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Ernsto Pujol: Systems of Weight

Ernesto Pujol disposes of international experience in artistic, collaborative, group practices and works with experts from a wide variety of disciplines. After four years of living as a silent, cloistered monk, Pujol left the monastery and worked as a social worker while simultaneously attending art school. For Ernesto Pujol, “site-specific” means the opening of a place’s documented, undocumented, and secret histories—its inscribed experiences of violence and pain, but also the pursuit of its energies for collective psychological healing and existential pleasure.

During his two stays in the City of Osnabrück as an artist-residence, public performance artist Ernesto Pujol developed a new, site-specific, community-centered performance for the Kunsthalle Osnabrück called Systems of Weight. In preparation for the project in Osnabrück, he met with local historians, visited numerous architectural and natural sites of historical significance, read historic literature, and completed an opinion survey with the area’s residents. He asked questions such as: What expresses the weight of history? How is this weight embodied? Does anything need to be healed here? What would happen if, in this former church of cross-carrying Dominican priests, we would embody this in silence and release these and other questions?

Pujol’s community-based performances can be equated with group portraits: they are spiritual, psychological, temporary mausoleums in themselves; they are ephemeral memorials in movement. Through the communal experience of silent walking, Ernesto Pujol, who calls himself a social choreographer, wanted to make the heaviness of the past and the complexity of the present, as we construct the furure, more immediate and experienceable. For the Kunsthalle Osnabrück, Ernesto Pujol developed a continuous, two-day, durational performance entitled Systems of Weight. It began at sunrise on the morning of Saturday, June 4th 2016, and continued without interruption until sunset of the following day, Sunday, June 5th 2016.

A number of Osnabrück’s residents circulated within the choir and nave of the Kunsthalle, consciously embodying a vulnerable state of not-knowing, pursuing questions from the past, reflecting on the complexity of the present, and re-evaluating life models for the future. Walking bodies dressed in white, silently carrying and releasing sand through the fluctuations of natural light, and the dramatic entries and exits of energized and tired participants served as the formal inner structures of the performance. The public watched the silent walkers and could join them, walking with them, sharing the weight.

Following the weekend performance, the Kunsthalle was dedicated for two weeks to the transformative collaborative experience that Ernesto Pujol created with the community. Visitors had the opportunity to follow vestiges from the performance in individual, participatory ways. The Kunsthalle’s annual program was realized in collaboration with the Freunde der Kunsthalle Osnabrück e.V. and was supported by the Ministry of Science and Culture of the State of Lower Saxony.

The photos presented here show Pujol’s Systems of Weight with the participation of artists and citizens, some of which came from far away to join us, including: Lars Barlag, Manila Bartnik, Suse Bohse, Alicia Carmen Calderon, Syelle Gerken-Neumann, Renate Hansen, Gudrun Harmsen, Kerstin Hehmann, Beate Lechler, Stefan Leer, Karin Mackey, Francisca Markus, Petra Menke, Dagmar von Kathen, Hiltrud Schäfer, Christel Schulte, Cornelia Stertz, and Monika Witte.


COMMUNITY_ Kunsthalle Osnabrück

ART FORM_ Public Performance

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