jute disintegration video

There were three — no, four cameras around me on Sunday. One video camera which I forgot to push ‘record’ on, my own beloved LX3 (and having seen the LX7 seriously thinking of upgrading because I can’t yet afford a GX1), a Canon EOS 600D (I think), and the quite sublime Panasonic G5 with the power zoom lens, which I ended up using the most, and shot the video on. There was 15 minutes or so of video on my camera, but I didn’t want to deal with either rendering it to fit in with the G5 video, or doing any colour grading to get it to match, so from a bit over an hour of footage of a 3 hour 15 minute performance installation, I spent two days reducing it to 20 minutes.

I almost want to write separately about the camera, but shall avoid as I have enough to write and do already, though … It does suffer from the usual low-light problems, which could be somewhat ameliorated with a faster lens, though for video this wasn’t an issue. Slightly more irritating is that in quiet spaces, the stereo microphones pick up even light breathing if you’re using the viewfinder — and the lack of an external mic jack, especially as there is a TASCAM to play with is peinlich.

So, twenty minutes of rope anarchy, unshibari, proto-baroque, H.P. Lawrence recitaling, sleeping bags, and other things of the jute disintegration, attempt 2 kind.

Jute Post-Disintegration

Already some days in the past, despite my intent to write on both days of the weekend; in the meantime I’ve cut the video — 22 minutes or so, which will appear here very soon. This then is slightly a decayed and abundant memory.

Once again we were in Alte Kantine Wedding, very convenient for us dragging down several loads of rope, slings, costumes, food, and anything else possibly useful. This time also, we were ten — a couple more than last time, with many from the previous attempt, and a couple of new ones we’ve picked up in the ensuing months.

Dasniya and I took a few hours last week on Monday and again on Friday to put together something of a plan for Saturday, being mainly the rehearsal day. This went between a discussion of tasks and more generally what we might or might not want in the actual installation. By the end of Friday evening we had a fairly coherent plan, though knowing rehearsals, I expected to scythe off at least a third of them as time ran out. As it eventuated, we got through all of them, sometimes assimilating parts of one into another, so while not being explicitly done, they occurred nonetheless.

Alte Kantine Wedding is a good place to rehearse, large, a lot of windows, a proper kitchen, many sofas and tables, a dance floor inherited from somewhere, and courtesy us, five hanging points in the ceiling. On the downside, it’s aesthetically pretty grim, especially the ceiling, which makes for a lot of compromises in photographing and filming.

I dragged myself off to the market on Saturday unusually early so I could get down there before 11 and begin arranging things. My music of the day was Pulp’s Different Class, which is entirely irrelevant to the procedures of the weekend other than being excellent to shove furniture around to.

And so the arrivals, including one all the way from Brussels, who found the very comfortable brown corduroy-ish sofa and took a nap, and one from Paris, who took a nap on a different sofa.

Since the last jute disintegration, Dasniya and I have taught in Brussels again and at ImPulsTanz in Vienna, as well as together or separately regularly, and been involved in a couple of choreographic projects, all of which was reflected in the order of the day, and how we work together.

Back and forth, back and forth, a task from Dasniya, one from me, talking of something from one of us, then from the other. I’m not sure how it looks like from the outside but it feels somewhat different from the usual situation where either implicitly or explicitly one person is assistant to the other and there is a permanent deferral to the hierarchy. It seems we manage for an equality and work well together. It’s good also to find that in certain situations I can collaborate and that it’s better than if I was doing it alone.

Tasks, then.

Many tasks. Some very simple, and achingly familiar to anyone who’s worked in dance or theatre, which often get used to make truly awful work imbued with Meaning, which thankfully also are just good tools to warm up with, and to teach in an uncomplicated way some fundamentals of working in a group, spatial and temporal tools and relationships, and methods of working which discourage habits.

These tasks — like grouping together and following the person who is frontmost — turn out to get quite interesting in themselves once rope is introduced, and despite the various levels of performance history or formal physical training in the group, they all have worked with rope in both the more traditional shibari approach and with Dasniya and I.

