INFORMATION

Sjömanskyrkan mässen

“When you’re there, it’s there, when you are not there then there it isn’t”

Sjömanskyrkan within invites the visitors to, one at a time, through 12 rooms and 12 personal meetings with artists or people linked to Gothenburg Sailor’s Church. The performance becomes a movement through a subtle myriad of memories, interpretations, analyzes generated from a house.

“We live in a society where we constantly are expected to produce an identity and signs of success. You can no longer escape to something outside – references may no longer lie beyond the horizon, in the far
distance. To dream of something else, simply must be done by
maintain other situations here and now. In the performance we examine the Sailor’s Church a channel to a different sensitivity and experience.”

*

”När man är där så finns det, när man inte är där så finns det inte
längre”

Sjömanskyrkan inombords tar besökarna, en och en, genom 12 rum och 12 personliga möten med konstnärer eller personer knutna till Göteborgs Sjömanskyrka. Föreställningen blir en rörelse genom ett subtilt myller av minnen, tolkningar och analyser genererade ur ett hus.

“Vi lever i ett samhälle där vi ständigt förväntas producera identitet
och tecken på framgång. Det går inte längre att fly till något utanför –
referenserna kan inte längre ligga bortom horisonten i ett annorlunda
fjärran. Att drömma om något annat, måste helt enkelt ske genom att
hävda andra situationer här och nu. I verket undersöker vi Sjömanskyrkan som en kanal till en annan sensibilitet och erfarenhet.” Johan Forsman

STATEMENT

Om 1800- och 1900-talens stora samhällsprojekt kännetecknades av uppbyggnaden av olika institutioner som reglerade det moderna livets rationalitet och gränser, så kan vi betrakta epokens konst-institutioner som en slags skyddade utrymmen där kreativitet, fantasi och normmässiga gränsöverskridanden kunde hanteras genom att både omhändertas och, i viss mening, desarmeras.

I dag förändras dessa konst-institutioner och konst-rum under stort politiskt tryck. Samtidigt har kreativiteten och fantasin fångats in och omdefinierats som säljbara resurser av den globala kapitalismen och dess behov av nya exploateringsytor. Ytorna, såväl de inre privata, som de yttre offentliga, omdefinieras med enorm kraft.

Att vara i konstens rum är inte längre en helt enkel procedur: klämd mellan lager av gamla konstpolitiska föreställningar eller format på ena sidan, och faran med en kommersialiserad marknadsstruktur på den andra, försöker vi navigera och söka ytor att verka i och kommunicera genom. Kampen för att synliggöra, kompletteras av en kamp för att slippa synas och exploateras.

Vilka strategier kan vi nu använda för att skapa utrymmen att verka i; och vad ska dessa utrymmen innehålla och definieras av; vilka relationer vill vi att rummen ska upprätta, och vad vill vi att rummet ska avgränsa oss mot?

Om konstrummet en gång var en behållare för konst, där experiment kunde ses som fritt flygande avantgardiska prövningar av det acceptablas gränser i rummet utanför, så hamnar det post-politiska konstrummet och konstnärerna idag lätt i ett symbiotiskt behov av uppmärksamhet och relationer som utvinner medialt genomslag. Rummet är perforerat och läcker åt alla håll. Att nu verkligen se konsten och dess potential i ett nytt samhälle, och att verkligen ge den de ytor den kan verka genom, kräver ett nytt fokus, kunskap och självförtroende både hos konstnärer, institutioner och makthavare.

För konstnärer kan dessa skeenden aktualisera olika rumsliga strategier som genom det moderna projektet föreslagits av ett stort antal konstnärliga eller politiska utanförskap.

Baudelaires flanerande, situationismens psykogeografiska undersökningar, reclaim-rörelsen, graffitikonst, approprieringar, ockupationer, dokumentära och sociala strategier, svartklubbar, rave och community-projekt. Alla olika strategier och flyktvägar, under ständigt hot att åter infångas i strukturer, förloras i anemisk intellektualism eller exploateras.

Arbetet med sjömanskyrkan inombords är en virtuell yta för prövande och tänkandet kring dessa möjliga strategier. Projektet är också ett försök att navigera i ett nytt konstrum och samla konstnärer till samtal och prövande. Kan vi på något sätt försöka förstå och känna in de osynliga, ohörbara skeenden som förskjuter ett rum när det vi kallar konst intar rummet.

 

INVASIVE HOSPITALITY

or to leave something at the doorstep

The visit for the audience in the Seamen church starts with a decision. What do I choose to leave behind at the doorstep? Intuitively I choose to leave my watch and my room key of the hotel. Johan puts everything in a glass at the reception and I can see on the shelves that I am not the only one who decided for or lets say, against their watch.

