Sunday, 27 January 2008

Negotiating in Silence

Starting from negotiations, commonly defined as ‘discussion aimed at reaching an agreement’, Marianne and I questioned communication in silence. Her initial text emphasizes the negotiation of ‘spaces, trains, people, machines and time’. We explored the feasibility of silent negotiations during the building of a shelter. We questioned the location, how to fix the fabrics, who is taking the photographs. Between flourishing camellias and green bushes, silently working, we re-enacted Marianne’s Moroccan childhood memory, the shelter, on a cold and windy Friday morning.

This installation and de-installation can be approached from different angles; as intervention in public space, even though the act of building the temporary shelter in a hidden corner of Victoria Park was not thought in terms of attracting public attention. It provided a windless, hidden space, which allowed for an unseen intimacy for drinking coffee and tea to warm our frozen bodies. Looking through the fluttering sheets, we sat silently next to each other and after a while Marianne’s expression was telling me, that she was thinking of de-installation and leaving.

Lines could also be drawn between Maria’s sound piece, contrasting last week’s conversation and the silence in the library, a knowledge production without any spoken word and small gestures are sufficient to understand. Yet the shelter could not have been built silently without careful preparation, spotting the place, providing a list of what was needed, sketching a draft, and setting a timeframe. Indeed, these prearrangements made all the single steps realisable: how to fix the fabrics, where to bind the shelter’s top etc.

Through the conversion of this experiment, the installation of the temporary shelter, we collectively addressed modes of inhabitation of various spaces and interrogated the borders of negotiation and production by operating in silence.

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