I was invited by the curatorial group Rivet to be responsible for the physical workouts every morning through The Wilson Exercises’ four week residency at Rogaland Kunstsenter. Rivet got in touch with me after reading a paper of mine, which I had written for a class in modern art movements. In this paper, I was proposing a school for exercising both body and mind. My idea was to push the participants’ comfort boundaries and force them to work together under physically tough conditions, and also to extend this collaboration throughout the school’s various talks, lectures and workshops.
At the time, I was high on Marxist thought and recognized how solidarity was at loosing odds against market value, especially at a time when Norway had just elected a right-wing government. And I believed art had the potential of being an autonomous vantage point from which this challenge for solidarity could be mounted. But, although I still think this quest is most important, especially after spending some time in oily Stavanger, I am less convinced of art’s ability to take on this kind of problem. Seeing how art is as firmly entrenched in the market as anything else, while its segregated world is frequented mostly by “the usual suspects.” On the other hand, I am certain that practicing and thinking about art can offer other ways of perceiving life. And I think it is in this field that The Wilson Exercises and I meet, as I understand their practice as a research of the relationship between body and mind. And of becoming in a shared environment where the more important term is “exercise”, rather than “final product.”
During the first two weeks we have worked on developing our bodies’ strength and endurance mostly through exercises in pairs with the body as our only equipment. I wanted to do this type of exercise because the workouts becomes more intimate as we have to touch and carry each other, and as such it means to get to know one another under different circumstances. These circumstances have at times been demanding and a couple of the exercises have required the participants to keep on working even though the body has been in pain. And this is a most useful experience I think; both because our own potential for enduring pain is something we often underestimate, along with the body’s power, capacity, and need for physical work. And also because overcoming this kind of strain, in the group or as a pair, is something that I believe can foster solidarity and nurture a feeling of togetherness. I have thought of these sessions then not only in terms of fostering “better bodies”, but as a chance to be, and do things together one hour every morning. Here is no object to be displayed, nor any one person highlighted. It is rather a place to meet new people, to possibly make new friends, collaborations and ideas. It is a place to exercise, and the only thing you need is a body.