The Sanctimonious Sect of Nothing Is SacredMay 24, 2016 - March 31, 2017
Watching the Apple Trees Blossom (le début est la fin d’un cycle continu)
TALKING ABOUT NOTHING WITH... Sylvie Tourangeau
TALKING ABOUT NOTHING WITH... Sarah Harwood
Nothing In Nothing With Nothing (Not Even a Computer!)
TALKING ABOUT NOTHING WITH... Carly Gaylor and Curtis Murphy
Watching the Montreal Skyline Disappear
TALKING ABOUT NOTHING WITH... Le Collectif Vierge
TALKING ABOUT NOTHING WITH... lo bil
Getting Real with the Royal: Space-Out Solstice
Photo credit : DARE-DARE / Claude Dallaire
Welcome to my new, year-long project, The Sanctimonious Sect of Nothing Is Sacred. Having been selected by Montreal artist-run centre DARE-DARE, as part of their current cycle of programming “La Société des Rendez-vous”, I am embarking on what I realize is going to be a particularly challenging task: Doing Nothing (paradox intended).
In my initial proposal I wrote:
…What would happen if I proposed a project in which I did…nothing? But I wouldn’t really be doing nothing. I would probably read. Maybe write. Definitely stare off into space. And walk. And what if I opened the offer for others to come and join me in the activity of doing…nothing? Inviting guests to bring a book. A notepad. A pen. Or…nothing.
Usually when I want to engage in this…nothingness I have to deliberately set aside time to do so. And then when I do, I feel guilty and inadequate. What have I done today, this week, this month, to deserve this doing of…nothing? Clearly I haven’t done enough.
What I would find most useful – and audacious – would be to propose a space and extended moment of…nothing. An opportunity for rest. While I could really use this downtime (and I am convinced that if I’m feeling this way, most likely many others are too), I also see the affirmation of such an activity as an inherently political act; it challenges notions of productivity, what constitutes “failure” (and success) and reconsiders “non-productive” uses of time.
This is my dream project. And, for the next year, at regular intervals and in various configurations, I will enthusiastically hold the space of…nothing. Doing nothing in the company of others who wish to accompany me in this quiet, open, sacred, and decidedly un-productive project.
…And now that I am actually starting, I understand – with joy and a large dose of trepidation – I don’t even know what that means!
This is a work-in-process that I have a feeling will continually shift and change over the course of the coming year. I had what I thought were fairly clear ideas when I sent my initial proposal to DARE-DARE and as soon as I started to really contemplate what it would mean... uncannily so much just started slipping away. I say this because I honestly don't know exactly what's coming next. I say this too, because I don't want it to resemble the kind of work pattern/situation/expectation/formula that I have already known - or that I think a project "should" be. As a dream project, it is therefore, a project of the heart. One that I hope will inspire (and allow) me to:
- not necessarily have concrete end goals;
- profoundly connect to a here-and-now;
- engage in a state of open-ended reflection;
- start again and keep starting again.
I also want to:
- plan and not plan non-active actions (non-actions? non-events?) alone and with others;
- put the occasional link online and share my reflections and findings (readings; events; artists/thinkers/makers/researchers in other fields of inquiry about similar things);
- invite some of those folks (see above) to come and share their ideas in a series of informal encounters between now and next spring;
- and finally... do all these things without taking on too much...(is it possible?) Can I get to a place of doing that becomes...effortless (?) A kind of doing that then moves into un-doing or non-doing...a Doing Nothing.
So from May 2016 to May 2017 (and possibly on through for the rest of life, if I am lucky) I will not only attempt to consciously Do Nothing, but sit with the complexity of that question. To insert this Nothing into my everyday. To see/accept/appreciate Nothing as Something (and follow all my Somethings with Nothing).
Nothing as a proposal for the Potential in Everything.
Victoria Stanton is an interdisciplinary artist working with live action, human interaction, video, film, photo, drawing, and writing. Continually exploring within such diverse media, while the outward results of her practice manifest in a multiplicity of forms, performance is the invariable core of her research. Her time-based work includes performance for stage, performance for the camera, actions in public spaces, and one-on-one encounters in intimate contexts. Investing a performative presence and consciousness within multiple spaces / times, she continuously underscores the complex aspects of “transaction” and the possibility for transformation.
As an artist-researcher, she is equally interested in the phenomenon of the “in-between” – that invisible, liminal space between herself and the audience (whether a group or just one person) or between herself and the object / action / location – whether appearing “on stage” (in a black box, or white cube) or “out in the world” (in public sites and “non-art” contexts).Considered a pioneer of transactional practices in Quebec, Stanton has presented exhibitions, performances, interventions, and films/videos in Canada, the U.S., Europe, the U.K., Australia, Japan and Mexico.
She is also a published writer, having co-authored with Vincent Tinguely Impure: Reinventing the Word (conundrum press, 2001) and is currently working on a new book with the TouVA Collective (comprised of Anne Bérubé, Sylvie Tourangeau and Stanton) developing salient notions on how performance is practiced and on the question of ‘the performative'.