What does this documentation consist of?

This section intends to trace a line that defines the before and after of the documenting proposal offered by Janaína Behling e Marta Blanco, documentation colleagues, in an effort to leave a fertil methodological trail for future editions. As a result of this small trial, Janaína navigates through the margins of the construction of multiple professional identities just as a linguist, although the margins are fertile and generous between Linha de Fuga and the academic spheres of the world.
Marta reports her artist and activist look, interviewing her self, in a conversation between abstraction and the importance of gaze.

Janaína’s Vision

The present Documentation:
Words and a Lexical Field in Construction

A lexical field is a set of words which, through their meaning, are associated with a particular conceptual domain. And despite the belief that concepts may be very abstract and are not of any use for society, in the scope of Linha de Fuga, on the contrary, they may be indispensable to highlight displacements, for example in the relations established within the idea of centre-periphery.

The dialogue with Catarina is a very rich lexical source to conceptualize Linha de Fuga, so rich that many editions of the event, a great amount of time and many rehearsals would be necessary for us to know the depth of the sense it made and will make sense to the city’s audience and beyond. In other words, we need to abandon rancid concepts so that we are not too naïve when when analysing a Festival-Laboratory. A consequence of that naivety may be a dangerous practice, very common not only in Coimbra, of labelling researchers as pretentious and thus trying to cancel them out, to withdraw them from the chances of escape. However, in the conversation with the curator, many important words are associated with the characterization of Linha de Fuga, for they belong to Catarina’s lexical memory and penetrate into every pore of every activity without us even realizing it. Words like line, escape, trail, perspective, will, desire, context, urgency, observation, encounter, territory, diversity, potential, knowledge, complexity, memory, ephemeral. There are important verbs that complement them: activate, translate, develop, connect, question, discover, bring, advance. There are, also, loaned hybridisms and some I invented during the conversation, like glocal, linorship, doccupant, methodoloescape. The textual productions are varied when the concept of text or the author-text used by the curatorship in the interview is broadened. The goal is to highlight that among lexical fields materialize derivations of authenticity of Linha de Fuga.

Right now, that authenticity happens and helps the contextualization of the documentation, a participant documentation, only conceptualized because I borrow from ethnography the concept of participating observation, an extremely fruitful investigation methodology, but still marginalized by many academics. It is understood that by creating and letting a relatively “new” concept flow inside the traditions of participant investigation, what Catarina proposes takes place: a discredit of the centre-periphery relation. The participant documentation, thus, ceases to be the fruit of artistic experimental abstractions and begins to be a catalyst of resignifiers of concepts specially interested in surpassing their own limitations and even those of human sciences of some modern settings in general.

Participant documentation for ephemeral Laboratories

After trying to briefly highlight the importance of lexical fields in Linha de Fuga, I imagined the creation of some kind of Möbius strip to get to a definition of the doccupants, that is, participant documenters. The strip can be interpreted from this image:
In the image it’s easy to visualize the Möbius strip in space as the representation of the Festival-Laboratory. One only has to make a half turn in a long strip of paper and glue both ends to thus create an endless strip, with no inside nor outside. Images a), b), c) and d) have their format modified starting in the route of a red line that traverses a supposed infinity, with a red point at the center which serves as reference, in this case, a linorship. I aim to use the Möbius strip to illustrate that the notion of centre-periphery needs to be melted down into different layers when we are in an escape process and, also, to show how that happens among the doccupants, when I met Marta Blanco and she proposed the video-letters. I believe that in a) both doccupants were in a moment prior to the festival – they did not know each other; in b) the first encounters came about, the loose conversations; in c) the line-up proposal of the offered expertise, whichever they might be, audiovisual skills (in Marta’s case) and some philosophical writing (in Janaína’s case); in d) the crossings arise by means of the context itself, in this case, being caught in the city itself, its paralyzing and imaginary rituals over the public.

But the applicability of the strip is endless. It may be in the characterization, for example, of the different encounters and mismatches the doccupants had along the process, especially, I presume, due to the epistemological distances that united us.

In the application for documentation I presented an observation of a participant as a study methodology. From the application project, I reproduce ten main bullet points of a supposed methodoloescape. In it, I present ten characteristics that were goals of the project of documentation before and now are characteristics of an original work. Thus, the participant documentation:

1) Demands great observation ability and constant refinement of the documenters’ gaze, especially in events that, despite being ephemeral, have a forecast time. In that case, the observation is not focused on the evolution of diverse behaviors in time and space, but on the different possibilities of dialogue around themes related to the focus of the documentation;

2) It cannot forego a focus or theme that, ultimately, concerns the area of knowledge or other type of identification of the doccupants themselves. The one who documents, in this case, could belong to any area of studies or even to none, depending on how and to which spheres of society (academic or not) the linorship wants to belong;