Dasniya and I watched some of the video from the previous attempt and some of the Saturday tasks were explicitly aimed at not doing certain things that occurred then, or of encouraging being aware of one’s body and actions both within oneself, and in relation to those nearby and across the room. A lot to think about all at once, especially when keeping at it for three hours.

Now it’s Sunday and already a week since — and still trying to finish compressing the video for here.

So, tasks. These began simply and became more complex as Saturday passed; new tasks began to include the previous ones, and modified them, then repeated with further variations. We ended with what we’d noted down as “3-4 choreographies”, which were five or six by then, longer ones that were building single ideas to some kind of coherent or finished state.

Rehearsing reading and unshibari, some thrashing of legs and ropes from n+2, chest-face harness semi-suspension, and the weird one for this attempt, the equivalent of food from last time, table + down jackets and sleeping bags messy tying. Which arrived us at the end of the day, and so Dasniya, Gala and I ported ourselves into Barrikade for evening beer.


Whether it was from having done it last time and knowing what to expect, or just being more organised, we had a schedule and mostly stuck to it. An hour of talking after an hour of arriving, going through items from the day before; costumes, hair, makeup; organising and a final talk on what was going when and where; I disappeared to deal with multiple cameras, and dreading a mass influx at exactly 4 o’clock like last time, we started around twenty to four, almost without ropes at all, very simple arrangements of togetherness.

And for the subsequent three hours, I wonder if the video captures it better than anything I might write; the video which is rendering now. Maybe some things from the outside, then.

Quite a few people came by, and seemed to grasp better this time the idea of it being like an installation in a gallery, rather than a performance in a theatre. Some people stayed for the duration, others for 15 minutes or so. For me, there was a definite, obvious progression through the afternoon, and very clearly this time that is was working, making sense, getting to where it is we imagine it going. Far from finished though, and plenty of new things to think about that came out of surviving three and an half hours performing.

So we intend for a next round early next year, February or March, depending on everyone’s schedules. Images have arrived, video shortly.


jute disintegration photos

As I am certainly tardy in either finishing writing about jute disintegration, or getting the video posted, instead here are some photos. The video does embody it more than the photos somehow, nonetheless, there’s something of it in them.

(And who’s who? Dasniya Sommer, antek, Antidote, floZif, Justine, Rock’n’Roll Cora, MOko, Andreas Schildbach, Lun Ário.)

abjection — Rehearsal 3

Music this afternoon was: Gorgoroth, Antichrist; Mayhem, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas; plus bits of Horn’s Jahreszeiten, and Sunn O)))’s The Grimm Robe Demos and Black One. Also horrible, horrible jazz trombone/trumpet noodling filtering down from the rehearsal room upstairs. I played Mayhem very loudly then, and worked on my voice.

My voice, which goes from tubercular emptying of mastodon lungs up to “I’ve just sucked on helium!” in a series of arbitrary steps. There’s a huge gap in my register from high to helium, and above that very occasionally I can hit “tinnitus”, but none of these noises are connected. There’s also some “hypothetical notes” I know I can manifest in my throat if I can just twist my thinking a bit.

I was working a bit of some text which comes from Julia Kristeva’s The Powers of Horror, and oh dear she is a melodramatic writer, it’s all poetico-freudian. Possibly it’s the translation but I had quite a few moments of high embarrassment trying to turn bits of this into a script. A task for a lazy Sunday and a hatchet.

Five hours of solitary excitement today. There’s nothing much else to do but keep hacking away at whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing, and I don’t actually think I know. As usual, I spent most of the time working on movement — getting myself moving without suffering, and I’m really physically far from dancerly at the moment, as well as actually ‘dancing’, looking all old and arthritic compared to what I was doing last year.

