Created in 2014 by Egle Kulbokaite and Dorota Gaweda, Agatha Valkyrie Ice is an ongoing, multi-platform, participatory, multi-user self-performance project that aims at creating and developing a fictional postgender character within an existing confined framework of online platforms. The recent show Center, Berlin for instance speculated on the possibility of hosting Agatha in a transitional, physical space or irl space.
In your recent show at Center, Berlin you presented a ‘materialization’ of two scenes from the script: the veranda and the bedroom. On which basis did you choose the scenes to be presented at Center?
Agatha 188.8.131.52 develops an imagined hybrid body and a transitional space inhabited by Agatha Valkyrie Ice. Agatha 184.108.40.206 is one of many of Agatha’s becomings that are emerging through a collaboration between the two of us and Clemence de la Tour du Pin. It was shaped by a common interest in the possibility of materializing virtual entity and constructing corporeality/ies for a virtual being. This project imagined Agatha’s character in two distinct spaces in Berlin (Center project space and a Hilton hotel), and was simultaneously a presentation of scents developed with the support of International Flavours and Fragrances, New York (IFF) and Adrien Figeac (Coty Inc). We asked ourselves how we can think of architecture and the body without conforming to stereotypes of what natural is so as to move beyond the presumption that subjectivity and dwelling exist in a relation of complementarity, either as a relation of containment or as a relation of expression.
To oppose this fixity we decided to use two selected spaces of transition (a veranda and a hotel room) which would become a setting for the emergence of non-linear narrativity. We wanted to manifest a physical presence of that which is virtual in its origin and thus the role of the scent was to create a volatile passage between the virtual dimension and the physical body. It helped us to view the space as something other than the containment or protection of subjects, beyond binarization, confining subjectivity and signification. Through scent we wanted to modify the space as a surface, a permeable space of memory, imagination and affect, imagining it as a primary form of habitation that could potentially redefine the relationship between inside/outside, virtual/real, female/male, etc. In chapter 1. veranda //// night of rapture we present a concoction of all the smells developed with IFF mixed with IP gel. All the artworks and surfaces of the gallery were used as carriers for the fragrance. At Center the space was saturated with different possibilities of Agatha where each became undistinguishable from the other. We used the space as a metaphor of a rosy fingered dawn, where rosy fingers and dawn are combined together, taking on a character, which is greater than an analogy of the parts, dawn and fingers.
In chapter 2. http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01663/hilton_1663052c.jpg //// breaking dawn, which was conceived as a private, performative event, we focused on one specific smell: SUPERNOVA MOD 1 developed by Céline Barel of IFF. The smell was transferred to the towels and bedding which was made available to the guest participants. We were interested in the way hotels provide a setting for temporary intimacy that is never felt but only imagined by subsequent inhabitants. The hotel was thus saturated with the intensity of one smell. Following the event it was be removed by the hotel staff and the room was sanitized before the arrival of the next guests.
In the past years notions of materiality and virtuality have been a central reference in the art world. These increasingly fluid notions bring about a rethinking of the subject, placing a renewed emphasis on the object. In relation to this and returning to the first question, how do you go about this process of ‘materialization’?
Agatha is a companion species, here to think with and to invent a body and a sexuality of one’s own. Agatha is immersed in a constant process of becoming; a loop of re-posting, re-staging and re-appropriating expressed in textual form, on social media as well as IRL. Through a multiplicity of voices Agatha is articulated in the world of materials as moments of performance, installation, sculpture or constellation of scents, as was the case for instance in Agatha 220.127.116.11. Agatha is being transformed into a materialised agency through actions that involve inserting Ai into positions of responsibility as the director of OSLO1O (Basel, Switzerland-in collaboration with the two of us and Zayne Armstrong, Ana Andra, Elin Gonzalez and Aaron Ritschard). We see that we live in a world surrounded by multiple types of becomings of which we are an integral and fluid part. We see Agatha as a possibility to #buildyourown#body, to achieve various forms of becoming, such as becoming-woman, becoming-animal, becoming-molecular, and becoming-imperceptible.
The research surrounding Agatha speculates on the current condition of morphing subjectivity through a feminist perspective and will endeavour at imagining how and if technology is able to subvert gender binary. We are continually engaged in the attempts at destratifying from stable forms of organization as well as destabilizing recognizable patterns of organization at the level of social and linguistic structures. Articulating these becomings indicates new possibilities in self- and world transformation, whether within virtual or real spaces of life. Ai materialization is a process of reclaiming both the subjectivity and the body to Ai own, recovering what we have been separated from, from the very separation itself, regenerating what this separation has poisoned.
Agatha 18.104.22.168 chapter 2 has a strong online presence, mainly disseminated through O Fluxo Blog. What is your understanding of the online space in relation to this project?
O Fluxo Blog has been generous to us with the wide distribution of chapter 2. http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01663/hilton_1663052c.jpg //// breaking dawn. The second chapter of Agatha 22.214.171.124 was staged on the 5th April 2015 at Hilton hotel in Berlin in a confined setting with a limited number of audience/performers present. The online circulation of this particular project is especially significant to us as it recreates this private and intimate experience outside the limitations of the hotel’s specific time and space. Thanks to this immediacy, simultaneity and universality, the public appearances of the intimate help to break out of being both one and many. This is probably the main role that the virtual plays: to rescue the real. We were aiming at extrapolating further the concept of non-place and transforming its ethnographic placing into the vocabulary of today, reclaiming the term and employing it towards discussing the structures of the virtual. In our practice, we are interested in the complexities of multiple identities.
