STAYING WITH THE TROUBLE REQUIRES MAKING ODDKIN
Neither an exhibition nor a performance, a conference or an umbrella concept, Making Oddkin — for joy, for trouble, for volcano love is conceived as a four-day ‘outing and coming together’, a practice and process of worlding-with, in company and contextuality.
It is an event about human–nonhuman entanglements, about “the unfinished configurations of places, times, matters and meanings,” in which we are entwined and which we need to salvage, as per scientist-cultural activist Donna Haraway (Staying with the trouble. Making Kin in the Chthulucene, 2016, Duke University Press).
Drawing inspiration from her mobile term “oddkin,” which was coined by Haraway in order to describe the need for unexpected collaborations and combinations, the new and unpredictable kinships that can be formed beyond the usual genealogical, ethnocentric, anthropocentric relations, Making Oddkin will materialize, sympoietically, in the inter/intra-action of various kinds and kins.
It will visit Nisyros in the way that caravans, or ‘bouloukia,’ were travelling the early 20th-century world in a grand mobilization of talent, chance and surprise, and it will borrow elements from celebrations springing up around the resilient temporariness of circuses, around public festivities, the infectious visit of oddities, processions, reenactments and traditions of world-making storytelling.
Well before the advent of radio, film, television, or the internet, these were forms of engagement and entertainment, which developed into a whole industry of public spectacle before radically transmuting within the immateriality of the web and the emergence of virtual popular culture. At the 50th anniversary of the year that rocked the world, 1968, Making Oddkin is invoking collective rituals, personal contributions and sensual/material aspects of a past (and present and future) in favour of presence, a coming out into the world in curiosity, care and joy, in conflict and trouble, in gonzo supergrouping, in species-varied livelihoods and wild imaginations.
SYMPOIESIS: WE BECOME WITH EACH OTHER OR NOT AT ALL
Various agents will help create a contact zone through tactics of invention and differentiation: Artists, scientists, historians, farmers, musicians, dancers, traders, people who have a long, short, or no relation to, and experience of, the island will explore the possibility of joy, the anxiety of socioecological disaster, the love/fear for volcanoes, various 21st-century doom and gloom intuitions, the reality of ‘sentient beings,’ the escalating loss of mother tongues.
Grounded on the memory of Nisyrian rock and water, with the help of materials, animals, plants, stories, ecologies and economies, Making Oddkin will attempt to get out of the shrouds of institutional language and instead dive into languages that can reimagine localization, retrace material spaces of conjunction, (un)weave the reality of empathetic bodies, frictions, (im)material hauntings and wandering wonders.
Making Oddkin will appear, between 7 and 10 September 2018, at several places around the island, such as, the old Loutra (public baths), the abandoned port of Avlaki, along the paths of the wild Nisyrian hot springs, within the tiny public square of Emporio, in the volcano crater, at the Volcanological Museum at Nikia, in the deserted monastic settlement of Nyfios which bares traces of Minoan times, and elsewhere.
Deviating from Athenian-obsessed discourses, it will retrace urbanity by entering the life of remote, islandic Nisyros (ecotourism and development, the exploitation of natural resources, the politics of the Aegean), albeit not through direct representation and conventional simplifications. It will explore the pleasure of mixed-up times, of trading stories, of non-didactic interactions and the possibility of learning through simple gestures of equivalence and contemporary myth making. It will invoke past events and their outcomes and generate new ones within larger stories (Institute of Anxiety).
On the evening of Thursday, 6 September, Making Oddkin begins with a dinner for all at the Old Baths (Palia Loutra) of Nisyros and the screening of the documentary “Into the Inferno” (2016), a collaboration of Werner Herzog with volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer. The latter will speak via Skype about the geological function and origin myths of volcanoes. There will also be a screening of the film “Donna Haraway. Storytelling for earthly survival” by Fabrizio Terranova, a charming narrative about Haraway’s radical thought on the issues of science, technology, gender, interspecies relations, and about her deep commitment to matters of feminism and ecology.
Over the course of the following days, an assortment of diverse contributions will create a sort of an adventure, or rather a peripeteia.
At the Nikia museum of volcanology, the only one of its kind in Greece, as well as in orchards of the settlement located over the crater, volcanologist and member of the Greek Institute of Geology & Mineral Exploration (IGME) Georgios Vougioukalakis will outline the geological particularities of the island.
The architects, scholars of Nisyrian architecture and restorers, Giorgos Tsironis and Petra Kotsidou will recount all they know and nurse about the unique characteristics of the local tradition, while the younger architects Ioanna Vlachaki and Iro Karavela will present the performative speech “Digging the matter. Nisyros/An Atlas of Trauma.”
Dana Luciano, professor of queer studies, environmental humanities and 19th century US literatures at Rutgers University, USA, will talk about the perceptions of Geo-affect in times of crisis and the language that expresses it (“How the Earth Feels: Sensation and Speculative Geology”).
Italian artist Giorgio Andreotta Calò, known for an oeuvre that treats elements of the environment (natural or not) in an experiential way and results in a poetic translation of reality, will be presenting his practice and its space-time travelling dimension.
Performers Nancy Stamatopoulou and Meimouna Coffi will meet the island’s morphological conditions by improvising in outdoor spaces (by the volcano’s crater and at Apyries – the island’s natural outdoor saunas).
The group The Callas will present their installation/performance “Under the Volcano” at the coffee shop-canteen Oasis near the beach Moulari, following up on a series of previous performances under the title Lustlands (Vol.I, 2012 -& II, 2013) in Thermisia of Argolida and New York.
