The word dialogue has its etymological roots in the two Greek terms logos, meaning word and dia, meaning through. Our experiment in dialogue was inspired by the writings of the American scientist David Bohm. Instead of with spoken words we established a dialogue using material and objects.
Masterclass: The Bohm dialogue can be seen as a method or exercise. Dialogue is a way of observing, collectively, how hidden values and intentions can control our behavior, and how unnoticed cultural differences can clash without our realizing what is occurring. It can therefore be seen as an arena in which collective learning takes place and out of which a sense of increased harmony, fellowship and creativity can arise.
The concept or ‘score’ of the project is simple and will always remain the same: the initial situation is the wooden replica of the original shelf, the participating students work in turns and there is never more than one person at a time working with the shelf. What can be adapted to the circumstances are the number of participants and the duration of the working period. It can take the form of a one day workshop or a course of several months with extended program developed by ceci. The students are free to work with the formats and material of their choice as they react to the situation they find when it’s their turn to inter- vene. The idea of the dialogue can be an opportunity to tackle and discuss topics such as (artistic) authorship and collaboration. The project demands from its participants to be re- active within an uncontrollably developing context and to be sensitive for and open to- wards a working process rather than working towards an end-product. The set-up can be easily applied in a trans-disciplinary context and help to instigate and provoke to work be-
yond the confines of ones ‘discipline’. Being confronted with a situation can help students to sharpen the reflection of their own work and working methods at the same time getting more conscious about the roll of the Other in a process of creation.
Background: ‘The dialogue’, when one person says something, the other person does not in general respond with exactly the same meaning as that seen by the first person. Rather, the mea- nings are only similar and not identical. Thus, when the second person replies, the first person sees a difference between what he meant to say and what the other person under- stood. On considering this difference, he may then be able to see something new, which is relevant both, to his own views and to those of the other person. And so it can be back and forth, with the continual emergence of a new content that is common to both participants. Thus, in dialogue, each person does not attempt to make common certain ideas or items of information that are already known to him. Rather, it may be said that (they) are making something in common, i.e., creating something new together.” (David Bohm,
In the period of July until September 2019 ceci was a guest at sundaymorning@EKWC. We departed from an empty studio space equipped with a metal shelf, a table and a chair and took turns in working, one after the other, reading and reacting to each other’s contri- butions. During the three months working period we have not seen or spoken to each other. The communication between the three of us took solely place in the studio through the diverse material each of us chose to work with, be it clay, textile, the spatial configura- tion, text, sound and so forth. While accumulating, adding, taking away material, the lines between individual intervention and common dynamics got blurred.
About the presentation of the project
Each presentation of the project is in the same time its continuation. For the first presenta tion in sundaymorning@EKWC we worked with a wooden replica of the metal shelf that has been present in our studio from the start. Departing from this shelf we took one day to work in ‘shifts’ of 15 minutes during which only one of us was working in the presentati- onspace. Again we took turns in reacting to each others interventions. For DIALOGUE I, the first re-appearance and presentation of the project we invited visual artist Laetitia Gen- dre to accompany and capture the entire process of our working day with a series of dra- wings. DIALOGUE I was presented with a booklet of Gendres drawings next to the state in which we have left our material dialogue at that day.
For every future presentation we will work with the concept above described: we will de- part from the wooden shelf, taking turns in reacting to each others interventions and thus gradually change the situation. The process will be accompanied by an invited artist who decides on the format (visual, textual, performative …) in which they want to capture it. (We will decide beforehand whether we will work only with material that we find in situ or whether we bring material to work with.) While the concept of the project remains the same its appearance changes with each presentation.
ceci was founded in 2012 and is a non disciplinary artistic project by Maaike Gottschal, Mi riam Rohde and Sara Ten Westenend. ceci provides a working environment to collaborate beyond our individual trajectories and professional backgrounds (visual arts, architecture, textile, writing and teaching).
ceci allows us to exchange and share our interests and make them available to each
other. Ideas resonate in different ways. Collaboration doesn’t mean necessarily to develop one single perspective. With ceci we take into account the existence of our diverse, diffe- rent, sometimes opposing or contradictory, sometimes complementary viewpoints and in- vent formats to give them a material appearance and presence.
ceci gives us the opportunity to challenge our attitudes towards authorship and to keep reconsidering the question of how to do things together. We regularly invite artists for colla- borations : a project of ceci can become the departure point for someone else’s work. In turn, the work of ceci is reflected within someone else’s project, which is both, independent and connected.