A Book Full of Questions Offers Passages to Conversations

Circadian, a Berlin-based independent publishing house releases a book that invites you to explore different versions of yourself.

Diego and some books from Circadian.

Diego Agulló and Dmitry Paranyushkin had gone through endless conversations together. A significant amount of their talks were not just mere talks, but rather a practice to provide a space to become someone else. Instead of confirming each of their identities, they searched for possibilities to loose themselves and break from the boundaries of their own characters. They had been collecting many questions out of that practice. 39 most engaging questions were accumulated and bound together in a book called The Conversation Book: Questions to open the portal into parallel lives.

The small size of this book is not coincidental (it’s even smaller than the palm of my hand!). They purposely made the book so small, so that it’s easy to carry and maybe appears in the most unexpected moments and places. “You can take it anywhere with you, maybe even forget that you have it in your pocket and one day you’ll be surprised to find it again,” Diego says. It’s almost like a game that you can always bring and play with.

As you open the book, no matter which page, you will see a question on the right side and some variations of that question on the left side. Diego explains, “The idea of this book is to offer you some entrances to conversations, ideally with the people you trust or the people that you have some kind of intimacy with.” Instead of just hastily answering each questions, the participants should let them lead to a conversation that explores an alternative hypothetical version of reality. This way they can imagine or even experience new versions of themselves.

On a Friday afternoon in Anaconda am Ufer, Diego sat together with Ariel W. Orah to talk about each of their projects and exercise the book.

Diego: If you were to serve yourself as a dish, what would it be?

Ariel: I think I’m gonna be Rendang. Rendang is a traditional Indonesian way of cooking, the main ingredients could be beef or something vegetarian. The way you cook it is to let it cook for so many hours -like 10 to 12 hours- with a slow fire. Back then we didn’t have fridge, so this way of cooking would actually help preserve the food to be eaten in a long time.

Diego: So what kind of character quality or persona you identify in this way of cooking?

Ariel: I didn’t think about it because I love this food so much haha. But I belive this slow process is the opposite of how we consume nowadays. I just think that long process is okay. 

Diego: So would you say that it takes long for you to make art? Do you like to spend long time to proces and not rush it?

Ariel: Ideally, yes, of course. That is also part of the criticism nowadys. Sometimes art production is something that is comparable to a capitalist process. You have a pressure to perform in a short period of time, to prove that you’re doing something without actually have a room for a long research process. I think research is really important process when executing an idea or a project. And I miss having a long time to research. Because usually when you do something for a year, the research (should) only take 1 or 2 months. Then you have to organise stuff, do rehearsal.

Diego: Great! So now you understand why we make this book. It’s to open up a conversations, proposing a starting point. Ideally it would bring you to hypothetical scenario in your life, things that didn’t happen yet or never happen. But at least by having a conversation, you can actualise it.

Not only a writer, Diego is also a performing artist. He connects the dots between performing and writing. In fact, Circadian exists as an attempt to translate the practices of the people behind it into books. “For example the first book we published, Dangerous Dances, is the translation of my dance practice into book. The book includes methodology, excersices, training methods, practices, and all type of directives to call the reader to do something. It’s not simply theory, not speculation, not fiction,” he recalls. Through his books, Diego is trying to archive his practices and the reasons behind them.

Diego undestands art as a research tool. “I don’t make a big difference between researcher and artist, for me it should be the same,” he says. With his background in philosophy, he tries to intersect them together. He adds, “I also see art as a way to understand philosophy.” Ultimately, his methods and researches are trying to bridge between theory and practice.

The Conversation Book.

Get a copy of the book in Anaconda am Ufer, or order from Circadian website here.

Diego Agulló

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Not an artist, nor a musician, Azhari orbits around the amazing people in Berlin. Translating his admiration towards them into words.