Translated from German by Hester Underhill
7 days, 2 artists, 1 location – Two new artists are coming together every week to create a new event at Lettrétage as part of the CON_TEXT project.
Daniela Seel: Let’s start at the beginning – what made you decide to work together? Why were you interested by each other?
Cia Rinne: I think I was very irrational. I liked Gernot a lot from the off and could imagine myself working well with him. The only thing was that, unlike with the other possible partners I could have had, I did not have a clear idea what the two of us could do together. That sort of open-endedness poses a kind of challenge that I really like. The way we work is rather different to how I am used to working – I’m really glad that we met. Selecting our partners was a mixed experience. Meeting the other artists was great but it was also tainted by the fact that we would imminently have to pick out partners to work with, which is always an awkward thing to have to do.
Gernot Wieland: I also think that the conditions set out for us were peculiar. What would have happened if all ten of the artists wanted to work with Cia and no one wanted to work with another author? The chemistry was right between us, that’s all. But I equally don’t know how else you could organise it.
DS: The teams were finalised by the end of 2016; you had to be ready to present by late January. You must have had to move insanely fast?
GW: In the world of fine arts, there are different types of people. You’ve got certain people who like to go to their workshops, throw on their overalls and get cracking that way. I’m more of a “deadline artist” – I get invited to do a project that has a theme and a deadline and I create a piece of work for it. That’s what helps me.
DS: You don’t have a set theme this time though.
GW: No, but I do know the date that something has to be done by. I work with video and lecture performances, and the lecture performances are on-going projects for me, which means that I often re-write and re-adapt them and for this occasion, as it was at such short-notice, I have taken one from last year, re-written it, added new drawings, potato-prints, Plasticine figures etc…. you laugh, but potato prints are the next big thing! (He laughs.)
CR: They are lovely!
DS: Let’s go through the details once more. So you’re only going to be working together this one week – every day – and have both got ideas about what you could do? What has your process been like?
CR: That’s right. We met up once before in December to talk about things we had already done, so we have both seen and read the other’s work. As Gernot has a clear idea of what he wants to do in his talk, I took my texts and thought about what would go well with it. I chose my piece called ‘Dualog’ – dialogues about dualism. We have both done work on dreams, so that might also come into it. Basically, it’s going to cover a spectrum of politico-ecological themes about therapeutic surroundings and memories of childhood.
GW: The process was a bit like peeling back the layers of an onion – sending each other material, reading it all, thinking about when and how we could meet up and how we could make our collaboration effective. And we have come together in the end, agreeing on the content and creating a narration out of it, an artwork.
CR: Yesterday we were drawing here in the workshop and I thought to myself: ‘What am I doing? I need to work on the texts!’ You’re the artist, I do the writing, and the performance is all I ever think about. But we still need to read, practise… Now the pictures have come in to it. I’m finding this process very interesting.
GW: I am already feeling confident that the performance is going to be a good one. This project is really cool on so many levels – the fact it allows me as a visual artist to work with a writer, for instance. It’s a funny coincidence that before becoming an artist, I actually studied literature. Literature was always very important to me. I’m from a small village. Yeah, I know it’s what they all say, but for me literature really did open up my world. When I went to study at the Academy, I didn’t necessarily want to become an artist, but I thought yeah, alright, I’ve been offered a place so I guess I’ll study that – a friend of mine had sent in a portfolio under my name. I had been an avid reader and drawer since childhood and he always told me that I should be an artist, and then suddenly I received this letter saying ‘Dear Mr Wieland, We are delighted to inform you that…’ and I didn’t have a clue what I was doing with my life or what I should be doing either. Other people know from early on – actors all have the same story: ‘Oh, yes, I knew from the age of seven… I wanted the stage, and my parents there, watching me like they did at home…’. I don’t know a single actor who doesn’t tell that same story. My history is somewhat non-linear though – when I was at the Academy I was the only one who wrote poetry as well and nobody got that back then. Now it’s different. I have done some teaching since then and have noticed that lots of students are incorporating writing into their work. You didn’t see that back when I was a student. Nowadays writing is a real requirement. There are many reasons for this – one definitely stems from that transitional need to become secure in your own reality. And how do you do that? By writing – everything else is either manipulative or can be manipulated. For me, it is great to see that many more artists are now writing, not only for videos or performances where you often have to work very differently with language, but also just narrative writing. And that’s another why this project is great for me. I know a few authors but I have never worked with one before. I want to know how they approach a text – it’s that starting point that really interests me. I mentioned before that I always need a deadline to work but then I never have any inspiration. I am really plagued by this… I can’t sleep, my whole family suffers, and then all of a sudden: bam! It hits me and we’re off. It’s always like that. I’m also really excited to see how the artists from each of the ten productions approach language and equally to see the extent to which the writers touch upon something other than language. With us two, for example, that was always going to be harder to say because we work quite diversely anyway. But the opportunity to observe this process is something I’m really looking forward to.
