Apr 04 2009

Calling Artists, Activists, Artivists, Hacktivists…

Category: EventsBob Hanke @ 9:38 am

What does standing at a bus stop suggest to the body that waits, and what are the mechanisms that ‘convince’ us to do nothing but wait? What are the links between waiting for a streetcar and boredom? Can boredom be transformed via random encounters among bodies in transit? Can our inactivity and passivity towards our current precarious life conditions be transformed into the space and time to address our vulnerability to economic crises? What are the links between Mayday, precarious life conditions, the current crisis, streetcars, waiting, habit and boredom? We don’t know yet, but we would like to create them with you!

Another Mayday is approaching and the Precarious Workers, the Unemployed, Immigrants, Indigenous People, Antiracist, Anti-homophobia and Feminist Groups, Prisoner Rights organization, and many more “life contortionists” of the world are organising to protest and celebrate this historical anniversary, with an eye on the current crisis. Protest and celebrate because we need to raise our voices against exploitation and exclusion but we also need to think creatively about new strategies of solidarity and friendship, of social redistribution and self-emancipation. That is, we need to think joyfully and creatively within the “Great Recession” if we want to survive any economic bailouts, future crises and general depressions.

In this spirit, Interference Project: Wait! is looking for artists interested in engaging the above questions for an experiment in the active re-composition of spaces at streetcar and bus shelters around the city of Toronto, with a strong emphasis on precarity. As an interference, rather than an intervention, the project aims at playful stimulations of possible relations between (or among) commuters waiting for public transport, the feeling of boredom, and any other term mentioned above.

We call for artivists whose work explores relational, affective, soft, subtle, fugitive, tactical, high-tech, low-tech, no-tech, invisible and non-confrontational political interferences to join us in the occupation of bus shelters for any specified time on Mayday 2009.

Please send your Mayday interference proposal and artist statement to interference.wait@gmail.com by April 18th 2009 or contact us for further information.

For more information about this project and for the general artist call see: http://interferencewait.wordpress.com

For more information about the precarity movement see: http://precarityto.wordpress.com/

For more information see: http://www.senselab.ca/society%20of%20molecules.html


About An Interference* Project: Wait

This project has as its starting point one wait too many for a streetcar that never comes, and a fairytale about rats. In this story, mean scientists perform scientific studies on the rats. The endearing rodents are randomly fed treats in an experiment to see how they would behave in the absence of a predictable pattern of controlled rewards. The rats quickly habituate themselves to the random stimulus by doing nothing but waiting; they become “body-bored.”

Wait, this is an interference!: The rat-like wait of Toronto’s commuters for never-coming (or always-coming) streetcars is a good starting point for interference, for cutting into our habituated re/actions in public spaces while we wait for the random treat. Why can we not be just like those experimenting scientists, re-pattern habits, yet strike at the single desire for a treat and intensify, multiply it, or even better derail it (the desire, not the street car)? Although it may seem unimaginable, there are more flows to cut into than broken streetcars at the TTC depot: flows of bodies in transit, flows of stories, information, memories, flows of monologues that can turn into conversations…

Proposed interferences:

a. Treats: a displacement of habits can take place through the creation of unforeseen connections. This “autonomous rodent experiment” rejects treats as a medium and instead focuses on creating the opportunity for everyone to assemble-experiment with arrangements of ingredients and creatively mix them ourselves. The call for artists encourages different forms of semi-improvisational interference, turning the body-bored waiting at the bus shelter into a nourishing foraging ground.

b. Viruses: Viruses are important elements in any serious experiment with rodents – let’s spread virally to other sites (e.g. by giving things to drop off at other stops, inviting those who are interested to forget the tram, call a friend to come play with us, invoke situations where we can continue to interact while waiting on other days, etc.) and hopefully to other experiments!

c. Relational performance at bus stops. Examples may include: DIY shadow puppet shows, film projections, live projections of bus shelter actions in other parts of the city, making a bus stop into a salon or living room, folders available with readings stuck on the inside of a shelter (poetry, snippets of dialogue, excerpts, jokes etc.), crafting i.e. knitting, sewing, quilting with materials made available inside the shelters, etc.

d. Anomalous pacts: Much of our body-bored habits deriving from contemporary economic conditions have to do with an increasing displacement of stable patterns of work/unemployment and leisure. This creates a conflict between our desires and the conditions of our lives: some (good) European scientists call this condition “precarity.” In the hope to turn this oppressive state into the basis for new modes of more ethical, generous and joyous interaction, many European rats invade the streets on May 1st, alleviating their boredom and celebrating the potential for social change. In connection with World Mayday 2009 (www.euromayday.org) we will link our project with this cosmic and material (worker’s rights) celebration by calling for ‘artivistic’ bus stop actions that help develop a taste for precarity-based ingredients.

Ultimately, we are aware that, as is the case with scientific progress, we will not be able to provide incontestable results from these experiments. Even less, will we be able to provide the ultimate fair-traded, ethical recipe for body-boredom-interference. However, what we do hope to provide is a sketch, a set of granny’s secret tricks to always be able to assemble our own treats from what is available, turning any time of wait and boredom into one of creative encounter…

This project was initiated as part of a broader micro-political art initiative called “Society of Molecules: A distributed aesthetico-political event”. Events other than Wait! will take place simultaneously in different countries ranging from Brazil to Australia and from North America to Europe.

* A project of interference is one that strikes (ferir ‘to strike’) rather than interrupts. Interfere and boredom etymologically reference each other, sharing the cognate borian ‘to bore,’ meaning both to cut and to make a hole. A cut, a slicing, or the making of holes inevitably precede any interruption of already existing habits and e/motions.