The Autumn Artist Exchange at Ponderosa began earlier this month, on October 8., and it has now run through three fully-packed weeks of collaboration, research, investigation, artistic exploration, and much more. In total, there have been around thirty people here, from all over the world, sharing time, space, ideas, hopes, and inspirations. The exchange is just now reaching its end — and we wanted to try to give a sense of how it has all been.
Stolzenhagen October colours at the Autumn Artist Exchange
It’s difficult, of course, to try to give outlines of the work that’s occurring here. But let’s try. We’ve split this up into two parts: firstly, here are some impressions of the things that have been happening; then, after that, some short interviews with some of the participants, giving a small taste of some of the curiosities that have led people to be here.
(And, if all of this ends up whetting your curiosity, don’t forget that the will be another exchange event — the Winter Artist Exchange — in February 2019. Take a look, and maybe we’ll see you out here for some cosy, focused time in the deepest part of the hibernation season.)
The participants in the exchange have been a self-organised group — both in practical terms, such as in cooking and planning studio use, and also in the artistic uses of the available spaces. This has led to some fascinating uses and re-imaginings of the potential of these spaces. For example, Tim Waltinger, Tigre Bailando, and Kae Minami presented paintings, drawings, and calligraphy — mostly works-in-progress — in a pop-up exhibition in the kitchen...
...and there were also several showings and performances, including Tom Oliver Jacobson’s short piece involving a short story about love, and ice-cream...
Tom Oliver’s kitchen performance
...and Camilla Birk De Oliveira’s and Nora Barna’s performance in the studio...
Studio performance by Camilla Birk de Oliveira and Nora Barna
...Isabelle Vuong gave a lecture about Futurology...
...the altar in the kitchen slowly accumulated items...
...we had lovely weather, so the garden was used as an outdoor painting and drawing studio...
...and there were plenty of talks, conversations, and discussions, of all kinds.
People have arrived at the Autumn Artist Exchange from all over the world, and they have myriad artistic and creative interests. Here are five short introductions to different participants and their work — and there are so many more that we could have talked to!
What are you working on at the Autumn Artist Exchange?
I am a PhD researcher at the Universität der Künste in Berlin, in a group called ‘Knowledge in the Arts’ (‘Das Wissen der Künste’). Initially I came to the Autumn Artist Exchange to work on a lecture about telepathy in reading and writing — or, how reading and writing are ‘practices of telepathy.’ But then, as the time here developed — and through having a lot of conversations about very different topics — I ended up working more on a methodology around how to relate to knowledge in the arts through having these conversations.
The writer that my research is most informed by is Hélène Cixous, a French theorist and critic. In her work, she talks about communication as being always telepathic — meaning that it always occurs from a distance — but that it is also always pathic — meaning that it always happens to us; so, we cannot intentionally communicate with books, texts, or characters from different times. One of the texts that Cicoux wrote is a text that combines really different characters and authors, from different other texts, and through this she kind of creates a heterogeneous, multidimensional cosm of different texts, such that you never really know where you are — it’s a linear text but it really creates a multidimensional space — and this was my starting-point.
And while I have been here, One thing that I did was that I asked Deborah [Deborah Black — see below] to read this text as well. I think she is very connected to several spiritual practices, and she was sharing her impression about, for example, tarot as a telepathic practice. I feel that I’ve learned a lot from her perspective — I’ve learned how to move away from just the position of sitting at a desk and writing and trying to reflect on something, and towards connecting this with practices of bodywork and accessing a deeper relation amongst different bodies.
So, through this, I’ve started to think about ‘telepathy’ as a mode of relation to each other — how bodies are actually communicating in a non-verbal way, wherever we are. And during this residency I think there were a lot of bodies here that were really quite sensitive to that.
What are you working on at the Autumn Artist Exchange?
I came to the Autumn Artist Exchange to work on a small series of paintings, and I have also been creating a mask, and a new performance character using the mask.
The paintings are developing from a thread of work that I’ve been doing, but taking the chance to explore working on canvas for the first time in — I don’t know, maybe eight years or so? And through that, I am playing with texture and process, and continuing to explore themes about cathartic personal experience, interrelational dynamics, and the more esoteric mystical aspects of experience. The paintings depict characters that transcend species and gender and age and things like that — trans-dimensional beings.
And the mask character is still… birthing itself. So I don’t entirely know what it will be. But it is exploring ideas of transpersonal identity and the mystical deity existing within the human form, existing beyond binary identity.
