HYENAZ are looking for interlocutors for our upcoming live experiences in the probability praxis series.
Probability Praxis is the series of 28 performances of the Critical Magic ritual. “Praxis” is intentional practice of radical imaginings; this is our laboratory. “Probability” is an acknowledgement that transformation does not happen overnight, but that practicing intimacy, questioning our acts of Othering, actively interrogating boundaries and deeply understanding our bodies in relation to other bodies increases the probability of personal and political change.
Critical Magic 비평 적 마술 is based in contact, sound and movement to break physical and mental isolation and to spark discourse that is both critical and utopian. It is an electronic music performance as well as interactive ritual performance which grew out of the site specific performance “Spectral Rite” with Sylbee Kim and Nico Pelzer at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul in 2014.
It has since been performed as a full ritual around Europe, Canada, and Australia. We are looking for Interlocutors who will help be active participants to ensure an atmosphere of mutual respect and connection between ourselves (HYENAZ) as facilitators and the “audience” as participants.
No previous rehearsal or experience is required, we welcome all bodies. Your curiosity and eagerness is most important. looking forward to meeting you.
When we began Foreign Bodies, the idea that the movement of peoples across territories was to become a defining political question, that it would motivate political movements and mobs, that it would become a mechanism through which different elites would build a political base to take power in the state, was marginal. It was not yet front page news, nor had it become the political cliché that it is now, refugee crisis, a meaningless phrase that provokes feelings of compassion or loathing without any real sense of the entities that comprise the so-called crisis, so that the crisis is never really born, never works the transformation that it ought to – the dissolution of everything we know of as the body politic at present and the creation of a new body politic, as well as new bodies and new politics. 1)There are a multitude of individuals and communities for whom the reality of this migration is experienced with all of its nuances, with all the beauty, wonder, awe, discomfort and fear that is provoked by the actual physical experience of another’s body. There are the migrants themselves, and there are those individuals and organizations who have moved themselves to the sites where help is needed, giving food and medical care, assisting people to overcome state control wherever possible. And there are those well within the confines of the nation state who provide spaces and advocacy for those whose journeys are complete (for now). I feel that these people experience what is happening not through the distancing cliché of “migration crisis”, but as a lived reality.
Where can we point the finger for this failure – surely it belongs with the management of this crisis, as if the state understands itself not as a vehicle for transporting human civilisation into something more humane and more civilised, but as a bureaucracy dedicated to the preservation of the threads of the status quo. This bureaucracy, which should be marginal and transitory, has filled the vacuum left by the aspiration in an earlier stage of the nation for a true social state, one in which labor rights and welfare were guaranteed by the state. This bureaucracy exists only to see that the institutions themselves, empty as they are of any political content beyond the continuation and, against all indications of economic reality, the necessary expansion of the capitalist project.
As is the case, always and inevitably, the bureaucratic formations which are designed for administering the periphery of the nation state, as in the case of imperialism, return to the center as well, as in the case of nazism, fascism and neoliberalism.
So Foreign Bodies is about those bodies which view the national border the same way a herd of goats view a seemingly impossible precipice, a dangerous inconvenience to be overcome by nimble feet and an act of will. It is about their experience once they cross this precipice, the violence they receive at the hands of mob, police and border security, the drudgery that their lives can descend into once they become administrative subjects. It is also about those non-migrating bodies 2)Of course, every body is a migrating body, whether actually-migrating, potentially-migrating, or historically-migrating. I am a refugee insofar as my grandfather was. I am a foreigner in Germany, though a privileged one, and yet I have “arrived” as it were in my home of Berlin, therefore I am both a migrating body and a non-migrating body. who live across the precipice, how they are shaped by their anxieties of the outside, how the administration of those other alien bodies makes invisible the work that the state performs on their own bodies, cells and molecules. Foreign Bodies is about the potential bodies that we might inhabit: physical bodies, political bodies, that are not shaped by paranoia and neuroses. – AT
There are a multitude of individuals and communities for whom the reality of this migration is experienced with all of its nuances, with all the beauty, wonder, awe, discomfort and fear that is provoked by the actual physical experience of another’s body. There are the migrants themselves, and there are those individuals and organizations who have moved themselves to the sites where help is needed, giving food and medical care, assisting people to overcome state control wherever possible. And there are those well within the confines of the nation state who provide spaces and advocacy for those whose journeys are complete (for now). I feel that these people experience what is happening not through the distancing cliché of “migration crisis”, but as a lived reality.
