VISITORS OF AN EXHIBITION SPACE ARE SUGGESTED
TO 'DO NOTHING'
Testimonial by Daniella Geo / conversation with Katya Ev
KE: Daniella, you were curator at HISK in 2019-2020 and you curated the group show In a Long Blink of an Eye in which the performance was presented for the first time. And you participated in the performance, stayed for one hour, you got paid. How was it?
I was super tired, exhausted after such a long, intensive year, years actually. And to have that single moment for me to be able to ‘do nothing’ - I was working a lot and not even allowing me have free time for myself - for me to have this very single moment was very very good, I felt as if I was on vacation. I almost felt I am melting on clouds. But it was a mixture of feelings in a way. Since I was curator of the exhibition I also had some responsibilities as a host.
I was not working that day that i did the performance, I passed by as a regular visitor. But while I am there and people get in and I know them, I am confronted again to a situation that I become again a curator. So I was in a way in-between really ‘doing nothing’ and me as curator of the exhibition and curator of HISK in front of the public and friends and colleagues.
There was a pressing and strange moment, it was the more extreme situation that pushed me further out of my mind and put me completely into the position ‘the curator-host’. During the experience I ended up engaging in a short conversation with an art professional that came into the space when I was on the chair and adressed to me, though the person knew were are not supposed to be here talking seen the ‘nothingness’ that I was supposed to be experiencing. At that moment I got confused, I thought: “Am I allowed? Can I do it? How is it gonna be the proceeding here? My body language was already giving away to the host that I was going out of my position of ‘doing nothing’.
And than he came to me and he asked : “Are you doing nothing’? and I felt like “No”, and than he was “ok, I am sorry, it’s a breach of the contract”.
There are some spaces in the work but specifically through the contract that allows this situations to happen and to have somebody to decide. The host would decide weather or not the person broke the contract, although the visitor is the one who decides for themselves weather or not they are doing nothing.
I related ‘doing nothing’ to two things. One is when you are in-between situations and you are waiting for something to happen, or you are in transition, you are moving from A to B. Or it relates to leisure time and being able to be in a moment of enjoyment, like lying in grass. In the case of the performance for me ‘doing nothing’ ment being completely away of my role of curator. To be with myself and dedicating my time not to be involved in anything else, nor surroundings.
There was a question what really created this sense of authority. The moment the host asked me “do you think you are doing nothing”, immediately the position of authority was embodied by him. And therefore I had to take a decision there, and for me it was a matter of being honest and truthful to my own idea of ‘doing nothing’.
When the host asked me if I was doing nothing and I answered that I was doing something, of course, I was being truthful to my understanding of ‘doing nothing’ on that situation. On the other hand, if I really wanted to problematise my own experience and my own idea of what ‘doing nothing’ ment in that context, I would have to consider that I broke the contract many times. Every time that I was expressing my role as a curator, observing the visitors, observing the host, observing even myself - that was in a way already a breach of the contract.
If I wanted to problematise… but I wanted to fully be there and experience the whole thing. It would be maybe too far tottery to even to control my mind, to say what inside my mind could mean doing something’ thinking in a certain direction, thinking with control of your thoughts means doing something while ‘doing nothing would be solely in my case when your mind is away and you are not consciously controlling your thoughts.