»We talk a lot about intersectionality, and the richness of what that means within this artistic community and the space it can occupy and how it morphs and can be constantly enriched. That’s a really big aspect of the political ecology.«
There was another intervention with the local community, which grew out of a collaboration with students at the local art school – Marcela Majchrzak and Veronika Schneider – and a local refugee meeting space, Begegnungsraum. An exhibition emerged, evoking their spirit of community and friendship. The refugees and students who regularly met there made some ceramic mugs at a workshop. These mugs were offered on shelves, by tea and coffee-making facilities, beside a coffee table which Sam made, and whose surface is filled with sand (to anchor the mugs but also provide a soft, tactile surface for drawing or sculpting while talking – it is often easier to discuss difficult subjects while your gaze is averted). The space was framed by a soft, orange curtain Mo made by dyeing fabric with local madder root.
»This was a homage space to the community center,« says Sam. »We will give them back the mugs, the shelves, lighting, and the coffee table. We also made these cards containing conversation starters, and put in an Uno deck.« Adds Mo: »Everyone was obsessed with Uno in the community center, and it’s a disruption of the gallery space to have Uno there, it breaks down that formality.«
Through all of these rich interactions, born of close attention, of tuning, the pair now has a set of tools for engagement, which can enrich the next project and expand as their practice evolves. »We like this idea of tuning, which is borrowed from (writer and philosopher) Timothy Morton. We see how it can be a way of getting to know the place you’re in, and the people that are in that place at the time and how that … creates a constellation of influence and community,« explains Sam.
Mo agrees. »I think tuning will always be part of our process, our method. We talked about tuning and nesting. Both are key parts of arriving in a place that you have never been to before. We will always work site-specifically and site-responsively, and maybe creating work at the end and maybe not.«
In the meantime, they have a whole new constellation of artist associates and friends from their residency. »We’re picking up a lot of pollen on our backs,« says Sam. »The cross-pollination is really rich, coming across artists from all over, all of whom have a very strong sense of their direction, of what it is that they’re doing and why they’re doing it. We talk a lot about intersectionality, and the richness of what that means within this artistic community and the space it can occupy and how it morphs and can be constantly enriched. That’s a really big aspect of the political ecology.«
Tuning is certainly a way of identifying connections within your field of attention. But it is also a way of changing, shifting, and orienting yourself to the priorities you would like to see reflected in the wider world. Tuning in, as an antidote to turning off: We could all do with more of that.