Where Were We with Tova Gerge and Uri Turkenich

Tova Gerge and Uri Turkenich are back in the studio for another residence. This time with the performance project Where Were We springing from the previous residental project There Is No Outside-Text, focusing on and further elaborating the structures of conversation techniques. During these weeks in Stockholm, the collaboration also includes the visual artist Marika Troili. At the end of the residency, 28th october, the work will be performed at the minifestival Talking & Props organized by Weld.

Photo by Lei Lu

Tova and Uri on the process, methods and future of the project:

– We describe the project like this: Speaking is not only about the words, it is also about the performance of speaking. With ”performance” we do not only mean the gestures, melody and meaningful pauses of speech, but also that there is a performative aspect of speaking. Through speaking, something comes into being. Speaking honestly, being in the moment with speech, can give life to things that we didn’t know existed before, or give words to things unspoken, or open up deep territories in and in between us. We explore these territories. We speak of moments which are capturing for us. We perform the beauty in honesty. Honestly.

During the winter of 2015 and the spring of 2016, we – Tova Gerge and Uri Turkenich – made our first artistic collaboration. With the support of The Swedish Arts Grants Committee, residency host c.off and co-producer Skogen, we developed the project There Is No Outside-Text starting from questions of vulnerability and authenticity. Our primary artistic tool was the intimate conversation between us, and together we invented a way of structuring and staging these conversations – setting up a score that made it possible for us to repeat stories as if we told them for the first time. We showed material from our process in the event Sunday run_up (organized by ccap) in Stockholm, in Skogen in Gothenburg and at the event 3AM in Berlin. The feedback we got, especially in Gothenburg, was very strong for us. Audience approached us after the shows sharing stories from their own lives and telling us they felt very close to us through the performance. We realized we had found a quality in our work that we needed to continue exploring and keep learning from. Thus, the idea for Where Were We was born.

As a method for our current work we are constructing a conversation technique which on one hand allows a freedom to talk, feel and be in the moment and on the other hand it is pre-constructed and communicative to an audience. The conversations are not written word by word but rather we use a guideline for speaking, rules that regulate in what directions we can go. We also rehearse the conversations, but they always remain unknown to some degree, never attempting to repeat formulations or intensities.

We perceive honesty as a tool that we can train by recognizing what we feel exactly at the each moment and speak it. We think of honesty as a precise reflection of our body state in the moment, not a reflection of a truth. We want to use this honesty as a tool for performing with precision and timing, like a comedian times his/her jokes, like a dancer dances to music.

As far as this residency goes it helps our process to not be completely alone, as we spend a couple of weeks here in the studio, enjoying the kind and fluid ambience. It is an environment where we are safe to try things out, ask for post-its and eat cakes with the people who work here. We know we can get a bit of fresh air in our minds through input from others, and we are happy to hang out in a space where we can alter between working hard physically (great to have a soft floor when one of our main practices is to jump) and solving administrative matters.

After this, the project will proceed through public performances and explorations in other residencies. Initially we show what we have done at the Weld festival Talking & Props the 28th of October. 13-26 februari 2017, our co-producer Skogen in Gothenburg offers us a work residency where we have the opportunity to further develop our material. During the spring of 2017, we are invited to show our work at Inkonst in Malmö and we will then try to build more of a social context for it. During the autumn of 2017, we will take part in the Italian cultural project SUDO, developing our work for yet another audience and context.

After 2017, we hope to be able to have a tourable piece that is fun both to perform and to watch. We wish for it to be a versatile material, that can adapt to the conditions of every specific context, and still have a living and honest core that is proper to us. Maybe also new artistic cooperations between us are born from this – we don’t know. First we work with this until we feel we are done with it.

The project Where Were We is supported by the Swedish Arts Grants Committee and coproduced by Skogen.