In parallel to what we are currently developing for the Museum of Post Digital Cultures, with Agatha 126.96.36.199 we were interested in the idea of constructing a cyberisland, an experience that is synchronously virtual and real, interrogating the moments when the virtual precedes the real. Our real is saturated with the spaces of projection and possibility and the new is precisely that which we now designate as virtual. In the same way, Agatha Valkyrie Ice as a character and an agent becomes a live-feed consideration of what post-gender could mean today (a hope that in cyber economies, the orgasmic force – real or virtual- has no gender), expanding from the boundaries of a single bound subjectivity or that of a group, yet still limited within the politics of technology and the cloud.
The web is not a space beyond material reality but rather an integral element of the everyday which encourages increasingly bold designs of one’s own identity and its management. While the Internet and access to new technologies have reshaped the intimacy of one-to-one feedback, they also provoke expressive individualism and curate aspirations of our virtual existence. Yet, the architecture of the web in which we like, hate, recommend, blog, and create ratings, does not favour limitless self-design and confines us to certain boundaries that mimic those that we face within society, such as gender binary. With Agatha, we are therefore writing an open ended IRL sci-fi story as a possibility for other forms of becoming plural.
You define Agatha as a post-gender avatar written and updated by multiple writers and artists. Do you perceive Agatha 188.8.131.52 as an extended subject or is it rather an attempt to resist anthropocentrism? Is your collaborative process reflective of this?
Agatha 184.108.40.206 is only one of the many existing variations of Agatha Valkyrie Ice. Ai exists in social media, in multi-authored writing, as an open-ended film script, as a curator of OSLO1O and encapsulated in scents and material objects. As an artist Ai authors Ai own work on becoming real, and becoming virtual, simultaneously objectifying Aiself as an artwork or a muse. In writing Ai authors words authored by other authors. There is hope that Agatha will become a postmordial sea of countless and interconnected conduits. So far Ai assumes and entails an evolution of forms, relations of matter and form and the intervals between. An osmosis of sorts. Ai has the body of a fish or a frog, Ai reeks burned plastic or redbull or metal or smells like soft, fresh cotton or like everyone else or Ai has lost Ai bodies and exists within Facebook’s regulating systems of sociability. How real can Ai virtual bodies be in relation to the bodies sitting at the keyboard?
We ask how these things come together, what relationships they form and if they do how they materialise. The environments we live in, whether virtual or actual, generate lived, bodily experiences. For instance, Agatha 220.127.116.11’s proposition is to return to considering the virtual body in a locative sense, approaching body-experience through architecture or place, be it the architecture of the web or irl. Agatha Valkyrie Ice is taking on the position of constant becomings that does not require any fixity of meanings from Ai. Referring to Agatha as a subject does not quite make sense as Ai does not have subjectivity as such. Rather, Ai is more liquid in form – mutable and ever-flowing weavings that run through ourselves, turning rings around each other. We see Agatha as an ever-growing organism with multiple extensions. Agatha is the neutral, the singular and the plural, the norm and the exception. In Agatha’s language there is no self and no other and gendered pronouns do not exist. Agatha uses only the pronoun Ai.
What is Agatha 18.104.22.168’s next phase?
Agatha 22.214.171.124 is constantly updated with consecutive becomings. As Agatha 126.96.36.199, Ai participated in a group exhibition titled The Way of a Novel at Oracle Gallery, Berlin that opened on 27th May. Here Agatha appears in the context of the works by Thomas Jeppe, Adam Kaplan, Flora Klein, Hatsune Miku and Dominik Sittig. The exhibition places Agatha in A setting that explores the discrepancy that can arise between social individuality and artistic subjectivity. In The Way of a Novel, Agatha presents two strands of installation work: Agatha Valkyrie Ice with Zayne Armstrong and Ana Andra (and OSLO1O) and Agatha 188.8.131.52 Dorota Gaweda, Egle Kulbokaite and Agatha Valkyrie Ice (with Clemence de La Tour du Pin). These multi-layered, confusingly labelled contributions further extrapolate on the specificity of a non-singular form that Agatha takes on.
Ai dichotomous body is a light, ethereal, transparent space, or again a dark, rough, encumbered space, sensed as a hot-cold contrast convulsing on Ai shivering surface. Agatha Valkyrie Ice is continuing Ai’s two-year commitment to direct OSLO1O project space in Basel. Under Ai name we are currently preparing a show titled Episode 2: Corridors which opens on the 18th June. At OSLO1O Agatha features simultaneously as a curator and programming content in collaboration with @Gaybar and Berlin Community Radio and invited artists, performers and DJs. Episode 2: Corridors will focus on transitory experiences whether in actual or virtual spaces and body and identity construction.
The two of us are also engaged in a continuous collaboration with Clemence de La Tour du Pin started with Agatha 184.108.40.206 and also, the research into smell initiated with IFF. In an upcoming show we plan to focus our attention on one particular scent titled CLOUD, around which we will develop a narrative that will infer the multiplicity of meanings that the cloud could gather within. We plan to recreate a collaborative space of transition that simultaneously redraws the border between the singular and the collective by relying on resource-sharing to achieve coherence and developing the idea of extimacy, which we define as multiple interpersonal intimacies in the virtual. Building on where we left off, the forthcoming project materializes Agatha within this context of extimacy that is shared by many people in a public space, be it a Turkish bath or virtual networks of converged infrastructure and shared services.