process/unprocess

It was Michael Carter who I think coined the name, but I can’t find where. Last time I was in Brussels, I decided to throw together a quick application for Rosas Summer Studios, something Gala Moody and I could work on together for two weeks after the Yoga + Shibari workshops with Dasniya.

We don’t really know what we’ll be doing; which is something of the point, an un-process, an un-preparation. We have some ideas, things that amuse us – this is tricky though, can what makes us laugh when we’re messing around transcribe itself into something watchable? And not in a transfixed horror of , ‘What are they doing?’, but something quantifiable as a performance.

So we have three ideas to begin with. The first is our shared love of making each other laugh. It’s hard work. I wrote, “We would like to work with this in a more coherent manner, to see if is possible to make something repeatable from our improvisations, and to see if it can fit in with the other interests, and can transcend into subjects of debate and serious issues in performance.”

Then we like reading. For me, there is something of Wittgenstein in this. I’m thinking of what he wrote post-Tractatus on the contents of that. For Gala, she’s long had a Bertrand Russell lying about, but has instead gained a fondness for Nietzsche. He wrote some poetry at the end of Beyond Good and Evil.

And of course, Shibari. Ropes and bondage and all this.

We start in a little over two weeks, and I return to Brussels next weekend with Dasniya. It really is my second home. I am planning on writing again on what we do also.

Laura Kalauz + Martin Schick – Title

Possibly the most problematic of all the performances I’ve seen so far in Tanztage, Laura Kalauz’s and Martin Schick’s Title succeeds for being clever then trips over its own feet. A performance also that can go on and on and doesn’t really need to ever finish. Possibly why when ‘END’ was written on the butcher’s paper whiteboard they kept going for quite a while.

I mainly wanted to see Title because they mentioned dear Ludwig in their programme notes, and having been suffering (and occasionally laughing) through On Certainty (Über Gewissheit) was curious to see what might become of him. After all, in Australia Wittgen-who?! is the common depth of philosophy, whereas here, “Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen.” is a bumper sticker. Not that most people bother with much between that and “Die Welt ist alles, was der Fall ist.”. Between the two though, there isn’t much left to say anyway.

Innerhalb dieser Recherche und Performance betrachten wir Missverständnisse als Ausganglage für eine “unvernünftige” aber “mögliche” Kommunication. … Dem Ausgangpunkt unserer Arbeit liegt folgendes Zitat von Ludwig Wittgenstein zugrunde: “Die Grenzen meiner Sprache bedeuten die Grenzen meiner Welt”.

They arrive on a motorised bicycle, bringing two foldout chairs, with a pattern of large concentric orange and brown circles printed on the fabric. A foldout table, the aforementioned whiteboard easel, and much (small) impedimenta. The board faces away from the audience, though they sit behind, so facing us. She has a dark grey t-shirt saying “.jpeg” in gold. He wears a white t-shirt with (I think) Ian Brown. I am reminded of course, of Wittgenstein in Derek Jarmen’s film giving lectures at Cambridge, he draws a dog on the blackboard in chalk, writes, ‘a dog’ with an arrow pointing towards it, and says, ‘A dog… cannot lie…”.

Martin writes on the board, makes some small, improvised, not too competent dances. Laura does the same, different though. He again, this time coming down to the audience, then she, and turns the board around. “Nothing. Anything. Something. Something Else.” written and crossed out. She says, “Something beautiful…”. He: “Yes”. She: Something new…”. He: “Something to eat.” Not very philosophical. She slaps him. Can he be certain of his pain?

They run around the room. Tap dance, stop, find themselves in arabesques holding hands. After a time they stop. So what’s that about, she asks. They talk about what they have done, about dancing together. They stop. A new sheet of paper. He draws a cloud, two clouds. A third. She draws thought bubbles from one to another. A cloud thinking a cloud. A thought thinking a thought. An empty thought thinking an empty thought. They tell jokes.

Perhaps this is a lecture and I am at university. I was thinking about the question of is this dance, maybe what the woman asked to Hermann and Jana, “Why do you refuse to dance?”, and perhaps in the context of this piece it is a boring question. They don’t dance. mmm… perhaps. Well, they dance around and occasionally he displays some slightly too extended lines or suspensions of weight, disrupting the decidedly undancerly aesthetic of the piece, out of place enough to be intentional even, and they tap dance rather well. But asking for it to be dance in the way say, one can say with certainty, “that is dance”, is like asking a dog to be a pineapple.

Am I learning anything, then? I learn a new joke: “Man loses a hand. Goes to a second hand shop.” (She throws away some objects, a pingpong paddle, from the table.) “A German eats an Oyster.” He bangs on the table, “Aufmachen!!!”, throws the table away. That’s the end of that line of philosophical enquiry.

They talk at the audience in repetitive cycles until an outbreak of fidgeting, talking, unruly classroom behaviour erupts. I think perhaps that is the point. An overture begins. They dance around the stage until it is cut abruptly. They sit in chairs on opposite sides.

It is clever enough to make me attentive, yet also it it makes me angry. Howard Barker, in an interview I read perhaps about the time I saw Wittgenstein, said:

If they think safely, what is the virtue of them? Do you want to pay £10 to be told what you already knew? That is theft. do you want to agree all the time? That is flattery and the audience is always flattered, which is why it has become sleek.

An honoured audience will quarrel with what it’s seen, it will go home in a state of anger, not because it disapproves, but because it was taken where it was reluctant to go. Thus morality is created in art, by exposure to pain and illegitimate thought.

I would like to say it is because of the latter that I was annoyed, but rather it was there was not enough of this. Yes, it was intelligent and thoughtful, but it also fits neatly within what a particular representation of dance is currently dwelling over. In this, there is no Missverständnis, that the tropes of conceptual performance are not met with the same rigorous analysis as the concept. It is not so different from watching Jérôme Bel pull off t-shirts with slogans on them, but ten years later.

They talk in inane aphorisms at each other, every possible one with ‘silence’ in it, like the shirts, one after another, yes, of course Wittgenstein arrives and departs. Martin does also. Leaving Laura alone sitting in the chair. She pulls off her shirt. There is an identical one underneath. She falls off her chair. very… slowly…

‘END’

Once they have rolled all the way upstage, they pause to discuss how it is going. They ask what sound a dog makes in Germany, in Argentina, cow, a cock, a cock in Switzerland, in France, in China (喔喔喔!). They begin removing everything in the space, writing what what there on the floor with white markers, ‘chair’ ‘cigarette pack’, “it’s the same as in…” they say, with a different incomparable example, and agreeing. Funny that “It’s the same as in PNG where they have four sexes” got a laugh even though “It’s the same as in Switzerland where Nazi people can put money in banks” didn’t. The audience might be also considered then, as part of the performance.

Still thinking about Jana’s HAUS, I decide in some regards they are quite similar. What I would have liked then in Title was to see the same intensity of detail that befits Ludwig’s Tractatus. Maybe I am being a pretentious snob. I felt this also in Suites with Rosalind Goldberg, that to deal with such music in such an offhand and casual way is not a question of being disrespectful, but one of laziness. Or perhaps misunderstanding. It is as if everyone was reading Lacan through Žižek’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Lacan… But Were Afraid to Ask Hitchcock and only looked at the pictures.

Which all sounds rather negative, and perhaps the preceding night and day of staring at code left me a little dazed. Title is rather good, funny, clever, worth seeing with a philosopher while slightly drunk.

all the people i can remember sleeping with … day 7

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”.