Urgency of partial togetherness – practising anarchic responsibility
Complex thematic interweaving emerged during the three days of the performative gathering Together the parts/Part 2 (days 4–6) – such as in the queer ribbon dance Kompositum V / Stubenspiel (Saturday), devised and performed by Thomas Hörl and Peter Kozek in collaboration with performers Andrew Champlin and Grayson Ruple plus the participating audience. Attempting to untangle these in a retrograde movement of thought back into their singularity of the often collective strands of experience will obviously neither result in a complete disentanglement or resolution, nor will it follow a chronological unbraiding. What remains is the multi-layered resonance of the three-day festival, the sensation and the insistence of the political and aesthetic positioning of the various artistic practices that has left a welcome tinge of sensuousness in its wake. In several rounds of reflection, nuanced presentations condense into a call for collective-performative action, which is a matter of existential urgency post Covid, and dedicate themselves in dazzling interaction to the friction generated between the collective body and individual beings. A friction that contains the potential to generate social warmth, to suspend the space-time continuum in the moment and to feel safe in the fabric of togetherness.
Peter Kutin’s ROTOЯ – A Sonic Body (procession/sonic intervention) in a live interplay with Freya Edmontes (harmonica, vocals, electronic devices) accelerates at the end of Together the parts and takes off to become a hologram-like, sonic body. Four loudspeakers make the horizontality rotate, while the sound, the object and its image (projected video) couple and/or decouple frequencies through the modulation of rotational velocity. Peter Kutin states: “The decisive moments happen when different speeds appear to come together in a common resonance.” The apparent nature of this commonality challenges the transparency of the sensory sensation in the moment. The multimedia ROTOЯ experience overlaps in synaesthetic thinking  with a memory of Michael Turinsky talking about different temporalities in the listening circle on the topic of “Crip Choreography”. An echo of Foucault’s concept of heterochrony slowly wafts past the horizons of perception and thought. The fields of time touch each other in the expanse of horizontality, where vision, the present and the past interlace. Michael Turinsky talks about vulnerability, about a proposal of living physicality in an inclusive and diverse way, and about the practice of “lying down for rights”. This time, a visual memory of peace and human rights activist Mahatma Gandhi wafts past: an impressive scene from the biopic Gandhi (1982), in which the protesters lie down on the ground when British colonial troops gallop towards the group on horseback. The horses shy, and indeed: “The horses won’t trample on us if we lie down!” A horizontal expanse – accomplished together.
Connections, networks, roped parties, interweavings, elasticity, togetherness, linkages, contact, encounters, (cor)relation, community. The space between performative and sculptural, activist and artistic action is measured, traversed and queered by participatory formats. An inevitably varied performativity of artistic and aesthetic practices in their social paths or orbits emerges in the curatorial landscape designed by Katalin Erdődi and Philipp Gehmacher.
Running around in circles is the central element in The Resilience of the Body by Shaymaa Shoukry, choreographer and artist from Cairo. Her insistence and perseverance create the possibility of a common direction. The gravitational pull of togetherness emerges, creating a collectivity beyond the fitness culture. At the beginning: a dark room, breathing sounds. Embedded in Mohamed Shafik’s soundscapes, the runner pants a never-ending list into the microphone that literally makes you want to get up and leave. The enumeration of injustices, of violence against women and children, racism, gender discrimination, environmental destruction and censorship exhausts itself in a circular entanglement of personal-political motives.
“I hate running…I run for justice, equality, human dignity, freedom of movement…I run for transformation, connection, to fill the darkness with light…I will keep on running until you join me.” – Excerpt from the live performance
There are many reasons to persevere: the next generation wants to live, too. The subject here isn’t bandwagonism but the sheer intergenerational race for survival – not everyone for themselves, but for the community of a variety of living beings on this planet. Perhaps it is basically a spring into action in solidarity, so as to keep one’s own spirit up as well as that of others? Susanne Songi Griem and Pete Prison IV invite the participating audience to All of a Sudden With Orange in Salt as part of the circle dance format. Again, it is the circular shape that creates a “togetherness of parts” that remains open and comprises all forms of participation. The experiment is divided into chapters. It begins with the movement game “Whisper down the lane”, followed by various exercises to train an awareness of gravity, dynamics, collectivity and space. It attempts to develop a contemporary circle dance with objects in the sense of object-oriented ontology, in which various agencies and a practice of decentring conclude with a joint picnic.
