Nocturnal footnotes

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Dealing with what we have phrased as “protocols of self-organisation” in WHPH recently we have been questioning what should be controlled and programed and to which extent, and what should be kept spontaneous, open or “unsafe”. In Madrid we have been mostly interested in the operation of the self-organized initiatives and communities, in the functioning of the affective regimes within the sphere of art and activism, in the blind spots and semi-public spaces.

As always the most precious was the unexpected and the unprogrammed. Guided by our truly amazing host Matias Daporta and his friends we found ourselves in the most beautiful situations and places: at a queer performance unfolding in a dance studio in what seemed from the outside to be a private house in a residential area [1] or at the ‘Picnic sessions’ [2] pop-up afterparty in a hidden billiard bar. The inspiring encounter with some of those who practice disco-conferences within a self-run seminar at CA2M, made us think again on the ways how and on the places where knowledge-sharing emerges, sustains and circulates; about the knowledge production, affect, mysticism [3] and speculation. At the same time, as one of them acutely remarked, when the nightlife is being pushed to the gallery spaces, we should not get enchanted, but analyse why this is happening, and where is our place, agency and contribution there. When the night and - to put it simple - parties are being banned for the communities by the authorities and all kinds of regulations and bureaucracies, can art or intellectual field be an adequate resort for us?

It is always not easy to represent WHPH for several reasons. One is its unstable structure and a large number of participants, and in case of this residency, for example, half of the working group was also missing. Another reason is the deliberate rejection of conventional formats and project-based logics in the favour of overlapping of personal and professional, transversality and unproductivity [4]. But the main cause is the fact that WHPH is rather about shared time, experiences and (dispersed) collectivities. So living though the residency together with the others, allowing meaningful unexpected encounters to happen and letting the things not work as they have been planned was a possible strategy for us. Another way to bring the WHPH spirit was to trigger conversations via playful set of rules and serious / confusing questions.


[1] The dark slow and viscous music track in the night, in the darkness, in the cave, similar to ‘O Sodoma’ Bernardino Femminielli where the darkness of the night becomes dense, indistinguishable, sneaking, affective. The scenography itself and the performance structure splitted into the ‘observational’ part where viewers surround the stage, that inflates, swells, waves and takes shape, gradually hides parts of the bodies of the two performers, their mirrors, chains, whips and shiny motorcycle helmets: atlantis of pleasure. And the second part, the entrance to which must be made by accepting an invitation into the darkness of a swollen plastic. The entrance is an anus. In the words of Deleuze and Guattari, “The first organ to suffer privatization, removal from the social field, was the anus. It was the anus that offered itself as a model for privatization, at the same time that money came to express the flows’ new state of abstraction.” The sunny bunny, the solar anus.

Enrique Gimeno, Tyler Matthew Oyer. Performance “La Bola Negra” (2018).

[2] One of the subjects of Pedro Romero’s exhibition in CA2M denotes another type of a night: the darkness and murk of the prison room. The Cheka is a prison psycho-technical device, developed by the anarchist Alfonso Laurencic in 1937. They were used by the Republican militia during the Civil War: uneven surfaces beds and floors, distorted walls, no clock available, curved scale of objects. A-temporal prison darkness is driving fascists crazy. Otherwise, in the iconology of the Anarchist Black Cross and communist Red Aid, darkness is the space of repression and prison violence, the fire of the torch and the rays of the sun on the other side of the prison lattice are symbols of liberation and freedom. Whether in the  nocturnal space and temporality, where the night is especially dense, there is a dark side of liberation from the all-pervading light of visibility and rationality?

Pedro G. Romero. Exhibition “Room”. Curated by Nuria Enguita and Ángel Calvo Ulloa (2018).

[3] Sitting in a circle with meaningful strangers, surrounding the table with the cards chosen by the magical Raisa Maudit and never shown to us, we trigger the collective speculations about the futures, failures, dreams, anticipations, phantasmatic desires and personal energies. Urging to struggle with the complex, inhuman, multilayered and elusive structures of the global capitalism, maybe we should in turn operate through the ghostly and the virtual, through the parareal technologies and radical speculations. Maybe our dreams should become the source of the subversive thinking <Di dreaming about gentrification>, so when asleep we could invent the functional strategies for fighting the challenges of the neoliberal insomnia? Facing the multiple modes of oppression and exclusion, feeling politically paralysed, we turn to the sleep paralysis, which is believed to be connected to the simultaneous presence in several dimensions, as a way to transcend the given condition, as a radical alienation. Echoing Laboria Cuboniks’ Xenofeminist Manifesto: “The construction of freedom involves not less but more alienation; alienation is the labour of freedom’s construction. Nothing should be accepted as fixed, permanent, or ‘given’–neither material conditions nor social forms”.

A la mesa! at Medialab-Prado with Gloria Durán, Andrés Senra, Raisa Maudit and Mario Cru.

[4] The question of non-productivity was always the key one for WHPH: its trajectory was shaped by the tension between the total rejection of labor along with the criticism of repressive regimes of work and the forced pleasure in the disciplinary post-socialist societies, between rethinking of productivity and agency in modern capitalism and left politics. Unexpectedly, this tension was expressed for us in a fragment of the performance by Matias Daporta in which the ringback tone (when calling to one of the bureaucratic structures in Madrid) is transformed into a gabber track (the ringtone melody starts to lean on the bass and fast bpm), which moves the waiting body of the performer (is his overalls a reference to a figure of worker in disciplinary societies?). Can the rhythms of the bureaucracy produce the dance that we share?

Matias Daporta. Performance “Bureaucracy must wait for me” (2018).

[X] Our interest in the night (as a specific spatio-temporal constellation) grows from the artistic practice of our friends and comrades “The Night Movement” .

Learning on the spot Drifts of an open conversation

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