almost may. in less than 2 weeks we premiere the work in Het Veem theater, in Amsterdam. I’m very excited and very nervous about it. the last few weeks have been very intense and full, and I have been wanting to write in the blog but didn’t manage to do it.
Ingrid and William are both away, out of town, so I have a few days of my full attention on the piece but no possibility to actually rehearse. this feels very strange and makes me a bit anxious. in the meantime I keep myself busy with different aspects of the production.
today flyers and posters went into print. much later than I would have liked, but that’s what was possible. by the end of the week they should be distributed. and I started sending some invitations, though the main part of it I will finish only today.
on friday Maria Noel is coming to Amsterdam and we will look into some adjustments to the costumes. we will also look together into the video projections, on which I still need to make some final decisions. they have come down to a very small element in the beginning of the performance, but I’m still not fully convinced about them.


Piece about disappearance

around the end of march I finally chose for a title. I am used to titling my work from the very beginning. it’s often an easy, intuitive first encounter or feel of what I want to do. but this time it wasn’t so easy, and it came about only after the research periods were behind and the perspectives of premiere got very concrete.

I played around with very complicated, long and poetic titles, which are my usual preference. but I ended up choosing “Piece about disappearance”. I thought it reflects better the apparent simplicity of the work. treating the title with the same straightforwardness of the structure and movement materials, not trying to embellish it. to my suprise some friends already found this a long and complicated title. I had to think that’s nothing compared to “La vejez de las paredes una negra sonrisa de alegria un rincon apacible un modo diferente de conspirar de conocer la vida un poco envenenada” or “smaller, slower, unproductive and resentful”.

I also like the idea that “Piece about disappearance” plays explicitly with a history of other titles of my previous work. at this point I think the connection to “Disappear”, “Disappear 2009” or “Half of the piece about disapparing” should be obvious…

conditions of production

this project is produced by us artists connecting different networks of support, rather than by one production house or main subsidy. over the year and a half I’ve been working in this project this has conditioned our working dynamics, sometimes to my pleasure and sometimes to my suffering. in any case I’m proud and interested in what’s happened during this process. we had long periods of wait in between the times of concrete work in the studio (research and rehearsals), and there’s much to learn from the experience. on one hand it’s been interesting to have long periods of organically processing thoughts and experiences. we didn’t need to rush because… we couldn’t. I think there’s a maturity derived from that, and almost a interesting position of resistance to the demands of the conventional economy of the arts which dictates that we should generate (succesful) products in as short as possible a period of work. a standard would be to have a 6-8 weeks process of work. I started in January 2010, and many thoughts can be traced earlier.
on the other hand this was not the result of planned decisions but rather a way to deal with circumstances and the lack of resources. there’s a good learning there also in terms of enterprising strategies. but it also produced a lot of anxiety and uncertainty, and for now I won’t accept the idea that that state is necessary for an artist to be productive. crises often stimulate creativity, but I think it’s unfair to take for granted that that’s how artists should be working.
so, the latest aspect update on this side of things is that we ended up working for one intensive week in Germany. William invited Ingrid and me to participate in the frame of his research residency, in which he has been sharing artistic practices with other artists. so we stayed with him in Essen for 1 week and had a very intense and productive time.
before that, the course followed by this project included a first research phase in residency at Fabrik Potsdam (October 2010, 3 weeks) and a second one at Dansmakers Asmterdam (November 2010, 2 weeks). there’s been periods of pre-production and conceptualization before and after that, and in the meantime Het Veem theater agreed to co-produce this work. In that frame we will have our premiere on May 6, 2011. after 2 shows in Het Veem (Amsterdam) we will see how we can go on. there are no other performances planned for now, but hopefully the work can later on be showed in other venues or festivals. finally, for this presentations in Amsterdam we got support from the Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst (AFK), in the form of a small subsidy that will help cover costs of these performances.

notes to the studio presentations in Amsterdam, november 2010

The project started from experiencing a strong emotional impact from the news and texts related to the subject of the forced disappearance of people, in Argentina, during the dictatorship of 1976-1983. In the last 2 years, the subject and its present day ramifications became more and more fascinating, fed by the current discussion in Argentina about the reasons and legitimacy of revisiting the past, of discussing the state terrorism practiced between 1976 and 1983. One of the most representative aspects is a shift in public opinion, from viewing it as a military dictatorship to a civic-military dictatorship.
Fascinated by the subject and moved by the testimonies, I started thinking about how I as a contemporary subject relate to history. Feeling the necessity to investigate and exercise this through my work, it became a question about how contemporary bodies relate to historical bodies.
From a diversity of sources (including descriptions and testimonies, recordings, architectural sketches, video images) we opted for 2 series of photographs. We proposed concrete strategies to start sourcing movement material from the documents, as a way to interface with history. We were confronted with problems: we were relating to bodies that are not there (William) and to spaces where we have never been (Ingrid).
The focus fell then on the contemporary processes of our own bodies as performers and spectators. In order to relate to history we needed to stay in contact with our present: our processes of sensing, remembering and imagining, a movement that goes from what’s closer to us to the distance of what’s past and foreign.
Within the choreographic, the interest lies in dealing with these body processes and with the affects they can create in between performers and audience. We are busy with persistence, with resonance, with traces.

