RFAOH x DHC, the first “non-art” workshops : Functional Origami, Three Guitar Chords
Some may wonder about the random subjects of our “non-art” workshops we are offering as part of our satellite office operation at DHC/ART. As we touched in the previous post, the art foundation initially invited us because of the conceptual thread between the theme of their current exhibition and RFAOH, and asked us to “activate the basement space unfamiliar to some gallery visitors” (a fitting analogy for RFAOH, isn’t it?). The space is designated as a ‘reading room’ where you can reference material on the showcased artists, underneath their multi-level gallery. We knew we wanted to set up an “office” there and conduct some activities we had proposed in the past to other institutions. (hiatus proposal reviews, presentations by ex-RFAOH residents, and lectures by (rather famous) artists on what they do when not making art etc.) Some of these are logistically more feasible than others and this time, we decided to add free workshops to run ourselves on topics chosen from our limited skill-sets, knowledge, or long-term interests except art. We wanted the workshops to convey the idea of hacks, alternative notions of creative assets and achievement, and a bit of nonsense. And curiously, they happened to have some kind of association to the works in the exhibition.
The first workshop was “FUNCTIONAL Origami“. It turned out to be quite popular among gallery visitors of all ages who may have had little idea about RFAOH (and rightly so; there is no need for workshop participants to know that it’s part of our project). We showed how to make “functional” items using flyers and scrap papers, such as a “cellphone stand for smooth chatting and non-shaky selfies”; a “cat treat dog box”; a “wallet for alternative currencies”, and so on. Many people are familiar with and inspired by origami in its art of transformation — nothing (a piece of paper) turning into something (or something that looks like something). We of course wanted to add more to it, making nothing into something that you can actually use (although some of which were precarious^^). What really fascinates us about origami is that you do not transform the paper through cutting or gluing, so when “untransformed”, it goes back to the original form of a square piece of paper (with memories of the other state, perhaps). This is once again, quite metaphorical and anecdotal to reflect upon in this time of heated debates around types of institutionalization and approaches to conflict etc. Plus, the community of origami makers coming up with new ideas is ingenious! This “kids’ craft” is deep.
The second workshop was titled: “Learn three guitar chords (because you only need three)“. If this old school DIY sentiment didn’t betray our ages, our song list likely did. Participants were invited, two at a time, to sit with us and learn the chords, A, D, and E — the foundation of literally thousands of songs — as either “first position/country” chords, or Johnny Ramone style
“barre/power” chords. There are clear advantages and disadvantages to each strategy. Power chords bring the advantage of all sharing the same basic hand shape so there is really only one chord to memorize which may then be moved around the neck to play the three chords (or any chord for that matter). In that sense they are a great hack for anyone wanting to learn enough guitar to start a band in under a week — as long as one can get past the hand stretch, which is a bit tricky for complete beginners. We gave our participants only 30 minutes to learn these chords in the method of their choice before quickly rehearsing and recording a song; a challenging task but one that sets up the possibility of simultaneous success and failure. The learners were generally split on which method they felt was easiest but all of them deserve a standing ovation for stepping outside their comfort zones and giving it a go. (Johnny would have been proud!) The notion of achievement is such arbitrary rhetoric without context. Messing with this relationship between rhetoric and context permits nonsense at times and a point of great potential where we can leverage one against the other in ways that sometimes even surprise ourselves (and others, too, or piss them off).
We have four more workshops/lectures coming up — let’s see if we could earn a philosophy degree out of these fun times (;