the n+2 dimensional space for n>1 — day 4

It helps to remember that what is seen in a small studio with green dance floor, big windows, and other distractions, with two people in rehearsal clothes, would look very different and have a commensurately different weight were it to be seen on a stage of sufficient volume to make visible the emptiness around us, and us being clad in something appropriate. Or, it helps me, anyway.

We have some stuff now. End of day four. We worked on the unshibari messy tableau, kind of a still life, or corpse-tying for some time; lso on the Japanese Kyudo/tea ceremony walking, forward and back – better in socks; and on the leg battery/repetitions. A short time on my self-bondage. There is enough now to say we’ve made a start, and to say there’s a lot missing. It’s a delicate thing, only two weeks and to wish to have something concrete by the end, though of course not finished, and yet what is lost by rushing through everything in a matter of days when months would be more suited?

What is this work then? We talked about post-modern feminism. I wasn’t sure of what a definition of this would be, though my guesses were more-or-less in accord with what I later read; I simply never described it that way. It feels slightly odd, though also it makes sense. (I remember a lecturer hawking along about Habermas and the others, Lyotard and Modernism, Late-Modernism, Post-Modern versus Postmodernism …)

We are obviously saying something about something here. If it were a performance I was making on my own, I’d likely have a text I’d be working from, whatever philosopher I was currently in bed with. Once I made only dance; I choreographed. Then came theatre until it was more-or-less performance art that I made. Lately I can only seem to do the former if I have the latter in mind. Maybe to read some theatre or a play?

the n+2 dimensional space for n>1 — day 3

Experiencing a little fatigue today – I haven’t done yoga for five days in a row since such a long time. We started a bit late also, detouring to watch a Kraftwerk and history of Krautrock documentary in ten minute chunks before wandering over to Bains.

We had a long discussion about what we are doing before the lunch-ish break – no dinner break it was already 17h – which resulted in a final couple of tasks where things started to coagulate.

On Saturday we talked with Ivo for a while about dramaturgy, or the perceived necessity of having an external dramaturge. I had been trying various things from Dasniya, and finished with an un-shibari experiment that had something worth repeating, yet was also empty. I think the issue is neither one of dramaturgy, as we are both well-versed in the milieu within which shibari, bdsm, and all the other facets of rope resides, nor is it one of direction – as in stage direction. What isn’t clear is what this work is about.

We have a lot of ideas, topics of research, small things that have become entire processes for working with rope; we’ve discussed from feminism and identity theory to physics and knot theory along the way, and obviously these things somehow fit into the work, along with the specific Japanese aesthetics of traditional shibari and so on, which we also play with. The question of what the work is about is perhaps better understood if this was a theatre work, if there was some text to work from and characters who must arrive in the room. Coming from working with Daniel Schlusser on Ophelia Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, also with shibari, possibly my thoughts are a little this way.

It’s also for me the need to have something to hang on to, that helps in pushing a work along; that I can use as a reference point to criticise and justify my decisions. Obviously working in a collaboration changes this and might even make it the not-possible way to continue. So, we talk, maybe for me to be able to make sense through words what is allowable so I can do things with conviction.

There are some almost formal things – flicking to uncoil ropes, the sliding walk of the tea ceremony or kyudo archery … – that will probably recur throughout, and cause a rupture in the mess of ropes. Other things – at least in what might be construed in my head as the section we’re working on at the moment – need a day or two refinement before I suspect they can be deemed coherent enough to make a remark on.

It pulls between an abstract, close to formal dance or movement and another that is perhaps a metonymy or representation, and yet another, lurking beneath, that is … neither of these. Maybe corporeal, sensorial, coming from rendering a character as much as an own internal emotion …

It seems likely we’ll be working all weekend. After all, it’s only two weeks, so twelve days instead of ten counts for something.

the n+2 dimensional space for n>1 — day 2

There is a kitchen, where we cook a late lunch or early dinner, eat baguette and drink tea or coffee, right across from the door to our studio. We arrive before 10am, and leave after 7 in the evening. The walk there and back is in one direction a slight warmup and on the return, a calming down.

