Archive for October, 2010

field trip Berlin






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D05 Thursday in the studio

another full day in the studio. we started later today, without a common warm-up. Ingrid went into the space earlier and worked a bit by herself. when we met we went straight, to her despair, into our sensing space practice.

we tried a couple of rounds working with the idea of revisiting the memory of the sensations triggered by the spaces we visited yesterday (the Mauer Park, the Tower and Garden in the Jewish Museum). the proposition was to approach them how we’ve been approaching the studio space: to enter the space of multiple sensations triggered by the space (rather than thinking about it visually, architecturally, geometrically) and let them move us and move from them, amplifying them, keeping track of these sensations and watching out for not letting the kinetic feedback to take over (the sensation of our own movement killing the external sensations of the room). we tried to apply this idea to our memories, and it triggered some interesting questions and reflections. most important, it clarified (or refreshed) the idea of us being Contemporary Bodies – what we can honestly produce, be occupied with, is the present process of our relating to a (historical) past. that is why we are so busy with exploring, understanding and refining the contemporary processing of information in our bodies. nothing so new: we are busy with sensing(s).

the next step in the practice was to approach our proprioceptive mapping of yesterday’s spaces. we tried to move out of a memory of our movement in those spaces, rather than a visual orientation or measurement: not to recall and re-draw that room in this room, but to repeat in this room the movements (through a proprioceptive memory) of navigating those rooms.

eventually that led us to work with repetition and, once more, with some sort of re-starting of our work (we are often in our practices re-entering the studio, or disolving and re-starting the sensing-moving work). Ingrid tried to activate the same proprioceptive map several times in a row. as usual, repetition brought difference. but it also brought a bit of a crisis, and a different body presence that wasn’t so productive. we had to re-discuss quite a few things. we re-started. we worked with repetition.

we had a break.

coming back into the studio was very productive and satisfactory. we tried a slightly different practice: rounds of about 10′ of entering the room and accessing freely all the different strategies of our practice during this week. we tried to open up and navigate the space of our history of this week, to make it into a space of possibilities. and it helped. moving in the space with more freedom, being able to shift focus and strategies, having multiple accesses and exits into the work helped us to not get stuck, to continue practicing. to stay in the present. and that -finally- showed a lot about the work.

the practices and the ‘choreography’ are still vague. there’s a lot more to research and to do. but little by little some things start to cristalize, and the work becomes more accessible to us. it’s beautiful to see the form of the work emerge out of observing and reacting on a practice of being and doing in the room, rather than deciding a form for it before initiating the work. there are, already, more than enough forms around what we are doing. for now, it’s good to be in a place where we can afford this kind of uncertainty. we are busy with blanks, empties, lacunae… we are interested in that which is missing. in her last round today Ingrid seemed to be dancing with absent things. it was very beautiful to see.

D04 reviewed from the future

D04 = Wednesday.

we worked for a while in the studio: first, short yoga practice as a warm-up. after that I did some manipulations on Ingrid, for about 20′. free-style, with a focus on searching for looseness in the joints and no activity (letting go of intention).

from lying down after the manipulations she eventually went straight into a 20′ close-eyed movement practice, which was eventually more related to the resonance of the manipulations on her body than to our spatial practices. it triggered a broken or fragmented body that sometimes created images I could associate with tortured bodies. it had an interesting slow progression through the room (its placement), which I would only notice every now and then: suddendly she was close or far from me. it made me question the idea of the manipulations as a preparation, and think that they might suit better the work with William.

we both kind of coincided in an image about the beginning. when I finished the manipulations I wasn’t planning to go on with the movement work immediately, so I stayed close to her, waiting. when she started moving, with closed eyes, I realized suddendly that I was ‘inside’ the space, and that to a potential observer I would be a part of the ‘scene’. she said later that she had thought at that point of someone entering the room and witnessing the ‘scene’, and asking her/himself about the history that was somehow still latent in the studio.

after the studio practice we went to Berlin for another field-trip. we visited the Mauer Park, a big park space with remnants of the Berlin wall and different elements of commemoration. it’s an interesting space because of its scale and elements related to a historical memory. we wandered and tried to check how the space could affect us.

