Vita Buivid: Action Diary No.4

‘Aeroponic’ – root systems nourished by air – Acts is the name given to the nomadic Dutch Art Institute’s final & festive iteration of the two year long so-called Kitchen* trajectory. Aeroponic Acts are conversations-in-a-form. Each presenter addresses one question as a practice of engagement.

Here you will find the documentation of Simon(e) van Saarloos's presentation as filmed by Baha Görkem Yalım. followed  by a written report, authored by  Bethany Crawford,which includes a summary of the spoken comments by esteemed guest respondents Flavia Dzodan, Amit S. Rai, and Adam Szymczyk.

Action Diary No.4

Vita's question: How (far) are you?

Vita's introduction: In the number of my kitchen presentations in two DAI years, I’ve been continually addressing open questions related to my ongoing research of socio-political aspects of ageing, starting from “HOW (OLD) ARE YOU”.  All those questions linked one to another and apply the method of field research through personal experience. The final question is up to be revealed during this final kitchen presentation.

Bethany's report: The moving-image work is a continuing part of the artist’s DAI performance series as a rehearsal for old age focused on the question: ‘How old are you?’ Images of a domestic space show the artist unpacking cleaning products from her bag. A text on emigration, migration and the systemic restrictions of freedom of movement scrolls up the left side of the screen. A second stream of script as text messages appears on the right, contrasting and humanizing the academic character of the writing on the left with this more personal, humorous tone. They contextualize one another, juxtaposing theoretical and statistical information with documented lived experience, familial interactions and personal reflections. As the texts introduce the signification of the power of braided hair in Ukraine, the artist fixes her braid crown, unravelling the long lengths of her hair. The image track then shows the artist cleaning apartment surfaces using her hair. Themes of immigration, belonging and identity formation, labour, ageing and economy traverse across this background of domesticity and ritual. 

Flavia Dzodan really enjoyed the presentation that poignantly addressed, from a feminist position, how not everyone is able to migrate, and its intersection with age and the difficult labour market peppered with a deeper personal story that made it all extremely relatable. The work universalized some aspects of emigration and the ageing process, she said, finding it incredibly well done. She laughed a lot at the cleaning with the hair, interested in the humour particularly in the context of the texts, recalling Rapunzel without a prince coming to the rescue – only the landlord of the Airbnb. The choices were well-executed, she said, especially in how the academic text paralleled the lived experience text. 

Amal Alhaag compared the real-life experience to the academic theory and feminist personhood. She was fascinated by the hair, and spoke on how women workers in mutable cultures use hair to emancipate themselves or to propose ways to dismantle patriarchy. She talked about braiding as algorithm, coding and sending messages through it, thinking of Ukraine and the symbolism of hair, how it’s performed in a different context from where it belongs and used to perform authentic citizenship. She appreciated how the artist brought forward ageism, specifically in the Western context, noting how particularly in the Netherlands, when people are no longer usable in the capitalist machine they get pushed aside – that in the current Covid-19 context older people were essentially sacrificed in the name of the economy. Age and ageism, she said, is absent from the discussion in the art world, bringing up the ties between status and capitalism. She found the artist’s questions generous in terms of her engagement with the work as a way for viewer to intercept it, which ties into the usefulness for the capitalist machine and the context of value reproduction and the value production of bodies. Many topics were brought up within the offer to switch between these two realities of the real-life conditions that respond to the theory, she said.

When he first visited Amsterdam in order to study at De Appel, Adam Szymczyk described how he had emigrated from Eastern Europe and for work during his studies transcribed audiotapes, spending his free time studying and visiting exhibitions including Wild Walls at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam in 1995 featuring Janine Antoni’s Loving Care (1993). In it the artist mops the floor with her hair with Loving Care dye, which was called ‘natural black’. He understood this work to be a critical reflection on Abstract Expressionism and the dripping techniques of Jackson Pollock. In the context of Buivid’s work, he thought it would be interesting to look back at this piece and this use of female hair in a performance, to see the conditions and use of hair of two artists from different backgrounds and contexts. Coming from Europe, and the (superficially) blurred boundaries mostly defined by economy, he said the presentation asked after who is of use for the capitalist machine. To which he answered that it seemed everyone was of some use with no escape unless you are rendered useless and regurgitated by the machine, which doesn’t mean you’ll have a function in it. 

Vita Buivid's Action Diary No.4 was presented at Radio Kootwijk.

Find the overview of all 35 AEROPONIC ACTS 2020 here: BEND IT!