Elbow Room, PE I: Hits Like an Elbow
Nicholas Grafia and Mikołaj Sobczak
Saturday, July 6, 2019
In their collaborative and often performative work, Nicholas Grafia and Mikołaj Sobczak handle questions of identity and the culture of memory, (queer) subversion and post-colonialism. Through dialogue, they analyze global political events and socio-historical developments with an eye towards the lives of marginalized individuals in order to explore possible alternative models. The mechanisms for legitimating heteronormative orders often form the starting point for developing alternative visual narratives. Fictional and autobiographical fragments thus converge in their choreographies, costumes, and characters, complicating systems of representation and stretching them to their braking points while at the same time opening up spaces for the vulnerability and marginality of identity. For the opening evening of Elbow Room, they invite visitors to a performative karaoke evening with invited and uninvited guests alike under the title of _Hits like an Elbow_—an evening of intimate narratives and musical lip service.
The Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf is pleased to present Elbow Room on Saturday July 6, 2019 — the first in a new series of events. From now on, Elbow Room will activate the architecture in and around the Kunstverein as a mobile space—through performances, public rehearsals, workshops, and physical introductions, through artist talks, readings, and concerts. Four artists have been invited to participate in the opening event Physical Education I: In a duet with Luisa Fernanda Alfonso, Caner Teker will offer us a glimpse of his movement research into traditional spinning dances of dervishes and elements of Mixed Martial Arts. With Hits Like an Elbow on the other hand, Nicholas Grafia and Mikołaj Sobczak invite visitors to a performative karaoke evening. The program will be accompanied by a bar designed by Catherina Cramer.
Elbow Room has been conceived as a performative continuation of the former Schaufenster (display window), which the Kunstverein used to offer young artists their first exhibition opportunities. Elbow Room opens temporary, physically variable intermediary spaces at regular intervals in order to try out and renegotiate various staging formats. The stairs in the entryway, the Kunstverein’s foyer with its bar and panorama window, parts of the exhibition space, even the Salon des Amateurs and the neighboring urban environment will thus be transformed into sites of physical education. Inspired by the idea of rethinking the body and its organs in a flexible and decentralized sense, beyond normative attributions, the title suggests the possibility of creating spaces of action and staging with one’s own body. The elbows, in an expanded sense, thus become the catalysts for stretches and physical exercises that aim to create spaces of play; spaces of play which, in the context of the Kunstverein, offer brief glimpses into ongoing research and developing projects as well as temporary stages for completed works. Over the course of the next six months, the first edition of Elbow Room will offer three invited artists the opportunity to explore different staging formats on three evenings. This year’s edition of Elbow Room, Physical Education I–III, has been developed in close collaboration with Eva Birkenstock, Gesa Hüwe, and Victoria Tarak.