Both of these sets of projects are ostensibly for exhibitions in some upcoming projects I’m doing for some festivals in Australia and Thailand, so I’ll be showing the paintings at a gallery at a music festival in Australia, where I’ll also be live-painting and performing the character in an interactive format. And I’ll also, I’m sure, be taking the character onto the streets of various cities that I go to — I’ll probably do a session in Berlin, and in Bercelona, and in other different places — exploring the boundary of art and street life.
What are you working on at the Autumn Artist Exchange?
I came to the Autumn Artist Exchange because I wanted some focused time to get a lot of reading done — I’ve started around seven different books that I’ve wanted to finish since I’ve arrived here! However, I’ve also been researching through teaching, so I’ve been leading some sessions with people here, looking at how patriarchal structures have infiltrated my own teaching — trying to unpack that a little bit. And then, alongside that, I’ve been working out how my teaching, and the work I do, can start to inform social change outside of art-making. And also, I have been bringing in some healing work, and putting it alongside embodiment — dealing with how these two things can sort of lay side by side. That’s what I’m working on.
Then, separately from that, I’ve also been working on how to write from the body, and working in the discipline of poetry, because I think that poetry is a language for imagining the future, and so — seeing as I’m working with ideas about social change — I’m thinking about how we can write from the body and into the future. I’m working in that intersection right now.
Camilla Birk De Oliveira
What are you working on at the Autumn Artist Exchange?
I’m researching, through dance and performance, about transition moments between death and life. So, birth and rebirth, and the decaying and emerging moments of bodies, the cycles of natural environments the cycles of our own bodies — and thinking also about the political implications of these thoughts. It can seem that something needs to die in our society so that something new can appear, and I feel that we are in a transition moment where I often feel lost, and it is through the body — through practicing movement, dance, performance — that I am able to find some ground.
So, that is mostly why this research has brought me to Ponderosa. It’s a place where we can discuss these times of transitioning. Moving from an overripe capitalist moment to what could come next. I do this through dance, and through the body. To think about what is performative in this moment — this is what I’m working on.
My ideas have changed in the time that I have been here, partly because of the place, and partly through knowing what’s going on in my country. I am from Brazil, and it has been quite hard to face what people are deciding there in elections right now. I am here at the Autumn Artist Exchange for these three weeks, which are the same three weeks as the time between the first and the second round in the current election. I have been struggling with myself about being here. Moving between being really hopeful at seeing human beings here trying to build up a new perspective on life, and then also receiving outside information from home, about people still wanting to kill things that are different, and not exist through difference. This has connected a lot with my work — with the first impulse to research here about cycles of life. But I am also faced with the reality of being in this land, in Germany, where these ideas, this Nazism already happened, and is part of history, and yet also seeing that emerge in my country right now, again.
What are you working on at the Autumn Artist Exchange?
I came to the Autumn Artist Exchange to work on three different things — which was maybe too much! The first was songwriting, but with a focus of trying to write from the body, and exploring what that means, rather than from analytical thought like lyric writing. The second was re-finding my dance practice, after a long period of not dancing. And the third was to start collecting audio around the topic of counterculture as a concept.
But what has actually happened since I have arrived is that I have been doing daily embodiment practices, which actually has made the time here much more about a sort of healing — more healing than I expected to happen here — and the conversations that I have been having have been much more broad than I expected. So what has actually happened is a clarification around my interests for the future — and that ultimately feels like it has been more significant than anything I’ve produced or practiced here.
What are you working on at the Autumn Artist Exchange?
I came here because I had heard about it through two friends of mine. I finally decided to come quite last-minute — I knew I would be in Europe for two months, and saw that there was this exchange happening. I work with sculpture and installation art, and I thought that this place would be a really great supportive artistic environment to be in while I was figuring out this idea that I have been working on here, related to a collective of which I’m a member.
This collective, the Council of Svoo, has been running for three years — so still fairly young — and it began at the sculpture department of RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. The members are mostly artists working in installation and sculpture. A lot of what they do is practical mutual support for artists — organising life-drawing classes together, doing one-off skills-based workshops, helping to present exhibitions (at least one a year); this kind of thing. So, very much a practical supportive group dealing with nuts-and-bolts things for a community of artists in similar disciplines.
So, the idea that I had was to try to create a ‘currency’ — or to put a value on — creative labour, that could be used within this collective, and maybe with others, as a way to exchange labour, to have labour be acknowledged. Ideally, to give people an easy way to ask for help.
Since I got here, I’ve been reading about gift economies, different approaches to artistic currencies, social currencies, and talking to all the wonderful people here about it all. I’ve also been using studio time to map out intentions for this idea. I’ve figured out, through these conversations and this work, that this idea is maybe trying to do too much at once. So I’ve tried to burrow down to the core intention, which is to allow people to ask for help, and to focus just on that.
