spring* meeting 2023: WE WORK WITH THE MATERIAL THAT RESISTS US, 17–22 May 2023

For this years spring* meeting, taking place 17 – 22 May 2023, we turn our attention to the form art takes and the techniques and techne within and between works of art. In this way we extend our ongoing conversation around the subject(s) of art with a turn towards the object in its making, impossible or otherwise.

Most operations of an artwork home in on the subjectivities invested or produced in its genesis, in the contextual variance of its reception or the lifestyle of its practice. The moment of its emergence, when something third comes into existence, falls outside the purview. Something is made and released to work or act on its own account, and this isn’t autonomy. It is the power of an object in its formal mode of existence to individuate and enmesh us; makers, recipients and things.

For now we won’t adjudicate on the best word with which to adequate this power. There are multiple terms, often contradictory, in which we understand objects of art to act of their own accord. Words turning in low orbit around the object include craft, material, metabolic, gesture, gimmick, queer form, failure, surface, repetition, overreading, virtuoso, (im)permanence, enskilment and task.

“We work with the material that resists us,” the filmmaker duo Huillet and Straub said, and they meant people, dialects, places, texts, music and more, in struggle with political ideas. The word ‘material’ still haunts us by its potent vagueness, heterogeneity and extent: what does it mean to allow material to direct and render the conceptual maneuver of a work-to-be secondary? How do skills and techniques passed from artworks foil the standardization of memory and commodification of preindividual potential? Listening and watching is then like recalling and performing that same journey taken in the company of another, virtuoso or user, retracing and reinvesting one’s steps at once, a metabolic cycle.

How to understand technique and virtuosity without reviving or replacing modern constructions of the genius? Can we instead engage with the material, attending to its deeply implicated existence, its emergent form, its position, as well as its legacies and the social histories ingrained within it?

William Pope. L. once stated, “One of the problems with time-based endurance performances like my crawl works is they have this marvelous creamy nougat center operating inside the performer, and this space is unfortunately not available in the images and mythologies that surround the work. So, typically, the surface of the work becomes the life of the work.” In the modes of existence of the work there resides a polyphony of times irreducible to the time of the work alone; time as a melting object for the performer, and the times of the work’s reception and transmission. Does the dissonance in material cause the work to resurface after its trace?

If we ask what is formally inscribed by means of technique and repetition, we may want to consider the passage from a socio-aesthetic practice to an artwork qua object. Art is commodified like any other object. And art also turns commodities into materials for new art objects. How to redeem social power from the commodity form of the artwork (technique) and its political economy? Could we look for ways to de-alienate the community whose work has been expropriated by individual authors? We are thinking here of the pauperization of the collective wealth of bodily techniques and dance idioms when they begin to circulate under registered licenses and trademarks.

In times where de-skilling, or the skill of the generalist, is the cool stance for both the precarious artist and neoliberal entrepreneur, how can we defend rehearsal and the time of apprenticeship outside of mastery? Conservatism invests in craft minus experiment, which it devalues. How can the valences of craft and creativity be redeployed against the conservative reproduction of stable art forms with their lifestyle values?

spring* meeting in 2021 and 2022 departed from the artist’s subject position in order to question single authorship and probe collectivities. Together with Jackie Karuti, Subversive Film (Reem Shilleh and Mohanad Yaqubi), Pirate Care (Valeria Graziano, Marcell Mars and Tomislav Medak), Christine de Smedt, Oxana Timofeeva, Kate Briggs, and Georgia Sagri, we asked: How can art avoid a sedimentation of the individual identity? Studying the multiple forms by which artists redistribute their subjectivities, we sought out intercession, translation, appropriation, forgery, ventriloquy, bastardization, piracy, collectivism and theft.

If these conversations had brought our collective attention to settle on the strategies of self-consciously forged identity, in the absence of that reified individual, the commoditised artist or objectified other, it is perhaps unsurprising to find here a desire again for the techniques of making and unmaking art.

