friending

'Something so weird happened. Ah yeah?'

Ongoing actions, events and happenings to celebrate and question friendship, 2020-...

Video-perfomance (30") in Workspacebrussels (January 27 and 28) and Kunsthal Gent (April 22), 2022


Together with new and 'old' friends, I visualise the complexity of friendship relationships and the political impact that can exist in those intimate relationships. Throughout life the expectations and habits within friendships shift. As a child and teenager, friendships are often a central element (in positive and less fun ways). It's quite normal to sleep-over at a friend's home, to pass on a ‘buddy book’, to declare each other ‘best’ friends. In adult life these signifiers disappear, friendships seem less important and are replaced by romantic relations and nuclear families. In our late-capitalist society, romantic relations are celebrated on Valentines Day, wedding anniversaries and more, but rarely we do the same for friend-relations.


To me, friendships are often changing and complex relations where mental, financial and other care takes place. They are a great model for how we as society might expand concepts of intimacy and care, where we can understand how to live and work together, how to unlearn the internalised idea of individuality and how to recognise interdependence. Friend relations don’t come with social scripts, they have less patterns and ceremonies, they can progress in many ways. For this reason they are important examples to counter imaginations around the nuclear family, favoured and encouraged by neoliberal politics. We can act towards change together with friends, it is a site where in unorganised togetherness we find strength to bear and resist capitalist normative logics.


Screenshots from video accompanying the performance


Over the course of several years, Elien documented moments with friends, such as moving homes together, disappointments and the celebration of a 33 year old friendship. Relationships with friends don’t come with a social script: they have less patterns and ceremonies than romantic relations. Yet even in friendships, there are numerous small habits and behaviours that demonstrate mental, financial, and other forms of care. These are great and humble ways to find strength in resisting capitalist normative logic and countering imaginations around the nuclear family. During the showing, Elien shares twenty stories, actions and happenings related to the warmth and difficulties within friendships.