Of course, every body is a migrating body, whether actually-migrating, potentially-migrating, or historically-migrating. I am a refugee insofar as my grandfather was. I am a foreigner in Germany, though a privileged one, and yet I have “arrived” as it were in my home of Berlin, therefore I am both a migrating body and a non-migrating body.
we performed in the forest. Birk and Nina had installed the lights, the sculpture, the screen, beautifully. The large screen behind us with the beamer coming in from the back. The ground was so soft, I sunk into it, so many times, it welcomed me. Bishop and Tereza were with us as interlocutors. There was a faint rain, just still a hint. Our technical equipment was safe from the rain in ninas car. We felt well taken care of. We took bare feet on the forest ground. Our purpose among the four of us was restoration, ecology. We felt honored to be performing amongst the trees. I saw them as part of the ritual, their tall bodies stretching upwards. I could focus on them, with them. There were times I came drawn to them, I wanted to included them in the percussions, but I did not want to hit them. Our audience came and went, they did not all stay with us the entire time. In the middle it wained, in the end they came again. I felt the undulation with the energy. They were pulled in with us in the beginning, inside the circle. We ended as a circle, around the circle. We helped Adrienne carry her last piece of wood as she rung out the last notes. In positive, all of this, and especially the magic that was felt through our bodies, was very real. Bishop ended with a mark on his forehead from the forest floor that looked like blood on a newborns forehead. Like he had just existed the cunt, it was stunning and beautiful. I had a magical dance blindfolded with two people, at least. The breeze was ecstatic on my skin. I I felt that I could have done better at the height of gnosis, that I was missing something of the magic at exactly that point, that perhaps there is a better way to remove the routine of that moment. That we need to prepare more for the climax and that it needs be even higher than what it felt then. Even though, I could see that people were with us, I was hoping there might be … something else. Im not yet sure what. Krf.
critical magic, in my mind, fundamentally challenges the idea that magic can be about a poof – wave the wand and change everything. Critical magic is about critical engagement, critical theory, active listening, participation, active presence, and deicing to work towards change. And yet. There is also perhaps, what I can see now, there is perhaps also room for a “poof” – if we can call it that. There is room for an exacting moment of revelation. In this conception, the poof moment could be the moment when the imagination takes on a new ordering and accepts a new paradigm as an act of performance — performance here is a moment of “reframing” ones truth. This is as opposed to creating or enacting a new empirical truth. The world cannot change in one second, but our minds can change. The world can change slowly over time, with hard work and commitment and coming together through activism and action. Part of this change requires the changing of minds, and even though the changing of minds can also take a long time, it seems that on the other hand, a mind does switch, there is a moment when one decides that in fact the floor is not green, that rather it is brown. There are ahhah moments, there are moments when we decide to use a new pronoun for someone, when we decide to give someone a new name, when we acknowledge a death or a birth. And this moment is specific, one might say, a poof moment, a singular moment. There in that sense we can radically imagine a new way of categorizing that was before not seen. Ithink about what elizabeth povinelli says about life versus non life, all she had to write was simply the idea, the new vision, and the paradigm was open. Not because the paradigm is or is not, but rather that it exists at all as “one way of seeing” and if we can allow ourselves to see in that/those other ways, this is a radical vision. Radically visioning. The performance act is a chance to live inside a radical vision, to perform a radical state of mind and of speech act. It is a chance to practice a new way of seeing. Within that “other way of seeing” perhaps we can also envision what that other way of seeing will give birth to over time.
Although this was not a full hour ritual phase of the probability praxis series, it didn’t seem to matter at all to the magic we created together. We packed so much energy and heart into that sweaty room and shook the room at Success Bar in Tbilisi! Thanks to Nia Gvatua for these shots and bringing us into her exquisite world.
Het-Bos, Antwerp, Belgium, STRANGELOVE Festival // 2 June 2017
Interlocuters: Manon la Décadence and Lu
After the performance at Het Bos in Antwerp, for the Strangelove festival, an audience member learned that I was from Australia I was asked “were you influenced by Aboriginal people?”. My immediate answer was “well, yes” as I thought of the indigenous teachers who influenced me as a much younger student, in particular Wayne Atkinson and Gary Foley, two activist/academics.
