Cristina Emmel: It’s a baggy fit

‘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 Cristina Emmel'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. 

It’s a baggy fit

Cristina's question: What is the malleability of a word?

Cristina's introduction: Fitting, but not tightly

Looking for companion phrases

To offer as a provisional sing-along

Scratchy cuts through the line

“How do you mean?” 

We carry our coats, melting inside

Accompanied by the fluttering pages of an open book

Hubert's report: In the bright space the audience sits in the semicircle surrounding a screen displaying a moving image of the window. Yellow nets are distributed around on the floor. Ambient sound of a distorted speech fills the room. On the video the amber-colored glass figure of an angel appears. Cristina is walking slowly in the space wearing a green coat. She sits with the audience while the soundscape becomes more eerie. Cristina changes position within the audience a few times and speaks in moments of quieting of the soundtrack. A golden bag behind the audience hides a speaker, which reveals itself when it starts to emit a song, and later a sound of a sine wave. Cristina constructs a butterfly from two red pieces joined with a hinge and passes it to the audience. She continues the monologue and takes off the green coat showing a blue shirt covered with hand-written text. Walking around the audience Cristina hums echoed by the golden bag with the speaker. The video now resembles a family archive material. Cristina takes up the golden bag and carries it singing the song in Portuguese, her voice is sounding together with the same song coming out from the bag. The end of the song marks the end of the performance.

Momtaza Mehri noted that the presentation—through watching Cristina roaming in the space, and thinking of nets distributed on the floor—made her reflect on their own ability to access streams of memory. The presentation touched upon different points related with inheritance, both individual and collective. The ambiguity of the video material emphasized the malleability of inheritance as various voices present in the footage were almost competing to remain present. The performance had also a dandling aspect which drew the audience into its realm, through activation of symbolism of the wings. The striking imagery of an angel in the video was counterposed with handing the audience a simple mechanism resembling a butterfly. This toy was constructed on the spot and an invitation to reproduce the movements of wings and experience of flying revealed a complexity of a simple tangible object, through activating it with hands. Another interesting aspect of the performance was a tension between a generative solitude of the performer but still remaining in the relation with the audience.

Chiara Figone commented on body language---how within bodies we carry the signs and migrate. Chiara noted that the presence of the bag pointed out to the notion of burden, which interestingly was juxtaposed with wearing text as an external layer of clothing. In a way performance felt like representing an imprisonment created by the language—thinking of malleability posed the question how luggage is being carried and how different modalities of carrying, wearing it can be liberating from its definitions. The performance pointed towards a struggle with some form of entrapment, even wings constructed with the cable evoked a certain feeling of confinement. The piece offered to look at and observe the constant struggle with different forms of the language.

Phanuel Antwi spoke about the significance of the bag as an invocation of inheritance. Referring to the figure of a traveler who carries everything in the bag—the good and bad experiences. The bag related to travel is something which allows movement but also changes shapes. The question of inheritance is complex: ”you might not want what you have inherited and you might not be able to get rid of it”. As such inheritance opens an ethical question, not only on the side of the person who passes it, but also on the side of the one who receives it---what to do with what is inherited? The yellow fabrics of nets and the golden bag were establishing a certain relationship to the material. The bag is malleable but also gold as a material has a physical property to be changed and molded in different shapes. In many African households, the cloth bag in which one bought rice is later used for something else---is malleable. Phanuel pointed out the unexpected moment when the wing-mechanism, a toy-butterfly fell apart into pieces and the audience collectively tried to reassemble it, as an example how malleability is related to the unpredictable and spontaneous.


Cristina Emmel's "It’s a baggy fit" was presented before live audience at the Centrale Fies, Dro, Italy on July 13th.

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