CR: I’m not going to be able to write so much in this short space of time, though, that’s the thing. I would have liked more preparation time beforehand in order to write a new text. We are now under a lot of time pressure to finish the production, but then that is part of the experience.
DS: That isn’t necessarily clear from the project’s description. In the description it states more that the way in which work is presented, the mise-en-scene of text, will be considered as an art form and that the texts themselves will be the focus. It doesn’t mention whether those texts need to be new ones written as part of the collaboration or whether the way in which you present them is the main thing to be developed. I’m personally interested in the hybrid nature of the work in this project. When two people are all of a sudden brought into contact with one another like the two of you were this week, the next thing they need to do is work out how they can begin to communicate, to learn from one another, to talk about the other’s worldview. To my mind, that is the most important aspect of collaborative work, even more important than what it actually produces. The way you have been describing your experience so far makes it seem as if this is also about an artistic journey for you both, a chance to develop creatively. How does the audience come into this process? What is kind of space will be created as part of the mise-en-scene? How are you setting the production in its context?
CR: I asked myself the exact same thing after the ‘speed dating’ as I was talking with Tomomi Adachi, who I have often worked with in the past. Should we be focussing our effort on putting on a high-quality, professional production (after all, we are all professional artists and are used to performing) or should we aim to learn something new? What’s the best option? I’m personally more interested in learning new things, meaning that the production-value might suffer a bit, but what’s more important? That’s why I think that the form of a conversation in a workshop, similar to the one we’ll have tomorrow evening, is more fitting for the event because it’ll give us the opportunity to reflect on the work at the same time. The form of a workshop, open rehearsal, or a reading salon will make the production more open-ended. Real collaboration requires a lot more time in order to get it properly off the ground. As it is, we’re going to be working with finished pieces that won’t be properly finished. Getting to know each other also takes time. We can’t just meet up and start straight away – it doesn’t work like that.
GW: A therapist once told me that he believes that personal development never follows a linear progression and that instead it goes more like this [he gesticulates] – back and forth. You always need to give back along the way. That’s what our work has been like together, I think, and I enjoy that a lot. I’m not sure how you, Daniela, would put this exactly into words [he gesticulates again and laughs]. We felt the need to approach one another directly and learn from each other. That’s what’s great about this project: you must lay yourself bare and can ask yourself what can we, as a team, discover. It’s funny that you should mention rehearsals – there isn’t usually such a thing as practising in art, and that is something we should emphasise more. I’m not actually creating work at the moment – I’m practising.
DS: The artistic process entails a kind of conflict in that while developing a piece of work, you become very intimate either with yourself or with those that you are working with, and suddenly, in the very moment that a work becomes public, you cease to be yourself and instead become a persona. A tension is created between the present moment and intimacy felt during development. A performance doesn’t have the same kind of intimacy you would get if you were just watching a video or reading a book at home, using your imagination, nor like we have here between the three of us. What is it like for you to present on stage, in that moment when you have to defend your work in the flesh?
GW: I am used to it and also enjoy it very much, especially the performance aspect and interaction with the audience. It’s different to when I do a film. I need to take the members of the audience on a journey, moving them, manipulating them. I need to make a story believable, no matter how absurd or incredible it is, and the audience has to become a part of that story, believing in it. If I can manage that, I’m half way there. I need to think about how I am going to win over this audience, how I am going to reach them. Perhaps with humour, perhaps with melancholy… those are things that I often use well, because of my background mainly. The tragicomic is a big thing in Austria. I tried to deny my Austrian nature for a long time but eventually I came to accept it and said to myself, ‘Hey, you know what, it forms part of my story, so I’ll work with it’.
CR: My texts are really abstract and actually, I experience the feeling I get from a text much more acutely when I read it in front of an audience. It’s often like that: what we say and what we show aren’t necessarily the same thing; they are both very different.
