A morning back at ADT, really for the first time in about a month, and I forgot how astounding they all are, yes they kinda terrify me just how phenomenal a dancer can be. I bumped into Gary Stewart a while ago and he said, “Frances! I didn’t know you’re in town, are you staying? You know we’ve just decided the choreographers for ignition, but I think you’d be really good to have in. The theme this year is Gender Studies”. Today then is something like day zero of ignition. I’ll be hanging around ADT for the next two months making … something …
When I was in Zürich at SiWiC … to tell this story is only to recount my memory of so many retellings, and I was thinking of what I would find when I returned to my diary of those weeks, and that particular day, SiWiC day 11 – all the people i can remember sleeping with and the drugs i took. I made something so personal, humiliating, embarrassing, unlike anything I’d done before, despite all my work being in some way very personal though at a remove, hidden by the surface, the presentation of the performance.
So I have some dancers now, and a coffee at lunch to talk. The sublime Daniel who really has made moving to Adelaide special, Paea whom we shared a email trail from here to Berlin, Xiao-Xuan and Tara, and – a big hope – Gala. And some dance. And Judith Butler.
Saint Jude. I’d been thinking about what text would be the foundation for this for a while, and it’s obvious no? Gender Trouble – Feminism and the Subversion of Identity is one of only a few books that I can unequivocally say changed my life. Then to return to it again and find it’s still as fresh, uncompromising, funny, radical in its imagination of identity after almost twenty years, that every possibly easy way out to a reductionist, essentialist conception of bodies and gender is relentlessly dispatched, and she name-drops Divine in the first few pages. It is coming home.
I have also her, I suppose reflections on all this, Undoing Gender on order, and really feel a big reading binge of all my old favourites … Zizek especially.
What am I trying to do here? I’ve come to think of this performance that started in Zürich as an accumulation that recurs and is constantly remade. A lot of it appeared in Crush, though the focus there was more on shared places between me and Amanda, the cities we’d both been in and the circumstances that mirrored and shadowed each other, never at the same time.
Now I suppose the attention is somewhat on myself again, or the having-a-body the uncomfortable, confronting, upsetting, so personal it hurts, the fear of opening self. I didn’t realise Tracey Emin had made a work Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995, though it’s the kind of thing that would have circulated around my consciousness so I doubt I would have not known. Her willingness to make art from what in the context of performance is embarrassingly personal has appealed to me for a while.
So, Judith Butler, Angela Carter and pornography, Henri Michaux “…leaves a trace, leaves a wound”, Divine and Female Trouble, late night rehearsals, talking about things maybe I wouldn’t even write here, something dark and useless and empty.