For this edition of spring* meeting we wanted to invite an artwork as a guest, and to this end we will be hosting the artwork MOMENT 2 (2022) by Deborah-Joyce Holman as a video installation throughout the week. The film, nine hours in length, stars artist and performer Rebecca Bellantoni who tirelessly recites excerpts from Shirley Clarke’s charged 1967 film Portrait of Jason in real time. Holman’s reinterpretation offers a meditation on the politics of portraiture and refusal, one that bridges our concerns from the previous meeting to these questions of form and technique to which we now turn. The work will have its own dedicated space and we will collectively engage in conversation in its presence. Deborah will join us remotely to continue the discussion and we will also present related works.

With the New York based psychoanalyst Jamieson Webster we want to think about the impossible status of the object. In psychoanalysis the object is a polysemy: partial, total, internal, external, cause, excess, remainder, organ, feminine,... a. Webster reminds us that Lacan said that the object is a failure. The failure of the object shifts or deflects the stabilization that work calls for. How does a failing object take form? Is this another way of asking, what is an aesthetic object? Webster’s writing considers psychoanalysis as the challenge to restful thought. Webster will complement her psychoanalytic lecture on the object as supplementary with notes on some artists, notably Roe Ethridge, John Currin, and Kyle Thurman, and talk about them in particular as male artists. Additionally, Webster will help us read Lacan on Las Meninas.

We are also delighted to bring music to the fore in this edition through the work of Simon Løffler. Løffler’s body of music can be described as a departure from music composed for new instruments and agencements between humans and objects/machines toward musicalizing the body in behavior. Observing soundless animal movement, such as the flapping of a butterfly’s wings or the motion of elephant’s eyelashes, Løffler began to experiment with extending his body with appendages that constrain movement, but incidentally give off unobtrusive rhythms and music sensed between gesture and sound. These performances of human bodies coming closer to animals without exactly imitating their musical ethos are driven by a problem Løffler poses to the tradition of Western music, which seeks to expand itself by way of new instrumental techniques, new materials and resulting forms. Is it possible to subtract instrumental specializations upon which contemporary music composition rests and musicalize the body tout court, without the historical mediation of musical figures? Simon will walk us through his experiments with extensions and constructions of body parts and the steps through which his compositional habits became unhinged.

Coming from Rio De Janeiro where she runs an open-access dance school (Escola Livre de Danças da Maré) in the favela Maré, Lia Rodrigues will let us into the choreographic processes of her latest works (Furia, 2018, Encantado, 2021). Working with “quite limited material” (Rodrigues) in time-rich and money-poor productions, Rodrigues involves dancers as a fiery collective that quilts rhythms, bodies and fabrics. A coiling ritual, non-linear frieze, shape-shifting procession or dreamwork… we are eager to learn about the craft of a magnanimous hand that sparks such intense and transformative collective improvisation in the wake of Bolsonaro’s regime.


Reservations: contactpaf@gmail.com

The price for the seminar is:

– individuals 20€ per night

– institutions 25€ per person

Other expenses include a 12€ annual membership and 14€ per day for three meals prepared in our exquisite kitchen. There will be an excellent team of cooks who will need help from all of us. We can only accept payments in cash (or French chèques), so bring it along (there is an ATM in the village)

In the spirit of helping people with fewer resources attend the meeting, we will experiment with using a sliding scale to raise money collectively. Beginning with a baseline of 182€ (20€ + 14€ x 5, plus 12€ annual membership), we encourage those who can afford it to pay up to 270€ per person. Even if you can pay 20€ more than the baseline, it will help someone else. If you would like to participate in Spring Meeting but do not have the financial conditions to do so, please let us know and we will do our best to make it possible.

PAF asks all event participants to consider the least environmentally harmful means of transport available in coming here. Thank you for your collaboration.

PAF gets very full these days, sometimes overly, so book early, we’d like you to be there.