GW: The Lettrétage has given us so much room to choose what to do, it’s like they are saying ‘Do whatever you want,’ which feels good, as often the framework you’re given to work in is really restrictive and you are required to do particular performances.
DS: Gernot, I wonder if we could elaborate on something you mentioned a little further, that is the act of manipulating the audience.
GW: Manipulating has quite negative connotations, maybe ‘moving’ would be a better term.
DS: I think that for artistic work and during performances in particular, the emotional input involved is extremely important. The emotional effort needed in order to involve the members of the audience, to take them on a journey, to capture and maintain their attention etc. is a vital aspect of the performance, but it is also the most draining. At the same time, as the concept of manipulation would imply it, there is something controlling about it, which you as an artist are conscious of at some level in a way that other people cannot be. And in that moment, as you exercise this violence, manipulating emotions through narrative, you are confronted with a new responsibility towards the audience and its wellbeing. What do you do about that?
GW: That is an important point, although there are artists who do not care about such things. In Vienna, I was once at a performance as part of an exhibition done by this Russian group, in which people were being physically attacked, literally punched. I was there with a friend who, being a bit of a country lad, had never been to an art performance before, let alone a capital city, and he just punched the performer straight back in the face, meaning the performance suddenly had to stop as all of his performance mates were too busy calling the ambulance… But the opposite is what is so great in Berlin. There people here aren’t fazed by much. Whenever I do my lecture performances in Italy, for example, where members of the audience still turn up to an opening night in suits and evening gowns, people aren’t sure of whether they are supposed to laugh or not. Art stills conserves much more of an aura there than it does in Berlin.
CR: Being on stage always exposes you to a new situation. When I’m writing, I don’t really think about it. The text has to work in so many different contexts: on stage, on the page, at exhibitions. I don’t plan my work based on how I think it is going to be received.
GW: The nature of spoken word is also interesting. Whenever I perform in Germany with my Austrian accent, I often find that I come across very differently, which is something that I like to play on too. That is why I also like speaking in English as it means that the substance of what I say is transported in a different way.
DS: That brings me to another question that I would like to ask the pair of you. You both produce work in foreign languages and that to my mind seems to be a form of self-alienation that adds another level to the text, allowing you to examine what is habitual and familiar in a different light. When you communicate with an audience in English, for example, the language can provide a kind of neutrality, would you say?
GW: A kind of balance, yes. I write all of my texts in German first and then translate them into English. In the art world, you often sit on lots of panels where you see people write a complicated text on art history, sit themselves down and read it off in one go – when you look around the audience, you notice everybody has switched off from listening after two minutes. In my lecture performances, I try to use spoken language. English is spoken a lot in the art world, and we lose something there because people are much weaker in a language that isn’t their mother tongue.
CR: I like writing in German. My poems, which are already minimalistic and multilingual in of themselves as it is, stem from particular languages and would simply not work in others. But if I’m writing a longer text, I tend to stay in one language.
DS: Gernot, in your video, “Hello, my name is…”, and “Yes, I’m Fine.”, there’s a bit about how you’re favourite part of mass when you were a child was not understanding anything because everything was said in Latin or Spanish and this meant your mind could wander. That is also what happens with art. Whether it’s a concert or a reading – especially a poetry reading – or even at a dance performance, I’ve often known myself to slip in and out of a concentrated state, in and out of the moment, and then something clicks. As an audience member, it is incredibly important that I am aware of the voice I’m listening to and that I feel personally addressed. However, what your brain makes out of it all can’t be controlled, nor can it be directly traced back to what was said. That obviously leaves artists and writers a bit fucked, but then that is nevertheless a fundamental part of any enriching experience of art or poetry.
CR: William Kentridge once said, or at least said something along the lines of: ‘You put one pillar here, one pillar there, and the audience fills up the space in between. If you fill up everything, there won’t be any room left for you to think.’
DS: I think that when you read a text with great concentration, or even a whole book, and it is very complex, you only ever end up reading part of the book.
CR: Everyone reads differently too.
DS: And everyone pays attention to different details. Different people will read the same book in very different ways, and when you re-read a book yourself, you’ll remember passages in it which aren’t there the second time round…
CR: It is beautiful really, isn’t it? That moment when you are trying so hard to concentrate on something that your mind starts thinking of things. I often notice when reading that I haven’t been paying attention for a couple of pages because I started thinking of something else and then I have to go back. The same thing happens with films and music…. When you concentrate on something, you can gather your own thoughts better.
