Malin Arnell

When: 11:00am-4:30pm, October 12, 2015.
Where: Stora Scenen/Black Box, DOCH, School of Dance and Circus, Brinellvägen 58, 104 50 Stockholm.
*Please indicate which parts of the seminar you plan to attend

“Performativity, properly construed, is not an invitation to turn everything (including material bodies) into word; on the contrary, performativity is precisely a contestation of the excessive power granted to language to determine what is real.”

—Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (2007, 133)

This is an invitation.

During this seminar, two different choreographic practices will be shared as we engage two specific works: one has been developed by YES! Association/Föreningen JA! (together with Åsa Elzén); in the other, artistic process and authority becomes dislocated as my/the/our body pursues embodied affinities, and a state of becoming-with.

Both practices engage the conditions of work/labour and participation from a posthumanist and material-semiotic understanding of knowledge and knowledge production practices.

I invite you to move through/with these two works, as a process of articulating/manifesting them as live documentation documents.

You are invited to become part.
You are invited to recognize collective aspects of knowledge production as political forces.
You are invited to escape binary logics.
You are invited to take responsibility for the force of becoming.
You are invited to re-conceptualize boundaries and properties.
You are invited to mobilize trust as much as insecurity; support as much as dependence.
You are invited to raise awareness of daily violence.
You are invited to acknowledge simultaneous singularity and multiplicity.
You are invited to recognize how societal power relations materialize in and through bodies.
You are invited to activate something that has already happened, which by these actions continues to happen.
You are invited to trust impermanence.
I have been invited.
You are invited.


11:00am-11:15am Introduction
Malin Arnell

11:15am-12:45pm Presentation of (art)work(sport)work(sex)work (June-September, 2015)
Malin Arnell and YES! Association/Föreningen JA! in collaboration with Sooz Romero

(art)work(sport)work(sex)work emanated from an invitation by curator by Julia Paoli to think critically about the impact of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am & Parapan Am Games on the urban redevelopment ambitions of the city of Toronto and how this affected the site of The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery. (art)work(sport)work(sex)work aimed to map how ideologies, socially accepted norms, and legislations govern the conditions of work and participation within the fields of contemporary art, multi-sports events, and sex trade.

In an effort to triangulate these fields and situate them within the urban space of Toronto, a series of bus rides took place each Saturday throughout the duration of the exhibition (planned in collaboration with Emy Fem). The bus rides were hosted by Sophy Chan, Michèle Pearson Clarke, Emy Fem, Savoy ”Kapow!” Howe, Maria Hupfield, Amanda De Lisio, Elene Lam together with Butterfly – Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network, Frances Mahon and Megan Ross, Leslie McCue and Lindy Kinoshameg, Hazel Meyer and Cait McKinney, Malin Arnell and Åsa Elzén from YES! Association/Föreningen JA!

September, 2015. Now I’m here in Stockholm, activating this effort that was rooted in a different place and time. Here, other events, other ideologies, socially accepted norms, and legislations govern participation within society and its institutions. The current situation is calling for other questions, other stories. Right now many refugees arrive in Europe and in Sweden, asking to be safe, asking to become part, asking to stay for a while, or to be able to make a new home away from starvation, persecution, the war, the threat, the violence. For this presentation, Malin Arnell and YES! Association/Föreningen JA! will share the work (art)work(sport)work(sex)work by inviting Sooz Romero to host a 90 min bus ride with the title A bus ride on a tale about invisible people whose existence was mentioned but remains invisible...

Sooz Romero writes:

LGBTQI immigrants’ existence is filtered through the voices and shapes of white supremacists, their norms, their total control and their succulent profit. They made us illegal.

A real hell in your own home, hell in your country, hell throughout the quest for a chance to be who you are and love yourself entirely. Hell through the oceans and infinite wires and walls. Hell because of a million words without meaning. Hell throughout the sleepless nights and emptiness of the stomach. Hell in the crowded rooms in the refugee camps. Hell in the white-cis heteronormative streets. Hell living in the body you and everyone else hates. Hell being seen as uneducated, unreliable and dangerous. Hell when I don’t hear or see what they say to me. Hell when I hear terror when they talk about what I believe in. Hell when the people who help me see me as a charity project. Hell because I cannot be loved by anybody ‘cause I am just an asylum seeker, I am a burden, I am a no-one ‘cause my existence was mentioned but I am still invisible.

Migration in Sweden, they do not believe in hell therefore that story does not exist.

12:45pm–1:30pm Lunch (vegetarian meal provided)

1:30pm-2:30 Presentation of Setting the Scene (December, 2014)
Malin Arnell in collaboration with Vanessa Anspaugh and Magdalena Górska

The two hour action Setting the Scene came about from an invitation by curators Rebecca Brooks, Daria Faïn, and Shelley Senter to engage broadly with questions of somatics, while they were asking the question “how are we mattering?”

As a response to this invitation and stemming from a desire for a collective intimacy, I invited fourteen friends and colleagues to come together as a working team, to improvise and help each other with different tasks using a variety of materials (six pieces of 20’ x 50’ clear plastic sheeting; nine pieces of 4’ x 8’ foam insulation; eight large transparent balloons; fifty blue chairs; audience). We engaged in a ritual of uncertainty and trust in which we were both doing and not doing, watching and being watched, touching materials and each other, being touched and moved by objects and each other. Our breathing and the air between us became part of the soundscape made by KOEFF, together with the reading of fragments of texts by Karen Barad.

