• The Liminal Space - Report: Teresa Feldmann 

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    Posted: 8 February 2021

    Art Residency The Liminal Space

    Report by Teresa Feldmann

    Being involved in The Liminal Space Residency, an online Dutch-Japanese collaboration between Art Initiative Tokyo and Baltan, has allowed me to do some soul-searching. It has been a truly exceptional year and a lot has been said. Aware of the understandable corona-fatigue, how can an artist create a surprisingly playful project that captures our shared anxiety?

    Trying to meet this goal keeps me working with gusto. Our small cosy team might be physically eight hours apart yet we come together on a weekly basis on several virtual platforms. Baltan and AIT support me in my artistic investigation and I feel free to interpret liminality as I wish.

    The current liminal era, characterised by a global pandemic, is showering us with unlearning lessons. Embracing this rare opportunity to liberate my thought, I invite others along this journey of collectively untaking things for granted. I focus on care work: the surge of unpaid domestic activities now that many work and study from home. But also caring about social justice and the less-privileged, whose lives matter beyond doing the underpaid, precarious labour we depend on.

    In March 2020 I started taking screenshots on Instagram, of stories and memes, initially to comfort myself and make sense of what was going on. My screen capturing activity became especially intense at the height of BLM protests in June 2020. I experienced overwhelming ‘unlearning energy’. I couldn’t put down my phone. Once I read: “It is not your choice to determine how an oppressed group protests. If reading this makes you uncomfortable, check your privilege.” I checked my privilege and it was indeed there. And I cared.

    One of my trusted sources on IG, Blair Imani, describes herself as a ‘herstory’ historian. Herstory is “a term for history written from a feminist perspective and emphasising the role of women, or told from a woman’s point of view”. I’m increasingly aware that the history we’re taught in school textbooks is institutionalised as it only reflects a certain (narrow) perception of past events. Frankly, life is more entangled and interesting.

    Thinking of the first wave, history and herstory tell different stories. We don’t know yet how future generations learn about the COVID-19 crisis, but I speculate that the medical corporations developing the vaccine are portrayed as the protagonists who ‘solved’ the pandemic. Or highlighting the technological solutions that⁠—regardless of surveillance concerns⁠—were employed to control the spread of virus. Pupils are less likely to learn about the manifold mutual aid groups, the women homeschooling children at the expense of their careers, or the acts of solidarity within communities. The centrality of care work always gets sidelined by the ‘grand historical narrative’. I want to offer a counterbalance.

    Inspired by the herstory concept, I am working on an idea called ‘Pluristories’. Pluristories aims to contribute to a more inclusive historical understanding. If one cares enough, then what emerges is a plurality of perceptions from a wide spectrum of lived realities. I am essentially seeking for people’s experiences of coping Covid. Following my interest in gender studies, I am specifying experiencer’s gender as a marker which yields hestory, herstory, theirstory, and ultimately, ourstory in the current liminal space. Hence plural stories or Pluristories.

    By the end of this residency I hope to have gathered poignant accounts from The Netherlands, Japan, and elsewhere that inject delight and chuckle, and inspire the audience to (un)learn a thing or two. Actually ‘hearing people chuckling’ is what I’m powered by. Because I love to chuckle too.


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