Everthing will survive me was made on an invitation by Anat Stainberg to be part of the project Things that she curated and orchestrated.
At the age of 17 Vladimir Nabokov inherited a country estate and what would nowadays amount to a couple of million dollars. Shortly after, with the outbreak of the Russian revolution the era of aristocracy that determined his childhood would perish forever. The last 16 years of his life he lived in a hotel room in the Montreux Palace in Switzerland. While pondering over how a person can experience a loss of things I wondered how things might experience the loss of a person. My installation and performance forms a reflection on the intimate relation between people, things and death.
Things is a site specific performance. It reflects upon the relationship between identity construction and property. Focusing on the gap between 'wanting' and 'getting'; who we think we are in relation to the things we have.. or should probably get some day.. the people we should be.. the possibilities .. we should have had by now..
Things is happening in the Carla mittersteig, a second-hand furniture warehouse in Vienna. The Carla Mittersteig is mainly (according to the people who run it) a social project for employment (by Caretas). But it is chosen for the performance because of its arbitrary and sustained collection of 'things with history and possible future', reviving many forgotten stories. Site-specific performances are created in relation to a specific location and exist only there. This specific medium offers the viewers 'pre knowledge' to start with, which adds layers of information to the reading of the performance. And since a site (in this case a second hand public shop) is real and has a daily function, the performance gets to play in the range between reality and fiction in a fascinating way. To accentuate the economical aspect of the theme the shop will be open for shopping during the show.
Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) an English philosopher and legal theorist developed legislation theory dealing with owned property in the early nineteenth century. He was the first to address property's important emotional components in his theories, revealing that property represented not only the object or item possessed, but indicated a more intangible relationship between the owner and what was owned.
'Property is nothing but a basis of expectation; the expectation of deriving certain advantages from a thing which we are said to possess [. . .]. It is not material, it is metaphysical; it is a mere conception of the mind.'
To continue this thought it is interesting to look at the way people (in western cultures) develop relationship with the things they have; the how people belong to their property, how property defines people, puts them in a specific social status, how people live in the promise of the things they potentially should get some day .. Further more Bentham reminds, that it is law alone that enables property to exist, and that from this law people draw a certain expectation also towards future profit or an anticipated inheritance. The time it takes until the promise has been realized is a very fruitful one for the creation of fantasies, because all you can do is plan, construct an identity.
Things is a research into the way our imaginary and real potentialities code the way of our reality construction. The way fantasy is processed in a brain and re-arranged to an identity with reference to our physical, social and cultural surroundings. The performance will explore the function of property in sparking both individual and collective strategies, and propose ways for these stored ideas to be 'back-projected' to the space that hosts them - a second-hand furniture warehouse.
Three artists are invited to participate in this performance; each is coming from different culture and artistic background. All were personally and artistically challenged by the suggestion to explore the link between property and identity; they are asked to look at the ways in which matter influences spirit and contribute their own input, their own 'take' on things.
The artists will be provided with research material collected by Anat Stainberg from which they could choose what to focus on. From Egyptian mummies (buried with their valuables) through obsessive restitution wars to brand fetish or the economical / emotional process of buying a house. The artists are asked to create scenes in varies media considering the aspect of their choice.