How do I dwell in my own body while dwelling in urban space? How do I behave, act, move and why is that so? How can I observe, change and use it as a source for creative play? Urban space, this ambiguous context of immensity and intimacy. I am not interested in dancing in public space as a rupture of mundane behaviour, but in the power of imagination in the moment of dwelling as a body – as a site – in a site. Steve Paxton, whose term small dance describes the attendance to tiny movements happening while standing still, said about exploring pedestrian movements: “Standing I found more and more unpedestrian. It’s rarely done in a kind of pure state […]. I began to see that there were all these things very close to the surface that we maintain to get through the day that were in fact profound experiences – standing still for a long time was one of them” (Paxton; 1977).
I stand still. I perceive, I imagine. I record, I transfer, I listen. I start again. Standing and shifting in response to imagination and actual perception becomes a powerful experience of dwelling. “The distant and the near are experienced with the same intensity, and they merge into one coherent experience” (Pallasmaa; 2013, p.46).
Voicing becomes a powerful experience of translation. How I speak causes various densities, and this alters the meaning of the words spoken and the atmosphere of the sounds produced. Composer Daniel Barenboim links the production of sound to the notion of gravity (retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKUi0c7bg2Q). The production of a sound is a lifting from silence, energy used against gravity. Brandon LaBelle observes the mouth as the architecture around voice processing this lifting: “Subsequently, the mouth is precisely what puts into question the separation of interior and exterior, as distinct and stable […]. It performs […] to echo and vibrate with a multitude of forces that pass through its chamber, from the edible to the inedible, the symbolic to the semiotic, the proper to the improper.” (LaBelle; 2014) I lift a sound, which carries a meaning. The mouth is the threshold in which both physical sensation/ability and the production of meaning come together, just as while standing still and perceiving the site: bodily sensation, readings of meaning, evoked imagination layer.
I see the spaces around me almost as a stage, in the sense of a dual vision: as a sign for something and the thing itself. Valerie Preston-Dunlop calls this interpraxia: the oscillation between the experiential and referential dimension. It hold the possibility of “desemiotitasion” (Preston-Dunlop, & Sanchez-Colberg; 2002) in theatre, of rupturing the conventional reading of signs. Can I rupture the order of perception and movement of the context I am in? I learned about choreology (Rodulf von Laban) – the analysis of space, movement, effort, harmony – and fell in love with the playfulness it provides:. Can I be surprised by my imagination, not following the efficient rhythm of effort and recovery, of up and down, turning left and right? Can I thus play with the sign content of spatial orientation?
I think I can. Starting with and arriving at the notion, that “the city and my body supplement and define each other. I dwell in the city and the city dwells in me” (Pallasmaa; 2013).
I realise, once more, that somatic work and dance make me question terms and thereby my way of reading and being in the world. The module Embodied Practice, part of my MA, is over. What do I mean by writing now, after these weeks, the term freedom? Equally I can ask that about: autonomy and engagement? It is a question about representation, about the mediation between process and its appearance. After these weeks there is a difference. It may not look different. But it feels new. I let myself be seduced to follow a new route. I didn’t ask anymore if somatic is for the expansion of performative skills or for self-exploration or for a state of being. It was just happening, somehow. With all my dedication and all of my presence I flow into the listening to what is appearing, I witness myself in a kind of autonomy that is difficult to describe: i feel loosened from labels, from needs to how to do, from to do at all, i feel loosened from a certain style, from a shape to fill into – rather i create a shape, constantly, myself. But it doesn’t seem to be myself either, no producing decision, as I follow a stream of exploration, a shape that is being formed by my body and the task, and the other bodies and the space and the air and breath and molecules. So it is no way independent. No solitude. No reflective choice. But still it feels autonomous.
Is this an artistic process?
