in collaboration with Janneke Raaphorst 2016–2018
"We have gone sick by following a path of rationalism, male dominance, attention to the surface of things, practicality, bottom-line-ism, we have gone very very sick and the body politic, like any body that is sick is producing anti-bodies… a rejection of linear values, a desire to return to a world of magical empowerment of feeling, unimaginable vistas of self exploration, empowerment and hope."
The work Elastic Habitat explores the imaginary, invisible or speculative body. The work consists of several layers: In individual sessions participants are guided into the a multi-sensorial discovery of their momentary physical, mental and emotional presence. These explorations are concluded with concrete descriptions of the perception as a physical form/body. These descriptions are materialized with artist and costume-designer Janneke Raaphorst as wearable textile bodies. It is a utopian attempt, hence the aim is not to perfectly achieve the form of that internal perception but rather to channel all the possible translations implicated in such a process, including the translation through which the artist and the designer materialise the description of the participant. The unavoidable misunderstandings of communication and translation are part of the artwork. Like in the children's game ‘whisper down the lane’, these misunderstandings are creating the poetry of the work. In this project the content of the artwork are people and their inner processes. The artist and the costume designer become merely mediators or operators of a dynamic. There is no end-result, there are only individual perceptions: the artwork is in the perception. The artwork is the process. The process is the artwork.
The final stage of this work is an installation, imagined as a playground, where these wearable sculptures can be experienced by an audience through wearing them. It is a metaphorical invitation to get ‘under the skin of the other’ and give visibility to the invisible and immaterial and let these surprising forms inspire or challenge our common understanding of the human body.
This immersive installation is supposed to create a place of joyful and playful interaction with oneself and others, while an introspection can take place. Playing is a method to joyfully access unconscious perceptions and digest them not through mental analysis but through physical activity. It is an invitation for the audience/participant to explore her/his/our language of the body. The art-work is perceived here not as an object or a spectacle but as a ‘quasi-body’, which can only be understood phenomenologically. The importance is given to “lived experience” or “embodied knowledge”. The whole meaning of the work lies in the act of doing it. The art-work here is understood as enabling an efficacious, “healing” relationship with oneself and ‘the other(s)’. The experience enables at the same time inward-looking and interpersonal dialogues: a collective body.