Parallels

Sanna Helena BergerShade Théret

18.06.202004.12.2021
Parallels, a new performance work by Sanna Helena Berger and Shade Théret - originally conceived as a public event to take place in conjunction with the exhibition X6 Dance Space (1976-80): Liberation Notes – is restaged as a video work, performed and filmed at Cell Project Space in isolation and without an audience. Berger and Théret's new work marks the launch of Cellular, an experimental Live Art and Media-based programme at Cell Project Space.
 
Working through a moment of change, Parallels stages a series of interdependent movements, sounds and text that are part choreographed, part improvised. Through a process of collaboration and communication, two independent bodies come together to form a third collaborative body, existing through the work itself. Drawing on the philosophies of the X6 Collective, and addressing the ongoing urgency to place dance within its social context, Parallels exposes properties of the personal, subjective and circumstantial; methods that change with motherhood; and the process of making work as a matter of work. 
 
Parallels' responsive and continually developing form not only adapts to the conditions of its environment, but importantly also to the language of an-other, as Berger describes: “We encounter from afar someone whom we now relate to in a circumference. The margins of distance which we keep from others have grown, and so gesticulation becomes broader as our small and simple gestures lose weight in conversation.” 
 
You can read an accompanying text to Parallels, by Sanna Helena Berger, here.
 
Parallels will be staged in two parts, the first video available to view from 18th June to 1st July, and the second going live on Thursday 2 July. 
 
Video, sound and text by Sanna Helena Berger
Choreography by Shade Théret
 
Sanna Helena Berger is an artist based in London, Berlin and Sweden. Working with installation, performance, text, sound and sculpture, Berger’s practice operates on the axis of these definable mediums and resists commodification. Previous solo exhibitions include 'SALE', PS120, Berlin (2019); 'A stock-take', Super, Berlin (2019); 'Vienna', Cordova, Vienna / Barcelona (2017); 'Agency', Sorbus, Helsinki (2016) and 'A Range', Jupiter Woods, London (2015). Recent group exhibitions have been presented at 1.1, Basel, PiK, Cologne, Shore, Vienna and Le Bourgeois / 3236rls, London. Recent publications include 'Speed of Resin' (2019) published by Dispersed Holdings, New York and 'Domestic Manifesto' (2016) published by Las Injurias, Caracas. 
 
Shade Théret is a dancer and choreographer. Her work currently explores the relationship between movement and the everyday tactile musts we incorporate into our lives- the external landscape in which we find ourselves and how that impacts tertiary movement while also discovering how it shapes identities within movement. She explores movement through literal mimicry, figurative gestures, abstract and impulsive indications. Improvisational and scored methods of working are used to play with our notions of truth, time, and the in between. She has presented her choreographic work at Galerie Weisser Elefante, Berlin, 3hd Festival, Berlin, Pollution #4, Berlin, Odyssey Theatre, Los Angeles, among others.
 
Launched in June 2020, Cellular is a new experimental Live Art and Media-based programme comprising a multi-purpose ground floor event space at Cell Project Space and an online platform on Cell’s website. Originally conceived to run alongside the exhibitions programme at the gallery, Cellular launches six pilot commissions of on-site and digital works to be delivered with and without physical audiences between June - December 2020. To find out more, please click here.
 
 
Developed with the generous support of ArtFund, Cockayne & London Community Foundation, Arts Council England. Cellular is made possible with with the generous support of an Emergency Grant by Arts Council England.
 
 
 
 

Leaving is Forever

Mohammad Tayyeb

01.09.2020
Saturday 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th of September and 3rd of October 2020. 
 
Cell Project Space presents Leaving is Forever, a new commission by Jordanian/Palestinian Los Angeles-based artist Mohammad Tayyeb, the third in a series of projects as part of Cellular, an experimental Live Art and Media-based programme. Making use of Cell’s ground floor event space and study room, Tayyeb has developed a choreographed one-to-one installation for the gallery visitor and an online commission available on the homepage of Cell's website. Drawing from the experience of multi-generational migration, from his family’s exile from Palestine to their recent move from Amman to Los Angeles, the artist places the act of walking as a politicized gesture of making presence. 
 