What to do with rope? Quite a lot really. The inner life of inanimate things lends itself though to clichéd symbolism, so in fact there are many limitations. We have a lot of ideas, which is good, yet these do not necessarily transpose into useful events. It is good nonetheless to discard things. It becomes more of a question of which performance is being made here.

There is a frustration in rope, in handling it. It tends to get knotted up, tangled, not behave the way it should, slip out of fingers or never get there in the first place. It gets caught on things, or doesn’t go where it’s supposed to. We are supposed to regard this with equanimous poise. Suppose we don’t though.

I try scratching at the ropes until they stick, thrashing and yanking. It’s again something of an idea of un-shibari; pathetic, failed ropework. Dasniya continues with what she was doing yesterday, feet in ropes, active/passive, leading/led. We try beating the ropes against the floor, or slinging them back and forth – repetition. Something here also.

We spend the beginning trying to walk the way Japanese Kyudo archery masters do, a kind of sliding of the feet that is beguilingly difficult. Forward then backward,over and over on our grass-green dance floor.

Lunch. Silvano drills some holes and fills them with metal bars for us to hang suspension lines from. We eat together and talk about ourselves, where we are from, what we do, ow we live. After this, it is 1630, so a short pause and to continue.

Dasniya wants to try movement, somehow in a circle of rope. We begin using knot groups as something to move from. It’s obvious in some ways, recreating these shapes with our arms or legs. Possibly something there, possibly not. We try again, covered in rope, ties together. It becomes something of a baroque dance. It works better when we have a unity of movement, but equally looks largely nonsensical. It’s an idea that might go further, or like much of today, might depart. It’s good to eliminate things.

We talk about doing everything below the height of the suspension rings. They are quite low. Also about endurance and exhaustion. Some ideas for tomorrow. Perhaps the idea that remains is the one that appeals in the moment of rehearsal and in itself has no special, unique value. At another time, what was discarded now would be the one to remain.

Two days is not much time to talk about what I or we like, don’t like, what’s working, not working, though equally, we have little time for indulgence, or for worrying at an idea until it yields whatever we suspect is within. Still…

Repetition, flailing ropes, on the floor, on the floor yet not relaxed, discomfort. Sometimes unison, sometimes alone (unison is nice, but equally takes time to get it looking worthwhile). This Japanese Kyudo tea ceremony tatami mat sliding walk. Rope mess, but also rope order. The ever-present suspension rings and their enticements. For me personally, pain, humiliation, disgust, or rather not the representation or literal act of, but things that could cause these, for example clothes shibari, where the cinching of rope exposes, or rope in mouth. How much do we want to show also? 15 minutes? Half an hour? One thing? Many? Perhaps other warmups besides yoga would lend our bodies something else? It is enjoyable being there from early to late, thinking that remaining even later is also possible.


the n+2 dimensional space for n>1 — day 1

We arrive at Bains around 11am. It’s a half hour easy walk from St Gilles Vorplein to beside the park in a part of town I was last in for process/unprocess. No macrobiotic lunches this time, but an entire industrial kitchen, plenty of coffee, and a stroll to buy our standard cuisine of shibari: broccoli.

Silvano was there to meet us, and by late afternoon had supplied us with our studio for the next two weeks, pillows, blankets, and a large bolt, which sometime tomorrow shall be drilled through the ceiling beam for us to hang from. It seems we leave a trail of drill holes and bolts wherever we arrive.

Once we’d settled – Dasniya cleaning the floor while I procured said broccoli and sundry lunch ingredients – we ate a baguette. And then made yoga. The last two nights we’ve been doing this, so for me at least there’s a bit of energy and fatigue from all the asanas. Yoga today was not so heavy; just enough to remind us we have told each other how we’d like to be exhausted quite often the coming days.

How to start a rehearsal? Last night we talked about our notes. I spent a couple of hours going through all my rope folders – everything from Japanese traditional Shibari to Forsythe’s Suspense to knot theory to BDSM rope work … – and old writings here on the topic, coming up with some pages of ideas that we have talked back and forth since early last year. Dasniya had a similar wad of pages in her notebook, some which overlapped my notes, others not.

