Kaap: Interview with Marialena Marouda, Artist in Residence
Why the ocean?
I’m drawn to the ocean both personally and professionally. I grew up in Athens, Greece and there the sea is very much part of one’s everyday life and I think also a very relevant part of one’s personality. So the ocean - I feel - is part of who I am as a person. I wanted to see in which way other people felt similar in its proximity.
Also politically, the ocean is very active in what’s happening around the world at the moment, participating in changes like global warming or the so called “refugee crisis”. But it is never addressed as the actor that it is. Within the work of the Oceanographies Institute, I ask how it is possible to make the part of the conversation. “Can I start a conversation with another human being, in which somehow the ocean also takes part?” and “How is it possible to hear the ocean’s “voice”?”
So I started having “Ocean Conversations” with people that live in proximity to the ocean or the sea. I ask my interlocutors about their relationship to the ocean throughout their lives, and this often gives them another perspective on why they chose their job, or why they chose to live where they do, for example. It’s often a new experience for them to think of the ocean in this way, as a companion.
How do you start these conversations?
It happens quite intuitively. I started having the conversations with some friends in Brussels during the artistic research programm I was part of (a.pass). Most of these friends were artists. Because I was also interested in including scientists’ experiences of the ocean, I contacted the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) in Ostend. I started conversations with some of the scientists there who were interested in the work and involved them in the project. So my interlocutors are either people I get to know personally, or people I research because of their professional relation to the ocean. As the work evolves, my interlocutors also often connect me to other conversation partners. So the network of the Oceanographies Institute’s participants grows rather organically.
I came in contact with KAAP after collaborating with the VLIZ: it was interesting for me to collaborate with an artistic institution in Ostend and to get to know more people in the city.
You were already at Chambres d’O this year.
Yes, I’ve been having try-outs throughout the process, and Chambres d’O was a very positive experience. Our host was a former fisherman and enthusiastic seaman with a wonderful boat. The setting was great, our captain was very supportive, and the audience was very open to the work. We had great feedback from them.
This was very encouraging. Last November I opened up the work on the Oceanographies Institute to more collaborators: a dramaturg, a composer and two performers. Before performing in Chambres d’O we all had a three week residency together. So the presentation at Chambres d’O came at a time when the work started to change and evolve.
What’s the plan now?
The premiere is in mid-September, until then I’m planning some presentations, for example during Pint of Science in May in Ostend, in collaboration with the VLIZ. We also have a residency in Q-O2 in Brussels, a space for experimental music and sound art, about which I am very excited. We also work at nadine in Brussels, C-Takt in Neerpelt and in Buda Kunstencentrum in Kotrijk. And then next year we come back to Ostend for Dansand!
You’re quite international.
Yes, I was born in Greece, but have lived abroad for many years. I’ve studied in New York, Giessen and Brussels. Before I came to Belgium, I lived in Germany for 10 years, before this in the United States for 4 years.
I find the Belgian performance art scene to be one of the most intriguing I’ve encountered. It seems very open to new art forms and art works. I feel that institutions -small and large- and their coordinators are genuinely interested in what artists do and the formats they develop. Hierarchies are rather flat with also many smaller experimental workspaces being an essential part of the scene, giving it a great diversity. There are all these different people here doing very different kinds of work on a high level. And there’s great solidarity between the artists. That’s very inspiring to see. I really hope it can continue like this also in the future.
We’re happy to have you at KAAP.
Winternights 2019: artistic proposals for vulnerable test audiences
Entirely different kinds of techniques are demonstrated by Marialena Marouda. In a room one floor up, a small audience joins in a circle, where The Oceanographies Institute invites to reflect on the relationship between humans and the ocean. The performance workshop combines the intimacy of an informal conversation with the performance of different actions, in order to evoke memories and address the ocean’s materiality.
The rereading of notes from previous conversations, with repetition of sentences and frequencies rolling over each other, is reminiscent of the endless accumulation of waves on waves. For example like the sound of the drawing of an eight on its side, the sign for infinity, is a tiny gesture to bring the thoughts of the guests in the room towards the great sea.