And a bit of realisation I’ve reached the point of remaking the wheel, where last year I got some ideas fairly coherent and there’s not a lot of point in improvising for three hours solid trying to come up with ideas when they already exist. Though new stuff is also sprouting. I think I need to cut some of this in Final Cut and make sense of it (I video most of my messings around), try and recreate a single stream of performance, rather than bash away blindly at the same thing over and over from different sides. I have three days of rehearsal next week, so shall apply myself to this then.

The good news for my knee is that arthroscopy is no longer really likely, as it seems to have recovered mostly and the standard test don’t elicit a yipe from me, though I can’t imagine myself being able to do the stuff I was doing last year in any way in the near future.

So, abjection trolleys along. I definitely have the need to vanish into a studio for six weeks and really crawl into the bowel of this piece; there’s too much stuff that requires an intensity that doing it only a couple of times a week isn’t going to prepare me for.

In the meantime, there’s jute disintegration with Dasniya this weekend, things with Melanie Lane in December and possibly oh yes possible something with Daniel Jaber also. Excitement? Yes!

Jute Disintegration — Attempt #2

On the first weekend of December (that’s this one coming), Dasniya and I are making a second attempt of Jute Disintegration, this time it seems with more people. It’s the same as before, but not. We’ve yet to watch the video of last time, though I’ve had a bit of a look at it, and whatever thoughts that have been stewing in my hinterbrain for the last months seem to have begun to decide to become articulate.

So, once again we have one day of something like a rehearsal, followed by another day of this with the addition of an object called “audience”. The general idea here being that audience affects what’s going on by the act of observing, so until it’s been observed, one can’t say anything (definite or otherwise) about what’s going on.

It’s something of a rehearsal then, and performance, performance art, installation. Some things will remain from last time, others abandoned, still others continued, evolved, intensified. It definitely has people and ropes. Possibly Japanese tea ceremony, some reading (loud and quiet), costumes, hair and make-up, of course a lot of unshibari, this what Dasniya and I have been working on for quite some time.

The idea continues from last time, that it would be nice to do what we’ve been doing with a large group of people, and continue for some hours. It also has a certain philosophical and political bent, in that we’re attempting to embody the concerns of shibari; more or less things that are familiar to anyone who knows Dasniya’s or my work.

As before, Sunday. We start around 16h, but it will probably take an hour or so to get interesting. Think of it as something you’d see in a gallery, rather than a performance with fixed beginning and ending times; 15 minutes at 1730 might be enough, or a couple of hours broken in the middle with a trip to Barrikade, or the entire thing.

jute disintegration
a performance installation
attempt 2

It is the second attempt. There are ropes. Also, people.
They are tied/tying themselves to/on/around/above/below themselves, others, other things, sometimes with many ropes, or only one. Some are standing, or sitting, or lying. Or suspended, self- or otherwise, partly/mostly on the ground, in the air.
Sometimes they move together, sometimes singly.
The ones alone sometimes come to others together, many or few, join or leave, form or disband, from there to another there.
It is a dance, of sorts.
They are dressed. Costumes, make-up, hair.
Time passes and this changes. Each is unique and each is identical; difference and repetition.
This is an installation as much as a performance. It is baroque, somewhere, also a physical oratory.
It is an anarchy of shibari. unshibari.

Who: Frances d’Ath & Dasniya Sommer
With: Hartmut Fischer, antek, Antidote, floZif, Justine, Rock’n’Roll Cora, MOko, Gala Moody, Andreas Schildbach, Lun Ário
When: Sunday, December 2nd, 16-19 Uhr
Where: Alte Kantine Wedding, Uferhallen Kulturwerkstatt, Uferstr. 8-11, 13357 Berlin
U8 Pankstr/ U9 Osloerstr.

More: jute disintegration …

Yoga & Shibari June 2012

More ropes! Having just finished working on a big film about which I can say nothing, there is more yoga and shibari coming up in Berlin, Brussels, and Vienna. Last night was spent with chocolate, strawberries, new ropes and old, trying our way through a few new figures, making changes to old ones, and generally messing about with rope.