rehearsal video clips


after 1 week in Amsterdam

we’ve just finished a week of work in Amsterdam, which was difficult for me because I was also busy building up lights and dancing in the performance ‘The Half’. this took a lot of my time and my attention, and though we anyways managed to rehearse almost every day, I felt like I didn’t have much time in between rehearsals to reflect and prepare.

in any case, looking back I think it was a very productive week. the first few days I focused mostly on workingwith Ingrid.  the work in Potsdam had acquired very specific forms for William’s materials but not so much for her. after the experience of the previous 2 weeks I proposed to focus on one movement proposition and develop it as a basic material.

this basic sequence consists on walking through the space as if she was moving in spaces which she only knows through pictures – the Argentinean Secret Detention Centers. the movement work is, in principle, very simple but requires a lot of concentration and work on her presence. we approached the idea of mapping the space (and her own body) by registering the sensation of movement (proprioception). in this way, she is not busy with projecting an image of the space and referring it to visual landmarks in the studio, but rather measuring distances and directions in her own articulation. the mapping is self-referred, is about translating the information from the photographs to all kinds of small movements and adjustments in her joints, ligaments and muscles.

this work served as a base for other movement textures we have been exploring. we keep sourcing from the photographs of these spaces she has never been into, but trying to extract from them other sensations and affects (to map them) instead of trying to reproduce them visually.

next to that, we started looking at how the 2 solos (I still doubt about how appropriate it is to call them solos…) can co-exist in the space (and time) of the presentation. it’s been very interesting and challenging. maybe here I should include sound, because both overlappings (movement and movement, movement and sound) have triggered pretty much the same problems. I’ve been confronted during the week with the fact that the materials have been created also in particular conditions, and now these remixes sometimes feel quite superficial. so far the most interesting situation is to give the movement materials their own time (to let them last as long as they need to) and to have their own space (to keep William and Ingrid clearly separate). this way they seem to stay closer to something more essential, more important. I fear, otherwise, that the ‘composition’ makes the whole thing look like an excercise.

I was mentioning that working with sound has posed similar problems, though it’s not completely true. the thing here is that we started working with Robin and Firat (the musicians) only this week, and there’s a lot to still try out, negotiate, understand together. I also realize how easily sound takes over and fills up the space, and what can be interesting in this work is particularly related to the emptiness that can be felt around the bodies… I think that sound can produce some very exciting moments bringing the observer’s attention back to the present… a sort of perceptual taking-the-carpet-off-from-under-our-feet. reminding us of the contemporary aspect of this event. I also enjoy what sound can produce in terms of leaving or actually picking up traces in the space. I think it’s promising, but we still need to find a common code.

one last thing that we had to deal with during this week is that the frame of the research presentations (I have to keep reminding myself -and stating it in my e-flyers and blog!- these are research presentations). a big issue is the time frame we are offered. DMA asks us not to go over 30′, and for the first time that really poses a problem for me. the movement materials sometimes really need time to develop, and if we rush or try to make things compact they can easily become very superficial. but we’ll see. maybe we can negotiate a bit, or eventually show just a section of the work we are doing.

in any case, we are entering the last stretch of this period of work and it’s exciting. we still don’t know how we will continue next year, but I hope we’ll find some space to go on. in the meantime, I’m looking forward to encounter an audience.

wrapping-up potsdam

we’re coming to an end of this first period. 2 more days left to work in Potsdam, though the rhythm of the work is starting to demand something else. the work on William’s solo has reached a point now in which we need to start looking at structures and relations to other elements. our main focus should be now how does it start interacting with Ingrid’s solo, which would require, to start with, working also with Ingrid.

we’ve developed quite some materials and they are maturing. we’ve worked with a basic procedure of sourcing movement from the photographs, and from that basic sequence we’ve started creating different materials that could be considered variations. by themselves, these materials are already quite extensive, since some of them need duration to become interesting.

from the near future perspective, we can’t move much further because the presentation in Dansmakers Amsterdam has a time limit of 30′. that means, specially because he needs to alternate/overlap with Ingrid, that we won’t present the whole spectrum of our work here. that’s fine, but it just (re)defines what to go on working on, and how. this is why I was said it starts becoming indispensable to work together with Ingrid.

and then, the next problem is that Ingrid’s solo still needs a lot of definition. so next week in Amsterdam I need to start by working with her, refining her materials and creating structures that we could start playing with in relation to Ingrid. to that, we will be adding the sound work of Robin and Firat, which means some extra complications (in the best possible sense).

in the meantime, then, I’m trying to decide how to organize today’s and tomorrow’s rehearsals. we’ll basically revisit the chunks (3 short structures we are building up for William) and maybe try how would it be to put all of his material (or most of it) together. small structuring excercises, and practicing the materials within them rather than still working on each thing separately.