from there we went to the Jewish Museum, interested in the architecture of the building designed by Daniel Liebeskind. and that was quite a nice-intense-interesting experience. the building is amazing. and very communicative. we basically walked around with the idea of letting the spaces affect us, sensing what they do to our sense of orientation, balance, and which other kind of inputs it offered. we spent mostly time in the Tower space and in the Garden, both of which are unique and intense. I think it was a very interesting experience. we talked a bit every now and then, shared some thoughts, remembered some ideas related to perception and sense cross-referencing, and mostly just hang out there. thinking back about it, we mapped these spaces, we created a visual, aural, tactile and proprioceptive register. we collected some material…

afterwards we went to see a performance in HAU: Peaches does Peaches. a show by… yes, Peaches. it was a bit of a disappointment (or a bit of several disappointments), I have to say, though it was really nice to hear her singing live (she’s a fantastic singer, far better than I imagined). and it was nice to hang out a bit in Berlin, meet by chance with nice friends, eat a good kebab (actually, a Dürum dönner) and drink a cool beer. last night it was all well as it ended well.

another thought

in our practice and research, we are dedicated to the present.

what we are busy with is the presentness of relating to the past.

a thought on memory

how important is memory for this project? i mean the real processes of memory, addressed in the work. and how much can we really address it? there’s a certain idea of memory that is central to this work, a concept like social memory or something like that. the idea of events and information that is necessary to remember, for social reasons: to avoid repeating undesired historical events, to learn and grow, to enhance our political thinking.

do they (Will and Ingrid) care about this? can they imagine benefiting from these things themselves? do they think that their political thinking will be enriched, that it’s important for them to learn from the past in Argentina in order to secure the future they’d like to live?

an aspect that I’m interested in in this work is to not relate to politics and history only rationally, but affectively. an(other) aspect in which this work can be important is in addressing memory not only as it was stated before, a collection of events and information, but also as a (re)activating of affects. memory, maybe exercising memory, would be to (re)experience its affects. not just to name things, but to feel them. in Argentina there’s currently a debate about the how the media corporations acquired an almost monopolic position during the dictatorship through extorsion and threats. part of the arguments (on both sides) are inevitably affective (or emotional). along the way, some of the victims of torture and extorsion are re-victimized by relativizing their testimonies, drawing suspicions on them, for instance, for not having told their stories earlier (rather than acknowledging the political moment Argentina is living, where finally the dictatorship’s crimes are being prosecuted and the victims are offered an ever too little but yet unprecedented level of guarantees). faced with these sophisms i am reminded of the importance of empathy, and of the affective aspect of these issues. they can’t be discussed only on rational grounds. it’s not enough. for the victims of state terrorism, the experience wasn’t just rational and can’t be only reduced to words. there is a knowledge (a body knowledge, maybe) that goes beyond that.

i don’t know if that knowledge can or needs to be explained or translated to rational concepts, and i definitely don’t think that this project can address such a big problem. but i am willing to engage with it and trust that, at least on a very small scale, this project will be re-sensitizing me (and maybe others) towards this kind of knowledge. and that there is a political importance to that.

a sad note

today Nestor Kirchner passed away. he was the former president of Argentina and husband to the current (and first ever elected woman) president, Cristina Fernández. I wrote a note about him in my personal website – if you would like to read why I think his government and political project are very important, please visit www.pablofontdevila.com.ar.

I decided to add this post here because one of the areas that were emblematic of his (and Cristina Fernandez’s) government is the defense of human rights. Kirchner gave impulse to the renovation of the Supreme Court of Justice and to the repealing of the impunity laws by the National Congress (1)(2), two crucial measures in order to allow for the crimes against humanity commited in Argentina in the ’70s to be prosecuted.

an iconic image: the 24th of March 2004, Nestor Kirchner attended for the first time in his presidential role the commemorations of the coup form 1976 at the Military College. when he noticed 2 portraits hanging of generals and former de facto presidents Rafael Videla (from 1976 to 1981) and Reynaldo Bignone (from 1982 to 1983), he immediately demanded they be taken down. this order was executed by general Roberto Bendini, at the time chief of the army. to many this image illustrates Nestor Kirchner’s determination and commitement to the cause of memory: nunca más.

D02 photos