Saturday ends with a sonic interruption in the form of abstract, dense, compact walls of sound by PLF. Frequencies whirr over expansive drones, and rhythms chop up the raging stillness between post-punk, noise and improvisation. PLF are Freya Edmontes (vocals), Lukas König (drums) and Peter Kutin (electronics), and together they demonstrate their proficiency in delivering a felicitous concert both in terms of sound and performance.
In Kompositum V / Stubenspiel (Sunday) by Thomas Hörl and Peter Kozek, the Twitter logo becomes an oversized “migratory bird” – and the participants follow the procession in swinging hoop skirts. Even though the goal is always in front of us, we don’t really know where we’re going. The logo of the famous bird was created exclusively by using circles, is intended to symbolise overlapping interests and ideas and, according to Twitter, stands for freedom, hope and infinite possibilities.
Feeling the weight of anarchic responsibility – based on the term “arkhein” – is a nutational movement that participant-spectators must enter into in this gathering. It has the potential to maintain the capacity for action of creative-critical practices and refuses to comply with a certain kind of productivity – the prevailing, all-too-well prepared, sleek workings of polished success stories and performances. Anarchic responsibility is autonomous experimentation that lies in the hands of each individual in the community, beyond solipsistic will or ambition. It emerges as a force in the unfamiliar shape of equitable attention or non-rule. Anarchic responsibility is practised in a number of artistic-political works such as participatory performances, installations or other types of spaces which are created as deregulated zones of contact for experiments with choreographic formats, practices of hospitality and encounters with (un)known others.
Derrida writes: “[…] hospitality is culture itself […] it is a manner of being there, the manner in which we relate to ourselves and to others, to others as our own or as foreigners, ethics is hospitality; ethics is so thoroughly coextensive with the experience of hospitality.” There is room to manoeuvre between the various ethics, a kind of choreo-ethics of how we relate to each other, to the created artistic environments and to the experiences offered. It is this mobile, choreo-ethical space that dedicates itself to the dimension of the social, breathes in togetherness and shows itself in cycles as a resilient, hopeful, collective body. This is the consistent, constant work towards solidarity, transformation, insistence and the practice of doing something over and over again and to keep on going. The sharing of practices and the practice of sharing are at the heart of Katalin Erdődi’s and Philipp Gehmacher’s curatorial proposal. In her work as an independent curator, dramaturge and author, Katalin Erdődi consistently focuses on care, socially engaged art, experimental performance and interventions in public space. As an activist, she is involved in initiatives concerning precarious working conditions and migration policies. Philipp Gehmacher is a choreographer, dancer and visual artist who critically explores the space between body and language, object and sculpture, black box and white cube as well as architectural and institutional spaces. Their curatorial collaboration is based on repetition and variation as conceptual-compositional ideas inherent in the notion of practice. Over the days of the event, a form of landscape dramaturgy, unhurried and in a gentle rhythm, unfolds in Hall G – a concept that Marta Popivoda explores in more detail in the listening circle. There is room to manoeuvre between artistic practices, dramaturgical-choreographic-perceptive spaces and ethics. Conventions and rules are not set in stone, but negotiable. This room to manoeuvre is the space in which choreo-ethics lives, works and breathes, reinventing the social situationally. Choreo-ethical practice stays on, insists and listens.