Usual weekly Yoga & Shibari Wednesday classes Dasniya is teaching in Uferhallen, Wedding – you can come to just yoga also. We’ll be in Brussels once more at Charleroi Danses for a workshop in July, and then July/August at ImPulsTanz in Vienna.

For English please scroll down/ Please forward to people who might be interested

Liebe Leute,

anbei findet Ihr alle Termine für den Juni Kurs und weitere Sommer Workshops. Achtung: Wegen Fussball findet das wöchentliche Yoga/Shibari in Berlin an verschiedenen Tagen und in verschiedenen Studios statt. Jedoch alle in der Uferstraße!

Ganz herzlich,
Dasniya und Frances

  1. Yoga & Shibari
  2. Fotos der Performance Installation: Jute Disintegration
  3. Experimentelle Zwischenstände mit Seilen, Farbe und Zeichnungen mit Katja von Helldorff
  4. Termine im Sommer
  5. Einzelunterricht

1. Yoga und Shibari
Mittwoch 6. Juni, in den Uferstudios, Studio 6, 19-23 h
Dienstag 12. Juni, in den Uferstudios, Studio 2, 19-23 h
In der dritten Woche fällt es bisher aus. Wenn ich noch einen Raum finde, kriegt Ihr sofort bescheid!
Dienstag 26. Juni, Teatris- AlteKantine in den Uferhallen Kulturwerkstatt, 19-23 h

Alle Studios sind in der Uferstraße 8-11/23. Von der Badstraße kommend die Uferstudios auf der linken Straßenseite, Nr. 23, ich stelle ein Schild auf! Teatris-Alte Kantine ist auf der rechten 8-11 (wie immer). Der Geländeplan ist im Anhang. Mehr zum Kurs hier.
Mehr zu Yoga hier. Beide Kurse könnnen auch unabhängig voneinander besucht werden.

2. Jute Disintegration
Fotos der Seil-Installation ‘Jute Disintegration’ auf Frances’ Blog.

3. Experimentelle Zwischenstände
Zur Zeit experimentiere ich mit Katja von Helldorf an der Kombination von Seilen, Farben und wie diese mittels Tanzen und Druckpresse zu Papier gebracht werden können. Hier sind einige Momente: Rope and Line

4. Termine im Sommer
Shibari/Yoga Workshop in Brüssel, 11.-14 Juli, Mittwoch bis Samstag bei Charleroi Danses. Anmeldung und Info unter

Shibari/Yoga Workshop beim ImPulsTanz Festival Wien: 30. Juli- 4.August; Mo-Fr jeweils 17-20 Uhr. Anmeldung direkt beim Festival.

5. Einzelunterricht oder kleine Gruppen
können flexible organisiert werden.
Mehr Infos unter:

Dear friends and colleagues,

below you find all infos for upcoming rope events. Please note that regular Yoga/Shibari in Berlin takes place in different location, and on different week days, though all in Uferstraße! (because of socker broadcast in Alte Kantine).

  1. Yoga & Shibari in June
  2. Photos of the performance installation ‘Jute Disintegration’
  3. Rope and Line-something experimental
  4. Teaching summer program
  5. Individual Training

Looking forward to see you,
Dasniya & Frances

1. Yoga & Shibari in June
Wednesday June 6th at Uferstudios, Studio 6, 19-23 h
Tuesday June 12th at Uferstudios, Studio 2, 19-23 h
In the third week there is no workshop. If I find a room I will let you know asap!
Tuesday June 26th at Teatris-Alte Kantine in Uferhallen, 19-23 h

Both locations are in Uferstr. 8-11/23, Uferstudios is on the left hand side of the street (coming from Badstraße). Alte Kantine Wedding on the right side.
13357 Berlin, U8 Pankstr/ U9 Osloerstr.
Costs: 20/15 Euro

More on Shibari here. More on Yoga here. You can participate in both parts of the class independantly.

2. Jute Disintegration
Photos of last Sundays performance installations ‘Jute Disintegration’ here.

3. Rope and lines
Some current experiments with color, ropes and printing

4. Summer program
Shibari/Yoga Workshop at ImPulsTanz Festival in Vienna: July 30th – 4th Mo-Fr from 17-20 pm. For registration please contact the festival directly.

