STEP NOT BEYOND
STEP NOT BEYOND
ART - ECOLOGY - POLITICS
Artistic Director: DEJAN LUKIC
Pedagogy of the Cipher
Let’s start with some guiding lines, illuminating and mysterious:
Desire ignores exchange, it only knows the robbery and the gift. (Deleuze & Guattari)
My anarchy subterraneously obeys a law where I deal clandestinely with astronomy, mathematics, and mechanics. (Clarice Lispector)
It says here, "Play a vibration in the rhythm of the universe." So he said, "What is all that mystic stuff here?" And I said, "I mean, have you never had dreams where you fly from star to star?" (Karlheinz Stockhausen).
There, you have started the study already. The above lines are portals into a specific universe of concerns, values, sensations, perceptions. They turn things upside down, which is a necessary step because the world is already upside down. Most likely you don’t understand what they mean, but you feel an impulse, a little wind, which raises curiosity and amazement within you. This is the beginning of a thaumaturgical pedagogy. If these quotations were to become concrete matter they would be a lodestone: a type of iron which when hit by lightning becomes a magnet. Indeed, lodestone was the very first geomagnetic compass. Lightning, magnet, compass - all we need for travel and thinking.
Step Not Beyond (estb. 2016) is the name of a small school and of a philosophical disposition: go toward the limit of your thought, experience, work, but not beyond it. Be a tightrope walker, an acrobat who lightly treads across the abyss that is internal and external, creative and political. Through a series of courses and practices the SNB engages a single comprehensive question without disciplinary borders (relevant to children, astrobiologists, and artists alike): "What is the Creative Act?"
Step Not Beyond Vision
Creativity is a response to (existential, aesthetic, political) knots. Yet knots are practical too, as every sailor knows. Even the great funambulist (Philippe Petit) uses them to cross the Seas of Air. This school is like a rope - knotted from ideas, encounters, activities - that students have to tangle and disentangle. We learn from the fingers in "Cat's Cradle" and from the jumping in "Double Dutch" games: kinetic solutions to string problems. From there, we extend into string theory. And then back to the wisdom of insects and arachnids.
The school is inspired by the beautiful endeavor Fernand Deligny ran in southern France in the 1970s; by Lucretius’ immense poem De Rerum Natura composed in the first century BC; by the great sorcerers from small-scale societies in Latin America that taught us how to make ropes from sounds; by the authors and political revolutionaries from all parts of the world, known and unknown, that suffered deeply for their work. In other words, the SNB school has enormously diverse influences which nevertheless align in their sensitivities toward the world: no matter how small or local, the world always becomes cosmic too. And what exactly is the relation between the an artist's work and the cosmos? A hundred years ago Paul Klee raised this question, many others followed. Hence, this school is both more broad and more narrow than other schools, closer to an ancient society of artisans than to the contemporary academy.
The boring word “school” is both simple (everyone knows what it means) and complex (with multiple meanings): it can refer to a building where education happens, or to a group of individuals that share a particular style, or else to a type of training. But it is also used to describe a group of fish zigzagging harmoniously through the water. This last example is of particular interest for our configuration of art-ecology-politics. For everyone knows that the most insignificant example, seemingly the most distant, is also the most significant, the most energetic and fruitful.
There are no prerequisites for the participants. The only constraint is that of limited space; it’s like going to the movies, you either get the ticket or not (if you’re skilled and daring, perhaps you can sneak in even when the room is full and the show has started). Moreover, the school is, on the one hand, completely international (or post-national) inviting participants from all corners of the world, and on the other, highly regionalized, providing young and old islanders with an unusual pedagogical experience.
SNB provides no formal degrees or certificates. It is a training ground for rigorous alignment of elements within and outside of yourself. In sailing we learn how to align sail with the wind so as to move across the Sea; we learn how to be a part of the natural force itself (a true sensation of magic). Similarly, SNB is the wind that moves the sails toward future aesthetics and politics.
How are things, from art objects to political institutions, brought into existence? What do desire, sensation, power have to do with it? In order to answer this we need to engage the essential enigma that lies at the core of art: creative gesture. Moreover, this aesthetic question extends into politics (i.e. the creation of communities) and even ecology (i.e. nature is essentially creative). Our goal will be to define the common nucleus, the vital point of creativity, which is embedded in the art-ecology-politics constellation.
Furthermore, ideas, when they are unforeseen and rare, produce a specific ecosystem within the individual, a precise ecology of thought, just as there is a planetary ecology of life and a political ecology of the State. The SNB provides a space where these ecosystems can be harnessed and where they can intermingle. Needless to say, building an ecosystem is about health; about growing old and young at the same time; about looking for a new earth. A space where thought and act are the same; where theory and lived experience come together in a palpable way; where gesture and substance are one.
Locations, "Advance" & "Retreat"
The courses are offered a) online at different times of the year, coming and going like the waves, depending on the atmospheric winds and b) on-the-Adriatic-island during Summer months. You can chose one or the other, or both. While on-the-island locations are highly specific sites, the practice of bioregionalism can be applied to any micro-climate in the world. These applications are another pedagogical aim of the project.
WHAT IS THE CREATIVE ACT?
(Or, The Sea)
NOV 12 - DEC 3, 2017
2 hours on Sundays at 1pm EDT (7pm CET)Earth as art. What is the creative act, in both art and nature? Is it beyond good and evil, or does it have secret ethics?
We dive into the main theme which holds it all together, just as it at the same time puts all in flux. The Sea: taciturn, surging, immanent, open, smooth, with different degrees of depth. (Should we not be like this too?) Water, salt minerals, rocks that surround it, all affect our skin and the layers of our thought in turn. The sea is physical (a space of swimming, diving, sailing), metaphysical (a source of inspiration from fairytales to the bible), biochemical (the origin of earthly life), and political (a site of travel, immigration, colonization).
This short class series is a relaxing intensification of your personal interests, meant to generate thalassic thought and luminous expression in whatever medium. The only expectation is curiosity in the weekly themes. Short readings will ground concepts under discussion (pdfs will be provided in a shared Google folder; email for the preliminary reading list). Weekly written responses to the readings are encouraged in order to develop your writerly voice.
The figures and concepts that guide our explorations are:
November 12. Movement (Winds - Stowaways - Occupations)
November 19. Cosmopolitics (Archipelagoes - Liquid Deserts - Enemies)
November 26. Immanence (Lovers - Abandonment - Freedom)
December 3. Beauty (Evil - Camouflage - Octopi)