The Museo Reina Sofía presents the fifth edition of ESTUDIO, an annual programme which brings together work in a range of formats and is the outcome of research conducted by a series of artists and researchers whose practices are tied, either directly or dialogically, to the sphere of choreography and performance. From the specific nature of curation and gazing through an experimental prism, ESTUDIO sets out to perceive artistic work as a learning process of what is as yet unknown, incorporating meaning around space — the studio as a place of work and experimentation — and essay — a commitment to opening the uncertain from its alliance with language and its functioning as proof of all that we assume we know.
Under the title In the Recess, Occurrence, this edition turns its attentions towards cavities, both mental and physical, that open in our bodies after the passing-through of other bodies. As porous beings we live in constant relations and exchange with others, not only because we are social, or because we inhabit the planet — filled with other living beings — but because we are the planet. And its history. As part of this planet-being, the proposals in this edition of ESTUDIO take on a poetic responsibility, with Ola Maciejewska, Josu Bilbao and Paz Rojo assaying material forms that are poetic, physical and anatomical, and which entail passing through knowledge knowing that results are not guaranteed.
That which surrounds us — space, people, living beings, a tongue, a language, a form of speech, its sound — produces a sensitive print in our muscles, glands, organs and all that defines us as human animals. Yet our bodies, drawing from Daisy Hildyard’s The Second Body (2017), do not end where our skin ends. The skin has long been that “inviolable frontier” which invites and pushes, where “you are encouraged to be yourself and to express yourself — to be whole, to be one”. In her book, Hildyard suggests that all living beings in fact have two bodies: the animal body demarcated by its skin and a “second body” formed by neuronal, sensitive and affective connections which we maintain with a broad network of ecosystems that involve us in the global development of the planet.
Yet what remains of everything that has left its impression on us, that has left a physical impression on our bodies? The recesses endure, those spaces where the living memory of events and the relations that surround us is encapsulated. Remaining connected to these cavities means to exercise some resistance, not understood as the action of opposing something but rather the capacity of a body to hold the weight — physical, psychological, emotional — of that which it wants to last. It is to walk with such weight, to speak with it, with the force of that desire.
What can be shared of that which remains affixed, that which one carries? To whom does it belong? The different proposals contained within this fifth edition bring to light how an awareness of the connection of the body with life, understood as an occurrence that exceeds biography (and also contains it), prompts thought around the hollows we can open via our gestures, between movements and the displacements of extremities, and also in the movement of the tongue, that organ which, in the act of speaking, comes into contact with the air. The cavity of the mouth, that recess which allows for its sound and transmission. Whoever listens perceives its sense in relation to the ear and the mind, recording, in unsuspected ways, its affective effects, the affection of how to say something in a given moment, and, when it was said previously to the person who now transmits it, a sense that can only be understood in certain contexts.
The movement of bodies progressively opens spaces along the way, accommodating hitherto unperceived forms and temperatures. It is in the recess where the possibility of other forms of presence — physical or psychological, present, past or future and undoubtedly material — occur. And it is in the occurrence of direct action where other modes of temporality are also made possible, temporalities that are hard to restrain, qualities and textures that tilt back and forth between the internal and the external, or where these notions of inside/outside are no longer opposed. In view of the above, this edition encourages participation in a shared experience to live in, for an afternoon/evening, the cavities — gestural, dance-related, linguistic — to observe how time unfolds durée réelle (real duration), a concept vitalist philosopher Henri Bergson defined as a succession of qualitative changes that penetrate without a precise contour.
ESTUDIO V. In the Recess, Occurrence, therefore, continues along the line of previous editions: Estudio I (2019), Half Said, Unsaid (2020), Go Out to Encounter. Speak to Place (2021) and Second Skin. Subcutaneous (2022). In each of these editions, the practical research of guest artists served as conceptual triggers to trace a non-linear path around the voice as materiality; the blurring of subjectivity; the willingness for dialogue with landscape, the environment, places and other living beings; and awareness of a subcutaneous historical memory or the capacity to withstand sensitive impressions. Therefore, the presentations unfurled by Maciejewska, Bilbao and Rojo will take place across two consecutive afternoons/evenings inside the spaces of the Sabatini Garden and Room 102 in the Museo, constituting an invitation to observe, think and feel together, to witness the world from the minimal and proximate gestures it contains.
Josu Bilbao sets out from the persistent orality in certain languages that are dying out to expand his work towards sculpture as a practice which produces physical and sensorial spatiality. He has carried out exhibitions and collaborations in spaces and institutions such as Bulegoa z/b (Bilbao), Halfhouse (Barcelona), etHALL (Barcelona), Carreras Múgica (Bilbao), Centro Párraga (Murcia), Centro Botín (Santander), CentroCentro (Madrid), Museo de Bellas Artes (Bilbao) and Tabakalera (San Sebastián).
Estanis Comella currently develops work in which writing and musical production converge, along with other disciplines, using live performance as a medium to create an ephemeral architectural atmosphere in spaces. He has shown and performed his work, among other spaces, in Azkuna Zentroa (Bilbao), Tabakalera (San Sebastián), Bulegoa z/b (Bilbao), CentroCentro (Madrid), Bombon Projects (Barcelona), etHALL (Barcelona), La Panera (Lleida), Carreras Múgica (Bilbao) and Azala (Lasierra).
Ola Maciejewska is a choreographer and researcher who was born in Poland and lives in Paris. In 2012, she gained an MA in Contemporary Theatre and Dance from the University of Utrecht. In addition to a number of academic explorations, Maciejewska has performed the pieces Loie Fuller: Research (2011), Bombyx Mory (2015) and Dance Concert (2018), which have been presented in contemporary dance and art contexts in Canada, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland and Taiwan. From 2016 to 2018, she was an associate artist at the centre chorégraphique national de Caen en Normandie (France).
Paz Rojo is a choreographer, dancer and researcher whose interests revolve around dance and its potential to create alternative ecologies that include debates on the ontology of dance in late capitalism and the aesthetics of dance after the end of the future. She attained a PhD in Performance Practices, specialising in Choreography, from the Stockholm University of the Arts with the research thesis The Decline of Choreography and Its Movement: a Body's (path)Way (2019). As part of this research, she published the book To Dance in the Age of No-Future (Circadian, 2020).