All of these dedicated and inspiring individuals are here at Ponderosa in order to be able to go deep into their work, to spend time away from the bustle of everyday life, and to try to allow the focus that is needed for creative processes to bear fruit. We wish them all good luck in this — it’s not easy.
And hopefully you, dear reader, might also like to come out here some time soon, perhaps for another future residency, or one of the other events we’ll have in the coming months. Take a look at the full program page for an idea of what’s growing in our garden, and maybe we’ll be able to welcome you out here before too long. ❤️
And we’re done! The two weeks of the Ponderosa Tanzland Festival 2018 are over — and it has been amazing. We want to thank everybody who came along, who participated, who jumped in, who helped to make it all happen — and, of course, we want to take a look back at how it all went.
It’s difficult to pick highlights — there has really been so much going on — but let’s try. This is a looooong post. Ready? Ok, let’s go.
So, the first week — the Movements · Sessions · Rituals week — began with an opening circle on 12. August. The whole place here was totally packed, and once we had had the chance to introduce ourselves to each other and talk a bit about the place, the festival was underway.
Opening circle, 12. August
In the first week, during the day, we were kept busy-busy-busy with two parallel workshops which were happening in the two main studios: week 1 of Dynamics of Fluids and Sensorial Memories, with Benoît Lachambre, and The Intimacy of Being Human, with Robert Steijn and Ricardo Rubio.
Workshop in the big studio — originally posted by @marumwelt
And then in the evenings, we had rituals, showings, performances, and actions galore!
These included, on the evening of August 14., night-time showings by the participants in the current P.O.R.C.H. Performance and Choreographic Synthesis Module. These showings were presented in various spaces in the Ponderosa gardens and studios, mostly in semi-darkness, indoors and outdoors, as the audience was led in a captivating and uncanny procession from space to space, encountering solo dance, acoustic industrial noise experiments, durational repeating scores, text-based work incorporating a dead tree as a performative readymade, immersive sound experiences, and much more.
Views of P.O.R.C.H. performances and showings, 14. August
The following evening, Wednesday, 15. August, there was a contact improvisation jam with a difference — it was an object jam, facilitated by Peter Pleyer and Michiel Keuper. The space of the main studio was used to reimagine the possibilities of contact improvisation by integrating movement with objects — items which were the props and traces of past performances and choreographic scores.
Object jam, 15. August — photos by Michiel Keuper
The following night, Maria F. Scaroni and Marc Lohr introduced their renowned, legendary, honestly-completely-mind-blowing practice, psychic jogging. This collectively-incantatory, rhythmically-ecstatic, rotationally-durational thing is both utterly simple — we all run together while the drums play — and also a complete revelation. As the process unfolds, the rhythms become relentless, the space becomes both focused and free, and the collective action turns hypnotic and psychedelic.
Psychic jogging, 16. August
It was during this week that the news came through that Aretha Franklin had died, at 76, in Detroit. An impromptu memorial was created in the garden in her honour.
Impromptu Aretha Franklin memorial, 17. August
The following day — in-between workshop times, meals, performances, and more — there was storytelling on the porch with Jessy Layne Tuddenham, as the sun washed over the garden in the late afternoon.
Storytelling with Jessy Layne Tuddenham, 17. August
And the same evening, in the kitchen, there was an anarchist-dinner-and-dance-party — a collective combination of cooking, dancing, partying, and eating, all existing in parallel.
Anarchist dinner and party
And that, in turn, was followed, later that same night, by the showing of Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival — a film by Fabrizio Terranova — in the big studio. The showing of the film was organised and presented by the XenoEntities Network.
Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival — showing in Ponderosa Kuhstahl studio, 17. August
Trailer for Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival by Fabrizio Terranova
On the day after — Saturday, August 18. — Tove Sahlin and Maria Johansson Josephsson performed their work, It Is As It Is, in the speicher studio. The work integrates performance and singing, and so before the performance, during the day, Maria led kitchen-choir singing sessions.
Kitchen choir singing with Maria Johansson Josephsson
It Is As It Is — Tove Sahlin and Maria Johansson Josephsson — Ponderosa, 18. August
Video trailer for It Is As It Is — Tove Sahlin and Maria Johansson Josephsson
Later that night, the Berlin Lecken party peeps took over, and we were treated to Paartanz and DJ Marum playing thudding beats right through the night, until the sun started to peek over the horizon.
Paartanz live at Ponderosa, 18. August
The following day, Sunday, August 19., was the last day of the first week of the festival, and there were two main events.
The first was an oil action, facilitated by Keith Hennessy, of which no photos were taken. So if you want to find out what the hell it was all about, ask around, and hopefully someone will tell you.
