TRUE FICTION- working the in-betweens 2021-2023
In True Fiction Nada develops strategies, tools and methods for bringing together her artistic language and her social concerns. In the research she critically looks at how artistic practices have become tools for political and social influence and questions the instrumentalisation of arts in various institutions. What do we miss when we expect artists to become world changers through their work? What has gone awry in this process and how does Nada intend to deal with this? Can we still have political and social power when we create beyond the realms of the easily accessible? What can experimentation, playfulness, ambiguity and uncertainty bring of value? How can we appreciate the not-knowingness of artistic processes in our quest for intelligent citizenship?
In the research Nada explores notions of enclosure, imprisonment, freedom, temporary community building and artistic complexity. Lately she has been forming her work around the concepts of gentle trespassing, structured cacophony and ambiguous specificity. Terms she uses as devices for experiential learning momentums and as sources of poetics.
In the process she has been familiarising herself with the world of prisons and alternative educational models, conducting fieldwork and engaging in encounters with various persons of interest. She has also practiced her research through so called durational working shifts both in artistic contexts and elsewhere.
The research is supported by Workspacebrussels, a. pass, Wp Zimmer and Buda Kunstencentrum.
It also received a research project grant from The Flemish Ministry of Culture.
MERGING TRAFFIC 2020- ONGOING
MERGING TRAFFIC is an ongoing writing practice that began in 2020. Together with Mark Etchells Nada experiments with strategies of co-authorship and ways of writing together as one voice. The first episode of their research (2020) focused on auto-biography and using their own life stories as material for semi-fictive and co-authored texts. The second episode (2021) focuses on the ambiguity of news headlines.
We are constantly bombarded by information in the media that we somehow are supposed to make sense of, that is increasingly subjective and tends toward the sensational and entertaining whilst also often being highly abstract and nonsensical. Journalism is (or ought to be) a public service but media has been a business for a long time and today the line between these two is increasingly thin.
What do headlines really tell us? How do we make sense of them? Is my interpretation the same as yours? Where are the facts? How do I separate fact from fiction or interpretation? Maybe one strategy could be to look for that which isn’t said, rather than that which is?
As part of this research Nada and Mark have created a series calledTime In Titles in which they mix original headlines with collages of information from newspapers from all over the world laying bare their incongruity and proneness to misunderstandings. The series also plays with the hierarchy between human related news and news pertaining to nature or natural elements and points to the poetic value of these headlines, touching on the imaginary and the narrative. Some of them are beautiful in their tragedy, others are more abstract.
Research initiated by Nada & Co.
Episode 1 supported by Ores artist residency (FIN)
Episode 2 supported by Nada & Co. (BE)
WALKING PRACTICE AND COLLECTIVE CURATION 2021
Forced by the Covid-19 pandemic to rethink the format of the monthly collective research sessions (see hereunder) Nada opted for a restricted group and a more ongoing format. In January 2021 Brussels based artists Gosie Vervloessem, Eszter Némethi, Ondine Cloez, Michiel Reynaert and Nada herself gathered during a ten day residency at the Kaaitheater in Brussels around certain questions they thought were urgent to attend to. The residency was an exercise in temporarily transforming their individual artistic practices into a collective trajectory of learning. During two weeks, they experimented and reflected around the following questions:
How do we want to work today?
What kind of artistic processes do we want to engage in?
What are we working on?
What are we dreaming of?
What are our artistic preoccupations?
What are the relations we want to foster at the moment & how do we go about them?
How can/do we attend to the loneliness and isolation many of us experience now?
How can we share our work today with peers and the public?
How can we expose and play with positive processes of contamination?
How long can we stay together in a state of not knowing before the desire for solution takes over?
What do we consider as work? What is work? What is implied when you call something work?
How to brave-guard space for curiosity?
How has our work and way of working changed during corona? Do we want to continue this way and why/ why not?
Does our work spill over the limit of the canvas?
Do we want it to overspill?
What does it mean to spill over?
For the artists the residency served as a moment of unravelling, provoking and stimulating their individual thoughts by inviting them into a collective space of potential, a sort of non-hygienic playing ground for hybrids, where a contamination of knowledge and desire could stir up new possibilities, new questions, new areas of inquiry.
By prompting each other to question and challenge their habitual thinking and doing processes they wanted to linger longer in the position of the one that does not know but searches with enthusiasm and concentration.
During the residency, they developed a walking practice that went hand in hand with an exercise in collective curation. Throughout the first half of 2021 the artists met every two weeks or so to walk together and practice ways of seeing and being with the landscape.
In order to document and share their thoughts they sent a letter to the Kaai after their residency, which you can access by clicking on the button hereunder.
On the 2nd of May 2021 the artists curated a long walk open to the public as a way to share their process. For this event, which they entitled
A Given Landscape they invited guest artists Edurne Rubio, Maria Jerez, Sara Manente, Micha Goldberg and Anne Dekerk to join them through proposals related to, among others, questions of public space, environment, contamination and fermentation, appearance and disappearance. More information can be found on the page of the event.
Research initiated by Nada & Co and supported by the Kaaitheater in Brussels (BE)
MONTHLY COLLECTIVE RESEARCH SESSIONS 2020 + 2022-ongoing
A hands-on sharing, exchange and experimentation platform for independent artists from the performing and visual arts fields and beyond.
The collective research sessions were established as an invitation to artists to share their questions, processes, projections, curiosities and ideas with peers with the goal of mutual resource building, learning and exchange. The practical set-up of the sessions has changed over time but the focus remains on artistic practices and on thinking and doing together.