I have invited Vanessa Anspaugh and Magdalena Górska to Stockholm for three days to consider this work together. Vanessa was part of the action at Danspace. Magdalena later encountered the action during a presentation in Göteborg. For this seminar we will engage with the materials and memories of these encounters as we move through them, as a process of documentation.

Setting the Scene was performed during the Movement Research Festival Fall 2014: M A T T E R I N G at Danspace Project in New York City, with Malin Arnell, Vanessa Anspaugh, Fia Backström, A.K. Burns (Camera), Anna Craycroft, Nicole Eisenman, devynn emory, Rachel Higgins, Alhena Katsof, KOEFF (Sound), Katherine Hubbard, Zoe Leonard, Clara López Menéndez, Lydia Adler Okrent, and Guadalupe Rosales among other materials.

2:30pm-3:00pm Coffee

3:00pm-4:30pm Dissertation as a live event
A discussion led by opponent/dialogue partner Annette Arlander with the aim of generating a dialogue around the format of Malin Arnell’s dissertation.

Participating Supervisors: Anna Koch and Hanna Hallgren



Malin Arnell is an artist, researcher, and educator based between Stockholm, Berlin, and New York. Through performative means such as repetition, duration, enactment, and text she reflects upon the political and social construction of realities. Throughout her practice, Arnell emphasizes the experiences around body (her body, their body, our body), presence, participation, membership, and other affective manifestations. She was a founding member of the feminist performance group High Heel Sisters (2002-2007) and she co-founded YES! Association/ Föreningen JA! (2005-ongoing). She completed an MFA in Visual Arts at Konstfack, University College of Art, Crafts and Design, Stockholm (2003), and was a participant in the Studio Program at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program, New York (2009-2010). She is a PhD candidate in Choreography at the University of Dance and Circus / Stockholm University of the Arts, and was a visiting scholar in the Department of Performance Studies at the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University (2012-2015).

Vanessa Anspaugh is a choreographer, director, performer, and teacher based in Brooklyn, New York. Many of the questions that surround her work address the myriad relationships that exist in collections of groups and individuals, touching on tropes such as directorship, authorship, collaboration, collectivity, domination, and love. By looking at ways to subvert the dynamics and/or reverse the structures around the act of choreographing, her work stands as a metaphor for power dynamics in the world at large.

Annette Arlander is an artist, researcher, pedagogue, a pioneer of Finnish performance art, and a trailblazer of artistic research. She graduated from the department of directing at the Theatre Academy in 1981, and received her Doctor of Arts (Theatre and Drama) in 1999. She was professor of performance art and theory at Theatre Academy from 2001-2013, and is currently professor of artistic research.

Magdalena Górska is a PhD candidate, graduate student at TEMA Department of Thematic Studies - Tema Genus, Linköping University. In her dissertation she engages with breathing as a diverse, transformative, and processual phenomenon that challenges anthropocentric understanding of human politics and ethics while asking anthropo-situated questions in a posthumanist manner.

Hanna Hallgren is Senior Lecturer in Gender Studies at Linnaeus University and a researcher in Gender Studies and Artistic Research. Hallgren is also a poet and has published several collections of poems. In 2014 she published Prolog till den litterära vetenskapsteorin (Prologue to the literary theory of science), a collaborative work with the artist Melissa Henderson. Hallgren is co-supervisor for Malin Arnell’s PhD project.

Anna Koch is a dancer/choreographer and Artistic Director at Weld, where she works and presents her own artistic work, and cultivates the organization. Anna has created a wide range of choreographic works and shown internationally. She is a frequent participant in the worlds of art and theatre but is also actively engaged in electronic music. Koch is Malin Arnell’s main PhD project supervisor.

Sooz Romero is an anti-ableist-anti-racist-trans feminist who has migrated to Sweden from South America. Their experiences of patriarchy, migration, academic elitism, ableism, racism and NGO assimilation has paved the way to advocate and fight for LGBTQI asylum seekers’ rights in Sweden.

YES! Association/Föreningen JA! is an art collective, an artwork, an association, an art worker, an institution, a group of people working to overthrow the ruling system of heteronormative, patriarchal, racist and capitalist power structures. YES! Association/Föreningen JA! puts into practice a structural redistribution of access to financial resources, space and time within the contemporary art sphere through engaging in strategies related to rights discourse and inclusion, radical difference and utopia.


Many thanks to my friends, family, comrades, colleagues, and casual acquaintances who have shared their support, labor, and desire during these projects, and the coordination of this seminar.

Thanks to Vanessa Anspaugh, Magdalena Górska, and Sooz Romero for your presence and commitment.

Thanks to Hanna Hallgren and Anna Koch for advise and encouragement, and Annette Arlander for your involvement in my work.

Thanks to Runa Norheim and Ursula Nill for helping out during the seminar.

Special thanks to Åsa Elzén for the work with YES! Association/Föreningen JA!, Alhena Katsof for generative discussions, Maria Åkesson/Sugar Rush Productions, Debhora Vega, and Ida Lövestam for documenting, Andrew Kachel for editorial and writing assistance, and Frida Sandström for the design of this folder.

I also wish to acknowledge the help provided by the staff at Stockholm University of the Arts, above all Camilla Damkjaer, Kay Artle, Johan Andersson, and Per Hedegren.