Oscillating between concrete questions and self-imposed rituals, Marouda and her co-performer Elpida Orfanidou bring to light a world of embodied knowledge, of memories and customs. Also misunderstandings and problems of translation, the language of communication being the generic English that prevails in the global art world, contribute to a miraculous investigation, in which small bodily gestures, such as taking turns in gently exhaling into a microphone, evoke that very large and old body of the sea. Even though it treasures the most ancient life on earth, the ocean stays an object for most people. A place in which you sometimes paddle your feet or cross at the level of 8000 meters. [...]
17 december 2019
Translation by Katrien Reist
Link to original text:
Wanderings with Racehorses and Sirens; the young independent scene in Frankfurt asserts itself with the Festival "Implantieren"
"In the sound archive
[...] The choreographer and performer Marialena Marouda installs her "Poetry Exercises: An Archive of (un) familiar things" in the vey place where the history of the city is written: the Institute of City History. The most important documents are stored here in 25 kilometers of shelves. The program of the evening is a complex web of different activities: there are guided tours of in-house archivists and librarians, who introduce the order of things in great detail. There are stations in the house where the artists have arranged existing documents in new ways. And there are performances that try to redefine the idea of archiving. By creating an open-ended archive of sounds, for example, of something so highly fleeting, that it hardly finds its way into in our literacy based cultural history.
Silent reclaiming of space
Visitors can therefore archive sounds themselves by noting their re-production with their own body and recording it on a DAT. The performances of Marialena Marouda, Katja Cheraneva and Malter Scholz take on those notations in their highly precise acoustic depictions. With the help of their bodies in space, they simulate the flight of a pigeon swarm or the hissing of an air conditioner. Different systems of order are playfully confronted with one another, while the question of which elements of a culture are accepted into its memory and which are given over to forgetting arises quite pleasurably. [...]
Translation: Marialena Marouda
Titel: "Streifzüge mit Pferden und Sirenen; mit dem Festival "Implantieren" behauptet sich die junge freie Szene selbstbewusst in der Stadt Frankfurt"
[...] So richtet sich die Choreographin und Performerin Marialena Marouda mit ihren „Poetry Exercises: An Archive of (un)familiar things“ an jenem Ort ein, an dem stetig an der Geschichte der Stadt geschrieben wird: das Institut für Stadtgeschichte. In 25 Regalkilometern lagern hier die wichtigsten Dokumente. Das Programm des Abends ist ein komplexes Gewebe: Es gibt Führungen von hauseigenen Archivar*innen und Bibliothekar*innen, die mit großer Detailgenauigkeit in die Ordnung der Dinge einführen. Es gibt Stationen im Haus, an denen die Künstler*innen vorhandene Dokumente neu arrangiert haben. Und es gibt Performances, die versuchen, den Gedanken des Archivierens neu zu fassen –beispielsweise, indem sie ein unabgeschlossenes Archiv von Geräuschen eröffnen, von etwas höchst Flüchtigem also, das in unsere schriftbasierte Kulturgeschichte kaum Eingang findet.
So können Besucher*innen selbst Geräusche archivieren, indem sie ihre Re-Produktion mit dem eigenen Körper notieren und auf DAT aufnehmen, und die Performances von Marialena Marouda, Katja Cheraneva und Malter Scholz greifen sie in ihren höchst präzisen akustischen Streifzügen auf, in denen sie mithilfe ihrer Körper im Raum das Auffliegen eines Taubenschwarms simulieren oder das Rauschen einer Klimaanlage. Spielerisch werden verschiedene Ordnungssysteme miteinander konfrontiert, und es wird durchaus lustvoll die Frage aufgeworfen, welche Elemente einer Kultur in ihre Erinnerung überführt werden und welche dem Vergessen anheimgeben. [...]"
