- Ian Mashiah, London, 2003
- Picker Piece of new art, Kingston Guardian Newspaper, November 20 2003
- Play your part in living art, Richmond Times, November 18 2003
- Dr. Jeanne E. Rehnig, Berlin, Cultural Historian, March 2005
- Access all areas, The Scotsman, Edinburgh, February 4 2006
- Live art drops its anchor at ... , The Scotsman, Edinburgh, February 8 2006
- transitstation is a concept, by Ian Stephens, March 2006
about Dagmar I. Glausnitzer-Smith
I have known the artist for over thirty years. In all her work – painting, sculpture, video, photography, installation and performance art – there has always been a questing for and a questioning of what denotes a passage through life. This has chrystallised into meditations on the pastr and memory, challenging perceptions of the ‘Now’, and most clearly seen in a recent installation (‘Fate Room’) and the exhibition transits station. It was characterized by the apparent chaos of random objects and distilled actions held in a defining calm; the baggage of the past considered serenity. One of the key aspects in her performance art workshops T.a.T. and her work is not merely the province of the archive: She provokes thought of what is immanent in her performance pieces which speak with passion and wit of the moment in which she resides.
Ian Mashiah - former Programming Executive, BBC Television London, 2003
transitstation London 2003
Picker Piece of new art
transitstation, Stanely Picker Gallery
20 November 2003
by Yvonne Gordon
With the current trend towards performance art with venues such as Tate Modern staging dance shows, it seems the watchword for Galleries these days is diversity.
And nowhere has tzaken the plunge more than the Picker Gallery, Kingston, with its latest exhibition transit station which opens today (November 20 ) with Sarah Hung and Nanna Lysholt-Hansen from Kingston University demonstrating performance art techniques alongside artists from other London Colleges and abroad.
Charles Ryder, curator at the Picker Gallery, said artists would merge dance, theatre, music and asrt in innovative ways during the exhibition.
“ Performance and live art are a form of artistic expression which emerged in the 1970’s,” said Mr. Ryder. “The practise is based on the idea of spontaneous live gestures and body movement within a defined space are as valid as conventional paintings, sculpture and film as a means of creativity. Early pioneers: this include Yoko Ono and the fluxus movement.”
Tomorrow there is a theatre performance by Gina Landor with her one-woman show, Men do not go to war over women and Quisling Physical Theatre performing scenes from MacBeth with Kingston University Drama students. This is followed by Rupert Cheek playing Philip Glass solo piano, plus Richard Evans and Chloe Leaper performing Faust’s Fugue for electronics and voice. Carlos Skeete improvising on the flute with
Blues Band So Long Angel concluding the preceedings.
During the show the gallery space is being transformed into a dramatic and changing ‘roomscape’. The resulting art seems to capture the setting for a variety of unusual events.
Also exhibiting their work is Guy Allott, a graduate from Central St. Martin’s and the Royal College and Dagmar Glausnitzer-Smith, the artistic director of transit station is a graduate of Goldsmiths and the Royal College.
This article: Kingston Guardian Newspaper, 20 November 2003
Play your part in living art
Review transitstation London 2003
Anyone who would like to be a part of a living artwork should go along to the Stanley Picker Gallery where they can form part of a changing scene. Under the title transit station, a structure of changing levels and platforms, carrying orginal artworks by the two Fellows of the Gallery, is being created with the aim of transforming the space into an exciting and changing landscape. This ‘art structure’ will be the setting for a variety of unusual events by artists who work in the fields of live art, performance art, theatre and music.
The purpose is to create an exhibition which visitors and performers alike become part of the show. The idea is the brainchild of Dagmar Glausnitzer-Smith. For Dagmar the exhibition is a culmination of her two-year Picker Fellowship during which she has contributed to the Fine Art Department at Kingston University.
The event runs from Thursday to Saturday (22) with live events from 4 pm – 8 pm each day. Thursday’y events will include new performance art work by Dagmar and a whole range of artists. Friday, Novermber 21, is theatre day with a special appearance by Gina Landor performing excerpts from her one woman show Men do not go to war over women. Quisling Physical Theatre with students from Kingston University Drama department will also perform scenes from Macbeth. Saturday (22) is music day with a broad selection of music from classical to avant garde and a closing performance from the Blues Band So long Angel.
