A performative installation as part of the exhibition „Hieroglyphic Memory: Surveying Bangka through Narrative Trace“ – 謎樣的記憶 : 從敘事軌跡探視艋舺,
curated by Chun-Chi Wang/IDOLONSTUDIO, 23.-25.12.2016, Bopiliao Historical Block, Taipei, Taiwan

bösediva creates palimpsests, three-dimensional texts from texture, from the materiality of everyday items taken out of their cultural context and placed in a new aesthetic context.

For PROCESSING\BANGKA bösediva has explored the Bangka district of Taipei, collected objects, materials, studied people, rituals, patterns, traditional practices and techniques. Everything the artists found and learned will become part of the work. Everything can, everything will be processed, over the course of three days, three hours a day. The process of this performance is much like the emergence, the formation of a city, of a neighborhood: seemingly controlled, but ultimately beyond our control.

Situated at the boundaries of Performance Art and Land Art, PROCESSING\BANGKA is about establishing a new order which does and does not make sense – much the same way poetry tries to make sense by establishing its very own rules of language. The work is about the constant production and deletion of images blurring and merging into each other, about the processes of creation and destruction at the same time.

The artist group bösediva from Berlin invites spectators to find beauty in chaos and absurdity, often in huge intricately designed spaces, and aims at giving them autonomy to design their own experience. Since 2009, bösediva has presented a rich body of performative work in Germany and internationally.

KONZEPT: Robin Detje, Elisa Duca / PERFORMERIN: Elisa Duca / PHOTOS: Vivy Hsieh / Dank an: Kai Marchal, Yung Hsiang Chuang

Eine Produktion von bösediva und IDOLONSTUDIO. Dank für die großzügige finanzielle Unterstützung an den Regierenden Bürgermeister von Berlin, Senatskanzlei – Kulturelle Angelegenheiten und das Goethe-Institut Taipei.

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An interview with bösediva for the catalogue of the exhibition, edited by WHITE FUNGUS, Taipei 2016:

Q Your performative installations often deal with naturally arising contradictions in art, theatre, and society generally. You state that you don’t want to merely represent these conflicts but actually have them play out. What is the role of the audience in this work?

A Our work is probably not so much about conflict and contradictions. Conflict, that is from the world of drama. Conflict demands a resolution. Or at least catharsis, if resolution is not to be had. Something dramatic that makes us all feel better.

And doesn’t the term “contradiction” always imply that something is wrong? That something must be righted? “Cognitive dissonance” is something we are more interested in. How can we endure cognitive dissonance, this nagging feeling that something doesn’t fit? How can we live with this feeling without having to label what we see as “right” or “wrong”, how can we suppress the impulse to correct it through drama and catharsis? Can we even find beauty in something that looks or feels “wrong”?

So if our work has an element of seduction at all, then it is in us trying to seduce people to endure cognitive dissonance. To change their own perspective. To then change it again. We always invite people who come to see our work to move freely in the space. To step up as close to the art as they like. To leave whenever they like and come back another day if they like.

We don’t have a “role” for our audience, we don’t even think of the people who come to see our work as an “audience” – as people who passively watch while we try to meet their expectations. We offer a process. This process is densely layered and charged with meaning – for us. People are free to see in it, whatever it is they see, and assign their own meaning to it. Freedom can be frustrating, of course.

Q In preparation for this exhibition you both spent more than one month in Taiwan developing work in response to the local conditions of Bangka. How would you describe your experience in Taiwan compared to your past site-specific projects, including those you undertook in Bangalore, India and Barcelona, Spain?

A Taipei is fascinating. So much beautiful cognitive dissonance here! In the subway everybody seems to be on tranquilizers. No loud voices, no transgression, people line up endlessly to be on the right side of the escalator. Then, in the street, there is no more politesse. People get in each other’s way and seem totally oblivious to each other. When pedestrians cross the street at a green light they still have to fear to be run over by a taxi or scooter. All the boundaries we knew are shifting here, evaporating. And other boundaries mysteriously appear in the most surprising places.

There seems to be no boundary between the sacred and the mundane. The temple has a kitchen, a copy machine and can serve gods of various beliefs. It is more like a multifunctional service center with spiritual leanings. People will pray there, and in the subway they will meditate just as rapt hunched over their smartphones with the latest moba game. What a strange world. It all feels so wrong to us, because we are stuck in our own culture. But we cherish “strange” and “wrong”. You are very alert when you are a stranger.

Q As a duo you both have backgrounds in theatre but have come to work in the contemporary art world. What are the advantages and limitations of working in this sphere?

A The visual arts allow for a level of abstraction the theatre world rejects. Theatre artists try to seduce the audience to come together and share a certain emotion, a certain opinion. To feel to be in the right together, to feel the right thing together. The rejection of abstraction and the fixation on communal narrative were key for us in leaving the theatre. Then we had seasoned theatre people see our work and angrily tell us: “But you are not telling us what we are supposed to think!” That’s when we knew we were on the right track.

But in the world of the visual arts there is the fetish of the art object of course. Here we enter the narrative of commodification and design. Design is the death of art. If something looks like design, feels like design, tastes like design, smells like design and doesn’t demand more of you than design it cannot be art. So we always try to make sure our work is dirty enough, soiled by the residue of the incalculable. Unfinished, stuck in the process. That is why we like our work to be durational. It adds the element of toiling. Sweat.