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Under Construction: Clara Amaral

31 May 2021

Clara Amaral is in residency in Veem House working on a new project. As we meet her in our studio she’s surrounded by words on single sheets of paper; neatly stacked on the table; hanging from the walls; lying on the floor. As Clara researches publishing modalities; words move around – from a book to a choreography and from one hand to another’s hand.

Who is Clara Amaral?

In her work no book is simply read from front to back, text moves from the page through the body. Clara is interested in thinking about other ways of understanding readership and dealing with publishing modalities. In 2017 she created an ‘immaterial book’, writing it, learning it by heart and performing it live in one on one sessions. In 2018 she explored the smart phone as a site for writing in Your eyes a cascade. Now she’s back in Veem House to further unfold ways of possible ways of reading and publishing as she works on a A book that is a choreography activated by a performer for a group of people [working title].

What are you researching during this residency?

“I started this research in 2019. It started with a very formalistic desire- to host a choreography within a book. Later on I started thinking about the notion of forgery – not as something that deceives, but as a practice of care. This thought came to be because my grandmother doesn’t know how to read or write and when she would sign official documents, my mother would write my grandma’s name in front of her and my grandma would copy it. Eventually I started learning how to forge my grandma’s signature – how to embody her hand. In that sense, my mother passed it onto my grandmother and from my grandmother it came back to me.

Forging a signature as a way of hosting a hand within your hand. How can you give space to another hand within your own? I did some practices with Chloe Chignell (writer, choreographer and dancer) in my residency at WorkSpaceBrussels that were another way of studying these “hand problems”: giving text from one hand to the other hand, to the other hand and to the other hand. Not only from my right hand to my left, but also inter-relational: from my right hand to her right hand, as a way of moving the text through the body. The body assisting and interfering with the copy.”

How do you start a residency? Do you have a specific ritual, do you come overly prepared?

“I plan things, but sometimes things also just take unexpected turns. Something else happens through the material, or the material is asking something else. So I try to pay attention to that, what is it asking now?

Initially I worked with graphic designer Karoline Sziewynzski. Then we invited graphic designer Ronja Andersen and visual artist Olga Micińska to join us. I don’t tend to work so much by myself. I will be performing the project alone, but many people have given their thoughts, like Yana Foqué and Isabelle Sully from Kunstverein Amsterdam, Quenton Miller, Chloe Chignell. For me it’s essential to have other voices.”

What is important for you in a residency?

“I think it is great to have a nice space, like this beautiful studio space at Veem. I feel it has good energy and I can focus. But I also realized that one of the things I really like in residencies is the hanging out that happens after work. Just before having this residency period at Veem, we were in WorkSpaceBrussels for a three week working period, and we all stayed together in the same house. Hanging out, talking, eating, having a beer after work. At the end of the day it is not only about work, it is also about spending time with people. A lot happens when you’re hanging out that does not happen just in the studio.”

On Tuesday the 1st of June you’ll share your research during an Open Studio, is sharing your process something you like?

“Yes, I’m happy to share my research. Sometimes people have helpful references: have you checked the work of this person? Have you thought about doing this? That can be very enriching. Also by talking about the work to other people and sharing the research, a line of thought appears and in that way the work is being made, the work starts existing. At the beginning the work is a fiction, right? I’m just fictionalizing, inventing. By talking about it and saying what it is, it becomes a fiction that eventually we all believe in and afterwards it takes a certain shape in reality.”

You can join Clara Amaral in shaping that reality during an online Open Studio on June 1st 20:00.

Join Clara's research on the 1st of June!

Open Studio with Clara Amaral

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