This article: Richmond Times, 18 November 2003
transitstation Berlin 2005
Translated by Dagmar Glausnitzer-Smith and Rosemary Strang
from original text by Dr. Jeanne E. Rehnig, Berlin 2005. (Cultural Historian)
transitstation - action in art in action; no subtitle or title could be more pertinent to this fluid, live-art event which takes place continuously over two days.The transit station concept was originally conceived by conceptual artist Dagmar Glausnitzer-Smith and premiered in London in 2003. It was transported to Berlin in 2005 – showing at Gebauer Höfe in Charlottenburg.
At the cutting edge of curatorial practice , transit station explores new territories in the field of inter-disciplinarity – melting down and interweaving the way that artists are encountered by the audience and vice versa. On entering the space, viewers are not invited to acclimatise themselves – the conceptual framework of transit station unsettles the viewers’ perception, questioning their expectations.
Action in art is art in action; after a few minutes, image-fragments between the scaffolding, dislocated sounds, smells, associations, pull the viewer into the happening and s/he becomes part of the totalkunstwerk. Glausnitzer-Smith revisits elements of Jean Jacques Lequeu’s philosophical theories – developing aspects of his visions into a three dimensional architectural system, which translates as a metaphorical framework. transitstation is an interdisciplinary experiment where unsynchronised actions take place – developing their self-generated, authentic actions. They converge - influencing each other, manipulating each other and, on occasions, disrupting each other. Above all, they homogeneously expand their individual potentiality. Without a doubt all this leads to the evident dialogue between the visitors of transitstation - the transitions between the actions become amorphous. transit station is a micro cosmos and an artistic metaphor for aspects of reality; a dynamic coming and going, where stillness is impossible and unbearable; a station platform situation of arrivals and departures.
It could be envisaged that a long-term film documentation for the ever-changing platforms of transit station – takes witness of change in order to specify the cultural impact. This could become a parallel project to the continuing travels of transit station and a documentation of the individual artists’ endeavours within the project. transitstation as a project is ambitious and courageous and has already become part of a series of events around the globe, through continents, cultures and time.
Dr. Jeanne E. Rehnig, Berlin
transitstation Edinburgh 2006
Access all areas
Ocean Terminal, Leith, today and tomorrow
National Review of Live Art
Glasgow, 8-12 February
Why do we have such a problem with live art? It’s been around for over 40 years, this avant-garde/performance art thing, and yet still we approach it with fear and suspicion. The performance artists themselves, meanwhile, are more active than ever. This month they’re everywhere: at Glasgow Tramway for the National for the National Review of Live Art, at Edinburgh Royal Scottish Academy for Body Parts II (17-19 February) and, most unexpectedly, at Leith’s Ocean Terminal shopping centre for TransitStation.
You can guarantee, though, that half the population, without seeing anything, will write the lot of it off as a load of pretentious indulgence. Is this just ignorance fuelled by journalistic prejudice? Perhaps so. Even in its low - key in - augural weekend last year, the Body Parts festival attracted 1,700 visitors, some travelling from as far as Inverness and Aberdeen, and that to a gallery hardly known for wild experimentation. One elderly woman wandered in by accident and liked what she saw so much she returned to see a different performance by the same artist the next day. She was heard to whoop with delight.
Meanwhile, in Glasgow, the National Review of Live Art - the longest-running festival of its kind in Europe - has shifted camp from the Arches to Tramway because it was finding it increasingly hard to fit in the audience. So why does the impression persist of an inward-looking world where the abstruseness is considered an attribute and only the initiated need apply?
“ That image is just so hackneyed and untrue,” says Nikki Milican, director of the five-day NRLA and its sister festival, New Territories. “ Live Art in the UK right now is one of the most popular art forms. It’s on a real high. I just look at the audience coming through the doors - it’s extremely popular. Our move from the Arches wasn’t taken lightly, but we do have to be responsible about growing audiences, which contradicts people saying this is a minority art form. If people want to believe that, they always will.”
Their prejudices are fuelled, however, by the way live art is sold. So much of the writing that accompanies it is appalling. Art schools encourage their students to justify themselves in the most hollow language and that language only finds its way into the brochures that the rest of us have to make sense of. This is made worst by artists failing to realise that what interests them - for all the right reasons - isn’t necessarily what captures the imagination of an audience.