The second event was a performance by Jeremy Wade, which began indoors and then moved out into the garden, for a final participatory crescendo in which the audience ran in circles of different speeds as the music swirled around them.
Jeremy Wade performance, 19. August, Ponderosa
And then we were on to week two! The workshops week, to be exact. It began with another big introductory circle where everyone got to be able to say hello.
Opening circle, 19. August
The workshops that were running throughout the second week of the festival were week 2 of Dynamics of Fluids and Sensorial Memories, with Benoît Lachambre, and Technosomatics with Frédéric Gies.
Through Technosomatics, we got to be able to feel the true physical and bodily effects of four-to-the-floor pounding beats — how techno can help us feel our glands, our bones, our organs, our muscles. All accompanied by plenty of relentless dancing, of course...
Frederic Gies — Technosomatics
On the evening of Tuesday, 21. August, there was a participatory dinner meditation ritual-performance in the front courtyard, organised by participants in the P.O.R.C.H. Performance and Choreographic Synthesis Module. Dinner was a contemplative experiment, as the late-evening sun bathed us all.
Later that same evening, The Geyger Girls (Wanda Vrasti and Heather Purcell) performed a work based around explaining survival strategies for a rapidly-gentrifying Berlin. It integrated projections of live drawing, Tae Bo fitness dancing, face massages, talks about the history of Berlin as a site of radical social resistance to capitalist exploitation, and hardcore techno.
The Geyger Girls — Ponderosa, 21. August
While all these conceptual and political activities were going on, there were still some more practical approaches to aesthetics occurring in parallel — perhaps foremost among them, the digging of our new pond in the garden!
Marc Lohr and Doreen Markert led the way in designing, excavating, arranging, filling, and decorating a brand-new pond, which will not only look fantastic in the garden, but will also make it easier to irrigate plants in future — so, all going well, this spot will not just be a place to gaze across, but it will also nourish the salad that you munch as you gaze.
The new pond, slowly taking shape over the course of the festival
And, of course, the other amazing garden-related activity was being able to collect abundant piles of fruit — apples, peaches, berries, plums, grapes, and more. The summer has been hot and dry, which is perfect for the trees to push out edenesque quantities of fruit, and we have been making and eating giant fruit crumbles on plenty of recent evenings.
On the evening of August 23., the participants in the P.O.R.C.H. Performance and Choreographic Synthesis Module were presenting work that they have been developing and researching during their time here — including Burong’s dinnertime human-scarf performance Warmth, or My Scarf, Sam Parfitt’s durational score, and Mel Nehrkorn’s installation-performance in the big studio.
P.O.R.C.H. showings, 23. August — Warmth, or My Scarf by Burong
P.O.R.C.H. showings, 23. August — installation-performance by Mel Nehrkorn
One of the more enigmatic occurrences of this year’s festival was Yoshiko Chuma’s Secret Mystery Midnight Workshop, which took place, somewhat counterintuitively, at all sorts of times during the day, not just at midnight, and also occurred both indoors and out. As to what happened in the workshop, Yoshiko has sworn us to secrecy.
Yoshiko Chuma — Secret Mystery Midnight Workshop
During the day on August 24., there was a showing of a film presenting work from the Augustine Collective, an artistic cooperative one member of whom is Ayelet Yekutiel, who will be teaching at Ponderosa next month.
Augustine collective film showing
Later on in the evening of August 24., there was a showing of the film Iuventa, organised by our neighbour, Kristof Deneke, in the Cosmic Pizza Shack — just at the other end of the garden from us at Ponderosa. (The showing was accompanied by delicious hand-made pizzas, served outdoors under the moonlight — amazing.)
The film tells the story of a group of young Germans who organised to buy a boat to participate in the process of rescuing people at risk of drowning in the Mediterranean, during the peak of the European refugee and migrant crisis and its aftermath. The evening doubled as a solidarity event for Jugend Rettet, the organisation whose story is told in the film. The film was followed by a question-and-answer session and discussion, which ran until long past midnight.
Kristof has been actively involved in refugee solidarity work over the last few years, and this event was a fascinating and sobering view at the reality of how the outer borders of the European Union are policed, and the differences in privilege and freedom that can result from being born on one side of a line on the surface of the earth or the other.
The showing of Iuventa in the garden of the Cosmic Pizza Shack, 24. August
Cinematic trailer for Iuventa
One of the final events of the festival was Alan Prohm’s Everyone is part of the pattern, a durational social sculpture and collective forest tubular loom construction. It emerged over the course of a day’s work, in a clearing by the edge of the trees, and it resulted in a surreal construction that could be clambered on as much as looked at.