To be curious for life’s dynamics of creativity, is that art? Before, I linked the eager to study to the eager to have a result. But now, how I am to legitimise a result just out of curiosity for a richness that I find existing, that I do first of all not produce but perceive? Movement, space, bodies, all of that is there already (though shaped by my attendance) and in constant shifts.I slow down, I wait for the impulse and I face the fear that there may never come one. I have the experience that it is coming and it is making me feel more real than anything else. The endless joy I find in watching details of every day life, nature as well as cities, of exploring moments and spaces.
Is the sharing of these experiences an artistic articulation?
There are so many ways of articulation, and there is so much knowledge without articulation, and so many individual paces to the processes of both articulation and non-articulation. To be lost, to be in a place of not-knowing, the beginners mind as well as the discovering mind are such precious moments. Validation comes in when somebody engages in one’s own pace, much more than when somebody manages to articulate the learned. Somatic work encourages me to not pretend when I am lost and unconfident, but to put me and my vulnerability in a visible spot.
Does experience comes before expertise?
This would evoke honesty – even more, authenticity. I have huge issues with that term. Not only with the word, but with the concept. Especially in relation to body, experience and presentation. But how else should I name it? – this attempt to not make it shiny. To really show my practice, my process. Not performing to stay close to the process, not performing authenticity, but circling around it, which may become very performative. I allow to discover a world without having to name it. To have a field of interest, and what this field defines, as well as the reasons to be interested, don’t have to be named. I explore the motivation of the practice, again and again, in the unfolding of the process, in the availability of the body for that what arises.
Articulating, as women. Women who move.
In order to take experience seriously and to process it, to distance myself just far enough in order to observe it non-judgmentally and gently, to kind of touch it, without expertise, I need to move. Bodily. Yes, imagination can do a lot, but the actual physical movement does something else. Or better: the possibility of actual physical movement as it wants to be. The invitation to get out of the way of the physical self, the space to move through space. Because it allows my body and mind to understand that going slow in the sense of focused and precise doesn’t mean to me moving slow. It can. But it may also not look like it.So, what is dance then?A way to let go. Let go of the need to be aware, of a task, of past and future, of any rules, any should, of understanding and improving. It means to be totally in the moment, even if it brings a memory. It invites contradiction, play, complexity in. And it also allows to break a state of the introvert high sensitive Me. Because dance allows to recognise that are sensation, perception, and creation are reciprocal, that I am because the others are. It allows relation.
Could I now put artistic and authentic and creation in one sentence?
In a perception of a very dense space, I keep researching for gaps. They are a sensation of spatiality in which not everything is fixed, not all is mapped as in cartography, but is bears unknown places, situations to be encountered, movements to be evoked. Like windows they open, and within a space they is more space, or different space. These gaps are not bound to time in a way that they do not exist, and then after a reshaping of space they appear as something completely new which history has not seen before. But they do appear in a rhythm of closing and opening, in a temporarily manner. Also they are bound to causality; certain attentions make them likely to appear, for me.
Hubert Godard describes space in the interview “Phenomenological space” as the imaginary building of our relationship to the world and kinesphere as gradient of perspective, a range of ways I am able to notice the space around my body. There is no space out of time and history, space is of action: “When you perceive a vector, perception accelerates (it boils on itself). Space is not empty. It is a space of action.” My own experience that the biggest joy as well as biggest shift, which feels like the whole being-in-the-world changes, that I perceive in bodywork and dance is due to perception of space, it finds an affirmation. Godard says that “in fact what is also limited is my potential for action and imagination. Because at a very deep level, it’s a space where I will be doing something I cannot imagine. And in this potential of action or subjective space, there are some movements that are completely repressed, some are really there, some are not possible, and some are yet to be evoked. […] I think the best way to work with people in dance or in therapy about the question of space is to help them understand their potential of action, their subjective space. […] demonstrating that the way I am building my imaginary space affects my body.” That is all the explanation i need for my love for these practices I pursue in the last years, and for the deepening believe in their necessity for world, environment, society, relationship.