Clouds, Wind and Waves; Marialena Marouda's "Poetry Exercises" in Frankfurt
One advice in advance: you should jump over your own shadow. Even if you are on the verge of fleeing Frankfurt's Carmelite monastery. Even if you feel slightly overwhelmed by the guide booklet, the web of paths and the exhibition, and can hardly decide between all that is proposed, between the guided tours through the city archive and the changing performances in the refectory. After all, the audience has here plenty of time to engage with Marialena Maroudas "Poetry Exercises". The visitor is free to enter – and exit – the performative installation at any time. Furthermore, once having entered Maroudas "Archive of (un) familiar things", the whole didactic framing might as well become irrelevant. And then suddenly, lo and behold, everything becomes miraculously poetic and, finally, light as a feather. "Implantieren" is the title of the nomadic festival initiated by Independent Dance, which has been held in various locations in the city of Frankfurt since September. When Marouda now activates the Institute of City History in the Carmelite Monastery with her precise interventions, the artist does not only playfully open up access to the city's memory. If you like, you can also join a staff member of the Institute for a guided tour through the archive, or create your own impression of Frankfurt by means of selected audiovisual material –ranging from sounds of the city’s bells to the speech of Nelly Sachs at the Peace Award Ceremony– in the reading room.
But the heart of this event beats in the refectory where Marouda, Katja Cheraneva and Malte Scholz work on the actual theme of the "Exercises": memory. Of a day in March, for example, by the North Sea, with clouds, wind and weather and huge waves breaking on the beach; of the whipping shots in the rifle club in Niedererlenbach or of a swarm of flying birds somewhere on Friedberger Landstraße. These are everyday, often fleeting and, at most, individually significant experiences, which the performers evoke with nothing but their voices. Rooms, places, situations, like the own garden, a visit to the swimming pool or the Christmas fair, are reconstructed by means of narration and literally take shape.
And it works, as own recollections gradually appear in the audience, such as the surf of the Atlantic on a gloomy day in November, the pigeons on the Piazza San Marco maybe, or all the people, voices and smells of the Christmas market. If you like, you can leave it at that, maybe turn another round through the cloister while listening to your own steps. Or you can make your own impressions part of the memory of the city at one of the workstations: the answers, they say, will be archived.
Translation: Marialena Marouda
"Wolken, Wind und Wellen; Marialena Marouda's "Poetry Exercises" in Frankfurt"
„Ein Rat vorab: Man sollte über seinen Schatten springen. Auch wenn man zunächst kurz davor ist, Reißaus zu nehmen im Frankfurter Karmeliterkloster. Fühlt man sich doch angesichts von Spielanleitung, Wegeführung und Ausstellung fast ein wenig überfordert, und mag man sich zwischen all den Angeboten, zwischen Führungen durchs Stadtarchiv und wechselnden Performances im Refektorium erst einmal kaum entscheiden. Doch zum einen hat das Publikum hier reichlich Zeit, sich auf Marialena Maroudas „Poetry Exercises“ einzulassen. Schließlich ist es dem Besucher freigestellt, die performative Installation jederzeit zu betreten und auch wieder zu verlassen. Zum anderen kann einem, kaum eingetreten in Maroudas „Archive of (un)familiar things“, das ganze didaktische Beiwerk im Zweifelsfall auch einfach egal sein. Und siehe da: Alles wird wundersam poetisch und schließlich federleicht. „Implantieren“ ist das nomadische, von Independent Dance initiierte Festival überschrieben, das seit September an verschiedenen Orte im Frankfurter Stadtgebiet veranstaltet wird. Und wenn nun Marouda das Institut für Stadtgeschichte im Karmeliterkloster mit präzisen Interventionen bespielt, dann legt die Künstlerin nicht nur spielerisch Zugänge zum Gedächtnis der Stadt. Wer mag, schließt sich einem Mitarbeiter des Instituts zu einer Führung durchs Archiv an, oder man macht sich im Lesesaal mittels ausgewählter Ton- und Bilddokumente – vom großen Stadtgeläut bis zur Friedenspreisverleihung an Nelly Sachs – selbst ein Bild von Frankfurt.