Czech artists David Fesl and Lukáš Hofmann will be hosting a seaside experience-enjoyment of organic and inorganic elements, minerals and plastic materials, foods and morphologies, titled “Breakfast”, at the beach Gyali (the site of pumice stone and obsidian mining).
Inspired by the island itself, architect Ioanna Sotiriou will be examining the deposition of materials and new technologies, the digital cloud, death and memory, in her video-performance “Cold Data: a prelude.”
The teacher of Nisyros Apostolos Kaloudis will guide a walk through the island’s trails, revealing stories, myths, traces, ruins and relics to his fellow travelers.
The writer and activist Teos Romvos, an iconic figure of the Greek underground, will talk about the concurrence of his life and work. Together with his partner Chara Pelekanou, they will present their actions and their vision for the Aegean Geopark and the need to co-organize local communities in order to salvage life in the Greek archipelago.
The Saprofyta collective is presenting a new version of a communal experiential reading of Hesiod’s “Theogony” at the crater ‘Stefanos’ (following up on a previous presentation held in 2013 at Chalet Society, Paris). Using local language elements and origin myths of Nisyros (the Gigantomachy and Polybotes), the collective is synthesizing the unveiling (‘apocalypterio’) spectacle “Méthode Hésiode II. Expeditio Polybote, Nisyros 2018.”
Petros Moris is creating a series of performative sculptures-masks made of local lava stone and resins (“Lava’s Gaze”), which will be part of the happenings, and the mosaic “Entanglement” (made of gravel, sand and cement), which will be walled into the building of the Old Baths of Nisyros.
Artists Cally Spooner & Jesper List Thomsen are presenting a sort of ‘topographic meditation’ on the theme of immobility and durability, ‘deep’ geological time, extractivism as a transfer, and appropriation. Titled “Stillness without still life,” this original ‘speech-featuring-paintings’ is unfolding along the way to the plateau and the monastery of Nyfios.
The film tribute titled “Selenotropism” and curated by Filipa Ramos includes works by Ben Rivers (Slow Action), Ursula Mayer (Atom Spirit), Camille Henrot (The Strife of Love in a Dream), Ursula Biemann (Acoustic Ocean), and Gerard Holthuis (Careless Reef).
The artists Daniela & Linda Dostálková opt for the role of the observer, meditating with a sense of humor on our stunning and, at the same time, exhausting relationship with mythology, bringing to Nisyros their movable installation “Candleholders” – eight lights (LED lamps) that will be intervening to ‘illuminate’ any techno-animistic, ‘dark’ aspects of the oddkin happening.
The series of screenings titled “Symanimagenic” will deal with different forms of animation and their relation to different versions and perceptions of animism and political ecology. The features screened include works by Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Eva Papamargariti, Kostas Sfikas and others.
Modifying objects she orders via the internet, Lito Kattou creates a strange flock of zoomorphic kites (hawks, octopuses, dragons, pigeons – “Evening Swarm”), which will spread over deserted beaches of Nisyros alluding to migration (of people, capital, ideas, traditions, and goods) and the novel mixtures it creates.
The poet and professor at the University of Thessaly School of Architecture Phoebe Giannisi expands on her research about the bestial origins of tragedy through a performative speech, in an encounter with the semi-domesticated goats of the island and the special wildlife status they enjoy.
Curator and artist Paolo Colombo is initiating a storytelling performance: a Nisyrian woman will be whispering to children on the streets funny and weird forgotten fairytales of Northern Greece as they have been narrated to, and remembered by, Paolo himself.
Through these and other contributions, Making Oddkin is already operating unpredictably and, like the volcano of Nisyros, inherently mobilizes a variety of factors and alternative themes: “The cry of the donkey and the mana” (as in Michael Taussig/Walter Benjamin’s praise of mimesis); “The Dispossessed” (as in Ursula Le Guin’s anarchist, alien literature); “Speculative Fabulations” (as in Haraway’s symanimagenic thinking); “Only the volcano held a surprise” (as in Susan Sontag’s account of The Volcano Lover); “Jumping is a delightful lesson in circumstances” (as in Michel Serres’s philosophy of mingled bodies) et al.
The lineup of contributors includes: Giorgio Andreotta Calò, The Callas, The Climate Collective, Meimouna Coffi, Paolo Colombo, Daniela & Linda Dostálková, Em Kei, Makis Faros, David Fesl, Phoebe Giannisi, Václav Girsa, Lukáš Hofmann, Apostolos Kaloudis, Iro Karavela, Lito Kattou, Kateřina Konvalinová, Petra Kotsidou, Filip Kraus, Dana Luciano, Marie Lukáčová, Petros Moris, Malvina Panagiotidi, Matěj Pavlík, Teos Romvos & Chara Pelekanou, Lucie Rosenfeldová, Saprofyta, Cally Spooner & Jesper List Thomsen, Nancy Stamatopoulou, Ioanna Sotiriou, Giorgos Tsironis, Ioanna Vlachaki, Georgios Vougioukalakis, Iria Vrettou and Ariadne Strofylla, Jiří Žák.
Participating via screenings of their works are: Ursula Biemann, Camille Henrot, Gerard Holthuis, Ursula Mayer, Clive Oppenheimer, Eva Papamargariti, Ben Rivers, Kostas Sfikas, Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Fabrizio Terranova, et al.
Nadja Argyropoulou is the curatorial agent of Making Oddkin — for joy, for trouble, for volcano love.
The research team includes: Lydia Antoniou, Zuzana Blochová and Kiki Defteraiou.
The project is organized by Sterna, Nisyros and Are | are-events.org, Prague, as part of The Institute of Anxiety’s programme in association with the Hellenic Republic, Periphery of South Aegean and Municipality of the Nisyrians.