Being practical, what we’d do each day for a warmup, how long we might rehearse, and so on gives something of a framework for the less tangible elucidation of ideas. Today then, we started apart. Me working on Japanese Kyudo / tea ceremony footwork and walking (something of a formal sock-slide), a pathetic, unshibari suspension failure which might get taken somewhere in the coming days. Dasniya with feet. A single rope and some things that we talked about for much of the rest of the day, over dinner (broccoli), and which after dinner I tried something of a repeat with, with my hands.

Quite an opaque description. We have far more than we can possibly get through in two weeks, and have talked through much of what we did today with a depth that would suffice for a day’s work even without the rehearsal. Tomorrow more of the same and something completely different.

Michael has sent some thoughts on music, including a trio for bassoon, flute, and harp.

the n+2 dimensional space for n>1

Once more going west, we take the ungodly hour flight from Schönefeld to Brussels. Dasniya and I are having a two-week residency at Bains Connective to work on pretty much everything we’ve ever talked about to do with Shibari and ropes. It’s heading towards something I’ve been slowly working on for some time, which is a return to Guangzhou.

Michael Garza –the principal Bassoon in the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra and one of the first people I met when I landed in that city close to ten years ago – and I have been talking about doing something there with a chamber music wind quartet. This led also to thoughts of taking ourselves south-west to Bangkok. So, Dasniya and I will spend two weeks working on some ideas, and making some kind of performance for the last Friday.

We also hope to wander up to Amsterdam to see some of Cinedans next weekend (no Lewis, sadly), and on the final weekend we have a Shibari Bondage workshop in Bains.

In the meantime, here is some text for an idea of what we may be doing.

The anarchy of knots or the n+2 dimensional space for n >1 or the rope was a plant

By Frances d’ Ath and Dasniya Sommer

The two week residency at Bains Connective in Brussels is the first phase to work on raw material based on the following ideas.

The cultural history of ropes goes back to the Mesolithic. It is a tool for binding, tying, restraining, lifting, fixing or lashing. It can lift cargo onto a ship, or a person off the ground. We tie our shoes every day, and bind damaged limbs or bodies with cloth bandages. At whatever level of consideration, our relations towards, and knowledge about this material, exist in thoughts in countless quotidian moments.

In topology knots are mathematicised. There is knot theory and tabulation itself, which leads to braid theory and physical knot theory, relating more practically to the real world. Back in abstract calculations there are ‘unknots’. A string with its ends joined together, creates an un-undoable loop. Or a wild knot, which is not tame, because of its so-called ‘pathological’ behaviour.

Rope is for justice. In tug-of-war games a collective has to act in concert. If they do well, an inch may decide their triumph. In Japan during times of war, prisoners were suspended and tortured with horrifying rope techniques. The status of the prisoner could be signified with the colour of the rope, and the degree of artistic ornament. Medieval rope was used for similar injustices. Ariadne’s thread, in contrast helped Theseus to find his way out of the Minotaur’s labyrinth.

Neuroanthropological thoughts invite us to perceive the rope as a tool, like a hammer is, or a pair of chopsticks, or a musical instrument. There is a dexterity added to the ability of the hand by it which it is not simply an addition. That is to say, ‘I’ am not merely ‘using’ a tool, but the ‘I’ that gains familiarity with an object, ceases to delineate between ‘me’ and ‘that’. These objects become part of us and in turn we extend ourselves into them.

In this way, the rope is my fingers, or perhaps to say the rope is my tactile organ, somewhat prehensile also. I do not merely feel through the rope, acting as an intermediary, with sensation being communicated along it towards or from me; I feel through the rope as its qualities are to touch what my skin is also.

It is almost as if we do something close to forbidden by taking this object of use and turning it to (sensual) play. Shibari, Japanese rope bondage does that. Because of its origin as a strand in martial arts technique, it needs to decisively dissociate from real methods for punishment. Instead it goes with consenting intensities of BDSM play or contemporary performance.