In the listening circle, Popivoda talks about “Feminist Storytelling: Old Stories for New Bodies”. She contextualises the transgenerational transfer of contemporary history from the perspective of a woman active in the anti-fascist resistance, challenges hero’s tales and gives an account of her film Landscapes of resistance (2021), in which 97-year-old Sonja Vujanović, a former partisan in Serbia, talks about the fight against Nazi occupation and how she became the leader of the resistance in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Sonja sees herself as part of a collective body, imbued with the lived experience that resistance is possible in any situation. The artistic film deals with the relationship between history and contemporaneity, the relevance of atmospheres, places, landscape, quietude and slowness. Art is the mother of resistance. The film Landscapes of resistance allows Ana Vujanović (Sonja’s great-niece) and Marta Popivoda to reflect on the politicity of being in the world, to ask what a contemporary partisan practice may look like, and to delve into micropolitical, affective spaces of feminist storytelling.
Deceleration encourages us to pause for a moment. It’s a radical time-space practice that is also the foundation of Claudia Heu’s artistic work. Heu talks about lying down in public spaces as a practice of resistance and poetry. “Lying between the car tyres and the many shoes has opened my eyes to the sky” – the political potential of lingering in horizontality. The thermodynamics of loose thinking wafts Michael Turinsky’s statement “crip essentially means resistance” closer. According to the choreographer, performer and theorist it’s easy to move on the floor in the studio, but it takes courage to dance in the disco, at parties or in public space lying on the floor – in horizontality. The greater the differences in pressure, the more violent the wind resulting from this movement of air. Another gust wafts the memory of the collective tree ritual (2009) along, featuring Neil Marcus  and Petra Kuppers, both active in the Disability Rights Movement. The ritual performance took place as part of the “Earth Matters” symposium in Eugene, Oregon. Lying and breathing around a tree together, being attentively aware of the symbiotic exchange of CO2 with a tree in the middle of an urban area, has produced a heightened, shared sensibility for encounters between the collective body, the environment and our mutual interdependence.
The journey continues, with Claudia Heu and Barbara Kraus, on to the immediate vicinity of Hall G and its surrounding rooms. Echoing the Aboriginal Songline practice, the two artists invite the participating audience to engage in mapping and traversing – a sensitive step-by-step progress in radical slowness, where contextualisation and social responsibility are intertwined with the contingent dimensions of life. In Gehen (tournée/practice-in-motion) by Claudia Heu and Barbara Kraus, everybody present is invited to become a companion, to invite time to join in the walking, to walk with time in the inner, outer and the in-between spaces of perception, in quietude, by themselves and with the others.
The theme of walking recurs again the next day with Barbara Kraus aka Johnny, and they expertly perform fragments of personality and excerpts from the artist’s poetic diary. In a queer, cheeky, gender-fluid, sensitive and touching manner, and in Viennese dialect, the participating audience is made to lie down/still and then sing.
The three-day experience began in the sensorial tent with a collaborative practice by Anne Juren and Sonia Leimer. A large, heavy book lies open at the entrance. It displays the work of Lygia Clark, presumably a point of reference that serves as a bridge for collaborative work concerning Sensorial Transference Objects, a zone of reference and contact for performative and sculptural work, and an overlapping of sensory objects and subjects. Lygia Clark sees herself as an “initiator of processes” ; according to her, her “objetos sensoriais” acquire significance, form and meaning by establishing a connection with the observer’s body as “living organisms”. In a carefully designed room – the sensorial tent – we plunge into the world of cracks and fissures with mini microscopes, are pulled into the depths and feel our way along by touching the surfaces of Sonia Leimer’s objects. Sonia Leimer has compiled the remnants of exhibits for this joint practice, a kind of recycling of artistic material that has been discarded. In conjunction with the artistic objects, Anne Juren introduces a somatic practice that is methodologically based in Feldenkrais work and her own research on Fantasmical Anatomies. Po(i)etic form, experiment and the haptic dimension as well as touching through words are part of her compositional toolbox. She asks the room whether we are familiar with the concept of fulcrum. Like a gentle breeze, the memory of Richard Serra’s large steel sculptures wafts through the sensorial tent. Serra’s works can be found in public spaces and in large museums all over the world. Fulcrum (1987) – meaning pivot, point of support – is a free-standing sculpture at Liverpool Street Station in London. When I lived in London during the global financial and economic crisis of 2008–2009, I walked past it every day. A kind of protected space, a sanctuary or place of worship that invites you to enter and look into the sky. I often went there to take a break, to reduce the speed of the urban pulse. Anatomically speaking, fulcrum refers to a structure that serves as a hinge or point of support. The definition of a fulcrum is a pivot around which a lever moves, or something that plays a central role in a situation or activity. We feel our way towards the supposed centre of the object, which we make out with our hands by touching. The diffractive perception shifts with every slight change in position as soon as we enter the microscopic world, where we follow the craters, depressions, textures, furrows, cracks and fissures.