On Going (2019), one of two video works featured as part of the project, compiles together an array of footage taken by the artist on his phone between the years before and after his departure from Amman. Here, Tayyeb captures moments of walking, dancing, singing, marching, driving and strutting, making connections between past and present scenes of daily life, blurring the sense of what is, looks or feels like home. Edited in seconds-long clips that are looped fast and repeated a number of times, On Going creates a dizzying and disorientating viewing and listening experience, affectively materializing the feeling of being in constant emotional, psychological and physical motion.  
 
Also presented at the gallery and made available to view online by request, Category Is… (2020) is a performance for the camera recorded in streets of Southern California. Produced in the style of a fashion editorial video, the performance sees Tayyeb catwalk down various busy intersections in MacArthur Park, Koreatown, Santa Monica and Downtown Los Angeles wearing self-made genderfluid clothing inspired by traditional Arabic dress. Responding to the vulnerability of walking in urban public spaces, where the safety of passersby is paradoxically both assured and compromised by their invisibility, Tayyeb reclaims the hyper visibility of his body as queer, Arab and Muslim, placing queerness as protest. Set to the backdrop of a heavy rhythmic Sufi chant, where the very act of breathing contains within it the name of Allah, the artist further nods towards what is often hidden or invisible yet wholly and divinely present. 
 
Thinking through this invisible presence as being akin to a coded language, in Walking Manifesto (2020) the artist pulls from Arab poets and his personal history and ancestry to reflect on the ways that walking has defined his existence. Written and presented on Cell’s homepage of the website and on a digital surface in the gallery, each sentence appears as part of a set of programmed commands, here freed of any specific outcome. By highlighting the contractions embedded in walking as a tool of access and restriction demarcated by social, political and bodily borders, Tayyeb creates an adjacency between struggles, pointing towards radical individual and collective movements that demand change by taking up space on the streets. Accompanied by a brainwave frequency that stimulates the mind into entering a focused state, Walking Manifesto, as throughout this commission, invites the visitor into a space of mediation and action. 
 
Audiences can make an appointment to visit the gallery for a 30-minute slot. Tayyeb’s video works are presented as a two-channel installation, with a duration of 16 minutes, followed by a 5-minute meditation and reading experience in the study room. Each appointment adheres to government guidelines in regards to social distancing. Staff at Cell Project Space will be wearing face masks and visitors are also required to do so. Hand sanitizer will be provided.
 
Mohammad Tayyeb has written, produced, and performed four solo works: MY MUSK, MY WAIST (is burning), The Box, Los Angeles (2019); The Liminal Space and I, REDCAT, Los Angeles and Daret el Funun, Amman (both 2018); Awakening, Al-Balad Theatre, Amman (2015); and Nothing Can Come of Nothing, 3elbt Alwan, Cairo (2014). His video and performance work has recently been shown at Human Resources, Los Angeles; Ordet, Milan; Dubai Art Week; and National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman. Tayyeb has participated in projects and residencies in various art institutions in Jordan, including: Makan Art Space; MMAG Foundation; Taghmees; and Spring Sessions. He has also collaborated and worked with various artists, including Alex Baczynski-Jenkins, Susu Attar, Rotana, and Ola Alkhalidi.
 
Launched in June 2020, Cellular is a new experimental Live Art and Media-based programme comprising a multi-purpose ground floor event space at Cell Project Space and an online platform on Cell’s website. Originally conceived to run alongside the exhibitions programme at the gallery, Cellular launches six pilot commissions of on-site and digital works to be delivered with and without physical audiences between June - December 2020. To find out more, please click here.
 
 
Cellular is made possible with the generous support of an Emergency Grant by Arts Council England.
 
 

Hurakan Caress

Joseph Funnell & Carlos Maria Romero (aka Atabey Mamasita)

A pedagogical resource

22.10.2020

Hurakan Caress is an an evolving project with the purpose of developing tools to empower bodies most affected by the legacies and current ripples of colonisation, starting with us. At its core is an enquiry into the emancipatory powers of self-intimacy and communality. This enquiry manifests as an interconnected and polydirectional flow of artistic and educational research encompassing: 

-Somatic exercises nourished by Caribbean music and dance 
-Affirmative, self-determining, exploratory pedagogical frameworks, that foster awareness and agency 
-The creative and critical use of technologies of the gaze (mobile phones, body cams) to problematize and counter the ways in which we have been historically looked at, depicted and commodified, as well as the ways we have internalized these systems of exploitation and control
 
This page provides examples of some of the tools and outcomes of our residency at Cell Project Space, where we have expanded on Hurakan Caress as an artistic practice. 
 
