At Home In A Liminal World | 2019

2019 © Eylem Ertürk

Modern life is characterised by uncertainties and insecurities created by constant change. We feel ‘off’, uneasy, unsettled, in between. In between different stages of life, in between careers, relationships, homes, cities, cultures… How do we deal with changes and increasing uncertainties in our lives? What strategies do we develop to ground ourselves in times of change? At Home In A Liminal World researches into the feeling of in-betweenness by exploring “liminal” situations. The concept of liminality is used to describe any in-between state and space. It was introduced by anthropological research at the beginning of the last century and has recently entered social and political theory. Times of transition, permanently liminal times, are the locus of the project. It focuses on individual experiences during these periods, in different contexts and scales, in times of crisis, where the order of the world tends to change. It also focuses on a variety of ways in which we react to liminal situations.

Considering liminality both as a concept and an approach, the project involves artistic and curatorial approaches in three different actions. The first part is a performative act to open space for “liminals”, people who feel in between, to realise and reflect on their own liminality in an elevator as “liminal” setting. The second involves in-depth interviews with people who feel in between homes, jobs and cities. The third is an online exploration of diverse liminality aspects in the Instagram account @athomeinaliminalworld. Displaying personal experiences based on the interviews and the performance, the account provides a ground to share background research with readings, artworks and a music playlist that relates to the feeling of in-betweenness. With all three actions, the project intends to create a ground to transform individual experiences into shared ones, to initiate connections with others who share similar feelings of in-betweenness, to make liminal people and liminal situations visible, to research the constructive potentials of liminality and to initiate a feeling of community by relating it to the uncertainties growing out of the insecurities of modern life.

The project was initiated by Eylem Ertürk and or­ganised initially in collaboration with Magdalena Hubauer and Pavel Naydenov in the Social Design_Arts as Urban Innovation Master Program at the University of Applied Arts Vienna in 2019.

At Home In A Liminal World, Master of Arts Thesis in Social Design, University of Applied Arts Vienna | 2019 (Unpublished)

In Between Liminals | 14 June 2019, Vienna

The performative action, In Between Liminals, opens another space, a physical liminal space, for the experiences of individuals feeling in-be­tween. We have organised a one-day activity where we have invited people to share their liminal experiences. We aimed to learn about other people’s feelings of in-betweenness and the ways in which they deal with it while taking participants through a setting where we make it possible for them to ex­perience liminality. The experience occurred on June 14, 2019, at the Univer­sity of Applied Arts Vienna. During 12 hours in a day, 24 slots –of half an hour each– were provided for appointments to go through a one-on-one experience. When participants arrived, they met their counterparts from our team –Eylem, Magdalena or Pavel– to get introductory information on the concept as well as the project.

The participants received a card with questions. Following this, they were guided to the second stage, the liminal phase, where they were left alone in an elevator. The participant could sit in a rocking chair on a carpet, meditate and reflect on the questions we have provided them, on a constantly moving ground, in a daily functioning cargo elevator at the university. This setting is a mini metaphor for being “at home in a liminal world”, literally. The participant was invited to take a seat and experience the feeling of not knowing where they were going, and being alone through it, being visible but invisible under the public gaze. The cargo elevator had two doors: the participant entered from inside, the building, and at the end, upon completion of the liminal phase, left from the other door to the courtyard on the opposite side. The start in the courtyard, the elevator and the end in a parking lot – all happened in places we could call “liminal”. They were not guided through the experience. It was the participants’ decision when to leave the place, as long as they enjoyed or could bear to stay on this moving ground. The same person, who had welcomed them at the beginning, waited outside on the other side of a table. At this stage, they sat and talked one-on-one, about their experience of in-betweenness inside the elevator and in their lives in general.

We have hosted 23 participants in the experience in between liminals. Some have stayed less than a minute in the elevator, and some more than half an hour. Based on our observa­tions, the elevator proved to be an interesting liminal ground to call back attention to the uncertainties in our lives, and our initiative to react to them. The talks were audio-taped and some parts were featured later in the Instagram account. The experience was finalised with a symbolic action, with contributions from the participants, in which they were asked to leave a trace of their presence, a liminal signature. They had one page to draw a line, in an empty book, in between the person before them and the one that will follow, to connect to both, and also have their own space in between.

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