for theatre and live artwork, – 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 deal 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 Art's 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 animations of dead objects, but the research is about life, ethics, value, and the vital importance of Art.
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.