NOSTRESS with Austėja, Grėtė and Liza
2017-12-18 Liza Baliasnaja
Rubrika: Jaunųjų kūrėjų dialogai
Lithuanian dance artists Austėja Vilkaityte, Liza Baliasnaja and Grėtė Šmitaite were recently invited to spend a three-day residency in the Arts Gallery 101 space at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas. The space provides artists with an in-between-academic contextand aims to connect practices of contemporary art through different strategies: educational, visual, performative, experiential, and research. The gallery exhibits the creative work of both Lithuanian and foreign artists in solo and group shows, as well as in other contemporaneity accumulative formats.
The cycle of events entitled TROPICAL BODIES/BODIES OF TROPES encompassed a research spectrum between imagined geographies and performative embodiment. Curated by new gallery Director Vaida Stepanovaitė, the cycle revealed itself slowly between 28 September and 25 October 2017.
Austėja Vilkaityte initiated the mini-residency undertaken by the three dance artists, which she called NOSTRESS. The name perhaps providing an accurate reflection of the approach and general atmosphere present throughout the short working period. However, ‘working’ might not be the most reasonable term in this context, as the artists themselves referred to their time spent together as more of a ‘hang out’. So what is the difference between a hang out and work? Moreover, can a hang out inform us about our patterns of working and collaboration?
“The fact that in our choreographic work we share discourses, formulations, misunderstandings, tendencies, even some colleagues; the fact that the communication and minds of our three choreographic visions are mostly stuck between English and Lithuanian, with what the transition between these languages brings and what it ruins; the fact that there are some more cultural backgrounds we share, which are hard to describe but are inscribed into our bodies and ways of being and behaving, making choices, which we face on a daily basis as human beings as well as artists. This seemingly creates a common ground, which at the same time seems to be very differently understood and used in each of our individual approaches to artistic work. We surely are influenced by the cities we are based in: Stockholm, Brussels, and Berlin. It is power and privilege for us to have three days of work with openness and energy to share what is driving us to study dance and choreography, and to create artistic work,” Grėtė says.
Over the course of the three days the artists were sharing and developing practices together. Having the time frame as a starting point, the main interest was to touch upon what matters to each of them individually. They explored the currencies in their artistic work and how the residency could become a supporting platform for them. Instead of choosing a theme to work on, they made the decision to hang out with what was already there - a curiosity to get to know each other personally and artistically. Sharing and developing practices meant proposing and coming along, discussing individual approaches, producing a body of knowledge that is shared. The practices included warm-ups, movement research proposals, and readings.
Dance hangouts…hanging, stretching, sharing dance, reading, eating cherry cake…dancing more, stretching more, improvising, sharing artistic practices, witnessing…dancing again, together, no stress”describes Austėja Vilkaitytė.
One of the goals was to benefit from this residency not merely by working towards a performance, an outcome, a result, but rather to gain intelligence from the process and the encounter itself. After the residency the artists arrived to a discussion about practice itself, what does it mean to have an artistic practice, to share it and to receive it? How does the notion of practice connect to our dance education and institutionalized vocabularies of dance and performance art?
There is a very strong sense of shared background among us, however, only through working together we are able to notice what are the specificities in our artistic work, how we differ in our approach. Just because we went abroad at some point in our lives does not mean we share the exact same ideas about dance and choreography,” Liza says.
On the fourth day of the residency the doors of Gallery 101 were open to the outside eye. Instead of presenting a performance, the artists decided to present the practices they had touched upon to the public in the form of sharing/open rehearsal. This allowed them to transform their process into a presentation rather than simply separating the two. The sharing turned into a short discussion in which the creative work of this kind was discussed with the audience.
Liza Baliasnaja, Grėtė Šmitaite and Austėja Vilkaityte are performance and dance artists working internationally, each of them are based in different countries: Belgium, Germany and Sweden. All of them share a desire to continue exchanging knowledge, pose questions and expand territories of dance here in Lithuania. After the short encounter, the reflection process was directed towards imagining what type of space is necessary to support these types of meetings. Can NOSTRESS be the first step for Lithuanian artists working abroad towards sharing and developing collaborations back home?
"Šokio pasaulyje: naujienos, įvykiai, jų vertinimas ir komentarai“ projektą dalinai remia Spaudos, radijo ir televizijos rėmimo fondas.