Satu Herrala also attunes the participants to a precise perception of their own body, relations with the environment, and how we are in resonance with each other. She asks about the ways in which collectivity emerges from togetherness, and its potential political and aesthetic power. In the listening circle, Satu Herrala addresses the path From resonance into collective action in the format of a reading and a conversation. It all begins with the search for the centre of being, perception on a microscale to find the collective power, and making use of the collective body in political assemblies, protests, demonstrations. Satu Herrala refers to Baruch Spinoza’s ethics, Karen Barad’s intra-action and Astrida Neimanis’ hydrofeminism to trace movements of thought around ethico-onto-epistemology. In her work with Sámi, the Finno-Ugric-speaking people living in the Sápmi region, physical-intuitive knowledge takes on importance, and she asks herself the fundamental question of what understanding means and which knowledge she trusts, how the connections between landscape and body, ancient knowledge and intuitive gut feeling develop, how they flow into and through us. Satu Herrala talks about trauma, “settled and unsettled bodies” and the importance of even tiny shifts and expansions of the personal possibility space. The revolution of mere “embodied action” of a collective body. She is convinced that art as a means of change has the obligation to intervene in the becoming of the world.
“Onto-epistem-ology – the study of practices of knowing in being – is probably a better way to think about the kind of understandings that we need to come to terms with how specific intra-actions matter. Or, for that matter, what we need is something like an ethico-onto-epistem-ology – an appreciation of the intertwining of ethics, knowing, and being […] because the becoming of the world is a deeply ethical matter.” 
In reminiscence of Derrida, but in a retrograde reversal, the shared responsibility remains for an ethical practice that insists: hospitality is choreo-ethics, an ethics that is negotiated in the chorus and that always arises situationally. Being together in parts attempts a prudent form of collapse and coincidence, a practice of sharing and daring; it seeks participation in artistic practices of care, attention and empathy. Katalin Erdődi’s and Philipp Gehmacher’s curatorial experiment builds on the wisdom of the parts being together with others, and comes together in radical self-organisation and an-archic responsibility through participation, dedication and commitment in solidarity – together the parts.
Mariella Greil is an artist and a researcher focusing on contemporary performance, especially its ramifications into the choreographic and the ethical. She has been Senior Artist at Angewandte Performance Laboratory in Vienna since October 2022. Together with Vera Sander, she co-edited the book (per)forming feedback (2016). In collaboration with Emma Cocker and Nikolaus Gansterer she published Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line (2017), a hybrid of artist’s-book and research-compendium. Her monograph Being in Contact: Encountering a Bare Body was published by De Gruyter in 2021.
 Statement in an interview with Susanna Niedermayr as part of musikprotokoll 2020.
 Ambar Chakravarty, “The creative brain – revisiting concepts”, in: Med Hypotheses, 2010 Mar, 74(3):606-12, doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2009.10.014.
 In Greek, “árkhein” is the active infinitive in the present tense and means to be a vanguard or to lead, to direct.
 Jacques Derrida, On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness, London 2001, p. 16f, emphasis in the original.
 Latin “chorēa” means circle dance, circular movement, and – in conjunction with ethics – emphasises parity and reciprocal relationality. Cf. Mariella Greil, Being in Contact: Encountering a Bare Body, Berlin 2021.
 Actor and playwright Neil Marcus contributed to the development of Disability Culture and reshaped the conceptualisation of disability. He died in 2021.
 Quote from the film O mundo de Lygia Clark by Eduardo Clark, 1973.
 Karen Barad, Meeting the universe halfway – quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning, Durham & London, 2007, p. 185.