From the organizers,

Andrea Rodrigo, Bojana Cvejić, Nikhil Vettukattil, Stefa Govaart


Deborah-Joyce Holman is a multidisciplinary artist based between London, UK, and Basel, Switzerland. Their work has recently been shown at Oregon Contemporary (2023); Galerie Gregor Staiger, Zurich (2022); Cordova, Barcelona (2022); Istituto Svizzero, Palermo (2022); schwarzescafé, Luma Westbau, Zurich (2022); Sentiment, Zurich (2022); Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2022); Centre Culturel Suisse, Paris (2022); Last Tango, Zurich (2022); Unfinished Live, The Shed, New York City & House of Electronic Arts, Basel (2021), among others.

From 2020-2022 she worked at East London arts organisation Auto Italia, first as Associate Director then as Associate Curator. They are the founding director of 1.1, a platform for early-career practitioners in arts, music and text-based practices, with an exhibition space in Basel, Switzerland, which ran 2015 - 2020. Deborah-Joyce has curated the 2018 and 2019 annual group exhibitions for the arts and music festival Les Urbaines, Lausanne, entitled ...and their tooth, finest gold and Cinders, sinuous and supple respectively, presenting newly commissioned works by over 15 international artists.

Simon Løffler’s works range from intimate set-ups to enigmatic constructions, embracing traditional instruments (transformed in various ways) as well as novel instrumental concepts.

Løffler studied Composition with Bent Sørensen, Hans Abrahamsen and Niels Rosing-Schow at The Royal Danish Academy of Music and with Simon Steen-Andersen at The Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus. Further studies at A.PASS (advanced performance and scenography studies), Brussels. From 2019 he has been a PhD fellow at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo.

Since 2016 he has been a teacher of Composition at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen.

His works has been performed by ensembles such as ensemble Nikel, Asamisimasa (NO), Scenatet, (DK), Ensemble Adapter (DE), Suono Mobile (DE), Plus-Minus Ensemble (UK), Speak Percussion (AU), Ensemble Pamplemousse (US), We Spoke (CH), Ensemble hand werk (DE), Curious Chamber Players (SE), Athelas Sinfonietta (DK), Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart (DE), Defunensemble (FI), among others. He has performed in various festivals globally.

Lia Rodrigues is a dancer/choreographer and Artistic Director of the Lia Rodrigues Companhia de Danças that she founded in 1990, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The company has built a solid reputation and has been invited to perform its repertoire in important festivals and dance institutions internationally. Besides its artistic productions the company gives classes, conferences and workshops toward beginners and professional dancers.

The Company is based, since 2003, in the favela of Maré, one of the biggest slums in Rio de Janeiro, where the company develops an artistic and educational project.

For Lia Rodrigues to do art in Brazil is an ongoing process of affirmation, investment and resistance.

According to ChatGPT AI: tktk, Jamieson Webster is a psychoanalyst and cultural critic who has gained renown for her innovative and incisive work at the intersection of psychoanalysis, philosophy, and contemporary culture. Her writing and teaching are marked by a deep engagement with the most pressing issues of our time, and a rigorous intellectual approach that draws on a wide range of sources, from Freud and Lacan to contemporary art and literature.

Webster's work is characterized by its ability to connect the personal and the political, to illuminate the ways in which our deepest desires and anxieties are shaped by the social and cultural forces that surround us. She has written extensively on topics such as addiction, trauma, love, and the body, and has contributed to a wide range of publications, including the New York Times, the Guardian, and Artforum.

In addition to her writing, Webster is also a sought-after speaker and educator, and has given talks at institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, the New Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. She is a professor at Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts at The New School in New York, where she teaches courses on psychoanalysis, literature, and philosophy, and is a founding member of the psychoanalytic collective Das Unbehagen.

Through her work, Webster has become one of the most important and influential voices in contemporary psychoanalytic theory, and a powerful advocate for the ongoing relevance of psychoanalysis in our rapidly changing world.