Working with time

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Indiscipline is an annual one-day performance art festival at the Grand Casino of Knokke-Heist. Nodding at its history of hosting the legendary EXPRMNTL film festival (1949–1974), the casino provides a surprising context for experiencing art. We spoke with artist and writer Eleanor Ivory Weber about her practice, the themes of the programme and contemporary approaches to the notion of a happening.

How about beginning with some insights into yourself and your practice?

I have an oblique relationship to artmaking. I studied art history and theory at university and always did critical and experimental writing. I was engaged in self-organisation through cooperative living and artist-led exhibition making, anti-capitalist and homosexual culture. I am interested in spoken text, the contingency of the live moment of speech and how that would bring some other meaning to the writing and enhance the temporal aspect of it. I did a lot of experimental performances, often with found text. 

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You would uncover different layers to these texts?

I am interested in everyday uses of text, and how that could be displaced in such a way that it gives another reading. In the beginning, I made collages of found text and my own writing, accompanied by sound and music. I wanted to do alternative and idiosyncratic readings of the facts, as they are narrated, printed and recorded by mainstream culture and I increasingly started working with different media sources, online articles, newspapers and radio. 

I wanted to do alternative and idiosyncratic readings of the facts

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When you say, ‘in the beginning’, when was that?

I was maybe 20 or 21. I was studying theory at uni and was testing stuff out, for example, a flyer I found on the street preaching evangelical Christianity that threatened hell with cartoon devils and had really wild, hateful language. Sometimes at parties, people would be doing performances, and I would do my strange reading to some techno.

And you went on to art school after studying art theory?

No, I worked as a curator, writer and critic. And I maintained this other practice, connected to writing, reading, performance, sound. After I moved to Brussels, I started to take that practice more seriously and enrolled in the a.pass programme.

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Do you think people who went to art school continue into that field more easily?

I don’t know. I work as an artist. There’s a certain freedom in not taking it too seriously and moving between media and being playful with how to name one’s practice. I could call myself a writer or a singer or a theorist for what I do next. I used to think it was a problem. I don’t know if it is.

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Which aspects of you will we see at Indiscipline?

You’ll see a performance. I often think about montage, creating a cinematic experience. I like to think I am working with time as much as with a specific text, scenario or scenography. Bringing text into temporality by speaking it, when writing becomes reading and speaking. How to work with duration, with an audience, with attention. 

It’s going to happen in the Ambassador Room of the casino, the only space with natural light. There are some formal similarities with the room that Michael Snow’s film Wavelength depicts, which is also part of the festival. There’ll be other elements including sound, speech, maybe singing [laughs]. I started working with this nineties LED machine and that’s become like another performer. It can also ‘say’ text. Essentially it is light moving, light and movement, which is what film is – or time. 

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Anything you’d like the audience to pay extra attention to?

At Indiscipline this year the inclusion of several artists’ work indicates an emphasis on the historical importance of the EXPRMNTL film festival. Curator Pauline Hatzigeorgiou is doing important work in Brussels and in Belgium to give attention to conceptual and experimental art, picking up on artists working in an experimental way.  

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A hunger for something that steers away from art conventions.

And trusting the audience! Not everything has to be explained and spoon-fed, we can be sensitive to work and not know what is going on. This is a valid experience in itself.

If there was anything you’d wish for the audience, like a state of mind, or the type of day they’d have, what would it be?

Maybe they will have spent most of the day outside because they’ll be indoors mainly in the dark from the start of the festival onwards. And I would want to have had a good lunch! 

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An open mind and availability?

Sign up for the whole thing and commit to the evening. I created a durational piece so the audience could be in the space at their own pace. They will experience different intensities throughout the evening. I think Pauline curated the entire evening to be almost like one long show.

A good old happening, you mean. [laughs]

Yeah! It really is about shared time and space. The travel, entering the casino, being with friends, the public, the artists and organisers, it is all part of the experience.

<div class="editorial-banner"> <div class=“editorial-credits”> Indiscipline 2024 - 30.03.2024 at Grand Casino Knokke-Heist. <br/> Buy your tickets here <br/> @noprivateproblems </div></div>

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