We have produced five short videos that thread together the interconnected strategies and results of our research process. Using footage in which the camera is strapped to a hip or manipulated by the body, they consider how the medium might be utilised to create sensorial and embodied knowledge, expanding on the ways that audiovisual technologies can sit in conversation with dance and performance research. 
 
Each video is three to four minutes long. They are there to not only to look at, but also to look with. We encourage you to rehearse the decentering of your eyes as the only site for receiving data and initiating the production of knowledge, and instead to transfer awareness to what happens on the skin and hair, the ears, the digestive tract, the gut, the bones, the muscles, the erogenous zones, the spine and the pelvis. We ask you not to consume these videos, but to stay with them to activate thought; to listen to your body while witnessing them and to enter in conversation with what is being asked/proposed to you. Understand them as halfway between a guided movement or dance practice and the witnessing of a performance.
 
Viewing suggestions: To improve the quality of viewing we suggest turning up the sound, using external speakers or headphones and double clicking on the image to make the video full screen. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
WHAT YOU LOOKING AT? 
 
The footage that we have produced is captured through use of a body cam that recalls those used increasingly and ubiquitously by Police and security forces in recent years. As such, we take the body cam as an embodiment of the gaze as a perpetrator of state violence, and a gaze that disproportionately targets black and brown bodies. This sits in relation to the long legacy of the ethnographic gaze as a perpetrator of imperial violence and theft. Through these moments of encounter we hope to teach such a gaze tenderness, love, affection – transferring the wisdom of the body to the capacities of the lens. 
 
Reclaiming agency through processes of offering and denial, through display and obfuscation, visibility and interiority, the videos’ poetic considerations and somatic tools propose embodied portraits of ourselves that also allow the viewer to reconsider their own positionalities in relation to the material. 
 
These videos do not serve the viewer an easily categorised image of ourselves for easy consumption. Instead they are a confrontation with our presence as multifaceted sensual beings who may or may not wish to play with, act within or undermine the stereotypes and the expectations put upon our bodies.
 
 
Perspectival movement exploration (above)
 
During the residency we considered back-to-front dancing, a distinguished choreographic format practiced in Dancehall and Reggaeton movement (also in Bounce and Twerking) known also as Sandungueo or Perreo. Presenting muddled dualities of vulnerability and power, submission and agency, the typically gendered roles of this couple dance format have themselves been queered through queer-feminist discourses of sex positivity as well as anti-hegemonic political actioning in Latin America. Conducting somatic spinal explorations with familiar forms of social dance, we considered the micro and macro political implications of offering cameras and surveillance apparatus our back - declaring presence whilst upholding relative anonymity, finding empowerment and self gratification through the act of serving the behind.
 
Combined movement and audio visual explorations (below)
 
(1) Using feathers to caress the body cam which is located on the chest.
 
(2) Experimentation with mobile phones located on the body (here, the hip). Inhibiting the capacity of the gaze to capturing and categorise, the body’s image is only traced by its movement and shadow. 
 
 
WORKSHOPS (APPLICATIONS CLOSED)
 
Online Movement Workshop for the Queer Caribbean Diaspora. 
 
"This is an invitation for those who refuse to be alienated from their bodies by the historic project of white-supremacist, capitalist patriarchy, and the violence of a colonial project enacted across oceans. Together we will explore how the generative beats of Dancehall and Reggaeton harbour queerness in their syncopated accents, as a counterpoint to the heterosexualist and misogynistic lyrics that can accompany them. Unlocking the queer and feminist potential of these music genres, we will affirm our own desire for living a life of self-sustained joy without the need for external validation."
 
 
“Sabrosura” (tastiness) is a quality to aspire to in one's life, and is central to Caribbean culture. Delicious fruits and food are devices that exemplify on an everyday basis the necessity to be devoured and consumed in healing, relaxation, recuperation and replenishing processes on a personal and societal level. 
 
