This summer Rogaland Kunstsenter offers artists, creatives, and anyone interested in learning something new a daily program of exercises. The organizers “can not guarantee weight loss, improved sex life, or better sleep at night,” but during three weeks in July and August The Wilson Exercises provides a diverse program of morning exercises, workshops, dance routines, reading circles, dinner parties and other activities that focus on the relationship between body and mind, artistic processes and methods. The summer school is programmed by the curatorial collective Rivet (Sarah Demeuse and Manuela Moscoso) together with artists Anna Craycroft and Marc Vives, and every morning there is a warm-up session with physical exercise led by Andreas Breivik.
The two visiting artists, Craycroft and Vives, are in charge of many of the activities and can be viewed as coaches or timekeepers. Curator Sara Demeuse elaborates:
As a participant, you will be invited to join the artists in their ongoing artistic research, which they present through exercises that happen together with the Rogaland Kunstsenter community. Anna, for instance, works around echolocation and plans to take you to a cave to join in her experiments; Marc has had a keen interest in freemasonry and looks into its manifestations in Stavanger. The idea is to be conscious of the fact that we are all exercising, that all perspectives will contribute instead of the single artist telling you what to do, think, or feel.
We don’t present a regular work-out; it is a truly experimental work-out that is probably more about letting oneself go and co-producing an experience. What is important for us in the notion of “exercise” is that it highlights a repeated process, that it deals with maintenance and routine and so lifts the pressure of presenting a final slick product. By acknowledging maintenance, routine, schedules, and maybe even sometimes falling off the wagon, “exercise” also takes out some of the aura and glamour that has accumulated around the notion of the artistic process.
In the spring of 2013, the curators Demeuse and Moscoso started working with artists Craycroft and Vives to develop The Wilson Exercises. The summer school in Stavanger is the first step in a collaboration that will continue in the fall with a more traditional gallery exhibition based on the Stavanger iteration of the project, which will take place at RedCat in Los Angeles, before travelling to the Miró Foundation (Espai 13) in Barcelona.
The collaboration with Rogaland Kunstsenter has been long in the making and was a natural extension of the new program of the art center. Since Geir Haraldseth was appointed Director of Rogaland Kunstsenter in 2012, he has developed a program that focuses on (art) collectives, notions of community and finding new ways of working together. The Wilson Exercises resonates with those larger concerns:
“Its deliberate focus on artistic process and method made it very suited to take place as an intensive program to be shared with the Rogaland Kunstsenter community. We’re presenting a program that deals with artistic development and it seems fit to do so in this context where there aren’t too many outlets for that,” Demeuse continues.
Another motivation for arranging the summer workshops, from the art center’s point of view, was the desire to stimulate new ideas and impulses during a period where mostly everyone in Norway is on vacation and the whole country lies dormant. There is a general belief that exercise brings improvement, and that one can attain a concrete sense of mastery and achievement through physical activity, a feeling that should not be underestimated in our digital, multitasking times. Dinner parties and outings create a social setting for creative exercises and academic discussions.
The Wilson Exercises certainly aims at developing certain methods and questions in depth but it certainly won’t necessarily achieve a smooth, rising arch of improvement. The risk you are taking when joining The Wilson Exercises is that you may get stuck, need to find other ways of doing something, and that the most interesting experience will actually happen when you are doing the exercise the wrong way… We’re using the gym and gym language as a metaphor, but do so to also question and undermine it. We are incredibly fortunate to be able to bring such an open-ended program to the Kunstsenter. We’re convinced it’s a risk worth taking for them.
To create a consciousness around one’s own processes as an artist, to create, think, and learn in a similar fashion as one does through physical exercise, to create a rhythm and routine in one’s work and at the same time break existing patterns and think in new ways, both together with others and alone, are all elements the curators believe can lead to artistic development. Overall, The Wilson Exercises are looking at contemporary artistic working, making and thinking as ‘exercising.’ We at CAS are looking forward to following the processes of all involved, and to see how long the artists’ and curators’ bodies can actually sustain daily morning gymnastics.
To get information on the daily program visit The Wilson Exercises facebook event, here. The program is posted one day in advance, and all public events are free and open to all.
To learn more about the Rivet curatorial collective visit their website, here.
To learn more about the artists, visit their websites: