Poesis, Poetry and Praxis or Love is Reality

For this year’s Volkertmarkt summer festival in Vienna, the project space Kevin Space invited Solitude fellows – visual artists Daniella Domingues and Ricardo Portilho, and the author Christoph Szalay – to reflect upon the traditions and rituals of the Festa/Volksfest and the concept of home and neighborhood.

feast (n.) c. 1200, »secular celebration with feasting and entertainment« (often held on a church holiday); c. 1300, »religious anniversary characterized by rejoicing« (rather than fasting), from Old French feste »religious festival, holy day; holiday; market, fair; noise, racket; jest, fun« (12c., Modern French fête), from Vulgar Latin *festa (fem. singular; also source of Italian festa, Spanish fiesta), from Latin festa »holidays, feasts, festal banquets,« noun use of neuter plural of festus »festive, joyful, merry,« related to feriae »holiday« and fanum »temple,« from Proto-Italic *fasno- »temple,« from PIE *dhis-no- »divine, holy; consecrated place,« suffixed form of PIE root *dhes-, forming words for religious concepts.

Ricardo Portilho used the visual concept of the Brazilian »Festa Junina« as a starting point in thinking about forms and functions of festive visual patterns. In his work as a graphic designer, he is interested in ambiguities and paradoxes within the decorative moment – when things get unpredictable and become something else underlying the dominant narratives. Working with the author Christoph Szalay, who presented words and text fragments, Portilho assembled an installation that adapted, transformed, and challenged complex concepts of traditions and rituals; home and neighborhood. Daniella Domingues explored the direct surroundings, mapping surfaces from the neighboring area and placing altered and found objects within the installation.

Daniella Domingues, Objects for Poesis, Poetry and Praxis or Love is Reality, exhibition view, Kevin Space, Vienna 2018

By understanding the Festa/Volksfest as an encounter of poesis (making), praxis (political or collective activity) and poetry, rather than the impossibility of togetherness under capital or ideology, the artists initiated radical shifts in perspective a s a tactic to incite political and social transformation. They produced a common space that is not only adaptable and affirmative but also explores the sometimes uneasy alliance of a gathering in a diverse society and neighborhood.

Christoph Szalay wrote the evening’s central text:

von welchem Punkt auch immer du
in diesem Raum ausgehst, Liebling,
sei bestimmt in der Richtung, die du
einschlägst, weiche dennoch
zurück an den Stellen, an denen die
Böden nachgeben,

dear, embrace being lost, being
without names, being all names

sag nicht Lichtgestalt, sag being
soft ist the new XXX

The intervention and the reading Poesis, Poetry and Praxis: or Love is Reality was part of Kevin Space’s ongoing series of exhibitions and interventions. The series explores different concepts and developments of spatial, social, cultural, and personal borders and the continuously shifting thresholds between us and them, I and the other, past and present.