In my sensory imagination gaps appear in a pattern, not single and absolute in the centre of my body scheme. If they open up in the centre, then also shortly next to it, on the periphery. They almost suck my in, or rather the edges around them seems to address a desire in my movement. I am becoming a flush of energy bounding and responding. I am not the figure against the background of space anymore, but surrounded by worlds and entities and lines. Concrete, improvised energies floating on abstract potentialities. Is this utopia? The space of action “in which “inside/outside,” “me and the space,” are the same. There is just one. Is it movement, a space with all the movement happening in space. And this is a goal in bodywork and dance – to open the full potential for action.”
in the train home just before christmas: I feel different
after a few months of moving every day
to be awake
vibrant in the cells
to witness patters and ruptures
it created a different perception of being me, sitting here
and it feels so good
what else remains? the thought, that it is not enough to feel good
and the desire that it could be enough
enough to legitimise all the money i spend, all the actions I pursue
to justify my right for peace and joy, for appreciation
for sadness and pain
then, I would be free
I sit down to write about how
I let myself be seduced in a state of awareness below my conscious control
what a dangerous place, what a suspicious momentum this is
all sort of things could happen
I could develop a passion for what I find in this place
just by listening to my body and observation of my imagination
I would risk to feel good but look stupid
because feeling good doesn’t necessarily translate in a stylish way
so I risk loosing the momentum of style
and even more
I could loose my ability to care about the look of
and even more
I could loose my ability to differentiate between the feeling
and the looking
I could think that it is actually already enough
no need to lift a finger
just passion for it
no need for result
hold on: no need for result
what a suspicious thing to think
that I even
could learn to take care about yourself
it is not an extreme situation
I stop to build legitimations for my feelings
I just feel them
after so many minutes, summing up to hours
of waiting, on the floor
waiting for impulse to grow
of softening into the space
of getting out of the way of my physical self
of duets of space within and spaces without
of duets of breath and movement
I forget how to fit into rhythm that feels external
if I try: it hurts and
I feel useless and not functioning and
like a coward and
like a fool and
after many tryouts
of allowing to be a coward
I feel a shift of concept
neither right or wrong
but maybe right
a strange kind of
we measure abstract dimensions in order to grasp them: time, space. quantities, qualities. we visualise measurements in abstract forms in order to grasp them.
the amount of a circle. the hight of a column. the flow of a line.
after visiting damián ortega’s exhibition in white cube gallery, I realise how the the embodiment of models in space moves me, as standing besides three-dimensional blocks made out of concrete that visualise time frames is a totally different situation than looking at a drawing on a sheet of paper. the embodiment of graphics in space makes a graphical reduction of ungraspable concrete things, such as timespans in a situation or amounts of a unity, scarily concrete. it confronts that we conceive reality through models, thus that we shape our concrete world via abstract ideas of dimensions that are concrete but just too great to survey, as: this, which was meant to be a representation, is suddenly a thing.
after studying rudolf laban’s theory on space harmony and graphical analysis of energy patterns, I realise how notation of movement ans space reveals the link between abstract image and effect, even affect.
we built models in order to plan concrete things. we reduce concrete things to models in order to get the whole picture.
architecture, cities. molecules, patterns.
after getting to know the theoretical work by architect sam jacob, I realise how architecture pretends to be a naturally given frame.
after some years of investigating in somatic trainings, i realise more and more how anatomy books shape the idea of what defines a body.
after some discussions about sexuality with friends, colleagues and family members, I realise how illustration of female sexual organs shape the idea of what my pleasure should be like.
we fragment the whole picture into its compartments and we are lost. we explore the compartments and the whole picture changes.
clocks, photo cameras. bodies.
after a long time collaborating and spending time with michael rybakov (https://rybakov.com/blog/), I realise how technological gadgets become friends, rather than machines.
what a wonderful and strange human being ability to see and built systems all around.
The recapitulation of GSPRCH is a recapitulation of the process of making art. Or, more precisely, it is a reflection on the question: What do I do in the frame of making art? I had, already during the conversation about GSPRCH, the impression that this project will not be about the exhibition as a result, but about this box as a common frame.
