On how many feet will you enter the stage to consult the Oracle of Marnie Slater?
- Performance on Wednesday 14.12.2022 at 8 p.m.
- Louis Pasteurlaan 2, 9000 Ghent
- Free entrance
- Third Oracle of the exhibition Oracles, curated by Koi Persyn (komplot x KIOSK)
Annemarija Gulbe: Could you tell us more about the project you are working on right now? How did you encounter the sources of inspiration that led your artistic practice to this moment?
Marnie Slater: The project that I'm doing for Oracles is a mural in the entrance foyer of the exhibition space of KIOSK. The intervention is built around a photogram I made in Bern last summer, when I was doing a feminist residency and I was asked to playfully reimagine what a feminist residency might be and to rename that. The photogram reads Silly Pheminist kunst Akademie, around that will be a painted mural, where I'm taking the pattern of the tiles of the KIOSK floor and move them up to the walls. I've been working for a long time on feminist and queer questions in my art practice, so I'm adding a big collection of feminist and queer texts and images to the mural. What I've got to is a sense or belief that to be feminist and queer, I need to go into the structure, building and the organisation. That's why I am playing with these motifs and really soaking that into the actual structure. Voilà!
AG: How do you navigate in a collective cycle of narratives and how does your voice exchange with other stories and artists? How will your project interact with the other artworks in the exhibition, the approach of Oracles and/or the space of KIOSK?
MS: The simple answer is: I don't know, but it is an exciting ‘not knowing’. What is fascinating about Koi's approach to this exhibition is to understand it as a kind of alchemy, as a process that entails decisions, but also a certain possibility of meaning being made that one cannot control. I've always thought that exhibitions involve space, but they also involve duration, right? Some approaches to a museal practice and to art making are about stopping, arresting and freezing time, and what I really like about this exhibition is that it opens up the possibilities, encourages and motivates the exposition to change over time. But perhaps that might imply that visitors might have a different experience as the exhibition progresses. The little bits of information that I'm getting about sound, architecture, and the interactions between other works and space overtime is really exciting, because it's, yeah, like as I said, it's an alchemy, it's not a set choreography. It's a process and I think that's cool. Voilà!
AG: The Oracle's spell heralds a turning point in someone’s life. We are curious to know what you envision for the future and how your performance will predict a shift in the narrative.
MS: Time is a strange thing, isn't it? As I teach in an art school in a certain segment of my life, this is the beginning of the year, not the end, because we're still very much in the warm-up of the academic year. And in the context of KIOSK, which is located in an art school, follows the same rhythm wherein Christmas is not the end of the year.
But in a more expanded sense for me right now, it feels like politically, culturally, socially we're ready for a turning point, and I'm thinking about post-pandemic, the war in Ukraine, Black Lives Matter, the #metoo movement and about -environmental disaster. All these forces have been building and growing together towards some kind of shift. But it's interesting to think about turning points as a process of gathering towards something, but never a binary ‘on and off’ function. These forces have to gather slowly over years and generations in order for something to change. The most interesting for me is the moment before that, because then the complexities of all these initiating forces are palpable, you can feel that we're there. Not in relation to what I'm doing on my desk in my studio, that's a very micro situation. But somehow for me it is always a process of zooming out, zooming in and zooming out again – so you don't go crazy, right? Because if you're only zooming out, you don't feel like you have any agency in any kind of process.
I don't know a lot about Greek mythology at all, I never had a patience for learning European history. So, when Koi approached me about the exhibition, I really had to Google like crazy because I didn't know any of the stories that, for him, seemed to be very natural. I was really fascinated with what I read about the oracle narrative. There's a lot of things that are known and not known about how they worked, what they said, who they were, what kind of knowledge they had. But I did learn that the oracles were a constantly changing and diverse group of women, not just one person. Sometimes they were highly educated women, sometimes not educated at all, but they had this role of speaking some kind of truth to power. And I think about the way that history is often told through the lens of gender and class. The way they exercised that power was clouded in mystery, potentially in order to disempower the power that they had, if that makes sense. It's not something that is confined only to a historical period. Within a contemporary Belgium context, there is a lot of very interesting processes happening in the last maybe ten years of people, artists, cultural makers, activists who are female-gendered, who are queer and racialised standing up to institutions and demanding different kinds of narratives, participation and practice. That feels to me like an exciting turning point that is coming. Voilà!
About Marnie Slater
I am a visual artist from Aotearoa New Zealand, currently living in Brussels. My work engages with multiple formats, including sculpture, collaboration, editing, performance, painting and installation. In the last ten years I have been working in two parallel ways: engaging with archive material and developing long-term collaborations. My interest in archives started in 2010 when I began to work in the company of Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore, stepsisters, lovers and artists whose photographic work and legacy have formed the framework for many of my projects. Like my solo work, my long-term collaborations are led by queer and feminist politics and desires. I am co-curator of Buenos Tiempos, Int. and a team member of Mothers & Daughters – A Lesbian* and Trans* Bar*. I am currently teaching on the AdMa program at St Lucas School of Art, Antwerp, where I am also undertaking a year-long research project on process tools for queer and feminist collaborative art making.