Constructing Everyone is Part of the Pattern
For the final evening of the festival, there was a barbeque dinner in the garden (with accompanying outdoor haircuts, dances, coloured wigs, loom-climbing, and more), followed by two events in the big studio — a performance by Marc Lohr and Mor Demer, and a concert by Beute that showered us in electrosynthpop swagger. And this, in turn, was followed by a sauna, and garden technosomatic dancing until the wee hours.
Garden dining — and hairstyling — on the last evening
Beute in the big studio, 25. August
Beute — ‘Mr. Americano’
Loom-climbing, and more, on the last night
The following morning, there was a slow and delicious long breakfast-brunch to soothe sore heads and fill rumbling bellies, before final goodbyes and trips to the Rufbus to get the train home.
But that’s not all! Nope. There was also another, parallel artistic undertaking occurring this August, throughout the festival — and it is still ongoing, right now. It was Stephanie Maher’s museum score.
Steph has previously been the longtime artistic director at Ponderosa since the very beginning of its existence; she is the current main mover in Tipping Utopia; she has lived at Ponderosa for most of the last twenty years. Steph decided that, for three weeks this August (or, to be more exact, for the duration of the Ponderosa Tanzland Festival 2018 and the P.O.R.C.H. Performance and Choreographic Synthesis Module 2018), she would declare her personal bedroom at Ponderosa to be a museum, open to visitors. The bedroom is an archive of all the private moments that have occurred in that space, and visitors are encouraged to come in and look, rummage, and add to the archive. And, in order to complete the reversal, Steph has been living and sleeping in the open, in the public space of the main Kuhstahl dance studio at Ponderosa, as the festival unfolds around her.
In this video below, shot at the beginning of the score, Steph talks about inverting her life as an extended performative score — making the private public, and making the public private — as she moves her bedding, in a wheelbarrow, from the bedroom/museum to the studio/bedroom.
Stephanie Maher’s museum score — introduction
Stephanie Maher’s museum score — views of the museum
See more museum images here
Stephanie Maher’s museum score — inverting public and private
View of Steph’s public living space originally posted by Tove Sahlin
And, finally, of course — no Ponderosa Tanzland Festival would be complete without the spectacular meals that our kitchen has been making all through the summer. Our cooks and kitchen helpers are incredible miracle-workers, and we have been able to relish some truly amazing meals, made with fresh, healthy, organic produce — including, where possible, ingredients taken directly from the garden and greenhouse. The salads, in particular, are daily ephemeral artworks that are a delight for the eyes as much as the tastebuds.
Food! Delicious food!
And that was this year’s festival! Whew! It’s been an incredible time, and we’re all pretty blown away by how it all went. If you have any thoughts you’d like to share with us about your time here, please send them our way! And if you have any great photos, videos, or the like, we’d love to have them. It’s been amazing. We love you all.
But this is not the end of what we have going on out here this year. After a few days of well-earned rest, we’ll be starting with the workshop program that we have for September, the details of which are all available over on our full program page. And although P.O.R.C.H. 2018 is also wrapping up soon, P.O.R.C.H. 2019 is on the way! So regardless how you wind up out here, we’ll hopefully see you out here soon — we’re looking forward to it. ❤️
Next month, the Performance and Choreographic Synthesis module of P.O.R.C.H. 2018 will be starting. However, we’re also already getting the basics organised for next year.
Yep, P.O.R.C.H. 2019 is on the way, and the skeleton outline of it all goes a little bit like this:
Applications are open for P.O.R.C.H. 2019 from today, and — like it says on the pages for each module — you are also welcome to email us with a provisional enquiry before a full application. Yep, it’s ok to ask us things, or to get a feel for whether or not P.O.R.C.H. is right for you. Get in touch! Get in early! This thing will fill up, so let us know if you’re curious to clamber aboard.
What more do you want?! A video? Oh, ok then.
Every year, the village of Stolzenhagen celebrates its summer Dorffest, or village festival, with plenty of beer, sausage, schlager, sunshine, and late-night revelry.
And it has also now become something of a tradition that we here at Ponderosa will present a little performative action at the Dorffest, to show our neighbours what sort of things we’re up to. This year was no exception, and so the P.O.R.C.H. group stepped up to the challenge and presented three short choreographies. Here are some impressions of how it all went down. Part of what was presented was accompanied by En Vogue’s Free Your Mind — so maybe hit play on that as your scroll down. 🧠❤️🎶
(Oh, you’re interested in this whole P.O.R.C.H. thing? Well, you can read more about P.O.R.C.H. right here, and there are a couple of spots still left for the last module of 2018, happening in August, and you could also take a look at what’s on the horizon for 2019, right here!)