 
Hurakan Caress Font
 
In the videos we have used a unique font inspired by the project, designed in collaboration with Mirko Joao-Pedro, from Basel-based graphic design collective No Harmony. Summoning ocean weavyness, voluptuous curviness and sharp but tender caressing strokes in an organic aqua-dynamic calligraphic trace, the font plays with its own legibility and slows the eye to find sensuality within the act of reading.
 
 
Hurakan Caress Playlist
 
We have put together a playlist of the songs we use for the practice. They are from the Caribbean islands and coasts. The genres from which they stem are Afro-Centric in their cultural rhythmic origin and structure but with the influence of native cultures and in some cases, also of European dance cultures. They are mostly of the last 20 years, with some classics from the previous two decades. We included Dub Reggae, Raeggaeton, Dancehall and Dembow artists, with some Soca, Merengue, Merengue Hip-Hop, Reggae, Zouk and Punta examples too. We reference these Caribbean music and dance cultures (“somas”) and some of the artists in order to reclaim and affirm the emancipatory capacities, the queer potential and the pleasure produced by their syncopated and sinuous rhythms. Within this framework we look for a queer feminist space that counters heterosexualist and misogynistic lyrics that can at time appear.
 

Bios & Credits
 
Joseph Funnell is an interdisciplinary artist, dancer and activist of Afro-Caribbean and British descent. Working with movement, text, images and film their research-based practice considers the emancipatory potential of performing agency within contexts of historic negation. They have presented solo performance work at: Steakhouse Live, Slow Sunday, 2020; Slap Festival 2020; The Albany, London, 2019; CLAY, Leeds, 2019; and Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej Zamek Ujazdowski, Warsaw, 2018. As a dancer, Joseph has also collaborated with and performed for artists, including Adham Faramawy (Tate Britain, Somerset house, London Science Museum), Alex Baczynski-Jenkins (Whitechapel Galley, London; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam), Pan Daijing (Tate Modern), and Ula Sickle (Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw).
 
Carlos Maria Romero aka Atabey Mamasita (Barranquilla, 1979), is a Colombian Caribbean multidisciplinary artist whose practice concentrates on embodied, edifying, caring, pleasurable technologies and strategies of reclamation and resistance to hegemonic and historical violence and dereliction. They work with dance, performance, visual arts, pedagogy, activism, cultural engineering and occasionally music and curating. Maria Romero developed in 2016 Vogue-Chi, a movement practice for people aged 50+ that evolved into a multi-generational queer and allies safe space for self-expression; in 2018 A House of Ecstatic Virality, a dance and conversation practice, in collaboration with Latinx and Polish volunteers, creating a life affirming environment for people to explore HIV related issues; and in 2019 Like a Ghost Dance/The Heartbeat Spiral, a dance meditation to harness constructive aspects of the dying process. They are also a founding member of SPIT! - Sodomites, Perverts, Inverts Together!, who has taken on the legacy of queer manifestos to respond to contemporary pressing issues of sexual and gender oppression; and Vividero Colectivo, whose projects seek to reclaim marginalised social practices and architectural sites as cultural heritage. 
 
Developed by Carlos Maria Romero & Joseph Funnell during the months of August and October, 2020. Commissioned and produced by Cell Project Space as part of Cellular, made possible with the generous support of an Emergency Grant by Arts Council England. With thanks to Metro Charity for funding the initial research and development; Adelaide Bannerman and Phytology, Bethnal Green Nature Reserve; Sam Causer; Dan Ward, Tommie Introna and Blackshuck for the video and audio editing work; and Mirko Joao-Pedro, No Harmony, for the design work.
 
 
Launched in June 2020, Cellular is a new experimental Live Art and Media-based programme comprising a multi-purpose ground floor event space at Cell Project Space and an online platform on Cell’s website. Originally conceived to run alongside the exhibitions programme at the gallery, Cellular launches six pilot commissions of on-site and digital works to be delivered with and without physical audiences between June - December 2020. To find out more, please click here.
 
 
To find out more about Funnell and Maria Romero's Cellular commission, please click here.

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