3) It cannot forego the interaction between focus/documenter/multiple spaces of performance. This means being available to assume different identities during and after the Festival, even knowing that some of those identities will be dissolved more quickly than others or less so. Multiple identities, for example, may lead doccupants to be mistaken for art critics or art experts. It is possible that some participants will feel frustrated, or even the linorship, when they realize that there can be no commitment with evaluations of that type;

4) It affirms and reaffirms the role of the event with the presence of doccupants and linorships, but they should choose or negotiate in which moment they will be present or not, mainly if the Festival has a very intense agenda of activities. What’s at stake is a strong sense of an escape team and not an attendance list; 

5) It collaborates with the success of the event, but in order to achieve that one cannot commit or it is best they don’t commit to other activities, like for example, production assistant, administrative work and the like, unless it’s the desire of the doccupants;

6) It highlights that the doccupants themselves are not aware of their own image, given that their (de)construction of multiple identities is in a negociation process;

7) It implies making use of unexpected registering materials. Therefore, in the context of Linha de Fuga, the theme or focus of the documentation is a category under permanent construction;

8) There may be a routine in the application of data collection methods or not, including by creating events that were not scheduled, such as giving interviews to a local means of communication, as was my case, or even proposing several interviews to the public;

9) It can address the participants as an attempt to strengthen interactions, although that approach is susceptible to the greater or smaller proximity of the doccupants to the proposed artistic processes;

10) It is committed to projections of the event to reach new audiences in the future, if this is the case, even at a lexical level.

These ten steps are not able to fill the gaps left and found in an ephemeral documentation process, let alone failures and limitations in the attempt to trace a really effective linguistic study. Except if I consider my intention to write better and better from that moment on.
At the same time, this guide helps to emphasize how Linha de Fuga, especially, as a Laboratory of artistic/scientific practices rescues what human sciences should offer its collaborators: possibilities. Or not.

Marta’s vision

What is documenting?
I think I could not define any concept of it. Philosophy is not my strong point. But I could say that for me the first thing is to watch.

What is watching?
I have said before that philosophy is not my thing, let alone semiology. I keep learning to watch. And my gaze is constantly transforming. I think that's why I can't define anything. I have the impression that everything changes. As a baby, anthropologists say, I learned to look for empathy, trying to understand the emotions of the people who took care of me and entered my field of vision. But even though I have been watching for so many years, it is difficult for me to become aware of my gaze, to identify where I am directing it from or to. It still requires me to pay close attention. And of course, on the way I get lost, life sweeps it all away and I forget what I had intended to look at. I am an unstable being.

Why did you want to document Linha de Fuga?
For many reasons. First because I wanted to leave the interior exile that I live in, here in Galicia, at my mother's house. Then there were other reasons. In Portugal I usually feel good. I love to run away. And, of course, I liked the project. It placed the documentarists at the same level as the rest of the artists. And coming from Catarina, that seemed to mean that I was going to be able to have the liberty of doing whatever I wanted.
Now that I think about it, this was probably the first reason

How did you look at the Laboratory?
A priori, as an encounter too complex to try to understand. Many people were going to participate and their goal was to generate escape lines. Too many possibilities for a mind like mine, with a tendency for reverie and confusion. That's why I decided to think about a pair of anchors before starting. I chose a format and a focus of attention.
I decided to make a diary. It is smaller, manageable, intimate. I guess this decision connects to what Janaína later conceptualized as participant documentation. We, as participants of the Laboratory, are part of the documentation, we self-document. The self looks and looks back at itself. It is one more. The documentation is born from a documentary body relating to its own process, with the other bodies and places; with the bodies with other lives and from other places that we meet in this encounter.The second decision was to direct the gaze at space. The reason for this decision has to do with a literature workshop that I just had done when the open call came out. It was proposed that we read Carlson McCullers and Natalia Ginzburg, paying attention to how they built a story based on the description of the spaces. Then, write with the same attention. That experience of building from something at first sight tangential, resulted in a surprising depth and intimacy. Looking at the laboratory from the starting point of spaces could help me make the complexity of the thing appear without having to go to find it. I think that looking at the detail, inevitably, is looking at the whole world.

What did you find looking at Linha de Fuga?
Many things and many people, but not to diverge from our conversation, I guess what I found was the correspondence between Janaína and me. You find the movies at the editing table. When you sit down to look at the images, a necessary cleaning begins that makes you dive to find possible connections and dramaturgies. That is where you begin to understand something, where you open doors and where, sometimes, you close them, lost. And it is in the loss that you go back to the beginning and think about the diary, or the space or those engines that you found along the way.
The meeting with the other documentarist, the linguist Janaína Behling, was also decisive for what we did. Since we met we had the desire to share each other’s process in some way, but I think that for a long time we didn't understand each other. We were finding how to share the process and influence each other. Correspondence, for me, was an essential engine for the last two letters. The first one, which is a kind of declaration of intentions, came out of the seminar we did the first week with Luciana Fina, but I made the other two in direct dialogue with Janaína.