Between two people the rope allows for a degree of deferral, both for and against communication. Depending on the actions and intentions at either end however, the deferral in itself is somewhat neutral. It causes a possibility of communication that, by its tangible intermediary status, is not what or how one would commonly interact with another. It instigates a pause in thinking, a space for interpretation.

We work into an improvised dismantling of traditional tying rules and the logic behind these. While tying the body and the room, we bring in theories of Taoism, ‘Wabi-Sabi’, ‘Ma’, which allow us to be slightly less perfect, and impermanent. A rather european analysis of bodies, gender identities and role assignments in Shibari culture accompanies our experiment.

Musically, we are collaborating with Michael Garza, principal bassoonist of the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra. This is for a performance/installation with his wind chamber music group in Guangzhou and Bangkok in 2012.

Dasniya Sommer Yoga & Shibari in Wedding, November + Brussels Project

Now there is a beautiful space to make yoga and shibari in once more, with kitchen, things to hang from, and sit in … we have been in TEATRIS, in the old BVG Kantine in Uferstrasse for the last some weeks.

Besides the regular weekly evening classes, there will be a weekend workshop on rope technique — tying figures, suspensions — at the end of November. Then we spend two weeks at Bains Connective in Brussels working on a rope installation, and also will have a weekend workshop there in mid-December.

Earlier this year, I was teaching morning yoga in Wedding, and still get regular requests for this. I’m not yet teaching again, but for anyone who would like a weekly evening yoga class in English, it’s also possible to come along on Wednesdays just for the yoga, from 19-20:45 — a beginners/intermediate Iyengar-style class.


  1. Weekly Yoga and Shibari, every Wednesday from 19:00-23:00 in Wedding
  2. Weekly Yoga, every Wednesday from 19:00-2045 in Wedding
  3. A Shibari workshop on Sunday, 20th November from 14:00-20:00 in Wedding
  4. A Shibari weekend workshop, 10/11 December from 12:00-18:00 each day in Brussels
  5. A performance, The n+2 Dimensional Space for n>1, December 9th, in Brussels
More information here:

For English and please scroll down.


Liebe Leute,
1) im Oktober geht es wöchentlich weiter mit Yoga & Shibari. Wir turnen und seilen jeden Mittwoch (2./9./16./23.) von 19-23 Uhr.

Location: Uferhallen Kulturwerkstatt/Teatris // Kosten 20/15 Euro // genaue Adresse siehe unten.

2) Die Yogaklasse kann unabhängig vom Shibari/Bondage Teil besucht werden. Immer Mitwochs (2./9./16./23.), 19-20.45 Uhr. Kosten 10 € Kursbeschreibung unter, Location: Uferhallen Kulturwerkstatt/Teatris // Kosten 10 Euro // genaue Adresse s.u.

NeueinsteigerInnen sind herzlich willkommen. Bitte schreibt eine kurze mail an

3) Shibari Technik Workshop in Berlin für jene, die nur Knotentechnik lernen/weiterentwickeln möchten. Wann: 20. November, 14-20 Uhr, Uferhallen Kulturwerkstatt/ Teatris. Kosten: 40 Euro. Genaue Adresse siehe unten.

4) Performance: ‘Der n+2 dimensionale Raum für n>1′. Ein installatives Shibari Projekt von Frances d’Ath und Dasniya Sommer. Entstanden während einer zweiwöchigen Performance Residenz in Brüssel/ Art Bains Connective. Öffentliches Showing: 9.Dezember 2011, Genaue Adresse s.u.

5) Yoga & Shibari Workshop Brüssel: Wochenende 10./11. Dezember 2011, 12-18 Uhr im Art Bains Connective. Anmeldungen bis 10. November 100 €, nach dem 10. November 120 €

Studio Location für alle Berliner Klassen:

Von der Badstraße kommend sind die Uferhallen auf der rechten Straßenseite.

Location für Veranstaltungen in Brüssel:


Mehr Infos in den Anhängen und unter:
Kursbeschreibung: Yoga und Shibari

Dear People,

1) in November ‘Yoga & Shibari’ continues weekly. We will stretch and braid every Wednesday from 7-11pm. Dates: 2./9./16./23. Location: Teatris Studio- Uferhallen Kulturwerkstatt. Detailed address and workshop information please see below.

