Work in Progress – Group 5
Anne de Boer
Report by Theresa Poulton:
Mornings generally began with seminars in the Biblioteca Salsa Borsa – Urban Center. I found the lectures extremely informative and beneficial; most of the other students whom I spoke with were in agreement. Having a clearer insight into how collaborations work, prepared me for what lay ahead. The methodologies presented were intriguing and it was evident that trust, honesty and commitment were all important requirements for a successful collaboration. The Front of House space was vast, light and airy and additionally there was a huge, rather disheveled dome tent structure full of detritus. The initial response from the majority of our group was enthusiasm and excitement. Most days, immediately after the seminars had ended, the groups formed to discuss how to progress through the day. In the early stages of the programme, the meetings were relatively relaxed and more about gaining confidence and becoming comfortable with each other.
In the early stages Angela had a particularly strong desire to develop an idea which she had meticulously researched prior to visiting Bologna. She presented her research in the form of drawings, literature and photographs very clearly. Angela was passionate about performing a ‘religious’ procession through the chaotic streets of Bologna. Somewhat hesitantly, the group agreed to work together to support Angela. On a personal note I found the thought of a performance within the public real rather daunting, it was unfamiliar territory. Nevertheless I enjoyed the camaraderie of the group and our first collaboration was begun. Using found materials and materials that Angela had brought from Munich, each group member created their own archway. We then paraded through the streets of Bologna carrying our objects. Instantly, because of the flaneurial manner in which we were walking, the performative aspects became more dominant than the objects we were carrying. Several people interrupted the procession to ask questions; suggesting the level of interest generated by the performance. I believe that the religious and historical environment of Bologna enriched the whole experience. The procession was videotaped and photographed by Julie and Annie for documentation or possible future works and, indeed the images were to become an integral a part of our final collaboration.
We returned to working in the Front of House building, holding regular group meetings to discuss ideas. The catalyst for discussions varied dramatically; it was evident that everybody had valued points they wanted to mention. Our concepts and opinions were thoroughly appreciated by all in the group. Respect and consideration was paramount to the success of these meetings.
Gradually we began to understand that the sociological and psychological aspects of the project were the most interesting part. The group dynamics and how to work collaboratively with new people became our main area of investigation. We questioned the actions and thought processes of this sizeable group. Who were the leaders? Who were the followers? Were people intimidated? Could we develop a formal system of collaboration that would ensure ‘equality’ in decision making?
We began with a very broad, undefined task of making an installation within the space. Using this intention as the focus we explored different systems of decision making within the group. Through intense discussion and experimental practice we eventually developed a system that allocated a different, but complimentary task to each member of the group. Each person had an autonomous role that worked as an important part of the group decision making system. These roles were the Space Practitioner, Content Provider, Material Provider, Connection Provider and the Changer. As we built the installation each decision, such as what material to use, where to place it, how to relate it to the other materials and objects etc were made in sequence. The role of the ‘Changer’ could then accept or reject the outcome.
Gradually using this system we built a large installation across the floor of Front of House. Although the installation provided a ‘solid’ outcome to present at the opening, it was the interactive, experiential and preformative aspects of the project that were the most useful and significant outcomes of our group collaboration.