Shibari/Yoga Workshop in Brussels: July 11-14 at Charleroi Danses. Wednesdays til Saturday during the day. Hours will be announced asap! For registration and information:

5. Individual & small group training
in Berlin can be organized spontaneously.
More information:


Jute Disintegration – After …

A bike across to Kreuzberg in the morning after some demonic infestations before breakfast, to pick up a very special camera from the darling Christian. Among other things, today was my first time using a proper DSLR (for those who drool, a Canon EOS 5D mkII, with 24-70mm lens). That in itself was enough to keep me occupied with discovering how a proper lens swings between depth of field sublimity and mayhem. I have to get one of these…

After last week, preparing this time was somewhat more orderly, though we moved everything but the sofas out of the space, and seemed to have more of everything, though taking up less space. The same group again, Antek, Andreas, Rui, Monica, Ursula, Hartmut, Dasniya, and myself. Me mostly being outside photographing and occasionally making something with the rope, Hartmut making tea (no, he is not Teapot), and the other six dealing with the table.

Dispensing with a warmup, once we’d got through costumes and makeup, and were sitting around the table discussing last and this week, come 17h the ‘audience’ promptly arrived. Very prompt.

We’d talked about having an hour or so on our own to get things going, and so expected their arrival around 18h, and for people to come and go more like in a gallery. So, taken by surprise and the number of people who wandered in right on time, and finding it being regarded more as a performance than installation, we decided in future we’ll never mention the time we’re starting at, just sticking to from when anyone should make an appearance.

It got off to a fast start then, being nothing like some nerves to focus attention. And yes, by 18h when we’d hoped people would show up, it was getting decidedly interesting, with two long ‘scenes’ dominating the final hour.

Maybe to mention the limitations, as this was a rehearsal of sorts. It would be really nice to do this in Uferhallen proper, the vast space and us populating it, giving a background that is both visually interesting, a very specific light from above combined with blue-grey, concrete, oily steel colours, as well as the void between us and it. This space is vital to be able to create some balance between absence and objects across all scales.

The lighting also is obviously not so nice. Even a few cans from above would pull focus and shape the room and action. A few more and that would be all that’s necessary to attain a heightened sense of otherness in what’s being observed. It doesn’t need a huge rig and multiple states, but it really does need attention to this.

And obviously hiring some baroque costume frippery and a grass floor (and the occasional goat) would round it out nicely.

We tried without any sound this time, just that of Hartmut making tea, and this also seemed to leave the room too empty, with nothing for us to sit on. It might be appropriate to mic the space and then process the audio so it’s not intrusive and somehow can be sensed to come from the room.

As for what went on, the performance, installation, the people in it … this was so qualitatively far from last week. There were some quite excellent arrangements, scenes, progressions, starting especially from when Rui mimicked Dasniya on the floor, both suspending one arm. This was about the end of the first hour, so it seems it does take that long to build a bit of mess in the space and get through the establishing of everything.

Ursula wandering out to have a cigarette, causing a few people to follow her to see what was going on … Rui tying Antek over the table while Ursula read from The Soft Machine, “cocks ejaculating, soap in asses, cocks shooting like fireworks in the sun …” and so on (I later swapped it for Negarestani’s Cyclonopaedia, which was even stranger), with Andreas, Dasniya and Monica sitting along the wall next to Hartmut – this scene went on for a while and became decidedly uncanny in its stillness with the text.

Antek remained there till the end, joined by others at various times, and in somewhat symmetry by two suspended at the other end of the table. Many other smaller things interspersed.

This then, was our first attempt at an anarchic unshibari installation/performance. There’s a lot we could continue with, and shambling towards putting it in a proper big space with all the required accoutrements would be very nice.

(And very many thanks to the unshibari-ists who spent the last two Sundays in a mess of ropes to try this all out!)