Peter Kristinn: Peter Sattler and Kristinn Guðmundsson (DAI, 2016): "What is the value of hanging out?"

27.08.16

Excerpt from Peter Kristinn's 30 minute presentation for Speaking Without Thumbs - DAI's 3 day graduation lectures marathon, July 2016

((A)roma))nce / A roadtrip on an organic, dark brown stream of consciousness or what is the value of hanging out.

Summary

Deliberately maintaining the fourth wall in this scenic installation/performance, Peter and Kristinn began by sitting down on wooden palettes and taking turns preparing coffee for themselves, carefully going through each step of the process – grinding the beans, preparing hot water, filtering it, pouring it and drinking it. Meanwhile, Kristinn multi-tasked, and started screening one of the first projections of many on an improvised screen: his hand. He projected a small image (one that was difficult to discern) onto his hand with a tiny projector. When the coffee was ready, both Peter and Kristinn took a few sips and, Peter handed Kristinn his cell phone, telling him to read about the coffee they were drinking. According to the information he was reading, it is the world’s most expensive and sought-after coffee, produced from an unappetizing process of extracting coffee beans from the excrement of wildcats. This topic provoked a short dialogue between the two artists, and in perfect synch they actively begin to set up and dismantle the objects in their installation (or set): folding the palettes to make surfaces where screens could be set up, moving walls, setting up sculptural objects, and turning on computers and projectors to screen multiple images at once. In addition to all that was happening visually in the space, there was an audio recording from the Skype phone calls they made with coffee providers in Jakarta, and a video interview with a male barista at work in a coffeehouse in Antwerp.

Their scripted dialogue and actions along with the images they screened spoke of global interrelations, social exchange, value, and branding. The sculptural installation transformed and shifted in the public moment of performance. Some roles were defined from the start, for example, the audience was clearly delineated from the artists. Yet, in their multi-tasking (drinking coffee, chatting, interviewing, reading from their iphones, screening projections) they address their initial question: what is the value of hanging out? Here they are not only hanging out – they are working, performing, and learning, among other activities. A strong sense of theater and play develops towards the end, and their conversations and images come together in a recorded Skype conversation with an economist, one of four ‘characters’ in their performance. She asks if there is an art index where artists are ranked according to their economic worth. Her professional advice to them is to “brand [your art]” as “hanging out”. “Hanging out is actually valued” she says, “but is hanging out useful?”

Ekaterina Degot: Degot wanted to stress the fact that we [the audience] were on a different level from what she saw as an immaterial presentation. “It was clear from the beginning that it was about material”, she said, which was evidenced by the projection on the phone. Also, she observed, there were some parts of the presentation that were inaccessible to an online audience, such as the scent of coffee. The coffee grinder seemed to her to be a reference to Duchamp. Also, she found it interesting that manual labor was involved throughout the performance, starting with the process of making coffee together, and ending with the movement of the artists (moving the screen) literally, in order to make things visible. Degot was interested in the physicality of the work, which was in contrast to Joost Mellink’s immaterial work (shown previously). She also found it interesting that coffee was at the center of their work since coffee is metaphor of intellectual labor (“the intellectuals have to drink it in order to think!”). Degot suggests that ‘hanging out’ is put into question through this attention to the immaterial (Skype conversations, projected images) and asks whether hanging out is material or immaterial. This led her to ask what the role of the artist is. Furthermore, she wonders whether this role is on the side of exchange value or use value.

Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung appreciated the usage of the space and the way it evolved. The first thing that struck him was the title of the lecture-presentation (“streams of consciousness”), which brought up Max Roach and Abdullah Ibrahim’s album of the same title. For him, the references are clear: economy of time, productivity, quantification and so on. Is time spent hanging out quantifiable? It recalls Paul Lafargue and the right to be lazy. During the lecture-performance he tried to focus on the space between “the person who can hang out” and the side of production, where a person can be lazy as a form of resistance)”.

Marina Vishmidt aimed to elaborate on a few points that had already been made. She was drawn to the correspondence between coffee products and hanging out as a method. It suggests the accumulation and ensuing commodification of time. Vishmidt was also thinking about the correlation between money and shit (in psychoanalytic and pop-psychology narratives) via the narrative line of the luriwak coffee (the civet cat whose digestive system produces the coffee), also the role of coffee as a stimulus to work and as a leisure-time accessory at once. She also thought about rulers as measurements on graphs, asking “what is the status of the measure when it becomes a sculpture?” She was curious about the scenography of the material, asking, “how would it behave if you weren’t performing it? How would it communicate its symbolic currencies?”

Bassam el Baroni began by saying, “I think hanging out seems to be a kind of subcategory of the question of leisure.” It is roaming around leisure, art, and economy. This scenic work brought to mind Edouard Manet’s famous painting “The Luncheon on the Grass” and recalled how that image captured the idea of leisure. In pop art, the dispositive of Richard Hamilton dispositif is given a pop cultural context. “How does globalization create a service economy where people (including artists) think in terms of the product?” He considered how the digestive system of this coffee bean-eating wildcat mysteriously creates value and related it to questions in art as well: why is some art is valuable?

About: Speaking Without Thumbs

Peter Sattler and Kristinn Guðmundsson's website