Athens – movement notes 3/2/20
I leave (you) in the hotel room and descend through two floors of alternating light, to the street level. I begin to walk, connecting to ‘the flaneuse’ who I think must move slowly through the city, aimless, and travelling at a certain speed.
Testing movement I find I walk too quickly, so what does this make me? It is like I am continually on the run…
My speed seems more like the slight of hand in a magic trick. I slip through spaces. I rarely stop. I don’t want to be stopped. A contrast to the ritualistic slow movement of the performance work. A different conversation.
More like a bee gathering nectar, I hover and dart. Nourishment comes later. There is an acuteness to my movement. my body taking signals from the surrounding momentum….listening to the city, its music, cracks, its sounds as scent. It’s alchemic nature.
Boundaries blur, gates and fences open and close. Hidden buildings, monumental stages and museum pathways beckon me …
And in one of these, an object stops me in my tracks. A first century glass perfume stirrer, suspended within a glass case in the museum of Cycladic art.
That it is glass takes me back. Its beauty and intimacy as a single object is arresting, but its function beguiles me too. The delicate act it may call upon requires movements of dipping, testing, stirring. Responsive and exploratory. Something of this echoes in my processes too, questioning in recent days the sometime forensic aspects of performative processes…a perfume stirred.
I return outside. My walk is slower now. On a wide avenue, on an island between lanes of the traffic of Athens, I stop and stand still for five minutes. I listen, I taste the air, pollutants and all. I close my eyes.
This time I feel everything else move around me. Maybe I am a perfume stirrer…
and I am on a flight to Venice…
10 days to immerse, test and receive extraordinary mentorship from Performance artist Marilyn Arsem, as part of the Venice International Performance Art Week CO-Creation Live Factory – Prologue 1.
Curated by Francesca Carol Rolla, and Vest & Page, I spend ten residency days in the European Cultural Centre, Palazzo Mora, Venice.
It is now two years on exactly, yet I carry this experience with me still, almost as one does a ceremony, and as a specific taste beneath the tongue.
In this a period of total immersion, of being in a place within my body that I had never been before, boundaries where shifted, canal and sky seemed to become part of the body of the space. The disorienting sensation of standing on a moving floor with nothing to hold on to aside from a supportive gaze was present daily. Workshop days were 12 hours long , both nourishing and draining the bones.
The theme of the residency was ‘Considering Time’, and there is a distilled poignancy to suddenly writing about it here and now, as if the experience holds its own elasticity. And I can ask myself now about the place of writing and text in my practice, and perhaps new thoughts on how to use the relationship between performance and writing to create new rooms…
Ephemerality, transience, loss and presence , are part of the landscape of my practice, ritual and repetition it’s time keeper. Writing and texts play a part, yet simply writing out the performance now is akin to looking through a window, when in fact so much remains raw and live. But today, as foundation , I simply settle on this…
I am in a large room. I place two large glass bowls on the cold stone floor many metres apart but within my peripheral vision.
Into each bowl I very slowly pour milk so full there is a perilous curve to the liquid that sits just above the rim.
In this room, I begin a reverse walk that will last for four hours . I walk in silence from one wall to the other , the width of the room. I walk between the two bowls of milk. I walk as if I am hardly moving at all, challenging my balance , my body, the body of milk to stay in my peripheral vision.
I walk To keep focus, to lose focus. I walk from the past to the future. I walk to remember and to forget , I walk holding on knowing I have to let go. I walk to make a journey I do not yet understand.
The temperature in the room is two degrees. The white walls hold my stare , and increase my dizziness. At some points I think I will fall, but I do not.
My hands freeze, feel numb. Someone from the audience walks up to me and holds them to give brief warmth, kisses them and disappears.
Another member of the public decides to test my space and disrupts my walk by standing in front of me. What does she want to say?
She breaks myspace, unnerves me, knocks me off balance . But I continue, still only half way through, wondering what that ‘conversation’ was supposed to be.
I feel the shifting temperature of the room as groups of people shift and gather to watch, people passed though, and people with cameras coming too close.
I underestimate the level of strength and balance needed for this and at some points need to draw on other images , phrases, tests, cold breath, to make the small, enormous , delicious and slow ‘dance ‘ across the floor.
I sense I am inhabiting/ choreographing this space in a way that only opened up once I committed myself to beginning. I hold the space and lose myself.
It is daylight when I start and dark when I finish . I am a certain temperature when I start and another when I finish…
‘Everything I know about you…’ was a four hour durational performance that took place at a two day opening at Palazzo Moro,Venice at the end of a ten day period of intense workshops, mentoring and practice with Marilyn Arsem, around the theme of considering time , December 2017.
I attend ‘ THINKING THROUGH…THE BODY’ a workshop ‘to explore design principles and multi-sensorial movement , seeing, listening, smelling and touching, throughout the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill’, run by Ava Fatah gen. Sheik, architect and researcher from the Bartlett School of Architecture, and dance artist Katja Nyqvist.
‘Drawing on the movement principles of Laban and Forsythe, focussing on how our bodies experience and perceive space and how we relate to other bodies and the environment around us. The workshop will also explore the key role body movement played in the radical pedagogies of the Bauhaus and how it can compliment architectural education in the digital era’
and I am ready…
In pairs we take a ‘ blind walk’ to feel, touch, smell, taste and touch the building, the space, the body of where we are.
In turns we lead each other through the whole space of the building, inside and out. As leader we are also given the choice of choosing a viewpoint, space, object, and asking the other to open their eyes for a moment. This is interesting.
A gift, a surprise, a manipulation…
I decide to walk barefoot, to root, to feel the shift in temperatures of internal, external, threshold floors, and to collect almost forensically, residue dust, tiny stones on the souls of my feet.
The building tips away as my eyes close, and as I move through shifting light, still perceivable through the skin of my eyelids, edges shift and I stretch out my hands, fingertips to create my own.
And then I stop. I let myself move without asking with my hands. I also notice that the brighter the light gets, the more hesitant I become.
I can feel the touch of a hand on mine and at the small of my back, and will trust this. A test.
I feel cool curved glass with my hand and then wipe my cheek across its expanse. It feel delicious. Sounds are pushing in…’the house, the house… ‘ I hear someone say.
And I am handed what I think is a ping pong ball, and as I think to put it in my mouth, as a small child might, I am handed a bat. And so I hit out in the dark and it makes me laugh. I am handed a pair of headphones and feel sweet relief to be able to dive momentarily into a ‘radio space’.
Back in the auditorium space , eyes open, we explore drawing lines in space with our bodies and each other.
And I think, I need more of this. I need more of this…