If you will allow me, seeing the final documentation I see an aesthetic and political look. Are there perhaps looks that go through those others you say you seek?
Yeah, sure. Because even if I try, I can't escape who I am. I guess that's why I'm also looking to be as honest as possible. Although lately I am increasingly doubting the value of honesty. I think it sharpens when my level of misanthropy rises.

Isn't it a bit weird that you talk about misanthropy when your letters are almost a portrait happening?
My level of misanthropy and humanism fluctuates a lot. I think that's why I go to politics, so that working or living makes sense.
When Janaína suggested working on the morphology of gesture, the truth is that I didn't really know what the hell she had in mind. For me it was pure abstraction. But Janaína was telling me things that were incomprehensible and at the same time full of possibilities. One day she explained that everything is text, where you put your eye is text. And when we read we take it inside the body. Then comes speech, when we repeat what we read. And later writing, where what we learned materializes in many possible ways. And it is there, in perception, that abstraction comes. An abstraction that does not occur without a body that practises it or without a space where it occurs. Because, according to Janaína, if it wasn't for space, how would the body know what it is going to say?
As you can see this type of dialogue makes you think and in my case I connected with many elements that I was working with. That is why I was encouraged by this dialogue of deaf people with Janaína, although then I needed to come down to earth, to politics, in order to understand something else.
To start recording images about the morphology of the gesture I had to find myself in an article by Amador Fernández-Savater in which he spoke of the political gesture, of the disobedience practised with the body, of fruitful images because they move us, affect us, recreate our gaze, which make us think, which require from us a movement that is not an automatic response in which we apply the codes of our stereotypes, but a new thought, a new reality. I move better in politics than in philosophy.

Do you want to say something else to finish?
Well, I would like to say that I actually decided to do this interview because I was quite overwhelmed by the idea of writing about my work. After the last few weeks, in which I have been stuck at the computer editing day and night I needed to distract myself, to propose some game that I could do from the sofa with my notebook and my lilac pen. That is why I copied this idea of the poet Pedro Casariego, because I love to copy the masters. It also happens to me with movies. Of course, I know a priori that the result will be much worse than the original, but in the meantime I play and have fun. I am a hedonistic being, although I often forget it.

Às Margens da Curadoria

por Janaina Behling

At the Fringes of the Curatorship

by Janaína Behling

The methods of data collection of a documentation on flight are very varied, but largely extrapolate the classical inquires of approaching people. However, the inquiry gained a new freshness when the curator from Linha de Fuga herself, Catarina Saraiva, agreed to be interviewed and list the main concepts of the event, indexing the possibility of working on flight, in this case, displacing the inquiries – a discursive genre common to detective or hermetic imaginaries – to another place of human interaction, with the aim of not distancing speakers between hierarchic positions, as is relatively conventional, but bringing them together through transversal and direct dialogue.

Three questions will be extracted from the interview, in the same way as the participants were asked three questions during the process of documentation, questions that I also would like to have asked the curator, about the morphology of gesture and memories. However, imagining that the characterization of an escape curatorship is already encompassed in some way in the answers of each participant, I preferred to create conditions to build the curator’s voice by listening to her “outside” the atmosphere created at the Laboratory. The goal was to discover what is inside and outside of an ephemeral Laboratory, by scrutinizing points of view about its location and about the location of identity mediations. Despite the enormous cuts to the almost 120 minutes of the conversation, the answers were among the most interesting in contextualizing the proposed documentation for the Festival-Laboratory:
Catarina, what is a curatorship?
In my perspective, a curatorship is the meeting point of three intentions: the desire to say something, a context that needs to be activated and artists that are able to translate that intention from their own urgencies that end up being mine as well. Thus, through the observation of a context, it is possible to develop an artistic programme capable, through the works and artistic expressions and practices, of activating questions which are important to that context. Basically, you have an encounter between a concept, artists and an audience. Of course “an audience” is very wide, because when I mention a context, I am referring to a territory and a territory has a diversity of perspectives, which may be linked, but not all of them are possible. Therefore, when I take part in a curatorship, I think about what is important at that moment, that context, that territory, but it is very subjective…

In the case of Linha de Fuga, for example, I considered it to be very important to think about what a territory is which considers itself to be peripheral, because Coimbra is not a very big urban centre. That is, if we refer to Portugal, we have two big urban centres where several things are constantly being activated, in terms of artistic practices, and when you leave those centres you find a form of apathy, even if it’s not exactly apathy in the case of Coimbra, but there are some things that are lifeless and that have the potential to be activated. I don’t believe in that concept of periphery at all... and I don’t believe in the idea that the production and activation of interesting things only happens in the big centres, on the contrary! At Linha de Fuga I wanted to deconstruct this idea that outside the big urban centres there is no critical mass, because, in my opinion it is not true. On the other hand, it made sense to be in Coimbra which, besides being my city, is known as the city of knowledge; it has a university with more that 700 years old and, therefore, it is known as a place of production and validation of knowledge – that I wanted to provoke – with the idea that there are several types of knowledge – some are not academic, but are equally valid. And to question, also, the meaning of production and validation of knowledge. So, who are the interesting people capable of giving different perspectives on knowledge?

