“What is a question?” you ask me. And this needs a response. What if the focus lies in responding, not in questioning? As we try to engage with the environment in which we live, the way we consider history, the way we define social change and create social anchor points … art finds its relevance in the manner in which it tries to relate to and understand these activities through its habits.
The choreography of repetitive movements that underlie our day—patterns and gestures, language routines—imprint on our memory, the environment that we inhabit, and the objects that we use. It is not only about the usual pursuit of rationality and sense. It is necessary to keep track of oneself and pave a way, even in the realm of uncertainty. We allow ourselves the freedom to carry out actions without questioning, make mechanical movements that free the body from constant self-analysis.
Habits ground us in a reality that is comfortable and familiar, yet reality can slip into monotony or be suppressed, like a loud sound turned into a nearly inaudible whisper running in the background … this resonating utterance, within this constructed environment. Grasp the reverberations. The time is blue and we are changing.
The question then, is perhaps to be found in the conditions given, the changing frameworks in which we operate, the political and social consequences. We might not be able [End Page 45] to exteriorize this, but there is a sense of navigation by understanding the specificity of the artistic language in relation to these conditions. I live within the means of my environment, sometimes avoiding any external element—but then don’t forget that I also carry my environment within myself.
The Subject Interrupted
PIETERNEL VERMOORTEL is cofounder/director of the curatorial institute FormContent and is artistic director of Netwerk Aalst, with Els Silvrants-Barclay. She teaches curating at Curatorial Studies KASK, Ghent, and was a guest lecturer in Critical Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London. Vermoortel has written for various magazines, such as Art Agenda and Metropolis M, and has edited publications including Cave#1: Territories (2016), It’s Moving from I to It (2014), The Responsive Subject (2011), and Out of the Studio (2008). Recent exhibitions she curated include Practicing the Habits of the Day, at the ICA in Singapore (2016); The Play, with Tim Etchells, at Tate Modern (2015); If I Can’t Dance, in Amsterdam (2015); and The Young People Visiting Our Ruins See Nothing But a Style, at the GAM, in Turin (2010).