Praying: practices of presence, 2021
MA research (Aalto University)

photography: Sidonie Ronfard

Praying: Practices of presence is a research that examines the notion of presence through theoretic research and artistic practice. It was written in 2021 as my Master of Arts thesis in Aalto University. In the research I use praying as a tool to analyze the conception of presence and present it as a praxis of presence; an action that creates connections, opens relations to the world, and through which the self can be examined. To approach the understanding of presence I examined the notions of being, time, body and the self in the contexts of western continental philosophy, posthumanism, western dance and performance art study, as well as Zen Buddhist and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy.

The thesis presents a critical view of the modern world, which is defined by movement, performance and efficiency, and enables violence towards the environment as well as towards other beings and species. I researched the topic of concentration through movement and concentration practices as well as through visualization. I presented a practice of workshops and exercises, that strives away from the ideas of performance, efficiency, success and objective, as an example of artistic working methods, that creates a dialectical work platform based on non-productivity, collectiveness and participation.

I present the bodily practices as a channel for being together with others, suggesting possibilities for opening up to an empathic relation with the surrounding reality. The thesis suggests an intuitive form of perception and visualization as a form of presence, that opens through concentration in relatedness with the world.