Ok don’t miss out on this one. The July Workshop Combinations at Ponderosa will let you take two of the workshops that are occurring from July 23.–29., with a 25% reduction in workshop fee — YES! 25percentchens off! 💜②⑸💥
So, pick a combo out of these, and join us in the Brandenburg summer sunshine!
What’s that? You want to get more info about them all? Ok then.
Empathix: Bending Binaries, Bodies and Building Bridges – Sarra Bouars and Kristianne Salcines (27.–29. July). By queer POCs for queer POCs and allies; This workshop is designed to create an atmosphere for serious physical research in togetherness. We will be doing everything together for each other. All the info is here!
Mixed Practice and Kundalini Integration — Stephanie Maher (23.–27. July). We will deconstruct patterns and useful ways of finding coordination that no longer serve us. We will dive into an improvisational flow of integrative practices which draw from Kundalini Yoga, fake Klein Technique, Qigong, Contact Improvisation and release technique. All the details are here.
Continuum - Riding the Waves Within — Batyah Schachter (23.–27. July). The endless movement of water — flowing, rippling, curving, undulating in every cell of our bodies — is in a continuum with the body of water in the sea, the earth, the air, and the sky of our planet. Joining the movement of life as it is present in our body, we join the choreography that shapes and forms the nature we are. All details here!
DNA - Dance Near Ancestor — Tove Sahlin (23.–27. July). In this project, we will make duets with our ancestors. We ask that you come to this improvisation–composition–storytelling–imagining–fact/fiction/fake–documentary-sience–research–performance-making workshop with a case. A story. More details here.
The July combinations are a limited offer, with just a few places available.
So, if you’re curious about the possibility of exploring your ancestral connections, finding your kundalini flow, feeling the inner flow of your fluids, or refracting your questions of gender and body, the time to get it to happen is now — here’s the link where the magic happens. ❤️
People who have created or presented work at Ponderosa have often been inspired by the potential of this place — and, in particular, quite a few of them have been inspired by the possibility to create chaotic scenes of absurd complication, turmoil, destruction, and mayhem, turning things inside-out, leaving trails in their wake, soaking or destroying things in the process.
And... the time has come, folks! Yes, the moment has arrived for us to take a historical survey of some of the most renowned, legendary, and mythical artistically-motivated messes and mayhem created and witnessed at Ponderosa, over the course of the last decade-plus.
Let’s take a look.
From Tropical Escape, by Csaba Molnár and Márcio Canabarro (11. July 2015)
Some of the most memorable messes have, of course, happened as part of performances in the main Kuhstahl studio.
Of those, one of the most complex and fascinating was Csaba Molnár and Márcio Canabarro’s performance, in the summer of 2015, of their work Tropical Escape. This piece, which was subsequently presented in both Berlin and Budapest, involved blow-up giant ghosts, exploding balloons, paint, fruit, fireworks, a mid-performance lecture on the Guerrilla Girls, flour, hula-hoops, and much more. Take a look at more here.
Another particularly manic moment in the Kuhstahl studio was the performance by Kajanne Pepper in July 2014 — unforgettably combining drag, dance, lip-syncing, plastic, and bursts of paint that slowly transformed from unexpected to uncannily transfixing. See more here.
One approach to making a mess is to create it as an improvised composition, to create it slowly and deliberately, and to create it from the items that are already in the room — items that might otherwise stay hidden, out of view. In 2017, Joy Mariama Smith and the Color Block group performed the piece Brown Things, in the Kuhstahl, starting from an empty stage and slowly filling it with, well, brown things. Shoes, carpets, bottles, clothes, rugs, chairs, bricks — all kinds of brown things.
One reading of the piece is as a real and a metaphorical bringing-to-light. The ‘mess’ was a jumble of things. However, it was also a careful display of items — and, by metaphorical implication, of people, bodies, lives, stories — that otherwise often exist only in the margins. As the piece unfolded — with its mantra-like invocation of the simple phrase, “brown things, brown things, brown things” and rhyming variations — the stage filled with brown things, presented by artists of colour, steadily building a tableau of found objects, transforming the space. See more about Color Block here.
Another Kuhstahl work was a piece that was presented as part of the annual performance marathon, by Alex Crow, Aga Pedziwiatr, Katelyn McCulloch, Siobhán Ní Dhuinnín, Hannah Wasiliewski, and Monika Smekot, in August 2014. From a starting point of all the participants standing in bowls of water, the piece worked through several steps, involving emptying water on the ground, and on each other, slowly but steadily soaking everyone involved. Take a look at more here.