GW: When I listen to music or read something, I like to incorporate my daydreams into it. Sigmund Freud said that this is counterproductive as it allows people to believe that they are capable of doing things that they can’t actually do – that can easily lead to them feeling like heroes. The great thing about daydreaming though is that it gives you fixed points for your wandering mind to come back to. A wandering mind might have negative connotations, however, but perhaps that’s just in German [everyone laughs].
As an artist you have to appeal to people’s different desires – we talked just now about how artists manipulate, but at the end of the day it’s about desire, how it manifests and how it is created. If somebody stops listening to me and starts to daydream, then that is already a small victory for me as that person may have had a special experience. If you anchor your thoughts onto certain things, you can begin to ask yourself questions and try to find out what you can recall. Perhaps that’s why people don’t throw books away after they’ve read them – they have all been filled with memories.
DS: And does this theatre of desire created through art present any utopic or critical potential? Can it also be a political space? For example, you mention that you want to discuss ecology as a theme on Friday.
CR: Yes, although that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. The “Dualog” that we’re staging for the performance is about the causes of ecological development. According to Hans Jonas, the German-Jewish philosopher, it’s dualism above all that has caused “entities” to split up between the physical and spiritual worlds, mankind and nature, body and mind, the clash between Athens and Jerusalem. So the coming together of philosophy and Judeo-Christian religion has set the parameters for what we find today: valuing humankind over nature has led to the catastrophic state of earth’s ecology. A slow development with results that we are experiencing today. And in “Dualog” man is in discussion with nature, the mind with the body, religion with philosophy… Each of these key figures speaks for themselves, nobody takes priority.
DS: In terms of the content, is it for you a space to engage?
CR: It’s more of an attempt to understand, and I’m trying too, the way in which this kind of philosophical searching can be translated into an easily accessible, dialogic format.
GW: Art often seems to me like the last “pure” refuge of capitalism. We often find ourselves insanely frustrated by this relationship. The most important event in the art world is no long Documenta or the Venice Biennale, but Art Basel. And the reason for this is because money plays such a key role. We also shouldn’t demonise it for this, but if you go to a fair where 35,000 pieces are on offer, and you have a day to fill, then obviously your view changes. “You see it, you get it.” And many exhibitions have become like this too. I share this frustration with many others. That’s why I would be very cautious to use all these buzzwords. I’m a political guy and I address political matters, but I wouldn’t express that explicitly.
CR: I think about that too: if you concentrate on the work, you’ll see which direction it goes in. The approach isn’t, “I want to create a political work.” I’m more interested in a range of different themes, and then it does (or doesn’t) become political. Or rather, it becomes political anyway, because that simply can’t be avoided. Equally, you need beauty in order to benefit from a sense of refuge, particularly in times like these. For your own thoughts, and simply so that not everything is poisoned by an engagement with the modern world which we live in today.
DS: Last week I gave a university seminar on my poetry, and one of the students asked me a question that is still going round and round in my head. I want to pass it on to you, because I see a similar process in your work. It’s a question that, against the backdrop of the latest developments in the whole Trump-saga, becomes all the more virulent. The question was about what the status of facts is in my poetry. Because my works also occupies itself with the layers of history, through scientific, varying narratives. And what happens when the status of facts changes, because of scientific developments, for example. With a poem, how does art relate to the “external world of facts.” And now, whenever I come across this astounding discourse about alternative facts, I think about it more thoroughly; about how wholly unpleasant the whole situation is. Essentially, presenting facts differently has already been part of the artistic process for decades. And this through this, art circumvents particular narratives. Foucault, for example, also took this view. It allows stratified order to be questioned and shaken up. And now politics steps in and quite explicitly adopts this process. And suddenly it becomes clear that many of these artificial positions, although they determine ways of seeing the world, also act as an irritant. Essentially, that would be my question. And still, a shared fundamental consensus forms the basis of a liberal, constitutional perception of the world. And it is only because these fundamental parameters are shared that art is able to take on this kind of questioning and push facts to one side. When this is used by propaganda, these fundamental parameters are questioned. This means, I think, that there are consequent repercussions for art that also uses this process. Or it changes once again the status of art’s subject matter, in unbelievably complicated and unforeseen ways. This has already begun. I want to relay this back to you, because you also deal with similar things.