Das Herz dieser Veranstaltung schlägt aber im Refektorium, wo Marouda, Katja Cheraneva und Malte Scholz das eigentliche Thema der „Exercises“ präparieren: die Erinnerung. An einen Tag im März etwa an der Nordsee, mit Wolken, Wind und Wetter und gewaltigen, am Strand sich brechenden Wellen; an die peitschenden Schüsse im Schützenverein Niedererlenbach oder einen Schwarm auffliegender Vögel irgendwo an der Friedberger Landstraße. Es sind alltägliche, oft flüchtige und allenfalls individuell bedeutsame Erlebnisse, die die Performer mit nichts als ihren Stimmen heraufbeschwören. Räume, Orte, Situationen der eigene Garten, ein Besuch im Schwimmbad oder auf dem Weihnachtsbasar nehmen, erzählend rekonstruiert, buchstäblich Gestalt an.
Und es funktioniert, stellen sich im Publikum doch allmählich eigene Erinnerungen ein, etwa an die Brandung des Atlantiks an einem düsterem Tag im November, die Tauben auf dem Markusplatz vielleicht oder all die Menschen, Stimmen und Gerüche auf dem Weihnachtsmarkt. Wer mag, kann es dabei belassen, vielleicht noch eine Runde durch den Kreuzgang drehen und dabei den eigenen Schritten lauschen. Oder aber seine Eindrücke gleich vor Ort an einer der Workstations mit dem Gedächtnis der Stadt kurzschließen: die Antworten, heißt es, würden selbstverständlich archiviert.“
Exercising oneself in inappropriate language. Poetry Exercises by Marialena Marouda
One enters the space, one takes a cushion, one places it on the floor freely and sits on it. After a short introduction, one watches two people sitting on cushions. The shared space turns into a space of listening.
One of them describes a space, the other describes it differently. We are told nothing that we can take stock of. As information, the spaces are irrelevant. Access to them is being held open, nothing more. Every sentence is repeated by the second performer, in difference: we are giving in to the different tone, the different point of view, the different impression. Emotionally neutral and subjective at the same time. Instead of communicating a dry perception, every word acquires the weight of a drop of water. Experience appears in the open interval between the different accents of seeing. The impressions communicated are not laying claim to experience; the difference between seeing and narrating is living, is experience.
The journey of listening continues. The constellation of listeners changes. We regroup around three standing performers and microphones. Just the term “Birds” is introduced. And the fluttering of wings emerges from their mouths. The rustling of the wings is intoxicating, it appears out of nowhere. It is as if our sense of hearing has materialized and has, in passing, transformed into birds. Or into sirens. Or into speeding cars.
Third stage. Questions are posed: childish questions about the being of oceans, jackhammers or shelters. An answer does not come immediately. After a moment of thinking – during which the ocean has briefly unfolded before us and the floor of the hut has been swept away – come first assertions that don’t have anything to assert. We think along, in the space between question and answer. We don’t think along by trying to catch our thinking up with what was presented – something that Gertrude Stein found so irritating about theater. We think and listen together, each person for themself. It is a language that allows a being in companionship, a being-different in shared listening. Marialena’s plea is not that we simply listen to the questions. Once we accept the modesty of the exercise and its absence of finality, her plea itself becomes superfluous, since the movement of saying-thinking is carried by the resonance of our saying-thinking.
The exercises cannot be executed without our activity. It does not take long until our listening is displaced. In this sense Marialena has accomplished even more than she thought: a nonfunctional language is not only possible; we experience it as a collective-individual experiential possibility in a relational subjectivity. Maybe this is what poetic thinking is. It is certainly the space in which the fragility of thinking can be received as a shared gift. Can.
Maître de conférences
Université Paris 8
Translation into English: Marialena Marouda
Proofreading and editing: William Wheeler
Life is here, all alone at night in the centre of the city
One of those wonderful things born incessantly in this city, something we don’t always take notice of, was a stimulating [Athens] Biennale with well-known and lesser-known artists.
