Degrees, Plains, and Two Stumbles Ahead (2021)

On a junction of theory and art practice, through the means of photography and moving image, this research, implemented in various artistic media, dives into the framework of contemporary affect theory and approaches the question of affect on personal, collective, and transitive levels. At every stage, the project is challenged to find artistic means of expression of the concept of affect, which is considered to be undetectable directly.
Following non-Cartesian tendencies in contemporary philosophy /merging the movements of matter with a processual incorporeality (Spinozism)/ and researching it in the interconnection with cultural and political studies, I'm experimenting with performative practices and detecting vague, diaphane disruptures of the visual reverberations to come up with a tangible notion of affect. I study affect in its autonomous bodily emanation, avoiding mixing it with emotions, which are defined as to be of the personal and subjective character. Being asocial, affect nevertheless includes social elements, but mixes them with elements belonging to other levels of functioning, and combines them according to a different logic. (Massumi 2015).

Past events can be conserved in the body and brain and repeated; they can be reactivated but not completed. This brings the concept of affect very close to the mechanism of traumatic recollection. Trauma (via Jean Laplanche) is defined as a failed translation of an unremembered experience. Moreover, trauma (via Cathy Caruth) is more than just a simple failure of translation; it is also the result of the perplexing condition of a missing original. (Baer 2002). The process of acting out can index another significant side of trauma theory: a repetition without knowledge of the source of the catalyst substituted for the memory, where the action itself might not even resemble the missing original (Ricoeur 2004).
The movement of the affect from personal to political I continue in my work Degrees, Plains, and Two Stumbles Ahead (2021).
The performative practice aims to overcome the "affective politics of fear" (Ahmed 2014) and brings to the second step of my research, a political perspective of the subject. I study the traumatic experiences of individuums relating themselves to the collective body of resistance. It can be called a group transmission of affect, where, from the one hand, people are influenced by so-called 'affective politics' inductively "emitting the interruptive signs, triggering the cues, that attune bodies while activating their capacities differentially". (Massumi 2015). And where, on the other hand, groups align their self-identification prerequisite together with nervous and hormonal systems experiencing a process of so-called 'entrainment'. (Brennan 2014).
I focus on the civilians, victims in violence against social movements or protests. In other words, people who physically and morally suffered fighting for their rights or rights of the groups to which they relate.
In a studio space, I ask participants to recall and reenact the scenes of violence, postures and bodily sensations. The participatory practice is focused on the motion prolonged in time, as well as on the changing power dynamics. Our task is not to drown in the recalled emotions but to distantly observe the pre-emotional affectous reactions of our swinging bodies. We focus on a single episode and repeat it multiple times allowing a camera on a tripod to shoot the scene within short time intervals. The set takes into account the core mechanism of memory: an individual remembers not an initial event, but the last time the episode was recalled. It works like a constant rewrite, which on its way is capable of incorporating new details, shades, highlights, even manipulated false memories.
Trauma has a potency to be rendered in repetition when an individual cannot voluntarily get rid of a haunting event and returns to it during the process of traumatic recollections, be it dreams, panic attacks, or other manifestations of PTSD. Some participants insisted later that the interaction in the studio has significantly replaced the original memory, shifted its modality and helped to overcome a haunting repetition. This resonates with my primary goal – to displace the traumatic experience into another environment and another situation; to overcome it by working it through: to transform pain into a dance.
To use photography as a medium would mean to shift the focus of perception of the traumatising episode – to prolong it, dissect, and give a 'voice' to the body expression. The performative practice is not pursuing a documentary aspect; it is not a precise reconstruction of an event; however, subjective interpretation of a first-hand witness. The visual expression of the work is initially conceived as a spatial photographic installation. I use the principle of multiplicity to organize the images: it points to the aforementioned repetition, a multitude of viewing, and allows to enter the timeline without linearity and hierarchy. I consciously avoid any possible narration, perceiving a traumatizing event as a possibility: thus I organize the space without clear framing of entrance and exit. I avoid monumentality as a principal of vertical organization of visual communication. I assemble and reassemble fragments of documented studio interactions that it can work as a constructor game. I incorporate motion in the very set of the installation, avoiding the concept of a single still photograph, as well I am organizing space that a spectator can move through human-size photographic sculptures breaking a concept of a hierarchical subjective dominant gaze. I am interested in the simultaneous work of memory, body affect, and performative element.