CREAPS Dinner (21. July 2014) — video by Chani Bockwinkel
Many messes have been food-related. Of these, one of the most eventful was the CREAPS dinner in 2014, where the CREAPS group of resident artists had a fairly extraordinary meal. Chani Bockwinkel’s video gives some idea of what was involved — you can also take a look here at how some of the participants looked like before it all began...
Another food-related work was Max Wirsing’s piece as part of the P.O.R.C.H. Performance Module in 2010. Over the course of the performance, a wheelbarrow filled with loaves of bread was slowly reimagined as an absurdist costume, together with gaffa tape and ripped magazine covers — all of it outdoors in the summer-evening sunshine. More photos here.
Not all messes are chaotic — some happen as a result of the patient and determined carrying-through of a defined process. Such as, for example, taking the shoes that you have worn all summer long, and shredding them into tiny pieces, as Kata Kovács did at the end of the summer in 2014. See more here.
In 2014, as part of the performances that accompanied the P.O.R.C.H. performance module, Celine McBride presented a piece that began outdoors, and that slowly brought the audience indoors, crawling, to witness a finale involving mud, flowers, and soap, in a darkened Milk Garden studio. See more here.
Stolzenhagen Princes No. 3 — video by Anne-Sophie Malmberg
In 2009, Anne-Sophie Malmberg made a series of short videos, Stolzenhagen Princes, in which a group of Stolzenhagen men undertook some fine-n-manly tasks, like picnics and naps. The third of these saw our titular princely heroes running naked down the hill into the canal, flapping paper wings on their way, as they flew towards the water. This was possibly the first mess that had to be fished out of the water in order to be cleaned up afterwards...
Be sure to also take a look at Stolzenhagen Princes No. 1 and No. 2, as well!
From Strip Trees, by Shelley Etkin and Sara Anjo (23. August 2014)
In August 2014, Shelley Etkin and Sara Anjo presented the first version of their collaborative work Strip Trees at Ponderosa. The piece is described as “a performative protest, in constant (d)evolution, re-composing in multiple forms.”
Strip Trees is further contextualised as a work that “plays with a perversion of the relationship between two ‘she-trees’. Through physical, written, and vocal states work, a metamorphosis occurs. Working with a decompositional approach, Strip Trees deals with questions of consumption.”
The work was certainly working with a decompositional approach when it was shown here, leaving the room strewn with discarded leaves and branches, along with pages of text typed on a typewriter during the piece. Take a look at more here.
One of the most amazing and committed performances that occurred here was presented by Mariana Medellin-Meinke in 2012. She wanted to create a scene that presented an imaginary superhero crashing head-first into the ground, cape flying out behind them, legs in the air. However, the scene was not just a still image, and it also integrated piles of earth, a pair of blinking-light ‘eyes’, and accompanying live noise-guitar soundtrack by Mangrove Kipling. All presented in the garden, at night.
In 2010, as part of the performance marathon, there was a TV cooking show in the kitchen — complete with cardboard cameras, a mop as a boom mic, and manic show hosts zipping from one feature to the next, which included all sorts of special guests, cooking chaos, and unexpected messes. It including this moment, when, during a break for ‘advertisements’, one of the spots demonstrated just how useful their brand of olive oil is — especially when used as a way to soak yourself in oil from head to toe, as part of a healthy hygiene regimen. See more of the madness here.
In June 2014, Sura Hertzberg and Darcy Wallace staged a performance in the garden, as part of P.O.R.C.H., that was a series of one-on-one encounters — a blessing ritual of sorts — involving flowers, water, baths over fire pits, candles, shrouded characters beckoning, and more, as the sun slowly set behind the trees. Take a look at more here.
Signe Holtsmark and Sandra Wieser presented a performance in June 2014 in which two montrous, masked apparitions went through a surreal baking process, throwing together flour and milk, smashing eggs, dropping utensils. All the while, the mysterious characters whispered and sang in the half-light. See more here.
In 2015, there was an outdoor post-apocalyptic drag fashion show. Because of course there was. Take a look here to survey the smouldering wreckage of the nightmarish-yet-stylish collapse of the existing order of all social relations in the aftermath of unspecified catastrophes. Fun!
Aurora Prelevic presented a piece in the summer of 2015, as part of P.O.R.C.H., in which she slowly covered the floor with seeds. Throwing them, spitting them, rolling in them — all in total silence. Take a look at more here.
And, finally... this wasn’t a performance, exactly — it was a photoshoot, by Agnė, Jade, Susu, and Micheál. In part, it involved shaving Susu’s head and sprinkling powdered coconut on it — all in the name of getting the perfect shot. See more of it all here.