2) Yoga can be practiced independently from the Shibari/ Bondage part. Every Wednesday 2./9./16./23. November, 19-8.45 pm. Location: Teatris Studio- Uferhallen Kulturwerkstatt. Detailed Location see below. Costs 10 Euro. More class content at Yoga.

New people and Shibari beginners are welcome! Please write a short email to

3) Shibari Technique Workshop in Berlin for those who want to learn/develop rope technique. When Nov. 20th, 14-20 Uhr, Uferhallen Kulturwerkstatt/ Teatris. Costs: 40 Euro.

4) Performance: ‘The n+2 dimensional Space for n>1’. A Shibari installation by Frances d’Ath and Dasniya Sommer. Creation at Art Bains Connective during a two week residency in Bruxelles. Public showing: December 9th, 2011, please find the address below.

5) Yoga & Shibari Workshop Bruxelles: Weekend 10th/11th December 2011, 12-6 pm at Art Bains Connective

Registration until November 10th: 100 €, after November 10th: 120 €

Studio location for workshops in Berlin:

Coming from Badstraße, you find the Uferhallen compound on the right side of the street. Turn right after the big gate, and follow the lines on the map attached

Venue Bruxelles:


Yoga and Shibari Workshop Description (pdf)


process/unprocess days 1 & 2

Straight from seven days of yoga + shibari workshops into getting up early for class. Lucky it was only a 15 minute stumble down the hill to Rosas. Unlucky the teacher had missed his alarm. And on to day two!

Last time I was in Brussels, I found an application for Rosas Summer Studios in my email, and having abstained from application writing for some time, thought perhaps it was time to do this again. Gala and I have had vague ideas about working together on something for quite a while, and two weeks working time, along with macrobiotic lunches and a vegetable garden is quite a luxury.

What are we doing then? We are joined this week by Lewis, who came down from Amsterdam (by way of Suisse Alps in an old Renault) to do the workshops last week. Gala and I have been talking about how to make something of the stupidity stuff we do, though certainly this is harder than it looks.

We decided then, to start today with where we’d both just come from: ropes. I’ve been wanting to work on some kind of installation/performance piece, and feeling particularly inspired at the moment coming out of the workshop and much talking over the previous weeks with Dasniya, so this seemed a fairly uncomplicated place to start.

I failed to remember almost everything I’d written a couple of days ago on the various things we have been doing with rope, but somehow it all came together, all three of us bound and connected and rolling across the studio (Lewis even managing a counter-balanced headstand). The studio—large and a wall of glass along one side looking over the train line, has the addition of a solidly bolted bar on the ceiling which we wasted no time in throwing a sling over.

One thing I’d been wanting to try for a while was using all this messy tying and also suspending, for which Lewis was happy to try. It was unsurprisingly easy, and the subsequent generated tangle of ropes was also rather beautiful. Gala also tried this, and I ended up watching for half an hour or so as many of the various ideas we’d been talking around somehow emerged.

Tomorrow it’s my turn, along with some idea of vocalisation. Lately, I’ve mostly been listening to Attila Csihar.



The last week was spent mostly writing applications for residencies. Four of them due yesterday and feeling a little worn out. I can’t spend too much time in front of my laptop right now, eyes a bit sandpapered, and I’ve missed too much dancing also. And wandering in Berlin. That’s all…

monadologie – cosmos magazine

The bubble-quote of my traipsing through a park in Sydney, the endless, vertiginous blackness crisp with infinitesimal points, and there knowing the universe itself is enough, I didn’t elaborate on the minutes prior. Why was I walking through University of Sydney at night, alone? Why was I doing even in Sydney? And why is this memory so often recalled.

In this moment, looking up at the vast emptiness somewhere we are in, I knew absolutely there is no god.

I didn’t want to bring atheism so forthrightly into any discussion about my residency or monadologie, for many perhaps not so justifiable reasons including not-stepping-on-toes etc. I know from growing up very religious that people like to hold onto their faith with determination.

