DUA – On Friendship
published in: On Care. A Journey into the Relational Nature of Artists' Residencies

–> book publication (VFMK – Verlag für Moderne Kunst, Vienna)
–> online-publication (Akademie Schloss Solitude)


Usually, when someone asks us from where we know each other we say: We are solitude sisters. We arrived at Akademie Schloss Solitude the same day and were shown around the house together. We lived on top of each other: We could hear each other walk or type on the typewriter or hammering nails into the walls. We couldn’t hear the letters, the lines settling in black or grey on the off white paper, but somehow we did anyway. We met exactly two years ago, but in cat years or work years it feels like around twenty.

Solitude also as an innermost state: being used to sitting alone in front of the paper – digital or analogue. Hearing one’s own breath echoing back and forth between ribcage and mountain range. Smelling the damp darkness of sleep while turning the oblong of white into the roundness of a moment–thanks of the habit to start working before taking a shower and then, in the early afternoon, still wearing the nightgown. Still, we weren’t just medium clean loners before we met, we had initiated projects and collaborations and we are proud and glad to have long standing ones. But while one does work, that is, getting whirled away in the sea of graphite, of consonants, it’s downright impossible to imagine that there is someone, just next door, also in their pajamas, also happily exhausted. One just holds on to a little piece of driftwood with both hands and brain halves and heart chambers and that’s that. 

When we say sisters, we do have that deep familiarity in mind, which does not need explicitness and is a full embrace up front. We have spent three months living at each other’s places since we were fellows at Akademie Schloss Solitude, split between London and Berlin and Biel. It all began when we saw that our methods are related: both of us work with constraints, that is, more or less complicated rules or sets of rules that determine what can or cannot be done. The french writer’s group Oulipo which worked heavily with constraints, put it like this: Oulipians must be like rats who build the labyrinth from which they propose to escape. Rats probably wearing pajamas while stacking up brick after brick. The escape, the rooftop of freedom that can be reached only within the limitations is what makes this method so effervescing. What we achieve by subjecting ourselves to rigidity is a raw gentleness, a precarious intimacy and often surprising immediacy. A page or sheet of paper that suddenly stares back. 

While it seems very natural to us that we collaborate and thus are part of each other’s lives, it is probably important that we are not siblings. We had to find each other, we had to walk past a lot of bricks and bridges and book shops and doubts and bus stops and bakeries to have our paths cross. In fact, we even both lived in Berlin for a while as we both studied at UdK (different departments, though, and a couple of years apart) and both were in Istanbul that one summer, working with the same gallery. Yet, we didn’t meet. Solitude did that for us, being the white oblong on a hilltop. We met, and this seems significant, in an unmarked space. It is a privileged blank, ready to be inhabited, not already crowded with all those people we once have been. 

It is, in a way, the utopia which Luce Irigaray has in mind, when she reminds us how to welcome the Other as guest: It certainly is good to have a spare room or corner where a guest can be put up and it is good to share with them whatever we have. But nevertheless this arrangement means that the other is incorporated into our world, has to blend in all the little habits and arrangements that have, over time, become ourselves. In order to meet the other as Other, it would be desirable, says Irigaray, to not have a place ready, but to built a new one. A space that can become a world that truly is the Other’s. Only then we can meet: »in fact, proximity to the other and closeness between us can be reached when engendering a common world together, a world that will not destroy the world which is proper to each one.« 

Text: Regina Dürig
Drawings: Patrizia Bach


Images (all from 2020):
Friendship [for R.], pencil on paper, 30,6 × 26,6 cm
typewriter-text:  24 × 20 cm, ink on paper
On F119: pencil and ink on paper, each 24 × 20 cm, together 48 × 40 cm
typewriter-text:  24 × 20 cm, ink on paper
Clacton-on-sea, pencil on paper, 21,8 × 17,7 cm
Federn lassen/Losing Skin [Squash], pencil on paper, 24 × 17 cm
typewriter-text:  24 × 20 cm, ink on paper