I had the impression that this would be enough. Enough relevance. Enough consequence. Enough to then make an exhibition. Enough reason to give if somebody would come and ask: What are you doing?
We: are working simultaneously juxtaposed and with each other. We are talking about it, questioning. Sharing and not sharing. We are in the potentially visible sector. What does it show? We are negotiating place, time dates, interferences, needs, effect. We are negotiating the necessities of our actions.
This sounds pretty egocentric. But, rather and, rather affectively, I am interested in simultaneousness and its structures, via observation. I decide to declare this topic as mine: stretching a network out of stories that others are telling, that are evolving out of the observation of simultaneous action. This would be my artwork being made in this art making process.
I start, I make, and I stop. I realise.
Not communicating is part of this network. The potentially not visible sector. How do I integrate that? I have the impression that is still not about the exhibition as a result, but about the common frame. That this is enough. Enough relevance. Enough consequence. Enough to then make an exhibition. Enough reason to give if somebody would come and ask: What are you doing?
I: integrate the not communicative not visible sector by doing what I desire, what pleases me. No reasoning needed. I collect without the need of having a collection. I ride the vibes of the others, without the need to translate them into a product. I follow my sensuality, in order to explore the vibes that are present. I decide for it, living it through my being. I break with my concept, in order to create an inefficient, causally open space for action which is senseless as undefined and not even keen on definitions. This is satisfaction to me. That is what I need.
GSPRCH is not without a future focus, not without an aim, as exhibiting means opening. An opening up towards something, a metamorphosis of space to be: The accumulation of simultaneousness, which is not a purpose in itself, but an access. To the vibration of creative acts. The impossibility to master all, to the possibility to decide instead. To the possibility to choose but not having to choose the right thing.
To experience decisions. To fully engage for a part of the whole.
of what pleases
the pleasure to express
is there more to say?
there is no holding back, no way to be shy
to give in fully
’m trancy attentively awarenly
but i don’t do fancy dancy
’m not a cool performer
I enjoy and i need to give in fully
desirlly seriously senseriousellly
this is not enough
of a punky radically statement
this is just embarrassing
started to think and fail and love
this is gonna be peccadillo_ish
said Anna Halprin in a recent interview in frieze magazine (July 2016). Thank you Anna Halprin, for formulating your approach to be a artist-performer. You care about internalizing what one does, not externalizing style.
Could be a wise saying for life as well.
I like to do unfamillar stuff. But there is also something tempting about unfamiliarity, in a similar way us it is tempting to celebrate uncertainty of identity.
Halprin talks about the center as well, the red spot on the diagonale between navel and sacrum. That center that is more an energy of connecting than a place for sinking in deep self-exploration. ‹I like to think of authenticity as an inaugurating ability to open up anew towards al kind of concepts, not as an inner exclusive path of truth, always hidden yet to be found.›
Dear suspicious body …
was a text, written by myself, spoken by Carola, i listened to via headphones. The words are like a melody, an onomatopoeic muttering, coming out of the foam and moving my body within space. I feel stretched and compressed by it. I breath into the dynamic network of pieces, that widen my limbs.
We are in a niche, yet we, me, the material, and the audience are also in the open lost space of the halation. We all are the suspicious body. We all are the contamination of space, to process of contaminating it, already and again and again.
The contamination of unpredictability, of flexible soft skilling relation to the world, within it, in between our ideas and the haptic materials. The contamination of mixing those categories, until we are a sensing machines. The contamination of upholstering a precarious fragile self and its un-authenticity.
And then I go. I pack my things and leave, out to the street. I feel the material-eyes of material-passengers, of material-people in the café. All potential materials, but they don’t know. I change clothes in the middle of material-flowers in a shop. The contamination of possible materiality. Does not end.
du kontaminierst den raum und um eins/you contaminate space and at one pm was another version of the performance in Badischer Kunstverein, titled suspicious body.
