Two performances working with choreography featured in the festival I want to focus on are: Leilas Death by Ali Chahrour (Lebanon) and Still Life by Morgan Thorson (U.S.A.). Two very different performances however both deal with time as a tool to explore performances relationships to death.

Leilas Death, focuses on and uses Leila a professional mourner from Lebanon, working with the aesthetics around the Shiite mourning rituals.

Morgan Thorsons 5 hour durational dance Still Life incorporates 7+ dancers, unfixed charcoal drawings and chalk paint set inside Portland Museum of Art. The performance explores grief in relation to a human death and environmental disaster.

Apart from the duration of the piece Still Life, the two performances use of repetition leads to interesting questions for my practice around what its purpose is. Within Still Life, repetition leads to deterioration of the drawings, and bodies (Something I noticed on my second visit with two of the performers wearing ankle supports). The repetition and duration also leads to an accumulation of markings or notchs, as the performers mark off or count sections of the performance, giving presence to moments passed and lost. In ways it seems like these markings were signifiers without translation, or transfers of lost energy turned to chalk.

charcoal drawings +action+lighting+ music -> dust, sweat and calcium. (an Earth drying up?)

Leilas Death was one hour long set in a traditional theatre space on stage it featured 2 musicians, Leila (the mourner) and  Ali Chahrour performing the phrases of movement taken from these mourning rituals. a delicate upward spiral is performed by Leila with a scarf hanging over Her neck to Her hands. This simple but nuanced and embodied performance repeats over a layering of traditional strings and drums incorporating distortion and loop pedals. The repetition of the spiral by Leila is constant, focused yet still human, it reminds me of reading about Goat Islands performances in relation to Deleuzes idea on differential presence. The Observances of Muharram in Shiite Islam last 40 days in total. The continued repetition of the spirals which both Leila and Ali perform in succession form this meditative space, as an audience member my experience of time is intensified, progression in the piece happens musicians move into images of a family with Ali yet it is outwith Leilas own time as she continues to turn. On one hand She is preparing the body to leave from on state of being to another, the second being Her own profession is a trade that is dying too. The space created by her allows a slow release, an empathetic attempt to share a different perception before leting go and understanding your own. I feel this also relates to similar section where Ali begins slapping the ground kneeling, the rhythm the same intensity and power given grows, it feels like a attempt to share a resonance with the audience and those witnessing .he is giving his energy, his body to the ground where they a body will be placed (in this case his own).

Empathy in time and space and materials is something that has been slowly gaining more involvement in my work.The aesthetics of much of the movement involved in Still Life felt representational of ceremony, ecstacy and panic involved in death and emphasising being alive ( ‘its. Still Life’, as Thorson emphasised in the public conversation) . The movement within Leilas Death contained difference to the real events but the performance studied the rituals aesthetics and put them to test in an intensley affective exploration of embodying and engaging with death.

I will finish this post with an account from Matthew Goulish of Goat Island discussing a scene from The Sea & Poison (1998).

For example, what is earth? A terrain, not a territory. A place where a bean might grow. Therefore if I become a place where a bean might grow, might I not become the earth? What do I need? Soil, water, light, music, and a bean. He places these ingredients atop his head and waits. A man sits near him and composes a letter. Instead of becoming the earth, he has become a houseplant. An exhausted couple begins dancing to his music, which has generated a dancelike environment. He wants a drink and yells for one. He has forgotten his quest to become the earth. He has discovered the difference between the earth and the human: distractability. The earth remembers; the human forgets. If I did the performance perfectly, would the bean grow?

(Goulish in Goat Island 1999b: n.p.)



With PICA’s statement on their focus for TBA:

“TBA is resolutely interdisciplinary, and champions those artists who are challenging forms and working across mediums, from dance to performance to visual art.”

The opening of the festival promised nothing but this.

Juliana Huxtable was invited to perform as part of the opening evening of events. As an artist Huxtables practice goes beyond common perceptions of an interdisciplinary art practice (that being one who works in performance, film, writing and drawing).

Juliana Huxtable writes poetry and music performing these live with musical accompaniment, makes videos often played during performances, creates digital prints incorporating Her writings, She is an accomplished  D.J. , co-founder of SHOCK VALUE club night in Queens and Catwalk model for DKNY.

The following are excerpts from ‘performing notes’  a 30 mins automatic writing task I undertake after watching performances as a means of decompressing the material.

on the site; “clubs seems to be a comfortable platform or format for this as it has a welcoming aspect that other spaces do not. *this location on the other hand was not one of these spaces, and it had an agenda of being a festival opening party, the agle at which audience members view this work is maybe skewed. ”

*Looking back to cabaret histories, why are clubs not given equal weight in cultural heirarchies?

on Content. “speaking, singing, drums, piano, midi board, projection. Speech overlayed music, classical ->improvisational->jazz riffs->thunderous rhythms finding looping points with phrases and singular words of J.H.”

“texts describe ranging subjects, trivial/conversational to/with a sci-fi/scientific meta-physical aspect.Where do our bodies connect.. or dis-connect w/ each other or things.*Describing processes of decay, time and change to human-non-human materials.”

After seeing Juliana Huxtable perform and watching a DJ set online I was aware of differences of having an interdisciplinary and or multimedia practice. One of the skills in working between disciplines which J.H. performs so smoothly is the awareness of context and understanding the parameters that can be subverted effectively in each.The visuals projected behind become jarring in this party-come-art preview and I wonder whether this is enjoyed by the artist. The videos depicted in a slight ‘art attack’ pop manner images from art history re-performed with J.H. featured within, reassessing the ‘Whiteness’ of art history. Against the downplayed readings the videos hold such attention for what may look like fleeting loops of internet videos but repetition repeats the question over again, with a different relationship to the current moment in the reading.

Example of J.H. writing.