GW: That’s a really good question.
CR: Yes, that’s interesting. Also whether art maybe inspires politics. And whether the methods are suddenly being questioned. Because to criticise or comment on the methods that were actually already there is something that politics also does, despite being completely illegitimate. This also becomes problematic for art. I think that, in this sense, it’s not permissible to use methods from one field in another. I recognise this kind of questioning a bit in my documentary practice. When writing for a documentary lots of research must be undertaken. You’re writing about reality, about the lives of people who may come up against the consequences of what you write. I’ve always felt a huge sense of responsibility and needed to use poetry as a kind of antithesis, a free range so to speak. But each text, even with art, carries with it a responsibility and must be able to be held accountable. You can’t simply reinterpret science and nature.
DS: Yeah, well apparently you can.
CR: But is it permissible, simply because you can? Just because it’s possible, does that mean it has to be done? That’s a fundamental conflict in the nuclear age. Or: it will be repurposed for the uses of propaganda, but not change the ways of nature, they follow other rules. We don’t see ourselves, we can only ever be regarded from the outside, so we have to ask ourselves the question, “can I rely on what I hear?” If you ask scientists that are specialists in a particular field, they will all tell you that nearly every article strays from the truth in some manner, through incorrect facts, a particular agenda or clichés. But the very least you can do is point that out. What’s worse is that we become gradually acclimatised to this without hardly noticing. We’re exposed to negative news reports, and are constantly left with the feeling that it’s already too late. It’s much more important to point out alternative possibilities for action as opposed to alternative facts.
CR: I think it has to do with the fact that we can stomach things that confirm prejudices more easily. Good news is much more strenuous.
GW: I suppose you could also describe my work as ‘post-fact.’ I can lie until the cows come home. But a lie can reveal a higher truth, that’s important. That’s why I don’t work solely with speech, but with pictures too. In my work, I find speech too exclusive. For example, it’s hard to relay absurdities well through speech, but I can express them with pictures. For me as an artist, an important experience is confronting people with fiction or fact, so that when faced with the only truth people say, “surely that can’t be possible.” And it’s really interesting that this sense of astonishment only comes in to play when you’re confronted with a truth. And I think ‘post-fact’ should be replaced with a very old fashioned term; a lie. It’s a lie. Period. The question is only who is lying and for what purpose. I have other ideas behind my lies, or other intentions.
CR: Your lies also aren’t dangerous. Quite the opposite.
GW: Do I want to expose, do I want inspire thought or do I want to conceal?
CR: It depends how you use it. For example, to write historical novels that are completely wrong is racially problematic. In European literature the Roma have been described for centuries as sensual, free spirited or criminal. And that’s really problematic, because there are far-reaching consequences for the Roma and also has been.
GW: It also raises the question; what is the source of truth. I was in Austria when the Tarantino film “Inglorious Basterds” came out, where the Americans shoot Hitler. A teacher told me that many students had believed it, and that he had to go to great lengths to to teach them otherwise- the truth, in other word (laughs). So which source do we believe in now. The way I was brought up in the seventies, people believed what they saw on the television. In our class at school, when I was 14 or 15, the president came was invited to the school and I fell asleep, because the discussion was so boring. I just couldn’t be bothered with it. We were manipulated to such an extreme extent to be open and there was this sense of “now it’s the children’s turn to ask the questions.” That’s really the latest trend, and I find it also to always present a huge problem when it comes to literary criticism, they’re always having to seek out these authors who are seen as having their finger on the pulse.
CR: Yes, a perennial sense of the ‘now’.