Nevertheless what follows now feels rather like a state of presence to me than a travel in time. I might have expected to be confronted with tattooed arms, pirates and parrots and anecdotes of homesickness and adventures harbors. But if I have decided against my watch then Johan and Johan and their collaborators might have decided against a first degree presence of the seamen who usually make this place their own.  I do meet a seaman on the video in the first room and I see him sitting on the leather chair I am sitting on while I listen to him. And yes he does have tattooed arms, I admit. But what I am trying to say is that he becomes even more present for me in his actual absence. We shared the same chair. While I make my way through the house I can say that nothing else that I encounter in the following hours is expected. What did Johan and Johan decide for if they decided against (to put it polemically) the seaman? They decided for a mediated presence of them. Meditated by a strong concept of hosts who welcome me in every room. I encounter them knowing merely one rule: I may listen to them I may talk with them. In the first room I still feel obliged to respond to what is said, to ask questions. A feeling, which is not evoked by my host but rather by the codes of encounter and politeness that I know. Only two rooms later I decide to only listen and I relax completely. The talks circle around the objects and things in the room but also around the relationship towards the profession of being a seamen in the perspective of my hosts. This very specific decision instantly makes me think of Derridas concept of hospitality. I understand that my hosts have been guests of the seaman church themselves before the performance itself turned them into hosts.

Derrida describes hospitality as invasive in the sense that the arrival of the guest immediately must challenge the identity of the host. Derrida sees the welcoming of the guest as an interruption of the hosts self. He is welcoming his guest in, in every sense, that means no trade or exchange is mediating between the two. It means letting someone in, in its purest sense, up to the degree that guest and host switch roles. So the gesture of letting someone over your door step without asking anything from her or him will always interrupt your very being as a host and therefore change you. Question your identity.

Why is that? And what is usually mediating and preventing this swapping of roles? When we usually refer to hospitality we refer to the hospitality, which is engaged in an economy of exchange, maybe even an economy of violence, but it might as well just be bringing a bottle of wine to a dinner party. A gesture that instantly claims your identity as a guest, not the host. An exchange takes place between the host and the guest and in offering hospitality, in welcoming the Other, the host imposes conditions upon the guest.

It is therefore that Derrida defines ethics as hospitality, and hospitality as ethics. Opposed to that Derridas concept of absolute hospitality does not know of any conditions.

Derrida points out: „Absolute hospitality involves neither the governance of duty nor the payment of debt. It is in this sense that hospitality is absolute unconditionally but without sovereignty“.

So what kind of hospitality is it that I am encountering in the seamen church? Not for my arguments sake but out of conviction I want to leave the fact that I purchased a ticket out of the equation of the potential exchange. (We can regard that as a code of the economics of theatre and outside of the logic that Johan and Johan intent to install). I believe that Derrida reaches for the adjective “absolute” in an almost provocative way, knowing that we will question his argument even more if he is using this kind of superlative. But I want to go back to the beginning of the essay. My first decision is to give an object and in return I enter the performance. How can we describe this kind of exchange? Well first of all this is rather a negotiation with myself than a trade with the host who is taking a discreet step back while I make my decision and search my pocket for the room key. And it is a negotiation with a potentiality of what I expect to happen in the next hours. I decide to be without home and time, and ultimately I leave some security at the doorstep, and this doesn’t seem so far from what Derrida is describing. Already I might be confusing my own identity with the identity of the ones I am going to encounter. The seamen who I expect to be without a steady home and on the sea for months, I expect them to have a different perception of time and home and so I start my visit as if I was not a guest but a host myself. I also decide to listen, I decide to stay or I decide to walk on. I feel no duty or governance, and my hosts introduce themselves as guests.  And together we are trying to construct our idea of what a seaman actually is.

Derrida claims: „Hospitality is the deconstruction of the at home. The master of the home, the host, must welcome in a foreigner, a stranger, a guest without any qualifications including never been given an invitation.“

I like the thought to see the seaman church as a deconstruction of the at home. Although I would say that in this gesture of deconstruction, an idea of an at home is constructed at the same time. But still we are constantly asked to wonder: wonder about the collection of porcelain cups, or the strange bowl made of a foreign animal, or the map in the cellar which shows us countries which no longer exist. We think about home and how we constantly define the home as the familiar though it presents itself in such foreign ways to us sometimes. In the objects we collect and in the memories we fill those objects with.  At one point in my walk through the house I confront my own idea of the at home. In the church I am asked to lie down and the son of the priest is lowering the lights. I think about me, and my walk through the church and the last weeks and I feel uncannily content and completely unexpected I have to cry a little. My host switches on the lights again and he doesn’t seem to mind. He smiles and I have a feeling that he has seen that already in his guests.

After this moment I am kind of overwhelmed and I have trouble to concentrate again, finally I arrive in the cafe of the seamen church, the last room of the performance. And suddenly I realize, of course the seaman are not an absence here manifesting itself in conversations and objects, but they are present as guests themselves, just like I am, to have a coffee and a chat.

/MAIKA KNOBLICH

 

CREDITS

Concept: Johan Forsman och Johan Rödström

Directing advisor: Johanna Larsson

With: Stefan Andersson, Daniel Andersson, Joachim Axelsson, Tomas
Björkdal, Hjördis Davidson, Robert Eklund, Johan Forsman, Charlotta
Grimfjord Cederblad, Simon Hasselblom, Åsa-Lena Hjelm, Andreas
Johansson, Matilda Johansson, Krzysztof Kopij, Johanna Larsson, Rasmus
Lindgren, Louise Magnusson, Pia Nordin, Anders Norell, Rasmus Persson,
Iris Piers, Erik Radix, Johan Rödström, Bernhard Stauffer, Anton Stokes,
Louise Waite, Karolina Wendelius, Stina Östberg, Sara Östebro, Anna Koch, Magnus Haglund.

Produced by Skogen. Supported by the Swedish Arts Council and Gothenborg City