I still feel a strong debt to them both, for their generosity, in leading the student body, who were largely drawn from settler society, through the ways that colonisation decimated and continues to undermine the lives and social, cultural and economic structures that indigenous people in Australia rely on. Also, and of key importance to me as an artist, they gave us a glimpse of the richness of indigenous culture, both in the forms that existed before and at the moment of European invasion and that which evolves today, to a large degree shaped by survival.
Then I realised that the person was asking me whether the performance itself, in particular the dancing, was shaped by indigenous influences, which I found very flattering. I told them simply, “no”, because I didn’t have the language in my state of exhaustion to explain the near-impossible nature of the task: that a half-Jewish, middle class, “white”, male-bodied-cum-trans child of settler society could develop the deep engagement with the human beings, philosophies, cosmologies, histories, experiences, politics, not to mention the techniques and physical self-understandings that comprise the forms of dance people recognise as “Aboriginal”.
I never made the sacrifices that this would entail, I never built the deep connections either, rather, I left the country as quickly as I could. In any case, it might be that those who embody these cultural forms would still not be interested in sharing the knowledge of their dance with me – why would they, when my ancestors (whether they be ancestors of blood, or simply those who created the legal forms in which my privilege as a settler is contained, which my refugee grandfather acquired upon arriving in 1941 from his own genocidal apocalypse) took everything they wanted anyway in order to create the legal fiction of Australia?
Which brings me back to the question of magic. Our performance is a ritual. It is a practice of magic. Magic is deceptively invisible in this second decade of the 21st century. Yes, religious belief palpitates here and there, in the power of evangelicals in the United States, in forms of political Islam, in the New Age movements and so on. However a lot of people do not experience magic because they only associate magic with certain kinds of visibility – a satanic ritual, for instance, a bubbling cauldron, or wine turned to blood on an altar – and they are blind to the working of the miraculous in all the social forms around them. Propaganda, I consider, is a form of magic. Likewise, people are bewitched by the repetition of words, phrases and symbols that constitute advertising. So if people do not practice forms of magic which intend the kind of changes they want to enact in the world, then they leave themselves vulnerable to the forms of magic of the economically and politically powerful. I even wonder, sometimes, if those embedded in the magic of the powerful, those who produce it – say an advertising executive, or a developer working on the latest manipulative app at Google – whether they themselves are intending the magic, or if the magic is working on them and they are slaves to it.
“There is a customary ritual that takes place…. The flag is raised, the glasses are filled, cheers are raised for the King… it seems, if you just look at it clinically, it seems like this process of magic. It’s like, “well now that’s ours, we possess this country in law.” It seems strange to me now but it must have seemed even stranger to indigenous people….”
So how would one free oneself from a magic as powerful as that, a magic which created a nation-state, with volumes of law, a population of almost 24 million, a vast economic infrastructure, educational systems and not to mention the power to say who may live on the continent and who may not and in what way they make their lives?
Live performance remains one of the few secular ritualistic forms available to the relatively powerless. To be clear, I am not saying that I am powerless. I have economic means which others do not. I have a passport which allows for relatively free travel. And yet I am not News Corp. I am not Wall GmbH. I am not the High Court of Australia. I am not the NSA. Whether one is aware of it or not there is a magic in live performance. It might be the lead singer in lights, gyrating, reverberating, with all the eyes of the audience upon them. It is possible to inject into this context a conscious decision about the kinds of changes one might want for oneself or for the society in which one lives, and use this hour or so where a room fills with people with a common purpose, to be outside of themselves for a moment, outside of their everyday lives, to magnify the power of one’s own intention and desire. The individual and collective mind learns from this committed experience that this intention has value, that this intention should live in the world. We ask our audiences to think of that thing which is most important to them in the here and now – it might be “I live in a world without gender.” “I have no white privilege.” “My community is learning to live without violence.” And we move together. With music enveloping us, we synchronise certain acts, such as lying side by side on the ground, or taking a word in one’s mouth, at the same time as we also encourage radical autonomy for all those present, to move as they want to, or not at all; to touch, or to be touched or to not be touched, for consent is a precondition for the kind of magic we want to practice.
