School of Verticality is a public program about listening and learning from embodied, situated forms of knowing. Where on earth do we belong? Which forgotten nurturing practices can we bring to light and reinvent, together? The program unfolded in four episodes in dialogue with specific locations during 2018-2019. Each episode interweaves various biographies (human, animal, territorial) and temporalities (of geology, history, biology, dreams, memory).
For its concluding episode in South Tyrol, School of Verticality explored the potential of weaving borders to challenge the understanding, in Western modernity, of our belonging to certain spaces or identities: land, nation-states, nature, culture, species, gender. In an age when walls are erected and separation overshadows coexistence, frontiers have become more than cognitive or political symbols. Some are displacing life, but sometimes life is displacing them.
In this context, I proposed to reinvent Allan Kaprow’s happening OVERTIME, realized only once in Spring 1968 at University of California, San Diego. In this work, the artist gives instructions to move an 200 feet (+- 50 m) snow fence over a distance of 1 mile (+- 1,5 km) in the course of one night. Like many other happenings, OVERTIME develops Kaprow’s guiding principle of blurring boundaries between art and life. The piece was never re-invented.
OVERTIME took place on Alpe di Villandro/Villanderer Alm, in Alto Adige/Südtirol, a fitting location to address the meaning of shifting boundaries: the territory abounds with geological, cultural, socio-historical and linguistic boundaries. Moving a boundary throughout the night of May 25 proved to be a collective effort in tackling sociocratic decision-making, fatigue and pouring rain.
School of Verticality brought together a group of participants from diverse backgrounds (academics, local experts, cultural producers, land owners and land users). This temporary companionship constituted a moving platform to exchange forms of knowing related to land. Together with Sophie Krier, guest researcher and activist Stéphane Verlet-Bottéro activated this ‘mobile assembly’: a group that gathers for a given moment in a joint effort to fulfill a task.
The happening was preceded by OVERTIME PAPERS, a critical reader in four parts that puts Kaprow’s work in dialogue with the local context. Gathering photographs, interviews and text excerpts, OVERTIME PAPERS addressed notions of deep time (geological boundaries), shared time (common boundaries), political time (national boundaries) and ancestral time (transcending boundaries).
Images by Jörg Oschmann, courtesy Lungomare. Text & OVERTIME PAPERS co-edited with Stéphane Verlet-Bottéro. Graphic design by Inedition