I was lucky enough to participate in a very special event that not only required the participation of the public, but also, unexpectedly, affected the core of our being. A young Athenian, Marialena Marouda, who works in the fields of theater and dance in Germany, invited us to something unusual and, to some, even disturbing: she asked us to walk alone, in silence, without cell phones or music, for 45 minutes in the area around Kotzia Square, when it was already dark.
Prior to the walk, she proposed some instructions: to take our time, to follow our desire and, most importantly, to focus on being aware. Being aware of our body (balance, weight, speed) but also of all our sensations, of how our shoes touch the ground, of what we hear around us, of what we see and think, of the feelings that can emerge, such as pleasure, fear, hurriedness, alienation, happiness or curiosity. Being aware of the living organisms that we would meet in our passing, of people, animals and plants. We were asked to be aware of the temperature, the light, the pollution, the streets, the cars, the buildings, the garbage and so on. In a word, Marialena Marouda set the guidelines for what she calls the map of walking poetics, since, on top of all this, she asked us to take notes on yellow post-its, which she handed out, and which we later would stick to a whole wall of the old stock exchange building… In short, we were given a highly complex task.
And so I went out, somewhat blasé, since it happens that I often traverse these areas. Only to realize that in fact I seldom saw and experienced as intensely as I did now. The lit Acropolis against a deep blue (almost black) sky; the book fair on Kotzia Square, which I crossed passionately and vigorously while listening to the sound of the soles of my feet on the ground; the friend I met outside Campo and whom I invited enthusiastically to join me; the smells of olive oil, sausages and cheeses on an ever lively Athinas Str.; the harmless, raving mad Pakistani firing sexual insults all day long; the lit Acropolis now against a black backdrop; yellow, white, light blue and orange lights; the humidity; a bouquet of Greek flags for sale on the sidewalk; the evening briskness caressing my face; pollution not at all disturbing; the eagerness to comprehend all that I see and hear, to share, to pass on that awareness, which distances me from all my worries and becomes an almost inexplicable flood of joy. How to describe such concentrated happiness arising from a common stroll? I felt like a child listening intently, free from thoughts about what was or will be, free from fear or criticism.
Afterwards we returned to our base, from now on the temple of art and poetry, and stuck our notes onto the self-made map, continuing to play, drawing lines with colored pencils, crossing our thoughts, affects and desires.
Carving them on an Athens now transformed, which is here, at once extremely familiar and alienating, constantly seductive and fascinating.
Director of the Publishing House “Hestia Publishers and Booksellers
Englisch translation by Marialena Marouda
Proofreading by William Wheeler
Walking as Choreography
Choreography has a very strong sociopolitical implication for Marialena Marouda, because it deals with the distribution of bodies in (public) space. Choreography therefore articulates power relations, which undermine and potentially change the individual’s strive for movement. This archetypal relationship between body, space and movement was the basis of her MA Thesis-Project “Walking Exercises” in the Summer of 2011. Therein Mrs. Marouda investigated fundamental bodily practices in space (walking, orientating, remembering) in three scenes. Through setting specific tasks, which the audience can follow, she managed to mentally engage the public in the Performance. This brought about the creation of a collective space, shared by actors and spectators alike.
Prof. Dr. Gerald Siegmund
MA “Choreography and Performance”
Institute of Applied Theater Studies
Only as to see you walk; “Walking Exercises” by Marialena Marouda
What Malte Scholz is thinking - while he draws circles on the rehearsal stage of the Mousoturm Theater in Frankfurt, his feet sinking in chalk - nobody knows. It probably requires great concentration to follow the beat of the metronome, while simultaneously changing walking postures around each turn. The viewer witnesses a kind of evolution: from crawling to running, from a crooked, ape-like walk to a childish zig-zag walk and back again. Scholz shows the rhythmical variety of walking, Caroline Creutzburg the playful search for orientation with bound eyes, while Enad Marouf, the third in the gang, illustrates that it is indeed possible, to think and memorize while walking, with the help of the old children’s game: “I pack my bag and I take with me…” [...]. The piece has clever wit and makes an hour’s worth of very amusing performance.