‹Ayer por la noche fue muy diferente› says a lady in the audience who later turns to be the director of this place, after the applause abated. I ask my English speaking seating neighbour to make sure my skills of translation proof to be accurate, and for sure, the piece has been very different yesterday evening. Firstly, I am surprised, because yesterday, I thought to have seen a completely staged piece. But there indeed had been moments when I haven‘t been sure if the composition was set or developed while performing. The title asking how to make a performance has not only been most clearly present in the thematic elements but also in the impromptu atmosphere. Still, the order of scenes have been so complex that I did expect it to follow those former decisions in the subsequent staging. That making a performance is like or can be handled like a setting of rules was evident, but it was surprising that the two performers did not only perform these enactment tools but used them in an improvisational manner at the same time.
It is that what foremost formed my perception: a performance about performance tools. Having done several workshops about choreography myself I recognised different strategies that one usually thinks about when performing. So it seems– almost – all the elements and tools that you need in a ‹good› performance have been present. But really? I will come back to this point of judgment.
Tools of a performative choreography are not those of a theatre play, not of a dancy dance piece. A performance is, among other things: just half storytelling, but foremost with a bodily approach in order to create… well, to create what or in order to do what? Mainly, not to symbolise, not to express psychology, not to play a figure, but to create a certain state of being, to choreograph a particular space and pace that shakes the rhythms and axes of everyday perception. Many theories are being put forward to grasp this kind of in-between state of performance art that is neither theatre play nor dry acting out of concepts. But seeing the TWINS EXPERIMENT reminded me forecefully of what I find so exciting about this format: To see, witness, observe more and more closely what bodies are doing, i.e. observe what cannot be put into words. The movements are neither dance, nor purely everyday gestures, they are familiar and yet not immediately decipherable, but they are also neither mysterious nor ironic, though often funny. They are imbued with a light, sweatily engaged humour.
The performance contains scenes or chapters that seem to build on each other, following pre-set rules. In the beginning both young woman come in from the audience entrance, running down the same steps from behind as the audience did before. After that they position on the side walls next to two big carton boxes and some pre-ordered materials, facing each other and changing clothes as if preparing for rehearsal. Already here it is perceptible that they made quite some effort beforehand, having practised mirrored and simultaneous movement as, though they do not do the same acts, they do them together. They act out the movements in a similar way, yet in differences that are brought to the fore in telling details. They are almost twins, close and differing. Just as their videos list depicts: http://www.tea-tron.com/teatron/Videoplaylista.do?id=87&idio=es#video1
Throughout the subsequent parts I find myself amusingly setting checkmarks in my mind: While changing clothes they get naked in an unexciting way. Check. They move, breathe, sing together in a clear yet not exactly similar way. Check. They run in circles. Check. They eat while taking their time for every bite. Check. They breath audibly because of exhausting exercise. Check. They look at the audience recognising who is there. Check. They leave the stage to go outside to the terrace and bring in a stone as a ‹real-life› object. Check. They use club dance and pop music. Check. They move using different physical techniques, not afraid to exhaust themselves, but also not showing off virtuosity. Check. They use language. Check. They show faults and repeating try-outs. Check. They bring in eroticism using objects. Check. And many more…
Unused tools are left, of course, just as unused material remains on stage. When the loudspeakers emit a shrill alarm caused by a Smartphone, the performance ends. And hearing the words of the theatre director, I begin to understand that tonight I have seen some tools the twin performers have rehearsed before and that they have chosen according to some kind of rules that belong to an unkown game, that I do not understand, but witness in its outcome, in its delightful, cheeky and bodily atmosphere.
What this does to me? In causing a humorous clever alertness, it has a similar effect on me as Jonathan Burrow‘s choreographic handbook which as well deals with the making of a performance through choreography. So here I‘m coming back to the need for judgement. Judgement not only on the seen piece, but judgement that has to be present in the sense of choice-making throughout the whole process of making a performance – for both, performers and spectators.
Burrows: ‹Let us begin with the idea that you know how to dance. Training is only sometimes a bonus.› (S.1)
But judgment is not only meant here in the sense of daring to decide: it is also judgement in the sense of its contrary, the non-judgement that is to open up new ways of dealing with oneself, the performance partners, the space, the way we work.
