Lacey Verhalen: hit or miss

‘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 Lacey Verhalen'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. 




hit or miss

Lacey's question: Contain or disseminate?

Lacey's introduction: On the palm of your hand, a circle like a pill on the tongue of a giant. A token to toss in a bowl of clear water thick with relief. The container, coral bleached by powdered analgesic, coated in crystallized sugar. Every time I position for precision I hurt myself. You might feel it too. The rigidity of holding a perfect pose. Breathless intention. Aim and release. Hit or miss. Hit: constrained sinking with a gravity that weighs on wild hearts. Miss: scattered exposure in a grafted field of wayward remedies.

Take your token. Position for precision. Aim for the fountain and throw. Those that make it in the water are granted access inside the marked enclosure. Those that miss are to remain within the pharmakological field.

Hubert's report: At the entrance the audience is given coins in colors of silver and copper. Emmeli Person is instructing the incoming audience what to do with the coin. People with copper coins enter the space first. There are few circles formed of different materials. The nearest to the entrance is a circle of stones with a small structure resembling a fountain in the middle. People gather around the circle and try to throw the coins into the container. Lacey is a part of the circle. There is another circle made out of soil around which two performers are walking in a steady rhythm (Miyoung Chang and Chiara Pagano). Two other circles are mades of pillows surrounding a doubled with red coloured liquid. Nash Caldera and Iga Świeścik are using the small dropper pipette to make people taste the liquid. The noise from the speaker fills the space, which slowly fills with the audience, and the rules become more apparent—depending on the coin and if one manages to “hit or miss” people are joining different circles and being offered a drop of berry juice or becoming a part of the circle of the soil. After some time people are invited to take the coins and the performance ends.

Momtaza Mehri referred to the description of the piece and the notion of constraint as being translated into various body postures, which Lacey employed during the performance, as well into a solemn way the game was unfolding. At the same time the work remained to be very playful. It was interesting to watch the audience engaging with the circles and coins in a way, which was not very restrictive. People had a chance to try to “hit” again and leave circles. On the other hand many participants seemed to engage with the circles in an almost meditative way. The work had thus a sense of playfulness and experimentation. It was also interesting to think of the aspect of enclosure. The small fountain and contrast between its decorative form and sturdy rocks of the circle, created a certain form of domesticity and intimate communion as a form of enclosure. Within the circle the feedback between the audience members and ways of exploring the constraint through the fame was consistent, while evocation of making wishes with coin throwing created a sense of collectivity.

Ana Teixeira Pinto commented on the origins of the custom of throwing coins into water fountains, as finding its origin in customs of Roman soldiers, who in that way were paying the debt to the gods and deities for the offering of potable water. The contemporary customs of throwing coins into water are more related with making wishes, often, matrimonial ones. In that context the amount of coins is seen as a guarantee for expected result, which interestingly corresponds with the notion of monetary investment and its return. The work touches upon vernacular religions in which daily life is ritualized as an attempt to stay away from the powers of the negative. The moment between magical practices and social institutions is a moment of transformation—according to some views a civilization begin with creating social technologies aimed to protect community from danger, but theses technologies at certain point turn to be dangerous for the community. At that moment one has to protect oneself from civilization. This dynamics explains how institutions begin as forms of protection and turn into forms of oppression. Interweaving of competitive and liturgic aspects in the work interestingly touched upon and reversed the notions of punishment and reward.

Chiara Figone observed that the circles were creating spaces of ritual and ceremony, spaces of community and storytelling. The circle is a form of binding people together around a certain form of knowledge. The competitive activity of throwing the coins into the fountain was interesting as it allowed to reflect on the way the community is thought of as something positive, while the communities include their own dynamics, which are more complex. Chiara touched upon an idea of dissemination as similarly complex, having both negative and positive aspects—looking at how ideas are being disseminated, one can see that they are often enforced and turned into norms and values imposed over others.  The work thus held a certain ambiguity towards the community and its dynamics. This ambiguity is also evoked with the idea that through money one can ensure that their desires will become true.

About: Lacey Verhalen


Lacey Verhalen's "hit or miss" 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