a publisher for other points of view

FOCUS - May 2014

Tone Gellein

A Q&A with artist and performer Tone Gellein, one of the contributors to What Matters Now? (What Can't You Hear?).

Daniela Cascella:
Your contribution to our anthology is entitled Shake. Could you say something more about the polysemic function of this shake – the shift from a performative action to a shake that somehow is generated by memories?

Tone Gellein:
For me both memories and physical action reside in the same place: in the body and the mind, to make a rather known but still weird distinction. Outside the immediate borders of the body – i.e. seeing or hearing a tree, the performative action generates, not in a linear timeframe, memories.
Emotion is something that grows by time, there is a timelapse – i.e. Virginia Woolf. Physical actions, like the performative one, act like that too. They prepare for something else. It's also about a shift of position and space, or in space. To shake is to shift the mind back to or into the trees. Perhaps memories later stream out, as similar yet very different ways of doing the same.

Is this text part of a wider project and research? It would be interesting for our readers to hear more about it, and about you inquiries into identity, nationality, and so on.

Identity, nationality, coming from some part, memories in one body, into heritage: there are lots of woods in my heritage, and in one line, some very few precious trees, where my grandmother in her childhood participated in planting Norway Spruce or European Spruce on the coast. A national act for improving the conditions of the poor, building houses etc. Alignment to nature – and this is not a metaphor. This text contains part of yet another project as well as frontpaging my search for identity. In a collection of A ... (any artwork) this is A text.
There is this thing called ethnopolitics which, in the name of ethnicity, gets funding from the Norwegian Goverment to reconstruct a given language – and in doing so they (read: academics and politicians) decide to name a whole population as a distinctive ethnic group, and they do so without consent from the people. Some people do consent. Particularly those for whom such operation is most convenient. Therefore today, a large group of people are 'branded' with an ethnicity they do not want to have. Including my family. I am interested in seeing how this naming works in society. For me, the focus on ethnicity raises as a wall in front of the person. It becomes somehow anti-human.

Our anthology proposes an idea of 'expanded listening' beyond academic and specialist concerns, thinking of listening as a method that encompasses a myriad languages. How do you relate to the idea of listening and the acoustic dimension?

Sounds are waves, sensuous, directly into the body, the skin, through the eyes. To see sound created on a concert or by natural resources like wind in the trees. The opening of the ears creates resonance which directly converses with deep feelings in the body, triggers forgotten memories or just lifts the spirit into subtle dimensions.