For this reason, sections of the 50-page programme for the combined NRLA and New Territories festivals might have been designed to put people off. What are we to make of the polish performers who lament the passing of” art whose main value lies in a modernistic background or Dadaistic perfidy”? How about the artist who claims to achieve a “ simple outward aesthetic as well as unconsciously confronting the id”? Can no one tell us if we’ll actually like it? Although the writing is obscure, the work itself might be perfectly thrilling and a few clues would help.
Read between the lines, for example, in a blurb about the NRLA’s French Mottershead, an ever-expanding exhibition of photographs of local people, and it sounds as if it’ll be quite interesting-as does having your own photograph taken to be added to the display. But do you care that you and your fellow spectators will be, in the words of the programme,” equally present and equally participating” in the event?
Of course you don’t - the idea is too abstract to mean anything. It’s the same when Natalie Bikoro tells us that her show in the transitstation weekend is concerned with “misconceptions about the role of the viewer and the performer”. Scrub that line out and her video based performance about the mystery illness encephalitis lethargica sounds a lot more intriguing.
To be fair, the transit station information generally takes a “less is more” approach, tantalising us with the straight - forward promise of “airborne sculpture” and “live analogue synthesisers”. That’s the way curator Rosemary Strang likes it. “ Jargon is off-putting,” she says.” It makes it a closed world and it’s one of the things I particularly dislike. Words like ‘inter-territorialisation’ don’t need to exist at all. It’s really off-putting.”
If live art has a reputation for being inaccessible, it’s nothing to do with Strang. This weekend, Leith shoppers have a straight choice between a multiplex movie, a walk round the HMS Britannia and two 12-hour sessions of live art in a top floor storage room. Forty artists from 18 countries will stage everything from electronica to fashion in a travelling “international exhibition and event” that has previously touched down in London and Berlin.
“The idea of making it an event helps with the problem of it seeming pretentious or inaccessible,” says Strang. “ We’re hoping to put poetry readings over the Tannoy after 8 pm when customers will still be coming into the cinema. The work does include things that you have to think about, contemplate and find the meaning for yourself, but the context means it’s fine if people want to come along and have a laugh.”
Collin Greenslade, exhibitions co-ordinator at the RSA, explains that his three-day Body Parts event focuses on the work of visual artists and is consistent with the gallery’s broader programme of more traditional work. “ People assume the RSA building to be a museum of historic art, and they don’t expect to see something so avant-garde,” he says.
“Some of the work is difficult - there’s a lot this year that deals with fear and violence-but none of it is frightening or dangerous and a lot is very gentle.”
Everything in the sphere of live art, the three curators agree, is up for grabs. “ The beauty of live art is you can’t define it absolutely,” says Milican, whose NRLA includes lectures, dance, theatre, exhibitions and DJ sets. “And the beauty of the National Review is that it refuses to define itself. The umbrella allows me to anything. There are no rules.”
This article: The Scotsman, Edinburgh, Saturday February 4 2006
Live art drops its anchor at Edinburgh's Ocean Terminal
Laura Cameron Lewis
It's the first weekend of February. Surrounded by the glow of high-street window displays, you enter TransitStation through a small door inside the buzzing Ocean Terminal shopping centre. In sharp contrast to the complex of escalators and cinema screens, the event takes place in the very guts of the building, a pillared industrial space dramatically backlit by a long plate-glass window overlooking the Forth.
Already in full flow, a man moulds a large lump of clay with his hands, destroying and remaking shapes in the light from a video projector. Textures spill across his torso, animating the musculature of both clay and man, while simultaneously another performance plays in another part of the room, challenging the autonomy of the clay-modeller.
The place could be compared to a building site; works are in the process of construction, finding form amid the towering blocks of scaffolding, which comprise the main artwork and compose the space. Literally and metaphorically, the skeletal structures become vehicles for performances or spectator vantage points.
The theme of travelling is integral to the experience, the audience pick their own perspective and move through fashion shows, films, classical music or sit on the sculptures scattered around in various pools of light. It's initially disorientating, but over the passage of time the mind settles in the chaos and begins constructing narrative.
The night is chilly but with hot soup, curries and free beers on the go, the atmosphere here is warm and it feels like being in a local pub. The shared experience is given weight by the arrival of spectators drawn in by curiosity on their way to the cinema. Reassuringly they stay, and laugh heartily throughout an anarchic performance where a man in a pink fright wig and ludicrous make up sings karaoke and plays jazz trumpet improvising around the objects in the room.