So, you can see, it is a combination of several factors. There is a complexity of thought, at heart, which is intended to [discover] how all of these questions out there, that start from the observation of what is local territory, local context, but look at a more global context, the world and its distinct perspectives, how I can develop all those urgencies – mine – through the urgencies of the artists and the urgencies of the territory.
Ah, that’s beautiful.
It is.
You see, only with a question you already... (laughs)
It was enough, right, Janaína, you know I talk a lot.
What do you think works in Linha de Fuga?
Look...there is a whole series of trails left behind. One is openly the initiative itself: on the one hand, a Laboratory, where twenty artists worked on their processes, with colleagues, presented procedures, performed experiences, gave feedback to other colleagues, saw shows, felt the city. And various trails remained. The first is that everyone who brought artistic processes continued to work on them. To some, Linha de Fuga was that space where they were able to experiment, confront what they were doing with other practices and other ways of seeing and with the possibility of altering the proposals they brought and to make those proposals go forward with no fear.
That’s true.
And I think the documentation you proposed is very interesting, to pose two very practical questions and one highly philosophical...
The one with no sense of land...
No, no, no, the one that reached for the thoughts of each one of them, that is, how can each person explain... Because morphology has to do with language. If the gesture is part of language, so, how can one explain that? And also, the two very practical (and poetic) [questions] about memories, which are the ones that are activated with a photo and a song or poetry and bring out each individual context. For example, the description people make of the photos automatically places them in a specific environment, according to their history and their reality. And on the other hand, the song or the poems people remembered, places them on a very high emotional and political level. So, this allows the creation of a prism of the diversity of the laboratory starting only with three questions.

The Laboratory created the possibility for exchanges and affections. There are people who continue to be connected to each other, due to the knowledge acquired at Linha de Fuga. People who fell in love at Linha de Fuga. Therefore, there are things that people created and other things they took with them. The most interesting is that everyone took the idea that Coimbra is a really active city, totally full of things, when, in reality, sometimes there is a lack of effervescence in the city. But this goes to show the trail that Linha de Fuga represents for the city.
Does Linha de Fuga dismiss criticism?
[laughs] No, not at all. A consensual initiative is no longer interesting, in my perspective. If everything is beautiful, wonderful, pretty, with nothing to say, something is very wrong. So, I believe Linha de Fuga deserves criticism. Moreover, there are people criticizing outside Linha de Fuga and afterwards I did a survey to all of you to get feedback and know what you considered could have gone better, or should cease to exist or what was missing. And, therefore, this is also a way of provoking you into criticizing. There was criticism, namely, of the exhaustion all this caused...

But it also provoked a positive environment of criticism among everyone. The feedback sessions we did on everyone’s processes were true moments of criticism and collective thought which, in my view, were very generous. You also directed one of the sessions making each one of you capable of experimenting criticism, right?

Curator’s Note on Linha de Fuga 2018 Documentation

Linha de Fuga was a laboratory where the possibility to create, criticize, fail, experiment and produce knowledge was always active.

The defiance of the validation of knowledge made to the Academy came through a connection with the Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra that enabled this dialogue with the greatest generosity, confronting a group of doctoral students on other possibilities of knowledge production, specifically through research and artistic practices present in the laboratory.

For me, it was obvious from the start that documentation would be a way to highlight this production of knowledge; while demonstrating the diversity of existing perspectives in this initiative. Janaína and Marta were selected as participating documenters, to think of a way to document the ephemeral and what would be interesting to transmit to those who didn’t participate. Each one of them presented a very distinct and interesting proposal, Janaína, a linguist and academic and Marta, an audiovisual artist and activist.

They had the possibility of pursuing their way separately or in parallel, but when they met, they told me they wanted to combine both wills, and I thought that was marvelous. The individual process became collective, without forgetting the wishes of either nor the intention of the documentation: to document the ephemeral, by proposing an archive practice. They were completely free to do what they considered best; they were not bringing an artistic process, like their laboratory colleagues. To me, documenting the ephemeral is a practically impossible act, and therefore I assume that this practice is, above all, an act of creation, full of subjectivity and could only be possible because there was total freedom.