And, apart from everything that’s shown here, there are also the ones that we can’t show you. Not everything can be put online — nor should it. Plenty of crazy stuff has happened that can’t be linked to or embedded — mud-wrestling, peeing, naked everything, jumping into walls, all kinds of things. But, if you’re curious, ask us about them.
And, of course, there are also the ones that got away, or that were never intended to leave traces in the first place. These exist only in people’s memories and recollections, and there they will remain.
We’re sure that there will be more messes coming up this summer. Maybe you’d like to be one of the participants or creators of some future mess that no-one has witnessed yet. Make it happen! Take a look at the full program, and get yourself out here soon. ?
Are you interested in spending some time out at Ponderosa in June? Well that’s just swell, because we’re offering the possibility to spend time here as part of a work exchange — one week working, one week dancing and moving and expanding your mind.
Specifically, we are offering to stay for any two weeks between June 3. and June 22., for one week of working and one week of workshop, in any order.
Work exchange is available for the following weeks:
So: if you are interested in the possibility of undertaking a work exchange during this time, as a participant in one of these events, please email us now to make arrangements for your stay. Please do not use social media for this — only email.
And, if you would like to learn more about work exchanges in general, take a look at our page about exactly that, right here.
Back in 2012, Katelyn Stiles shot a short film about the P.O.R.C.H. Improvisation and Training Module, which gives an insight into the kind of work that was happening during the module then — and the surprising threads of similarity that it shares with what will be happening in this years’ P.O.R.C.H. Improvisation and Training Module. Take a look at a couple of stills here, and the full video is embedded below.
Many of the participants in the 2012 module have ended up being regular return visitors to Ponderosa, and some of them have gone on to teach here, to explore their own artistic goals in greater scope and with broader recognition, to use the experience of P.O.R.C.H. to allow themselves to be able to move to Berlin and dive into the artistic possibilities that the city allows, and much more.
There are a couple of spots still available for the upcoming Improvisation and Training Module of P.O.R.C.H., which runs from 3. June to 1. July. If you find that Katelyn’s video whets your curiosity, it’s not too late to join in — all the details are on the page, and you can apply by sending a CV and a letter of interest up until the beginning of the module. Now is the moment to let things be transformed... ❤️
We mentioned before about the series of interviews that Diego Agulló conducted in 2016 with various people connected to dance, choreography, movement, and performance, in Berlin and nearby.
As part of that series, Diego also talked to Stephanie Maher, in the valley at Ponderosa, about all kinds of questions related to community, art, exploration, decision-making, personal beliefs, and more.
Stephanie is one of the facilitators — alongside Peter Pleyer and Maria F. Scaroni — of the second module of P.O.R.C.H., in August — the P.O.R.C.H. Performance and Choreographic Synthesis Module. And, she will also be one of the teachers in the first P.O.R.C.H. module, in June — the P.O.R.C.H. Improvisation and Training Module, facilitated by Kathleen Hermesdorf.
There are a couple of remaining places available for both modules (and for the full-season immersion of the P.O.R.C.H. Summer Package), so if you’re curious about some of the sorts of ideas that Steph is talking about here — and much more besides — then send along a CV and a letter of interest, and jump on in.
The full interview is right here, and it’s totally fascinating. 🌺
One of the most memorable performances that ever happened at Ponderosa — and one of the most serendipitously-timed — was the performance, with improvised elements, Songs of Innocence and Experience, which was presented outdoors in 2011 by the group of participants in Kathleen Hermesdorf’s 2011 workshop.
Over the course of the twenty minutes that the piece ran, the weather changed — dramatically. And so, what began as an outdoor collective performance in the summer sunshine finished with a soaked-to-the-bone group — still committed to carrying through their work — as the rain poured, the wind whipped, the thunder bellowed, and, occasionally, the lightning cracked around their heads.
The documentation of the full piece is embedded here below. It is not just fascinating viewing, but it also gives an idea of the kinds of ideas that Kathleen and the group were working with — and if you’re interested in similar improvisatory craziness, and explorations of articulation and agency, form and function, materiality and imagination, then take a look at the details of Kathleen’s upcoming workshop, this summer, Corpo-reality, which will be happening over two weeks from June 4. to 8., and 11. to 15., this summer. You might not end up performing in the middle of a thunderstorm, but who knows? Crazier things have happened here...
Songs of Innocence and Experience, Kathleen Hermesdorf and group, 2011
The Ponderosa Blog is an ongoing experiment in putting one foot in front of the other, and one word after another, to transfer ideas in ones and zeroes to minds around the world and beyond. A rumble from a ruined speaker to maybe bring the gov’t. down, one sorry heart at a time. xo