November 2016 Goldsmiths University, London.
The symposium and performance Unwanted Proximity took place at Goldsmiths University in November 2016, being part of an ongoing conversation on archival research and collaboration. The event drew on Giulia Damiani's work on the archive of the collective Le Nemesiache and included multiform thoughts. It covered art and fiction, improvisation and text, sudden interruptions, the responsibility to respond, the face of the Other in interpersonal contact, likeness, the weight of the outside world or research, obligatory psychoses,
among other ideas. The abstract suggestion of the title, nearly an oxymoron, allowed for the creation of
unprecedented affiliations among subjects. It aimed at enacting thinking across categories.
Giulia Damiani and Barbara Mahlknecht presented new work and curatorial aspirations, while chairing a
discussion with invited speakers and the audience.
Scripted by Giulia Damiani, performer Helena Rice gave a talk on the connotations of (un)wanted proximity. She engaged the public in a conversation on the unwelcome nearness of the Other, the physical tension between bodies and the fading responsibility towards what is outside the individual; face contact dwindles in a community of strangers.
Theatricality itself, a term once used to indicate the deceptive nature of women, narrowed the gap between artifice and reality. By looking more closely at the experience of a theatrical text, the event placed the viewers in close proximity to external reality and the representation of this; as Flaubert wrote: "for anything to become interesting you simply have to look at it for a long time."
Duration came closer. Unwanted Proximity considered the prolonged time in which actor and text, researcher and research subject, artist and practice exist together. Besides the ephemeral time of
performance, the ownership of or estrangement from a role offer insights into the anxieties and perilous
identifications of artistic research. At what distance is the panorama? What gestures can bring us closer?
The project is continuing.
Unwanted Proximity with performer Helena Rice, Goldsmiths University