In Antwerp, I felt that the magic was present in the moment where my co-performers needed only to draw one or two people to lie on the ground with them, and the whole room followed – all the bodies in the room opening to the ground like a collective lotus flower. I felt it again, a little later, when we asked people at the height of the ritual “What do you want? What do you want? What do you want?” And people screamed out the changes that were of visceral importance to them, in words, and sometimes in extra-linguistic sounds. I felt, yes, we as artists and as audience, are as one, changing ourselves by changing in this moment how it is possible to be with others, in an ecstatic, joyful way, that preserves difference while finding unity. From this bodily-auditory-sensual joy with others, the power of magic works itself.
Of course, the magical space we establish by drawing a circle is banished at the end of the performance (we do this through manic laughter), and we find that the world is not entirely altered. Australia, that vast settler nightmare, still persists, no truly post-colonial form has yet arisen to replace it. But I am altered, and I feel that the people who join us are also.
If I focus for one hour on the intention “indigenous people are autonomous” and scream it aloud at the height of the ritual, then this commitment carries on into the actions I take, we take, in the world beyond and after that magical space, in the small and large decisions we make that relate to these fundamental questions – in what ways does my behaviour betray racism and how can I alter these behaviours? How can I support Aboriginal people and help restore to them what was taken? What comes after Australia?
Or in the European context if I scream “freedom of movement now”, I will find the compulsion to bear witness, to stand up to the juridical violence against those who move across borders without the right magical symbols on their identity papers.
This was one of my favorite moments of the ritual at STRANGELOVE. So many people joined us in laying down and taking a moment just to make contact with the ground and to listen to the sounds. For me personally this is also a moment i love, when I let my full back come into contact with the concrete and imagine myself is part of the architecture, as part of foundation, of stone, of earth.
There were other moments in this night as well where the audience was really inside the group experience, for example when we put on our blindfolds and danced together. I felt myself touching so many different bodies, indistinguishable but different. Sensing various energies both distinct and yet combined into one. This was a moment of imagining our collective body!
And again, in the end, when suddenly there was a collective heaving from the group on the stage, helping Adrienne to carry the log and strike it into the … barrier ? the border? into what does she strike? It is powerful to see what develops spontaneously amongst us as a group.
On the level of constructive criticism of our performance, I felt that we could have been more concise in the moment when we spoke to the group. I will suggest to Adrienne that we rethink through what are the main points we want to make sure to address and also how to connect this to “clean and unclean” since we do not go directly into “binaries”. i also would like to continue to improve our harmonies so that we can do them without thinking ! And personally for the Octomantic Ritual I still feel that I need to work in gathering the collective energy behind dancing together, or building a consistent choreography.
one month ago, at strangelove festival in antwerp, me and lu were invited to join hyenaz at their performance, as a so-called interlocuter. i had looked up the word and what i read felt familiar instantly, BUT i also knew that i would play/be this part during a very physical performance, so it didn’t make me any less nervous.
fortunately, to ease my nerves, it all started with paint. silver paint. i can’t believe what a big difference it makes for me, from being naked to covering my skin in just this tiny layer of color. this might be the mask that i need to be able to be truthful. pimp that battleground. anxiousness gone. well, almost.
i gained even more trust realizing i was with people who inspired me in so many different ways before, and holding hands with them and lu backstage was one of those moments you want to remember, because it reflects so much meaning and motivation; i don’t care why i am here exactly but it’s fine, it feels important and pleasurable and maybe even right.
walking from backstage to the venue, into the club, inviting others to join the ritual, looking at them, realizing i might be as intimidating as others have been for me in the past, but overcoming that gap with a smile and a talk, knowing i would need them as well as they would need me to deal with the awkwardness of being in a room with strangers looking at a stage listening to loud noises not knowing what would come next..it felt familiar, i love it.
when i try to hold space at my parties and events, i feel the same. i am not the one in the centre of attention, i am facilitating and i hope i can make anything happen and maybe even join in if i feel like it. i want my presence to say to others: you are welcome, i got your back, be my guest, go play!
during the ritual i noticed i shared my admiration for kate and adrienne with many around me and i saw them naturally pulling the people into their ritual bubble. it felt like most were comfortable, and some were even up for going beyond comfort. this is, i think, what holding space is about.
i held space, and at the same time i was somebody they/others held space for.
i am so grateful for this exercise/experience and I will take it with me everywhere i go. thank you kate, adrienne and lu ❤