The sheer scale of the event is invigorating. In the 24 hours that TransitStation occupied the Ocean Terminal, more than 40 international artists, from the accomplished to the emerging, collaborated to create a two-day event of innovative performance and experience, curated by Total Kunst's Rosemary Strang and Aaron McCloskey.
Despite having big names on its bill, artistic directors Dagmar Glausnitzer-Smith and Charles Ryder insist that Transit Station is purposefully free of programme notes or biographies. No names and no histories are announced, nothing canonised before it has taken place. It works, and audiences experience the event on their own terms with no histories, no introductions, no instructions, no in-jokes and certainly no pretension.
If you discover it out of context, then it belongs to you. Designed to generate the experience of community and discovery without prejudice, TransitStation communicates no matter what your knowledge of the artform.
And these kind of experiences are growing in popularity and number - Body Parts at the Royal Scottish Academy, the CCA's live art festival, even club nights such as Death Disco and Club Noir. Live art has arrived as a recognised and followed art form in Scotland.
If you missed TransitStation, you should get to the Tramway in Glasgow this week for the National Review of Live Art, where you can see moving and thought provoking performances from DJ Franko B, La Ribot, FrenchMottershead, Ron Athey, one-man subversive thinktank Richard Dedomenici, and Scotland based artists Sarah Potter and Kate Stannard.
You probably won't find Crazy Frog blaring over the tannoy, or surreal window shopping, but perhaps you might give in to the lure of discovery and experience the taste of live art for yourself, without any concern for validation from art historians.
This article: thescotsman.scotsman.com
transitstation is a concept
Ian Stephens, 2006
transitstation is a concept. The structure of the event that contains it is simple – get a building – not a gallery but a space. Set up temporary stations – scaffolding is ideal – to establish positions for performance-art, music, fashion, film, video, sculpture in process, Theatre, Modern Dance, Poetry, Sound Installations. Make links with partners in the host city – so far Berlin, London and Edinburgh and provide technical support in lighting and projection.
Established artists aren’t banned but Dagmar Glausnitzer-Smith and Charles Ryder are not really interested in the star-ratings of their colleagues. The event organizers are looking for artists active in many mediums but all with a feel for tuning-in to the opportunities offered by a two days non-stop exhibition as event.
Scotland’s transitstation 2006 was in Edinburgh’s historical harbour area Leith, at the Ocean Terminal Shopping Mall on the 4th and 5th of February 2006 – an ideal space within a space. Rose Strang and Aaron McCloskey acted as Scottish team-leaders. They negotiated an ideal venue – a bare concrete attic, like an extra floor in the parking area but without cars and with windows to the sea-pools of the docks below. You go through the buzz of heavy-duty selling and suddenly enter a space which has its own busy-ness.
Let’s go back to how it started for me. Rose enthused about her experience taking part in [transit station] Berlin. Her story suggested that this was an opportunity to meet other folk from different parts of Europe who didn’t mind chancing their arm. It seemed that a piece of work, still forming or with an element of risk was a better proposal than a tried and tested piece, rehearsed and remade.
And Leith was good for me because it’s along the historical trading route from my home town of Stornoway. The centres of commerce shifted as the herring boats, curers and fisher-girls moved around the British Isles, following the migration of herring. So I thought of a work filmed in an extant salt-cellar in the Sail Loft building, Stornoway. The former Customs House was being renovated to provide housing. I was leading an Arts Project to document history and memories linked to the building and make works, some sited close to the structure and some existing only in digital media. I wrote a short play on the inner lives and ambitions of 3 herring girls, The Sked Crew. (“Sked “is the Stornoway slang for herring.) I had the idea of filming the 3 actors in the tiny cellar which used to be the salt store for the curing. So we could now take the film and show it further along the old route, in Leith.
But there had to be some transmutation to make the export worthwhile. In An Lanntair arts centre, Stornoway I’d worked with Norman Chalmers, a musician who often works in theatre, to see how the tensions within the 15 minute play could translate into the silent movie form. The original work had been directed by Alison Pebbles, also a film-maker, as a Theatre Hebrides production. Later we’d played with the projection of extracts from the 15 min drama, on the high wall at An Lanntair, as a trailer to the play the audience would shortly see. Norman was stationed below the screen and improvised to it, on concertina, rather than the traditional piano. We thought this was worth trying for the full length.
