After my opening up during the last rehearsal, today’s three-hour endurance spectacle, resting on many pages of preparatory notes and too many hours in Cibo and staring at walls – and chocolate – was one of those fortuitous ones where everything seemed to flow along like an afternoon of eating and playing in the park. I was though, completely empty from two weeks of grant writing and other emotionally fraught things, and was very determined to get quite smashed on Saturday night, so I’m writing this at the other end of Sunday in-between preparing more pages for tomorrow’s rehearsal and the coming weeks … trying to accept I only have eight minutes, too few rehearsals, and that I don’t need to act like I’m making a full-evening performance.
Although, if I act like it’s all these things, I’m liable to be blasé and when it’s the first thing I’ve made in almost a year, slipping into the land of doing what I know and have done before is the last thing I want to have happen.
The Rape of the Sabine Women part has started to resemble what it will eventually become, yet when we spend only less than two hours with it … I was sitting on the bus this evening wondering what I’d do if I had say, three months full-time to make a performance. How much more would I develop something beyond the familiar ‘get it to where it’s looking ok and working and get started on the next thing’. In making dance, writing, almost everything, I’ve become so used to regarding the first appearance of something as more-or-less being what it will be, no major edits, no complete or partial revisions, maybe some minor amendments, but that’s all.
Despite these qualms, this scene has managed to become something that I really like, and continues to evolve into itself without the dread need for setting steps and counts. That in itself is secretly very useful for what I have planned in monadologie, and here in the studio has been often an hilarious tangle of limbs and teeth, and bite-shaped bruises.
With that part mostly coherent, the attention was really directed at what The Rape of Lucretia would become. So many notes pulled from two years of thinking of this work, and stuff that never made it into crush, stuff that might not make it in here, another tangle of little things, most no more than a line ore two. Some though, are things that have already been something.
Judith Butler talked about gender being the repeated stylisation of the body, “That congeal over time to produce the appearance of substance, of a natural sort of being”, to which Nietzsche posthumously added, “There is no ‘being’ behind doing, effecting, becoming; ‘the doer’ is merely a fiction added to the deed – the deed is everything”, and within this, identity only exists through language. So of course Wittgenstein turned up and said, “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must remain silent”, or at least Derek Jarman made him say that. And so again I find myself back in Zürich with Nigel doing bad things to me.
This was a scene with Jens during SiWiC, that really does belong here, and unlike say, all the 春宫图 Chungongtu stuff that started off as my infatuation with Agoraphobic Nosebleed and ended up in hell, or even the biting stuff now that I imagined as belonging in pestilence … this piece over the years seems like a playground where things get stolen by other works with less scruples.
Paea can act the Austrian Contessa like a charm, and Daniel never once has missed a chance to get all his clothes far away from his body (or burp loudly and at great length, or fart, come to think of it).
The Rape of Lucretia has become a very short almost formal tableau based on five paintings of the story, and nothing like what it began as. Similarly the very first thing we worked on, from photos of Deborah Paauwe’s works I’d taken during 42a, and the memory and amnesia in a body, reemerged through one of Paea’s tasks for me, “Frisking and saying it’s OK”.
I also found I have to teach them all how to do proper Black Metal head-banging, or hand-banging actually. So far I describe it as, “seize the sacrificed goat’s still-beating heart, shake it and squeeze the warm blood from its severed arteries, raise it high to the beast”. I awoke from my catalepsy last night to find them surrounding me preparing to do all that. Plus video camera.
Oh, and then there was John Jasperse. I’m really entering new territories of embarrassment here. The title of the work originally was a list called, “Everyone I have ever slept with”. The doubt insinuated itself and the name changed when I realised firstly I couldn’t remember people’s names and far worse, the longer I dwelled on this, the more people, tenuous ghosts, returned to me. Tonight I found the original Zürich list, also the list from crush last year. These, and my memory of both are so incoherent as to bring even the notion of faithfully recorded memory into disrepute. There is a third version also, that Anna recited, perhaps in existence on video still, most likely lost.
From the beginning of this, I thought also of people I had crushes on, and what the consequences such a public airing of my daydream world would be. Tara’s task was “Describe in words, while reflecting in movement, one of your fantasies”. I spent Thursday night on the internet trying to find video of John dancing. I settled for photos. There is a text also accompanying my memory of how he moves. Perhaps to save this for later.
Daniel’s task, that we didn’t quite make it to was, “Explain your greatest fear in regard to gender studies of any context”. My response to this, and the text that finishes this scene is, “That it’s all in my head and I have to be male”.