Maoyi (Peixuan Qiu): Thresholding: to the limit of an arrival.

‘Aeroponic’ – root systems nourished by air – Acts is the name given to the nomadic Dutch Art Institute’s final Kitchen presentations. Each participant addresses one question, as a practice of engagement.

Here you will find the documentation of Maoyi (Peixuan Qiu)'s presentation as filmed by Baha Görkem Yalım. The written report is by Hubert Gromny and it includes a summary of the comments by esteemed guest respondents.

Thresholding: to the limit of an arrival.

Maoyi's question: Why do you ease into that smooth space?

Maoyi's introduction: A body that aches, acts up,  creating lines of flight in the space between departure and arrival, a non-graspable experience of transition: becoming and being suspended. An assemblage without mutual agreements creates the tension of social relationality of liminal or threshold space. The space made up of the incoherent speech opens up to us in a deft disorienting move, bringing forth a body making felt the shape of constraints. The body is attending to the costs of not being in just one place or the other at any given fucking moment in time.

Hubert's report: The audience enters a dark space, where the big screen projection is situated off stage on the side wall. The image of the screening is divided into four simultaneous videos resembling the view on screens used for security and surveillance. On the video material there are people moving through everyday urbanscape, but also footages like close ups on hands rubbing each other. The aesthetics of surveillance is emphasized by imagery resembling thermovision, black and white footage and specific positioning of the camera lenses in viewing urbanscape. Electronic rhythmic sound accompanies the moving image, which is close to the form of a music video. The music is however interrupted by the spoken text reflecting on the relationality and mediation within the urban space. Twice—at a certain point the spotlight directs the attention of the audience to the other part of the stage where a performer is standing and interpreting the synthetic monologue coming out of the speakers (Derek Di Fabio, Izaro Ieregi Gonzalez). The last part of the performance begins with electronic music coming out from behind the stage. It arrives with the fragmentary view of stroboscopic lights on the other side. The audience spontaneously moves through the curtain to enter another space and find Maoyi together with Derak and Isaro sitting in the center of the other stage illuminated by a spotlight. Maoyi is reading the text, which is a continuation of the reflections presented in the video. The performance ends with the comeback of rhythmic music, which eventually fades out.

Ana Teixeira Pinto found the work to be very compelling, especially because of the introduction of an idea of reversing the interface. Evoking work of Jonathan Crary Ana pointed out to the reversal of gaze which happened through activation of the screen during the presentation.The video rather than being an object of attention—something to look at—felt to be watching the audience. Referring to the history of biometrics Ana emphasized the poetic dimension of the performance, which managed to navigate through alienating discourses of technological and biological renderings of the human body. In a broader context of knowledge production the presentation was attempting to find a way to inhabit a hostile and aggressive world—a result of a dominance of evolutionary discourses. Referring to work of Ramon Amaro Ana contextualized her thoughts on technology as not referring to the questions of representation, but to creation of sentient and responsive environments with the use of AI. Drawing attention to threats posed by introduction of these technologies Ana pointed out that the piece is located on the threshold between the hostile environment and an attempt to find spaces not yet captured by it. As such it allows reflecting how to move in a world closing.

Momtaza Mehri observed that what stood out in the performance was the way in which surveillance mechanisms were approached in order to reveal how deeply they inform representation. The work was located on the line between what is hyper-seen and unseen all at once. The reckoning with the possibility of being tracked and attempt of evasion were other elements emphasized by Momtaza in order to draw attention to the moments of choice. Within the form of the presentation the moment of crossing from one room to the other was a materialization of the choice in an unspoken manner. The work offering the choice reflected on porous nature and boundaries of sociality outside of the gaze of surveillance. Reflecting on the digital aspect of everyday communication, Momtaza spoke about the velocity of capture performed by the surveilling environment related with the speed of appearing and disappearing of different subcultures trying to avoid trackable codes. The piece engaged with the limits of sociality penetrated by forces of control. Invoking Charles Mills’ notion of fuzziness, Momtaza read the work as renegotiating boundaries through unavoidable fuzziness of action. Momtaza added to Phanuel’s response by invoking the words of Kamau Brathwaite, “the unity is submarine”. 

Phanuel Antwi shared how difficult it is to respond to this piece, because of how relatable it is. To comment on that, the piece, for him, touches upon technologies of racialization. Phanuel summoned a poet, Kamau Brathwaite, to reflect on the moments of thresholding and limits of arrival. Presented perspective on arriving and belonging activates a pain by revealing in a profound way what technology does to the self. Through poetic reconstruction of the camera-eye the piece attempted to create the sense of home and belonging. The poetic vision is one way to retrieve the self. Phanuel referred to Jodi A. Byrd’s book ‘The Transit of Empire’ as a possible guide to think of the limits of arrival and effects of racialization that requires to claim back the sense of belonging. “What does it mean to you to claim your place? What kind of forgetting and kind of elimination it demands? What are the limits of arrival of those who are forced to arrive? Regarding the American and European violences, which makes us arrive?” Providing how colonialism is overlaid with practices of diaspora, the question of relationship between arrival and violence is activated for those who moved because of a threat. The practices of belonging and becoming, consists of small, almost dismissible gestures–-the piece is offering to see them as actions of liberation. Evoking work of Kamau Brathwaite Phanuel closed the response elaborating on the notion of arrival as an experience presumed and proceeded by the state of being chained and chaining. By allowing these evocations the piece articulated the questions by shouting in a quiet way.


Maoyi (Peixuan Qiu)'s "Thresholding: to the limit of an arrival." was presented before live audience at the Centrale Fies, Dro, Italy on July 12th.

Find the overview of all 24 AEROPONIC ACTS 2022 here: tuttə (le) rottə - all (the) ways: unfixed