Then there was the imagery of netting needles – “dark dark nets on their knees….. they were fast, skilled, skilled at their job, no skulking then…..”
The phrases come from the memories of people who had lived in the Sail Loft/Net Loft building or visited the loft to see the needle-bones flash or catch the gossip. I found that Alex Patience, actor and theatre-director by trade, and grown up in Fraserburgh on Scotland’s East Coast, had helped to mend her father’s nets. So we talked about her view of the sea, as one of the rare girls who had shared a bunk with her skipper-father. It contrasted with my own sea-career which was mainly onshore, organising marine rescue from the Stornoway Co-ordination Centre. I do have a knowledge of water, including the North Sea crossing and the Pentland Firth but mainly as a leisure-sailor – vastly different from the day-in/day-out business of being responsible for 6 or so livelihoods on a working boat.
We devised a proposal – Alex would find the family netting needles and I would make a poem with the rhythms of the sea in a quest for the details of memories.
We reckoned that the text should be projected and I would be able to see the pace of it and speak it or just mouth it silently, like memory coming and going. So Alex would hear the rhythms ebb and flow. But planning beyond that would run the risk of losing the freedom to explore - the risk and trust that makes transitstation special.
We arrived in Leith with our basic equipment and props. The chaos that met you in a babble of electronics as you came out of the top floor of the mall was soon found to be cleverly scheduled. We were allocated our slots, for each day and negotiated working stations. A little discussion on where the audience would stand and what we needed. And then there was the team meeting on Friday night – why we were here, what the mission was and really an exhortation to take interest in each other’s work – rehearsal time is over – it starts and it doesn’t stop, every event must flow into every other.
And it did. Our team came in early to check the DVD’s and then there was music. And dance. And projection. And improvised piano, electronic music relating to the laws of physics. A woman wearing a velvet head-dress/blindfold writing on one of her legs from the toes up. A re-enaction of a fable – if a woman eats an apple, whilst combing her hair, she can see the face of her next lover in the mirror.
Only the courtesy was extended to men for this Saturday morning to break from their shopping spree.
There wasn’t a huge number of visitors – an admission fee had to be charged due to the lack of funding from official sources. But there was a trickle and you began to get some names and accents to the host of visiting artists. Over the weekend the visitors did accumulate and the relationships built-up. Our team engaged with Rita Rodgriguez from Galicia. She’d shown us records of her work which is often about joining one area to another. A cup at the end of tense string left dangling to find a curious listener, passing by a monastery. A chalk-line leaving a temporary connection. She joined with Alex in another improvisation, one woman at each end of a piece of cordage, knot-dancing to a soundtrack driven by strong Uist winds. The waiting women on both ends of another trading route.
So how did it work? I’d say there was a comparison with the Triangle Trust approach to International workshops. I was lucky enough to experience Comhhla, Triangle’s partnership with Taigh Chearsabhagh, the North Uist arts centre. In these workshops you are encouraged to come without too fixed a plan. For me in both Comhla and transitstation, the most interesting work had a freestyle element – adapting to the space and the ambience. There were many good sound pieces in the transitstation event and many good videos. Then there was Nanna Lysholt-Hansen, the artist with both feet in one leg of a pair of tights, moving all the way, with pain and humor, responding to all the different sounds which were met along the way and outside to the upper floor. Dancing her way to the women’s toilet and gaining the curiosity of the shoppers who had maybe not even noticed till then that an international live-art event was taking place in the mall. Yes, something unique happened.
And over the 2 days there were plenty such moments. An expert pianist playing from a projected score. It was mustard-seed, scattered random and sprouting notes from sheet-music. Cyclists in hoods turning this way, that way, responding to simple signals sent to them: right left or centre. Pedaling amongst us and reminding us that our own brains and movements are geared the same way.
So if you or your team were there for most of the duration you gained a real sense of being in a ‘trans-Europe trading event’. And how did our pieces fit in? Not qualified to say. But from the resulting film made by Lewisman Neil MacConnell, something strange in the exploration of memory did in fact happen. We all thought the silent-movie was worth installing in a library of lost stuff. Lost dialogue in this case or simply translated to gesture and music.
transitstation was the opportunity to test something with a strong localized basis in a creative trans-European forum. The next transitstation event will probably be in Poland. If I’m invited again, I wanna be in that number and I think everyone in our team felt the same.
written by Ian Stephens, March 2006