2013 - 2015 Maria Barlasov: "How do you explain getting lost in space or being familiar with space? Can you intentionally get lost at home (in a familiar space)?"

Excerpt from Maria's 20 minute presentation for Do The Right Thing ! ~ DAI's 3 day graduation lectures marathon, July 2015.

Daily Practice


Consisting of three main components – a live reading of a passage from George Perec’s autobiographical story “A jump I made”; a video work of a body exploring the space of the presentation itself; and photographs of domestic spaces and tableaus – Maria Barlasov’s presentation dealt with questions of spatial orientation, and the human body as a measure for understanding that and knowing the world. She referred to phenomenological philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s notion of human beings’ imposed schema on space: “The schema comes from movement and belongs to movement; this sort of schema is based in habit and crosses over into the places in which we form habits, the places we inhabit.”

The notion of the body as a site for the world presented itself in the text Barlasov chose to read, as well as in the video of the artist’s body moving deliberately through the space. For Barlasov, it appears that “getting lost at home” is a matter of self-orientation, of having an awareness of one’s own body, or the presence of another body. As Perec writes, in the moment of this shifting orientation, “of moving forward, or preparing myself…that’s the moment when doubt appears.” Barlasov works with these oppositions of order/disorder; statis/motion; inevitability/unpredictability; and verticality/horizontality. This dialectic is further explored by the convergence of two spaces in the presentation itself, the quotidian, domestic space of the photographs and the public space of performance.

Maria Hlavajova asks us, while thinking about the necessity to jump (knowing you have a parachute) to consider two other figures: tourists are those who walk on the path that was prepared for them) and migrants (those who make that path by walking in the dark). “Wanting to get lost in space is another category to include…outside of constant control and surveillance.” Picking up on the previous comments about Ben’s presentation, she stated, “I fear there is no art outside propaganda.”

Bassam el Baroni was interested in the notion of self-dialogue that was set up in Barlasov’s performance. “Being lost in space is absolutely connected to the idea of self-dialogue… [there are] moments of panic and relapse into a kind of childishness because of the situation.” Bassam observed that this self-dialogue was manifested as a form in the talk, but there was also a kind of “excessiveness of personalization.”

Alena Alexandrova joked, “I get lost at home every day,” and remarked that this “question articulated a state of intentional unfamiliarity. Looking at minor details, etc. with other eyes.” Furthermore, it prompted her to ask, “What was the performative gesture of the visuals?” and led her to think about other ways to use the literary fragment.

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