I was at a conference in Sydney, the Queen’s Trust Programme for Young Australians, and after a long day assumed the gathering I was sitting around in was for queers. Somehow I realised it was for Christians. I was already tired and emotional, the point of the structure of the week was to induce this, and sitting there was jolted into remembering just how messed up I’d been because of religion. And also, feeling peculiarly betrayed, suckered in, deceived. I was thinking we were going to talk about being queer and somehow that night I really wanted to… oh it’s elusive to remember…

I left. I said something like, “Oh, I’m in the wrong place”, and felt regarded as, well you know, a not quite as worthy person. I walked out, angry, certainly, upset also, this small gathering reminding me of the great villainy of religion that caused me to see every bad thing that happened as I grew up as god’s punishment for me being a sinner, for being queer.

I walked. It was inky in that way only standing in the midst of an unlit park can be, the horizon dotted by lights. I looked at the sky and god stopped. Gone.

I’d stopped believing years before, and praying, but in this moment if I can say I ever ‘became’ anything, I became an atheist.

I wrote this in the middle of the night, the witching hour, and all to say that for me in science i find an imagination far more worthy and joyous than religion can ever provide.

Tim Thwaites came along to one night of monadologie, stayed around for the discussion and later we spoke on the phone for an hour about the residency. I think it’s a really quite beautiful piece about the whole process that he wrote for Cosmos Magazine, and dance, art collaborating with science, especially for the last sentence:

monadologie is an answer to those who are unable to see how close is the link between the aesthetics of science and the intricate patterns found in art.”

I’m also quite honoured and proud, maybe a little bewildered to be in the middle of a magazine full of scientists talking passionately about their work. Photographed with my camera phone for your blurry enjoyment…

monadologie … last days and finish

The previous week has been on of quite small scale. I’ve been trying to learn everything I can on absorption spectrums and more importantly what electrons and photons do when and how as they get excited or … dwindle. This has led me in the last couple of days to things stars do, like eject vast gouts of corona or have all kinds of magnetic excitement around sunspots.

There is a point to this. I have no idea what it is.

Among the myriad things that never, for equally various reasons into the showing were the sublimely beautiful Hinode (Solar-B) videos of the sun in X-ray or Extreme Ultra-Violet, we’d talked about being projected on a suitably awe-inspiring scale at the end of the piece…

It’s been some weeks of just thinking about what we have done so far and where to go, and so for me the next stage, besides more funding applications is working on this new stuff for a solo. Also editing of the video into a 3D stereoscopic film.

My last days were spent on occasion doing tests for this, as single frames, and then as short bits of video, getting the separation right, working out how to assemble a stereo film in Final Cut, seeing what peculiarities and oddities emerged when the video was played back through the VR Theatre projectors, and repeat.

Aside from some weirdness, like frame rate irregularities, possibly due to how I exported it from Final Cut, and some unwanted up-scaling in the projection process, there’s nothing that doesn’t look atrocious and Chris is quite keen for us to continue. So while he works on the weirdness, I get to do the cutting. I haven’t done much in editing for a while with my old laptop so geriatrically incapable of rendering at a speed measured faster than frames-per-day, and the precarious assemblage to get it to boot in the first place, but with my new new!!! MacBook Pro rendering to m2v almost in real time, I’m all trembling with anticipation at getting fluent in all the fun graphics and processor intensive editing things… mmm excitement.

But… sadness.

Yesterday was my last at Swinburne. I’ve been there since early December when I had so little comprehension beyond nervousness at what I could possibly do, and in these tumultuous months, for so many reasons, personally, artistically, intellectually such a bone-crushing shove into a precipice, and somehow found it much more to my liking than the fear and nausea on its lip, and then yesterday to say goodbye to Chris and walk down beside the railway lines hummocked above, past Max and Alley Tunes and our small French café, the now autumn sun leaking long shadows through denuded trees, this last time.

And to pack, to entomb these months in boxes that, along with me though via different carriers will arrive in Adelaide next week, to finish. My room in Collingwood soon to be vacant, my life again designed around a suitcase. How unexpected and glorious this all has been.