Burrows: ‹The time of a body dancing freely is a multiple time, cut loose from pulse, able to shift constantly between different speeds and pacing. This is one choice. It is worth reflecting, though, that a dance which goes all speeds can‘t change speed. The dance which goes all speeds is all unpredictable, which then becomes predictable and we lose interest. This can happen despite quite wonderful movement.› (S.125)
This moment of non-judgement can be supported by a bodily as well as by a game-based approach to the making of art: moving in not-set modi, as well as compounding in not-set ways. It shows the difference between decisions and judging valuations, as the latter always needs a kind of category and recognised form one needs to refer to. Bodies ruled by games make obvious that the notion of judgement is always one step behind, just a bit but always late.
Instead, there are paths ‹working› and some ‹not working›, an argument that one often hears in choreographers feedback sessions. There are moments reducing air and getting narrow and some flooding the alignments between the elements with wide space. Then it matters what kind of effect and which affects the performers want to create.
Burrows: ‹How do I release my grip on the desire to do, enough that I can do?› (S.103)
What the two performers have decided for is the less the training of dancing virtuously than training the being of twins. This choice for a topic is not randomly made as it contains all a choreographer can think about: indifference and difference of rhythm; creating identity and relation in space and time; mimesis and abstraction; the way of working; living; moving; breathing (together). And which tools do they need? In a (again game-like) interview http://www.tea-tron.com/anticteatre/blog/2016/02/13/mar-medina-sobre-twins-experiment/
‹El cuerpo. A mi Twin, a mi otro cuerpo. El cuerpo, sí, porque si no tengo cuerpo no puedo acceder a otro cuerpo. Necesito también una kettle con una luz azul, dos micrófonos, una playlist bastante variada, dos pares de zapatillas, unas bragas, dos petos, dos cajas, rotuladores, sudaderas Adidas, Rihanna… “Qué más materiales?” Se pregunta. Y Laura toma el relevo, saltándose las reglas, y añade: “una linterna de muchos colores, libros, waffles, calcetines de rayas, una tela de colores con purpurina, pintauñas de purpurina, los tatuajes, los brillitos, a Perec, a Agamben”. Y Ainhoa sigue “sí, y agua, un proyector, capsulas de té, Céline Dion, las tazas de camping, unas luces de bici. Y luego todos los objetos que están pero que no salen. Que están ahí sólo porque tienen que estar, no sabemos por qué, pero no hay manera de desprenderse de ellos”.›
Throughout their training, performance and documentation they make obvious that it is not necessary to hide the tools in order to create effects. The explanation ‹el compartir es entonces un generador de herramientas.› (Sharing is thus a generator of tools.) depicts a process between them but could also define the relationship to the audience or the state that is been put up as a relation to it. https://comosehaceunaperformance.wordpress.com/objetos/
Burrows: ‹Do these two dancers share the same time, or do they hold to their own time? What are the benefits of sharing time, and what are the benefits of ignoring each other‘s time? What is the time of the audience? No relation at all is just another kind of relation. This is also a choice.› (S.123)
And what language do they need to do what they do?
‹No es broma. Necesitaría el lenguaje telepático. Digamos que tengo el lenguaje verbal y el no verbal, pero me doy cuenta de que para hacer lo que hago necesito inventarme un lenguaje nuevo, que ahora ya existe y es el de las Twins, que tiene mucho que ver con pasar tiempo juntas.›
Instead of evaluating judgment, the bodily exploration of twin-like states is where the performance arrives. To use Burrows words one last time:
Burrows: ‹Choreography is a negotiation with the patterns your body is thinking.›
This is performative choreography to me.
this is not abramovic’s meeting on the mural
this is following the lines
there is no choice of left and right
there is forward and backword
there is stop or go
there is nobody following me
this is me following
Into the wild with my companion that I found riding on the rails
dear artificial smelly sweet soft vibrating fat you leak trough my clothes and skin into my bones now we are one for-ever