A visit to the giant porn supermarket next to ACarts yesterday, to search for any book I could find on instruction in Shibari しばり, Japanese rope bondage. The woman working there said, “I dunno … I just work here”, but rifled through all her magazines and turned up “Japan Bondage 9”. I’m particularly fond of the photograph of the suspended woman with the birdcage hanging from her groin. So tomorrow I need to buy some rope.
That was not the point of today though. I really wanted to work through the “Rape of the Sabine Women” scene, a biting, fingers like teeth, grabbing, entangled limbs colliding with the floor mess of rape and orgasmic frenzy. It was one of those … processes … that is not like a moment of transcendental clarity, when you realise in a vertiginous wave how it’s all supposed to work, it was a blind stumbling away from what I know and don’t want to repeat and near to desperate and likely failure.
I don’t mind things not working, but the luxury of the slightly patronising, “Oh yes, all artists need to fail, for things not to succeed”, is only realistic when you have the time to deal with the residue of disaster. When – like all choreographers in Australia who endure the torture of miserly budgets and infinitesimal rehearsal periods – there isn’t really the time to indulge, the point when working through an idea should be discarded as a deadend is too close.
Biting, falling over, Paea with a brand new root canal, trying with everyone at once and no delineation between each cycle of collapse. It looks like a brawl. I have an idea in my head what it should be but to try and apprehend it is to see it slip away. So we go back to the basic elaboration of what works, the performance of teeth biting as well as the literal physical act, flesh remaining in this maw until the fall is complete and then for an instant more, or if it breaks apart, lunging to obtain that bite again. Lots of other things, just casual possibilities that need to be coaxed into foci of intensity the way undifferentiated cells coalesce and bloom into organs, viscera, bodies.
There is a feeling I get of unwilling apprehension, that I know I have to do a particular thing but if it doesn’t work … We were looking at a bunch of different paintings of the Rape of the Sabine Women, like what I did with Goya’s etchings Disasters of War in extermination, Shunga and Chungongtu in hell ad nauseam. Despite the not copious rehearsal time, I really want to not repeat what I know and have done. Yes I can make cool things from turning old paintings into performance by following a specific process, yes I can make steps, and I’m really good at it. I don’t want to ossify what I do now or ever otherwise there’s no point.
I do like working from paintings or film or photographs or … though. So knowing things weren’t working too well and really without some fundamental addition to all the teeth and fingernails it was not going to survive the evening, and time dwindling, just look at the painting, take stuff from it, like a memory, or amnesia, try and find what would have been the real trajectory of that person if the painting was one frame from a film and …
Something about Bacchus and Dionysis, not just getting drunk with some nymphs but consuming in a frenzy until it erupts in an orgy of fucking, drinking, brawling, tearing each other apart, not pleasant or nice or polite but terrifying the berserk ecstasy and cataclysmic madness and not wanting to stop. I think we got there, Paea has this intensity within her body, earlier she was just whirling like a dervish, Xuan both panic stricken and rapaciously lascivious, and Tara caught in a loop tripping over, bursting to her feet. It made me twitch, I wanted to not be just watching, far away on the outside.
I don’t really know how it’s going to work with the biting, I can see possibilities but … always but. But … Japanese Rope Bondage Porn!