The sessions were initially initiated by Nada & Co and hosted by the Kaaitheater in Brussels (BE). In 2022 Nada invited artist Maxime Arnould to jointly organise the sessions with her and this time in different venues each time. It was also around this time that a stable group started forming. In 2022/23 the sessions were hosted by a.pass, decoratelier, kaaistudios, befhaven, constant vzw, QO2, la balsamine, kunstenwerkplaats pianofabriek and workspacebrussels.
research project 2013
In the first six months of 2013 Nada dived into a research on the untamed nature of movement, language and objects.
Through a series of explorations Nada juggled with the meanings of things and turned them upside down in order to explore what happens when the things we know and can name aquire a new identity. How can we expand the meanings we are used to? How can an object from every-day life become something unexpected? How does language form our perception of the things around us? Is meaning flexible and shared? Can we, through imagination and action give new meanings to things and are they then still shared or are they (simply) personal interpretations? What is the nature of reason when we destabilize the logics we are used to?
The first part of the research was conducted by Nada alone with the exception of a public workshop of two days at the Kutomo gallery in Turku, Finland. In the second half of the research Nada was joined by Sara Manente, Marcos Simoes and Salka Ardal Rosengren. The research eventually led to the creations Untamed Thingliness and We are no longer here.
The research was supported by the Flemish Ministry of Culture (structural subsidies 2013-14)/ Koneen Säätiö, Saari artists residencies (Mietoinen, FI)/ New Performance Turku festival (FI)/ Takt Dommelhof (BE) and Buda Arts Center, Kortrijk (BE)
research project 2009-10
A laboratory is a place where experiments are carried out.
An experiment is a process whose outcome isn't known beforehand.
At the end of 2009 and throughout 2010 Nada conducted a series of 4 research cycles, each focusing on important elements from her work. Conducting these cycles was a way for Nada to get beyond questions familiar to her in order to reach a point where new ones could appear.
CYCLE 1/ developing strategies for working with movement
The first research cycle came out of a desire to reconnect to the physical body and develop methods for creating physical material. The goal was to examine whether abstract movement could supply fuel for the narrative dimensions in Nada's work.
Apart from the studio work Nada also conducted interviews with choreographers working in Belgium about their working methods and approaches to creating and organizing physical material.
This work eventually led Nada to the creation Fiction in action.
CYCLE 2 / presence and performative behaviour
A good actor can communicate more than a whole war in your living room just by moving an eyebrow
Aki Kaurismäki, Katso magazine nr.6, 1996
Presence is a recurrent theme in Nada’s work. At times it has been the main focus, as in Confessions- the Autopsy of a Performance, at other times a decisive element in how a performance is put together, as in Once upon a time in Petaouchnok. For Nada the act of performance is like a metamorphosis through different states. Being aware of how to use one’s presence in order to serve the material presented in a specific performance is the golden tool for any person appearing on stage. A scene might demand for example that the performer is detached from what he is doing in order for the material to become more readable. Another scene might get stronger from the fact that the performer engages in a direct relationship with the spectators. There are many more examples, but the point is that by being able to play with presence one can drastically change the way an audience perceives and receives material.
In this cycle Nada explored how presence can be used as a tool to manipulate the reading of material but also how a focus on presence can generate material. She divided her attention between ‘performative behaviour’ (how one behaves on stage) and presence (which is more related to the person and something one can’t really separate from that person). A theoretical distinction but at times a useful one to make.
For this research Nada was briefly accompanied by Michael Janart, a performer from her piece Once upon a time in Petaouchnok.
CYCLE 3 / exploring the use of food and props in live performance
Nada began this cycle by focusing on experiments with props that could change her in action and transform her body but also with objects that could change the way she and her actions were perceived. Someone dancing with a hammer does not change the person but it changes the way he is perceived and the meaning of what he is doing.
Objects are often symbolically very charged. There is a thin line when things begin to appear in a new light, when it becomes possible to play with potential meanings other than the inherent ones. The possibilities are endless in this work. We are surrounded by objects and every object gives birth to a different question. Objects have great potential in questioning and creating sense and non-sense.
Throughout this research Nada worked only with pre-existing objects.
For practical reasons the food explorations were kept to a minimum at the end. Apart from one major experiment in an empty apartment during a residency with the Institute for Provocation in Beijing, China, most of the food research happened on a theoretical level. This part of the research was the only one which Nada fully conducted accompanied by two other people (performers Cristian Duarte and Lena Meierkord). Together they discussed in which ways food can be seen as something physical and what its potential is as an equal element alongside movement, lights, text etc. in a live performance.
They investigated food as physical texture, exploring its potential as matter. They combined working methods developed during the first research cycle together with explorations linked to food. One crucial difference between working with objects and working with food is that food can be re-worked in ways that physical, concrete objects cannot. In other words, food can be transformed and modified in a totally different way than a rigid object. On the other hand, objects can easily be disregarded once not needed anymore whereas food leaves traces. In some sense food is closer related to movement in that it becomes abstract in ways that existing (and functional) objects never, or very rarely, do.
CYCLE 4/ composition and dramaturgy
In this cycle Nada explored the advantages and limitations of using images (scenes) in the creation of a performance. For this she used material created during the previous cycles in order to focus on composition rather than the creation of material.
Videos from the research
Research cycles 1-4 were supported by the Flemish Ministry of Culture (research grant in 2009 and 2010), WorkSpaceBrussels (BE), L’L- lieu de recherche et d’accompagnement pour la jeune création-Brussels (BE), Buda Arts Center in Kortrijk (BE),Vooruit in Gent (BE), the Institute for Provocation in Beijing (China) and Wp Zimmer in Antwerp (BE).