GW: But the discussion with the president was filmed and then shown on television. And I was sitting there with my family at home and they saw that I had been asleep. In my lecture performance I tell a story about it. That everyone in my village saw it and fell asleep, because they thought it was the done thing. They believed this truth and imitated it. Everything we see, we try to imitate. Imitation is generally an important point, what do we imitate? When I had my child, I noticed, for example, “oops, that’s not the way I speak when I’m bringing up a child, that’s the language of my parents, and the way they spoke is the way their parents spoke, which was in turn formed by the society in which they lived. And who am I imitating now, and for what reason, what is my own language.” That was also interesting, when it all kicked off with the FPÖ (the right-wing Freedom Party of Austria.) There was an election researcher who delivered an envelope three days before every election in Austria, with the exact outcome. His predictions always tallied with the outcome, up to a single decimal place. And then he stopped because people started lying to him. They would say there were voting for the SPÖ (Social Democratic Party of Austria) or the ÖVP (Austrian People’s Party) or blah blah blah, but then voted for the FPÖ. And it’s the same today. You can’t reach people on an emotional level anymore. And that’s a failure of the Left. Because the individuals who voted according to their emotional bias were supporting the right. The whole immigration debate is a right-wing debate, because the Left has for a long time refused to get involved. The moment you engage, you’re already leaning towards the Right. And that’s the way it has become, it’s a big problem and a left-wing failure. I’m not a politician, I don’t have an answer about the use of post-fact by right-wing people, when it’s blatantly lies. If a student said to me that the Americans killed Hitler, I would know how they worked that out. But I believe that young people aren’t convinced by the truth anymore, but by something else. And that is a problem that has only just begun.
DS: But we can’t overlook it, we can however consult our own experience, our own grasp. It is precisely when someone says they’re a political person, is interested in politics, then it can’t be enough to always only operate in the same old art spheres. Or can it? So what are you actually hoping to achieve through your actions? That would be a question to come back to on Friday evening.
GW: I think you’ve already given away the answer: we can speak about it or we can actually do something about it. You can speak about things, and that’s OK, but it’s not enough. You have to take things in to your own hands, not just discuss with friends and do nothing about it.
CR: I’ve often been tempted to give up writing and work for an aid or human rights organisation. But I quickly realised how frustrating it is to fight the prejudices or injustice that I always come up against when travelling Hungary, Romania, Greece, France. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a big surprise that Europe has swung towards the Right. I think those who have a weak position in society and the minorities initially begin to feel the presence of these voices- and those who are working for their rights. The Russian human rights organisation the works with the Roma community, sexual minorities and immigrants, and also who supported our research, was subjected to threats on multiple occasions and has since the emigrated to Brussels. I have also written for newspapers, which in itself wasn’t disillusioning, it’s just not necessarily satisfying in the long run. If you really want to change something, you have to, like the Swedish Roma-activist said, start with children, with children’s books, in schools. Later it’s harder. I started out working as a volunteer for a human rights organisation, when documentary work was as good as concluded. Maybe I always need an ‘art balance.’
GW: I grew up like that too. I took my high school exams and in sixth form as well as lower down the school my history lessons always ended with the killing of the line to the throne. Never once at school did I hear the word Shoah. Or gas chamber. That was Austria in the eighties. It’s changed significantly since then, but in the past that was all completely swept under the rug. That’s why I like working with memory so much. Because you notice which political power relationships you move within. Memory has a lot to do with power balances. Which memories do I create of my ‘fatherland’? That’s a major topic for all right-wing parties. I grew up near the Czech border, surrounded by the Iron Curtain, but it was as if nothing were there. It’s all been blanked out. And now these things we take for granted, which is something I can consider in my work as a visual artist, okay, I’ve already lived for so long in Berlin, maybe I’ll go to Brussels or London for one or two years, that might not be possible in the future. These possible choices and also this self-perception.
CR: It’s important to remember the responsibilities you have.
GW: I recently read about a therapist who gives people with depression the task of helping others.
CR: I’ve often thought that, when I get back to Europe after my travels that it’s like a crystal ball, everyone’s so preoccupied with themselves, particularly in the art world. Staying with people whose day-to-day realities are so different can put everything quickly back into perspective.
GW: Although the act of helping also has a dark side; expectations, ego.
CR: Perhaps you should replace success with meaningfulness, also when it comes to self-expectations. To make art that stirs up a sense of meaningfulness, whatever the context, not just in terms of art.
GW: And also the Right do completely the opposite, an emotionality that you have to deny because you know what it leads to. To answer that is no mean feat. But like John Lennon already said, ‘love is the answer.’
CR: I used to think it was, ‘love is a dancer.’
GW: See, that’s another of my Austrian idioms.
Everyone who took part in CON_TEXT was given preparatory materials about all the participants by the project managers and they could speak to one another in person or via Skype at a table for 15 minutes, and then change, at a preparatory meet-up and ‘speed-dating’ in autumn 2016. At the end, everyone had to send the names of three authors/artists that they would like to work with to the project managers who then used these wish-lists to put together the teams.